Thursday, July 31, 2008

So Much For That Idea

The Neverending Story

The heat never left last night. And this morning was very uncomfortable.

So, you know the story.
I took care of the dog, pleased to see that he really does have the concept of fetching the ball until he gets tired or bored with the game. So I have accomplished something.
When I got home, my carpenter was nearly done with replacing the two front pillars holding up my front porch roof.

If you look at the picture you will see two half pillars against the wall in back. These are like the original pillars, so now I have two different kinds. The old pillars, for some reason, were rotting at the bottom. Neither my carpenter nor I could figure out why. They had caps on the top, were well painted, and sat on top of vinyl bases. There was no way for water to get inside them and, essentially, they were under the porch roof. Regardless, one was well broken up at the bottom, and the other one was starting to rot as well. Since they were supporting the roof, they really needed to be replaced.

As I look at the picture, things look a bit "scruffy" out there and I left the string trimmer on the porch as well, but I'm kind of in to the "natural" look as far as yard care goes, so it's just fine by me. And I still have some trimming to do. (Plus I need a new reel to wind up the electrical cord for the trimmer.)

Then, as the day progressed, I did something really "naughty." I went to Brookstone and bought an iGallop exercise machine. While it definitely DOES NOT feel like a real horse, I am hoping it will help me build up some of my core muscles and get me a bit trimmer over time. While I can swim in the summer and I do ride now and then--normally a lot more than I've been lately--I have always wanted a separate exercise program, but have not had the discipline to keep one up. Since the iGallop is a relatively passive approach. And it will not compromise my knees which are a very serious disability since I cannot run, bicycle, or do any exercising requiring twisting (thought a hula hoop would be a good idea, but too much knee strain). So, perhaps iGallop will live up to its reviews and give me a workout without a lot of effort on my part.

Of course, I still have to get it in the house. Gross weight on the box says 28 Kilos, so I should be able to manage it.

Meantime, the Boys are just hanging out eating the apples that fall from the Macintosh tree into their paddock.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Getting Somewhere

My doggy charge is starting to bring the tennis ball back to me. He will always run after it, but then leave it when he finds it. Now, I've been saying, "Odie, bring the ball." When he does, I reward him with a treat and a "Good boy!!"

After about 10 good fetches and returns today, he lost interest, but that's OK. He really does have a short attention span. My farrier's Border Collie will fetch for hours, but that kind of work and absolute concentration is what he is bred for. Not sure about a Viszla but as a hunting dog, scents and other interesting distractions along the way do seem to steer him off course. By the end of the week, I will have conquered the basics of "bring the ball back," at least. It is kind of fun. I had a cat that fetched--did it on his own--but as we all know, training cats is not an easy task, so having a dog to play with is kind of fun.

I bet I could teach Chance some tricks. Tucker would be a good candidate too, but Chance has far more interest in wanting to be around humans who do not have treats than Tuck does. And he is really inclined to pick things up to carry them off or play with them out of a natural inquisitiveness and play instinct. Maybe if I take some time, I can teach him a few clever tricks.

All that aside, I was up early enough to lunge Tucker again. Today, I put him over a little jump at about 1'6" just to keep it interesting. Most of the time simply put in an elevated trot stride--which was fine, as jumping quietly is very important. But when I did set him at it at a canter, he jumped really nicely. Again, quietly, economically and, on his own, off his hind end.

Need I say more? Nicely done, Tucker.

And the heat is back on the rise, with more humidity and, thunderstorms on the way...again.

The alarm guy is coming to see what's wrong with my system since that big lightning strike. The monitoring company is still getting information from the panel, but we are also getting an error message. That'll be great. He'll get it all fixed and then another storm will roll in and undo all the repairs. *sigh*

Foxy was back last night. I guess my yard is part of its regular hunting route. I tried a few more pictures but they are no better even though I took my time. I think the double pane windows and the screens really interfere with good pictures. When I opened the window to shoot just through the screen, Foxy took off, so that didn't work.

It's just fun watching him. He is so alert and sharp to every little thing. It always fascinates me just to watch animal behavior.

Got my schedule for school next year. Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors this time, so my slight one year break from being overwhelmed is over. However, the senior class is not English, but rather computers. IF any kids are assigned to it, the class is likely to be small. I can use them to write for the school paper, so that my be an option. We'll just have to wait and see.
I'm not particularly looking forward to it.

However, the Juniors are required to study performing arts for about half the year, so that is right up my alley. And, all the classes are college/prep honors courses, so that's good too.

I just have to grin and bear it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Lunging to Start Off

It's Been Over A Week

And we are still waiting for the heat to really break for sure. But this morning, it was cool so at 6:30 AM I went out and lunged Tuck and Chance.

No big deal, but exercise and a start to putting them to some work. Still it's supposed to be hot for the next couple days, so I don't know what we'll end up doing. I haven't tried a ride in the woods because I know the bugs, especially the deer flies, are really awful. I do have the bug armor, but using it requires motivation and the heat takes most of that out of me.

Both kids lunged really well, but I have to laugh at Tucker. He certainly doesn't expend any extra energy. Unless I really push him on, he just loafs around at the trot and canter.

Chance has a much more honest approach but he lacks the stamina to keep it up, especially the canter. Yet, he is quite willing to go on, if I just encourage him.

If you don't read the replies to my last posts, you will miss the link to the fly predators. Here's where I get mine: I'm sure there are other companies, but these guys are good. They ship automatically all season and I got a double "dose" in July, peak fly season.

I am having trouble with my neck again. I was to the chiropractor twice yesterday. It may be OK today, but I'm not sure. I'll go for a swim in the early afternoon to see if that helps. If not, I guess it's back to the chrio. Frustrating, because if I don't get it treated I get a headache. Not fun.

I've been dog sitting the last two days and will continue through the week. Odie is an adorable Vizsla, with energy to burn. He didn't want to eat this morning, so I took him out for a run in the yard chasing tennis balls. He's not so good a returning them, but I'm working on that, as I certainly don't want to chase tennis balls. After I had him out for a little while, I brought his food outside and finally encouraged him to eat it all. I think he misses his little boy.

Hopefully, as the week progresses he will feel a little better with me and eat on his own when I first feed him. I'm also reenforcing some of his basic training by having him sit and lie down as well as come when called. He's not bad but really does get distracted easily. He's a really cute dog.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


What More Can I Say?

I simply cannot motivate myself to work a horse in the heat anymore. I think getting older has finally done in my determination.

Then again, I did get kind of distracted yesterday. I started working on the driver safety play script and got on a roll, so that's how I spent the bulk of the day.

I did clean out the run in shed by Chance's stall and I spread my fly predators about. I must admit I have very few stable flies about this year. I am hoping it is not just the weather but my fly control program as well. I use the fly predators, as I said and my horses are on the Solitude IGR feed through fly control.

However, the day was not without excitement. Too much for me, apparently, as I didn't take the time to really focus the camera. However, I was taking the picture through the living room window, so maybe this is the best quality I could get. The rest of the pics are horrible, so this is the best of the lot. Perhaps my visitor will return and I can try again. This was close to dusk. The fox did look young to me, but that was just an impression. I haven't seen the rabbits around the last few days. I wonder if this critter's caught a few. I was certainly getting overrun.

