Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cleaned All Day

Well, Almost

Went to physical therapy in the AM.  Bought cat food on the way home. (PetSmart, discount pet store is new the chiropractor.)

Decided, despite the beautiful weather, to keep on cleaning.  I don't know how I manage to do it, but I donated seven large bags of clothes to charity and I still don't have room for all the clothes I have.  Suffice it to say, I am over supplied.  Part of it is that when you are in front of classes of teenagers for 180 days a year, variety of wardrobe is important.  Then, I need clothes for all kinds of weather since my classroom's climate control is completely uncontrolled.  And then...well, I just like clothes!!  I am a clothesaholic.  

Organizing, hanging up, folding, and finding niches for all my clothes took up most of the day.  Although I was distracted by the great entertainments of vacuuming, dusting, floor washing, and clothes washing as well.  I am not really done, but the house does look somewhat better. 

Hey, my horses are happy!!  Toby looks fairly sound, Chance looks adorable, and Tucker looks for food.  

I have been coughing all day and I confess, I did nap as well, so perhaps not riding was the healthier choice.  

The guy is supposed to come to install the new alarm panel tomorrow.  Don't know how long that will take nor how much supervising I will need to do.  

Somewhere along the line I really do need to just get rid of stuff around here.  When I redid the house I had a huge dumpster in the back yard.  I purged the house.  I have managed to collect all kinds of things to replace the things I purged.  


I have no idea.

Because it was there to buy.  

Monday, September 29, 2008

Good Thing I Have Two Days Off


Came home from school completely worn out. I am battling a cold, I guess and so far, sort of winning.

The rain has stopped, but the tropical air lingered on, making my classroom miserably hot again. That didn't help.

I came home, fed the Boys, made some eggplant parmesan, and crashed.

We have two days off from school for Rosh Hashanah, so at least I can rest. Sort of. The alarm guy is coming on Wednesday to replace my lightning struck panel, and I really do need to clean the house before he gets here. I have been putting it off for too long, so it's my own fault, but it looks like tomorrow will be filled with cleaning. Yippee!! Not.

Hope to get a ride in on somebody somewhere, sometime soon. Toby is still not 100%, so he's off. Tucker is just starting to reap the benefits of the Adequan, so I won't press him too much. That leaves Chance.

Didn't I say that yesterday?

I am repeating myself. It happens when you're sick.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Shoe's On and He's Out

Happy Camper Returns

Scott called this morning to tell me the shoer was coming sometime today.

I was feeling rotten and had stayed home from church/choir because my throat was sore. Typical consequence of the start of school--a cold on the way, or some kind of repiratory illness caught from the kids.

The only errand I had to do was go get feed. I left around 12:30. When I got back, sure enough, tracks on the lawn and Toby's open stall door told me the shoer had come and gone. I guess all was OK enough to put the shoe back on. I would have liked to hear his assessment, but that was not to be.

Toby was out with his buddies again and very happy about it.

I've just gone out to feed and he is eating again. When he was locked in, he was fretting so he hardly ate his grain, just nibbled a bit on his hay, and until I coaxed him, was not drinking his water. The water was the most worrying, so I too am happy he is free again.

Meantime, the weather is totally miserable. Raining, wet, and warm enough to feel hot and humid, at least to me. It's another one of those tropical storms cruising along the coast bringing its air mass with it.

So I've not ridden. Just as well considering that I don't feel well.

I stopped at the pharmacy on the way home from my feed trip and picked up some cold remedies. Hopefully, I can keep it at bay and not get too sick.

At least the horses are OK.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

This Isn't Fun

Toby Is Not Happy

And that is putting is mildly.  He is currently locked in his stall with the outside door latch tied shut.   
Let's start at square one.  Yesterday morning I soaked his hoof, bandaged it and left him latched in his stall for the day. 

I was home for the vet, only to find him outside walking around in the rain and mud.  I was a bit confused, but figured perhaps I hadn't closed the latch all the way, a mistake I've committed in the past when I was in a hurry.  

I was hoping to keep his hoof clean so debris wouldn't get into the wound from the toe clip and start an abscess.  The bandage had stayed on, so it might have been OK.   After the vet left, I put him back in his stall and latched the door, making sure it was done up properly. 

When I went back out to feed a few hours later, he was out again.  OK, the only conclusion was that angelic looking blaze faced chestnut who can undo bailing twine knots to release his bay buddy from the holding pen.  I am pretty sure Chance had slid the door latch open and let Toby out.  

I put Toby back in and tied the latch shut.  

Fast forward to the early morning hours when I heard Toby calling to his pals.  This went on repeatedly.  When I got up, it was quiet.  This time, Chance was standing at Toby's door nuzzling him and Tucker was in his stall right next door.  

Toby's stall was a mess.  After I fed, I gave it a good cleaning, put Toby on the crossties and started to soak his foot.  Tucker was outside, just out of view and Toby was all riled up.  He kept pawing and fussing, simply not standing still.  Water from the soaking boot was all over the aisle.  I needed to clean his stall so I couldn't babysit him.  Instead I brought Tucker in, put him on the crossties at the othe end of the aisle and all was quiet.  

I rebandaged Toby's hoof and put him in.  

For a while, it was calm.  Then about an hour or so ago, Toby started whinnying and calling frantically again.  When I went out, I saw Tucker and Chance out in the field, and Toby running around in his stall.  The hoof bandage was off and he was really upset.  

He is alpha horse, but his anxiety of being separated from his little herd is extreme.  I presume he is worrying himself into a frenzy.   I just gave him a dose of Quietex, an herbal calmer.  I wish I had some tranquilizer here for him.  That's what I had to give PJ when he was stuck inside after his tooth surgery.  Maybe the Quietex will work.  

I will rebandage his foot later if I have the Vetwrap.  I was planning on going to the feed store tomorrow to pick up the grain and get the wrap then.  I think I have some left, but I have to look.  At this point, trying to keep it clean is a lost battle.  

Tonight, I just may keep Tucker in to keep Toby quiet. No sense in keeping the whole neighborhood awake.  *sigh*  

Raining off and on, and quite warm and muggy.  I gave Tucker the day off.  I will give him some bute tonight and, if it's dry, ride a little tomorrow.  Guess I need to work Chance to keep him out of mischief.  *lol*  

Friday, September 26, 2008

Wear Me Out Day

At Least It's Been Interesting

When I went out to feed this morning, Toby was limping badly. I checked his foot, and sure enough, he had sprung his shoe and had stepped on the clinch, exactly as Tucker had done.

Out came the soaking boot. Out came the epsom salts. Out came the Icthamol. Out came the vetrap and the duct tape. Been there. Done that. Called the shoer. "My" Scott is still laid up with his shoulder surgery recovery so I'm not sure who will be here or when. Meanwhile, Toby is stuck in his stall, which is fine as it's raining.

Off to school I went in a bit of a rush since the doctoring had taken up time I usually need to get ready.

Took care of homeroom and started first period class and then my substitute teacher came in so I could go to the theater/auditorium for a reading of my driving play before the Superintendent of Schools, her Assistant, and our Principal.

