Sunday, March 28, 2010

Who Me?

This cute little dog, Toe... accompanied me to a tracking test Sunday. I volunteered to bring food and wanted to meet people, see how a tracking test goes etc.

On the way to Chatfield State Park in Denver, I noticed he was chewing on something. It wasn't making any noise so I knew it wasn't a rawhide or a nylabone or something.

What's he got?

I reached over, keeping my eyes on the road and fished around in his mouth. I pulled out a damp, wrinkled up piece of paper. What's this?

I looked at it more closely over my steering wheel.

CRAP! It's my ONLY $10! It costs $6 to get into the state park... I'd left my ten spot in my cup holder. I contemplated showing up and asking the park attendant if they could please accept it since it was my only money.

I decided no way would anyone take this wet, wrinkled piece of former currency. I found a gas station with an ATM.

Sigh. Good thing the little f*^#er is so cute!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Furry Husband and how I met him....

(this is us in France in 2006 - I think we were in Vezelay here...)

Oh! Fyyahchild gave me the same award that DebH did so THANK-YOU Fyyahchild! Go check her out!

On to my post.
Cheryl mentioned in comments about Furry and how we met in a sort of movie kinda way. Lemme see if I can capture it for you in a post. I think it is very kismet, luck, may not ever have been ... sort of meeting.

I had just broken up with this guy, Jim. He was a nice enough guy but he just really had no ambition or motivation and he was a jealous guy. I'd never dated a jealous type before...and it got old really fast to have to "check in" with him all the time because he'd be in a snit if I didn't or to have him stalk off in a huff if I so much as talked to another guy. Grow up already.

I was enjoying my freedom, rid of this guy and out having fun with my girlfriends. I lived up in Bailey CO - mountain town - and commuted to Denver every day for work. There isn't much to do in Bailey so I'd meet up with friends after work for a beer and social hour.

I met up with Kristi after work one day at the Wynkoop Brewery in downtown Denver. She wasn't there yet so I sat at the bar and waited for her to show up. I struck up friendly conversation with the bartenders to pass time and the bar wasn't all that busy. Kristi showed up and we headed upstairs to play pool. This is when I first met Furry Husband...

I had no idea...

I went back to work and decided to change things up... I cut my hair Annie Lennox short and I dyed it platinum blond. I don't know if blonds have more fun, tho' it WAS fun to change my look that much. Hair is hair and can always be changed, colored, cut or left to grow out. I was still the same ol' Shanster...

I met a girlfriend at the Wynkoop again. Only this was a weekend and I was... well... in a Shanster mood. I was loud and boisterous and having fun talkin' smack in the bar. I had on a short skirt and a low cut top cuz when you are young and have nice cleavage, you should use it to your advantage on occasion.

I struck up conversation with the bartenders again.... this time my girlfriend and I stayed at the bar downstairs chattin' it up. Furry Husband and I were bantering back and forth - quick witted and exchanging jokes and one liners. He remembered me even with my new Sharon Stone 'do'. I broke down and told him the dirtiest joke I know.

He gave me his business card, wrote on the back, "Free beer for life!" and told me to stop in next Friday around 5 when his early shift ended. I kept the card but didn't know if I'd stop in to see him or not. I just really didn't want to date anyone again so soon after Jim and ... shrug... I was having fun being single.

Next Friday rolled around and I didn't know what to do ... Should I really get involved with someone again? What if he is a player? On the other hand, it IS a free beer, I didn't know that many people in Denver and bartenders at busy places are always in the know and have lots of friends. Maybe we could just hang out together and he'd be a fun person to know and I could meet more people....

Since I wasn't all that invested in dating ... I took my own sweet time. I got to the Wynkoop a hour late. Rolling my eyes - oh, that was RUDE! I know, I know... I just wasn't into dating and didn't want our meeting to seem very "date like".

If you've ever been in downtown Denver, there are a gazillion parking lots and meters to park your car. There is a parking garage directly across from the Wynkoop. I always parked in the parking garage because it was close.

Furry Husband DETESTED that parking garage. He NEVER parked there.

He'd park in one of many outdoor lots because the attendees let him park for free and would come in for a free beer at the end of their shift. I scratch your back, you scratch mine sort of arrangement.

The parking garage employees never went for that arrangement and always made him pay. So he never parked there. He would park in one of the other lots or if he was lucky, he'd park at a meter and run out every 2 hrs to plug it with change.

