Thursday, April 30, 2009

The "Middle Child" Syndrome

Tucker Tendancies

Tucker used to be the baby of the family. When PJ was still alive, he was the youngster. PJ was a quite confident, but not dominant elder statesman, and Toby, then the "middle child" was so alpha, he was the herd boss--so no loss of status there.

Tuck was quite happy being the baby, especially since I concentrated most of my training on him. At that time PJ was fully retired, and Toby was not really competing anymore. Still Tuck was a brat. He was and remains quite opinionated, and needs to be "asked" to do things rather than "told."

Then, PJ passed away, and Chance came into the picture as the new baby. Suddenly, Tucker became the "middle child." He cannot rise in the herd hierarchy, because Toby is too much of a boss to challenge. Thus, he needs to find a way to make his presence known in some other way.

He has decided to boss Chance around every chance he gets. To his credit, Chance is totally unfazed by any of this. He has a sunny disposition and simply gets out of Tuck's way. Every once in a while, he will defend himself with his hind feet--and he's quite quick about it--but most of the time, he just waits his turn with a gracious acceptance and doesn't seem to hold a grudge.

Tucker will choose his hay pile after Toby's selected his, herd Chance away from the barn at feeding time, and shove his way into my presence if treats are at hand. I'm sure he thinks he'd like to be herd boss, but I am not at all sure he has the sense of responsibility that requires. After all, the herd boss needs to keep on the lookout for danger and lead the charge should there need to be one. Herd bosses are on the alert and not so distracted by their stomachs that they eat instead of bossing. Tuck prefers to assess most situations from afar, and, when his stomach is involved, forgets almost everything else.

Chance has no interest at all in "moving on up." He has such a sense of self-confidence, contentment, and independence he is just fine hanging out with "The Boy" or hanging out by himself. He will play with anyone who decides to join him in a game or has fun tossing the playball, rolling a barrel, or dragging something around the paddock all by his lonesome.

Tucker watches all this with a curious eye and often, if I am working Chance, a jealous eye. It's clear he would prefer to be the center of attention. But he just has to settle for being the center of the herd.

Middle child--a bit on the lazy side, but full of creative ambition. That's my boy.


Must Be Getting Old

Fell alseep on the couch after dinner. Woke up at 2 AM. Went out to give the Boys their "midnight snack." They were all sleeping out in the paddock.

Maybe we are all getting old.

At least I had my breeches on. My intent was there.

Nothing interesting to report otherwise. At least it was a nice day.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Three Peat

Hot Again

Over 90F when I got home from school. I don't need to tell you I didn't ride again, do I?

Freshmen are in the 9th grade, first year of high school here. Grades 1-8 are considered elementary school. Students are 14-15 years old.

Sophomores are in the 10th grade, second year of high school, 15-16 years old.

Juniors are in the 11th grade, third year of high school 16-17 years old.

Seniors are in the 12th grade, fourth year of high school 17-18 years old.

They can then graduate and go on to higher education in a college or university. Here in the US, a college is essentially the same thing as a university, but it's just organized and stuctured differently as a smaller less diverse campus kind of thing. I went to Douglass College which was a part of the larger Rutgers University here in New Jersey.

Hot but not totally intolerable in school today. The kids were complaining, but I was OK for the most part. Then again, I did take a break in an air conditioned room in the afternoon for a while.

A few of those "annoying things" happened today to just kind of confirm to me that my decision to retire now is right. Student left my class without a pass after I told him "no," another student pulled the door shut on a fellow teacher after the fire drill and then gave me lip when I corrected him. delivery man nearly drove over some students during the fire drill as they were crossing the driveway to get to the parking lot where they were supposed to gather, and I found out that I will have to give up my classroom again for special testing despite the principal's promise it would not happen again. Nothing big, but enough to disturb my contentment.

Stacie is going to buy the horse if she passes the vet. This is a three year old from a very reliable breeder, so hopefully all will go well. No more be said until it's settled.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Nah, I'm a Wimp

Hot Again

OK, so I roasted all day in my classroom. Wasn't quite as bad as it gets in June, but it was not pretty. Had on my shorts and a sleeveless top.

Still, we were reading Shakespeare, so I suppose I can survive. Romeo and Juliet with the freshmen, Hamlet with the juniors, and Taming of the Shrew with the sophomores. Best thing is that, by and large the kids are excited with the plays. Cool!!

I think, from what was said at the teachers' meeting after school today, that the State test results are in. We did not, apparently, meet the set goals for our overall scores in language arts, but I am not too surprised as we were already scoring quite high, so to increase those scores was a pretty high goal. Still, I will wait for the results to see where my kids are before I say much more.

If you haven't yet figured it out, I did not ride AGAIN. Aside from the fact that I was toast, it just isn't fair asking the Boys to work while they still are in partial winter coats, and the weather is totally summer. Tucker looked as if he had sweated during the day as did Chance. Toby didn't look as if he had much, but he does not always play when the other guys do.

Chance will get to ripping around the paddocks like a madman and Tucker will leap and buck with equal energy. Toby is rather more sedate, but can get into the games just fine, thank you. However, I do suspect he has a lot more sense about rollicking about when it is 90 degrees out.

All three were in the shady front paddocks when I got home, though, so someone had made some reasonable decisions. In the summer, they tend to hang out in the barn to avoid the flies, but this time of year, before the bugs abound, the nice shady trees make a good place to spend the sunnier parts of the day.

I don't have a lot of good grazing, as I've noted before, but for the last two days, the Boys have not been cleaning up the hay I put out for them. They must be finding enough grass to satisfy at least part of their needs. Regardless, I will still put out the hay as the last thing I ever want around here is hungry horses.

Tomorrow will be hot again, and then on Wednesday, it's supposed to moderate. There will be some rain too, but that's OK. The hot sun dried everything out to an extreme. We could actually use a little rain.

Not that I seem to be "into" the riding at the moment anyhow. Three very rideable horses, and I don't seem to be able to motivate myself during the week.

My friend Stacie has a line on another horse. As before, this one sounds good, but I won't post too much more until something pans out one way or the other. Once more, I am hoping for the best.

I'll let you all know as soon as I find out!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Who Woulda Thunk

Over 90 and Holding

When I came out of church today and got in my car, the thermometer read 98F. The thermometer on my garage, sitting in the sun is now reading 108F.

The only saving grace is that it is not humid the way it often is in the midst of summer.

I turned the air conditioning on here in the house.

The Boys seemed to have enough sense to seek shade out there, but when I got home, Toby was in the new run-in shed while Tucker and Chance stood outside in the sun looking at him. A bit later, I saw that Tucker had gone in the shed too. I told Chance he had several nice options: run in sheds east and west of the barn, and all the trees in the front paddock. Not sure he took me up on the suggestions.

If it cools off for the evening, I might go out to lunge a little, but we shall see.

I did go to lunch after church. My choir director/organist had some surgery on Monday last week and he and his wife met us all at one of our favorite restaurants. He looks really good and I was glad to see how well he is recovering. I will be going over to their house during the week to rehearse a small duet I will be singing in next week's athem with another friend from the choir. I am sure, by then, he will be even better. Thank you, God, for his health.

I am dreading school already and will dig out my bermuda shorts and a sleevless top. I will still look "put together," and I might even be a little more comfortable. Looks as if we will have two days in the upper 80's before it rains again and cools off to the 60's again.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Snakes Alive!

