Sunday, November 30, 2008

Bah, Humbug!

Why Can't The Weather Take a Holiday?

Woke up, as planned, just before 7 AM. All I heard was rain beating down on the skylight in the sunroom.

And it was not a pretty rain. I had sleet in it on a generally nasty Sunday morning.

So much for hacking in the woods. And so much for riding altogether. I rolled over and caught another hour or so of sleep.

After church it was still raining, so I went out to lunch with my choir friends. Then I headed to the tack/feed store to pick up some stuff I needed and to use at least one of the 25% off coupons offered for the Thanksgiving weekend.

Still raining and miserable when I got home. The Boys were alternating between standing by the hedgerow and, more wisely, hanging out under one of the three run-in options. They did have waterproof sheets on, so I guess they weren't too bothered by the wet.

I never do quite understand why horses will stay outside when they have available shelter, but so be it.

It is getting dark by 5 PM every day now, so there isn't much time to hack out after school during the week. The plus side is that the hunters who go out then are usually the more experienced guys so it's a little safer. If I do manage to get a horse out a day during the week, we will all be dressed in fluorescent colors, so none of us will look like deer.

For now, though, all plans were just a washout.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Fantasty Horse Show

Three Blue (First Place) Rosettes

OK, first. I misspoke yesterday about travers. I should have written renvers. Slightly different exercises. Thanks for catching me on that one, Caroline.

On to the fantasy horse show. Held in my very own arena, the competition was stiff. Each of the Boys had to ride against some of the top show hunters in the nation.

Toby was up first in the open class. We first had to work at the basic gaits, with the judge super critical of way of going and manners at the walk, trot and canter, both ways of the arena. Toby was hoof perfect. Then it was 10 jumps over in imposing obstacle (1'4" or so) with the judging based on style and obedience. Once again, Toby was faultless and won the first place ribbon going away.

Next was the novice class. Tucker entered that one. To be totally honest about his performance, he got away with a little naughtiness on the first canter depart on the left lead, but the judge was looking the other way, so she never noticed. Then we went to the fence work, with the jump set at an awesome 1'4" as well. Tuck was marvelous. (To be serious for a moment here--he was really delightfully ratable at the canter, and when I had the eye for the fence I was able to easily adjust his stride for the take off. He really did feel great, even though it was a tiny little jump.) Once again, the judge was awestruck by his style and he too won the class.

Last to go was Chance, in the totally green class. The judge did allow for a few little errors here and there, especially in the canter departs, but Chance made up for that in sheer presence. Then we headed for the crossrail, set at about 9 inches. He was quiet and obedient at the trot. Then I asked for canter and headed towards the jump. Spot on! Letter perfect. (Again, seriously, this is the first time I have ever attempted to jump him under saddle, especially at the canter. Neato!!) There was no doubt about it. Once the last of ten fences was behind us, the judge had no option but to pin him on top.

So, since first place in the USA is a blue ribbon, each Boy now has an invisible blue rosette hanging from his stall door. Hope they don't chew them up the way Tucker did with the last real ribbon I left within his reach. *G*

Every once in a while I entertain myself with one of these imaginary horse shows.

I do have to admit the jumping, as small as it was, was kind of fun. By the time I'd approached the second fence on Tucker I was already getting the old "feel" for it back again. However, considering how my knees feel, I doubt if I could ever do much of it. Still, it's fun to play.

Tomorrow, I am considering getting up early enough that I can take all three Boys out for short hacks before church. I am quite sure the ATV/mini-bike riders will be out in full force in the afternoon. Gas prices are low and it is the holiday weekend. But teenagers just won't get up early on a Sunday morning.

That's the plan. Will I follow through? Let's just wait and see.

Friday, November 28, 2008

All Three

In the Arena Again

No sense in trying to go out on a hack today or tomorrow as the hunters are out and about. The guys are pretty good around here, but I really hate being out there on my horse when a gun goes off close by. It's not so much that we'd be shot--me in my very bright neon orange jacket and the Boy in his neon pink exercise rug--but the spook and possible run off from the gunshot is no fun. Then again, there may be some idiot out there who thinks deer dress in neon!

This is one of the drawbacks of living in a State Park/wildlife management area.

So, into the arena I went.

First I rode Toby. I just decided after a short warmup that we'd do every exercise he knows how to do so here's the list: walk, extended walk, walk on a long rein, walk pirouettes, trot, extended trot, shoulder-in, haunches in (could have done travers too), leg yield, half pass, zig-zag half pass, (forgot to try a little piaffey stuff--whoops), canter, extended canter, canter half pass, canter half-pass zig zags, canter pirouette, single flying changes, three stride tempis, two stride tempis, halt from all three gaits, and reinback. I think that's it. Mind you, we did most of these on a fairly long rein as well. No reason to demand collection when Tobester can do it all with the simplest of aids. *G*

Then I rode Tucker. I worked a little bit on the walk pirouettes as he kept sticking his nose out going to the left. Leave out the zig zags, the flying changes, and canter pirouettes and you have his program. Instead I did simple changes through the walk. He too was a good boy and worked on a more collected, vertical frame.

Then came Chance. Leave out almost everything except basic walk, trot canter, and you have his ride. But we did start some elementary leg yield and he started to get the idead. Far better going to the left, but he did give me some trot on both reins. He is relaxing more and more at the canter, offering a lower head carriage after the depart. There's still a lot of work to to, but I am pleased.

Everyone had a nice apple and carrot after work.

I guess I rode for a grand total of an hour, though I took longer to saddle up and groom. But 20 minutes or so per horse is not a bad effort after such a long layoff. Toby and Tucker could acutally stay pretty fit if I did that each day as they are Thoroughbreds--easy to leg up. And when I work, it's pretty intense with basically no walk breaks. Not sure what Chance needs, but I'm sure if I were going to compete him, he'd need more work to get fit.

As long as they are happy, healthy, and content, I'm just fine with an easy schedule.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Back in the Saddle Again

Short Rides on an Exciting Day

Somehow, I messed up my back again after my chiropractic adjustment, but I soldiered on anyhow, figuring a ride or two would either make me feel worse, or better. Like that logic?

As I said in the post below--my "tagged" post--the horses were riled up this morning. The hunters were out in full force in the back woods/fields and guns were going off on all horizons. Since it was Thanksgiving morning, a lot of hunters had the day off from work so they decided to make the best of it.

I actually had to lock the Boys in the barn to get them settled enough to eat this morning.

I went out late morning to see how riding felt. Chance very happily headed over as soon as he saw me at the gate, so I brought him in first, figuring he'd be the quietest.


He was "bouncy" in the barn and about ten feet tall when I tried to bridle him. I took him out on the lunge line first, thinking I might as well work some of his energy off before I took any risks. 'Round and round he went, alternately trotting and cantering , spooking at the gate out to the woods, and just being an excited young horse. It took quite a while to settle him down to the point that I felt he'd be a reasonable ride.

I mounted up with his head away up in the air, as if he was ready to simply take wings. But, bless his heart, a little work with the reins and leg and soon his head was down in a nice little frame and we trotted off. He still tended to "bulge" at the woods gate--have to think perhaps a hunter had dropped by earlier in the AM--but all in all, he gave me some really nice trot work. I didn't ask for any canter, but that's just fine.

Once I'd finished riding him, I went out and fetched Tucker. For the first time in memory, I can honestly say, Tucker felt like a good solid, mature horse both when I led him in, and when I took him out to the arena. I didn't even bother lunging him, but hopped right on. Almost at once, he offered a nice round frame and a good trot. Again, like Chance, he was a little uncertain by the gate to the woods, but the spookiness was minor and he worked out of it quickly.