The night I was supposed to meet him, I pulled into the parking garage as I always did. There was a booth with an attendant and as I was accepting the ticket to put on my dash from her, I noticed a car on the other side of the booth waiting to pay...

I asked the girl working the booth, "Hey, could you ask that car on the other side if his name is Furry?"

She looked a little taken aback but she was game and asked ....
"Yes, he says it's him..."

"Would you tell him that Shanster is on the other side?"

She let Furry Husband reverse his car back into the garage, she looked at me and said, "Oh! He loves you!'

I blushed wildly and nervously laughed it off. What did she know? I drove into the garage, parked next to Furry, apologized for being late, we went inside and the rest is history.

What if he hadn't parked in the garage that day? He NEVER parked there any other day... What if I had been another 10 minutes late? What if he hadn't hung out with friends and waited on my sorry ass?
He would have gone home and I woulda missed him. I think things would have stopped in their tracks, I would have been embarrassed for being that rude and he would probably not have asked to meet up with me again.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Beautiful Blogger Award

Thank-you to DebH at Dakota Goats for my award! I'm supposed to write 10 things you may not know about me and then pass it along to 10 others. I don't know if I KNOW 10 others to pass it on to... but here goes:
Ten things you may not know about me...
1. I have a masters in business degree... yup the almighty MBA.
I felt I had to go back to school in order to move ahead in this world when I was in my 20's and wanting more of a career... I felt an MBA would give me a ticket to play the game.
I don't think my MBA has gotten me anywhere other than deeper in debt. I don't tell people I have an MBA cuz they always act really impressed and I am not impressed at all. They act like if they gave me the financial reports of their business, I could analyze them and give them some projection or forecast about their company. I can't.
Lemme tell ya... Harvard Case Studies aren't exactly real world. Books are not real-life experience. It's easy to say what you think when it's not "real" and you don't have real people in your face, company policy, history, culture, red tape and you are a small cog in a big machine. I'm not bitter. Much.
2. I am the gassiest girl I know. It's not pretty, it's not feminine and it's often an inconvenient situation. Furry Husband loves me just the same. It makes him laugh. He laughs A LOT....
3. I have the attention span of a bird. I am always onto the next "shiny" thing.
I have a banjo that remains unlearned.
I have a quilt top that is 3/4 of the way finished.
I have a book about horse hair hitching along with horse hair and I want to learn to make bracelets for my horse-y friends out of their own horse's tails.
I have an unfinished wine bottle border in my garden - it's harder to dig holes to "plant" a wine bottle than you think!
I have 1/4 of our front gate woven with wicker... a landscaper said it would look pretty. It is a lot less fun than it sounds to weave wicker in your front gate.
4. My Mom in Law really didn't like me. Not at all. When she first met me, she sat perched on her couch lookin' at me like your worst memory from a grade school teacher who wants to make an example of you.
She thought I forced Furry Husband to move out to the farm away from Denver and all his friends. I decided one year to start a "Make Betty Love Shannon" campaign. It worked and now we are good friends!
5. My favorite flowers are a bunch o' white daisies.
6. I grew up a total and complete city kid but in my 20's a guy I knew let me come to his place to dehorn and castrate one of the calves his family ran in their small cow/calf operation. Cutting the scrotal sac, fishing around for his bloody, slippery, little testes (which they draw surprisingly far up into their body cavity at the first indication of harm to the little jewels)... and having to pull them out and cut them. I felt really, really bad causing so much pain to an animal even tho' I knew why it had to be.
7. Oh - that reminds me. I have a testicle collection! It's a weird animal science thing - I saw so many different critters in anatomy class preserved and dissected. If you ever get a chance to see the Bodyworks exhibit, go! It's so interesting!
Anyway, it started when we had a colt that was castrated and I kept his testicles in formalin... word got out and some vet friends gave me some rabbit testicles from a neuter cuz they thought it funny. Then of course when we got our cat Mojo and our dog Booker neutered...well, their testicles ended up in the collection. Tho' I keep them up in the tippy top shelves of our kitchen where you can't get to easily and I always forget they are there... until the discussion turns to testicles.
8. I like to yell at Mojo, one of our cats, in Spanish. A co-worker taught me some words for him "stinky", "nasty", etc. (he isn't any of those things, but I just like how bad ass I sound yelling at the cat in Spanish) He looks at me with half closed eyes, not even twitching a muscle in concern as I rant at him. It looks as if he's thinking, "seriously?" It's a thing I only do with Mojo and I haven't really yelled at him since he got sick last year even tho' he made a full recovery and is livin' large.
9. I've never been to Las Vegas.
10. I met Furry Husband by telling him a very dirty joke at the bar he was tending. Yup, I picked up a bartender with a dirty joke, we got married and we're livin' happily ever after. It's the best thing I ever did! grin.
Anyone with a blog that wants this award - come and get it! It's yours! Thank me and tell us 10 things we don't know about you!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ahhhhhh Spring...