I am generally pretty modest about what I do, but this time, I have to say something. Honestly, I wrote this play. I know it. But when we reached the last few pages, I was on the verge of tears. Not because of how well the students read but because of the story--the play itself. It got to me and choked me up totally. One of the episodes tells the story of a young driver who falls asleep at the wheel and drives off into the river. Her ghost is there, unaware that she is dead as a newswoman reports on the accident. The girl keeps trying to tell the reporter her name, pleading to be heard. Then the other young accident victims add their voices. Somewhere in that scene I just started to choke up. It was really powerful.

When we finished, I discovered I was not the only one so moved. The three administrators were close to tears and the theater teacher told me the play needed to go to one of the local professional theaters for their special program. Apparently, it was that good.

I am really pleased to think I may have moved people to think about how all kinds of driver errors can ruin lives in such an effective way. I'm quite excited about seeing the full production in a few weeks.

HOWEVER, and there is always a "however" at Vo-Tech High School, the Superintendent wants me to "clean up" some of the language. So, here I am with a teenage play, with real teenage voices, and I can't use their language. I went back to class and workshopped with my senior writing class and came up with some alternatives to using (Please be not offended) "shit" in about five places. This was a heavy metal rock musician talking in the play and one really rebellious teenage girl. Oh, well. I guess it's the pain of being a writer. (No one has paid me for writing this, either, so it was free labor for the school system. Maybe a reward in heaven??? I am a professional writer as I have been paid for my words in the past......)

Later, the Principal dropped by my classroom just to reaffirm how wonderful he thought the play was. He said he started thinking about his own children and all of a sudden just started tearing up.

So all that was good.

I had requested personal leave starting at 12 PM today so I could get home for the vet.

The Vice-Principal completely ignored the 12PM time and scheduled a substitute teacher for 12:30, and official half day. When I called in over the intercom, she said I was welcome to leave if I could find someone to cover my class.

My associate whose room is just across the mini-hall from me would have, I am 100% sure, been willing to help out, but she had gone somewhere for lunch and I was stuck. There was no way to contact any other teacher in the building, so there I sat.

One of the students kindly loaned me his cell phone so I called my vet's office. Dr. Perez was already on her way, but they notified her I would be late and assured me it was OK.

I let my class go about two minutes early and rushed out of the building. It took me, my some miracle, less than 15 minutes to get home. And the vet was already there.

So now, the Tucker report.

Lunging, trotting in hand, showed nothing with Tuck except PERHAPS a slight misstep once or twice in his left front, that hoof he'd lost the shoe on.

So, I saddled him up, trotted him off, asked for a right lead canter and....buck, refuse, kick out, all that nasty stuff. Then I tried the left lead. Buck, refuse, kick out, all that nasty stuff.

We unsaddled him and (by the way my vet has a wonderful assistant who did the in hand trotting for me since I cannot run due to my knees) did flexion tests on all four legs.

Just a little reaction, but is was beginning to look like hock soreness. Once inside the barn, Dr. Perez checked Tucker's acupuncture points and once more, hocks, with the left being a little more reactive than the right.

That would explain a lot. First, the left hock would cause a problem with the right lead canter depart as canter leads demand a twist that puts stress on the outside hind. (That's why it didn't make sense if it was his right--the usual--stifle causing the issue.)

Second, it would also explain why he was worse after I had done the hill work. As Caroline well knows, hills and sore hocks are not a good pair. In essence, my attempts to treat his stifle were actually making things worse.

The treatment? Adequan injections for about a month. Every four days. I will also give him some bute to see if it makes a difference.

We opted out of hock injections at this point since we all know the first injection will lead to more down the road for sure. Toby used to get sore hocks as well and reacted much the same as Tucker, though less belligerently. I did inject his hocks perhaps twice in 10 or so years, but we found that three Adequan injections usually brought him "right as rain" without invading the joints.

Tuck's soreness is very slight, so I am hoping we are not running into more chronic problems. But time will tell. As I have said repeatedly, if one of my horses is limited in what he can do, it's fine with me. My ambitions don't much drive me anymore. While I have dreamed of training at least one horse to Grand Prix, if I don't get there, it's OK. I've taken two to Intermediare I, and that's a pretty big accomplishment. All I do need to do is teach a horse to piaffe and passage, and that's that. (I did the one tempi's on PJ so that's been done too.)

Hey, Chance??? What do you think about learning to passage???

Thursday, September 25, 2008

AM Ride

And Not A Good Canter

I got up early enough to ride Tucker before school. His trot work was quite good. He was ready, willing and able to do all I asked including a little lateral work.

Then I tried to pick up the right lead canter. UGH!! He quit completely, laid his ears back, stomped a foot and threatened to buck. I turned him around eventually, asked for the left lead canter and...no problem.

Then I crossed the diagonal, asked for a change of lead through the trot, and got the right lead. He was OK, but not quite as comfortable and after a few circuits of the arena, he stopped again. I went back to the left lead, tried a change through the trot and just got more resistance.

I did not push the issue as Tucker was very clearly trying to tell me something hurt. I trotted just a little more, then dismounted and put him on the lunge line. I lunged him in a nice big circle at the trot and canter in both directions. He was really stretching out with his neck and head when he was on the right lead, but he did canter without protest.

Whatever is bothering him only shows up under saddle and primarily when he is asked to work in a frame.

I called my vet as soon as the office was open. Talk about luck. I could have had an appointment with Dr. Klayman at the farm where I take lessons at 2:30 today. However, it was impossible to leave school to make it because my vice principal was already pulling out her hair trying to cover classes for other teachers who were out. Bummer.

However, Dr. Perez, one of the other partners could be at my house tomorrow around 12:30. I have to be in school in the morning for a reading of my driving play for the Superintendent of Schools, but I will sign out for half a day and get home for the appointment. Dr. Perez does do acupuncture, but she does not do the chiropractic as a rule. I don't know if she has any adjustments she can do, but for now, just a good soundness evaluation will do fine. If it does turn out to be Tucker's stifle, I am going to discuss some prolotherapy to tighten those ligaments. If it's something else, acupuncture may help and I can always schedule a chiropractic treatment soon.

Tonight, the rain has not yet started, but I spend the evening cleaning the barn as my back injury really put me behind in my chores. I thought about riding Chance, but I was so worn out when I was done I didn't have the energy.

And now I have to go to choir practice.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Timed Out

A Little Set Back

My lower back was bothering me a lot this morning. I honestly do not think it had and direct relationship to riding, as riding has never quite caused this problem. But, it is still a residual effect from the earlier injury.

Instead of lunging Tucker this morning, I lunged him up and down his hills this afternoon. I elected not to ride because I had to schedule my chiropractic appointment for 6 PM, leaving me less than two hours to do whatever I needed to do.

Tuck is really funny when he does these lunges, trying to find some way to cut corners whenever possible. Towards the end, with me doing nearly as much work trying to drive him out on the circle to gain maximum "hill time," he started cantering up. I suspect he was getting a little tired, which is a good thing. The idea here is to build muscles in his hind end, and that doesn't happen without at least a little fatigue.

Since I am experimenting with the "Idiot Proof Diet" to see if I can indeed lose 9 pounds in 11 days, when I came back into the house, I had to fix up a veggie dish for dinner. The diet is really weird, but so far--8 days in--I seem to have lost nearly 7 pounds. If indeed I reach target by Saturday, I can then binge for three days and I'll go through another 11 day cycle to lose another 9 or so pounds. If I can shed 20 pounds, I will be a happy camper. I will keep you all posted on this one.