The only low point was the first two efforts at canter, one on each lead. He laid his ears back and threatened to buck. I literally growled and snarled at him, and he reacted by giving me a fair depart the first time, and then pretty good ones for the rest of the ride.

Interesting. PJ used to react best to verbal snarls from me whenever he was naughty, so perhaps it is a good tool to use with Tucker too. At any rate, it worked today. No need to kick or really get aggressive with my aids when a snarl works just as well.

I did not ride either horse for long, but my knee felt just fine. My back actually felt better when I rode too, but it acted up again later so my hope that the riding might throw it back into alignment failed.

I took a nice hot bath, dressed for dinner, and after feeding the Boys an early dinner, headed off to my cousin's house for a delicious turkey dinner.

Hope your Thanksgiving Day was as good as mine, even if you don't celebrate our US National holiday. If you had even only one thing to be thankful for today, I'm sure it was.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I Have Been Tagged

But since I am not all that interesting, I am only posting one tag reply.

Here's the deal as I understand it. When you are tagged by another blogger, you need to post a suitable reply and then tag six other bloggers. In this case the reply must write six things about himself/herself other people probably don't know.

Nothing too exciting here, but here you go:

Six things about me:
I have written two 1200 page unpublished fantasy novels and am partway through the third part of what I’d like to be a four novel series. Selling them to a publisher is the hard part. I am not a good salesman and although I have sent it out a few times with no luck, I haven’t submitted it in the last few years. My bad.

My dream would be to own and operate a horse/animal rescue. I’d have a huge farm with workers to do most the labor I cannot do myself, and give horses a place to live out their lives in comfort and contentment.

I don’t like eating fish. Most of the time, if the fish doesn’t have that “fishy” flavor, I don’t mind the taste. But all I have to do is find one bone in my mouth and I’m done. I once attended a friend’s wedding and at the prenuptial dinner, the entrĂ©e was salmon. No one ever asked what we’d like to eat. I didn’t touch mine and was starving for the rest of the night.

It took me forever to learn how to post the trot when I first started riding. I bounced for months. Maybe that’s why I don’t find it hard to ride the sitting trot now.

When I started teaching, I had some really difficult classes. Sometimes, I’d just go into the stall with my dear horse, Russell R., lean against him, and cry. He always listened and made me feel better. I’ve heard about medicine horses and I think he was my psychological medicine horse. I’d also swear that PJ was as capable. I had a bad migraine one day when I went to see him. I leaned my head against his neck, and my headache disappeared. It wasn’t a complete cure, but for those few minutes I was gone.

I really resent all the Hollywood concepts of the lonely, single woman with cats. I am a single woman with cats. But I am perfectly happy as I am. Why is that so wrong?

I am actually a very shy person. However, I am a pretty good actor, and teaching has helped me a lot. Whenever I go into a social situation where I might be worried about what to say, I just take on my teacher persona, and I am just fine. Besides, I’ve learned the best way to interact with other people is simply to ask them questions about themselves.

So, I will tag:

Keith, Bazz's Dad

Katie, Keith's Daughter




Enough for now. Horse post later, I hope.

The Boys had to be locked in for breakfast. The hunters are shooting all over the place and they just wanted to be out there to see what was going on. Apparently, there were some hunters in the cornfield behind the pasture, so that was particularly exciting.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Rain, Rain, Gone Away....

...Left a Puddle in the Way

Actually, it didn't stop raining until early afternoon. Everything is pretty wet.

And I had a teacher's meeting after school, so I got home late.

And I need to go to the chiropractor to get adjusted before my "out of alignment" neck gives me a headache.

And my knee aches.

And I think I'll wait another day to ride.

The Boys look fine, but I think Tucker has upped the bullying against Chance again. The kid has been hanging out more by himself and when I pulled into the driveway, Tucker chased him off.

To his credit, Chance does not seem too upset by the whole thing. He has a pretty good self-image. Tucker, though, has delusions of grandeur, thinking he should be top horse. But that position falls to Toby who is a definite alpha. He is not mean, just powerful authority figure.

Years ago, when Toby was boarded out, my friend Stacie bought a horse from the yo. Turned out he was a rig, but at the time we didn't know that. So he was turned out with the geldings.
He gathered his herd and Toby gathered a rival herd. They grazed on opposite sides of the very large field. But every now and then one or the other would invade and trouble would start.

My PJ was part of Toby's herd and I didn't realize that turning him out without Toby was dangerous until one day he got beat up. I found out later that Stacie's horse had attacked him before, and Toby had always come to his defense. PJ was a big strong boy with a naturally cresty neck which, I think, always made other horses see him as a stallion. He was actually very gentle, though.

The barn manager told me that one day, he had seen Stacie's horse attack PJ and actually gotten him down. He had thrown rocks to break it up. He said too that Toby was really the "king" out there because he was the smarter fighter. Stacie's horse would rear up to strike and Toby would dive in underneath and nail him every time.

Another time, Stacie's horse got loose from the shoer and challenged Toby over the fence of the pasture. The shoer kept saying, "They're both stallions, they have to be. You should have seen how they were acting. It was scary."

Toby is definitely fully gelded, but he kept his dominant personality around the other horses, that's for sure. Nobody messes with him.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Nearly Forgot I Had A Meeting

Tonight. And I stayed a bit late at school doing some computer things.

When I did get home it was nearly dark. I fed the Boys and figured I go out after I ate supper to do some kind of work. Then, I remembered my meeting.

We have--our local environmental/preservation group, the EVA--a grant to do a project for the State Park behind my house. We really need to get something going as far as some good solid plans. Some of the work may be able to be done in the winter, but it really is a spring/summer project, so we have time, but there is a lot of planning to do first.

Probably just as well about not riding. My knee is a bit sore after the day at school.

However, now Chance's good sheet is ripped. It is supposed to rain/shower tomorrow as well. I am not sure I have another one that will fit him to keep him dry. That means I need to repair this one tonight. In the meantime, I will look to see what else he can wear just in case the mending fails. There is a strip of sheet torn from his wither all the way to his rump.

These are, by the way, good, strong nylon "ripstop" sheets with waterproof liners. "Ripstop: the rip stops here...but starts over there."

I am going to have to start taking the sheet replacement money out of the carrot fund.

Do you think that will discourage the destruction?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Everyone Looks Sound

Sounder, Than I Am, For Sure

I lunged each Boy for about five minutes just to see how he looked.

Tucker does not look footsore in front, so the thrush is not bothering him. His hind end looked just fine too, so whateve was going on with that leg seems to have resolved itself.

I lunged Chance next. He always warms up just a little short on that one hind leg, but after he gets going, he looks fine too. He got very silly during his session as Toby and Tucker were starting to romp around in the paddock next to the arena. I must say, Chance's galloping on canter looks just fine too. *G*

It took a bit of bribery to catch Toby but once I did he trotted out strongly. Then Tucker wandered into the arena, and when I went to chase him, Toby bolted off, stepped on an snapped the lunge line--it's pretty old-- and just keep trotting and trotting around me in a circle as if he were still on the line. I had trouble stopping him so I could reattach the line. He was on total autopilot. But he surely did look good at liberty.

I'd cleaned all the stalls pretty thoroughly using the tractor, so at that point, I was thinking maybe I'd done enough with my knee for the day. Instead, I poo picked the arena, planning on perhaps dragging it after I was done as it had pretty much thawed. But, trying hard to listen to my body for a change, I decided against it, fed the Boys and came back into the house to settle in for the rest of the night.