We got home last night and most of the snow was gone. It was sloppy and muddy but the sky was blue, the birds were singing their little guts out, the grass is beginning to green, all the muddy animals were peacefully eating their dinner.

Big happy sigh.

It feels like we've turned the corner. Yeah, we may still get more snow storms but it's not the bitter cold or gloom of winter... somehow it seems more mild, as if we are seeing the light in the tunnel with the hard, desolate, gloom of winter.

I'm having FARLEY (Farley = fans of Marley) stickers printed (why? to plaster across our chests of course!) ... and you all know that means our favorite comedian from Maine is in Denver this weekend. Comedy Works called and offered us special discounted tickets since we faithfully trek to the big city each time Bob shows up.

We rounded up 6 other people for the 10pm Friday night show of Bob Marley! Looking forward to some deep belly laughs with good friends...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring snow and tracking...

We had another spring storm yesterday - heavy, heavy, wet snow... more sloosh than snow really. I got home and my poor Sera Sue was looking very cold, wet and extremely sorry for herself.

I pulled out her blanket, covered her up and got her some hay to get the heat generatin'. Rosso wasn't looking so sorry - more mischeivious and like he wanted to run around in the muck tormenting his companions. But in a couple hours I know he would be quite sorry so he got the same treatment. Brandon is a tank in his Cushings over growth of hair which makes him look like a yak but since they all got so wet, I threw a blanket on the old man too.

Snow was over this morning with the sun trying to peek through so off came the blankets! I'm sure they will roll and roll and roll in all the mud and slop to look like over grown armadillos in an armor of dried mud.

No riding for awhile. I was supposed to have a Debbie clinic today but the roads were too bad ... we'll try again next week.

The exciting news (everything is relative right?) is that Toe and I entered our first TD tracking test. It's April 11 and there won't be another TD level test until October.

No pressure to pass or anything!

Joelyn will put in only unmarked tracks from here on out so I get used to REALLY trusting my dog's nose and where he is leading me. Just follow the dog, Shanster, follow the dog....

Monday, March 22, 2010

White Mountains 100

We have neighbors who are pretty insane about exercise. They ride their bicycles up to Estes Park, CO from our neighborhood N. of Ft. Collins just to have lunch, roughly 50 miles one way.

If I were you, I wouldn't get between me and a Ritz cracker... but I'd never work THAT hard to find me a Ritz cracker. Bicycling to Estes - snort. Furry Husband and I call them "squirrels on meth". We watch them pedal past our house and we lift our beers up to cheer them on.
Exercise is one thing, staying active... everything in moderation and all that. But *ahem*... those sort of distance/extreme anything? Makes me curl right up into the fetal position sucking my thumb.

I have this crazy ass friend who lives in Fairbanks, AK. She's doing this race in Fairbanks... Alaska... think cold and snow and ice and overflow and ... uck. 100 miles via bicycle. They started 8am Sunday morning, slept outside in below 0 weather in some sort of sleeping bag space sack contraption, got up and kept pedaling. She and her husband are doing the race together.

I have absolutely NO desire to ever accomplish anything like this. I would rather sit in a dentist chair for the afternoon, spend a couple days in a mammogram machine... heck, I'd even let someone have at it with a colonoscopy scope and rubber glove for two days before I'd compete in something like the White Mountains 100.

A co-worker asked me to run a 5K with her once ... my boss at the time almost dialed 911 because I was laughing so hard I passed out.

So whatever you may be doing today, give pause, lift a glass of whatever you are drinking to my buddy, S. Oderkirk in Alaska pedaling her little tush right off ( cuz I think when you sit on a bike seat for that long in those conditions it wears down exactly like a pencil eraser... rubs right off ).

The site for the White Mountains 100 is here. You can see the racers being posted to the site as they cross the finish line. She hasn't finished the race yet but I'm sure she'll be comin' across any time now...