Now fully adjusted again, I will not work another horse tonight. I am currently planning on getting up early enough in the morning to ride Tucker, as the forecast is calling for rain starting tomorrow afternoon and going through Friday.

Since I suppose I will be having another lesson on Saturday, I would like to have some more saddle time in.

Busy, busy.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Into the Woods and Out Again

Three for Three

Half day of school so I was home by 2 PM. It was a beautiful day.

I saddled up Toby, put on his bug armor and some good mosquito spray and headed out for a hack. I decided to go around the lake in the back as we have not been there since early spring. The ground was dry so it was nice even in the spots that have been boggy. But then I did reach a mud puddle across the whole trail and when we tried to go around it--there was no way to tell what the footing was like in it--I had to cut through the brush. So far, so good. Toby is good at trailblazing.

But then, up ahead, right where the trail narrows beside the lake, some fisherman had hung up a black plastic bag for trash. Good points for them. Bad points for Toby. If there is one thing that scares Toby besides mylar balloons, it's plastic bags. Especially plastic bags hanging up where they should not be.

Decision time. Had I room to work him, we would have been fine but the lake was literally within three feet and I don't know how the lake floor drops off, so if we had gone in I'm not sure what might have happened. I dismounted.

Trouble is, once I'm off, I have no way of getting back on without a fairly substantial mounting block of some sort. There was nothing past the bag. There was nothing on the far side of the lake. There was nothing...until I was all the way around the lake, back into the woods and halfway back on the trail home. Phooey. Suffice it to say I had a nice walk WITH Toby instead of ON Toby. Once remounted, we took the longer route home. We were out for at least 45 minutes, maybe an hour.

I saddled Chance up next. He was positively delighted to be going out for a hack. I took him on a ride he's never been on since the flooding has blocked that trail. It was dry today and we had several places where we could trot. The gnats were bothering him around his muzzle as I'd not put any mosquito repellant there, but otherwise, he was a "happy camper," and we had a nice ride--fairly long for him.

I tried riding Tucker up the little hill to do some trot work behind the new run-in, but a squirrel rustled around in the bushes nearby, Tucker startled, threatened to buck, and then kept on dancing. I went back into the arena and trotted some strange patterns around Chance and Toby before finally heading out for a short hack.

Tucker was perfect. Once he had a few tree leaves/branches in his mouth, he was totally relaxed--in a squirrel-free environment--and we had a lovely ride. There are several very low fallen trees across the trail in one spot. I'd trotted Chance over them, so I decided I try the same with Tucker. What a boy!! He actually jumped them, very quietly. I was delighted.

To be frank, Tucke has been scary more than once out of the arena, so managing two little jumps in the forest is acutally a big accomplishment. As I was riding, I was thinking how much "nerve" I have lost over the years. I'm particularly a nervous rider, but I am far more cautious than is probably warranted. Toby is a bad spooker, so it's not so much fun to frolic about with him. When Tucker gets riled, he bucks, so he's no fun in a frolic. Here's hoping Chance will keep his level head and be a horse I can "play" with out in the field.

Time will tell. But for now, I had a wonderful day today!!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Back on Horseback

Rode Two

I figured it was time to try riding again. I started off with Chance as doing a half halt with him is essentially unnecessary because he simply has no clue....yet. *G*

Chance is still basic walk, trot, canter with the head wherever it needs to be, at least at the canter. I the trot he actually is stretching down into the bit fairly consistently. It is far from perfect, but a really good start. And, even with all the time since his last ride, he seems to be remembering. His trot starts out a little "rough" and not quite in rhythm. As we worked, it got better and better.

I am pretty sure he is a horse that needs regular work to reach his potential. So if I do decide to make him a potentially competitive dressage horse, I have a lot of riding ahead of me. If I just want to "play" with him, that's a different story. Hopefully as he learns better to carry himself, his rhythm will just fix itself. He does have a nice canter and once he learns to go round in it instead of using his head and neck for balance, it will be even better.

Once done with Chance, I saddled up Tucker. Having watched Gabriel ride him, I decided to be a litle softer with the driving aids. We did have a few "stops" but the first ones were a result of his not understanding my half halt, thinking I wanted a full halt. Oooops. Guess I needed to be more subtle.

The only big "deal" of the ride was the right lead canter depart. He tried the same evasions he used with Gabriel--a kick out, swinging his haunches to the outside, and generally "squirming." I persisted, not by getting stronger, but just by repeating the aids and finally he cantered. Once he was in the gait, he felt absolutely fine and offered several up and down transitions with little protest. I don't know if the depart itself hurts or if he is just anticipating that it will hurt.

The left lead was easy and soft in the depart, as was the gait itself. At the end of the session, I switched back to the right, did two more departs and then let him trot around on a long stretchy rein.

I was wearing my back brace and so far, so good. I didn't overdo, so I should be OK.

I lunged Toby for 10-15 minutes to end the evening. I'd considered taking him out for a hack, but the mosquitoes were out in full force and I was too lazy to tack him up and deck him out in the bug armor.

School is out at 1:30 tomorrow so we can go back in the evening for Parents' Night/Open House. The day is supposed to be pretty nice so I'm hoping I can ride in the afternoon. If so, Toby will go out in the woods to nibble leaves. And if the bugs don't bother him, I may take Chance and Tucker out too.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Lazy Sunday

And Hot

When I came out of church this morning, it was pretty hot--upper 80's. I let the church youth group wash my car, made my donation and headed out to do some shopping.

There is a Burlington Coat Factory not far from church. They have all kinds of name brand clothes at discount prices. Why, oh, why did I buy a suit? And then why, oh, why did I go across the highway to Dress Barn to buy a top or two? I honestly DO NOT NEED any new clothes.

But now I have some. At Dress Barn I had a great time helping a mother and daughter find some dresses for the daughter--a teenager. The first dress I saw on her was cute, but too big. I decided she really needed another style, picked one out and sure enough, it was a winner. I was fun watching her try on the clothes that were both a good fit and flattering.

Headed home, and decided not to do anything with the Boys. My back was still questionable and, as I said, it was hot. Besides, Tucker always gets the day off after a lesson. AND the weather will be back to nice tomorrow, so no big deal.

When it stays light enough after I get home from school, I have plenty of time so perhaps, if my back is better, I will have time to take a hack on Toby/Chance or even Tuck. I figure just walking might be OK for a start.

Meantime, I plan on longing Tucker up and down the hill in the morning before school. Apparently, my friend Michelle who took that lesson yesterday, had been doing the same with her horse. Supposedly she said it was a Parelli thing to build up the horse's back end and balance. Interesting. For me it was a vet thing to build up Tuck's stifle. H-mm-m-m-m-m-m.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Pictures are Pathetic

Bad Photographer

Not a one of the pictures I took of Gabriel riding Tucker are worth looking at unless blur is your delight. Don't know if I don't have the camera set right or what. Or, it could be a lighting thing. I did take some pics of my friend Michele on her almost white horse and some of them are good.

