Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Long Walk and Another Ride

Just How Far Was It?

I hiked around the sandpit lake yesterday. I did not take my GPS with me so I'm not sure how far it was, but it took me a bit over an hour and fifteen minutes at a good pace.  It was really hot out too, so I did have a few regrets, but by the time I decided I should have chosen another day, I was beyond the halfway point and there was no sense in turning back.
 The swan and some ducks on the sandpit lake.
 This and the following pictures should give you some sense of the size of the lake.
 I suspect it's three or so miles around?  Next time I take the GPS.
The pictures below show a very historic feature of the area. This is called "The Great Ditch." It was dug by hand in Colonial times in a failed effort to drain the Pigeon Swamp so the land could be farmed. The Ditch stretches for quite a distance and this part is where it begins. Now it is a significant part of the Lawrence Brook Watershed system which is a prime source of drinking water to the area. The lake above is manmade from all the sand and gravel mining that was done in the area since the 1950's.  It does not connect to the Great Ditch. 

Today, Thursday, I got up a little earlier to feed the Boys. Then I rode out to meet my friend Christina again. This time we were out for about 2 1/2 hours all told. Just walking, with Chance being a good boy once more. 

I am currently connected to the barn's well and water supply because something has gone wrong with the well supplying my house. Hopefully it's just a bad foot valve in the well itself, but that requires a well company to come out. I have limited funds at this point, so I'm just hanging in there until I find out. At any rate, my local plumber hooked me up so that I can use the barn's water through a hose. Not the best solution, but it will hold me until we can get the other system fixed. *sigh*  

It just never ends.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Darker Side of Follywoods

And the Heat is On!

I rode Tucker today.

Mixed reviews.

He is decidedly the darker side of the Follywoods herd, in both color and performance.

I started out in the arena and worked him for about 20 minutes or so.  He was moderately forward, but obedient.  I would have liked more energy, but, on the other hand, he was willing, particularly when I began to work on some canter departs.  We trotted a nice bit for warm up and I cantered from the trot at least twice on each lead.

Then, I practiced a bit of halt, reinback and trot departs, just to establish some more effort on his part to work off the hind end.  Then I upped the ante and did some canter, halt, reinback, canter departs. No problem! We was fine on both leads and offered no protest. We did have one "shove the nose forward and drop on the forehand," halt, but otherwise, once I softened that one a little, all was well.

So, I decided a nice short hack through the woods would be a nice way to cool off--it was starting to get hot and the sun was finally out after several days. So, I took him back into the barn, sprayed him with some Mosquito Halt, put the fly mask on him and off we went.

He was very balky, mostly stopping with his ears pricked forward, listening for something I could not hear. I ignored that and pressed on. We walked along the field, and I should have suspected something amiss because Tucker was not trying to eat the tree leaves along the way.

The first bit into the woods was fine.  Then we had to make a few twisty turns around the fallen trees. Tucker first tried to jog and a not so good spot and then I felt his back come up under me in a mini buck.  I corrected him sharply for that, but his walk got shorter and shorter, verging on a nervous jog again.  We managed to make it about halfway along the last part of the trail towards home, when he stopped again, ears sharply pricked, with his body all tensed up.

I decided to get off there and then and lead him home. I am not at all brave enough to ride through a bucking session if something scared him.  Whatever it was kept him on the alert even with my leading him. He stopped a number of times to listen and stare off into the woods.

On the plus side, when I got back into the arena, I mounted up again and worked him for another fifteen minutes or so in some absolutely lovely trot and canter work.  I was very forward, round, and on the bit with little effort on my part.  That little extra excitement from the"invisible monster in the woods" paid off big time.

While I wasn't too happy with the aborted trail ride, I was quite pleased with the finishing arena exercises, so we ended on a good note.

I saw a deer out in woods near the barn the other day while I was walking. Maybe it was out there today. Regardless it just goes to point out that Tucker is not a particularly trustworthy trail mount. He does like to go out sometimes, but when he's uneasy, he can be a scary ride.

