Friday, August 31, 2007

Talk to the Horse

But Before That--

I just got back from my eye doctor. Last night I pulled a bunch of cockleburrs out of Chance's mane and forelock. When I came back into the house, I had to change clothes because all these little almost invisible little thorns from the burrs were all over me. Sometime between then and this afternoon, one of those sharp little thorns worked its way into my right eye. Ouch!!

I thought it was out and went swimming in the afternoon only to find my eye was bleeding when I got home. I called my eye doctor's emergency number. Was I in luck!!! He was still at the office. A quick exam and he found the thorn. In a few seconds he had pulled it out. What a relief!! Now, though I have a hole in my eye and have to put antibiotics in every two hours.

One more time I have been injured by a horse--sort of. Wait till I tell my chiropractor about this one. He's going to love it! *G*

Complicated Communication with Tucker.

Here are the basics of what Tucker had to say:

He was pleased to hear that Gabriel liked him and thought he had talent. So that was good.

We asked about his not going forward off the leg. He said sometimes he gets a cramp in his left hind leg that goes all the way up to his back. Then he feels he must kick out and he is afraid of what is next. He says that when I ask him to stride with more power his body gets all confused and he’s not sure he can do it.

This is apparently more emotional than physical. He said he gets worried and confused when he doesn’t understand what to do. “I am afraid of what I don’t know.” He does understand that each extension of each leg needs to have “heart” in it and “My heart just isn’t there.”

He does worry that he is not strong enough to do it, so Jeri tried to explain to him that he will get stronger, but to do that he must do the work. So, I guess Gabriel and I need to find some body building exercises.

Tucker really did not like the idea of someone else riding him to fix the problem with force. He got all “bristly” about that and actually took that teenage attitude of, “Well then I just don’t care either.” When we explained that I may have to resort to that to make him capable and safe, he said, “Roughness isn’t safe.”

We explained how dangerous the rearing is and he said he would try not to, but, “Sometimes my body just does it.” He did say that he would try not to as long as he could remember not to.

Jeri told him walking would help the leg cramp. He also said sometimes when he gets really nervous he gets a sharp quick belly cramp too, but that goes away.

The saddle and bridle are fine and the leg pain is not there all the time, so I suspect it is a muscle cramp or maybe he needs some chiropractic/acupuncture. I can get that done no problem.

The big issue seems to be this concept of “heart.” He says, “My heart is lost and I’m not sure how to find it.” He says he will work with me, and that we must keep our friendship and keep our heart, most important.

I think the “heart” thing deals with his self-confidence. He is not at all sure he can do things when I ask. I had this issue with PJ as well, and he would not rebel but shut down too. The other manifestation of it was an emotional outburst whenever we learned a new exercise. I see this with Tucker too except that his reaction appears to be more rebellion rather than panic. This means I need to teach him things slowly and a little at a time.

I was also thinking that cavaletti work might help him better understand this concept of becoming more powerful in his stride. He could learn to feel more coordinated in his trot when his strides get longer because the poles would help him establish a rhythm and regularity.

He seems to understand the concept of going forward but just doesn’t believe he can do it. I am wondering if some jumping might also boost his confidence in his own body.

I know this all sounds pretty vague in some ways, but to me it actually explains a lot of what has been happening. I am concerned about how quickly he “turned off” at the idea of being forced to work by harsher means. He really did put up a wall of resentment about that, suggesting that if I go that route I might be jeopardizing our partnership.

Jeri will be back in touch again on Monday as she did not have time to talk to Toby and Chance for me. I will try to follow up on this idea of another rider to see if we can get him to accept it better. If not, I will work with him myself for a while longer to see if I can help him gain some confidence that he can do it.

I want to, for the time being, give him the benefit of the doubt and see if he offers more cooperation.

So. Strength building exercises. Slow teaching of new concepts. See if this “talk” improves the response to my leg. Jumping and maybe some more “playtime” kind of riding to make him feel more eager to go forward. Have to hold off on trail riding until the terrible deer/horse flies in my woods are gone for the season.

Anyone have any other ideas????

Post for Muriel

One of the Russian Horses

I did some Internet research on the Russian (Soviet Union) riders to see what I could find out about a wonderful ride I saw in Montreal in 1976 at the Olympics. I had posted my comments about it on Muriel's blog.

I found a picture of Kizimov, the Soviet rider, on his earlier Olympic mount, Ikhor. He won gold in a previous Olympic game on this horse. The horse I saw him ride was Rebus. However, I would have to think both horses were trained to the same standard. If this picture is, as it appears to be, of piaffe, I think Muriel will agree, this is how a good piaffe should look.

Ikhor's croup may look a little high, but I think that is more his conformation than any incorrectness.

What I really like about this is how elevated his font end is through the shoulder. As well his poll is definitely the highest point and he is not overbent but very correctly established on the bit a little in front of the vertical. He looks so light and easy.


f you go to Muriel's blog at: you will see the discussion. I think Beudant's horse is more elevated than Ikhor, but the feeling to the rein is very similar as opposed to Anky's horse.

As I said there, having ridden with a Russian trainer a few times, I had a feeling his style was more like the French school. I think this picture helps support that idea.

I've since found another photo with a nice piaffe. In this one, the hind end engagement is really accented:

Look at that loop in the reins! This horse looks so active and lively. (Kathy Wood-Copa riding Topper:

Busy Non-Horsey Day


Of many things. Friday noon will bring the communication with Tucker, so that will be interesting.

Now, the prospect of school has brightened considerably. I met with my principal today, (Thursday) and we have modified my teaching schedule. We added a senior class, and took out two of the non-college prep freshman classes. This way, I can use the coursework and materials I have for the college prep kids without having to invent all kinds of lessons for the classes I haven't taught in years. Now, I have good course work for all the classes I have and will be able to build on and improve that curriculum even more instead of spending time starting all over again. It's not perfect, but it is SO much better!

And the Church choir season has started again. We will be singing as a group at the Sunday service, but I will also be doing a solo during the offeratory. It is an uncomplicated hymn with the words, "You satisfy the hungry heart with gift of finest wheat.." quite suitable for communion. Apparently, the minister will be using that concept either in his sermon or the bible reading for this week.

I was kind of hot to ride and since we had a dinner before choir, I could not ride in the cool of the evening.

I'll feel better about riding after I talk to Tucker anyhow. I hope to also have a brief conversation with Chance and Toby as well to just check on their feelings too. My next post should be a fun read.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Toby the Lesson Horse

We May Have A Rider

For Tucker, that is. A trainer in the area who knows Gabriel has a husband who rides all kinds of track horses. That means he is essentially fearless. That is all Tucker needs.

However, I will wait to call him until after I "talk" with Tucker via my communicator. Both Gabriel and I suspect some of the issues might be soreness. The work we are doing now really makes Tuck work off his hind end, and he may be having some muscle or joint pain. In most cases, there are ways to fix that, as long as there is nothing actually going "wrong" in the joint. (Caroline well knows about that with Tetley.) On the up side, Tucker never takes any lame or even "iffy" strides so it just could be the same kind of soreness Toby was prone too. Also on the up side is the fact that Tucker is built with good balance already so using his back end and elevating the front does not go against his nature.