The Family Channel, TV, is showing Christmas movies all weekend, anticipating the upcoming holiday season which officially starts right after Thanksgiving on Thursday. I figure I'll just hang out and watch a few.

I'll be curious as to how my knee feels in a few hours--or in the morning.

If it's OK and the weather is OK and the time is OK, I hope to ride at least one horse tomorrow.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Not the Day to Try

Cold and Windy Again

I'm not even sure the arena thawed out enough to ride today. My water hose was frozen so I had to carry buckets to the water trough.

The Boys probably would have been fine, but it was windy and cold enough that I'd rather not try it. My knee feels pretty good at the moment, and I'd like to keep it that way.

I did take the trailer to pick up 17 bags of horse feed and my friends sons came over to unload it for me. There are still a number of bags in the trailer, but that's fine as they will stay dry in there until I need them. And at that point, I should be able to unload them myself or simply use the trailer as my feed room.

I also need to mow the leaves on the lawn to chop them up and cart off my fallen and trimmed branches, but that too can wait. Thanksgiving is this week, so I will have a half day of school on Wednesday and then Thursday and Friday off. If the weather cooperates, I can get at least a little done using the tractor.

The Boys were so cute when the grain was being unloaded. Tucker, of course, was head snoopervisor and completely distracted the younger son by hanging his head over the gate just looking to be petted. What a ham!

I have a feeling the sight of the feed bags was what was really intriguing him, but he at least acted affectionate. Could be he'd missing the attention from me too as I haven't been hanging out there too much for the last two weeks.

The guy at the feed store said he heard we are in for a cold, snowy winter. Not my favorite kind of weather.

But, as they say, we'll just have to wait and see.

We Shall See

Windy And Chilly Today, But Tomorrow???

If it is more moderate weather tomorrow (today now as it's after midnight) I am going to try a little riding. My knees feels pretty good but I do promise I will be careful.

At the very least, though, I want to lunge everyone for a couple minutes just to see how sound they all are. I haven't seen Tucker trotting much and the ground has been frozen so he's been walking cautiously where the gound is uneven. Toby looks fine, but with the possible abscess the shoer found, I need to give him a good look over. And, Chance is shoeless but I want to make sure the hard ground is not bothering him either.

That being said, I'll saddle up somebody and toddle around the arena a bit. I don't dare go out into the woods because one of the hunting seasons is in full swing and if it's nice the weekend hunters will be out. I'm not keen on being out there with guns and bows at the ready.

My friends sons will be over in the early afternoon to unload the grain I'll pick up in the morning. No matter how much better my knee may be, I will not take the chance of trying to lift a 50 pound bag to carry into the feed room. Bill's sons are the sweetest young men I've met in a long time. They have done a lot of little chores for me along the way and every time they have been wonderful. What I really like is how the two of them work together and figure out how to solve any problems they run into. Great kids. (although I should actually be calling them men. The older boy is in college--university--and the younger is probably nearing 18 by now.)

School is fortunately back to as normal as it can be. The testing is over so I have my classroom back. Some disruptions with students today, though. It's not a full moon, so I have no idea what's going on.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Just a Shot

Of Cortisone in My Knee

The cultures are not back. The doctor drew a little more fluid from my knee and gave me a cortisone injection. Hopefully that will make it feel better until we can decide what other treatment to do.

The Boys had a nice day out with plenty of entertainment. The farmer was harvesting the corn in the fields around the pasture, a surefire spectator sport.

But spectating was not all the little gang was up to. Apparenly there was some roughhousing going on. Suffice it to say, another turnout sheet has bitten the dust.

This time it was Tucker with his bright orange sheet practically hanging down to his knees, split lengthwise along the wither area. I never quite seem to be in the right place at the right time to see one of these destructions, so I have no idea....or do I???....of who might have done it. Could it be the secret Chance the ripper?

Good thing I had another sheet to put on. It is rather chilly out there.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tomorrow to the Doctor

I Think I Kneed It Too

Going to my knee doctor again tomorrow. It is better, but not wonderful.

I didn't have to walk as much today as I was actually in my room all day. However, my students were in there along with the kids taking the test, so it was pretty disrupted. I really could not conduct a normal class so the kids had to read and work on their own instead of discussing the material.

They were good, though, so it all worked out.

The counselor who was originally supposed to be conducting the testing was in charge today and it was much better organized. She was frustrated by the whole series of events as well, but quite pleased at how well my students coped with all the mess.

Tomorrow? Who knows? I have good lessons for each class which a substitute teacher can easily handle. The students know they are responsible for the work. All could go smoothly--or fall apart as it usually does when I am not there.

One thing I do know. Very few of the classes that came into the rooms to be tested behave as well as my kids do. And very few of the other teachers seem to think a class should behave as I expect my classes to. My next door neighbor was really upset after school today as she had seen some of the testing going on. Some of her materials had been damaged, used, abused during the course of the day and her room was a mess. I'd straightened up my room at least twice and her room once during the day. Finally, after one class was done testing and my room was again in disarray, I said something and the kids/teacher managed to at least set my desks back in order.

Whenever I use someone else's classroom, I try to leave it neater than when I came in. Guess I am just too old fashioned. *sigh*

The Boys all were fine and still shod when I got home. I was a wee bit late as I'd stopped at the grocery store to get some soup ingredients and some oatmeal for breakfast. Toby was quite eager for his dinner and I had to remind him of his manners so he didn't knock me out of the way to get his grain. He is very easy to correct, so it was not a big issue.

Tucker likes to crowd me too, so I shook my finger at him and he tried hard to be polite. I think they are finding it hard to be patient as I gingerly limp my way down the aisle. The step up and down into the feed room takes a little extra effort too, all slowing me down.

I keep telling them I'm lame, but they don't seem overly impressed.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Am I Right, Or What?

Monkey wrench in the works for tomorrow.

The replacement classroom will not be available as the Superintendent of Schools needs to use it for a meeting. Thus, I have no place to take my classes.

The Principal, at least, does not want me hiking all over the building trying to find a place to roost. He proposes I use the classroom next door to mine even though it too is needed for testing. I am not at all sure how that's going to work out.

Frankly, I was just about ready to simply take the day off and let someone else worry about it. Trouble is, I have started some good lessons with each of my classes--in the replacement room-- and am not too keen on having them all disrupted. As it is, I have a knee doctor's appointment on Thursday, but I have good follow up materials all prepared--if the substitute teachers should happen to assign them. (Been having some problems with that too despite having left 4 copies of lesson plans the last time I went to the doctor.)

Had the replacement room all set up for tomorrow when I found out I couldn't be there. So I had to undo all the set up. Bummer again.

And, my kids will have no idea where to go for class either, so that just adds to the confusion and ruination of effective teaching.

The good news is that Tucker's shoes were on when I came home. Still have to see what's up when I go out for late feed. I'll leave him in overnight again just to be safe and to let his thrush dry up.

The bad news is I had water all over the hardwood floor in my bedroom. I think I have a leaking radiator, but I can't quite see where. I spent a good hour sopping and drying and moving things about to get all the dampness up. But part of the floor is pretty messed up. It might be restorable, or it might need replacing. That, though is not a high priority with me. If I stay here forever, it doesn't matter. If I decide, at some point, to sell and move out, it does. So there. I have no plans to move. There may be a leak in another room too, but if so, it's not as bad.

More bummer, eh? Not having the best of autumns.

When I went to take out the trash and recyclables for pickup tomorrow, the Boys were all in the paddock by the house, just kind of hanging out. I should have stuffed their cute faces with carrots, but I was preoccupied with the trash and my knee. I will make up for it at late night snack and treat them then.