Heck, I'm gonna have me a COUPLE o' beers tonight to cheer her accomplishment....


Friday, March 19, 2010

Aaaaand we have more snow...

It was 68 and sunny on Wednesday.... today it is 20 with snow, snow and more snow. Although the high winds they predicted haven't hit yet so I'm feelin' purty lucky!

We prepared for the storm last night by bedding down the goatie houses deep with straw, cleaning up all the animal pens so the snow wouldn't cover a layer of poo. Oh, the animals still poo, but clean pens under the snow and new poo make us feel SO much better. Silly hoo-mans.

We blanketed the two thin-skinned red horses this morning. They were wet and shivering. Why oh why don't they stand in their shelters where it's dry? Brandon, our old, old gelding, was rolling his eyes and shaking his head at their youth and stupidity.

Today on my way into work, crawling along in the snow and sloosh... there was this kid.

Shovelling a sidewalk. Shovelling SNOW.

He wore his "pants on the ground" jeans with a tank top.

Bare arms! Tank top!

Pebbly nipples! (ok, ok - I couldn't really see his nipples ... but it was cold enough that they HAD to be hard like little pebbles)

Pants on the ground - shovelling snow!

Now I KNOW I'm old.

Old, old, old - just like Brandon.... I was in my car gaping open mouthed at this kid. I drove away shaking my head when the light turned. Isn't that the true sign of being old? Shaking your head at the goofy things younger people do?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My advice to you....

A little known quirk of mine is watching really weird t.v. shows on the Discovery Channel or The Learning Channel... things with titles like "300 lb Tumor!" or "Help, I'm Turning Into a Giant!" or "My Daughter was Born a Mermaid!". And they are real people suffering from real afflictions through no fault of their own. The strange diseases and issues in the human body and brain really fascinate me.

The other night, Furry Husband gave me the remote. (oh, will he ever learn?) I found a show called "Hoarding: Buried Alive!" on The Learning Channel. The show highlighted several people with hoarding issues, when the hoarding started, the psychology of hoarding and why it happens, how to help treat the people and the show talked to family members etc. about this person's hoarding.

One guy, a retired Navy man, trim, neat looking, attractive... lived in this house and had been hoarding for 20 yrs. He didn't know what was under all the layers and layers of stuff... it was piled so high in some areas it touched the ceiling... he had to climb over mounds and piles and heaps to move anywhere and most times his head was near or touching the ceiling.

He had a girlfriend who had no idea. She'd never ever been to his house. He always went to her house with the excuse of "my house is a bachelor pad - it's messy and cluttery and I'm embarrassed by it" I can see how a gal wouldn't think twice about that.

In the show, he takes her to his house for the first time. The camera shows them walking down the street arm in arm and she says, "Are you excited for me to see your house?" He replies, "Well, it's a little cluttered - maybe you can help me organize it" And I really don't think he was being mean - he's been doing this for 20 yrs and can't really SEE it anymore.

She walks in and is stunned... stunned to the point of shaking and crying and she's speechless. Poor thing.

So my advice to you:

Any time someone you love or care for wants to tell you something or show you something but they won't tell you until the camera crew arrives.... RUN.

Run as fast as you can in the other direction. Nothing good can ever come of a secret revealed by a person you love and trust when there are camera crews involved.

Monday, March 15, 2010

3 Cheers!

This is supposed to be Rosso by the way.... Mango.... Rosso.... so similar and yet so different...
Took Rosso up to Rex's for my lesson on Sunday.

Was gonna take both horses but decided to take only him because I know me and if I took Sera, I would ride Sera leaving Rosso tied to the trailer.

I groomed him and tacked him up with no trouble. Took him in the indoor where Patty (The Groper's sister) was finishing up a lesson on her horse.

I lunged Rosso and he was good. Very obedient, one ear on me at all times showing me that he's listening and paying attention. I asked Rex how she thought he looked. she confirmed he looked good.

When I felt he was sufficiently warmed up, I took the lunge line off and asked Rex if she thought I should keep the lunge hooked up to one side of his bit so if he was bad and threatened to buck, I could jump down and make him WORK. She said he looked like he wouldn't offer up any trouble so I took it off.

Took him out to the middle of the arena... asked Rex if she thought I should bounce around in the stirrup before getting on... she said since he hasn't been ridden all winter it'd be a good idea.

I put one foot in, stood up, rested my belly over his back and patted his other side - he was fine - even cocked a hip to rest so I brought my other leg over and he stood still with his hip cocked, waiting for me to ask him to walk before walking.