Still, the concept of the correct reaction to the leg and driving aids is still something he really needs to understand, so having someone ride him for me to make that point is a definite good idea regardless.

Meanwhile, I took Toby for the lesson today. There was a plus and a minus to that. The minus is that we really didn't make any kind of horse training progress as he does nearly every exercise up to Intermediare 1 already. The plus was that I was able to work on my aids for all the exercises. Gabriel was very complimetary of my riding, which was nice, and, of course, Toby was even more deserving of compliments. We worked in a medium frame, not lower level, but not up to FEI level either. The shoulder-ins and haunches-in were a cinch as was the half pass at the trot.

I had to laugh during the canter work. Gabriel had me do a half pass from the centerline to the wall and as soon as we hit the track, Toby did a flying change. It was about the only real error of the ride, so we did a repeat of that exercise asking him to keep the counter lead until I asked for the change. Toby is so quick to the aids I really have to be careful to make myself very clear about what I want.

Again, he earned some good words for his flying changes as they were clean and nice and bouncy. It was fun to ride him in a lesson and do some more complex work.

But, I must remember it was not always that way with him either. When he was a youngster, he ended up spending a few weeks with my trainer learning to behave and respond correctly to the aids. As good as he is now, was a bad as he was then. It puts things with Tucker into perspective and makes it possible for me to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I have never really trained an "easy" horse. Maybe Chancypants will be the one at last.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Back in the Saddle Again

Tucker and Chance

I rode Chance first today.

He is not quite as advanced as he was after I had long lined him for a spell, but he was still much better than when I had first started him. The big issue is, as is often the case with green youngsters, steadiness to the bit. His head is all over the place, but when it's right he feels really good. I have the feeling that once he really takes the bit and stretches into it I will be able to develop quite a nice trot. I still am not ready to canter him as his balance, due mostly to the head which is, a consquence of his balance---kind of a Catch 22--is really erratic. I am not bold enough to just "go for it" without having some semblance of control there.

At any rate, I gave him a goo session of trot work with lots of changes of direction. He bends better left than right, but he is getting very "steerable." I really think working him on the long lines again will help a lot. Since he feels sound, I will start alternating the riding and lining. I just need to be on the alert in case whatever the hind end problem was should show up again. Since we don't know exactly what it was, I don't want to stress him until I have built up some more muscle.

I put the fly armor on Tucker so he had no excuses. I did not put on spurs, but I did carry the dressage whip. From the start, he was forward and stayed that way for most of the ride. I had to really push the canter, but he accepted my leg and a little of the whip without any kind of protest. Towards the end of the session, perhaps 20 minutes or so, he was really working through to the bit, and accepting half halt corrections and subsequent driving without any problems.

He is a constant puzzle. Today, my leg on him was fine. I don't know if the spurs would have made any difference, but there was none of the "I won't" from him at all. I was, as a result, able to be very aggressive when he needed to be pushed, and all in all, I had a really good ride.

I lunged Toby again, as I had to go to a Town meeting and didn't really have the time to saddle and bug armor him. I sent him over some trotting poles to break up the session and he was a star! Even when I didn't quite have him aligned correctly to trot the line he did it anyway. What an honest fellow he has become.

Now, mind you, Toby was not an easy train either. Nor was my Russell. PJ was very cooperative, although far too emotional, but Toby was nearly as bad as Tucker is now about going forward off the leg. Chris, my trainer then, took him on for several weeks and convinced him hat forwared was an essential. Ever since, it has been no issue at all.

However....a number of times, when Toby was having hock problems--easily fixed with a dose of Adequan--he would kick out at the leg.

So, I must question whether Tucker's reactions may be motivated by soreness. I already know that Dr. Palmer and NJ Equine said he had some "juvenile spavin," which is very common in young Thoroughbreds. While that was well over 2 years ago, it does give me pause.

We'll just have to see what Tucker tells Jeri about his feelings.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Lunging Again

Another Lazy Day

I guess the prospect of going back to school has stalled me in a state of rebellion.

I did virtually nothing all day. I just kind of hung out and played with the computer.

I did, however, do lunging sessions with all three Boys.

Toby was, as usual virtually perfect. It always amazes me to realize just how well he is trained to the lunge line. All I have to do is "think" what I want and he does it. On the last downward transition from canter to trot, I barely had the last "t" out of my mouth and he was in the gait in a beautiful downward.

Tucker was watching pretty intently as I worked both Toby and Chance. Good thing because Chance was really good too. He kept a nice forward trot and willing went up into canter on both leads with no problem. Keeping the canter was another matter on the right. He was not bad about it at all, but he did break several times. I suspect he doesn't quite feel as balanced on that lead, so it's harder for him to keep it, especially if he is not going fast. Some of it might be a lack of stamina as well since he really isn't very working fit, but that's OK. The important thing is how obedient he is becoming and quite willing to work.

By the time I got to him, Tucker was very interested in being worked. He practically put his head in the halter. He was a little more forward than usual as on the line I often have to chase him to get him to trot on. He did some decent work and then moved right out when I asked for canter. He was lazy though, and broke gait once or twice. Since I was just working him in a halter without side reins, it was very easy for him to fall apart in the gait unless I really encouraged him with the lunge whip. The left lead was better, though, and seemed that once he got himself going, his stride just improved naturally.

I am wondering if something physical causes some of his behavior issues, To work on that, I will be having a communications session with him on Friday morning. I have had really good results when Jeri has "talked" to Tucker and my other horses in the past, so perhaps this will get some kind of explanation and understanding of the basic, "Forward off the leg" issue. If something is sore or bothering him about my riding, the tack, or his body, we may find out by asking the right questions. If it is just a temperament issue, at least I will know that training will probably sort it out in time.

To the skeptics out there, I have had really amazing things happen with the animal communicator I use, so I am a believer. Here's hoping we will have some success sorting out Tucker's issues. He is a very talented horse, but at this time, his attitude is really getting in the way of progress.

Still haven't heard from Gabriel regarding the lesson on Wednesday, so I don't know which horse is going. I have decided that if Tucker stays home I will take Toby. While I have taken him as far as I feel is fair to him in dressage training, I can still learn some good riding skills by taking a lesson on him. It's not quite the same as riding to train, but rather riding to ride well.

I had thought to take Chance, but he is not really fit and even if we took a short lesson on him, the trailer ride over and the lesson just might be too much to ask at this point.

I'll just have to wait until he is fit.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Soggy and Warm

A Day in Church and Elsewhere

I sang our duet in church today. There was one little glitch, but otherwise it was great! Everyone was very complimentary, and there were many comments as to how well Florence and I blended. That's so nice as it's one thing we really worked on.

I will be doing a solo next Sunday as well, so the voice will be busy again.

After church we all went to lunch. That too was a pleasant hour or so.

Then, of course, there was the drawing at Rick's Saddle Shop for a brand new John Deere lawn tractor. I had a handful of tickets. One each for my visits to the shop and then for each $50 spent, another. I won't admit to how many. Suffice it to say I had more than two chances.

Well, I didn't win, but the guy standing right next to me did. He was thrilled, so I was happy for him. I didn't need the tractor, but Rick had said I could auction it off or use it in trade for something else at the tractor dealer. That would have been nice, but it was also nice to see the older gentleman so happy too.

