Saturday, January 29, 2011

New Job...

I gots me a new job!

I applied for a position in an area I'd been wanting to get to for awhile. My farrier's wife is in this area of work - contracting - and when he told me she got a job in a building I worked in at the time I met with her and quizzed her about her job and how she was able to move up the ranks so quickly.

She's the one who told me if I could get into contracting, it would be a good "career" move because many people are ready to retire and that means a lot of opportunity for upward mobility. Unfortunately at the time, I was in an area that didn't do anything with contracting and I knew my boss wouldn't pay training dollars for me to learn something not related to my current job.

I moved to another position, in another building where I helped a co-worker with.... the contracting team! I stayed in my position for 3 yrs, in touch with contracting and doing work related to their processes. I watched and waited for an opportunity. Things started moving around - someone left for another office - people were promoted internally to fill that spot and a beginning position came open once all the dust settled.

I had a foot in the door from the work I'd been doing with the team for 3 yrs.... I applied... out of 128 applicants, I was picked and I begin Monday. I'm nervous because of all the unknowns... new people, new job, new rules, new everything. I won't know anything. Wait. Not true - it's in the same building so I know where the bathrooms are but that's about it. Gulp.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

New Tricks...

I came back from the dog show all geeked to do more stuff with our dogs. Was flippin' through the dog trick book and decided to teach Toe to play bow... when dogs go down on their front paws with their little butts up in the air?

Here is my problem. I can never think of a cute command to pair it with when I want to teach it! I didn't want to use "bow" or "curtsy" so I used "show me your stump"... his tail is docked and he's sometimes affectionately called our little stump wagger.

The ladies at work told me I should have used "booty" or "junk in your trunk" or "hiney" vs. the stump command.

Ah well.... stump it is since he's figuring it out already.

I think the puppy, Keenan, is getting it too but for her I say "show me your tail" as she has one. grin.

Dogs sure are fun when it's winter and you are trapped inside with dark and cold and you can't ride a horse!

Wonder how weird I'd be without the indoor ani-mules?
I think no one ever wants to find that out!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I'm baaaack...

Just like a rusty penny or a smelly cat.... I always turn up again.

Portland Oregon was fun - I didn't get to really SEE much of the Portland area because 98% of the time was spent indoors at the dog show. My friend was running 2 of her border collies in agility... and if anyone has ever shown animals before, there is a lot of waiting in betwixt classes and divisions etc.

People and dog watching was great - the show was a qualifier for the agility world team - there were some speedy ass dogs and handlers in those rings.

And there are so many dog breeds now that I don't know. *gasp!* Wha, wha, WHAT? How is that possible? I regularly scope out dog breeds and watch dog shows on t.v....

I think Furry Husband and I must've missed parts of Westminster the last couple years. We're gonna have to tape it and study it this year. I saw a Pumi for the first time... a herding breed. I saw a smooth coated Saluki.... a wire haired Pharoh hound.... Who knew they could come that way? And I saw some giant working breed called a Leonberger or something... from Germany... used for carting and the like.

There were 2 English Cockers showing in agility and I talked to each of the owners and loved on their dogs - such sweet little loves - I missed the breed ring with the English Cockers tho dangit.

(Oh. wait. are you all noticing what an animal freak I am?? Is it shining thru? All my animal dork-dom in full bloom?)

My friend and I made it to 2 Diner's, Drive-in's and Dives from the Food Network show.... Pine State Biscuits - can you say YUM? A hot, flaky, buttery biscuit fresh from the oven with marionberry jam? Fabulous! I don't know what a marionberry is, they must be an OR thing and boy are they yummm-my. We also found a place called Pok Pok, a fabulously incredible Thai place with a cozy atmosphere and a hugely helpful waiter that we loved because he gave us on the money food and drink suggestions.

We had a lot of fun hanging out together, catching up and the best part was coming home to my little furry life-style in our teeny-tiny house in CO.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

I don't wanna go...

'Member in Sixteen Candles at the dance, some parents bring a kid who is kicking and fighting, they throw him into the gym with all the other kids at the dance and they shut the doors? He is pounding on the doors screaming, "No! I wanna be home with you guys!"

Sort of how I feel.

I'm leaving today to go to Portland and see my friend from high school. So much cheaper for me to go to Portland than to go to Fairbanks thanks to Southwest. She has 2 dogs she's competing with in agility there and I'm goin' to a big dog show to see her and help. See? True dork-dom.

I'll have fun once I'm out the door here and on my way there but man... leaving home is hard.

Guess that's good. Means I love my little life, right?

I found 5 places from Diners, Drive-in's and Dives - that Food Network show - so mebbe we'll go exploring and eat our way thru Portland.

Nom, nom, nom.

Have a great weekend everyone!


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

B effing RRRRRR

I had a Debbie clinic today in Johnstown which is about 45 minutes away. Furry Husband and I got up early to go walking with the dogs and it was 27. Which may sound cold but it felt really good.... there was no wind and there was cloud cover so to me it felt much warmer than 27.

As the morning went on it warmed up to 30 with sun, no wind and it really felt pretty nice out. Boy that sun makes a difference doesn't it?