Or, I can just be a bit cowardly.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Despite the Rain

I Ride Out

The weekend was strange weatherwise. On Saturday the wind was horrendous, and it was cold. I went to the NJ Horse Park to meet my friend Stacie and it was really windy there. It was been worse on Friday and even colder. Poor Stacie who was manning the Trilogy Saddle booth had not dressed for winter and nearly froze. At least on Saturday she was dressed for it.

It was the "big" Memorial Day show series with qualifying classes. A lot of riders scratched due to the weather. I was quite impressed with most of the rides I saw. The caliber of horses there was really high with a majority of really good movers who were quite well behaved in the blustery winds.

Interesting that the trend now seems to be airy movers instead of huge tanks. Some of the horses were tall, but looked more "Thoroughbredy" than "Warmbloody," to me. Some really , really nice horses!

Sunday and Monday went by with no saddle time. I'm not sure why. Monday I did mow the lawn, take a 45 minute walk and then go over to my cousin's house for a Memorial Day burger, so that's kind of understandable.

Today, though, I'd scheduled a ride with my endurance riding friend on the next road over. So at about 9:30 AM I headed over to her barn on Chance. Halfway there, it started to rain a little. But we soldiered bravely on.  We encountered:  the tree chipper/trimmers in front of the farm down the road. Not too close, but making a ton of noise; tree trimmers and their truck along the edge of the woods under the power lines--nice guys fortunately done with the noisy work; a black plastic fence along a good section of the farm field where the dirt road used to be; construction, traffic, and noise along the NJ Turnpike; and my friend's stable yard where we'd never been before.  Aside from stopping now and then to think and kind of check out the "danger" Chance was a star!

Christina, JJ--her endurance Arabian, Chance, and I then rode the trails for nearly two hours.  Chance went through water and basically didn't shy at anything while JJ was, upon occasion, a bit silly about things. Apparently he gets a little "Arabsilly" now and then. Chance, having no known direct Arab in his bloodlines seemed to think there was no reason to expend the extra energy.  It began to rain a little more at this point, but not so that it was miserable.

We even had a nice stretch of trotting along the back field--the first time I've trotted Chance in company--and my boy was wonderful. He even stretched down into the bit and rounded his back nicely.  I was delighted.

By the time I got home and back here into the house, it had been three hours.  Two hours in the saddle and one getting ready, grooming and tacking up.  The rain seemed to keep the bugs at bay, so the ride had been really pleasant. Neither Chance nor I, nor my tack for that matter, got too wet--just kind of "sprinkled on," so we were a happy pair back in the barn.

He got two carrots and a handful of pellets as a reward.  I must say I was very prod of what a good, good boy he was! He really does have a good head on his shoulders--and a good body to go with it!!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Busy, Busy

As the Rains Come Down

I did manage to get some good walks in, but the horses? Not a ride.

Wednesday was chiropractor day, so I do not, as a rule ride. Since I went shopping after my appointment, I did some "shop walking," which includes the trek in to the stores from the parking lot.  I will sometimes park a good distance from the doors just to add to the exercise program.

Yesterday, Thursday, I did put in nearly two miles. I walked over to the sandpit to pay part of my hay bill and then headed back on a longer, circuitous route that led me along the shore of the lake--quite a lovely view--and back through the woods behind my house.

I got home just in time because about 20 minutes later, the skies opened in a downpour.

I was meeting a friend from school for an early dinner and the drive over was borderline hazardous. Let's put it this way--it's a good thing I know the roads as well as I do. Otherwise, with my windshield wipers going full tilt, I still might have run off the road since I could hardly see a thing. It was simply pouring.

We had a nice dinner of soup and salad at the Olive Garden--it's a great buy for a meal--and caught up on all the school gossip.

Home again, I fed the Boys and headed out for choir rehearsal.

Now I am pondering another walk, but it's threatening to rain any minute again, so I'm not too sure what to do. Showers are OK, but if there's a downpour like yesterday, I don't want to be out in it.