Just What Were They Doing?

After I picked up my order of high fat grain, worked on some rewriting of the script, and then mowed the lawn, I went out to ride the Boys.

It was still around 80 out, so I was in a sleeveless top. I opted for trail rides all around so as not to stress the horses too much, as they still are not fully shedded out.

Toby and I went out first and just as we ended the little loop out to the woods trail, I saw a snake ahead of us. A second later one snake kind of whipped off and the other one raised its head and started shaking its tail like a rattle. Don't panic. We do not have any poisonous snakes around here and certainly no rattle snakes. This was, I think, either a black snake or, more likely, from what I have researched, a speckled king snake. Or, rather a pair of king snakes. One can only surmise what the two of them might have been doing before I arrived.

We did not get close enough for me to really tell as Toby spooked pretty badly and really didn't want to get to close. I don't blame him. While I am not afraid of snakes, this one was really showing an aggressive attitude, standing up to a 1200 pound horse. We cut through the trees and finished up a nice, snakeless rest of the ride.

I took Tucker out next. He was a bit spooky heading into the woods from the field, but otherwise a good boy. The snake was still there when we got back to the trail near the barn, so we to had to detour through the trees.

The snake was still there...I guess basking in the nice patch of sun--when I took Chance out, so once more we started out through the trees. One more nice ride finished off my evening perfectly.

Incredible weather. I do hope it cools off as predicted for the week, though, because my classroom is an oven. I am not looking forward to very many hot days before the end of June.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Birthday Dinner

Lovely Night Out

Shelley, George and I had a super nice dinner at the Bernardsville Inn tonight. I took a chance and ordered buffalo. It was quite tasty.

Nothing again with the Boys as I had to leave for dinner quite early. With the rush hour traffic, it was over and hour's drive to the inn.

The weekend forecast is for temperatures in the 80's F. No plans at the moment, but I certainly hope to ride. I tend to think it will be a "take it easy" weekend with that kind of heat. The Boys are still not fully shedded out, so they have winter coats left. Somehow I suspect I will be doing some bathing before the sun sets on Sunday.

The play is having some rocky moments. Some of the actors who had roles will not be able to play them again and we almost had a total disaster trying to replace the lead. However, as of the end of the school day, things seem to have sorted themselves out.

I do, however, need to do some script revision. The drama teacher/director made some very good suggestions about the last scenes and after some good puzzling, I think I have worked out a way to accomodate her critique while, at the same time, I can make the script even stronger. And, I think I can write myself out of the show by elminating the character I am slated to play. If I make the alterations the way I'd like, that character becomes superfluous and too trivial to be needed.

Hopefully I can make the revisions during the weekend. I love a writing challenge!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Nothing Special

But a Good Birthday Anyhow

It rained most of yesterday, so I never did ride. The Boys were quite content about that and just kind of hung out around the barn, staying dry for a change. I made myself some tacos and relaxed for the evening.

No biggie as I am going out to dinner with my friends Shelley and George another day to celebrate. Shelley and I share the same birth year and our birthdays are just about a month apart, so we will go out and have a good time together.

I did receive some nice phone calls, some nice Internet greetings, and lots of "Happy Birthdays" from my students at school. The best greeting was a card one of my classes got and all of them signed it. It was a Peanuts gang card, completely suited to them and I was really moved by their taking the time and effort to remember me that way.

I showed "The Lorax" in all my classes to recognize Earth Day and held a drawing in each class to give out a prize to one lucky student who had answered all the trivia questions about me correctly. All told, there were only about 12 students who had all the right answers. They all, however, listened pretty intently as I explained about how public the Internet was and how they all needed to be cautious and prudent about what they write on forums, chats, and, of course, sites like Facebook. I have a feeling a lot of them did some second guessing about the kinds of things they "say" on the Web. So, that lesson was a good one too.

Had some shopping to do after school today and choir practice as well, so once again, The Boys had the night off. I guess as long as school is in session, riding will be off and on. And things are only going to get busier as my play is going to be presented again for five performances soon. I have some press releases to write and a little "tweaking" of the script along with upcoming rehearsals.

Speaking of the play, apparently it stirred up quite a controversy at the publising company I submitted it to. A group of editors there were very moved by it, but the chief editor felt the play had to be toned down for their clientle. I would be fine with that, but the general consensus is that it would significantly change the play. On that, I am not keen. I know the play is very powerful and now I have confirmation from the editors who read it. However, it is not suitable for their company. Today the editor who contacte me agreed that it was better for me to try to sell it elsewhere and even gave me a good lead. She also said, "It's hard to let go of a chance to publish this work." Wow!

I think I do need the right publisher--one who is ready, willing and able to take on a painful drama that tells it like it is without sugar coating. There is no overt violence in the play, but the circumstances--deaths from teenage driving accidents--are not pretty. In case you weren't here when I discussed this before, the story focuses on a TV reporter's exploration of a stretch of roadway strewn with roadside memorials to traffic victims. Throughout the play, the ghosts of the victims tell their stories as still living people visit their memorials. The ghosts are caught in the day of their deaths and while we can hear their voices, the living cannot. The stories of their lives and dreams, along with their tragic deaths make for some truly touching moments.

The idea of the play was to get teenagers to think about safe driving without preaching to them. It confronts them with the consequences without making any judgments and no lectures. I am going to be very interested to see how the new audiences react. The first performance was before a select group. This time, students from schools all around the area will be there. And we are going to offer two evening performances for the general public.

It is going to be an exciting couple of weeks.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Birthday Musings

What's In a Name?

Loved all my fellow bloggers posts about horse names. As I noted in a few comments, I generally keep the horse's name as it was when he came, unless, like Toby, (AKA Arts Ruler) there just doesn't seem to be much personality in it.

So, I have owned Russell R., Idaboy (Who died of colic)--renamed Sudden Impulse, PJ's Folly, To Be Or Not to Be--Toby, Doitright Tobe, and Romantic Chance. I keep my horses forever, so that's why in my nearly 40 years of real ownership I have not had dozens of horses.

But what's in a name anyhow? I mean, how many of us actually call our horses by their proper names? Instead, if you are anything like me, you probably use petnames instead.

Well, for example: Russell R. Russely Wussely, The Big R., Double R, RBars, Russelotomus (after he went swimming in a pond), and I'm sure if I think on it, I'll remember a few more.

PJ's Folly: Mr. Folly, Follymus, Mr. Fol, Peege, Monsieur Le Fol, Peegerino.

Toby: Wobester, The Wobe, Wobie, Tobie Wobie, The Ster, or just, Ster.

Tucker: Tuckaruck, Tuckster, Tuckeroo, Tuckabuck, Tuck.

Chance: Chanceypants, Little Man, The Pantsman.

There are many other nicknames that seem to fall from my lips when I am with The Boys. Heaven knows what they are calling me. *lol*

Monday, April 20, 2009

Just In Case

Birthday Trivia

Just in case my students find this blog on the Internet challenge I have posed for them, I will tell you all I currently own three horses.

Toby, To Be Or Not To Be, is a 19 year old chestnut Thoroughbred gelding. He competed in dressage up to Intermediare I. He is currently semi-retired.

Tucker, Doitright Tobe, is a 9 year old bay Thoroughbred gelding. He is in training for second level dressage and is working on third level movements.