Ah well. Will have to wait for another Tucker day. I will now post one just to give you the illusion of Tucker under saddle:

Anyhow, you get the idea. Gabriel was delighted with Tuck. He said he felt wonderful. He was forward, responsive, good to the hand, and really was working well. He said he was a totally different horse than the one he had first ridden months ago and has made wonderful progress.

Tuck accepted all the half halts well, was excellent off the leg for any lateral work, and even , for an instant looked quite ready to offer a step or two of piaffe.

He really did look nice! Gabriel did a good session of trot and then moved into canter on the left lead. Again Tucker carried himself well and stayed correct to the bridle, accepting half halts and keeping nice and round. "He was a nice round ball," Gabriel said.

Then they changed rein and...ooopsie dooo!! Tucker kicked out and resisted taking the right lead. Gabriel corrected him gently and asked again, and Tucker became a little more upset and resistant. At that point, I said, "It's that stifle. He's probably tired and it's bothering him a little." We both agreed there was no point in pushing the issue since he had been so absolutely anglic up until that point.

Gabriel coaxed him into a nice trot on the right rein, then reversed and cantered off for one circuit on the lovely, soft, obedient left lead and called it a day. Neither one of us wanted to mess up an otherwise excellent ride by ending with a problem.

The right canter issue was exactly what happened when I rode Tucker early on in the "bringing him back to fitness" stage of the recent stifle soreness. Now, of course, because of my back, he lost a good week of fitness training as I could not even longe him. So I was not at all surprised.

What is clearly interesting is that Tucker is showing absolute honesty and willingness to go both forward and correctly as long as he feels OK. And he is very clear as well about not wanting to work when he is physically uncomfortable. Since I am pretty sure it is his stifle, as I have said, it is a problem I can cope with and, if need be, get some treatments from the vet that are not invasive and very effective. Right now, I will stick to legging him up with the hills and monitoring his attitude.

Meantime, after having watched him go today, I am delighted with his work ethic and his acceptance of the aids. He really did look easy to ride and Gabriel's repeated compliment on his improved level of training confirmed what I saw.

I am more than pleased. Guess I haven't been doing such a bad job after all. *G*

Friday, September 19, 2008

Interference from the Side

And Off We Go!!

I long lined Tucker again tonight as I still do not think I can really ride--perhaps a hack, but not schooling.

He was not as easily soft to the bit tonight as he was last night, so I ended up "veeing" the lines to the sucingle to give me more leverage. Once there, he submitted easily and went into a lovely frame.

The only thing I have to watch is that if he loses too much impulsion from behind, he may drop into the start of rolkur, so I have to be very careful with how much rein pressure I put on and just how much driving I can do.

But, if you recall, several sections of the fencing around the arena are missing and I haven't yet been able to fix it. I need to be able to dig new post holes and I need to drag posts over or remove them from the run in shed area or....lots of work I simply can't do with a bad back.

Thus, despite my efforts to keep them at bay, Chance and Toby were continually making "inroads" into the arena. I'd chase them out, and they'd come back until finally they charged in at full speed.

Well, needless to say, that energized Tucker who bolted off. Because of the "vee," I had super control over him and instantly, he settled into a head up, on the bit, forward, magnificent trot!! It was exactly what a good dressage horse should do.

H-m-m-m-m. Does that mean I need his "brothers" careening around in the arena, leaping and bucking about to get him to work correctly?

An interesting training tactic, surely, but not one I particularly consider safe. At least not with me in the saddle.

However, it did confirm that Tucker has untapped potential. Perhaps if I just spend the winter riding FORWARD a lot, I might develop that trot I saw tonight.

Hey, at least I can think about it. A goal, perhaps, once I can get my defiant body back in the saddle.

Tomorrow, a lesson with Gabriel. Maybe I will get some good pics.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

And Then....

Had a Migraine Yesterday

No post, no news.

I longed Tucker this morning before school. I plan to long line him tonight.

Gabriel will be riding him in the lesson on Saturday. I do not trust my back. The muscle was protesting again this morning so....I visited my chiropractor again. That is every day this week so far.

I did long line Tucker tonight and he was wonderful. He really does look quite pretty when he was on the bit and moving along. Again, he is not a top notch mover as far as dressage horses go, but he is correct in what he can do.

I was careful of my back as I cleaned the stalls as well as when I was lining. I do not plan on riding in the lesson. Gabriel emailed me to say he'd be glad "as long as you think I will get along with him!" Aha! Of course he'll get along. It's just a matter of mind over Tucker. Actually, he rode Tucker once before and all was well. Often Tuck goes better for other people instead of me.

Anyhow, it will be worth it to just watch to see how things go and what I should be doing.

Meantime, I plan on getting up early again in the morning to longe him up and down the hill and then I will long line him again in the evening. Short cut to having missed so many days of riding.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sore Back Musings

Chiropractor Again

My L3 vertebra is the one going out to cause the latest pain. I was OK during the night, then Ok when I got up, but as the day wore on, my back started to bother me more and more until....ah, you cannot say I am not well adjusted at this point. *G*

So, the musing. Minky is right about part of the herd dynamic. The horses definitely do behave differently with each other when I am there. Toby is curious and affectionate, but if he thinks I am going to ask him to work, he keeps his distance. Tucker is decidedly jealous and always wants a part of my attention. Chance stands off to the side, observing, but is always up for a cuddle and will most often come when I call. He will also keep me company if I am doing some kind of work out there. (But I have to be careful where I put my jackets as he will steal them and has ripped the sleeves off one already.)

PJ used to "hang out" when I was working, constantly begging me to give him "chinnies" (Chin rubs) I really do miss that as he was very clear about exactly where he wanted me to scratch him. But, I digress.....

Considering Caroline's concerns about Jazz and the possibilty of ulcers or some other physical problem, I am in complete accord. PJ, Toby, and Tucker all showed what might be characterized as training or behavioral issues due to physical problems. Early on, PJ would balk due to chronic muscle soreness, and later, with training, simply became overly emotional and "nervous," when pressured. I wish I had known then about the ulcer issues as I suspect he was a prime candidate since he was such a perfectionist. Toby would buck and perform badly in dressage competitions when his back or hocks bothered him. Because he is a chronic cribber, I suspect he had ulcers too, but learned about treatment far too late in his career and life to solve the problem even though I have since treated him. The cribbing is a lifelong habit now.

And you know Tucker's story. The ulcer medication made a dramatic difference in him. I still must deal with the stifle soreness which crops up when he is not sufficiently fit, but I spent years dealing with the same thing with Russell R, so I know it is very manageable.

Physical problems make a difference in the way my brain works, that's for sure. When I was sick last year, I became very introverted and began to focus soley on my problems rather than the world at large. With my sore back now, I am finding it a chore to do some basic tasks and my teaching enthusiasm at school is certainly lacking. Why should a horse be any different?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Twinges, More and Less

Off to the Chiropractor

I needed another adjustment today. My back was really not happy today. It was giving me little spasms of pain all day long at school. When I went in the vertebra was out of place again. I feel great now but I am under orders not to lift anything heavy, twist, or turn too much. Guess I will not long line Tucker tonight. *G*

I have to be careful carrying the hay too, so I'll make a mental note to be sure to use the little cart in the morning.