I need to mow the lawn again, but it is far too wet to do that.  And, until it clears up, riding is not on the list either.

Ah, well, the sun will shine again, or at least the threatening clouds will roll away.

Until then, I guess I'll just have to play fetch with Patrick.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Party Time!

I went to a graduation party for Milos Tosic, the clarinetest whose Masters recital I attended.  This was after church.  I know nearly all the people who attended and met a few new ones as well.  Two young pianists had some fun playing several piano for four hands pieces, the Corgis entertained everyone, and the food was wonderful!

I ate, but kept it well under control, as I am still on my program to lose weight.  I can eat anything I want, but I just watch the portions.  And, I've been avoiding sugar as much as possible.  In this case, I left the party before the cake was served--it was already nearing 7:30 PM, and I prefer not to do the over and hour drive home in the dark.  I'd been there since 2:30, so I certainly didn't shortchange my stay.  

It was a lovely afternoon and evening.  But it was raining.  That kind of put a damper on doing much with the horses. 

Monday? I did quite a bit of housecleaning.  There's still a ton more to do, but for now at least the front of the house is tidy.  My good friend Shelley is coming to stay for a day or two, so it looks decent for her. My goal is a real purge and cleaning.  I did throw away a lot of stuff cluttering up the area, but there is so much more to get rid of.  

I've just decided to take it a little at a time, exactly the same way I am losing weight.  My nutritionist likes her clients to lose a pound a week. I figure I can get rid of a pound of clutter along with the weight and by the end of summer, I will be slim and have a clean house!

So far today, I did some more touch up cleaning.  But here's how it goes at Follywoods.  (By the way, I did the barn chores in the morning and then took a 50 minute walk.)  I vacuumed the living room and then went out and vacuumed the kitchen/dining area. All well and good. Then I headed down the hall, vacuumed there and vacuumed the two little rugs in the bathroom.  

I was about to wind the vacuum cord up, when I looked back up the hall to the living room only to see dry cat food scattered all over the place.  The vacuum's cord had snagged a cat food dish by the refrigerator and spilled dry food all over the floor area I had just vacuumed.  

Typical. A chore once done is never truly done at Follywoods. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Chance on a Hike

After I Walked

I took my walk in the woods earlier in the day, tracing one of the trails in the opposite direction from the one I usually go. This time I had downloaded a GPS app for my Iphone and used it to chart my distance and time.

The trail was about 1.7 miles or so. I was out for around 40 minutes, so my pace is certainly not what you would call "torrid."  However, there were numerous branches and trees to navigate and both uphill and downhill stretches--does one ever really just go down or up but not both?  And, at one point I got a little lost finding the proper "go around" where a large tree had fallen.

I took the same trail on Chance an hour or so later. We did it in a bit under 30 minutes with stops along the way for grazing. I'm not too fond of going that direction on horseback mostly because all the downhill slopes are steeper than the uphill ones.  So unless the footing is really good--not wet--as it was yesterday, it's not quite as safe.

Now, mind you, these are very short little hills, perhaps 10-20 feet long at the most. We are not talking mountains. Just enough to challenge the balance a little.  I suppose most people would say my area is "slopey" rather than "hilly" but is does make the terrain interesting for both walking and riding.

Friday, for some reason, my body needed a break. I ended up taking a LONG nap in the early afternoon. I didn't go out to walk until evening after a short shopping trip to get some more olive oil--ran out the other day.

I forgot to turn on the GPS even though I had it with me, but I figure we were out for about 30 minutes or so. I say "we" because Peppercorn the kitty came with me. I choose the middle length woods trail mostly to take a little break myself and also so as not to challenge my little furry friend too much--although he's probably fitter than I am!!

It was really fun having a companion on my journey except when he insisted in that catlike way of walking directly in front of my on the narrow part of the trail.  His natural pace was just a bit slower than I wanted to go, so I was often in danger of tripping over him.  Once I got in front, it was OK. Then he'd lag behind and suddenly gallop up alongside and pass me again to be in front.  Eventually, he tired of that game and trailed along behind. I stopped now and then to let him catch up, but that was just kind of fun.