Chance, Romantic Chance, is a 6 year old chestnut American Warmblood. He is working on training level dressage in the arena and absolutely loves to go out on trail rides.

I have been riding since 1962 when I was in the 7th grade. That might or might not help you answer another question. My birthday is April 22, for all my blogger friends. That's Wednesday.

It's raining today, so the horse activities will probably be limited. But I will drop by later to fill you in on anything else of interest.

Note: My students have been given a trivia challenge about me. This all began from a discussion my friends and I had over lunch on Sunday. My choir director looked up my name on the Internet and found a whole bunch of listings about me. As we all talked, it dawned on us how public our lives have become with the Internet. Comments made on forums, etc. seem to linger in cyberspace forever. I gave my students 5 questions about me to see if they can come up with the answers. Much of the information can be found on the Internet (this blog, for instance) but they will have to do a little clever sleuthing on their own to figure out the other answers.

I plan on using the worksheet to inspire a little class lesson on Internet safety and make them aware of how "public" their activities on the Internet actually are.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunny Sunday

And Just a Little Work

As vacation wound down, I just chilled out for most of the sunny day. Church in the morning, then out to lunch with my friends from choir. Home to work a little on my grades for the marking level at school, and finally out to the Boys.

I'd gone to bed late because a film, "The Whale and the Squid" was on TV. The only reason to have stayed up to watch is because the young male lead was an actor who had been in a number of the musicals we produced at the community theatre Shelley and I used to run. Jesse Eisenberg has made quite a career for himself in the movie industry and it was nice being able to see him on TV. Quite a performance in an interesting film. Not exactly my cup of tea, but worth watching.

I ended up taking a bit of an afternoon nap, so it was kind of late when I went out to the barn. I had already decided to long line Tucker today. I wanted to get him totally through and on the bit without being on his back. I didn't do too long a session, and I gave him a good number of breaks so as not to overwork his muscles. He was really good and once I encouraged him a little with the whip, moved out quite nicely. It was a good session.

Since rain is predicted for tomorrow and Tuesday, I decided to groom the riding arena. I went over it twice to really loosen up the footing. That will help it drain better and let it dry more quickly so I can ride sooner than later.

A leisurely Sunday is not a bad thing now and then.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Boy, Was I Sore

Too Much Sawing

Had to get adjusted yet again this morning. My shoulders and upper back were really sore from the tree removal. Something you don't always notice when you are working, but the next morning....whew.

Came home, put some heat on, then, eventually went to the feed store to pick up grain. I also ordered some higher fat pellets to switch over to. In particular, Toby needs more fat and it will also help with Tucker as I can cut back on his grain and lower the sugar. Chance is fine.

Bought some pizza on the way home and had a nibble before going out to the Boys.

I was a nice warm sunny day again. I worked Tucker on a fake dressage test in the arena for perhaps 20 minutes or so after I warmed up. We did 10m circles at trot and canter, half pass at trot and canter, shoulder in, walk on a long rein, halt, reinback, "mock" canter pirouettes (kind of a little turn on the haunches in canter), and a little canter and trot lengthenings. He was on the bit and not on the bit, but that was OK. The only real bad moment came in the halt to reinback when he braced against the bit with his nose out. I worked it a few more times at then end and can see we need to work a little more on the reinback as he tends to take an irregular step now and then which makes him toss his head a little. It will sort out quickly with some practice exercises.

I took him on his trail for a nice hack afterwards and again, he was just perfect.

Toby and I went out for a bit longer hack and he too was great. We only walked, but it was so nice and relaxing I enjoyed every stride. The only big disappointment was that there was evidence of a bonfire at the end of the woods trail by the edge of the field. Not such an issue except that whoever had been out there left all kinds of trash behind including a styrofoam cooler, plastic cups and other junk. Why to people think it's OK to litter the woodlands?

I saddled up Chance next and headed out. He kept pulling me towards the ridge trail above the lake out back. Since I hadn't yet gone out to clean up the terrifying bag and its trash yet, we took the upper trail where I had already carted out the white plastic chair. So that made the trail just fine and we took the longer way home, past the bonfire. When Chance saw the cooler, he stopped. I decided to get off and clean up the mess. I had been planning on going back out after I'd finished riding to clean it up anyhow, so this way, Chance had already carried me out there and all I had to do was lead him back home, saving myself an extra hike out later.

I let him stop at the horrible mound of dirt for a nice graze on the grass growing all over it and then headed back to the barn to get rid of the cooler and plastic stuff. I unloaded a few bags of grain and here I am, blogging.

This weather is addictive, but going away by Monday. Tomorrow it's cooling off a bit with some rain and then Monday it will be back in the 40's, chilly and rainy.

At least most of my vacation has had some nice weather.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Foot Service

Shoeing Day

Scott, my farrier, called last night to tell me he could come to shoe the Boys today. He asked me to leave them in their stalls for him.

Mind you, I do not have to be here for my shoer. It has always been a source of some pride for me that my horses will stand on the crossties for the farrier so no one has to hold them. Tucker was a little difficult when I first got him and even now, he can act up a little, but it's more annoying then actually dangerous. Today he was absolutely golden.

I locked them in their stalls after breakfast, but as the morning wore on, I decided, since I was home anyway to turn them back out in the glorious sunshine. I had thought about riding early, but I had no idea when Scott was coming and didn't want to be out on a horse when he arrived or to have a hot horse in hand for him to shoe.

A few hours passed. I headed outside to do some tree trimming. I have some determined trees that keep growing up along the fence in the arena, so with saw and clippers I went out to attack them. It took some good sawing and nipping to get rid of all but the stumps. Then I trimmed some of the vines and briars growing up along the fence area around the gates to the pasture. The woods just insists on trying to overgrow my place so this is a constant effort. I cleaned a nice area--there is much more to do--and finally pooped out. Hey, I ain't as young as I used to be!! (My 60th birthday is next week.)

Back in the house, I fielded a phone call from another mortgage lender, had a snack and kind of vegged out for a while. Sometime after noon, my doorbell rang, and there was Scott. Out I went to collect the horses.

Scott has a new, young (around a year old) border collie named Mic. He came out into the paddock area with me. Well, that aroused the Boys' curiosity no end and all three of them came trotting in out of the pasture to see just what that black and white critter was near their barn. So, without actually knowing it, Mic helped me bring the Boys in. He and I had a grand time playing fetch...a game that will go on to infinity with a border collie...while Scott and Kyle worked on the Boys' feet.

It was somewher around three when the shoeing was done. I let the Boys back out and came into the house. Not sure exactly what I did, but before I knew it, it was feeding time.

Fed, gave the Boys some time and went back out to lunge. I just worked Tucker and Chance this time.

The fun part was the jump I set up for the end of the sessions. This one was about 2' for Tucker and a little smaller for Chance. Tuck had a grand time until he hit the rail and then he took off bucking. He was certainly careful the next time over, so I guess he'd be pretty smart in the jumper arena about hitting the rails. As I've noted before, he also sets himself naturally for the fence, balancing himself back--except of course, when he's acting silly.