The day was not as hot as predicted. When I got up this morning there was a fairly stiff breeze blowing, bringing in some less humid, though not much cooler weather. I think, again, it was leftover wind from Mr. Ike, the last hurricane, swirling us with his "backside" winds. At any rate, school was just barely tolerable. I was, nonetheless, worn out by last period and didn't give my students any homework. They did appreciate that as they too were too hot to be very much inspired.

The Boys were out in the front paddock when I got home. As soon as they saw me stop the car at the mailbox, they came on over. Cute and adorable, and too precious to resist, I pulled some grass from the section of lawn I hadn't mowed and gave each one of them a nice bunch.

Toby and Tucker shared, but Chance, odd man out, had to move to the other side of a little hedge to get his without being tormented by the two big bullies. He doesn't seem to mind being the low man in the herd, but it always bothers me to see him have to be so wary. Toby is definitely alpha, and Tucker is an alpha "wannbe," leaving Chance omega big time. I do all I can to protect his space but heaven knows what happens when I'm not there.

Then again, he and Tucker do play a lot with each other, so it can't be all bad.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Twinges and Cringes

And An Even More Tropical Day

Talk about hot! Again in the 90's F, and horribly humid. The air conditioning was on in church this morning so the choir wore our robes. We were all too hot. I unzipped mine and let my shorts hang out during the service. *G* I am not looking forward to school again...so what's new there? My room is going to be its usual sauna self.

The Boys were alternately out in the pasture, under the shady trees, or hiding in their stalls in front of the fans. They were sweated without doing anything to get that way. I do suppose they are also starting to grow in a bit of their winter coats at this point too, so it's really not fair being so hot.

My back is really twinging right now and it's been off and on painful all day long. I did not sleep particularly well either. I'd opened a window, but the night air seemed to grow warmer after midnight. I might have been better off turning up/down the air conditioning to make the house cooler that way. Add to that a very protesting back muscle and I wasn't exactly comfortable.

Suffice it to say I did not ride, and as of 7 PM, I did not work a horse either. I'd better get something going this week as Gabriel hopes to reschedule for Saturday. I already emailed him that my back is bad and I may not be able to ride, but I still want a training session. We can either long line or, better yet, have Gabriel ride Tucker for me.

As I posted on Caroline's blog, after reading her comments about a less competitive approach to riding, I am heading there myself. This summer has put me off being a determined competition rider as I used to be. I realized that right now I do not have the need nor the ambition to train with the level of intensity I would need to be successful in the show ring. Maybe the spark will reignite, but for now I am quite satisfied with a much "lazier" approach to training.

I do find riding fascinating. Finding ways to teach a new exercise to one of my horses, or to get Tucker to really work to his potential all keep me busy and interested, but if I miss a day or several days of riding, it's just fine. Some days, just going out for a 20 minute hack in the woods is just fine, as is playing on the longe or simply giving everyone a hug and a carrot.

Wonder where I'll be in another year after I retire?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Lazy Saturday

And I Behaved Myself

I did not ride--more due to the heat and humidity than to the back. I do still feel a twinge in the muscle, but I'm not sure that's the same problem. I'll just say I obeyed doctor's orders for a change. How's that?

I suspect that although the huge hurricane down in Texas may be 1600 or so miles away it is affecting our weather by pushing southern air masses our way. The feeling in the air this morning was similar to how it felt a day or so before Hanna came through. Ike's path is not aimed at us but I find it hard to believe a force of energy that large cannot affect the weather fronts all around it. It's supposed to be level with New Jersey, but several hundred miles west by Sunday evening. We have rain in the forecast and then Monday with rain and more heat.

Ick. Bad enough to be in the upper 80's at school, but humid too? I'm already sweating.

And actually I was sweating today--a lot. I went out in the afternoon and decided to mow the lawn. I do have a riding mower--actually two--but it was still hot work. I fed the Boys and decided to poo pick the riding arena and the new run-in shed. By the time I was done, I was soaked.

Part of the plan was to do some fence repair in the arena, but I gave up. The Boys have managed to knock down one post totally--broken at the base-- and crack at least three others leaving four sections of fence totally down. I put corral panels up in one space, but once the one post was broken off, I couldn't fill in the gaps with any more panels because there was nothing there to hold them up. Right now, if I ride in there, the other horses can go in and out at will, even with the gate shut because of the downed rails. I repaired one cracked post but it definitely needs reenforcement and the other cracked one needs serious work too. One post is temporarily being replaced by a tree growing up in the line. The broken one is off at ground level and I just may leave it there and put a new post in next to it--unless it's one I've done that too before.

Can you tell I've fixed this fence before? And I hired my friend's two sons to repair it as well?

For some reason, the Boys think it's a perfect place for the following activities: Cribbing, tail scratching, neck scratching, and games of Knees and Headbutt--something like Horse Volleyball with the horse playing both "baller" and "ball." The fence serves as net or some sort of goalpost to be demolished as the game progresses.

I am seriously thinking I may have to run a line of electric along that section. I'm not keen on that as it is fencing for the arena and once they realize it's live, I'll have a problem riding close to the rail on that side. I would put the wire on the outside, but I have a feeling it would still make them rail shy.

As you can see, while I really didn't get much done aside from mowing the lawn, I did do a lot of thinking about doing things.

Not bad for a Saturday off.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Much Better, Thanks

After An All Day "Ouch"

My chiropractor was booked all day, so he set me up for a 7 PM appointment. I am just back and I feed a whole lot better.

Apparently, I compressed my 12th thoracic vertebra, causing the spasm. That, in turn, pulled out a few others, making me sore in more than one place. How did it happen?

Well, Dr. Morris said I was probably sitting up very straight (yippee!!!) and must have gotten a jolt just at the wrong moment. It was a one in a million thing as I had to be sitting just wrong at that moment. Guess I half halted at the wrong part of the stride, when the right hind was hitting the ground instead of getting ready to lift off so the half halt would control the stride and bring it more underneath Tucker's body. Maybe??? At any rate, since I've never hurt my back that way before, I'm not all that likely to hurt it again, so once it settles back down, I should be fine.

Doc did tell me not to ride for a while, but no matter as it is raining anyhow. If it clears up on the weekend, I can go out for some easy rides in the woods and do some long lining.

I stopped to buy some gasoline and diesel fuel on the way home before the prices skyrocket again. I needed fuel for the tractor and for the lawnmowers. Why the skyrocket? Hurricane Ike is about to crash into the Texas coast where some 50% of the US fuel refineries are located. We do have refineries here in New Jersey too so we may not get hit as hard as the rest of the country--our prices to tend to be just a little lower--but I didn't want to take any chances. Every dollar saved is another bag of carrots.

When I got home today, poor Chance was standing out in the rain--Tucker and Toby were under the run-in roof by his side of the barn--with his flysheet dropped down to his knees. It was ripped a good two feet along the center back seam. The straps were still done up so it stayed on. He was pretty hampered trying to walk around but very composed about it. I took it off and put his old one back on. I feel sorry for him when he is bullied out of the shed area, but there is the new run-in and the run-on roof on the other side as well as access to the stalls on the other side of the barn. I guess the urge to stay with the herd is strong enough to keep him near the other two Boys even though they chase him out.