I do have to admire his navigation of the fallen trees. Once he figured out I was making a detour around that would end me back on the main trail, he'd just go under the trunks or over them.

Ah, to be as agile and athletic as a cat!!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Tucker on the Trail Again

He Was A Good Boy

I rode Tucker in the arena for at least 20 minutes. The goal is still mostly fitness. I have a feeling if I am going to get him back into a good dressage frame it's going to take some work. At this point I honestly don't know if it's worth it.

On the other hand, I do want to see if he can master the flying change, so that will require some elements of basic on the bit and collection. I really am not interested in competing, so however we go will be just fine. But I do know that the dressage and suppling will be physically good for him no matter what.

At any rate, after some nice schooling in which we did shoulder-in, leg yield and some pretty nice half-pass at the trot, and a good number of trot/canter/trot transitions, I decided to go out for the short trail ride.

Tucker was a good boy with minimal tension. The woods trail now requires a number of extra turns an detours where it was once a clear trail. What a blessing to have a big horse that steers really well. I hope to expand the trails we use as time goes on, but the bugs will dictate some of that. So far the flies/mosquitoes are not really biting, so the ride was just fine. I do have the bug armor for him to wear as the season progresses, so we'll just see if we can keep it up.

After I rode him, I collected Toby--who did not run away--and lunged him for all of perhaps two minutes. We did five circles on the right at the trot, five circles on the left, and then stopped.

What is wonderful to see is how sound and lovely Toby's trot is. I see no signs of any stiffness in his gait. He has always had a nice trot with good spring and overstride. His big problem in moving up the levels was that his neck is set level on his body instead more upright. So getting the balance to his hind end and getting him really off his forehand was a lot of work. And, all the half halts and balancing exercises put a strain on his hind end beyond what was natural for him. That's one of the reasons I retired him from competition. It just wasn't fair to push him. He did compete in Intermediare I, so that was good, but I could tell it was hard on him.

Now, he is 23 and looks to be very sound.  I'm glad. I will ride him a bit this year, but he has earned a nice retirement.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Time Management

The Lungeing Queen

I did it again and did not allot enough time to ride a horse. This time, I walked for nearly an hour earlier in the afternoon. So when I got home I needed a breather.

Figured I'd go out to ride later, only to realize I'd made a dinner date with friends and really didn't have enough time to saddle up.

So, Chance got lunged. He was his usual good boy self.

But again, Toby came into the arena to pester us, so after I finished with Chance I decided I'd lunge Toby for five minutes or so.

He refused to be caught. Even a carrot bribe failed to work. As soon as he saw the rope nearing his neck, he took off again.

Enough, already. He's always been a bit tricky to catch, but bribes usually work. Since I do need to be able to catch my own horse when need be, I decided to persist.

His "running away" consists mostly of walking/trotting around within a set space. If the other horses are nearby, which they were, he uses them as blocks to hide behind so I can't get to him without moving one of them.

I played the game. He kept trotting around in about a 60 meter circular area of the front paddock, just out of reach. Since the area HE CHOSE was small, I essentially round penned him by simply walking towards him in my own circle over and over.

Finally, he stopped and let me put the rope on his neck to lead him in.

At this point, he'd already free lunged for at least five minutes so I didn't think it was fair to his older body to press him any more. Instead, I tied him and gave him a nice grooming with the shedding blade and brush, making sure I added lots of cuddles and a carrot reward.

I'd like to think not working him after capture would make him more likely to be willing to let me get him next time, but with Toby you can never tell. He has his own view of the world and it doesn't always make sense to me.

I've decided to catch him every day and do something with him--groom, treat, lunge, maybe even a very short ride--just to keep him somewhat civilized.

The last thing I need is a feral horse.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


On a Hot Day

I got a call in the early morning--6:30 AM--to go in to substitute on Friday. I hadn't slept really well, but that doesn't stop me. So I fed the Boys and headed off for school.