He/she was very alert and definitely in hunting mode. I knew I had a fox about as I'd seen it twice in the arena after dark. It was really fun having it visit close to the house.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Cop Out

Too Tired in the AM

I was too darn tired to get up early this morning. Once I did go out around 8:30, I fed the Boys and did a good cleaning of all the stalls.

That wore me out and again, despite it's being cooler, I was soaked with sweat by the time I was done.

With the horses well fed and settled in with some hay, I came back into the house. When I went out later to check the temperature, it was hot again. I simply could not face that, so I was back inside to watch the Tour de France.

Not sure where the time went but by 3 PM I had to go back out to feed since I was leaving for the video filming for my knee doctor at 4.

The drive to the studio took about 45 minutes. When I got there they were filming my doctor doing his promotional talk for the video. This will be posted on his website eventually, so if my little piece is included, I will be an Internet video star. (Yeah, right) Anyhow, when it was my turn, I took about a minute or so to talk about how Dr. Magaziner's treatments have kept my knees functioning despite the problems I have and the consequences of the surgeries.

There was another patient there with a hip problem and the doctor's treatments have kept him from needing a hip replacement at age 51.

That little bit of publicity work done, I drove home and here I am. Once more thinking about going out to work a horse

Guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Rainy Morning

The rain was still falling this morning.

Eventually, it stopped, but it was really wet as we'd had at least 2 inches of heavy rain during the night. When the sun did come out it was still pretty hot, so while the worst of the heat has broken, it's not yet pleasant.

Hence the "copout" of the title. Since I had scheduled a session with the two young riders in the evening, I let my Boys out of their stalls and gave them another day off.

The two young riders have really nice horses. The older daughter has a Quarter horse with a good steady attitude. I just worked with her on basic position, correcting her leg, her hand position, introducing the outside rein, and getting her to think about sitting up to control her horse's speed.

The younger daughter has a solid color, chestnut paint she got recently. He really has a nice trot, but...oh, attitude about not going forward. During the lesson, one of the farm workers started doing some kind of raking near some bushes by the ring, startled Razor, the horse, he spooked and his rider fell off. Eeek. We got her back on, did some more work and then, I asked her to trot Razor over a crossrail which he apparently has trotted dozens of times. Tonight, he jumped it, bucked into the canter, and the poor girl fell off again. She was really shaken up, but her mother--a horseman herself--encouraged her to get back on so we continued with some more work. Razor, however, had decided enough was enough and started planting himself, refusing to move at all.

Well now, as a pround owner of Tucker, this looked all too familiar. I taught her nearly every trick in my bag to get him going again. My heart went out to her as by this time she was so upset, that his balking had her totally frustrated to the point of tears. I know exactly how she felt and was aching every second along with her.

I have put in a call to the ex jockey I was going to take Tucker to in order to fix his balking habit. We are already trying the ulcer medication on Razor as a precaution, but right now, he needs to learn to respect the leg. Unlike Tucker who would not move at all, this horse backs up as an evasion and, when turned will go, but he doesn't really move forward. He is totally behind the leg. Years ago, I would have dealt with it, but now he needs a rider with the nerve and determination to make him go. Since he is a kid's horse, this is far more serious a problem than Tucker's behavior was for me. I really like the horse otherwise as he is pretty and looks to have nice gaits. I just think he is too much for this girl to handle as far as fixing his training issues go.

We'll have to see how all this works out.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Heat is Breaking

Thunderbusters All Around

It was pretty warm this morning, so after the Tour de France, I had some lunch and then headed for the pool.

Since thunderstorms were predicted, I was worried they'd close down before I got my laps in. As it turned out, I wasn't far off. I went to the market on the way home to pick up a few things--ended up with more than I intended due to some good sales. On the way home, there was thunder on the western horizon and, worse, some pretty nasty looking lightning streaking to the ground.

This always makes me nervous with the horses out. I'd closed off the pasture so they were not hanging out on the hill, but even the paddocks can get struck. I figured I might have time to lunge Tucker at least, but the thunder kept rumbling.

Around here, storms to the west usually seem to circle around and eventually roll in, so I fed the Boys, filled their water buckets and locked them in the barn.

Good thing. Within the hour the sky darkened and the storm, in all its glory came in right over top of us. So far my Internet is still up, so I can post this, but it is really dark out there and the thunder is getting louder. I think the storm is still a bit to the west, but I hear it coming closer.

Instant update: I just leaped about two feet out of my chair. Something very, very close just got struck by lightning. There was a huge flash and a loud, sharp, bang as if God had just cracked a huge bullwhip. I don't see anything hit in my yard, but it certainly did seem really close. Scary, let me tell you. The cats freaked along with me. Nasty stuff out there.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Same Old Refrain

But There is Hope

Supposedly the heat wave will break tomorrow.

Until then, I am sticking to the air conditioning. The Boys ventured out into the pasture, though, as there was a bit of a breeze later in the day.

The evening was cooler, but I had a meeting to go to and didn't get home until nearly 11 PM, so I didn't horse around.

Again, I accomplished virtually nothing today. My neck was stiff, so I had a bit of a headache and scheduled the chiropractor for late in the day. Turns out it was mostly muscular, which is good, but I have to wonder what caused it? The swimming? Bit of a worry, that, but at least muscle issues I can work out on my own.

So, at the risk of repeating myself, the now 7 day heat wave has done me wrong. The Boys do seem to be coping well.

As a side note, my little stray orange tomcat is back again. This is about the third time he has reappeared after a long absence this summer. I wish I could capture him and get him neutered, but I'd have to make the vet arrangements first and then catch him and his appearances here are pretty erratic. He is, though, getting comfortable enough with me that I can pet him when I give him his food.

I call him Paprika (Paprikash when we are being Slovak about it--from my Grandmother) and he really is kind of cute in a stray cat kind of way. He is a talker and starts meowing as soon as he knows I am about. I am feeding him well with canned food--9 Lives--mostly because I always worry about the stress an outdoor kitty is under. I just wonder how many litters of little orange mix kittens are around within his territory.

He was the daddy of the kittens the mama cat had here and his orange genes showed up in four of the five I managed to catch. I'm not sure about the sixth kitten who got away. Mommy was spayed, but I haven't seen her for perhaps. However, my neighbor to the west has cats and feeds some outdoors and I know Mommy was living up there. Hopefully she has settled in at his house. I do know the last time I saw her here she headed right off in his direction when she saw me--the mean lady who took her to the vet!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Maybe I Should Just Hit "Copy and Paste"

Still Hot

I'm thinking now I should have gotten up early today as it was a little cooler than this evening. At least there was a breeze. Sundown has brought very still air and high 80's F. Again, I MAY go out later to long line Tucker, but then again, I MAY not.

I did swim, doing my 15 laps and the water was lovely!! So to all of you wearing winter clothes and sweaters in blustery Britain, there are some benefits to having a real summer. Pool water temps in the 70's F, and a nice relaxing tour or three around the lazy river, just kind of floating along in my tube.

However, it does not make good riding weather. Before you even get on the horse you are soaked in sweat.

