Saturday, August 08, 2009

Fair Weather

On A Sunny Summer Day

I got up a bit later than I'd intended but the Boys were still out in the pasture and really didn't seem to mind being fed late. As a matter of fact I managed to clean the stalls, and clean and refill the water tub before they wandered in for breakfast.

I came back into the house, ate my own breakfast and finally headed out to the County Fair, this time to see the exhibits. It is an annual tradition for me, usually accompanied by the tired kind of awareness that summer is ending and school will reopen soon. No such feelings this year, so I kind of enjoyed the experience with a new kind of pleasure.

First, the weather was almost perfect. Warmish to hot, but low humidity and an intermittent breeze--the kind of day you don't mind walking around outside.

So, what's at our fair? Well, for a start, plenty of food for sale. Sausage sandwiches, clams, shrimp, pizza, fried this and fried that, fresh made lemonade, corn on the cob, oriental kabobs, and, what I had, gyros. There is also a food tent that serves a full meal each day too. Ice cream, popcorn, peanuts, and all kinds of snacks lured from all sides.

The exhibits? Well there are two commercial sections with banks, vendors, home improvement booths, charities, public service groups, medical groups, and plenty of tee shirts. There is a big arts and crafts building with quilts, clothes, paintings, photographs, woodwork projects, canned goods, baked goods, flowers, and needlework. A fruits and vegetable tent shows off tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, squash, apples, pears, corn...the list goes on, all grown by local gardeners who compete for ribbons and a small cash prize.

The 4 -H exhibits include the horses, rabbits, chickens, ducks, reptiles, guniea pigs, hamsters, sheep, goats, pigs, two donkeys, and a cow and her calf. There used to be a lot more large animals, but our area has lost a lot of the larger farms and now the 4-H kids tend to raise the smaller critters instead.

The highlight for me was in the crafts building where a former guidance counselor from our school was back with another "Best In Show" exhibit. This guy molds figures from self hardening clay to make dioramas of memorable scenes. In the past he displayed a full Civil War battle and Noah's Ark with all the animals. This year, his model was of a scene from the muscial "Showboat." It showed the riverboat arriving at the dock. The boat itself was made of wood but all the figures, riverbank, barrels, buildings, etc. were all modeled out of the clay. It was wonderful!! I haven't seen an exhibit from him in the last two years, so this was a real treat.

Came home and decided it was too hot to ride at that point. I fed the Boys, thought about going for a swim, but ended up on a nice long phone conversation with my friend Shelley.

I headed out after dark to ride at last. I rode Tucker first. I had three goals in mind. The first was, as always, to simply keep him forward, no matter what. The second was to get him working more reliably off the right outside rein when I was going left. The third was to work a little on canter lead changes through just a few trot or walk strides.

Good plan, and most of it worked. A young rider who is currently showing jumpers has offered to work on Tuck's flying changes for me, so I need to get him a bit fitter and figure out if something is bothering him in his hind end. I'm pretty sure it's mostly a strength issue, but on the left lead, he seems to be having a little trouble carrying himself with good energy. This is a bit strange because in the past this has been more true of the right lead.

This loss of impulsion also shows up when I try to do a walk piroutte to the left, so it could also be just his tendancy to fall out on that right shoulder, which I was correcting with the work off the right outside rein. But, usually a horse carries himself in a way that is most comfortable/easy for him, so somehow the canter issue and the pirouette are connected. That made me decide to finish the ride with some walk pirouette work, concentrating on not letting Tucker "stall" at the walk as I tried to bring his shoulder around.

So here was the corrective exercise. Trot down the long side, and then start the pirouette in the trot, using the outside rein to both turn and half halt to a forward walk using the trot impulsion to keep the walk moving behind. It worked a treat on the right rein, but I had several stalls on the left until I really rode with determination, thinking "trot" even though I really wanted the walk. Mind over matter finally managed to get two good efforts, so I stopped and took him in.

I lunged Chance, primarily just to keep working on legging him up. I wasn't too keen on riding him in the lights tonight and frankly, the work on Tucker had been enough for me. Again, he was a good boy, very responsive to my verbal commands. He canters willingly, and comes back to the trot with just a chirp.

Carrots all around and late night snack finished off the evening at the barn. Toby did not want to do anything, but he was certainly pleased to get a carrot anyhow. It's fine with me. He's earned a life of leisure if that's what he wants.


  1. isn't it bizzare to have to ride after dark in the summer! but if it works....sounds like a good job on tuck.

  2. Anonymous10:27 AM

    Our fair is just over - sounds about the same as yours - I go every year but every year there are fewer goats, sheep, pigs and cattle, which I really enjoy - our area has built up so fast there are few farms left and many of the competitors are from out of county.

    Nice that you got in a good ride on Tucker.