They are always ready to "snoopervise" any kind of chores I am doing. Guess I serve as entertainment. Pretty sad.

Maybe I should sign them up for cable TV.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Pain in the Back

And Another Frustrating Day At School

OK, took my crutches in so my knee could get a rest. Found a subsituting slip taped to my mailbox. Again, I was going to have to hike down two hallways to cover a second period class.

Meanwhile, my classes--all but two--were doing computerized testing in my classroom. This will go on all week and I will have to conduct class in another room. So, I did manage to get some of my grade reports (due Friday) completed on my classroom computer while my students tested.

Then I limped and crutched my way to the subbing room only to find the Principal already there with another teacher. He figured someone else could take the class so I wouldn't have to drag myself down there, but he failed to tell me. Once I was there, there was no point in limping back, so I stayed to cover. I knew all the kids anyhow so that part was fine.

But, when I tried to use the teacher's computer in that room to keep working on my grades--no go. The regular teacher had somehow locked down the power supply so no one else could use the station. All her files are padlocked too, and the whole set up of the room is like a fortress. Downright strange. The computer systems all belong to the school, not to the teachers, but some teachers seem to think they have the right to keep everyone else off. My computer is open to anyone who has a school password, and my subs are welcome to use it any time. I have my own password for my network drive and files, so no one can really access my stuff without it, so what's the problem?? Yeesh.

So another class period went by with my not being able to do any of the work I needed to finish.

Next period, my computer class was moved to the replacement room where there are laptop computers on a cart. But they were locked up and we couldn't use them either. We ended up just kind of hanging out for the period talking about college applications and such since we couldn't do any kind of regular assignments.

Spent the next period in my room, testing, then left for another class in the replacement room. I had a worksheet all ready on the story the kids were supposed to read last week when I was out at the doctor's. I'd left four (4, count'em, 4!!!) copies of lesson plans on my desk with all the assignments my students needed for the day. The afternoon subs never gave the kids the assignments, and I didn't see one copy of the plans left anywhere. So, that class could not do today's work, and I had no copies of the story for them to read in the replacement room. Instead, I invented an assignment. *sigh*

Back to my regular room for more testing and then, finally my preparation period. I stayed at my computer working on grades, but there were two other teachers there with their classes for testing and, as I turned out, I was the only one who understood how the testing program worked, so I ended up spending a good part of the class period helping them get kids signed on, etc. (the Counselor whose job it was did not come in until well into the class period. And she was subbing for the Counselor who was supposed to do the job, so she didn't even know all the passwords and test program tricks.) Good thing I ran this testing about 4-5 years ago and still had some of my notes as to how to access features.

My final class of the day was testing, and by then I just about had managed to get all my grades squared away. I still have some rechecking to do, but I was essentially caught up. Good thing as I will not be in my room for the rest of the, wait, one period tomorrow for my other class to be tested.

In case you didn't know, this is what teachers do doing the day, along with teaching, of course. I honestly did not have more than my 30 minute lunch and perhaps another 15 minutes to myself all day in order to get my work done.

After school I went to the chiropractor as my back was really bad--a consequence of all the limping about.

Then, when I got home, I saw Tucker's stall door open and I almost had a panic attack.

Luckily, my shoer's assistant had come by in the afternoon and fixed Tucker's shoe. Then, he turned him out. I am going to put him in for the night and let him out in the sand paddock tomorrow. He won't be all that happy, but he will be out in the best footing I have. Don't know what else to do at this point except just keep my eye on his shoes.

Looking forward to tomorrow's adventure at school. I set up all the materials I need to teach after school today, so I THINK I am set. Then again, someone will surely throw some kind of monkey wrench into my plans.

Can't wait to see just what kind of wrench it is. *G*

Sunday, November 16, 2008

And I Lost Again

The Great Saddle Shop Drawing

Every year around this time, our local saddle shop has a drawing for a $1000 gift certificate for the store. They also have a 20% off everything in the store sale and you get a ticket for each $50 purchased. This sale includes feed.

Since I bought alfalfa cubes for the Boys I had some tickets. I have gone to the drawing every year for who knows how long. (Well over 10 years.) Once again, I did not win!

To make matters worse, I tried on a washable Pikeur dressage coat while I was there and it fit so well and looked so good on me I had to buy it. At least I got the 20% discount.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, my friend called about her shoer. Apparently her horse has popped a shoe as well, so she needs repair. If we can get her guy to come I'll have him tack Tucker's shoe back on. So far the shoe is staying in place--with Tuck stuck in his stall, so no damage is being done.

Actually with Tucker sore on his hind leg with no certain diagnosis, his being in is not entirely bad, but I would like to get him out for a little exercise. Trouble is, lunging him might not even be an option with my knee, but we will see. I have a really heavy duty brace I can put on that might work.

Right now it's all just a waiting game.

Tuck wears bell boots all the time, but for some reason they just don't keep him from grabbing those shoes. I wonder if there are some kind of other boots that might help. I know they use "grab boots" on some race horses, so I will investigate to see what's out there.

As for the $1000? Guess I'll just have to try again next year.


Knees and Shoes

I am not having a good month. The shoer put new shoes on Tuck and Toby on Friday. Yesterday, Tucker stepped on his right front shoe and "sprung it." It's still on, but bent away from his hoof. I took the bent nail out, but left the other one in and left the shoe on as it had not actually shifted...yet.

Called my shoer, but no call back yet. I have a feeling he's not happy with me. But I needed to get Tuck out for a bit, in the good footing of the arena. I cannot lunge him, nor ride him, nor even hand walk him with my knee like this and I had to clean his stall. So I set up the arena for turnout and put him out for a couple hours in the afternoon. Leave it to him to step on his shoe.

I am calling a friend to see who her shoer is so I have an emergency plan when something like this happens. Right now, it's really just a matter of resetting the shoe, so there's no fitting, etc. involved.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Nothing Doing Saturday

Still Sore

I am, that is, and I think Tucker is. Hard to say but he does look off in the hind leg sometimes, but then he goes off sound. He spent the night inside and will be in tonight. I did turn everyone out in the arena where there is no mud.

The rest of the place is pretty yucky. It has been raining for several days and rained again last night. Then it got quite warm this afternoon and the sun came out. But bad weather is predicted again overnight and it's supposed to cool off radically.

It would have been a nice day for some hacks but the hunters were out in full force. I heard gunshots all around. If tomorrow is dry, I may take Chance out and perhaps Toby, if my knees feel OK. They are really sore today and cleaning the stalls, as I needed to do, did not help.

Then, since I was turning the Boys out in the arena, I had to carry water to the tub out there. Then, I had to take the hay out to the field for them. So, I overdid the knee work again today, but there's not much I can do to avoid it. Some of the work just has to be done.

As it looks as if the storms are starting to kick up, I'll be going out in a few more minutes to bring the Boys in, feed, and do Tuck's feet with the thrush remedy. As far as the back leg goes, I think I feel heat in his foot. If there is an abscess brewing, being out in the wet footing is just about as good as soaking it. I'll just have to keep an eye on him to see if the leg is the problem instead of the hoof. I'm keeping him wrapped for support, regardless.

I'm kind of frustrated right now. Not much seems to be going right. I'm sure it will all work out, eventually, but I just need to muster the energy to slog my way through.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sore Knees, and Sore Horses

Never Take a Week Off

I have been limping out to the barn each day, not really bothering to do more than feed the Boys. No riding, of course. No lunging. And no real looking them over. And it's been wet and rainy nearly all week.