I left a little later than I wanted to, and, of course, ran into nearly every traffic issue I could find on the way. I got stuck behind a very slow truck on my road and then he had to stop for a landscaper's truck backing out of a driveway. Then, on the highway, I ran into a massive slowdown due to construction.

But I was still lucky. I was heading north. Had I been trying to go south, I might have been caught behind a huge group of bicyclists--there might have been 300--on the NJ Police Unity Tour.
The whole set of lanes on US 130 were blocked and behind the riders. As well, all the crossover roads were shut down while the bikers passed. I don't know of they were making any kind of stops to let the huge line of motor vehicles stuck behind them to pass at any point, but it didn't look to good from what I saw.

Got to school a little late, but well in time for homeroom and had a generally fun day. I was subbing for the English teacher I filled in for a couple years ago when she had her baby, so I was well adapted to both the subject and her schedule.

It was a hot day for May with temperatures up to at least 85F.  Since the school is air conditioned, I was a bit surprised when I stepped out into the sunlight at the end of the day. As planned, I headed over to the gym and the indoor swimming pool.  I did 12 laps all told with two of butterfly just to up the ante.

I took the back route home only to run into more traffic congestion. One of the traffic reports on the radio was noting congestion all over the place just due to traffic volume rather than any kind of obstructions. I guess it was not a good day to be out driving.

Home again, I fed the Boys, took a short walk out to the pasture to fix some fence rails and then collapsed in the house. While I considered working one of the horses, it was just too unexpectedly hot and I was surprisingly tired, so I opted out.

Today, Saturday, it's been raining off and on all day.  I did take advantage of what I thought was a dry spell to take my walk. Ten minutes out and it started to shower. Nothing big and no thunder, so I pressed on and ended up walking for a good 40 minutes.

The arena is really wet and little storms keep cropping up--some with thunder--so I probably won't risk a ride.

I do have to admit it was kind of fun surprising Chance when I emerged from the woods at the back gate. I'd left through my front yard and circled all the way back. I could almost hear him saying, "Where the heck did you come from?"

He came over for a pat once he recognized me.  Maybe tomorrow I'll take him out on nearly the same track I followed today. I suspect he'll take less than 40 minutes to do the trail.

Four legs can cover ground a lot faster than my two.

Friday, May 10, 2013


I Nearly Forget Choir Rehearsal

I spent the early afternoon napping and woke up with all kinds of ideas of what to do with the rest of the day.

First on the agenda was a nice walk. I headed out to the tree farm and managed about 40 minutes or so at a rather good pace. The terrain is a bit hilly in several places. Nothing huge, but enough to make me feel the work going up.

Then I got home and fed the Boys figuring I'd manage a ride or workout with Tucker later. It had rained pretty heavily the day before, as predicted, so parts of the arena were really wet.  I thought I'd take the time to long line him.

While the Boys were eating I headed to the supermarket to stock up on a few proteins for my breakfast.  I wanted some good whole wheat bread, cottage cheese and some fruit to eat with it.  By the time I got home it was going on 6:15 or so.

I was nearly out to the barn to long line when I suddenly realized it was Thursday--choir night.

Major change of plans. I grabbed the lunge line and the halter. A carrot bribed Tucker into my keeping and I    led him out to the arena for a lungeing session.  He was a very good boy, which was also very good as I really didn't have enough time to fuss with him if he needed any extra discipline.

My only problem was that Toby managed to sneak into the arena with us by knocking down a fence rail. Why? I'll never know. He doesn't seem to want to work himself, but he does feel the need to supervise the training of the other horses. By in large he stayed out of the way, but on Tucker's last few circles, he headed right into the path of travel. Fortunately, we avoided a collision and were able to finish up without further incident.

I wonder if Toby actually does want to be captured and worked a little?  I was thinking I ought to ride him just a bit now and then. Maybe he's trying to tell me something.

It was off to choir shortly after. The season is nearly over so rehearsals are getting shorter.