That was awesome! Especially since that is his "thing"... juuuust as I got on he would twirl around til I lost my balance and crow hop til I came off.

My legs were a little shaky but not at all like last time when I simply couldn't deal with being on him. (I think that had a lot to do with the emotional state Iwas in dealing with a death in the family) I kept mentally rehearsing the info from a book I bought about riding/sports psychology and dealing with fear, I actively remembered ALL the other times I'd ridden him with no issues, knew he felt much better from the work we'd done on his back with the chiro/acupuncture DVM and I channeled thoughts of long, strong legs with purpose.

Rosso was round and even in my hands - nicely forward - good rhythm - very lovely. We went to trot - again - Rosso was perfectly forward, in my hands and working so nicely for me. We did leg yields on the circle, lots of changes in direction, a shallow loop on the long side of the arena with a leg yield to the wall, transitions down to walk and back up to trot. Rex wanted me to ask him for more push behind when he was really round and in my hands - when I asked Rosso for more, he gave me more! I got a nice working trot where Rosso was really over his back and pushing from behind. REALLY REALLY nice.

Rex asked if I thought he was tired or could he canter... he was tired and since he'd worked SO well, we decided to end it on that good note vs. really making him uncomfortable or over tired. I sort of wanted to canter to prove to myself I could but it's a fine line I think.
Yes, he should be submissive and do what I want, when I want.... but with all the issues he and I have had... and he worked so well, let's keep it comfortable and happy for everyone. I can canter next time.

I was walking him around to cool him out because he was all sweaty... I had him on loose reins...
and that is when he spooked...

He spooked pretty good - went down in front, danced around and I thought, "Oh shit... here we go!" I seriously had the mental image of me flying thru the air and Rosso bucking... I was a little unseated - not hugely - found my center and took up the reins. No big deal. We resumed walking.

I picked up contact and walked Rosso around in the scary corner. His ears stayed pricked and on alert but he listened to my thoughts of a long, strong leg and marched forward. I gradually let him back out on the long rein.

Rex thought THAT was huge - that he had an opportunity to get rid of me but he hesitated and let me find my seat and rein...

Afterward, I told Rex that the spooks don't bother me so much - but it's when they INTENTIONALLY try to dump you...(and do!) ... that is what really gets in my head with him...

I was super super proud of Rosso - oh, he was just great - and I was really glad for me.

I may still struggle with fear for a while but this was pretty huge - to have a good, solid ride on him like last winter. I really think a lot of that is from the chiro work and now I know... if he begins to be a bit fussy, have him checked out first - lots of horses can deal with smaller pain issues but he is obviously not one of those. grin.

He is a much more delicate flower.... heh. If he was a person, he'd wear black turtlenecks, French berets, talk with a lilting effeminate lisp and read poetry on open mike night.... not that there is anything wrong with that. I just need to remember he's not the stoic quarterback who is gonna take one for the team and play thru the pain!

Friday, March 12, 2010

We are certified!

Well - I know I'M certifiably crazy... but that isn't what I'm talkin' bout.

When I played hooky from work on Tuesday, I carpooled with Jolynn to Chatfield State Park in Denver. It was a gorgeous day. A beautiful, beautiful Colorado day with blue skies, sun and no wind. (no wind in Denver anyway - at our place - close to the WY border it was quite windy!)

I wore a long sleeve t-shirt, a heavy sweater and a coat but walking in the sunny fields at Chatfield, I was hot and stripped down to my t-shirt. It was heavenly... clean air, blue skies, birds singing, warm temperatures...

There were 8 or so people who meet up regularly on Tuesdays for dog tracking with dogs of all shapes and breeds... golden retrievers, belgian sheep dogs, corgis, labs, clumber spaniels, other english cockers. Everyone was very nice and people were busy putting tracks in for dogs around the various fields, letting the tracks age from 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on the dog's level of tracking. Teams of dogs with their handlers would strike out to a field for tracking.

The dogs follow the human scent with 90 degree turns in unmarked fields up to 400 yards to find the article at the end of the track - a glove, a sock, a leather baby shoe etc. It's really all about the dogs using their noses and very much about the humans staying out of the dog's way on the end of the tracking line.

Little did I know, Jolynn's Mom who is an AKC tracking judge, put in an unmarked track for me and Toe to get us certified. (you have to be certified - proving you and your dog are ready to track - before entering an official AKC tracking test)

I looked at Jolynn and she said, "I know - I didn't tell you. I didn't want you to be nervous!"