So what does my farrier find with Tucker? Thrush! When I cleaned his feet, I didn't notice it. Then again, I didn't do such a good job of that with my bad knee(s). It's actually easy to miss when their feet are muddy and wet. (Excuses, excuses.)

Then, to top it off, Tuck's hind leg is filled. (This I would have noticed so I think that just happened.) The shoer used the hoof testers back there and I think Tucker reacted quite a bit, so he may have a bruise or an abscess brewing. Unblievable. I have NEVER had so many hoof problems in all my years of owning horses. And all within the last several months.

Then, when the shoer pulled Toby's front shoe--the hoof where he stepped on his toe clip, he found evidence of an abscess or something draining. Tucker has not been lame--at least before this week. Again, could be something that brewed up over the last few days. I really haven't seen any of them doing much more than coming into the stalls for meals, so there could be limps I missed.

Honestly, at the moment I feel like a neglectful mom. But as bad as my leg was, there wasn't too much more I could have done. Now I really do think I lucked out last December when I had that fever for three weeks. Horses pulled through those weeks just fine. My knee has been a jinx.

Tucker is in the stall. Thrush X in his hoofies and a wrap on his hind leg. He thinks he is quite special.

Chance is fine.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Much Better, Thank You

My knee was full of fluid. 6 syringes full. My doctor does not know why. I must have knocked something out of place.

At any rate, he treated my other knee with PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) Therapy which helps the damaged tissues regenerate and heals damage using my own stem cells. Too long to explain.

However, I am on Dr. Magaziner's webpage at: testifying to the success of his treatments. That's me, for sure. *G*

Anyhow, after getting rid of all that swelling, my knee/leg feels 100% better. That is not to say perfect as it still has chronic issues, but WOW, what a difference. I am taking some antibiotics just to be sure the inflammation was not caused by some kind of infection and tests are being done. As well, my right knee was not treated with the PRP just to be safe.

I have a follow up appointment for next week.

No riding today anyhow as it is cold and RAINING.

And....Tucker was lame this morning. I thought I saw something last night, but I was so consumed with my own discomfort, I really didn't trot him out. I just caught what I thought might be an off step when he went in to eat, did a quick check to be sure his shoe was still on, and limped back into the house. This morning, it was pretty evident. He is limping at the walk on his left front.

That's the one he stepped on the toe clip with. When my vet was here to find the hock soreness, she said she thought he might be a little off on that front. Every now and then when I was working him, I thought I saw a "not quite right" step, but it was only fleeting. Now, if all those observations were correct, whatever it was has definitely become "something."

This time, I called my shoer first. If it is something in his hoof, he should be able to find out. He and the substitute shoer will come by tomorrow sometime to look Tuck over. The Boys are due anyhow, so the timing is OK. I just hope there is not another abscess, but I am suspicious. If it's not that, I guess it's back to calling the vet.

And I still haven't fully paid off the last visit. *sigh*

I dropped by MacDonald's (yes, Caroline, your favorite) on the way home from the doctor and there I met up with Dr. Schenck, my former small animal vet. He is in a practice not too far away, specializing in acupuncture and chiropractic work on small animals. We had a great time talking as we ate our burgers and fries. He was one of the first vets in NJ who used acupunture to treat animals, some 25+ years ago. His enthusiasm for alternative treatments has not diminished one bit. Apparently he is 74 now--a very young 74--and still very active in his practice. Ha had some really cool stories to tell about his experiences.

He also does NAET testing for animals to test for allergies and other conditions. I may decide to take my black kitty Reggie to him at some point. Reggie is a compulsive groomer and has some thin fur on his belly and hind legs where he has overgroomed himself. Dr. Schenck suggested allergies might be a cause. NAET therapy allows for desensitizing to a lot of allergens, so it might be worth a shot. It's not serious with Reggie, but I'd like to see him less consumed with his grooming habits.

I find holistic therapies and natural treatments so fascinating. I always wonder just how many medications we really do need to keep healthy when there are so many safer alternatives.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Over the Top

Can't Stand It!

My knee is too sore/painful for words. I called my knee doctor and amazingly, he has a cancellation for tomorrow morning. I will have to take the day off from school, but I left some good lesson plans for my classes. Here's hoping he can do something.

The Boys are dressed in their bright orange sheets. They practically glow in the dark out there. Tuck and Toby are in the sort of waterproof ones, but Chance is in the not waterproof one. This is because his other one has been shredded to the point that it was kind of hanging off his bum.

I have a brandy new one for him that I can put on, but didn't want to do it until the first one really gave up the ghost. I think I can still fix it for at least a few more go rounds with Tucker's teeth. I have no idea what the rules are of the games they play out there, but Chance's "clothes" always seem to pay the price.

Needless to say, I did not ride. As a matter of fact, I can hardly walk. Hope my miracle doctor can do something for me. *sigh*

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Still A VERY BAD Knee

The muscle/tendon above my knee is swollen, something that has not been true since my knee surgery years ago. The knee joint itself feels better, but everything around it is SO sore.

If it doesn't improve significantly within the next two days, I will call for an appointment with my knee doctor. I'm pretty sure he can do something to make it feel better.

I suppose I could ride, though it would not be exactly comfortable, but I'm not sure that's a good idea.

And, typical of how school operates, this morning, as I was teaching my first period class, the office called into my room over the intercom. This interrupted my lesson, but that's only the tip of the iceberg. I was being assigned a substituting job for one of the Special Needs teachers the next period. Where? At the complete opposite end of the building. (Now, mind you, I think doing four laps around our main halls measures a mile, so you get a feeling of how big our school is.) With my students in the room, I replied, "And I'm going to have to hike all the way down there with my bad knee?" The only answer was from the secretary who said she was sorry.

Thanks a lot. At that point, my muscle was pretty stiff and it took me well over five minutes to make it down to the class. The teacher was there and apparently a little surprised to have a sub...for whatever reason, I'll never know. It was a math class with 6 students in it. She left a bunch of work for them to do, but it was pretty clear that more than half of the kids had no idea how to do the basic algebra problems and even less motivation to do them.

Instead of sitting there being totally bored, I began doing some individualized instuction with two of the kids who were doing nothing. I managed to get the first student started off on the right track and then sat down with the other one who hadn't even lifted his pencil. When I asked him why, he told me he didn't know what to do. We got the book out and started in. These were fairly simple basic equations but a lot of them had negative numbers. I helped him learn the technique for solving them and after about four problems, he was doing them on his own. And, he continued to work there beside me, solving one after the other until he'd done the whole page! I kept cheering him on and he seemed really pleased. He also seemed to actually master the technique of solving for the unknown. He had the whole page filled with correct answers and all the work as well. I was so proud of him. I hope he can continue to succeed like that and his teacher encourages him for all his effort. He didn't have time to finish the long list of problems on the blackboard, but he surely did nearly all the bookwork. (we did not do the two word problems as I told him to wait on them until he was sure he could solve the basic problems.)

Times like that make teaching a rare pleasure. Little successes and seeing a student "turn on" after being "turned off," are really nice. My classes are far too big to do that often. I have 30 students in each of my 9th grade classes, and they are the ones where the kids need the most attention. Somehow, students always get "lost" in classes that big.

Ah well. By the time that subbing class was over and I took the long, slow, limping hike back to my classroom at the other end of the building, my little group of computer students were wondering if I'd fallen off the face of the earth. Fortunately, they waited for me and didn't disappear.

My Principal is asking each teacher to select the best student in each class for an awards assembly honoring our top students. Frustrating. In a couple classes, the choice is obvious, but in other cases, whom do I pick? In one class, two students I had last year have really stepped up to the challenge this year. One girl is easily earning an "A" average, but the other, a boy who really struggled last year is probably working on a "B" and has just been super responsible about completing all his work. They both deserve accolades. Somehow I am going to have to break the rules and see they are recognized.