Soon, I won't have to remember choir practice for the summer.

But not yet.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Rain's On The Way

But Not Today

We actually need some rain. I'm surprised to say that as it seems rain was the order of the day nearly all winter long. But now the ground is really dry.  Of course, that means my lawn will grow like crazy over the next few days and I'll have to go out to mow it again. But it's a small price to pay for some good natural hydration.

I took advantage of the nice day by spending several hours napping inside. I didn't sleep well last night for some reason, so when I got tired I just napped.

But virtue arose in early afternoon and I headed out to the barn to ride Chance.

We took a nice longish ride all the way to the back of the woods. There, along the edge of the farm we struggled for over 6 years to preserve, we had a nice bit of very forward trot. It was interesting that Chance moved out like that because for the first time in a long while he was slow on the way out. It was a bit warmer today, so perhaps that had something to do with it, but he just didn't have his usual trail ride enthusiasm.

The way home was a bit friskier. Nothing serious, but definitely more forward. The only problem was that the part of the trail we were on had all kinds of tricky detours around fallen trees. I haven't quite memorized all the little side paths yet, so I had to keep checking him when he tried to jog.  It didn't help that there were some little gnats out. For some reason they bother him a lot. I think it may be his big wide white blaze. I did buy a face mask with and extended nose just for him so the next time I go out I will have to remember to put it on him. The gnats make him toss his head and sometimes even try to jig.

Once home, I fed all three Boys and then sneaked back out to the woods and field for a short walk. I was out for about another 20-25 minutes going around the front cornfield. I didn't want Pepper to follow me as the last part of the walk is near the road.

If it does rain tomorrow I may still get my walk in. I figure that until the swimming season starts, I will replace laps of the pool with laps of the land.

Another good day at Follywoods.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Tuck Rides Again

What Gorgeous Weather!

I took a long walk today. If Google Earth is right, it was probably around 3 miles or a bit longer. I sneaked out of the front of the house so Peppercorn did not see me and headed for the farm road. This track takes me through the Christmas tree farm, along the NJ Turnpike, around the back and then up along the woods again. I was really tired about 3/4 of the way along, but got my second wind and finished up in fine style.

I came back home, rested up for a bit and then headed out to the barn.

It was Tucker's turn to work again today. We spent a good 20 minutes just trotting.  I did not ask for a lot of  "on the bit" work mostly because he is not really ready for it. Despite that, we did shoulder-in, haunches-in, leg yield, and half pass. I do need to do more haunches-in as he is not quite as flexible in the back end.

I didn't push it today, however. It's something to work on as he gets more fit.

After a walk break, we did some canter work. This was mostly a big figure 8 with twenty meter circles at each end and a change of lead through the trot in the center. Again, interesting. His left lead canter tended to fall apart just before the downward transition for some reason. On the last two tries, I made the angle of the line before the change a little less sharp and pushed the canter into the line a little more. That did the trick and we had a nice through the trot change to the right lead.

To cool him out, we went into the woods taking the little mini-trail directly behind my property. It's essentially just a little loop out and then back, taking all of 10 minutes at the most. He did try to turn down the trail that heads deeper into the woods, but I opted not to go and we headed home.

A nice grooming and a treat of carrots finished up his day.

I did a few more chores out there and then came back in to blog and collapse.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Chance Goes to School

Another Beautiful Day

I have to admit, Spring is sharing many beautiful days here in New Jersey. I am taking advantage of most of them.

I rode Chance yesterday. My primary goal was some serious schooling, and that's exactly what we did. Getting him to take the bit within each gait is not too much of a problem. He's not quite steady yet as balance checks make him put his head up, but for the most part, he stays pretty round.

I had a nice forward trot going from the start. I think my carrying the dressage whip made the difference, but it's hard to tell for sure.

What I decided to focus on was trying to maintain roundness within the transitions, both up and down. Interestingly enough the biggest challenge is walk to trot. We did manage to reach some agreement without too much argument. Asking for a bit extra bend before the transition and then doing a little leg yield into the transition helps a lot. But Chance is not too schooled to work laterally off my leg, so that's another thing we need to work on.