Chance was a little too relaxed on the lunge. Still, I like that better then made careening. His approach to the jump was interesting. He did break into a canter on his own, but he can't quite figure exactly where to take off. He jumps well when he places himself correctly, but has a way to go as far as developing the gymnastic skill that seems to come naturally to Tuck. The other thing that he does is not necessarily stay forward once he is over the fence. That makes his hind end trail just a bit so he would need to learn, as well, to gather and maintain a little more impulsion through the whole effort. But, I do like his casual willing attitude about the whole thing. It makes him look as if I would actually feel safe riding him over some jumps myself.

Toby was perfectly happy to accept his quota of treat carrots when I was done. He really doesn't have to do any work to earn his except to just be my Toby.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Hacking in the Woods

Three Good Boys

As I was riding Toby along the woods trail today, I recalled how, when I was ten or so, I used to play out there, riding my bike or my wooden stick horse, pretending I was galloping along on a noble steed. Fifty years later, here I was, astride a noble chestnut living the dream I'd had for as long as I could remember.

I can't recall when I first fell in love with horses, but I also cannot recall when I did not love horses. I started a savings account when I was ten, and when I graduated from college and got my teaching job--the one I am retiring from--the first thing I did was start looking for a horse of my own. I'd leased a great old fellow--Tawny--but that was not the same as my own horse. I lucked into buying Russell R. and the rest is history. I think I got to ride Russell in the woods at least once, maybe twice, so I did fulfill a portion of my dream then. But horses in the back yard and riding those trails any time I wanted to....

Of course, I don't exactly gallop around out there. My rides on Tucker are pretty sedate--all walk. I haven't really tried much more with him as he has that "explosive" streak. Toby and I trot and canter now and then. Chance seems to be the right temperament to have some fun on, though. Fact is, there really aren't too many places where the footing and distances are good enough to really go anyhow. PJ and I used to have a nice gallop along the back of the farm, and the other day, I gave Chance a nice long trot out there. I'd do more with Toby, but his tendancy to spook can make things pretty hairy as he will do it from any gait, at any speed. Call me chicken, but I'm not quite up to sitting out those dramatic moments with the security I used to have riding.

But we'll see. As I get more fit, I may play around some more. I do know that today, Chance trotted happily along the wooded trail for a bit, just because he wanted to. And he felt great doing it. I do think, though, that for more serious trail work/hacking I need to shorten my stirrups a hole or two to give me a stronger leg position for the more "cross country" kind of work. I have my stirrups at dressage length and, with my knees, that doesn't give me a lot of strength in a more forward seat.

Regardless of the gaits, I had a grand time riding everyone out there today. And, to top it off, a minibike raced past in the field after Tucker and I had turned off into the woods. He just gave it and interested glance and didn't even flinch. That was pretty impressive as far as I was concerned. I gave him the extra carrot when we got back to the barn.

More frustrations for Stacie as the horse did not vet out according to her needs. She is going to get a second opinion on the xrays, but from what she's told me, it doesn't look too good. Bummer. He seems to be a really nice horse.

Meanwhile, our former trainer, Chris, called her to say he has an older schoolmaster for her to lease/buy if she is interested. This horse is supposed to be schooled to 3rd-4th level. That might work out as a temporary solution, but she really does want something younger that can offer her many years of riding.

Things were looking so promising. Now it's back to almost square one. If only we were in Britain, I'd get Caroline looking for her. She seems to find good horses every place she goes!! *G*

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Another Rainy Day

Is This How Retirement Will Be?

I needed another chiropractor appointment this morning as my neck was threatening again. Not sure still why I have these episodes. Then I will go for weeks with almost no problem at all.

So off I went amidst the morning showers. I was cold again too, so nothing lost on the outside activities front. Oh yes, but before that, I spent some time on the phone talking to a mortgage lender to see if I could refinance as I've been trying to do for quite some time. This one looks good, but at this point, I never count on anything before the last paper is filed.

Then I went to the chiropractor, and afterwards to the pet food store to get some more dry cat food to keep my kitties happy. Once I was there, I realized I had forgotten to bring my car and trailer registrations due for annual renewal. The Motor Vehicle agency is in the same shopping complex as PetSmart, of course, so there I was 50 feet away from the agency, without my paperwork.

Headed back home and considered renewing the registrations online, but decided since I had all day and it was still raining that I might as well head back. This time I also took my special $10 birthday certificate to spend a Kohl's (this addictive clothing store far too close to the chiropractor) and my Barnes and Noble bookstore gift cards.

Motor Vehicle took about 20 minutes maximum. They have really managed to streamline most of the procedures, so with all my paperwork already completed getting the new registrations was a breeze--although a bit of an expense. *sigh*

Now before those of you who do not live in the USA misunderstand, please be aware that commercial areas in New Jersey are rife with stores. Highway 18, where I was, has one shopping mall after another, so no great distance traveling was involved in any of this adventure. I would say from one store to the last was only about three miles, maybe four.

I spent my money at Kohl's--more than the $10 of course, but it all was on sale--a nice pair of black Bermuda shorts and some soft, lightweight tops. Then I decided to head over to the school because I was pretty sure I had left my coat there the last day of school before break. Fortunately the building was full of custodians so I got in without much trouble, and sure enough, found my coat in the teachers' lounge where I'd left it.

Then I went to Barnes and Noble, just behind the school, and used one of my gift cards to get some extra copies of Romeo and Juliet so I can teach it to my freshmen. (I ordered books through the school last year and they never showed up. I needed a few more so I'd have enough for each student.) With my teacher discount, I got a nice price.

Then, I went to the supermarket to pick up some garbage bags, pickles and tea. (I made up a song so I would remember my list.)

The interesting thing about the drive home was that, on the road I take every day from school, which drives me crazy each weekday, I was perfectly calm, despite some of the "creepy crawler" drivers I kept getting behind. I guess when I am not working the drive is not quite so annoying.

H-m-m-m-m-m. Could it be that the pressure of school affecte me even more than I suspect?

I've just fed the Boys, and the rain has stopped, but again, it is really wet out there. Considering that I still have a few days left, and the weather is going to take a drastic change for the better, I will just let my neck rest and let them enjoy themselves in the pasture.

It was kind of cute, though, as when I pulled in to the driveway, Toby was alone in the front paddock, as if he were waiting for me to come home. I'd like to think that, but it's hard to tell. Tuck and Chance were way out in the pasture, far from him, but he didn't seem to mind, so maybe he really was waiting for me. At any rate, when I made my way to the feed room, he bounced around a bit as if he was excited to see me and went right into his stall to enjoy his dinner.

To my surprise, Dr. Klayman was generally pleased with all my Boys' weights. We figure Tucker could lose about 50 pounds which should happen as he gets fit, Chance is just fine, and Toby looks good too, although I would like to see him a little heavier. The trick with him, though, is that as he has aged and lost his "dressage muscle" all of his angles are much more defined. He does not have the muscular "roundness" he had when he was competition fit, and he is definitely looking like an older horse age 19 and semi-retired, can be expected. I was a bit surprised as my Boys are on the tubby side, but apparently Dr. Klayman likes them that way.

So much for the Wednesday report. Looking forward to a drier Thursday.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Doesn't Look Too Promising

A Horsey Morning, Nonetheless

It has been raining off and on all day. It is also chilly...cold....not at all nice out there.