Maybe I can come up with my own award certificate and get the Principal to present it even if my kids don't win the schoolwide honors. They really deserve something special!

H-m-m-m-m....wonder which one of my horses deserves the honor? Shall I base it on cuteness? Intelligence? Work ethic? Mastery of the subject material? Overall physical condition? Cooperativeness? Manners? Etc.??????????

Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday Off

And A Really Bad Knee

Did something to my right knee. I certainly didn't feel anything when I was working outside. I was fine until I curled up on the couch for an hour or so and then got up. I must have twisted it while I was lying there or overworked it outside and then positioned it wrong once I was resting. Or something.

I decided to go to my chiropractor first as it felt as if something was out of place. After limping about all day, when I got there, he did some adjusting and it felt much better, though still not good enough to feel I could do much on it. I suspect I will have to head back to my knee doctor sooner than later for a tune up.

Meantime, the Boys have the traditional Monday off anyhow.

I can retire any time I want or keep on teaching as long as I want. I was hoping I could retire at the end of this year, but this economic situation is making me a bit uneasy. My pension is pretty secure and I may be reaching the point where it would actually make more sense to retire than keep on working, but we'll just have to see. Nothing like a stock market crash to put a damper on things. *sigh*

School is fine, actually, and the students I have are, for the most part, pretty much fun to teach. We have a good time in class. The trouble is all the side stuff, paperwork, requirements, and other such details of the job that are wearing. And not being able to be in control of my schedule or even sure of what classes I will teach from year to year is no fun. Then there are the standardized tests the students must take and the time in class I have to spend preparing them for the test rather than teaching cool stuff. There comes a time when dealing with all the bureaucracy just starts to outweigh the good things.

We'll just have to wait and see.

Muriel, your blog would not let me post a comment. It is telling me, tonight that I am not a team member. Has something changed? See comments here for your comment on your blog.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Hacking in the Autumn

Now That It Started to Dry Out

Sunshine today for a change and a nice bit of breeze so the mud is quickly drying up. The paddock back of the barn is still it bit sticky, but the rest is pretty good, and the arena is drying up.

Thought about dragging it, but decided to do the stall strip instead, using the wheelbarrow so I didn't rut up the back area with the tractor. Took a bit of work but the exercise did me good...aside from my knees, that is.

Once done with the chores, I saddled up Chance, Toby, and Tucker in that order and took each one out for a nice little hack in the woods.

On the way out with Chance, we met two hunters scouting the area for deer. Bow hunting season is on, so these guys were looking for good spots. I'm not keen about killing anything, but I do understand their principles and wished them good luck, admitting I was actually rooting for the deer. They just kind of laughed, but we are all on good terms, so it's just fine.

The funny part was that when the two guys headed off in the opposite direction, Chance wanted to follow them instead of going in our direction. And he was very clear about it. Don't know if it was because the guys patted him or whether he was just looking for company.

Toby's and Tuck's rides were uneventful, with just a minimal spook here and there for birds flying up out of the cornfield or a squirrel scurrying across the path.

All in all it was a pleasant Sunday afternoon.

Back to school tomorrow. *sigh* Weeks like this really do make me think of retirement.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

A Lesson Indeed

And A Fairly Good Grade

Had my lesson with Jaime this morning. Tucker's trot work was excellent.

Jaime had us work on shoulder in to haunches in to half pass. Working trot to collected trot to working trot. Lots of transitions within the gait both laterally and longitudinally. Much of what I normally do at home but much more intense.

Then we tried canter. Well now. Crabby Tucker tried to buck and kick out and stop and simply refuse to cooperate. But, I persisted and soon got...and up and down stuck canter on the left lead. It was all I could do to keep it going. Don't quite know what that was all about as his canter has been fine at home. Gabriel says the footing at the indoor is hard, so maybe that had something to do with it?? Or memory of being unhappy there weeks before??? Or just more Tuckertude??? Anyhow, I kept at it and gradually things improved until we had some normal, correct departs and some nice canter.

Again, we did some haunches in and shoulder in on the left lead, and a bunch of canter/trot/canter transitions until things smoothed out nicely. Then we changed rein. Remarkably, he was much less crabby taking the right lead, the one he'd "lost" during the sore hock crisis. We did realize rather quickly, however, that he was naturally cantering with his haunches in, so in order to straighten that, Jaime had me try a shoulder in. I soon realized that was not the ideal correction as he was still pressing out with his shoulder to the left even in the shoulder-in position, so I switched to a counter bend with a bit of haunches out, and sure enough, that was the solution.

With several walk breaks in between, Tucker worked his buns off and really got going quite well. We didn't ride the full hour, which is just fine with me as we accomplished a lot of good stuff in making him work correctly and well.

The thing I like least right now it how much effort it is taking to get a canter depart. Again, I am not sure if it was just the circumstances or if he was achy (it is still very damp and ended up raining quite hard) but I need to use both my seat and leg to push the depart right now. I don't like my horses to be that sluggish off the aids. It makes it extremely difficult when you start flying changes if the horse is not light to the leg. I was working on that before Tucker was laid off with the abscess/shoeing debaucle/sore hocks so I was aware there was a problem. Today it just seemed a little more obvious than before.

Anyhow, all in all I was pleased with the ultimate results. Now if it will oblige by not raining every time I turn around, I might get some good work in during the next few weeks.

Muriel, just a note. My property is on high ground and very well drained. Mud is not usually an issue, except when, like this, the lower soils are not draining well. In this case, we had not had a lot of rain this summer, so the lower layers were too dry (first a clay layer, then sand) and had to gradully soak in the water before it started percolating down. My riding arena is perfectly safe to ride in, just very wet. That makes it very sloppy out there and the horses, tack, and me get pretty dirty. Also, there is a clay sublayer out there too and in the winter, when the ground freeze several inches or more down that layer can get slippery. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, I try not to ride in the arena so I don't dig up that sublayer. And, that's when I get some very slippery surface mud in other places because the water can't drain down below the frozen layers.

Normally, my ground drains very well. I am on an aquifer, which means that the soil here naturally absorbs water and takes it down to the water table/natural ground water storage areas below. I never stay soggy for long.

Friday, November 07, 2008

And Another Day Passes

Still Very Wet

Things did not dry out too much since it rained again last night. Today was warm, but cloudy and still with no wind and very little, if any sunshine.

Taking the tractor out to do some work would rut up the lawn even more and I'd probably have some issues in the paddocks. It's not a deep mud yet, but a wet, surface, slippery mud. The stalls need stripping, but I'm not sure I could get the tractor in and out of where it needs to be without digging up some places I don't want all rutted this time of year.

I did some housecleaning instead and then went to an area pharmacy to get a flu vaccine. Don't know if I had the flu last year, but those weeks I spent with that darn fever were so miserable, I figured I might as well take out some insurance with a vaccine.

I did a bit of shopping on the way home, picking up some groceries.

Then, after listening to President Elect Obama's first news conference, I went out to long line Tucker.

Oh, my but he was good. Even with the mud puddles all over the arena and the very soggy footing, he was steady, forward, and obedient. He really did look good out there. Nice, forward, relaxed gaits. Sometimes he needed a bit more energy, but his rhythm was nice and steady.

I am hoping he will carry some of that into his lesson tomorrow morning. The trainer, Jamie, is the one I watched a couple weeks ago. I know she will want to work us hard so I will have to speak up if I feel Tucker getting tired or needing a break. He is pretty fit, but I don't want him to get sore again. It will be interesting to see what exercises she has us do.