After about 25 minutes, I realized he really needed a break, so we headed out to the trails for a short ride through the woods. It was slow going. Chance really just wanted to walk. I am guessing he was  bit tired from his workout.

Once again, it was a lovely, lovely ride.

Today, after church, lunch out with my fellow choir members, a trip to the art gallery to see a friend's father's watercolors, and a quick shopping trip to the grocery store, I came home.  It was a bit breezy and I ended up taking a nap before going out to the barn.

Then, I decided to take a walk myself. I hiked along the farm field and through the woods for nearly an hour. I kind of sneaked out so Peppercorn would not follow me. When I got home, my neighbor was doing some fence mending for me, so I helped out for another hour or so while the Boys had dinner.

At that point, I was worn out, so I gave the horses Sunday off.

I was a quiet end to the weekend at Follywoods.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Too Cute for Words

And Tucker Takes to the Trail

The wind died down as the day went on.

I needed to get a walk in myself, so I took my hand grass cutter and headed out to the short woods trail. I figured I'd clear come of the vines and briers blocking the "go arounds" for the fallen trees.

I heard a noise behind me, turned around, and there was Peppercorn, the black barn kitty right behind me.

I thought, "OK, he'll go back home soon. I'm going pretty far into the woods.

Nope. Peppercorn followed me all the way, trotting happily along with me as if he were a dog I was taking for a walk. I was out there for nearly an hour, stopping now and then to clear some branches off the trail.  I thought PepperC was going to tire out, but he just kept up, stopping himself now and then to sniff something or rub up against a tree to leave his scent. 

It was all too cute for words--my puppycat Peppercorn and I on a walk. 

When I got home I did some general trimming of a tree in the arena fenceline and then came back into the house for lunch. 

This brief respite ended when I decided I'd recuperated enough to go out to ride. 

It was Tucker's turn. 

I rode in the arena for about 15 minutes or so to see how he was feeling, both physically and emotionally. He was, to say the least, on the "laid back" side. Until I cantered him, I had to work to get some forward at the trot. But considering my plan, I really didn't mind too much. After the canter, he was trotting much better, so I finished up with a few more circuits and headed out to the woods. 

We had a really lovely ride. Tucker kept up a nice forward walk--when he was walking, that is. *G*  I did let him stop to eat tree leaves along the way. This has been an accepted practice on trail rides, mostly because it keeps him happy and distracts him from spooking at things. You've heard the phrase, "Can't walk and chew gum?" Well, for Tucker it's kind of, "Can't spook and chew leaves."  

But he wasn't spooky anyhow and hardly gave a second glance to all the fallen trees he'd never seen before. 

So, I ended up having a nice day out with two of my beloved barn boys, Tuck and Pepper. 

Friday, May 03, 2013

Out on the Trail

Chance Trots Out

I upped my exercise a bit by walking over to the sandpit to pay my hay bill instead of driving. It's probably under 1/2 mile down the road and a rather long driveway. Fortunately, I was able to walk well off the pavement in both directions, first by walking in the grass swathe next to the lake and then by walking in the cornfield on the other side.  All in all, I was out and about for 45 minutes or so--a good part of it chatting with my hay supplier.

He has been trying to get the State of NJ to buy the lake and his land for some time. He is a developer and will probably build houses there as an option, but adding the acres to the Pigeon Swamp State Park would be the ideal solution. We talked about some of the other development going on in the area as well.

Sadly, he confirmed what I'd heard about a beautiful old historic house about 2 miles from here. It has gone to such rack and ruin that it is going to be torn down. He said he had investigated buying it himself, but when his structural engineer examined it, he told my hay man that it would cost a minimum of $1 million to get it into safe shape. It's termite infested and falling apart. I hope to take some pictures of it before it gets torn down. What a shame.