He really is a sweetie. So far, he looks to be the perfect little horse for me as I grow older and lose some of my more intense competitive ambition. He's fun to train, and has shown a really steady, sensible attitude out on the trails. And to top it off, he likes to be cuddled.

I love my Boys. Each one has unique qualities and distinct personalities, all admirable in their own way.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Well, That Hurt

I Did Ride

Yes, you read that right. It was decidedly cooler today and I still had energy after school to come home, change into my riding clothes and saddle up Tucker. There was a slight breeze and despite the humidity, it felt pretty good out there.

Tuck started off rather lazily, but he offered no fuss, and no resistance in the walk, trot, or canter. This was quite a positive change as he had been a bit "snarly" about canter departs. Today he was quiet and soft.

Then I began to collect him onto the bit and again, he was cooperative and willing to work forward into the rein. All was going well about twenty minutes into the ride. I started developing some half halts.

Then, it happened. My back suddenly spasmed. This was not my neck, but the muscle in the right side of my back. I was so sharp it made me gasp. I simply could not ride or stay on Tucker's back. I wasn't even sure when I got off that I would be able to untack him without some pretty bad pain.

Fortunately it eased, never quite going away, but settling down enough that I felt I could at least do something more with Tuck. I took off his saddle and put on the surcingle and long lined him for another 15-20 minutes. He kept tying to canter to avoid giving me a good forward trot into the rein, but eventually, we worked it out and he had some good solid work.

Not exactly as planned, but a useful train anyhow.

I thought about long lining Chance but settled on longing him instead, getting some nice forward trot with a little natural suspension to it. He has really come along in his groundwork, but today I simply could not ride.

My chiropractor's office does not have afternoon hours on Thursday. I could have called in as an emergency, but the pain is not that bad now. However, just about everything is sore at this point. My knees ache, my back threatens to get bad again, and it's gone up into my shoulders and neck as well. Once one thing goes out of balance, everything goes. I just ache all over.

I'll have to see what tomorrow morning brings. If it's bad, I will call in to have someone cover my homeroom and first period class and head to the chiropractor before school. If not, I'll tough it out and go after school.

I hate to miss time. I have actually received several compliments from my students about how cool my class is. That's a nice change of pace. I am also coming to some critcally important lessons that set up what I will be teaching for the next few months. I hate to get off track this early, but I can't teach if I am in pain.

This is so annoying. I felt this back muscle a few times when I was swimming, so I knew there was some potential for a problem. Then, nothing happened until tonight. Bummer.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Better Day

At Least It's Cooling Off

I longed Tucker again. For some reason I am finding it really hard to summon the energy to ride after I get home from school. Could be I am too exhausted from the day??

This time, I added some trotting poles, which Tuck trotted, cantered, avoided, and in general treated with silliness. That was fine as he was definitely getting a nice exercise session. He is funny, though, because he is funny to watch. He makes every go at the poles an entertainment.

Then I added a little crossrail which he jumped quite willingly and well, so I upped it to about I 1/2 feet. That too posed no problem as he jumped quietly and well--at least the jump was quiet. The approach included a bit of a squeal, a whipping head and neck and a bit of a buck. Again, general silliness.

Maybe it was the cockleburrs in his forelock. Both he and Toby had them. As it was after dark, I headed out with the flashlight to the spots where I'd found those noxious weeds last year and cut them down. Of course, I will have to go out in the daylight and do a more thorough search, to get rid of the darn things. Last year, not only did I spend my time taking burrs out of manes, but I had one of the teeny tiny stickers lodge in my eye forcing me to go to my eye doctor for an emergency visit.

This year is going to be different. I will seek out and destroy every burr before it gets me!!

School?? I am getting it under control. But as I said, it is tiring. My students are pretty good, but already a I have a cluster of them who failed to do their homework. I fear some of them are going to be shocked with their grades come report card time.

We did have some fun, though. I read one of my student's papers for him in a "funny" voice--I will not explain this one--but suffice it to say the class thought it was hysterical. Then, later on, when I handed out the homework assignment, I ended up making a bet with one of the students as to whether or not everyone in class will have the work done. If they do, I owe her a dollar. If they don't she owes me a dollar. I expect to win. (If I do, she will have a good chance of getting her money back, but if I lose, the dollar is hers for good.) Never lost a challenge bet like this before but I can hope there will be a first time!

It would be nice to see all my students succeed. *sigh*

I think the school building is trying to exasperate me. I heard today that the exhaust fan that is supposed to help control the air flow to my classroom is not working. I am not sure if that's the air exchange thing that is essential to keeping the heat from going out of control in the winter but it's a new source of suffering to worry about. And then, sometime in the waning h0urs of school the two electrical outlets in the front of the room went dead, knocking out my computer system and the fans. The side outlets seem OK, so if I take in an extension cord, I can plug in my computer again, but that is not exactly how things are supposed to operate. I just got the computer/printer working yesterday after the Internet crash of the weekend messed everything up.

Is someone trying to tell me something???? Time to retire??????

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Cooling Off....but

Will I Ever Ride?

Thunderstorms today, with some downright heavy rain. Fortunately, I heard the forecast as I was driving off to school, so I turned around, drove back home and closed off the hilly pasture so the Boys would not be standing out on the high ground if there was lightning.

Figured I'd be home early enough.

Wrong. Went to physical therapy. That was fine, but then they told me I needed to see the regular doctor for a new pre-certification for physical therapy. (something new with my new medical insurance). And I had a "tune up adjustment" for my neck after yesterday, as the muscles were still tight. And THEN, the physical therapist needed to give me an evaluation exam for the pre-certification and we both kind of decided it would be more efficient to do it tonight rather than wait until Saturday. So THAT took some time.

By the time I got home it was nearly dark and the Boys were pretty anxious to see me. I fed them, fed my hungry kitties, and just finished eating my Chinese food for dinner.

The footing's pretty soggy out there.

However, it should finally be cooler tomorrow. I may get up early enough to give Tucker a morning longe to make up for tonight.

Then, maybe I'll ride tomorrow after school???

Frankly, as Caroline noted, I am working harder than at least the other English teachers. If I read the schedule right, I have one more class each day. I'm not sure how that happens. But it may have something to do with the fact that I am listed first alphabetically?? Otherwise, I just don't know how it keeps happening. The only saving grace is that I did get the upper level academic students--the "college prep" (students who intend to go to university) kids, so they are a bit more motivated. My room is a computer lab, which can make my life easier at times as I let my students work independently on projects I've designed, but I have had to design the projects and create dozens of unique lessons for students at this level.

To top it off, somehow the guidance office keeps adding kids to my classes. I have only 25 desks in the classroom and 20 computer workstations. My freshmen classes have 28-29 kids each.

Right now, I am just trying to get my head in gear so I can keep track of what each class is doing and make sure I have all the materials I need to teach each different group. The "bouncing" from one class to another (9th grade, 12th grade, 9th grade, 11th grade, 11th grade, 10th grade) wears me out as I have to remember where we left off each day so we can carry on logically the next. And somehow I have to learn the names and faces of probably 90 or so of my 111+ students. All I need to find is the will, desire, and the energy to cope with it all.

That's the hard part. Fortunately, the act of teaching once the kids are in the room is the easy part.

Somehow I'll manage, but this year is definitely going to wear me out.