Rick does drawings for $1000 gift certificates twice a year too. He is a very smart businessman, but he gives as well as gets. He has donated many things to the NJ Horse Park and often sponsors prizes at shows. I was lucky enough to win a very expensive tack trunk from him once when my dressage score was closest to a pre-established score at a big show.

When I got back home, I fed the Boys and the kitties and went out to mow the lawn with my new John Deere that I bought earlier this summer. (My old mower stopped working and while I will still get it fixed, I needed something to mow with if and when I send it for repair.)

While it was finally cooling off a bit, it is still very humid out. It was not as terribly hot as it was yesterday, but it certainly wasn't pleasant.

If the thunderstorms don't come in later, and if I still have some energy, I may go out to lunge Chance and Toby. Tucker the naughty boy gets the day off.

Saturday, August 25, 2007


Wave the White Flag

Tucker has won round one!

Gabriel decided today after a less than stellar lesson, that Tucker needs a rider who will battle it out with him over the "leg means forward no matter what" concept.

I am not the rider to do it, and Gabriel freely admits he no longer wants to ride out such horses.

Tucker went from brilliant to dead stop stuck his feet in concrete today during the lesson. Some of his work was positively wonderful and then, he'd either get tired or just fed up with having to work and start getting nasty about my leg.

Sometimes he'd go forward off the leg aid. Sometimes he'd kick out. Sometimes he'd threaten. And at least twice he just quit altogether. The last quit, near the end of the lesson was a total shutdown. I could not turn him or get a foot to move at all. He would not even lead forward when Gabriel took hold of the reins.

We waited. We cajoled. We asked nicely. We asked not so nicely. But I didn't dare use either whip or spur with any conviction as that is what sets him up into a rear or off into a rocket launch buck.

Finally, I managed to turn him. Gabriel led him a few strides, then I got him walking and finally into a stretchy trot.

While fatigue may have played a role, the fact was that earlier on, he was also disputing my leg and would not always go.

So, between now and Wednesday, Gabriel will try to find someone who can ride through the nonsense and convince Tucker to go when told. We've pretty much convinced ourselves there is nothing physically wrong with him, to make him behave this way. He is sound and doesn't seem to have any soreness issues anywhere. My only question is that I am using the new Ansur on him and it is contructed a little differently from the older model. But I haven't had the chance to ride and switch saddles to see if that makes any difference.

Besides, the fact is that no matter what saddle he's in, he still does not respect the leg.

It is frustrating, because he really does have a lot of talent. I certainly hope we can sort this out sooner than later.

So, stay tuned for Wednesday. If we can't find a rider by then, I will take either Toby or Chance for my lesson. Big decision.

At least I have a choice.

Friday, August 24, 2007

All Present and Accounted For

Shoes, That Is

Scott Previte, my farrier extraordinare, extends greetings to all who read my blog!

I told him of my British friends' comments about how hard it was to get a shoer out. Scott wanted me to tell you, "Americans believe in providing great service!"

Mind you, this was said with a big grin as he drove off. He also said he warranteed that Tucker's shoe would stay on at least until his brake lights disappeared from my driveway.

Well, so far, so good, except that I have left Tucker in his stall all day. I did do a lunging session with him and will again tomorrow before my lesson. If we don't get any more rain, it will be dry enough to turn him out tomorrow afternoon.

The foot does look better, but at this point, I will be worrying about that shoe every time I see him frolic.

The last two days have been very busy.

I went to school yesterday morning to talk to my principal-the administrator in charge of my school, to protest the teaching schedule he had assigned me. Suddenly, I have become the Freshman English teacher. These are the kids just coming into the school. I have not taught regular level freshmen for over 20 years! My last class was just the college prep kid and the curriculum was entirely designed for them. Technically, it cannot be used as is for the regular level kids. Virtually all the lessons, materials, plans, etc, I have are for the upper level grades. To top it off there is a mandatory theatre arts component in the 11th and 12th grade curriculum. Not only did I help design that, but I am the only English teacher in the department with a theater arts background--8 year as producer of a community theater, some 8 play scripts I've written have been performed, and I have played a number of roles on stage.

I got the usual explanation for why I was "chosen" to teach the freshman. They needed a strong teacher who was stable in the position to do it.

I stopped him in his tracks on that one as I have heard that word "strong teacher needed," far too many times as my teaching schedule has been messed with over and over giving me all kinds of courses to invent and difficult classes to teach. Every time they run into a problem with English, I have ended up somehow bearing the burden of fixing it. Tech writing, test taking/remedial English for Practical Nursing candidates, inventing the entire college prep curriculum for all four grade levels, teaching 5 different courses every day, and even, twice, filling in as a history teacher.

This is the final straw. My enthusiasm and joy in the job have been completely destroyed. I do not want to go back to teaching in September at all.

I have lain awake for several nights already fretting over this. I am the most senior English teacher in the entire district of 5 schools with over 36 years of experience. I should not be treated this way.

So, Thursday did not go well.

At night, I did go to a meeting with the warehouse foes. That was basically good, but I did have a problem with one of the members of the group who apparently has all kinds of contacts and information about how to protect and preserve historic sites and she has never bothered to make even the least effort to help the EVA with the Van Dyke Farm.

I bit my tongue on this as the spirit of the meeting did not deserve my resentment, but I sure wish people would take an interest--as I have done--in issues not limited to their own back yards.

OK, Thursday spent.

Today was totally occupied with Kelly and the NJ State 4-H horse show.

She had qualified for the dressage competition and rode Training Level Tests 1&2. As I've said before, her horse, Sax, is a beautiful mover. Kelly, has not, however, yet managed to learn how to harness that movement. While Sax can go beautifully on the bit, he does not easily give that to his rider and Kelly is too new to dressage riding to really understand how to get him there. On the plus side, he is very obedient.

She rode two OK tests. There were some moments when Jazz went to the bit, and sometimes not. We eventually left before the classes were pinned, but Kelly ended up somewhere in the middle with scores of 58.6 or so and 63.3.

I am really hoping she will stick with the dressage. She really is a jumper rider, but the dressage basics would make Sax so much better at that would be a shame not to see that horse in the dressage arena working to his potential. Wow!

We also hit Rick's Saddle Shop's tent sale--about 20 minutes from the Horse Park. I managed to pick up a new winter blanket for Chance, several pairs of bell boots for Tucker, some really nice half chaps, a pair of Ariats, (My shoe size has changed and my old ones don't fit), and some dressage whips and lead ropes, since I either lose or destroy both fairly regularly.

Everything in the store except for the feed and wormers was 20% off in addition to the the tent sale items which had drastic markdowns. There were some fab jackets and breeches, etc, but I avoided them. I already have too many of both.

I am completely exhausted.

Lesson tomorrow. Hope my knees feel better than they do now.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

What a Shoe Off!

Shoe Was A Bad Day...

Get the puns?

Tucker lost his new shoe sometime this afternoon. I kept him in all night and most of the morning. I had a chiropractor appointment, so I turned everyone out for the afternoon.

It was not raining, and aside from some spots around my barn itself, the mud was not bad. I opened the ring gate to the pasture where there was no mud.