Toe followed his track, made his turns, was off course at one point, backtracked to find the scent again and went on his way... he found his glove and we passed our certification!

This means we'll be able to enter a TD tracking test in April.

It was a wonderful day... I put in a track for one of Jolynn's dogs and I was able to follow along with other handler/dog teams to see the different ways dogs worked to find scent and follow a trail.

A perfect way to play hooky... nice people, lovely dogs on a beautiful, sunny, Colorado day!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sad news...

The Rocking Seven Mile Ranch is going out of the grass fed cattle business. Another small agricultural producer calls it quits.

I'm sad to see this happen and I've posted before here about the hardship of smaller business. I believe a large reason, among many, is how far removed people are from their food.

People don't think about that neatly wrapped package of 97% lean ground beef, the pretty package of brie or the nice bottle of wine they buy. They don't think about the animal or plant it came from, the life led, how it was fed or the additives/hormones/preservatives used before the end product was wrapped up and marketed in the store.

I was an Animal Science major in school. I had classes about nutrition, production and principals of the meat or crops going to market. I was one of maybe two people who didn't come to that area of study having grown up on a farm or ranch.

I grew up in suburbia, never stepping foot on a farm or ranch. I never had to make decisions about rotating crops, irrigation, culling animals from a herd, taking animals to the sale barn or to slaughter. Nope, I never had to learn any harvesting, planting, loss of crops or animals - animal doctoring, vaccinating, castrating, tattooing, ear tagging, birthing, breeding...

No one in my family ever lived on a farm or ranch. Animals lived in your house where they were loved, spoiled, named and slept in your bed.

I think there are many more people today than ever before who grew up in suburbia, far, far removed from the business of raising animals or crops for food than ever before.

Please buy locally when you can, support your local markets and take the time to know where your food comes from. Support the slow food movement.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Cataracts and tracking...

Rosso's cataract is getting worse. There are little tendrils coming off of it and it's getting thicker or more opaque.
I was supposed to take some pix for the eye specialist this morning but Rosso's eye is reflecting everything like a mirror... you can see the sky, us with the camera, the hay shed and not so much the cataract. We'll try again this afternoon when it's not so bright out.
The good news is that he seems very unconcerned about it all and isn't in any pain. He isn't acting more spooky at all and it really doesn't seem to bother him.
The bad news is that the vet feels ultimately his eye will begin to atrophy and eventually he'll lose it.

We are doing all we can with treatment so it's out of my control and I'm hoping for the best. I'm sure his vision is compromised now and I'd really like for him not to lose his eye completely. Keep your fingers crossed~!

I'm playing hooky from work today to take Toe up to Chatfield State Park in Denver for some tracking. Joelynn wants to see if he'll track someone other than her and it's where most of the tracking tests are held so it'd be good to get a feel for the ground cover and brush out there.

Hope you all have a fabulous Tuesday!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Like watching paint dry....

I know, I know, dressage is painfully boring for people not geeked about it like I am. Here are a couple videos from my clinic on Wednesday for those who want to see.

I wasn't sure how to shorten them?? My technology saavy is sorely lacking.

We are far from perfect but we have a good time (mostly) - Sera's objections in one of the videos aren't so much fun for either of us but we've come this far. We'll get past it in time.

(After watching the video, I see my legs need to mean it and then be still - I had no idea how busy they were being - it's really annoying - poor Sera. My hands also need to become more still as Sera can tick tock her head back and forth...when I bend her in one direction, I need to bend from my wrist, not my hand and not be so quick to let go creating the tick tock motion. More purposeful use of my hands/wrists vs. a quick bend and release... and probably a slew o' other things... another reason I love this sport... it's all about the journey.)

I really love this sport along with my race track reject, Sera, sent home from racing because she was too slow. I brought her home when she was 4. My trainer helps me immensely from the ground in my weekly lessons, the rest of her "new job" training has happened with me riding her.

Lucky for all of us Furry Husband ran to the car for something and he completely missed the arms flopping around like a chicken in the extended trot sitting. SHEW!

Here's to watching paint dry!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Mud and clinics

While talking to Rex the other night, she told me her sister - an equine surgeon at Littleton Large - had to put down 3 horses this week.