I did have a long chat with a teacher from school whose two daughters ride and are in search of some instruction. Interesting problems with the younger girl's horse. He gets nappy, backs up, is reluctant about going into the arena, and will buck in the canter. They have had a good vet out to see if there were any physical issues and found nothing as far as lameness or soreness. That leaves tack problems, rider problems, and...ulcers. Since I am now a leading authority on how much tummy problems can affect a horse's behavior, I have recommended some ranitidine doses to see if it makes a difference.

I will be going over there Thursday evening to see if I can help out with some basic training. We'll see how things go from there. It's only a few miles from here, and an easy commute.

Then, on Friday, if I so choose, I can become a media star! My knee doctor is filming a promotional video and his office called today to ask if I would be interested in doing a testimonial. Since I need to get off my bum and do something worthwhile this summer, I think it would be fun. My knees are far from perfect, but his treatments have really made a big difference.

Last year, I was called by a newspaper reporter from Maryland (south of Washington, DC) a state about 3 hours away from New Jersey, in an interview about this same doctor. He really is a pioneer in some of the treatments he offers. At one time, he was one of only two doctors in the country using stem cell injections to treat the kind of injuries I have to both knees. The idea is to regrow the cartilege that has worn away or been surgically removed. As well, the prolotherapy injections help tighten the loose ligaments to stabilize the joints. Since my only other options would be more surgery to replace the missing cruciate ligament--like Tiger Woods just had--or knee replacements, both of which would require a long layup, Dr. Magaziner is keeping me on my feet and, more importantly, in the saddle.

Well, in the saddle when it's not hotter than h**l.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

At The Risk Of Repeating Myself

Hotter Still

I was miserable when I went out to feed at around 7:30 AM. I had to unload some of the feed bags from the truck. I managed seven of the eleven and gave up as I was soaking wet with sweat. I'll be going out to check on the Boys to see if anyone needs a hosing, but I think my horse activities for the day are limited to feed time.

Not much else to report except I hope to go for a swim at some point. I may wait until evening, though, because yesterday I did get a little sunburn. Nothing much but I don't want to risk anything. I am very light skinned and burn easily.

As of 12 PM, that's the story. I doubt there will be much more.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


And I Don't Mean Problems With Hind Legs

When I went out to feed around 4 PM, it was oppressively hot. The fans were blowing hot air around in the barn. But none of the Boys seemed to be sweated. It could be because the humidity is lower than it often is with these heat waves. A couple times during the day, I did see Chance and Tucker out and about, so they were being clever about not just standing in the barn all day. Still....

When I went out this morning around 7:30, I had no plans of working anyone. But the shady arena was pretty tolerable. Certainly not as cool as Thursday morning, but more than bearable. I decided--dressed in shorts and a tank top--not to bother going back inside to change, but rather to lunge at least Tucker and Chance for a little while. Chance needs to build his stamina, and Tuck needs to keep his muscles.

I would say, since I didn't have a watch on, that I lunged each of them for about 10 minutes, no more as I really didn't want to get them all sweated up so early in the day when I knew the temperatures were going to soar. Once done with the two kids, I walked over to Toby and he practically put his head in the halter to do some work too! I guess every now and then he likes feeling part of the gang. I lunged him for about 10 minutes as well.

These are just walk, trot canter sessions in a halter, with their flysheets still on--a good thing today as I am pretty sure I saw one on the infamous B52 horseflies buzzing about. I'm not sure, but when you can hear a fly's buzz from ten feet away, it is probably a pretty big fly. The sheets and the Endure fly spray may have discouraged him, so for now we are unscathed. These flies are over an inch long and bite like the dickens. I've been attacked myself and I completely understand the horse's extreme reactions. If those evil critters are out and about, it means I will have to start riding with the bug armor soon. No point in taking chances of being bucked off.

Once I fed the Boys, I went back inside to watch the Tour de France and then drove over to the pool . There was a swim meet going on which meant the lap pool was closed. Frustrated, I drove back home to do some cabinet cleaning--still not finished.

About two hours later I headed back over to the pool. As I had anticipated, there were tons of people there and the parking lot was nearly full. I found a spot pretty far out, but when I went in, to my surprise the lap pool was nearly empty. I had a whole lane to myself for the duration and, to celebrate, upped my full laps to fifteen--thirty lengths of the pool. Then I circled the Cozy Creek three times in a tube and headed up to the waterslides for some excitement.

The slide always feel really fast to me, especially when then curve this way and that, somehow managing to accelerate me towards the bottom. The white slide is an open one and the blue one is a totally enclosed pipe. I almost always ride the white one, but today I did one go down in the blue one. As I was about halfway, I remembered why I prefer the white. When you are in the blue slide, you have a totally different sense of speed as there are no visuals to clue up as to how fast you are going. There is also no sense of where you are in relation to anything, so it's kind of a blind rollarcoaster. It really felt fast to me--fun, but fast. Three trips down, two on the white, were enough for me. The worst part for my knees is climbing the stairs to get to the top of the slides, so three just about my limit.

Headed home to what is still a bit of a mess with the cabinet, but I will forge ahead until it is sorted out.

The John Deere was back home when I got back from shopping yesterday. Cost a fair penny to fix, but I do need it. Heaven only knows what will go on with the Bolens. Parts are hard to come by if it needs any since it's over 20 years old. Guess I will just have to wait and see.

Ah well, back to the cabinet. Should finish before I go to bed.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Bumming Around as My Mother Used to Say

Hot, Hotter, Hottest

I did not ride this morning. I was up early but decided against it since I had a morning doctor's appointment. I always worry that if I do work the horses and something goes awry--training problem, handling issue--I will either have to ignore it for the sake of the clock, or work on it and ignore the clock. Either way, it does not make a good work session. The heat was on by 8:30 anyhow, so I may not have had a very comfortable morning if I had tried.

Excuses aside, I headed off to the doctor. Quite pleased to find my blood pressure well in the normal range. Elsewise I was evaluated for some physical therapy for some of my neck/upper back issues. Then I had a chiropractic adjustment.

And then...I went cat food shopping. After which, Caroline will be pleased, I stopped at the newly renovated McDonalds. And next, to the Mall. I decided to shop the swimwear sales to see what I could find to supplement my already large swimsuit collection. I love to pair separates, so I was just having fund shopping around trying things on. I found nothing at the mall.

Next, I went to the pool and added two more full laps, so I am up to twelve. It was pretty crowded because of the miserable heat wave that came in last night. I'm not sure it's going to cool off after dark, either. There is just a yucky feeling in the air. But the pool felt wonderful. I rode around a few times in the lazy river tubes (now that you all know what that means. *G*) and then, in a moment of inspiration, decided to go back for some more shopping at one of the sport stores I'd missed the first time around.

Back I went since I was halfway there already. This time, I scored with a few cute tops.

There was a Chinese restaurant next to the sporting goods store. I bought some cashew chicken, steamed dumplings and hot and sour soup. That will hold me for about three meals.

That is, if the "back room" kitty, Buddy, doesn't steal it first. Within the past week, some sort of truce has been established between Buddy and DJ, my tabby cat. Now Buddy allows DJ in the back rooms without a battle, and DJ allows Buddy into the front of the house. (They still fight, with super confident DJ as the aggressor, but something has changed. ) The problem is that Buddy likes people food, unlike my other four cats who will not eat anything except proper cat food. While I do like to share my meals with Buddy, I rather prefer to be making the choice myself. Since I have not had to lock my food away in the past with no thieving cats about, I have made some repeated mistakes with food recently. Tonight, it was the cashew chicken. Buddy went up on the counter and knocked in on the floor, where the container fell right side up, thank goodness. I'm not sure if he ate any, because I'd had the lid on, but some of it did spill out any how. I have to change my thinking about where I keep my food.