Scott had done a good job nailing the shoe back on the foot he'd lost it from, but to tell the truth, that foot was not in good shape as it had a big chunk out of it in the area of the nail holes. I guess there just wasn't enough hoof to hold it when it got wet.

Or else, the frolicking got pretty raucous and Tucker stepped on the shoe. Or....

I called Scott and he said he'd come out sometime tomorrow. If the sun comes out the ground will dry up pretty quickly and that will help a lot, but now I will be trying to figure some way to keep the shoes on until that foot grows back.

The problem with keeping Tucker in is that he gets pretty high when I try to ride him. Lunging does nothing to settle him down either. This does not bode well.

I didn't get to ride him today as I had planned on it for this evening when I discovered the missing shoe. Frustrating now, but more worrisome down the line.

Guess we'll just have to see what Scott says--besides giving me a lecture about turnout. *sigh*

I did find two shoes in the pasture--which is not at all muddy. One was Toby's and one Tucker's but I don't think it's the new one. I'm pretty sure it's the one he lost just before.

I'll go out again tomorrow to do a shoe search, but it's not easy combing three acres.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Shoes and Showers

And A Rehearsal

Florence and I are singing our duet in my church on Sunday, so we had a rehearsal this morning.

Just as I was organizing to leave, the phone rang and it was Scott, my shoer. He wanted to know if my yard was OK for him to come to shoe in the afternoon. While it had rained all night, the grass where he parks was still pretty solid, so we set up the appointment.

That meant I had to go back out to put the horses in their stalls and fill the water buckets. Since they have a trough outside, unles I am keeping them in, I don't routinely fill the buckets in the stalls. Since Scott needed dry horses to shoe, they needed to be in and they needed water.

Well, I managed to get it all done in short order, headed out in the rain for my rehearsal--which went well--and then went to a nice lunch with my fellow musicians.

Came home to find Scott and his assistant Kyle well into shoeing Tucker and getting Toby ready for his shoes. To my neverending joy, Tucker was being a good boy, standing well and not being contrary as he sometimes is.

Apparently, he and Scott had already reached an "understanding" about biting--Tucker, not Scott--and were in truce mode. Scott and I talked about Tucker's arrogance a bit and Scott noted that Tucker really doesn't like to be "told " to do anything if he wants to do something else. That about sums it up. He really doesn't like to be corrected, but over time, he has learned to accept it with a certain gudging tolerance.

I forgot to tell Scott that later on in the shoeing, when he had gone out to the truck, that Tucker was getting a little restless on the crossties. Then, Scott got a phone call, and as soon as Tucker heard his voice, he straightened right up back to proper attention. It was kind of funny because I was right there and my presence had no effect on how he was standing--but Scott's voice???

Toby was, of course, his usualy mannerly self, standing perfectly.

And Chance wasn't too bad either. He does fuss a little now and then when he has to hold up his foot for a while to be trimmed but it's mostly that young horse kind of thing rather than any kind of real disobedience. He really is a good boy about most things. Kyle did his trimming job and handled him really well. He was patient and kind about it, and Chance cooperated nicely. Once he kind of pulled his foot away by stepping forward on the other one--guess he must have used Kyle as the missing leg--but Kyle simply stepped away, quietly repositioned Chance and got right back to work.

It is so nice to have three horses my shoer can handle without assistance. So many people I know have to hold their horses for shoeing.

When all was done, I put the Boys back in their stalls. It was really wet out, raining, cool, and miserable. The rain may keep up off and on for the rest of the week.

My biggest concern is that Kelly, the young rider, has her State Championship show on Friday. However, the big plus is that her ride times are 11:16 and 11:48. That is great. She can get Sax warmed up, ride the first test and almost go into the second test right after. She will have just enough time between rides to kind of polish up again, make a few adjustments and do the second test. It would be perfect times for Tucker. I hope Sax thinks the same way.

Now, if only the weather will cooperate too.

Monday, August 20, 2007

I Knew It Would Happen

As the Rain Keeps Coming

Actually, it hasn't really rained too hard, just off and on, but more is predicted for tonight and tomorrow.

So, in between showers, I decided to go out to take a short ride on Tucker. My main goal was to see how long it took me to recreate that wonderful feeling I had yesterday as noted in my post below.

I brought the big boy in only to find he was missing a shoe.

I'd called Scott, my farrier last week to get on his list and in that phone call I told him all the shoes were on, but that I was sure one would be missing before he came to do them.

Well, I was right.


Guess I will have to wait to see how to make Tucker into the wonder horse again.

And it's raining again. Sounds like Britain.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

When the Weatherman is Right, He's Right

And I Hate It!

OK, it was cool but humid when I got up to feed. The sky was cloudy too, but it was not raining.

When I got back in, I just got distracted with the computer and some vacuuming and just kind of hanging out watching Sunday morning TV--something I never get to do during choir season.

Doodling around, I checked the weather on the Internet. The forecast called for rain to start at about 1 PM. Oops. It was just after and I looked out--no rain. Cool.

Put on my breeches and my Kneedit knee strap to try them for riding. They do seem to work because my knees hurt less when they're on, but I don't think I can get my tall boots on with them. I'd gotten a pair of men's Ariat paddock boots the last time Rick's Saddle Shop had its big tent sale, so I put them on...comfy and a good fit!!

Out I went--into the rain! Sure enough the forecast was right on, again. How do they do that.

I decided I'd ride anyway as it was more showery than really rainy. I saddled up Tucker, carried the whip, and left my spurs off.

Well, he was going all right, but I just couldn't get the impulsion I wanted. Not that I get it with the spurs all the time either as he has a tendancy to get nasty if I use them too strongly to ask for more. It was OK, but not great.

Then, in the canter, I tapped him on the shoulder.

Well! What an insult! He kicked out.

I yanked him up and gave him a good verbal tongue lashing for that.

Then I asked for "go" again and----Wow! It was lovely. The canter was expressive and up on both reins and the trot followed suit.

Apparently, there is a battle that needs to be won here somewhere. I did not hit him hard, and I didn't follow up with strong aids. Honestly, I just punished him with a short, sharp correction for the kick out, and gave him a lecture about such behavior. Then off he went.

Interesting. I will have to see how the lecture works next time. *G*

Anyhow, that ride ended on a perfectly wonderful note with great gaits and a super good feeling.

I lunged Chance for a short school and he was a super good boy too. What I was really pleased with was how he responded almost instantly to the canter command. He took both leads with quick ease and looked really good. Nice and sound, which is the most important part of it all now.

I would have lunged Toby too, but he made it abundantly clear he wanted no part of any work today. First he trotted around me in an escape circle and then, after snatching the treat, headed out to the pasture.

I won't quite adopt the PJ technique with him about his being worked, but at 17, he deserves to make a few decisions about his life. I do know he loves to go out on the trail, but right now, it's such a big project to put on all the fly gear, if it was going to rain, it just wasn't worth the effort.

Perhaps tomorrow. Perhaps not. We'll just have to wait to see what the weatherman says.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Three for Three

Canada Air

Thanks to our neighbor to the north, we had beautiful, cool and dry weather today.

I kept the windows open in the house and got some chores done. Still much to do, but at least some is finished.