The owners turned them out to play and because the ground is so saturated and weird right now... sort of hard on top when it freezes overnight but soft and slippery underneath with all the mud... the horses broke bones while turned out from slipping in the mud.

Our horses happen to be stuck in their pens right now so the 3 pastures we rotate them in have a chance to recover from grazing and grow grass to supplement our horses' feed through the summer. They are safe.

Well, as safe as horses ever are...

I took a half day off from work Wednesday to haul Sera up to Johnson's Corner for a clinic at Bey Breze Farm with Debbie Riehl-Rodriguez. I was the first ride of the day and was glad I got there early while the mud in the driveway was frozen so I didn't get stuck!

Lucky for me, Sera didn't roll and re-up her armadillo-like coating of dried mud. She was relatively clean, tho', she has a couple scars on her legs that had looked sorta scaly earlier in the week so I rubbed in some goo to soften them. The goo attracted all sorts of dust... and when I was trying to scrub the goo out, the scars I'd softened via goo began to show pinpricks of blood. Sigh. Well, I'll leave 'em alone and she'll just have gross spots of blackened/dirty goo on her legs. Not exactly the Dressage Queen "look". Oh well!

My clinic was good. There's been improvement in our bending and consistency in the bridle. We worked on collected canter which sort of pisses Sera off and we worked on the haunches in at the canter which also pisses Sera off. (not sure WHY since she likes cantering with her haunches in when she's supposed to be straight... I guess she doesn't like it when it's MY idea vs. hers!)

Toward the end, I was to do a canter exercise of a 20 meter square and at each corner I was to ask Sera for a haunches in and to come around her haunches in a 1/4 canter pirouette. To the right this was performed fairly well - she's still learning so they weren't spot on or beautiful - but she was trying. After a short walk break we were to accomplish the same exercise to the left.

This is pretty much where Sera told me to F off. I could feel her body sort of puff up and I knew what was coming. Any time I put my leg on she'd throw her haunches out against my leg vs. in like I was asking and she'd kick.

I know she was tired and I know this is hard work for her but... uh.... sorry - till you start paying for your feed, farrier and vet bills, you'll just have to comply my darling! She was having quite a snit over the exercise. I kept my leg and whip quietly against her side so she'd "get" that her kicking and tantrums wouldn't make them go away. Only when she tries and gives in will they stop.

After 15 min. or so there was effort on her part. Not nearly as much as the other direction, but she gave and tried a little and that is when we ended the session, on this good note with lots of praise for Sera.

There WAS a funny part to my ride. Debbie wanted me to sit the extended trot. When Sera is extending the way Debbie wants her to extend, I have a hard time sitting it. I guess I was so focused on keeping my seat IN the saddle that I let loose with my arms. Debbie was laughing because my hands came up and my elbows were flapping like a chicken. She said, (in betwixt snorts and giggles) that I did stay in the saddle more...

Leave it to me to be such a dork, forget about the top half o' my body and provide such comedic relief first thing....

Furry Husband came to tape the ride - I'll try and get it posted. Tho' I may skip the arm flapping chicken, Iowa farm boy on a plow horse out in the corn field section... or maybe for humility's sake, I should post it so you can see JUST how much of a goof I am.

We'll see. I haven't watched it yet and I dunno if you need to see THAT sorta mess. grin.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

And everything seems right in the world...

I have been in such a winter funk this year. It's been a little scary how down and out I've been. Maybe it's due to the particularly bad weather we've had this winter or the death of my Pa, or my stupid back that keeps going out or other family issues and brain bugs I'm sorting out ... maybe all of the above?

Tuesday night Furry Husband helped prod me into taking a horse up to Rex's barn.

The weather was decent, the wind wasn't howling, the weather was a balmy 30 degrees and the truck and trailer were already hitched up.

I changed clothes and headed out to catch my girl, Sera. She seemed a little relieved to see me with halter in hand as well. We sloshed, slipped and slid through the mud threatening to suck the boots right off my feet in the front pasture and headed for the trailer in the driveway. I loaded her up and off we went...

I was the first to arrive at the barn, Rex wasn't home yet. I could tell because the mob of friendly dogs weren't there to greet me. I unloaded Sera and took her into the barn, turned on the arena lights, the alley lights, listened to the friendly whinnies hoping I'd be wheeling the feed cart through and began to dig in.

Sera had rolled in the mud and was COVERED in a protective, hard armor of dried mud. Oy. The mud flies off, coating your face and hair in a fine dust ... once done it's almost amazing to see there really IS a horse under there!