The first event of the morning was the arrival of the chimney sweeps. Fine, except that, according to them, my chimney, which is over 60 years old, needed a new liner. OK, fine, except that I had to borrow the money from my home equity line to pay for it. That's OK, except it messed up some other plans, so now I have to modify again. Until I retire and settle into my new income format, things are tight. Once I retire, they will actually be a bit better and then get even better as time goes on. For now, I am in a hole I would prefer not to be in. But I guess the chimney will be OK.

Then, five minutes before the scheduled 10:30 AM appointment, my veterinarian showed up. I have never had a horse vet so prompt about regular appointments. Except in the rare case of an emergency which holds him up, he is here at the appointed time.

Three horses. Teeth floating, inoculations, sheath cleaning, and, coggins test. Don't know if the coggins is in Europe too, but here, horses must be tested for Equine Infectious Anemia before it can be transported across state lines, and before it can compete. This year they have added a photograph to the test for better identification. So each horse had to pose for three photos as well as have blood drawn for the test.

I will admit, that for nearly every procedure, all three boys were just fine. Of course, they were tranquilized to take the edge off. For two of his back teeth, Tucker needed another dose as he started to fight the vet when the file was far back into his mouth. Dr. Klayman said that is very common and just worked through it. Since Tucker is SO tall, fighting with him was just too hard so the extra tranquilizer helped a lot.

Chance was a good boy, which is quite a change from the first time he was floated when he needed several doses of tranquilizer just so we could handle him. This time, he was actually cooperative. Our only problem with him was the strangles vaccine. By then, the tranquilizer had started to wear off. The vaccine is administered in the horse's nose. Chance wanted none of that. Both Dr. Klayman and I were tossed around the stall a bit before he managed to wrestle Chance's nose and get the medication in. He said later he has complained to the company that the tubes are too skinny and fatter ones would bother the horses a lot less, but his suggestions have fallen on deaf ears.

I'm glad we saved Toby for last because he was an absolute star for everything. Dr. Klayman calls him "The Prince," and once more he showed his royalty with impeccable behavior. Experience and a truly accepting dispostition make him the perfect patient.

It was well after noon time, going on one, by the time we'd finished. After the doctor left, I waiting until I was sure the tranquilizers had worn off, put the sheets back on the horses, and just turned them out.

I doubt, considering the weather, that I will do much more with the Boys today. For April, it feels more like March. *shiver*

A note about Stacie: Stacie is a good friend who lost the use of her sweet warmblood, Lucky, due to arthritic changes in his ankle. She spent a fortune, both emotionally and financially, trying to get him sound after a bone bruise to his foreleg had caused some bone to die. Lucky had surgery and a super long recovery only to end up permanently lame from his ankle issues--perhaps somehow accelerated by the surgery. Regardless, she retired Lucky on her farm, keeping a close eye on him to see how comfortable and happy he can be, and then began a quest for a new horse. The search has had its ups and downs, but more downs than ups, so the possible purchase of Sedona will be a really special event.

Stacie truly loves her horses and loves the challenge of riding and learning. I am hoping she has a last found a new partner to join her on her adventures into the world of dressage.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Much Better, Thanks

And I Shared A Lovely Day

I was miserable last night. My neck issue dissolved into a really bad headache, enough to keep me up nearly all night. Ice, heat and ibuprophen in a heavy dose helped, but not enough. What a blessing to get to the chiropractor in the morning.

Dr. Morris used the activator on me today. This is a very specific type of adjustment that pinpoints the exact spots that need attention. I was right about C5, but C2 was the real culprit, causing more of the pain. Once I was adjusted and iced, I felt better, but not perfect. I did manage to stop at Wendy's on the way home for some chicken nuggets, so at least I was able to eat.

I rested for a while after I got back home. Then Stacie called to tell me all about the horse she tried out in Ohio. He is an 11 year old Hanovarian, with some good training under his belt and she really liked him a lot. Again all will depend upon the vetting and confirmation of a sale with the owner, but we're both hopeful this will be the horse. I only have one picture of him with her, but she hopes to post some video on Youtube. If so, I'll fill you all in. Here they are together.

He looks cute, and Stacie says he is a lovely mover. I am keeping my fingers crossed for her.

Then, the phone rang again and it was my accountant telling me my income tax forms were ready to go. I drove over to sign the paper for E-filing which means the forms will be processed through the computer and my refund will be directly deposited in my bank account. Sweet. That is some of my retirement "extra" fund.

Got home and finally managed to get out to the barn. Since my vet is coming tomorrow for annual inoculations, etc. I needed to do at least a cursory tidying up out there. I got a bit carried away, but at least it looks neat. The whole barn needs a super good spring cleaning and I have a pile of blankets/sheets in various stages of ripped and non-ripped that need sorting. Some are totaly losses, and some need repair. I can to most of the repair work myself. Guess I will be very busy after I retire.

Chance came in the barn to snoopervise, so I haltered him and set out to ride, planning on doing a school in the arena. But, oh my goodness, what a lovely cool and sunny day it was. Out we went on a nice hack instead. I took him all the way back past the flooding and along the back field of the farm we are trying to save. There we had a nice trot/canter and just enjoyed the sunshine. We hacked back through the woods and, with Chance grabbing a mouthful of tree sprigs along the way for a snack, just had some good fun.

I rode Tucker in the arena for about 25 minutes of schooling. When I was riding Chance out the other day, I felt myself weighting my right stirrup and sure enough, on Tucker, I was doing the same thing! (Mary Lou, I do the same thing wrong myself. No wonder I can tell when someone else does it. *G*) As a consequence, he was hollow to the right and a little stiffer to the left--meaning mostly that he wrapped around my right leg, but was not wrapping around my left. I focused the rest of my ride on being even and not allowing my seat to weight too heavily to the right. Ah, well, riding is a continual evolutionary process. Just wish I could evolve faster. *sigh*

After the school, I took Tuck out on "his" hack as well. He was a good boy, but I did have to laugh. The evil mound of dirt that scared him over the winter, has some nice patches of lush green grass growing on it. Though it evokes bad habits, I have let both Toby and Tucker graze on it, and I call it "stopping at the salad bar." Today Tucker was so enthusiastic, he started to climb up the mound to get the grass on top. So much for the "scary, killer mound of death!" Apparently his stomach commands all fear.

By the time I finished up with Tuck and emptied the wheelbarrow, I was cooked, so Toby had the day off, something I don't think he minded at all.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Pain in the Neck

Again....And Windy....Again

But, I still sang in church and the two little solo parts were just fine. We've done the piece many times before so it's never a matter of knowing the music, but just whether or not my voice will be in good form. With the church full of flowers, and my allergies, you never quite know. One note was just a little hoarse...not so the congregation would notice, but so that I would. There was just a hint of congestion in my throat, but all that means is I have to push more air through to compensate. It was just fine.

However, my neck is really annoying me again. Same as Saturday, but not quite as bad. I have a feeling I know exactly which vertebrae is out again: C5. Annoying critter. I don't quite have a headache, thank goodness, but there is a definite twinge and the threat of one. Guess it's off to the chiropractor again tomorrow.

And, although it was a nice day, although a bit chilly for Easter Sunday, the wind picked up as the afternoon wore on. I finally decided to just lunge again.

Tucker went out first and he was really focused on me today. What a good boy. He does tend to be a bit lazy on the line, as always, but once I started doing some quick trot/canter/trot transitions, he sharpened up. He was giving me an almost instant response to the voice commands for each gait. He's not usually that quick to the command, but perhaps the carrot treats in my pocket motivated his behavior. He was a star.