Last night, he was trying to get the casserole out of the toaster oven. And, the night before, I'm pretty sure he ate some of the grilled chicken I'd prepared for my salad and left on the counter under a pot lid while I went to the market to get some lettuce.

If the horses are under control the cats are obviously not. (Or at least Buddy's not.)

As my Mom used to say, I just bummed around all day. Kind of fun, actually.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Another Cool Morning

Will It Continue?

I was lovely and cool again at 6:30 AM, so out I went to ride.

I worked Tucker first. I started off riding on a long rein and eventually worked up to a mock training level test pattern, just to do something different. Then I collected up the reins. We had a moment or two of stuck protest before he realized he could actually walk while on the bit and then everything settled back in.

After a few basic exercises, I rode a mock first level test with some trot lengthenings, ten meter trot circles, canter lengthenings, 15 meter canter circles, change of rein through the trot, and leg yields at the trot. I added a halt and reinback for good measure. It wasn't half bad. Might have earned a decent score in the show ring.

Then I worked a little more at the canter, eventually working on the canter/walk/canter simple changes. Still, for the first two changes, I have to use a lot of hand, but once he realizes I actually expect him to walk, I can basically just use a soft half halt with my hand on the outside rein and then use my seat for the downward. Again, not half bad. Might have earned some decent scores in the show ring.

After I sponged off Tuck, I saddled up Chance. He was definitely better than yesterday and less likely to fall in on that left shoulder. There is still a difference between left and right, but I have worked on that with nearly every horse I have ever ridden so it's no big deal. I just have to concentrate on sitting on my inside seatbone, getting "long" on the inside leg, and not using the inside indirect rein to correct him. Goofed up on all counts this morning, but I fixed myself as well, so there is hope on the horizon.

I decided to try a mock training level test, just to see what happened. Chance's head does go down at the canter a little now and then--more each day--but I didn't worry about that. All I wanted was the obedience. Because he tends to want to slip into the run-in shed at times when he passes, I decided to do the 20 meter canter circles at B and E with the departs on the straight side each time. This was daring, as getting the correct lead just from an aid, without a corner to encourage the bend is a challenge.

Well!! I am delighted to say, Chance took each lead correctly from one leg cue as well as any trained horse I have ever ridden!! I was really pleased. I praised him mightily, finished up the test and called it a day.

What a good kid he is! Right now, I could show him in the Intro walk/trot classes if I wanted to. Within a month--weather permitting--he could be ready to show training level. Cool...or I wish it were cool.

Since it was still shady, I "asked" Toby if he wanted to do anything and he dropped his head into the halter so I took him out for, as promised" a quick lunge. It was just enough to get him moving in all three gaits to tone up his muscles a little more. He does have that lean, older horse look to him now with a sharp wither. Since I stopped serious schooling he has lost a lot of his former muscling and his neck has lost most of its crest. While I miss seeing those bulges, I am still pleased with how sound he is. Perhaps all the dressage training has made a difference to his overall physcial well-being. I hope so.

The heat is really on with temperatures way up in the 90's. It's supposed to stay this way through the weekend.

I will be going for a swim in a bit. I might have gone earlier in the day, but I got preoccupied with a few little projects. And, my carpenter dropped by to look at the pillars on my front porch. For some reason, one of them is rotting on the bottom and will have to be replaced. That means both of them will need replacing. He is going to get me some prices to see what can be done.

Home ownership is such fun.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dismal Failure

But At Least It Was Cool

I was up a bit after 6 AM and headed out to ride. It really was lovely and cool. My arena is shaded up until around 10 AM this time of year, so I was also able to ride in the shade.

Tucker was up first and I put the flash noseband on. At first it was fairly loose, but he set his jaw, so I got off and tightened it. Well, you would have thought I'd shod him in concrete slabs.

He simply would not go forward or anywhere. He just stood rock solid and refused to move. Kick, tap with whip (not really a hit as he would surely have bucked) and he took two steps and stopped again. Then again, and again, and again. To say that adding the flash strap was a dismal failure is perhaps an understatement. It was a total washout.

I got off again, took the flash strap off and remounted. Stuck, but then, he decided he would at least make and effort and he finally moved off. Eventually, with the attachment off, we had a pretty successful session. Nice trot, good canter, good half pass at the trot, some effort at half pass at the canter, and some decent attempts at flying change out of the counter canter. He did break at each attempt, but it was more of a scramble change rather than a total trot/canter change. We worked for close to 40 minutes and I called it a day.

Saddled Toby next and gave him a short workout. Mostly just the basics of trot and canter with some good counter canter and then half pass to flying change as the exciting part.

I worked Chance last as the sun was just beginning to touch the edge of the arena. Now, his right side is better than the left at the trot, with the shoulder placed correctly. When he goes on the left rein he tends to fall in with his shoulder, so now I need to work on that. However, his left canter is far more relaxed and balanced than the right. I worked the canter for a bit longer today and, at least on the left, he actually began to reach down into the bit. It was very inconsistent, but quite a good change.

The right canter was probably more correct as far as impulsion goes as it was more foreward. He does not quite have the same balance on the right as on the left, so he tends to rush a little--not scary or out of control, just faster--and he is not as comfortable about giving in to the bit. Still, he took the lead willingly and, even though he broke about three times, I was able to immediately get him back into the gait and the lead with absolutely no problem at all.

I was also quite pleased that Chance stood quietly for the fly spray--another handling issue we've been dealing with.

It was worth getting up early. The heat is coming back, though, so I don't know if the nights will cool off enough to make morning rides worth it, but I'll just have to wait and see.

Considering that I was done riding and feeding and was back in the house by about 9 AM, it was a well-spent morning.

Decided not to swim today as my knees were very sore and somewhat stiff. Hope the swimming is not going to be a problem with that.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Just Kind Of Hanging Out

Day Off Again

Needed the chiropractor this morning. I was going to go for a swim after, but got sidetracked.

You see, there are all these good shopping stores on the way home and I "needed" some more summer tank tops for riding in all this heat. You can tell where this is leading. I went shopping.

Then Applebees Restaurant is near one of the stores and they make this delish Oriental chicken salad. I had to pop in for lunch.

When I got home I had a phone message from my friend, Lanni, who is fostering four Standardbred mares for the rescue. She was heading out to the barn--next road over from mine, perhaps a half mile away as the crow flies, but two miles by car--unless I drove through the farm fields--which I could do if I didn't mind getting the car/truck all dusty again.

Anyhow, I drove over to meet the horses. There are two grays, a mother and daughter. The mom is well over 16h and quite nice. Supposedly she is broken to saddle and is great on hacks. One of the others is a bright bay of good size and the fourth is a really cute 4 yo dark bay with a lovely thin white blaze and some white on her legs. She has a little bit of a roach in her back towards the rump, but nothing to worry about. They are all still somewhat thin from previous neglect--apparently taken by the ASPCA (The US version of the RSPCA) because the elderly owner was no longer able to care for them.