Rex got home and began tacking up her big Dutch horse, Obari. Rex's mom, Carol, showed up to ride her new Grand Prix horse she's had for about a month. It was really fun to be in the indoor riding my lovely mare, chatting with Rex and Carol - watching their amazing horses. Passage over to my right, flying changes to my left.... Sera's ears were soft and floppy letting me know she was just as happy and relaxed in her work as I was.

It was hard to stop and dismount because I was having such a peaceful, wonderful time. Once I had Sera groomed and ready to load up for home, Karen arrived to work her 4 yr old premium Holsteiner filly for sale. She put her on the lunge line and I stood around talking to her watching the filly go. Nice, nice young mare - such a springy, ground covering, beautiful trot.

Reluctantly I left the barn, the stars were shining and it was getting late. Sera looked at me politely - blink, blink - dinner time Mom? Furry Husband met me in the road at home and helped back the trailer into our driveway in the pitch black... (the hardest, nail biting part of our night!). I left Sera to her dinner in her pen and headed inside, quiet of mind and peaceful of heart.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The latest Groper fun...

I see The Groper on Thursdays. He has a very, very keen eye for postural and structural alignment, he's a certified physical therapist, a personal trainer and he is my friend, Patty's, little brother.

I hired him to help fix my back, the idea being if I can become stronger and strengthen my hips/lower back, maybe it won't go out when my pupils dilate.

It had gone out earlier in the week for doing something like - oh - I dunno - breathing.

He watched me walk down the hall of the gym.

"Yeah - you are propelling a lot more with your left leg. C'mere. Lay on the floor... now just relax"

And he began pressing on my pubic bone. Right on my naughty bits. Just relax - yeah. Right.
"Hmmm - you are higher on one side."

He pulls my feet up next to me bum so my knees are bent, grabs my knees and spreads my legs as wide as they will go. I fervently hoped my sweats didn't have holes in the crotch...

I thought I was going to rip in half. Good Lord.

I was lying on the floor and he is down low pressing my knees WIDE open, sort of bouncing above me and I thought, "wow - if anyone should walk by the gym window right now, it is going to look like he is totally nailing me...."

Once that "fun" little episode of pain and groping was over, we worked on various exercises to show just how weak, uncoordinated and puny I am. When I was done - sweating and panting like a wildebeest giving birth - he pulls up my shirt up to expose my belly and ribs to the wall of gym mirrors.

"See? The work we are doing is helping the set of your rib cage. Can you see that?"


DO. NOT. EVER. and when I say ever, I mean EVER. DO. THAT. AGAIN.

Listen, Groper, I have mirrors at home. If I wanted to see that mess of my pasty, white, soft dough-like belly I would look at it. At home. Alone. In the dark.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Mondays are hard...

I'm tired. Sipping peppermint tea and hoping to wake UP!

The weather guys said it'd be sunny and warm on Saturday. They were wrong.

It was cold and windy and grey with the added insult of snow on Sunday.

I took Toe tracking Saturday morning. He was GREAT and we'll head up to Chatfield Reservoir March 9 to see how he does tracking someone other than Joelynn.

Joelynn put a track in for me before I got there so I had to really pay attention to the signals Toe was giving me at the end of the line. I wasn't so good at being the dope at the end of the rope... I've got to learn to trust my little dog!

I did get me arse IN a saddle Saturday... for about 15 minutes... it was too muddy to do much of anything. I had a small area - maybe a 20 meter circle - dry enough to ride in. Hey, at least I sat on a horse for a short time!

I took both red heads up to Rex's for my Sunday ride on Sera... it's good for Rosso to hang out. He stood for trucks and trailers coming and going. There was even a large dog with a cone on it's head banging into stuff and walking around the barn yard. (dog had surgery on it's leg for something and wouldn't leave it alone)

I cleaned stalls - there is a nice 4 yr old Holsteiner filly for sale in a stall that Rex was talking to me about (ha! as if. I have my hands full with Sera and Rosso... besides I'm sure the filly is WAAAAY out of our price range..) and Rex's Mom brought in a new Grand Prix horse from Canada... he's BIG!

When I got home, the truck and trailer got stuck in all the mud... we had to unload the horses for Furry Husband to get it out. Thoroughly disgusted with the slop, we ended our day at The Rio Grande with margs and enchiladas....a perfect way to chase the grey/cold/snowy/mucky day out of our heads.