More showers are in the forecast and the week ahead doesn't look too great either. Guess it's typical fall weather after an almost too dry summer.

Did anyone see the news about the Western US? Snowstorms!! Drifts of up to 10 feet in some places. It will miss us this time, but we won't always be so lucky.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Lawn Repair

Well, I Never Did Need a Gorgeous Lawn

It is SO wet out there. When the rain let up, I went out thinking I might at least lunge Tucker. But the arena was under water. It needs a good raking/dragging but it is far too wet to do that. We need some sun and/or wind to dry things out a bit.

Instead I decided to see what I could do with the badly hoofed lawn.

Well the drag worked, but now I have muddy grass or grassy mud. It will grow in, eventually, and I do plan on putting down some seed, but that too will have to wait until things dry out a little more. Then I can seed and drag again to set it in without digging up too much more mud.

Right now, everything is a mess as it often is with rainy weather this time of year. Hope this is not a prelude to a wet winter. My knees and I do not appreciate the mud.

And I still have to properly fix the fence around the arena so Tucker can go out there when it's really muddy so he keeps his shoes on.

All I can say is *SIGH*

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Another Ride in the Almost Rain

Not So Bad After All

Although I am suffering from "Election Hangover," since I stayed up late just basking in all the excitement, I did get some things done today.

The moment when Obama was declared the winner was unbelievable! I have been so upset about President Bush for all these years that this was an amazing result. I will not make a political speech here, but I am really happy and hopeful.

So, I was kind of stuck waiting for the guy to come to fix my gas fireplace. I really needed to go get alfalfa cubes but had no idea what time he was coming. When I called the company, I couldn't get an answer. Finally, I insisted at the woman in the office got him on the phone and he said he'd be here in an hour or an hour an a half.

That gave me enough time to get to the feedstore and back so off I went.

What is it with road construction? Crews were everywhere and I finally detoured the long way to avoid the roadblocks. Got the cubes and headed home to find all the road crews on lunch break and no stops whatsoever. Yea!!

The repair guy arrived soon after and all the pilot needed was a good cleaning....something I probably could have done. But I'd been led astray by the fact that the pilot light lit and would not stay on. I figured if it was just dirty it never would have lit. Wrong. Cost me a nice chunk of change to have him spray some canned air on it and get it sorted out. *sigh*

Then I went back out and unloaded six bags of cubes and two bags of feed at 50 lbs. each.

Then I cam back inside and spent a good deal of time trying to figure out an unauthorized charge on my credit card. Apparently there was some fraudulent use. PayPal was involved, so I am totally covered, but I had to do some security stuff to make sure it doesn't happen again. Note to any thieves: my cards have been canceled and the numbers are no longer valid.

All that done, I kind of tootled around a bit doing some minor cleaning and sorting of papers and mail and such.

Suddenly I realized the afternoon had worn on and it had gotten ominously dark outside. And it had started to rain--just a little bit.

It is quite warm--in the 60's--so a little rain didn't bother me and I went out to ride.

I gave Tucker a good solid school in the arena with lots and lots of transitions. Walk, pirouette, walk. Trot/walk/trot. Canter/trot/canter. Canter/walk/canter. Trot/halt/reinback/trot. He gave me a bit of "attitude" now and then, but nothing serious and, I am pleased to say, the canter departs were all withoug incident. Now all I have to do it keep him from getting sore again or notice changes in his attitude early enough to treat him before it gets out of hand. I do have him on joint supplements, so that should help.

We are not quite where we were when I started working for the flying changes and I do have to work on getting him to stay soft to the bit. He does take quite a bit of contact. I don't mind that, but I do mind when it loses its elasticity or feels more like a downward pull.

Chance is another story altogether. At the trot he now does stretch down into the bit, mostly offering on his own. But he can also be very quick to put his head up. Since it's "giraffe like" instead of up and on the bit, it's not exactly the greatest feeling. His canter continues to improve but not having worked him in the arena for a few days does cost me. His head is not exactly up, nor exactly down, nor exactly steady. Let's just say every stride is a new adventure.
And, it's just plain hard work trying to get him where I want him to be.

Such are the trials of training a young horse. While Chance is moderately talented, he still does not have full command of his body and simply cannot always keep his balance. Steadiness is not yet his forte.

It will just take time. He does have a lovely attitude and none of Tucker's arrogance. It's a nice change of pace.

Claire. I have thought about a self-latching gate on the feed room. There is a sliding door, but it's hard to use so I have a stall guard there instead. Leaving it unhooked wouldn't matter but when I do that, I also seem to leave some door/gate leading into the barn open too. It's a double fault situation.

I will definitely look into what kind of auto latch thing I can hook up. For some reason, I forget every now and then and Tuck always takes advantage of the opening!!

Escape Alert! (Added on Thursday Morning in the Rain)
And it wasn't my fault this time.

I woke up and looked out the back window to see the horses on the wrong side of the fence!

And they had "toured" the entire back lawn area which was very wet and soft from the rain, leaving turned up grass, mud, and holes all over the place.

Someone had knocked off the top rail of the fence section near the feed room, and with a broken rail in the middle, that left only the bottom rail as a barrier. I did have the truck parked there and had it been back another three feet, it would have blocked the way. Alas, it was not to be.

The Boys stepped out with--I suspect--Chance in the lead as he is the only one who had ever decided that a low fence could be stepped over. (This technique is not in the Thoroughbred repertoire. Even Russell R. who was trained to jump would step over a fence if even the lowest rail was up. PJ, Toby, and Tucker have treated downed fences exactly the same way in the past. It is a very strange behavior, but I guess they figure if the fence is there it is supposed to keep them on one side or another. Thus leading me to believe it is a "Thoroughbred" thing--until they learn differently.)

At any rate, the whole little gang had finally decided the lawn was far too intriguing, so out they went.

I do, fortunately, have fence and bump gates blocking the driveways so they did not go out to the road as has happened in the past. Or to my Aunt's lawn next door to mess that up too.

Don't know how long there were out, but they surely were having a grand time. There is/was some nice lush grass near the rose bed and in a few other places I never really bothered to mow the last time out. The trouble is, I now have some pretty obvious hoof "dents," holes, and wrecked grass to deal with.

Guess I'll go out late with the tractor and the drag to see if that will level things up. The lawn is not perfect anyhow, so if I drop some new grass seed about it will only be a benefit. My lawn is not one of those beautifully groomed "golf course" tracts, but it surely doesn't need to look as if it had been attacked by surface moles.

Not having a good week here. *G*

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I Had This Plan....

Three Cheers for President-Elect Barack Obama!!
The world has changed for the better!
...And Tucker Had His Plan...And.....

Tucker in Chance's stall, up from his nap

So this is how the story goes.......

OK, so I went to vote in the morning. Then about two hours later, I took my aunt to vote.

All was well, but I forgot I needed to get some alfalfa cubes for the Boys and that I had a ticket for the Election Night Supper at my church at 5 PM.

I decided between 2 and 3 that I would give Tucker a quick school and then head for the feed store kind of in the area of church. I'd pick up just one bag of cubes there for the Boys' breakfast and get more later in the week from my regular feed store--where they are better priced.

All looked well.

Until I went out to the barn to find Tucker wedged in the feed room. (I will take a picture of this space so you can see how ridiculous this is.) The room is 10' X 10' with feed bins on one side and cabinets on the other. The floor is raised about a foot and a half off the barn aisle and is 1/4" plywood. Now, Tucker has done this before, and has gone through the floor in the process, do I have 1/2" plywood laid down just in case.