Lanni has a nice big pasture and plenty of turnout for them and they surely did seem quite content and very friendly there. She said in the two weeks she's had them they've put on a lot of weight, so I will be keeping tabs on them to watch the transformation. Lanni is very dedicated to her horses and really determined to give these horses the best of care and a super life while they are with her.

All four are available for adoption but the adoption group wants them really rehabilitated first. They do have a trainer who will come out to work with them once they have put on some more weight. For now, they are just enjoying the comfort of full tummies, shelter, and someone who will give them the love and attention they deserve.

Three cheers for Lanni.

I did my swimming laps this evening and was going to ride, but I am feeling kind of stff in my knees. Trouble is the heat is building up again. I am hoping tonight will not be the last tolerable evening for the next four days. Otherwise, I've made a bad choice.

I hope to get up early tomorrow to beat the heat, so we shall see.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Now Wait A Minute

I AM on Vacation

Lest you all think I am that busy...I spend each morning right now, after feeding the Boys and the kitties, sitting around watching the Tour de France. Then I just hang around the house doing mostly nothing.

Today, I did some cleaning in the kitchen. I have vowed to accomplish something every day.

Then I had lunch and thought some more about what I needed to do. Paid some bills. Played some games on the computer. Watched a bit of TV and then sauntered out to the barn.

Here's where the fun comes in. I bought a new lunging surcingle with a big ring on top with four dees to run the reins through. I will take a picture of the thing soon. The idea was to be able to run the reins through the upper rings to better simulate where my hands are when I ride. This is mostly for Tucker who tends to overbend and get too low.

I tried it out on Toby first and it certainly did keep him from dropping his nose behind the vertical and too low as well. We had a nice session. He was not too sure about the surcingle when I took it off and really spooked when he saw the big ring. He is a funny boy and always has been super spooky about things. I never quite know what will set him off, but he truly does seem to honestly get scared of strange looking things. (Those silvery mylar balloons have caused some pretty dramatic moments.) Once I put the ring on the bottom so all he could see was the surcingle straps, he was just fine.

Tucker never really saw the surcingle, so he never got a chance to react to it. Besides, he was totally preoccupied with the strap of the flash noseband I'd put on his bridle. As a matter of fact, he was pretty angry about it, especially after I tightened it to put some pressure on his jaw to keep his mouth from yawing against the bit. Let me put it this way: I am glad I decided to try it out on the long lines before I rode with it on him. Apparently, he had been opening his mouth/jaw against the bit more than I realized. He threw two or three protest plunge/bucky things and cranked his head around a few more times. When he did settle in, both the new rein position and the flash made a nice difference. He did some really fine work with some moments of really pretty trot and canter.

I will be a bit cautious with the flash when I do ride, though.

It did rain in the morning and threatened for most of the day. I don't know if the pool was open so I didn't go. Unfortunately, I don't think the rain helped the humidity. Even though the temperatures were fairly cool--70's--when I did work the Boys, I was still pretty sweated by the time I was done.

I gave Chance the day off this time. I am trying to decide how to schedule the riding. Toby needs the least work, but I do want to keep him fit enough to be a lesson horse if needed. Tucker just needs to keep his muscles developing and Chance needs the hours under saddle. Except in unusual circumstances, I tend to keep my riding sessions to about a half hour each if I ride more than one. It may not seem like much, but I am either trotting or cantering the whole time. Tuck is pretty fit even with that little since he is a Thoroughbred. If I intend to do any competing with Chance, I will have to up his time as he will not get fit as easily.

Guess I will just see how things progress.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

As Darkness Falls

I Ride!!

I went for my swim late today. Hadn't done much else all day except watch the Tour de France and then go get feed. The feed store is about 10 miles away and I took the truck. I still have 11 bags to unload, but there's no rush on that.

I bought Chinese food on the way home, ate some and headed for the pool. Did my 10 laps, came back home.

I finally went out to ride around 8 PM. It had cooled off considerably and there was a nice breeze. Thunderstorms are predicted for early morning, so another weather front may be coming in.

I rode Chance first. He was really good. He kept his head down the whole time and was not quite as stiff on the right rein. I did not canter but did quite a bit of trot work, with two fairly long sessions of sitting trot. He is quite comfortable to ride now that his back is up under my seat. I'll say it again. He is one nice little horse.

I rode Tucker next and he started off with a good forward trot that he kept the whole ride. He is, though, setting his jaw more often than I 'd like. While I can make him soft, he will sometimes actually lock his jaw and stick his nose out against the bit, especially in a halt. Next time I ride I am going to try the flash noseband to see if it makes any difference. I am not too keen on strapping a horse's mouth closed, but this might just make it harder for him to work against me.
With him, I always get the feeling such evasions are really deliberate shows of defiance.

At the canter, though, some of the issue is his inconsistent impulsion. He can keep the canter going up and down without enough forward, using his natural ability to keep the gait without really doing too much work. When he is forward and using his hind end, he is fine to the rein, but then he cheats a little and gets stiff.

I probably should do some more longlining as I have not done any for about a month. Again, though, when it's so darn hot, I just can't drag myself out there to put on a bunch of training gear to work a horse.

As I grow older, I grow weather whimpier.

I gave Toby the night off. I'm not sure if he cared. He was out watching me work Tucker, so he may have thought he could have done it all better. I didn't even ask him if he wanted to show me, but just gave him his carrot.

I was done and back in the house by about 10:15.

Nothing New To Report

Hot, Hot, Hot

I simply cannot ride when it is so hot. In the 90'sF again.

I went for a swim and have upped it to 20 lengths of the pool (10 laps).

That's about it.

Pretty pathetic.

My friend loaned me the full three season set of "Slings and Arrows," a Canadian TV show about a theatre company acting Shakespeare. I had read about it a while ago and thought I'd enjoy it, as did my friend. We were both right. I watched all of season 1 & 2. That's about 6 hours or so.

Well written, well acted, with really clever stories and characters.

When I went out to do the "midnight" snack, the Boys were all crashed out in the paddock in the "sand nests" they have made for themselves. Toby and Tucker got up almost at once to come in for their snacks, but Chance as still flat out, sound asleep, I guess. When he didn't come in, I went out to check on him. He lifted up his head and looked so comfortable and content, I just poured his feed out next to him and he enjoyed "midnight snack in bed."

Too bad it was so dark. It would have been a cute picture. But I think the flash would have disturbed him and defeated the purpose.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Bless the Lawnmower Men

They Came Today

Both lawn tractors are at the mower hospital. I had the Bolens running before the guys came, but then shut it off and when the guys got here, it would not start since the battery is very, very dead. We hand pushed it out to the truck and they loaded it with the winch. John Deere behaved well and loaded just fine.

So that task is underway.

I was all achy and sore this morning when I got up. I made a chiroprator appointment and got good adjustment after which I felt SO much better. Then I went to get my hair cut. When I saw Caroline's picture in hospital, I realized she wears her hair nearly as short as mine. It's very practical when you do a lot of work with the horses. Today, though I asked my hairdresser to cut it even shorter. It feels so good in the hot weather and is great for both the riding and the swimming.

Came home, watched the rerun of the latest stage of the Tour de France, wrote a letter we needed for a grant for the State Park and our preservation efforts, and let much of the afternoon slip by.