Monday, September 08, 2008

I've Just About Had It

Hot Again

More tolerable but still close enough to 90F to make it not fun in school and exhausting. The trouble is, in order to keep my classroom bearable, I need to have the fans going. That means the only way for me to do any "spoken" teaching, I have to shout. And, when the students answer, if they don't shout, no one can hear them over the motors.

Consequences? Worksheets on writing--good stuff--but not a lot of discussion or feedback.

Then, I looked at the master schedule again. It appears I am the only one of the four English teachers who has 6 classes a day. To top it off, the teacher who was angry at me for changing her schedule had, before the change, only two grade levels and two class preparations each day. The change gave her one more preparation. I have, even with the change, four different classes to prepare for each day. The only benefit the change gave me was that I am not stuck with inventing lessons for a class I never taught before, which does make the four preps a little easier. I still have to create new lessons for the tech writing class, but the five regular English classes already have lessons I have used before.

I suddenly stopped feeling guilty about affecting the other teacher's schedule.

I had to go to the chiropractor after school to get my neck fixed as it was threatening a headache. The swimming yesterday helped tremendously, but the nagging hint of pain to come was still there. I couldn't get a physical therapy appointment, though, so I will still have to go again tomorrow. Ah well. It would have been nice to get it all done in one trip.

I did longe the Boys, however.

But I had to use psychology. When I went to catch Tucker he decided to play runaway. Again, just out of reach, but annoying. Toby, of course would have none of it either, so I caught the good kid, Chance.

When I took him into the arena to longe, I made quite a fuss over him. He was actually really well behaved and responsive, and I was pleased to see how far he has progressed. But, I over did the praise, hugs and kisses because Tucker was standing by the gate, observing all with intense interest.

When I finished with Chance, Tucker practically stuck his head in the halter by himself. I do believe jealousy was a strong motive to convince him perhaps he might actually want to do some work for me. Aside from some cross cantering on the right lead--that old habit he can't seem to break on the lines--he too was a well behaved, responsive boy. So I praised him mightily as well and moved on to Toby.

Toby did try to escape, but surrendered to just a loop of halter on his nose. I gave him an easier longing session. Again, Tucker stood at the gate, watching intently. I made a point of first telling him, then showing him how instantly obedient Toby is to the verbal commands, and then, of course, finished up with strong praise for Toby and a nice juicy carrot.

As I was working the Boys, I realized how easy they all are to handle. Longe work and line work are a breeze, and aside from the catching nonsense, they are just a delight. Even the riding is not a big deal, despite Tucker's issues. Toby is super under saddle. Chance is easy to train, and Tucker, I believe, really does try. I think he just has trouble overcoming his own physical obstacles and lets his mind be overruled by whatever discomfort he might feel. I do think it is a "Thoroughbred" thing. as the breed is both emotionally and physically sensitive. It makes me understand why Warmbloods are so popular as sport horses. Not every trainer/rider can cope with TB temperament.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Lucked Out

And I Am "Over Picnicked"

The storm brought lots of rain, but minimal winds around here anyhow, so we really did luck out. And, since it has been so dry, the ground held and soaked up the water really well, so I don't seem to have a lot of mud.

It was quite a nice morning too, but I had to go to church. Then since it was homecoming and the first Sunday of the new church season, we had a picnic after the service.

My neck was bothering me quite a bit giving me a headache so when I got home, I took a short nap, then headed out for the second picnic of the day. I spent a good hour in the swimming pool there working out my kinks, making my neck feel better, and then did the usual picnic things. I ate a lot of good salads and side dishes, had some sweet corn, roast pig, and a nip of wine and beer.

All in all it was a fun gathering. Oh, yes, I tossed a practice game of horseshoes, had a ringer, a leaner, and several other shoes that would have scored points if we'd been playing for real.

Guess my equine experience pays off--or at least all my shoeing adventures had some effect??

I guess you can tell by now I didn't ride. Thank goodness for the swim as it seems to have fixed my headache. I'm not sure riding now would do me any good. I'll go for an adjustment tomorrow and hopefully ride when I get home--weather permitting. (It is supposed to be cooler....I can only hope.....)

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Visit from a Not So Welcome "Lady"

Unwelcome Weather Front

I was miserable yesterday. Hot, yes, humid definitely--the air mass before the oncoming storm. It is hard to describe just how uncomfortable that feels. Tropical in the worst sense.

I was going to work Tucker after school as I was supposed to have a lesson this morning. But the tropical "attack" on the way changed all that. Hanna, once a hurricane, is on the way and the weather forecast is rife with tropical storm warnings. And ahead of her, along with the tropical air mass, was rain.

I guess it was sort of a preparation for the torrential downpours due this afternoon, but it kept me inside and even the Boys were hanging out under the run in. When I went out to feed later, Chance waited to go into his stall through Tucker's stall so he didn't have to go out into the wet.

Wonder what they are going to do later when it really starts pouring.

Heavy rain is one thing, but heavy storm winds are predicted as well. My cable Internet connection is supposed to be installed today, keeping me stuck in the house during the mid-morning, so I am planning on going to get my horse feed soon so I am back home in time. I didn't expect to have time to do that as I was going to have my lesson, but we canceled that because Gabriel would have been trying to drive back home himself during the worst of the storm.

And, my picnic for this afternoon has been postponed until tomorrow.

All in all, Hanna's visit is not exactly welcome.

More later as the "not so lady" arrives.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Not So Friendly Encounter

School Stuff from Yesterday

The other English teacher affected by my schedule change spoke to me this morning, asking me to reconsider. I was not the one who decided how to make the change, nor that the change had to be made. That was my principal's decision. But, she decided to speak to me hoping I would be willing to reconsider.

Unfortunately, I was not. She told me her schedule had been adversely affected last year because of my complaints and now again this year. She also said it had disrupted all her plans for the year. Trouble is, I was in exactly the same situation, and to be frank, at this point in my career, I have to do what I can to protect myself from the extra stress and frustration of playing "invent a course" over and over in order to teach something I am totally unprepared to teach.

She said I was unsympathetic. That is totally untrue. I cannot even begin to count the number of times I have been put in her position and found myself having to accept a difficult schedule change in order to accomodate either the circumstances or another teacher. I have "reinvented the wheel" with lesson plans so often I do not even have file cabinet space to hold all the materials I have had to develop. I will not go into detail, but suffice it to say I have been in her "shoes" too many times to count. I told her I had to stand firm. She was quite angry with me and commented that next year she certainly hoped I'd get my schedule set before school opened. I told her it didn't really matter because I was planning on retiring, and she said, "Good."

I think it took a lot of courage for her to speak up as it is not part of her personality. I have great respect for her in that regard, but I too need to speak up and stand up for myself. It should not be an issue between us, but an issue with the administration's continual problems with scheduling. I don't know what precipitated the whole mess, but why was it not resolved a month ago? They have all of July and August to iron out all the scheduling issues. Perhaps then we could have found a more acceptable compromise. I am sorry the solution to my problem has caused problems for someone else, but I am the only person I have to watch out for my own welfare. It's a sad state of affairs.

I did not work the horses yesterday because I was too hot and tired. This morning, I lunged Tucker before school and included some up and down the hill. I have a church choir kick off party in the early evening, so I don't know if I will have the time or energy to do horse stuff later. At least I know Tucker got his workout.