Then I lunged Chance. What a cutie. He too started out a bit lazy, but a snap of the whip encouraged him to move out nicely. That is, until we got to the canter on the left lead. You would think you were watching a slow motion film! He was totally relaxed, and, to my surprise, actually keeping a good canter rhythm. But forward? Energy? None. One more snap of the whip and he decided to make some effort. Silly boy. I think he was just playing with me. His right lead is not as balanced so he tends to go more forward naturally, but that's his "hard" lead so he did break once and pick up the left lead for a circle before I got him sorted out again.

I didn't work Toby as he seemed quite disinterested in making any effort, but I gave everyone a carrot anyhow. The rule is a carrot after you work, but Toby deserves one just for being Toby.

Now if I can only get my neck right and the weather holds for a day or so, I may get some more saddle time in.

Meantime, hope you all had a Happy Easter. The promise of renewal and new beginnings always makes the season special. May it bring you fresh energy and optimism.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Fessing Up on a Rainy Day

Not Much Going On On a VERY Rainy Day

Mary Lou noted perhaps I could stretch my knees a bit to help with the soreness. I thought I'd fill you all in on that. My knees are a wreck. I do not have an ACL in either one of them. Since that's the ligament that stabilizes the joint, you might get a hint of what goes on.

I had surgery on both of them as well to trim the damaged cartilege but opted out of the surgery to reconstruct the ACL, mostly because of the extended recovery time and because my right knee had been servicable for years without the ACL already. I went through months of physical therapy to strengthen the leg muscles after surgery and it only helped a little. Then, blessing of blessings, I found Dr. Magaziner who does some "state of the art" treaments that help enough to keep me going.

First, he does prolotherapy, which actually is like an internal blister to cause the remaining ligaments to tighten to help hold the joint in place. And he does Platelet Rich Plasma and Stem Cell injections to help heal and regrow the damaged cartilege. I am featured in the video on his website at talking about how his treaments have helped me. That's me in the turquoise top on the opening page. (Not too flattering pics, but then again, that's me.)

As long as I can ride and do the basic stable work, I'll keep going this route. Otherwise, I suspect knee replacements are in my future. Again, I keep hoping the recovery time will drop as advances are made since I am the caretaker of my critters and finding someone else to take over for a while is not exactly easy.

So far, it's been raining all day. I did have to go back to the chiropractor this morning and my neck is still in its recovery phase, but the weather is not inviting enough to matter.

I debated about putting the Boy's sheets back on and left them off. Good fellows that they are, they seem to be hanging out under the various run in shed roofs available to them. But, when I just looked out now, Chance had been pushed out of the shed, so I went out and put sheets on everyone. It is a little chilly, and I'll have to monitor the temperatures for later tonight as well.

I also just gave everyone a nice little bucket of alfalfa hay cubes, an apple, and two flakes of hay to keep them satisfied until dinner in a few more hours. Times like this, as the rain keeps falling, having the Boys out the back door is a treasure. I know they are dry, well fed, and content.

Friday, April 10, 2009

I Love My Boys

And I Love A Day Off

Hard to believe that in a matter of less than three months, I will be retired. and every day will have the potential to be like today.

To start off with, the weather was perfect. Despite the fact that my neck was bothering me again, I fed the Boys in the morning and came back in to just hang out for a while. I fell back asleep, which was good, ate lunch, and then headed out to the barn.

Since there was no sound of ATV's anywhere, I decided it was perfect for some riding in the woods. As before, Toby was quite willing to be caught, so I brought him in, saddled up, and soon we were out for a nice hack. Because the ground and footing were really good with no mud, we trotted nearly the full length of the road along the field, all the way to the area of the flooding. It is, thank goodness, dry back there but we didn't ride the long way around and instead headed back through the woods. Lovely, lovely. Lovely weather, lovely horse, lovely ride.

I opted for Tucker next and to my surprise, as soon as I was in the saddle, he too headed for the gate out to the woods, clearly letting me know he wanted to go out too. I rode him in the arena for a little while first. I am concentrating on getting him to always think "forward" no matter what. We had a couple little issues where, when I put my aid on to get him to do a quarter pirouette, he stopped, but once he figured out exactly what I wanted, he was fine.

After some trot/canter transitions, I decided, just for the heck of it to try some half steps. This was how Lockie Richards introduced piaffe. The idea is to, for a few strides, super collect the trot so the horse is still keeping the trot rhythm but only stepping forward about a half stride, or less. Once again, Tuck stopped the first time, then figured it out and, sure enough, gave me about five really good efforts. Once, he actually trotted right in place for three or four strides, a baby piaffe! I praised him mightily so he knew he was doing the right thing and headed out to the woods. We rode the "Tucker Trail" to perfection and he seemed really bouncy and happy to be out there.

The best was yet to come as I saddled up Chance. I figured this weekend the ATV's will be out in full force so he needed to go out on a hack too. I took the same trail I took Toby on but it was even better. I started Chance off on a trot along the field. He stretched out into a soft, long, trot and then kind of rolled into a really nice, controlled and utterly comfortable canter. What easy gaits he has! The canter was so nice to ride and, when I asked him to come back before we reached the downhill section, he was completely responsive. His head was a little up, but he never fought the rein and came right back to me.

We headed into the woods trail for the way back and he was just walking out with a nice bounce in his stride. Somewhere along the way, it hit me that I haven't had that kind of fun on a horse in a while. Toby is an experienced trail horse, but he will spook unexpectedly at things, so I am always a little wary when I am out on him. Tucker?? Well, the less said the better, but he is not exactly a relaxing ride either. With Chance, I get that old, "Let's just have some fun," feeling. It encourages adventuring and trying new things. A little more training to fully establish his contact on the bit and I won't hesitate taking him out anywhere to ride. It's been a while since I've had that kind of horse.

So, for each one, a special place in my heart.

The duet went really well last night. Now I have a small solo part for Easter morning--two services, one at 8:30 AM, and on at 10:30 AM. Then I have the full week off to do whatever I want!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Off To the Chiropractor

Wednesday Neck

I am going through one of those "phases" when my neck acts up. So it was off to the chiropractor after school.

I was chilly and windy again, not as awful as Tuesday, but not exactly inviting....until the sun came out close to sunset. I did not ride, but I thought about it, so that's a good start. I am finding that if I do not get out there as soon as I get home from school, I am not likely to manage much with the horses as long as the weather is not inviting.

Tonight I will be singing in church, so it's hard to say if I will have time when I get home. It will be a tight schedule. Tonight is also the night for the duet, so I will need to get to the pre-service rehearsal a little early.

This morning, I decided--based on what I hope is an accurate weather forecast--to take the Boys' sheets off. Tucker thought about making a fuss. I growled at him and he ran out of the stall. Apparently kicking the gate and having it fall, just about the same time as I growled at him yesterday left an impression. I'll have to see if his behavior continues.

Regarding Tucker and ulcers: I treated him for ulcers last year with great success. I have new medication on order to do another round, just to be sure he is not having issues again. I should know within a week or so of treatment as to whether he may be having a flare up. He is definitely not as touchy as he was before his first treatment, so if anything is bothering him it is minimal compared to before. As I begin to really leg him up, I will monitor his attitude. He is an emotional fellow, regardless, with strong opinions about almost everything. Quite a puzzle to work out no matter what.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Cold and Windy

This is Getting Really Old

Thunderstorms one day, then cold and windy the next.