As the sun began to set and it started to cool off--around 90 F today--I took some carrots out to the pasture to do some "catching" with the Boys. I was mugged. Trying to get rid of them was the new problem.

They followed me back to the barn so I haltered Tucker and took him out for a lunging session. After the flat work, I set up a jump with the barrels--about 2'3". He headed for it and stopped dead. It was not a dirty stop, but rather one of total confusion. We tried again and he stopped, stood there and then looked at me to say, "Uhm, I don't know how to do this." I solved the problem by setting up a one foot take off jump one stride before the barrels. He scrambled a little the first time through, but figured it out quickly and did some lovely bold, and correct jumping on the left rein. For the right rein, I simply used a trotting pole set to give him the correct stride to the fence. Again, he was bold, fluid and lovely over the barrels. And to top it off, he seemed quite pleased with himself.

Toby gave me a little game of catch me, and was reluctant leading into the arena. But once in, he did his usual excellent flat work. Then, over the barrels, without either the little jump or the pole, he was simply wonderful. Tonight he was relaxed, and not at all rushy into the jump. I always marvel at how athletic he is over a fence. I never really tested him to see how high he could go since my jumping days were over when I got him, but he certainly looks as if he could handle some size. I just enjoy watching him.

Called it a night at that since I'd lunged Chance last night and it was getting dark.

Everyone got another carrot and I'm back in the air conditioning.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Humidity Broke

And So Did My Mower

With the lower humidity, I decided to mow the lawn. I have a riding mower for this job, and, last year bought a brand new little John Deere lawn tractor. I have another one in the garage that needed repair, but I put off sending it out.

Big mistake. If I'd repaired the other one in a timely fashion, I would not now be mowerless. I had the front lawns done and went back to mow near the barn. Stupid me forgot there was a stall gate lying in the grass. I went over it. There was a loud clunk. The engine kept going, but the mower was dead. A pully wheel was lying in the grass near the gate. The bolt was shorn off.

So, now I have no mower at all. I called the repair place and they may be able to pick them both up on Saturday. But I will check on that. In the meantime, the lawn is mostly done, at since we are not expecting much in the way of rain, the heat will keep it from growing too much.

Once I'd broken the John Deere, I decided to do some weed whacking. I have an electric string trimmer and I started off full force until...whip, snip, the string broke or else just got used up. The first problem was getting the head off the trimmer and the second was not having the right string to put in. So, I had to drive to the hardware store to buy a reed of heavy duty trimmer string.

Messed around with the trimmer for another half hour or so, then headed back out. I have a bank along the road in front of the house that stretches for at least 150 feet. Grass and weeds grow on it, looking bad and making it hard to see when I pull out of the driveway. I can't trim it during the day because the traffic is so bad, but since rush hour was over, I decided I'd risk it. This, especially since the weekend is supposed to get hotter again.

Suffice it to say, by the time I had the bank done, I was done too. I decided I would at least lunge Tucker and Chance but not ride since I was too worn out.

Chance was no problem, but Tucker joined Toby in a game of "can't catch me." This is definitely something he learned from Toby since he was never a problem to catch until Toby started herding him away. Now, Tuck thinks he's a hot shot too and will walk away from me, just out of reach.

After using the "walk away before he does" technique for about 20 minutes, I decided to go back to the barn--the Boys had gone out to the pasture--to get some treats. My Boys are all suckers for horse treats. I ignored Tucker when Toby came over, caught Tobe and took him into the barn for some fly spray and a carrot. Then I turned him loose and went back out with the hoof medication and fly spray for Tucker. I caught him immediately as soon as he saw I had the treats. I took care of him and called it a night. I'd already had plenty of exercise hiking all over the place in the catching game.

I intend on working on this nonsense sooner than later. So aside from treats, any catching suggestions welcome. While I could set up a kind of round pen, I'm not sure any of those techniques would work. Neither horse is acutally impossible to catch, just frustrating.

When PJ was bad about it, I chased him around the pasture until, dripping with sweat, he finally surrendered and I don't think I ever had much trouble with him again. I can't do that any more as I can't run or move that quickly myself. One webpage suggests that walking away before the horse does works well as the horse eventually finds the game no more fun and gets curious as to what you are doing. I'm not sure Tucker will fall for that. Tonight all he did was keep grazing.

The treat technique is fine, but I really don't like the concept. I really think my horse should come to me without a bribe.

Or am I just a dreamer??? *G*

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

More of Same

Supposedly It's Going to Break Tonight

I am still awaiting the thunderstorms that are supposed to bring some relief to this miserable heat and humidity, but so far--9 PM, no luck.

Meantime, all I can to is report more of the same. I think the pool is 25 meters, so today I swam 20 lengths.

Drove over to the Chinese restaurant hoping to get some take out, but they were closed. So I went to the market and got some stuff to make my own hamburger stuff. Found a kit for making your own Chinese cashew chicken, so I bought that too. I didn't try it yet. But, in the meantime, I made a pot of French onion soup using Vidalia onions.

For those unfamiliar with the Vidalia, it is a seasonal onion originally grown in Georgia, USA. They are incredibly sweet. I must say, even though it is summer, and a nice big pot of soup does sound a bit strange, it was delicious. I will have quick meals for several days. Yummy.

Chance was in the aisle of the barn when I went out to feed dinner. I had accidently left Toby's inside stall door open. Since it was Toby's stall, and he was probably in it for the bulk of the day--avoiding both the heat and the bugs--I suspect it took a long time before Chance managed to get through. The aisle was not quite as trashed as it normally is when he's gotten in so I may have caught him in the early stages of sabotage.

It only took a few minutes to sort things out again.

So I guess my horse activities today are limited to catching the criminal before the crime was complete.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Rerun of Yesterday

Only Hotter!!

I thought I might wait until dark to work the Boys, but two things interfered. First was that I needed to go to a Township Council meeting to get information on the flooding report on the Swamp. Long story, but I did get it, so that's good. never did cool off!

So, the Boys had the day off. I will be giving them each some watermelon rind at "midnight" snack, so they are not being neglected. They've had hay during the day and the fans are on, although they were out cruising around the paddocks off and on.

I finally headed out to the water park in the late afternoon. Unluckily, the swim teams were practicing and using all the lap lanes. I personally don't think that's too fair to those of us who have paid for a membership, but one of the trainers said I could ask the lifeguards to put up another lane. Instead I opted to swim right along the outside of the last lane marker and managed to get in my laps without being crashed into by recreational "play" swimmers.

I upped my laps to 7, so that's 14 lengths of the pool. Not bad considering I don't think I really am in very good shape. Swimming is really great exercise for me as it does not put a lot of strain on my knees and still lets me use my legs. That, in turn, gets my heart rate up and builds stamina. Since my riding is dressage and, like a dressage horse, builds strength more than long term stamina, the swimming adds a dimension to my overall fitness I really need. When I was eventing, both my horse and I had "distance" written all over us.

Hopefully, by the end of the summer, I will have lost some weight, gained some energy, and I will feel nice and healthy.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Stiff Neck, Heat, Humidity and a Rainstorm

Above is a picture of someone in a tube. This is a big vinyl "doughnut" thing you float in. More below. (Pic is for Caroline)

That About Sums Up the Day

Needed a chiropractic adjustment this morning...well, at noon, so I headed out to the feed store to get alfalfa cubes first. Might as well unload them BEFORE my back was adjusted.