As evening drew on I went out to ride. I had put it off because the Boys were really enjoying being out in the pasture. I had locked them out last night because of the thunderstorms. (And rightly so as someone was stuck by lightning in a parking lot perhaps 20 miles away.) So I let them bask in the sunshine and cool breezes.

Chance came to me first, so I rode him for perhaps 15 minutes. He is steering really well. He is not yet steady to the bit, but once he goes for a little while, he does drop his head and take the rein. I am not pushing him to make the connection yet as we have just started up again after his long layoff. But, I am pleased to say he seems to remember just about everything I taught him before his injury. He moves slightly off the leg so I can bend him and he's pretty even left to right. I need to make sure I keep working him both directions, changing right to left in regular patterns. That way, he won't become one-sided.

Tucker was next and we had a good school except that it wasn't until I was nearly done that I discovered I had buckled his noseband over the bit on the right side instead of under it. Thank goodness that was the problem because he had been resisitant on the right rein and I was worrying that we'd developed a new unevenness. He is still being a little "sticky" on the first canter depart and I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I am working him in a shorter frame. He likes to feel very free before striking off in canter, and when he is more "together" I think it's a harder concept for him to understand. I am asking a lot of him now, so I have to find the balance between being too strong and not being strong enough. He is a very sensitive fellow and the right combination of aids can make a world of difference it getting his cheerful cooperation.

Toby made it clear he wanted to go for a trail ride, but I stayed in the arena. There were no flies there, but I'm pretty sure there were lots in the woods. We worked for about 20 minutes just doing some nice trot work and then a session of canter. Since Tucker was watching intensely from the fence, I had Toby demonstrate canter half pass to flying change several times. Tuck seemed very interested, but when I had Toby do some three tempi to finish up, the audience was distracted. I guess Tucker can only take in so much at one time. *G*

By the time I was done and the reward carrots dispensed, darkness was falling. It was then even more lovely and cool. After all the heat and humidity, it felt wonderful.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Rolling Thunder

And Heat

I took yesterday off after the lesson and the late night meeting, mostly because I was totally worn out.

Today dawned hot and humid from the morning on.

I went to get horse feed in the afternoon and as I was unloading it, the thunder started rumbling on the horizon.

It's been rumbling ever since.

It rolls in with some pretty heavy rain, and rolls out again.

I did manage to grill my supper outside just finishing as another storm rumbled in.

The storms are supposed to bring moderating temperatures and much lower humidity.

If so, I will get some riding in.

Should be fun.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Great Lesson!!

And Two Good Horses

I trailered Kelly's horse (my teenage rider) and Tucker over for a lesson yesterday.

Gabriel gave us both really good rides. I have to say he worked Kelly really hard. Her horse is a big warmblood type she uses mostly for jumping. He has had some dressage background, but Kelly has no dressage background. So, as most horses will, he takes advantage of her lack of understanding by putting his head up and just not working through his back.

She has qualified for the year end 4-H State show in dressage, so this was lesson two in a crash course on how to get the horse on the bit. She is an excellent student, but as most of you know, that "feel" for correctness can often take years of work to develop. Well, in that lesson, she was about an inch away from total success, and I must admit, when that horse goes correctly, he is really wonderful. If she can school him and herself like she did yesterday for the rest of the time before the show and...this is the big one....get him to also work at the show, all I can say is, "Wow!" I will be trailering her to the show and reading her tests, so I guess it will be at least partially up to me to get her warmed up for the tests.

And then there was Tucker.

Gabriel had decided that we needed to just "chip away" little by little at Tucker's "attitudes." So we did.

The remarkable thing to me about Tucker is that when I first start to ride him, the leg on or the spur just makes him more resistant and he'll back off. So then, I kind of coax him forward and as the ride progesses, he accepts the aids. For example, the first canter depart might be a kick out, but once he realizes I want a canter, it's a cinch. I don't know if it's personality or physical sensitivity or what, but I do know I just can't get on kick him forward and get on with it.

Anyhow, once the intitial "Make me," was over with, he really began to work. One of my half halts at the trot had Gabriel gasping with joy as he said Tucker sat right down on his hind end, elevated his hind legs in the trot and gave me a couple of beautiful piaffey steps.

At one point, I looked in the mirror and Tuck was in an upper level frame, very vertical, very up, and just looking grand.

But, get this. We worked for a solid 25 minutes and then just called it a day.

No problem for me. I'd rather spend 25 minutes of totally productive good riding than an hour of trying to get something any day.

Kelly had to go to work and I wanted to stay on to watch Stacie's lesson, so I had both horses to trailer home by myself. More on that later.

Stacie and her horse, Lucky, looked great. She's been taking a lot of clinic lessons and it really has improved her seat and position. And that is translating to Lucky's way of going. He is a big, big warmblood with a long back and she has had difficulty in getting him together to move up to the next level. Well, all her hard work is really paying off. He looked really good and some of her canter departs were absolutely wonderful! I think she too had a great lesson.

So, my next challenge was loading my charges in the trailer. Well, Tucker is no problem at all--kind of "point and click." Throw the lead rope over his neck, Head him up the ramp and he just goes in.

Sax, Kelly's horse, is a minimum two person operation and sometimes even balky at that. One person needs to lead him in and the other has to close the butt bar behind him.

Well, I decided to try it on my own. I led him partway up the ramp, Tossed the lead rope over his neck and...and... HE WALKED RIGHT IN! I don't know if it's because he likes Tucker, or if he wanted to go home, or if he likes my trailer....whatever! I was so proud of him. I gave him a handful of feed, a ton of pats and praise and wished I'd had more carrots.

The lessons aside, I think that was the best part of the whole day!

Aside from going to the Planning Board at night and witnessing them finally deny a warehouse application adjoining a residential development. (And I played a part in helping the decision get made the right way.)

I'll just have to mark the day as one of the better ones I've spent!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Not Tse Tses

But Paralytic Flies, Nonetheless

It was warm, but not oppressive this morning, so I opted to ride Tucker. I still may work the other Boys later, but that will depend on the temperature and my energy levels.

It would have been a totally great school if not for the amazing paralytic horse fly. Now, this is not one of the big B52 bombers, but rather a smaller cousin, only about a half inch long. Some people call them greenheads, presuming this one had the bright green eyes--I cannot testify to that.

Despite the good fly spray, this pest persisted particularly persistently. (Say that three times fast.) But that was not the amazing part!

What was amazing was that when he made his attack, Tucker simply stopped working. Had he only kicked out or protested, it would have been one thing, but he acutually stopped.

It was exactly like the kind of shut down stop he will do if I over correct. I did manage to get him going in a tiny circle, but forward in any kind of line was not in the offing. We finally managed to press on, but it happened at least two more times. I got off once when our last leg yield to the left collapsed into a halt, but be darned if I could get the fly.

His canter work was good to erratic, also because the fly kept insisting on a bite of horse.

Otherwise, the school was great.

One fly. Only one. The rest of them were not yet out of bed.

That'll teach me to put on the fly armor every time I ride.

Even if there isn't a fly on the horizon.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Lines and Fences

And FLIES!!!

Had a chiropractor appointment and physical therapy in the AM, but it was already getting fairly hot, so I decided to work the horses later.