Hey, Mother Nature, it's April! Did you forget?

The Boys were careening around the paddock by the barn this morning. Chance was on the outside and Toby and Tucker were on the inside. I noticed the fence was nearly entirely down between the little paddock and the larger one. H-m-m-m-m. Wonder how that happened? Since it's slip board, as long as the posts are intact, it's an easy fix. I'll check on that later. No biggie as there is no real need for the fence to hold anyone in or out of that area.

Then when I fed, I decided I'd better check to see if Tucker had both shoes still on. I went in his stall and...well, Mr. Smart Aleck kicked out in my general direction! He hit his metal stall gate an knocked it off the hinge, scaring himself and probably getting a good rap. Good thing as a good rap from me was next on the agenda, but not needed as he charged back out of the stall to kind of stand there looking a bit sheepish.

That is, if Tucker could acutually look sheepish. He is generally too arrogant for that, but I am sure he knew he had committed a grievous error this time.

Often, when he is eating, if I go into the stall, he will cock a leg and even do a little under the belly cow kick, so I keep a good eye on him and give him instant negative feedback. I guess I will have to be more aggressive from now on until he learns his proper place and manners. Between that and his tendancy to bite when I am changing his blankets, I would not say he is the kindest of horses. I have always corrected him for the bad behavior, but some horses just have an ingrained habit like that and never quite get over it.

My Russell R. was a mouthy baby and would bite. I used every technique I could find in every book, reference source, and suggestion available. All I ever accomplished was to teach him not to bite when someone was looking at him. Turn your back and you were at risk. It was never really nasty, but there he was ready to, in his mind, play. It had all turned into a big game of "catch me if you can."

I don't think Tucker will ever see it as a game. and he stops after I correct him. It's just those moments when his instinct engages before his brain thinks it through.

By the by, Kenny Harlow's correction for a biter at last note was to grab his nose. This is kind of a "bite back." I have found that using my fingers in a sharp jab, or pinch on the horse whereever I can "get him" is just as effective mostly because I am never quite quick enough to grab his nose. So, by doing that, it's "You bite at me, and I am definitely going to bite you back, and I won't miss." Pretty successful so far.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Rain, Rain, Came to Stay

Thunderstorms All Day Long???

I think so, except that from my classroom windows I can't see a darn thing. I did hear the thunder, and the rain was pounding on the roof. Nasty stuff.

I think it's finally clearing up, but the footing is way too soggy out there. I had the Boys closed out of the pasture all day. It sits on a very exposed hill and I'd rather they not be out there when it storms. I think Tucker just came back in from the arena after checking to see if I'd opened the pasture gate yet.

Nope. I am not quite sure the weather has really broken yet. There is more rain in the forecast and it still has that "look and feel" of stormy weather.

On the up side, I think the Boys were out eating the shoots on the trees along my neighbor's side of the paddocks. It is horribly overgrown over there, with briars, bushes and all kinds of saplings encroaching all over my fences. I lose nearly ten feed of paddock on that side. It was far too big a job for me to trim things back and my neighbor's place is a virtual forest on that side. I figure if I didn't at least make a cursory effort to hold back the greenery, in five years or so, most of my land would return to forest.

Just behind my riding arena used to be a farm field which my grandmother farmed for years and then leased to a farmer until, I think, the mid 1960's when she sold her land to the State for the Park. Within ten years, you would never have suspected there'd ever been a field there an now, it is totally wooded with mature trees all over.

It's amazing how nature will reclaim its territory when left alone.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Don't Be Shocked!

I Rode Everybody

Well, after a mad shopping trip trying to find a pair of pants to go with the little jacket I bought yesterday. But then I found another nice jacket, and...well, let's just say I have now visited nearly every clothing store within a half hour's drive--except the three big malls that are a little more out of the way. I think I have a nice combination among the things I bought. But the weather on Easter Sunday morning will be the final determinant. I have a warm weather combo and a cool weather combo, so we shall see. I just like to have a new outfit for Easter morning, kind of as a good luck thing.

I got home by mid afternoon and headed out to ride. To my delight, Toby came right over to me, so I took him in first, promising that we would go out for a nice little hack. I didn't fib, and out we went just kind of happily strolling through the woods. It was warm and sunny, so the weather was perfect and, there are no bugs out yet. When we got back I cheated a little and rode him in the arena. Nothing too challenging, but we ended up jumping the little jump several times in each direction. He stayed nice and relaxed and let me try to place him in good spots.

Boy, have I lost my "eye" for the distance to a fence. Well, I kind of see it three strides out, but I can't seem to make the right decisions on whether to hold or go on. Ah, well, when the jump is only a foot or so high, it's hard to make a serious mistake.

I rode Tucker next and gave him a short school first. My idea is to energize him each time I ride, encouraging more "forward" by getting him a little excited about what we are doing. Today, I did a lot of changes of direction both at the trot and the canter. I am only doing about one trot stride for the lead changes, with plans to eventually introduce the flying change as he gets stronger and more fit. I rode him over the little jump as well and he is really responsive to my adjustments. Because he is more willing to balance into the fence, it is much easier to pick a better spot to jump from, so he did a bit better than Toby.

Then we too went out for a hack and had a lovely relaxing ride.

Third up was Chance. After a bit of trot with changes of direction on him, I headed for the jump and let him take it from the trot the first few times. He jumped rather well, actually, and felt good at it, so when he broke naturally into a canter, I finished up jumping a few more times from the canter.

Now, mind you, I realize that a one foot jump really is no more than an elevated canter stride--hardly a real jump at all--but when I first schooled my Russell R, we spent dozens and dozens of lessons doing cross rails and little jumps. It was all the essential schooling for jumping technique. We rarely, even after I was competing in jumping classes at 3'6" did much more than 2'-2'6" in lessons and even then warmed up over the little crossrails. It was all about gymnastics, not jumping height. So, I am just doing little things now to introduce the concept in case I ever want to jump something more challenging down the line. And, the jumping itself, is good both mentally and physically for dressage horses.

Chance and I went out into the woods as well and had a nice ride. So that was three for three.

Nothing like a nice Sunday with the Boys.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Lungeing, Lungeing, Lungeing

All Three On the Line

The wind never let up today. So I decided the safest option was to lunge the horses.

Good thought, as you shall see.

Toby seemed quite content to be caught and willingly put his head in the halter. He is by far the best horse to lunge. I bought him as a two year old and spent many hours working him in hand and long lining. The fun part was at the end when I sent him over the little jump I had set up. I love watching him jump as he is so athletic.

Chance was next. Interesting. I put him on the right rein first as that is his "bad" side. Not that he actually has a bad side any more, but he isn't quite as comfortable on that rein. He gave me some lovely canter, but after a good session, he stopped on his own, so I had to press him on. Then, when I switched to the left rein, he was short behind. His stride was quite irregular

This was an issue last summer and I had the vet look at him with no luck of finding out what was wrong. Every once in a while, he gets short behind but seems to work out of it. I suspect, because I had cantered him for quite a while that it stressed whatever bothers him. This time, I cantered him on the left lead to see if that would loosen him back up again. Sure enough, it did. That leads me to suspect he has a muscle issue in the right hind. Sometimes it flares up and sometimes not. I am hoping that if I actually get him fit it will resolve.