Morning gone, I headed for the chiropractor, got my adjustment then went to the supermarket to get some things on sale for a good price. On the way home, I passed the pizza place that was having and anniversary 50% off everything sale. So I stopped there to get some pizza for lunch and a sub sandwich for dinner. They were crazy busy, so that took a bit of time. I had my swim gear with me but decided perhaps I wait until later to swim.

When I got home, the sun had come out and it was HOT! And miserable. So I hung out in the house and worked on the script I am writing for a safe driving campaign the school is going to develop for next year. I have about 5 pages written so far and need perhaps 20 or so. I have most of my ideas already, so it's just a matter of developing them dramatically. It's kind of a "voices from the grave" kind of thing, with the teenage victims of accidents telling their stories. The school of performing arts will do the acting and producing. Once I get the basic script done, I'll send it to the teacher for her input and go from there. I've written a good number of plays/musicals that have been performed so I am not working in a vacuum here, but I do want this one to be good.

Afternoon passed quickly to feeding time. I gave the Boys alfalfa cubes with dinner so they should be happy, and then came back inside to wait until sundown in case it cooled off. I also thought about a trip to the swim club but...well, the rest of the title says it all. They skies have opened up and we are having a drenching rain.
In the meantime, I have found a picture of the swim club on a VERY busy day showing the tubes on Cozy River. You simply sit in one of them and the water carries you along at about 2 miles an hour around a big loop circling the park. It is very relaxing. It's not quite this crowded when I go, so there is more room to swim and enjoy myself.

I never got there today because of the rainstorm. I am not sure they stayed open. I hate driving over only to find the pool closed.

Instead, once the rain stopped, I went out to do the Monday lunging. I decided to just work Toby and Tucker since I am not sure the lunging really does much to advance Chance's training at this point. I could long line him, which would help, but it was kind of icky out there and still so humid that everything was damp. I just couldn't bring myself to do the extra work rigging up the long lines would require. Lazy me.

Both Tobester and Tucker went well, but Tucker still has that bad habit of cross cantering when I lunge or long line him. I never feel it under saddle, but it happens almost everytime I do line work with him. I am making a bigger point of correcting it, and "growling" at him when he does it. Tonight, he did it on both leads, so it's not just a strength issue related to the right lead. I have no idea why he does it, but he kind of skips in the hind end and swaps leads. Should be proof that the flying change will be easy for him! *lol* Still, how uncomfortable must it be to be cantering on the true lead in front and the counter lead behind??? I simply cannot fathom why he does it.

Both boys had a nice workout and a tasty carrot. Well, Chance had a carrot too, so he was definitely not ignored.

More heat to come tomorrow and the next day and....I don't want to talk about it. *sigh*

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Make Me Think

Almost A Disaster

I went out to do the "midnight" snacks, well after midnight. The horses were at the barn. I fed Toby, then Tucker, and put Chance's feed in his stall, but instead of going around to the other side of the bard to get in, he was hanging around Tucker's door, expecting me to move Tucker over, to allow him to cross through, then cross the barn aisle to get into his stall from the inside door. It wasn't raining, so there was no reason for me to do that. Instead, I went into Tucker's stall to put the iodine in his hoof.

Chance misinterpreted that and apparently thought I'd gone in to usher him through, so he headed into the stall. Tucker took offense shoved his rump over ready to kick, and Chance, panicking, plunged through into the aisleway, knocking me aside. Fortunately, I was already leaping out of the way, so I only caught a glancing blow. It was THAT close. Had I taken one more step into the stall, I would have been trampled. My arm has a bit of scrape where I slid it past the wooden edge of the stall door, but otherwise, I am OK.

That's three. With Caroline, Claire and now me all finished with the horse accidents, perhaps we can get through a period of calm???

All three accidents are a sharp reminder of just how fragile our relationships with these large, powerful creatures can be. We must always be vigilant to view the world through their eyes when we are working with them. They are creatures of instinct bowing to our will, but ever ready to react to the world and us as their natural behavior dictates. We are the ones who need to adapt our methods and handling to them. It is something to remember in all the training we do.

Which leads me to my rides today. Nothing too special, except that it should have felt a lot cooler but the humidity was miserable. Tucker was really good, accepting trot/walk transitions with grace and good forwardness. I also worked him a little on demanding much more sensitive responses to my canter aid, but the tap of the whip made him kick out, so I will have to work on that a little too. But, as we worked, he got sharper and sharper to the aids, so I decided to try one flying change in each direction. Well. Right to left, he gave me a scrambly effort where he changed in back first and then caught up with the front. Not bad. Went left to right and nothing happened as he stayed on the counter canter. So I kept him in counter canter until the third corner and then tried again. Boingy, boingy, not too bad. Trotted a little longer and called it a day. I'd had some super shoulder in/circle/haunches in combos too, so it was a good ride.

Considering that I was soaked in sweat myself at this point, I decided to just ride Chance and leave Toby alone with a nice scratch, a carrot, and some fly spray.

Chance still feels stiff to bend on the right side, but it was much easier to correct. It is something I will need to work on regularly, I suspect, but I was really happy to find getting him on the right lead canter was much easier than the other day when I rode. Again, I have to be careful to make sure he is really straight before asking for the departure. He is still a little unsure with his head and balance at the canter, but the improvement is noticeable each time I ride. The left lead was good too, so after about five circles, I went back on the right rein, trotted a little more, asked of one more canter depart and when he gave it easily, I "purred" him to a walk and cooled him out.

When I'd fed them I decided to go for a swim myself to cool off. This was my first trip to the swim club--the one I join every year two roads north of mine. It was a little under 80F today, cloudy, with "spritzes" of rain every so often. The pool was nearly empty so I had few other swimmers to deal with when I did my laps. I managed 10 lengths of the pool...5 up and 5 back. I could have pushed myself for more, but that's a good start since I am definitely not in swimming shape right now. Then I hopped in a tube and rode around the Lazy River a couple times before calling it a night and coming home.

So, I am back in the the swim of things for the summer.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

It Was a Shoe In

Morning Call

I got up a bit late to feed and just before I went out to the barn, my farrier, Scott called. My Boys were due for shoeing and I'd called him a day or so ago. However, I never expected Scott so soon, especially yesterday, as it was a National Holiday, our Independence Day. (Sorry, folks across the pond. We did win that war.)

I guess Scott had no other plans for the day, and since he lives about 8 miles away, decided to come to my house to get the Boys done.

I should have taken my camera out to get some more pics of little Mic, Scott's Border Collie pup. He has grown, of course, but so has his personality. Old Jack, the 15 year old was trying to keep up with him, but his arthritis and general physical disabilities have caught up with him. Still, it was cute watching the two of them vie for the toys I keep in the yard for them. I'd gotten a new squeaky toy for Mic but Jack was just as interested in it, even though he is deaf and cannot hear the squeak.

Scott also had his daughter, Julie with him and, of course, Kyle, his assistant. I had a nice chat with Julie, played with the pups, and hung out while Scott did the shoeing.