I walked home, had some lunch and eventually headed out to ride Chance. It was a gorgeous still day--not like today with a stiff breeze--so it was safe to ride in the woods. After the mess hurricane Sandy made back there, there are a lot of branches I worry about still being in danger of falling. And there are at least two trees broken off the trail passes under.

Chance was a frisky boy on the way out and insisted on trotting away from home. Bless my neighbor who cleared the debris from the trail because it was lovely and clear out to the field, so Chance was able to let off a little of his excitement. As I've said before, he is the only horse I've ever ridden who moves faster leaving the barn then coming home.

We took the medium length trail through the woods. Horses or minibikes have started to flatten "go arounds" where all the trees have fallen. It still makes for a maze of trail rather than the lovely wide passages that used to be there, but it's still pleasant. I do hope the big roadblocks of tree trunks will discourage  the ATV's and minibikes from racing around back there. My neighbor said it seemed awfully quiet of late and I have to agree. I can only hope.

When I got back home, I had to chase Toby and Tucker out of the riding arena. They'd managed to open the gate to get in and insisted on monitoring Chance and me as we tried to work just a little. I had to dismount, chase them out, remount, and then do just a little trot and canter.

I focused on trying to get Chance to stay round and on the bit for the transitions. At the finish, I simply expected him to stay round on a downward from trot to walk. It took about ten repetitions before he managed, but when he gave me one good one, I stopped.

Right now, his big issue is keeping his hind end engaged in the transitions. He loses his balance and lifts his head, so I have to really work to inspire some roundness. As I've said, it won't take long to fix it.  He really does have a lovely attitude and tries hard.

I was thinking of taking Tucker out for a trail ride today, but the wind is discouraging me. I hope to ride him in the arena instead.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

All's Quiet at Follywoods

Tucker is Doing Just Fine

It seems Tucker's bout with colic is indeed over.

I lunged both Chance and him yesterday for about 15 minutes each. Of course, that was after trying to catch the two of them for another 15 minutes. I'm afraid Toby, the uncatchable, has taught the other two Boys a trick or two.

No biggie, actually since as soon as I get some treats they come right over for a snack. But it can be exasperating if I want to think they actually adore me.

Both worked well for me. Chance insisted on cantering right off, so instead of insisting on trot I let him canter on. He was pretty well warmed up from the catching episode, so it was no big deal. And, since he was nice and forward, I was pleased.

Tucker was playing "steady Eddie" on the line, just doing his thing and, in general, listening to my commands. One days like that, he actually looks like a normal, well behaved horse. Just goes to show that appearances can be deceiving.

I have started going to a nutritionist and my chiropractic center to get some advice for improving my diet and losing some weight. I am not in horrible shape. On the plus side, my bloodwork is all excellent--as I knew from my last physical exam. On the negative side I need to lose about 8% body fat. I'd like to lose between 20-30 pounds, but the nutritionist thinks the lower side of that would be better. So far we had a nice discussion, she took down all my information, and gave me a food diary to write up for my next appointment--next week. All I am changing in my diet right now is to cut out the sweetened ice tea for plain.
No big deal on that either as during the summer I drink unsweetened iced tea all the time. I kind of slacked off during the winter, so I will go back to my Spartan ways.

Dana, the nutritionist, does not believe in fast weight loss or fad diets. I like the idea of approaching this with a good sense of health rather than simply weight loss.

She also prefers work related exercise rather than going to the gym or practicing routines. Since riding and working around the horses is my forte, that will be just fine. Of course, when summer finally gets here--if ever--I will be swimming regularly again. I didn't get swims in this week or last because of all kinds of other time consuming activities, so that's going to help a lot.

Speaking of activities, my friend Milos, who is a Masters Candidate from Rutgers, Mason Gross School of the Arts, gave his recital on Monday evening.

He has posted videos of several pieces on YouTube. If you can even listen to a little bit, you will, I am sure, be impressed by his virtuosity. He is originally from Serbia and came here to the US to study. He now has his green card, which means he can stay to work. He'd love to play in a professional symphony orchestra here, so if anyone knows of an opening, let me know. *G*