I also went to school to talk to the principal about my teaching schedule--I am not a happy camper--but he wasn't there. So I gossiped a bit, complained a bit, connected with the technology department--since I have a computer lab, I have good friends there-- then went to the post office to send off some mail and buy some stamps.

Home again, I fed the Boys and waited until digestion was complete.

Then I went out to lunge. I set up a little jump at just about a foot and a half high.

Since Chance was the only one who didn't run out to the pasture, I lunged him first. Pleased to say he took both leads nicely, with a few little mistakes taking the right one, but one he had it, he stuck to it. Then I sent him towards the jump. What a little angel! No hesitation, no questions, no panic, just nice smooth jumps, three times in each direction. What I loved was how quiet and honest he was about it. What a great attitude! I hope it sticks as I start back into training him more seriously.

I went out to get either Toby or Tucker next and the clever Toby pulled a trick on me. When I called he came over right away to get a treat, but when I started to halter him, he bounded off, still chewing. Sneaky boy. I did have to laugh because he knew exactly what he was doing and had planned it from the first.

Far less dishonest, Tucker let me halter him and then took the treat. I lunged him as well and then set him at the little fence. He too was quiet about it. The nice change that I saw was that this time, he was really lifting himself off his hind end instead of jumping off his forehand. He did run out once, so his overall grade lost a few points, but he was great otherwise.

The biggest flaw in our lunging session was the darn B52 horse flies. At least four of the darn things kept buzzing him. He did have the fly sheet on, but they kept looking for bare horse to attack. Twice I pulled him in and tried to swat them. I did finally kill three of them, but number 4 was too fast for me. They are nasty, persistent pests, and I can attest they REALLY hurt when they bite.

When I took Tucker back in, Toby was looking for some attention, so he graciously let me halter him and out we went. Well. The lone B52 had stuck around and Toby made it clear he didn't like the critter any more than I did. His trot started off fine, leapt off into several bucks, turned into a canter, deteriorated into more bucking and I eventually lost count of how many rounds he'd done. The fly finally gave up and I asked Toby to jump the fence as well.

Of the three horses, he is the most experienced over jumps, so his style varies between complete nonchalance to total exuberance, depending on just how he decides to take the obstacle. He really is an athletic jumper and could probably take a huge fence with ease. But, my jumping days are really over except for the occasional fun session. Still, I love to watch him go over.

I finished up, fed everyone a nice juicy carrot and called it a night.

I will ride at some point tomorrow as I have a lesson with Gabriel on Wednesday.

Nothing Doing

Sunday Off

Again. My neck was really bothering me early on so I was kind of out of it.

Heat, ice, stretching and later on a good swim fixed the worst of it.

So, I accomplished nothing special.

I have succumbed to the summer doldrums.

I don't think the Boys minded at all.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

And I Rode Them All!

Three Under Saddle

Beautiful weather so far. A bit warm, as the day progesses, but lovely nonetheless.

I got up a bit late, so I had to wait until late morning to ride.

Chance was mooching around, so I brought him in first, saddled him up and gave him a short work. I am delighted to report he felt just fine. His stride is even and he didn't seem to have any kind of limp at all. I rode for about 10 minutes, mostly at the trot and, although I had to urge him on to keep going, he was just fine. He's lost a little of his understanding about how to go to the bit, but I didn't ask for much, so I'm not worried. I'll start working him a little several times a week and see how it goes.

Tucker was second in line after being very nosy about my riding Chance. I didn't put my spurs on, but did carry a whip. He was a tad lazy, but I just rode for the basics with tons of transitions in trot and canter. We had only one "almost stop" and I worked through it so quickly I'm not even sure Tucker noticed he'd tried to nap with me. The best thing we did was the halt, reinback, trot combos and I did three on each rein with no problems. Yea! All positive here.

Toby wanted to go out on the trail, but I didn't want to fight bugs, so we too stayed in the ring. Again, it was a short work but he is so easy to ride there isn't really anything to school. We did tour of lateral work on both reins at the trot then cantered and finished each lead with a half pass flying change movement. Did I say he was perfect? Well, even in a very long frame, he was.

A good morning's work. Now I am getting ready to go to the County Fair--about 10 minutes from here. If anything really fun happens, I'll post again.

Ta ta!

Went to the fair and had a nice time just kind of walking around and looking at the exhibits and animals. Saw my chiropractor there and he was quite busy talking to potential clients for the clinic. Checked out the hot tubs, bought a gyro and a glass of fresh made orangeade.

Tried to make a blood donation, but my pressure was to high. Bummer. My doctor is working on it with natural supplements, but sometimes it goes up and sometimes it goes down. Today it was up. Phooey.

Went for a really nice swim on the way home. The pool was not at all crowded and the water was beautifully refreshing. I did 30 lengths of the pool to wear myself out even more, but it surely di feel GOOD!!!

Back home, I've watched the PGA Championship golf tournament which Tiger Woods is currently leading, finished up my gyro and now I am tired and a really good way.

I missed the pig races by a few minutes and didn't bother to stay to see the next set of races. The little porkers run for oreos and are cute as bugs. I didn't watch any of the professional wrestling either, but I sure heard the crashing and thudding as they tossed each other around.

It really is more fun to go to the fair with someone else, but I still enjoyed myself.

I guess I could say the whole day was a great success.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Would You Believe 40 Degrees?

And I Fell for Their Charms

Well, the temperature dropped into the 60's, some 40 degrees less than Wednesday, and 30 degrees down from yesterday.

I have not yet ridden and it's 10 PM. I am all dressed and was headed out, but the phone rang and it was one of those telephone surveys. Since I was about prescription drugs, I participated for over a half hour. By then it was time for several TV shows I hate to miss. So I am still here.

On the other hand, I don't feel too bad. Yesterday afternoon, with the threat of thunderstorms, I had closed off the pasture so the Boys would not be out on the hill in case of lightning. The forecast was still for storms today. We did get some heavy showers, but no thunder.

So, after dinner, I opened the gate. To say the little herd was thrilled is an understatement. They came a'frolicking and galloping happily out to the field like a bunch of school kids on recess.

I was already feeling guilty about bringing them in to ride, so I let succumbed to their charms and haven't bothered them since.

I can still work somebody if I decide too, but I can also wait until tomorrow morning. We'll see.

After all, I am dressed for it......

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Cooler, I Think

Chance's Daddy, Romancer

And A Ride At Last

I THINK it was cooler today. However, when I went out to feed in the morning, by the time I was done, I was sweated up, so I guess the humidity was really no lower.

I hung out in the house for the day again, venturing out once or twice trying to imagine that it was nicer than yesterday. Then, when it clouded over, it was definitely cooler.

So, around PM feeding, I saddled up Tucker, dressed him in the bug armor and went into the ring. It was raining just a little by then and there was a breeze. Glory of glories, the flies were minimal.

We had a good school. On a positive note, I did tons of transitions and only once did he get stuck in neutral. To overcome it, I circled in one direction and then the other and once his feet got going again, we were off.

After that, I even managed about 6 halt, rein back, trot transitions without a problem, so that was really great. He seemed to thrive on the praise too. As well, we managed several sets of shoulder-in and, on the last pass in each direction some darn good effort and half pass. I was really pleased.