There is still concern about Tucker's foot with the abscess. Scott got some black goo out of the toe area and is worried about the track that's left. He trimmed a good hole into the toe area which I need to pack with cotton and iodine. Not sure what else to do about it. Tucker is showing no signs of lameness, but we need to watch it.

The, Scott dropped the bombshell. He is going to have shoulder surgery near the end of July. That will put him out of commission for at least, he estimates, four months. While he will find a good substitute to do the shoeing, I have such confidence in him, his skill, and his rapport with my horses, that using someone else for the duration will be a bit traumatic. However, I also trust Scott's recommendations, so whomever he sends will be more than capable.

As we were talking, I realized Scott has been shoeing my horses for about 18 years. I think that says it all. I hope he has a super successful surgery, and an even more successful recovery.

The shoeing took up most of the morning. Then the heat was on for the day. By evening it was raining. There still seemed to be a number of fireworks displays going on to celebrate the holiday as I heard booms all around. I have to wonder if the rain was localized that much or if--considering the weather forecast for the next several days--they just decided to have the celebrations anyhow instead of risking constant cancellations due to wet weather.

Looks like we are headed for days of rain.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Riding in the Morning

And There Was A Breeze

I waited until about 9 AM to ride. There was a lovely breeze and nearly half the arena was still in the shade when I started.

Tucker spooked a the run-in shed twice--once in each direction. I guess it looks different when I'm in the saddle. Silly boy. Actually he wasn't all that silly. We covered just about all the exercises: shoulder in, half-pass, reinback, lengthened trot, counter canter, simple changes, and some leg yield so well I only rode him for about 25 minutes. There isn't much point in drilling when he gets the concept on the first try. I suppose I could have done some canter lengthening, walk pirouettes, and haunches in too, but I had to save something for tomorrow.

Chance was next and he was very resistant on the right rein. I had this problem worked out, so I have two theories. One is that when I don't ride him for a few days he reverts to his old habits. The second is that sometimes, when he is on his own, he does something that makes him physically a little sore on the right hind. I am more inclined to the second idea because I also had a hard time getting him to take the right lead in the canter. In previous rides, this was no issue at all. Today, I could feel him falling in on his right shoulder and hind end, effectively blocking himself from being able to stride off on that lead. I had to really work him on the right rein, creating a bend to the inside with his haunches lined up under his body to finally get the lead. The best way to explain the concept is to get him straight on the right rein first and then develop the canter. Once he got going he was fine. Interesting problem, but something to definitely work on, and not too difficult to fix.

I rode Toby last, and since the sun was starting to heat thing up, I kept the session simple. Half pass, shoulder in, haunches in, ten meter circles, canter lengthenings and some tempi changes at three strides and two strides. Yes, simple. Toby makes every one of those exercises simple and he can do all of them while working in a relatively lower level frame.

Doing the exercises is not the secret of dressage. A trained horse can do most of that work on a loose rein. Doing the exercises with all the other requirements--engagement, balance, impulsion, straightness, collection...etc.--that's the secret.

If you are just catching up today, do read the post below for some really cool pictures of my new shed and the sky.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Boyz In The Shed

And I Need to Ride

The shed is finished. They Boys explored it like children with a new playhouse. It was really cute. Chance was first in since I lead him out to explore. Then Tucker joined him. Toby showed up later after I was back outside in the yard, so I didn't get him in the pictures. This now allows me to turn Tucker out in the sandy arena when there is too much mud in the paddocks. Hopefully, it will keep his shoes on during the bad weather. I still have to take the extra fence post out and somehow move the gate so I have an exit from the arena at that end. It will be a little work, but nothing I've not done before. As long as the posts are not set in concrete, I should be just fine handling it by myself.

Don't know what's up with me, but I am on a "not riding" roll. The weather is not helping one bit, but tonight the humidity is supposed to be lower so again, I may go out later and ride in the dark under the lights.

I am hoping it is simply vacation mode setting in and I just need to have nothing to do for a few days.

Tonight I participated in a Webinar hosted by my local saddle shop. Rick, the owner, has always been wonderfully involved in public service to area horsemen. I have a gorgeous wooden tackbox he donated as a prize to a dressage show. He has done a lot of things for the NJ Horse Park and fulfilled a long time dream by opening a huge new store in that area with a beautiful seminar/meeting room. It's a big far for me to go but he ran a number of educational programs on Thursdays last year--that's also my choir night. Now he has instituted online web sessions. I had to call in on my phone to hear the audio--not sure if that was how it was supposed to work, but it was great!

The vet did a presentation on horse parasites, with recommendations for worming programs. Interestingly enough, the new protocol is NOT to rotate worming products, but to use one with regular vet checks for fecal counts. Apparently, rotation actually helps the parasites develop resistance. If you stick with one product that works and change only when counts start to go up, you will have many more options over the years. As of 2003, the only product that showed no evidence of resistant problems was Ivermectin. But I've read some concerns about that more recently.

Another interesting bit of information was that tapeworms are now regarding as a serious concern for horses, while in years past, that was not so. Very interesting.

Below, a picture of the sandpit lake across the street. I wanted to catch the sunset, but by the time I got out there the light was fading. The brush and tangle is too hard to navigate easily from near my house. Next time I'll go down the road in the other direction where I can get a better shot. AT the bottom is just a picture of the sky from the paddock. Again, I was just a bit late to get the full effect of the color, but it was really pretty. Kind of in between storms.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Modem Meltdown

Live and Learn

I'd had an issue with my DSL modem power supply before but it seemed to settle down. However, on the weekend, during a thunderstorm, the house power went out. The modem shut off. I was on a surge protector, so I don't think the power loss or the storm had anything to do with it. When I tried to turn it back on, no deal.

Eventually, I called Verizon, my DSL supplier and we troubleshot the modem. Finally, we both decided the modem was faulty and I needed a new one. However, it had to be sent so I could not go pick it up anywhere. That took until today.

I had no idea how dependent I have become on the Internet until I was deprived of it for those days. I tried using my laptop with the dial up modem, only to discover that with a DSL phone line coming into the house, I no longer have a normal dial tone or the kind of connection a modem can use. I might as well drop my dial up service--the back up--as I simply have no way of using it.

Of course, to get back on, it was not a simple connect the modem and go. I ended up having to call Verizon tech support and go through a bunch of steps to bypass the modem's settings to reset them so they were compatible with my computer set up. Anyhow, I am back.

Horsewise, not too much to report. It has been hot and humid again. Yesterday was nice enough, so I managed to lunge everyone at least. I may go out to ride later in the evening today, but we shall see.

In the meantime, the run in shed is done except for some minor bracing on the posts. The barn roof is also repaired. I plan on having the camera out when the Boys have their first access to the shed. That should be fun.

Just catching up on all the news from the 'Net that's happened. The big story is Caroline's accident with Zip. Please do drop by her blog at to read the details and wish her well. It's a good reminder to all horsemen how powerful these creatures we adore are and how fragile our control over them can actually be. I don't honestly think, except on rare occasions, that they ever really mean to hurt us, but the fact is, things happen. We must always be mindful of how we hande them and how we handle ourselves around them. It's food for thought.

I wish Caroline all the best for a speedy recovery. I know how much she loves her horses, riding, and competing. Here's hoping she's back in the saddle at 100% sooner than later.