Hotter today in the classroom than yesterday. Not fun.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

First Day

And Another Schedule Shocker

Don't know if any of you remember last year's teaching schedule which I eventually managed to change to something more tolerable. At least that was during the summer!

This time I almost accidentally discovered my schedule had been changed to something even more unpalatable sometime between the end of July and today without my knowledge. Somehow, I had been assigned another 11th grade class to replace the 10th grade class on the schedule I had received. According to out contract, this was not acceptable as I needed to be notified prior to the change since it was within 30 days of the start of school.

Having another 11th grade class was not so much the issue. What was the issue was that this was an "inclusion" class requiring and in class support teacher to help with the learning concerns of the special needs kids in the class. And it was the lower academic level inclusion class. Now, in 37 years of teaching, I have never had an in class support teacher--a circumstance that would require adjustments to my teaching techniques, cooperation between the other teacher and me, as well as all kinds of accomdations for the varied learning skills in the classroom. To top it off, all my curriculum materials and lesson plans for the 11th grade are for regular/college bound students. In essence, I has been completely blindsided by a totally new teaching situation.

Add that to my having to again deal with the infamous "Tech Writing" course--a computer based class for which I no longer have any updated Windows XP materials forcing me to start again from scratch--really put a big dent in my enthusiasm in facing the new school year.

And, the only reason I discovered the schedule change was because I had gone to see the theatre arts teacher to check on which of her students I had in my classes so I could plan accordingly in teaching "Midsummer Night's Dream," the play they will be performing this year. When I started to compare my supposed 10th grade list with hers, I realized I actually had an 11th grade list. I figured it was a mistake until I hiked down to the guidance office and saw the new class listed on my main schedule board.

After speaking to the teachers association representative, I managed to meet with the principal to explain my concerns. Eventually, the principal managed to work it out so I again had the 10th grade class instead of the problematic 11th grade class. Had I not spoken up, I would have been in a very difficult and frustrating situation--again.

On the horse front, I was up early this morning and I lunged Tucker for a good half hour. The first twenty or so minutes were in the arena at the trot and the last ten were out in the pasture up and down the hill. This kind of work will build up the muscles around his stifle and help him feel a lot stronger.

I had to go to physical therapy after school (it's a twice a week committment) and I knew after than and an adjustment from the chiropracor that I was not going to ride once I was home for the evening.

Suprisingly, although it was in the 90'sF today, my classroom was not as bad as I expected. I did leave the windows open for the night hoping the cool air would make its way into the room. I can only hope. Once the room is full of students it's going to be a lot warmer.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Coming to Grips

But Is It Stuck???

Have to wonder about the thermometer on the garage--the one in the full sun. It's reading over 115F again today. Is it stuck? I forgot to look at it this morning when it was nice and cool. The temperature in the shade is in the 80's but my car's sensors read out at 90 F--in partial sunlight. The only blessing is that it is not really too humid.

Why the fuss? Because I have not been able to come to grips with the fact that summer vacation is over and school starts for teachers tomorrow. Bummer. It still feels like the dead middle of summer! As I said yesterday, my classroom will be miserable. I am not looking forward to it at all. *sigh*

However, I rode this morning while it was still cool. I gave Tucker a pretty good workout timing my trotting time at a good 25 minutes. We only had one full balk and one minor one, both fairly easily overcome with a tap of the whip on his rump and some encouraging words from me. I had the feeling he was thinking, "I'm not sure I can do this," rather than, "I can't do this." He was solid and even on both reins, so I didn't feel anything physical this time.

We essentially did the basics--for him anyhow. Walk, trot, canter, both reins, with simple changes (canter/walk/canter), shoulder in and half-pass at the trot, circles, and a little trot lengthening. I did not demand a really elevated frame with a ton of half halts, but the few I did, he accepted graciously. If I manage this kind of work for the rest of the week, we should be good to go for a lesson on Saturday. We won't be quite up to where we should be after nearly two months of no lessons, but the heat and the hoof broke my even minimal riding schedule.

I have decided that I need to measure progress in more leisurely increments than I used to when I was really focused on training and competing. I have NOT missed showing at all, and do not feel particularly ambitious to get back in the arena before the judges. Perhaps when I feel Tucker is really ready to cmpete at 3rd level--with those flying changes--I'll go back. For now, it just doesn't seem important.

I rode Chance next getting some quite consistent stretchy efforts on his part at the trot. His canter departs are prompt and on the correct leads but the canter itself is still pretty head high and unsteady. He has a nice comfy stride and is starting to relax, so after working on both leads, I put him back on the left--his easier side--and started asking him to drop into a frame. It was hard work for me as he does want that head free for balance, but I did make some progress, so I ended the session on a good note. I am not sure if long lining him will help, but I think it did before, so I may do some more of that as the cooler weather comes in...some day.....

Toby was decidedly not interested in doing anything and since the sun was already filling the arena, I again gave him the day off. Right now I have no incentive to keep him really fit as no one else is riding him. As long as he can take me on a hack or "play" a bit in the arena with the flying changes and lateral work, he can be as retired as he'd like. He is honestly a still sound, solid 18 year old, but I believe he went as far in dressage (Intermediare 1) as was good for his conformation and soundness, so there's no reason to push him anymore. He can do all the exercises on a loose rein (Cues, Muriel, cues) if I want to play, so why stress him or try to leg him up to competition fitness? Right now, he's just fun and he does like to go out to the woods to nibble on trees and browse the grass along the edges of the cornfields. I figure he's earned it as he began his career at age 2 in the long lines and worked for many years to learn all he has.

Thus my summer vacation ends.

I did not do much of what I had planned to do. I did get the run in shed built and my front porch fixed. I did swm nearly every day and I will swim yet today. I watched the Tour de France and the Olympics. I wrote the play for school. I tried and failed to finance a solar energy system. I rested a lot. I spent hours on the Internet and hours trying to fix the Internet. I cleaned parts of the house and uncleaned them so effectively they need to be done all over again. I started cleaning the back porch but did not finish. I mowed the lawn several times--it needs a trim again--and had both lawn tractors fixed. I sang a solo in church. I rode a few flying changes on Tucker and did seem to manage to school him well in the simple change. I started physical therapy for my neck. I watched a bunch of television for no purpose whatsoever.

I did not travel, but I am not a traveler or "vacationer" in any sense anyhow, so that's just fine. I did not go to the ocean once. That's a bit sad as NJ beaches are really nice, but I'm not sure my knees would have appreciated either the walks in the sand or the waves. I did not sell any Ansur saddles but I did do three demos. The last one may end in a sale eventually, though. I only went to see one horse show--4-H at the County Fair. I had a few meals out with friends. I missed going to a nice picnic but will probably make another picnic this upcoming weekend.

Aside from the housecleaning which is one of my constant goals, I had no plans, except riding, that I did not accomplish. I had set very low standards for my summer. Had it been cooler, I would have done more with the horses and outdoor chores. Other than that, I guess I have no regrets. Retirement looms. I am very seriously thinking about it and will meet with a retirement counselor very soon.

Gee, then I will have perpetual vacation and more than enough time to not clean the house!! *G*