The canter work was essentially good, but I think I need to get the basic gait more forward. I think when I hold him too much in the frame he feels too restricted, but he keeps the canter going and is quite cooperative on the downward transistions. As a matter of fact we had some nice canter/walk/canter efforts as well, so once he gave me a good one on the right lead, I finished up.

A good ride. But we were both soaked in sweat at the end despite the cooler air. Again, it was the humidity.

The rain was threatening even more and the forecast calls for potentially heavy thunderstorms. I didn't work the other two Boys in the showers--although now it looks like the rain has backed off again.

Still, it's OK. Chance still has time off and Toby really doesn't care.
For those interested, Chance's daddy has a web page at:
Here are two more pics:

Quite a handsome fellow. I don't have pics of Chance's mom. She is a paint. Chance did not inherit his dad's size, and I haven't done enough with him to see how much he inherited of his athletic ability.
He's a good mover, though not breathtaking. What I hope for most is temperament and work ethic. I need a good steady horse for my aging body. *G*

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Over One Hundred

And It's Not My Bank Account

It's the temperature.

On my garage, in the sun, the thermometer reads well over 106F.

The only saving grace is that there is a breeze.

I've spent another day doing virtually nothing. Well, a little cleaning, but that's it.

The horses are just hanging out in the barn with the fans blowing on them. Surprisingly, no one seemed to be too sweated up, so the fans, the shade and the lack of moving have helped.

I thought of going for a swim but I'd wager the pool is packed with kids. I may do some shopping later or I may not.

I do have to take the garbage and recylables out to the road so if I get the car out to carry the stuff down I may just keep going for a while. The kitties are out of cat treats and I did promise DJ I'd get some.

Chance is doing well, it seems to answer Claire's query. I lunged him a little the other day and I didn't see any sign of a limp. I will still wait at least another week as my vet suggested, but with this weather, it really doesn't matter anyhow. He is getting better about the fly spray too, but still will escape somehow if I don't put a lead shank on him and treats in his feed tub.

When I read Caroline's blog about her trials with Jazz, I keep hoping Chance's warmblood breeding is tempered by his mother's Paint/Pinto traits enough that he will just be an average kind of horse as far as his attitude goes. I have seen some signs of rebellion, and he is certainly very, very smart, so that bodes for an interesting future.

Still, he has been just a doll about going out on the trail and was positively golden when he visited the big horse show, so I am hoping he will prove to be a mellow fellow.

Only time will tell and I am very patient.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Well, That's No Fun

Hot and Humid

Again. Not a nice morning even, so I just fed the Boys and didn't try to work anyone.

Had to go back to the chiropractor which then led to some shopping.

Then a quick lunch and I went off for a swim. Good time as there was no one in the lap lanes to bother me so I managed, I think, 22-24 lengths of the pool before calling it a day.

Back home I thought about some chores but didn't do much. Fed the Boys and the cats, hung out and then as the sun dipped below the horizon, decided it might have cooled off enough so I went out to lunge Tucker.

I guess the big B52 flies had the same idea. The lunging went well considering that two huge horseflies, measuring over and inch long each decided Tucker's rump looked nice and tasty. He had the fly sheet on so when they made first landing I managed to bring him in to me and squash one of them.

The other one was too quick and keep on the attack. Once or twice it made contact with horse instead of sheet and Tucker went into some wild bucks. This is exactly why trying to ride him when the flies are out is actually dangerous. The bug armor has so far deterred the big ones, but I still have to be on the alert. The only good thing was that Tucker's canter was faster than the fly could fly so we were able to just keep ahead of it at the end of the session and then hurry back into the barn.

The tenacious critter followed us into the run in shed too and I almost nailed it when it landed on the door, but I think I missed. Either way, the horses were safe in the stalls with the fans blowing at high on them. Fed everyone a carrot and gave up.

I wait all year for summer vacation when I have all the time in the world and then the weather and the bugs conspire to make riding a lost art.

Ah well, at least Tucker had a bit of exercise. He won't be totally out of shape.

And I'll just keep myself fit swimming.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Neck Out

Moderately Hot

Not the best of weather today. Cloudy, then sunny, all over kind of hot.

My neck was out when I got up so I was battling a headache. It's actually been a while since it's been that bad, so off I went o the chiropractor. With physical therapy, that took up the whole morning.

On the way home I went to the pool, this time successfully beating the crowds--if any were going to show up with the iffy weather.

Did my laps. Would you believe the pool was practically empty and yet, the six kids managed to get into the middle lane of about five lap lanes set up for swimming to crash into me? The lifeguard quickly corrected them but still. Damn, the pool is huge. I was the only one swimming laps. They had half the pool to themselves and still managed to get in my way.

After laps, I slid down the water slide twice--also had that to myself and then did a couple tours in the innner tubes around the lazy river--Cozy Creek. Finished up with another four lengths of the pool and headed out to the feed store.

I'm pretty sure the saddle shop will be having the big tent sale in a week or so and with it the 20% off everything sale, so I only bought enough grain to hold me until then.

By the time I got home it was closing in on 3 PM.

Fed the Boys once I'd changed my clothes and then just kind of hung out, alternately using heat and ice on my still sore neck.

The weather bodes ill for the next two days. If I get up early again, I will work the Boys then before the heat--if it cools off overnight. Trouble is, the prediction is for temperatures up near 100F with high humidity.

Nasty, erratic summer weather. Bad bugs in the woods, but I have managed to keep pretty good control around the barn. The Boys have fans inside, but they have been hanging out outside a lot too, so the flies can't be too bad. As long as they stay away from the tree line of the forest, it's pretty good.

The forecast says it should break by Thursday. Guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Best Laid Plans

Oft Go Astray

So, it was kind of nice today. Pleasant this morning for sure, but I got up too late to take advantage of it.

I'd thought about going to church to hear the new harpsichord, but I was too late for that too.

So I lollygagged around the house after doing the barn chores and finally got back to work on the bedroom project. Did a fair bit of work there and then decided to go for a swim before I worked the Boys.

Well, once again, the lap pool was closed. Guess someone got sick again. And the family pool was closed. Someone else? Note here. Do not swim after you have eaten a bunch of greasy food from the snack bar???? Kids, I'd guess. One would hope an adult would have more sense.

Anyhow, the swim was out. The pool was not going to open again before closing.

OK, drove back home still dry.

Changed into riding gear and saddled up Toby for a short jaunt around the now cut rye field. Even in full bug armor, the darn flies were annoying him. Not intolerable, but definitely not completely comfortable.

Finished that ride and saddled up Tucker, bug armor and all for a workout in the ring.

Mixed reviews. He was kind of fussy, but I'm not sure how much of that was due to fly attacks on his legs and underparts. A big bomber fly came at us too, but it had no success. I'll chalk most of Tucker's erratic action to the bugs. They really were voracious.

Too bad too, because it really was kind of pleasant out there.

At any rate, we did a lot of transitions in all three gaits and, after some fair attempts and half pass called it a night.

I'd set up my new gas barbeque earlier and when I was done riding, I cooked a nice little steak with some veggies and had dinner.

Fat and not tired enough--I could have used that swim.

Saturday Off

Too Hot

Miserable day, so I did virtually nothing all day.