At the end, I sent him over the little jump too. He actually uses himself pretty nicely when he jumps, but he is also perfectly willing to simply trot over the obstacle too. If I were jumping him, that would be a good thing because he would not be a rusher and he'd stay relaxed.

Here's where the "I'm glad I didn't ride" part come in...Tucker.

In his defense, I must say that Tuck is excellent on the lunge. He did not have quite as much training as Toby when he was young, but I started him in the lines as a two year old as well. He tends to be a bit lazy out there, though, and I have to work to encourage some impulsion.

Then again, when the invisible monsters in the woods start acting up, impulsion is not the issue. Three times, Tucker spooked and bolted at at something, or nothing, in the trees. That sent him off in a mad, bucking gallop around the circle. Fortunately, despite his silliness, he did stay on the circle and I was able to hold on to the line. I was just glad I was not in the saddle.

Of the three, Tucker actually jumps the best in the sense that he rarely "comes wrong" to the fence. He adjusts his stride to meet the fence well and rarely makes an awkward effort. Of the three, I would think he'd have the most potential to be a successful show jumper. He does seem to have a good instinct for it. Alas. My showjumping days are over. Tuck is just going to have to settle for dressage.

So, all in all, I am kind of glad I chose to keep my feet on the ground today. Whenever the wind did stop blowing, it was nice and comfortable. But the Boys have their sheets on again for the night as it's supposed to chill off again.

Spring just loves to tease.

Quick Morning Post


Really windy today. On the plus side, it will dry out the mud. On the negative, I will not go out into the woods. I plan on lungeing the Boys later after I do some errands.

Thanks for the comments about my health. I do have a carbon monoxide monitor in the house, so all is well there. I have not been sleeping well for whatever reasons, some all my fault, and I am doing a lot of extra things at school to get ready for my retirement, so by the end of the day, it is more a tired body than a mind. My knees get really sore after walking on the hard floors all day which does not help. Then, when I get home, when I feed the Boys, if I sit down for my own dinner, I lose all my enthusiasm.

And the headaches...I have chronic problems with my neck. I suspect they all started from a fall when I was a child where I hit my head. But certainly a car accident where I had a sideways whiplash did not help. If I sleep "wrong" or have any kind of trauma--such as getting whacked on the cheek with a tree branch *G*--the vertebrae are likely to slip out of place. Depending on how much they slip and which nerves are irritated, I can get headaches. My chiropractor is marvelous and usually, if the headache has not yet gotten too bad, he can adjust my neck and I will be fine. Sometimes, though, it takes a day or so to get things right as the muscles have tightened and, after one set of vertebrae are adjusted, another set gets pulled out. Kind of frustrating, but I've generally figured out how to manage it. The problem comes when I start to have an issue when the chiropractor is closed. While I could call in for an emergency, usually the headache threat is not bad enough, so I wait. And the longer I wait, the more risk I run of getting a full-blown migraine.

More later as the day goes on and I do something with the Boys.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Looking Back

It Seems Ages Ago

I just looked back to when I began this blog, in 2006. Back then, I still had my PJ. Reading about him brought tears to my eyes, as I recalled the little things about him that made him so dear. He was one of those wise and kind horses who seemed to really understand the world.

Toby, now 19, has a wisdom about him, but it's just not the same. I never can quite put my finger on the difference, but PJ had an introspective seriousness about him I haven't really seen in any other horses I've owned. My Russell R. was much more of a partner and the two of us depended on each other. I always felt PJ didn't really need me, but he loved me anyhow. There was just this sense that he could always find a way to take care of himself.

Toby, I think, is a bit of a con. Often, when I go out to catch him, he will run---well, walk away. But he always stays just out of reach and I think he rather enjoys the game of "catch me if you can," as a way, perhaps of getting the upper hand. He is definitely the herd boss, so he has his own self-confidence, but he is also a spooker when I ride him. And things genuinely scare him to the point that I worry he might actually to something dangerous in his spooks.

Tucker, on the other hand, is a bad actor. He has an arrogance that constantly challenges me. At the same time, he is quite affectionate and will often just come to "hang out" with me if I am working out there. But he is always looking for an angle to see if he can get something for himself. He is sensitive, extremely intelligent and works hard to make me understand what he has to say.

Chance has no hang ups at all, except an occasional overreaction to something new. He is constantly looking for something to entertain himself, and really enjoys "helping" me with the chores whenever he can. This includes carting off the tools or tipping the wheelbarrow. At times, I think the spirit of Russell R, who was a real comedian, lurks at his shoulder, prodding him on. He truly seems to enjoy life and is quite happy to go adventuring.

As you can tell, I didn't ride again. Once more, I was simply too tired despite the lovely weather. I'm putting it off until the weekend, and then, a few more days of school and the Easter break.

I'll get out of the doldrums eventually. For now, just thinking about my amazing horses' personalities seems to be enough.

Stayed Home

Headache on the Brink

I was on the brink of a bad migraine yesterday. I tried everything to fix it before I went to school--heat, traction, Tylenol, and even a hot bath. No luck. It was going to be nasty. I finally called in to take the day off.

I managed to get a chiropractic appointment around noon. My doctor is wonderful and he adjusted me, did some acupressure, and the put some more heat on my neck. By the time I left the office I was 80% better and as the afternoon wore on, my headache/neck pain virtually disappeared.

I felt better enough to go in to school for a parent conference at the end of the day. I felt bad about not being there because the student's mother had contacted me directly to arrange the conference. The student is a lovely girl who just needs a little better organizing and some time management skills. She is in theater arts, a very difficult and time consuming profession. If she wants to succeed in college she will need to learn how to better balance her theater work with her academics. She is very artistic and creative, so I can sympathize with her difficulties as I far too often sacrifice organization to my creative impulses. However, I have, by and large, learned how to get the jobs done I need to do regardless of distractions. It is not easy, but it can be done.

After the conference, I made the "mistake" of going over to the mall by the school and visiting the shoe store where they sell at "buy one get one at half price." I ended up with four pairs of shoes. (Imelda Marcos, look out......)

Back home, it was raining and continued to rain, so even if I had entertained working the Boys, it was not exactly the weather for it.

Later, I had a rehearsal for the duet next week. We have reached the point where we can now work on the nuances of dynamics and presentation instead of worrying about the notes. My director/accompanist has put the English translation of the Latin in the church bulletin for the service, so the congregation will understand the text: "Stabat Mater dolorosa, juxta crucem lacrimosa dum pendebat filius: The sorrowful Mother stood weeping beside the cross where her Son was hanging." The statement is quite dramatic and perfect for the Maundy Thursday service.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

A Quick Report on Nothing


My neck was acting up again. Perhaps the tree branch I ran over with the tractor that popped up to whack me in the cheek might have had something to do with that.

I was on the brink of a migraine all day. Ended up going to the chiropractor instead of riding or working the Boys.

Nice day, too. TheBoys went without sheets, but I put them back on at late feed. It was going back down to the 30'sF, and sticking to the 40's today with the possibilties of showers. The temps would be OK, but I'm not keen on their getting wet when it's that chilly.

Meanwhile, my neck is still bothering me this morning. It might be just residual muscle soreness, but I'll know as the day goes on.