But in any scenario, a 16.3h horse in such a small space is downright silly. There is a wide door that opens out to the yard, so I moved the tractor and opened the door hoping he would continue out forward to eat on the lawn.

Nope. He think's he's going to hit his head on the top of the door frame. And, if he tries to back out, he has to step down into the aisle. Since I'd left an interior stall door open as well as the feed room gate--in the morning after I'd fed DUH!!--Chance was in the barn aisle behind him and the both of them had strew debris all over making Tucker's extaction from the room even trickier.

With the front door open, I went round into the barn aisle and began tapping him with the dressage whip, hoping to encourage him to walk on out.

Nope. He turned himself around in the narrow space (5 feet???) and proceeded to come back out into the barn.

The feed room was a mess. He'd eaten the three apples I'd left there and the partial pack of carrots. And he'd been in the grain bin. Not sure how much of that he ate as it was off to his side at a very awkward angle, but I'm sure he'd been munching. And the two piles of manure he'd dropped suggested he'd been in there for a while. *sigh*

So the resulting cleanup I had to do took up all the time I'd alloted for errands. I rearranged, swept, shoveled, discarded, moved, and generally spent a good hour trying to organize things again.

I swore I was never going to leave any doors open again. Just goes to show how well I keep my promises to myself.

Below, the feed/tack room viewed from the barn aisle. You can see the door to the outside. The room is 10' wide, but with the cabinets on either side the open area is only about 5' wide. Feed bins are on the left.

Chance, napping in Toby's stall. Too cute!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Tucker's Trail and The Election

US Citizens: Don't Forget to Vote!!! Your voice is important!!
Not the Best Pictures But...

Come along with Tucker and me on a hack in the woods.

We go out the gate, into the woods. Along the trail. Out to the field. Past the pile of dirt where the monster no longer lurks. ;) Along the road by the cornfield. Back into the woods. To the intersection where you can see the mud from the ATV riders. Along the forest road. Back to the narrow trail towards home. Weaving through the trees and finally to the blurry gate back into the arena.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Double the Fun

Out on a Hack

Lovely, cool and breezy day.

I took Toby out on a nice hack first, going back to where the flooding is not--after a relatively dry summer--and then back through the woods. Met one quiet, thank goodness, ATV when we were still in the field, so Toby did not startle too badly.

Again the ATV's are illegal in the State Park where I ride, but that does not stop them. Now that the gas prices are lower, the riders are out. I'm hoping this week they will not be riding. I am off from school all week and want to get some relaxing rides in.

I took Chance out next and took him on a longer ride, going along the back of the old farm we are trying to preserve and then looping back. When I started along the back of the farm, another ATV came out of the woods. The guy rode right into the field where I was, but he did keep his speed slow enough so his engine did not roar. That still set Chance into a bit of excitement. He was a little "fizzy" (borrowing Caroline's phrase) on the way out anyhow and insisted on trotting and then cantering a bit on the dirt road along the cornfield. He was strong to the rein with his head up rather than down, but I never quite felt as if I couldn't stop him if I needed to.

After the ATV, though, the fizz bubbled over and he kept jogging off with his head way up. Again, he wasn't out of control and he didn't feel really unsafe, but I hate that head up thing. I just kept on half halting until finally, he put his nose down and stretched into a nice big, eager walk.

He really settled down once we were back in the woods instead of in the more open areas. I've only taken this trail once before with him and in the opposite direction, so it was quite an interesting outing for him. He's a good, solid fellow and just needs a few more miles under his hoofs out in the big world.

Because I'd given him a good school yesterday, I decided to lunge Tucker instead of riding. And I set up a little grid of two jumps at a "no stride" distance. I think it's the first time I've challenged him with this gymnastic problem.

After a nice session of trot and canter on each rein, I set him at the jumps. (only about 1 foot high) He figured it out easily, but found it exciting enough to do some bucks and gallops at it and after it. Then I added a third little no stride jump and he really started being silly. I settled him down into a trot approach and then switched directions. On the left lead, he was a little more settled, but still ready to be silly if I gave him a chance. We did managed to get some nice passes, eventually, so he finished up the workout quite well.

He did work up a sweat though, so I sponged him lightly, dried him with a towel and put on his breathable sheet for the night. He should be just fine. It's chilly out, but not cold and he will dry quickly on his own.

If you didn't notice the post below, you can see my Halloween costume and my kitties. No pics today, but I do hope to go out in the woods with my camera to take some shots of Tucker's trail through the woods. It's only about a 15-20 minute ride at the walk, but for him it's a big deal. Despite his weeks with Kenny, he is not the most reliable hack I've ever been on--and heaven forbid should he meet an ATV out there!!

Wish they would all just stay home.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

First Day Off

Did Some Work and Riding Too!!

Here is the basic costume. The gold is very bright gold. All over a black dress with "gilded sleeves" I have a cape and a witch's hat to go with it.

The snow broke a number of branches off my lilac bushes and one big branch off the maple in the front yard. I took an hour or two this morning trimming and sawing. I cleaned up one pile but have about four more piles of branches to get rid of yet. The maple branch is huge, but I've sawed it up into manageable pieces. Might need the tractor to move them.
Ate lunch and got a call from a good friend who's moved out to the Northwest--Oregon, so that was a nice chat.
Then I headed out to ride. Picked out the arena first and then saddled up Tucker.
We had a good school. I did some walk work with pirouettes first. Then did some trot with trot/walk transitions to a walk pirouette to a trot to encourage him to trot off on his hind end first. Then I did a series of trot/walk/trot transitions. Then I progressed to canter. He took both leads without a fuss. The only flaw I feel right now is that his balance is better on his left lead than his right. That has been a minor issue all along, and I was working on it before he became sore. Could be that work triggered the hock issues, but we'll see. For now I am just taking it a little easy and not being too demanding about the balance on that lead.

I worked the canter/trot/canter transitions a number of times, and then, after a break, did a long canter stretch to build him up. I took another break and then focused on some trot work. Shoulder in, half pass, and some efforts at lengthening finished up the session. By then, he was a little sweaty, so I headed out for a nice little hack in the woods.

I rode Chance on the same hack--opposite direction, though--next and just had a nice relaxing ride with him. He seemed quite happy so that was all I did with him.

Toby showed no interest in being worked so I just let him be for the day. Instead, I walked out on the trails to clear away some of the trees and branches that had falled out there. I had to take detours with both Tuck and Chance to get around some of the debris, so I wanted to clear it out. It was a fairly easy job and I didn't need the saw or clippers to do the work.
Fed the Boys and came back in to take some pic of the kitties. Not the best shots, but at least they can be Internet stars for the day.
From the top, DJ. Then left, Reggie, with Scooter in the background. And finally, Church, the gray kitty.


Happy Halloween, A Day Late

Came home from school with my prize--I won the best costume by a teacher at school. (Will post pic of the costume on a hanger for you as I cannot manage a picture of myself in said costume--unless I can figure something out.)

Fed the Boys. Fed the kitties. Nice day. Changed into my riding clothes. While the Boys ate, made myself a light supper. Ate my food. Felt a little tired so I stretched out on the sofa.

Fell asleep.

No Trick or Treaters, so on I slept for several hours.

Didn't ride.

It is OK. We have a full week off from school. We add several holidays to Election Day, the education convention, and just close down. So I am looking forward to a full stretch of 9 days with no excuse for not riding--unless it rains.

I have a bit of yard work to do too. When it snowed the other day, the tree leaves weighted down the branches and two lilac bushes and one big tree lost some limbs. Guess it's the saw, the tractor and me!!