I did go swimming and did 24 lengths of the pool, dodging a man and his two children who insisted on playing around in the lap lanes. They were sort of swimming laps off and on, but in between they were fooling around in the middle of the pool, and I never quite could figure out where they were going to be.

Annoying, but since they "had" the lane when I got there, it was, I guess, up to me to kind of work around them. The other lanes were pretty full too, and kids were bouncing in and out all over the place. I think the lifeguards need to officiate better about the lanes, but they too are just high school kids--they do a good job about most stuff--so really controlling the lap lanes isn't easy when adults are swimming.

Came home, did a little shoe organizing and just lolled around.

Plenty of work to do and I just didn't do it.

Friday, August 03, 2007

An Off and On Day

Hot But....

Not as humid as it should have felt considering the numbers. Maybe I am just getting used to it.

This morning was really nice at around 7 AM when I went out to feed. I hadn't planned on riding then, but instead I decided to do some lunging. I gave Tucker a short workout and then went to catch Toby. He walked off, but Chance came over to me, so I decided to see how sound he looked.

I gave him a short session on the line, doing some nice trot on both reins. I must say, he looks sound, but the darn circle was pretty erratic. Why?

Well, the two other boys decided to come into the ring to observe and kept heading into the lunging circumfrence, forcing Chance to adjust to avoid a collision. Usually I lock the gate but since I wasn't really doing much, I hadn't bothered. I guess Tucker and Toby just needed to "snoopervise" the whole affair.

Done with Chance, I tried to get Toby again. Well, the chestnut wonder would have nothing of that and took off for the pasture in a mad gallop with Tucker and Chance following close behind.

Even misbehaving horses have benefits. With the Boys out of the way, I had no intereference in getting all the breakfast buckets dumped, the water tub filled, and the stalls tidied before I called the herd in to eat. Tuck was first in as he is truly a "stomach" horse--easily tempted by a food bribe.

Work done, I headed in. I did nothing useful for the rest of the morning, and then got a call from my eye doctor that my order of contact lenses was in. After lunch I headed back out. I looked out to the paddock and there was Tucker lying flat out in the riding ring with Toby and Chance hovering over him.

My heart lurched. I'd never seen him lying in the sun and heat like that. Worse, when I called, he started to get up and then lay down again. Chance was stomping around near his head and, I swear, it looked like he stepped right over him. Worried, I went out to see if he was OK.

Big sigh of relief--he was fine. I guess he'd gone down to roll in the sand and decided it felt good enough for a little nap.

I picked up my contacts, checked out the new shopping center, stopped at the muncipal building to pick up a copy of a proposed ordinance I was worried about, came home, fed the Boys and the cats, and then headed off to do some swimming.

Bummer. The lap pool was closed because someone had gotten sick in the water and they were shocking, vacuuming and cleaning. It would take several hours before the water would be safe again. The lazy river with the inner tubes was OK as it's separate, so I hopped in a tube and rode around for about a half-hour. I figured I'd get a little exercise by climbing up the stairs and riding the water slide down once or twice, but on my third tour of the river circuit, they announced that the slide had just been closed. What!!???

There is a family pool but it is impossible to swim in there as people play all kinds of games and kids are goofing around in it. I gave up. I considered going to my friend Bill's house to swim in his pool, but in the end I surrendered to fate.

So much for my planned exercise. Better eat a salad for dinner.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

New Saddle

On A Hot Morning

I rode fairly early today, once again, before the real heat of the day.

I had no plan of riding for long, and I didn't. My main goal was to give the Boys some exercise rather then intense training and to see how the new saddle feels.

Ansur has changed the design of the basic Classic. There is more padding in the seat and underneath and it has a new pommel that looks like a conventional cut back saddle.

I must say, it is quite attractive and comfy. The extra seat padding is a decided bonus.

It is, however, hard to tell exactly how much different the saddle is from the more original model at this point because the new leather is not yet broken in. So far, the saddle is comfortable, well balanced and has a more "saddle" feel between me and the horse. My old Classic, well broken in is more flexible and gives me a close feel for the horse's back.

I am pretty confident that once the leather of the new saddle breaks in, it will be similar.

I also think the billets are a little shorter than in the original model. This is fine as the slightly shorter length is much better.

As for the Boys--both of them seemed to think the new saddle was A-OK. Tucker was a very cooperative fellow even though I didn't have my spurs on. His canter was a little lazy, but we did a lot of lateral work at the trot and he was very responsive. His shoulder-in is good, the leg yields are fine, and the half-pass is coming a little at a time. He is just a bit confused about the half-pass. I start it out of a shoulder-in, and he's not quite sure I really mean it when I ask. On the whole, though, he is really trying and once the concept sets in, he will be great at it.

Toby was a lazy fellow without the spurs. He does know how to take advantage and gets himself in a "de-energized" trot that probably looks fine, but really lacks impulsion. When I push him on without spurs, he goes and then, if I don't keep at him, just kind of lolls back to the lazy trot. His canter tends to be big and rolling no matter what, so once we transitioned up, he was definitely doing some more work. The nice thing was that on both reins, even without being much on the bit, he did two nice clean flying changes. I always appreciate that as a reliable, clean change is a big asset.

I am going to dinner with friends this evening. I am looking forward to it.

The Heat is On---Again.

Did Some Work and Went to a Movie

Hot by the time I got up, so I fed the Boys and started some chores.

I dragged the riding ring and then decided to alternately clean up the paddocks and run-in shed and fill one of the low spots in the ring. That entails digging up what's left of my quarry screenings--now packed hard by rain and sun, fill the bucket on the tractor, drive it over to the ring, drop it, and later drag it level.

The tractor part is fine.

The shoveling is not.

Nor is picking up the manure to put it in the bucket.

Ah well. I managed to get fair bit done before I was totally exhausted. And, by then it was around noon time.

I had planned on going to see Harry Potter at 2:20 and getting my hair cut, so soon after I was on my way.

Side note here: I went to see Sicko Tuesday night. If half of what Michael Moore portrays about socialized universal health care in Britain, Canada, France and Cuba is true, the US is pathetically behind in our system.

While my health insurance is pretty good, I do have to pay. Right now, the treaments my knee doctor gives me are no longer covered, so I will have to outlay money the next time I go.

My chiropractor visits cost me a $10 co-pay at first and then, once I have gone 30 times, I have to pay $50 a visit. I have a way around that, and my school must reimburse me otherwise--complex story--but the fact is, I have to pay.

According to the film, other countries provide full health care of high quality for free to citizens. I am sure taxes pay for this, but when you consider how much a serious operation could cost here in the US, the tax payout would be far less.

Private companies, whose goal is profit, suppy insurance here and they often refuse to pay for treatments if they can get away with it.

Rant over.

At the moment, I can't do much about it, but I certainly hope his film stirs the government into action on this.

So, anyhow, I and my friend saw Harry Potter and really enjoyed it.

Then we went out to dinner. I came home, fed the Boys and kind of crashed.

It's Ok. It was too darn hot out to do much more.

My new Ansur Classic came today too, so I had plenty of incentive to ride. The saddle is gorgeous with a new pommel style and some additional cushioning.

As an Ansur rep, I need to use my own saddles for demonstration rides, so having the latest model is a good idea.

How's that for an excuse to buy a saddle?

Now I just need to sell my old one.