I loaded Sera up, drove to my clinic... rode. Nice ride... practiced lateral work, lengthening and collection. No changes this time because Sera Sue was anticipating and kickin' like a chicken. So we did some canter work asking her for lateral movements shoulder fore, haunches out, straighten, half-pass, straighten to get her desensitized to my leg... just cuz my leg is there doesn't mean I'm gonna ask for a flippin flying change. yeesh.

I cooled her out and noticed a black cloud bank coming. Snow began to swirl in the air. I loaded her up and beat it home. About 15 miles was white out, strong winds... thinking, "uh-oh....not liking this...." but you gotta just keep going.

Got home and with the 20 mph wind, the temp is 12.

And that is B effing RRRRRR.

Can you say .... dork?

A couple years ago I met my best friend from high school in Seattle. She lives in Fairbanks, AK now and it's cheaper (thank-you Southwest!) to fly to Seattle than it is to fly to Fairbanks.

While we were exploring the Seattle market, we side-stepped into a funky little magic store. I bought this. I dunno why, but I've always wanted to learn how to make balloon animals.

I know. I'm weird.

I've had this little baggie o' balloons sitting around for a couple years because when I tried to blow one of them up... after stretching it... my eyeballs about burst out of my head and I almost gave myself a stroke.

I talked to a woman at work who is an actual, real-live, clown as a side gig. She told me I needed a balloon pump. So the balloons sat because when I'm out and about running errands I would never think... "Oh! I need to stop and pick up a balloon pump...."

And then something magical happened last night.

Furry Husband left this air pump thingy out after putting more air in our exercise ball.


I put one of the balloons on the end of the air pump thingy and ... it worked! I looked at the directions to make a balloon dog on the back of that little purple piece o' paper and.....


I offered to try and make a hat for Furry Husband...
I don't know why but he walked out of the house, got in his car and drove away.
Geez. I hope he comes back....

Monday, January 17, 2011

Toe is a RN dog now....

Mom.... I'm tired.
Yup. He's officially a registered nurse now.
No. That can't be right....
Oh, yeah. RN stands for a rally novice title in the AKC world. grin.

Saturday was packed... it was a rally and obedience only show. I saw faces I hadn't seen in nearly 10 yrs. It was sort of weird and I was the first dog in the ring... never having done rally before... not having been in a ring for a helluva long time.... I was really nervous.

So nervous, Toe was thinking, "who ARE you?". He began to blow me off cuz I was all wigged out. I noticed my knees were knocking and my hands were shaking. Told myself - "Hey Self. This is a dog show... no babies are going to die if you mess up. This is nothing in the whole wide world of things."

Dunno why I get myself so wound up.

I had a handler error that cost me 10 points for a final score of 82 out of 100. Still passing. We had our first leg.

Second day I wasn't as nervous... Furry Husband came to cheer me on...I scored 99 and took SECOND place out of 28 dogs! Way to go Toe! Second leg aquired.

Third day - today - the course was longer, harder and Toe was wearing out. We scored a respectable 93 and we picked up our third leg for his RN title. Yippee!

Overall we had fun and rally was a great, low-key, positive way to get back in the ring after all these years. Now we focus on getting his novice obedience, or CD, title.


I think you can safely say I'm a true animal geek.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Gentle moment?

I had a haircut today... but before sitting in the stylist chair, I needed to "spend some pennies" (aka pee).

As I flushed in the small, tastefully decorated, one bowl room, I noticed a can of air freshener on the back of the toilet tank.

It was called Gentle Moments.


Generally anything in my life requiring air freshener is about as far opposite as you can get from a gentle moment....

And now you have a wee glimpse into some things crossing, flashing, transmitting and jumping across my brain synapses and neurons etc.

I'm so sorry for you...

Dock dogs?

Check out this site...

Have you heard of or seen the dock dogs? They run down a dock, launch themselves off the end into the water retrieving something...

A friend of mine was going to a beginner session and asked if I wanted to come. I can't make the January date but maybe February I'll get Toe-ster swimmin in da water...

I heard this sport can contribute to back issues so I'll check that out. I'm sure in the beginner seminar there is no extreme "diving"... won't hurt to check it out and get the Toe Truck in some water.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Buh-bye chickens...

We gave our chickens away!

We had 5 hens in a pen Furry Husband made for them. Once we brought Toe home, the chickens had to be moved out of the yard area. Toe is a BIRD DOG and he really, really, really wanted a chicken.

We didn't like having the chickens out in the pasture running extension cords out to heat their water and they became out of sight, out of mind. They were fed and watered but living on the periphery and not really enjoyed as part of the "herd", you know?

Furry Husband's buddy, Josh, wanted chickens. He built a pen and we gave him our girls. He is overjoyed to have them and our feedstore sells eggs from locals so we'll buy them there... still farm fresh.

Win - win.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Horse hair braiding or hitching...

I have been sort of enamoured of this art form for a while. If you aren't sure what I'm talking about look here

I bought a book about it and I can do the braiding but I can't finish off the braid with the hitching ... I just can't seem to understand the hitching from a book. I tried to learn this about 5 yrs ago. It was put on the back burner because I got stuck...

I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that it's an American Indian and Mexican cultural art form. I've been tempted to walk into Mexican restaurants and ask if anyone knows how to do this and would they teach me... but somehow that seemed really derogatory to me.

It's been in the back of my mind all this time...

I met a man a couple weeks ago who says he knows how to do it. He doesn't speak English, but his son translated for me. He showed up at Rex's hearing she needed help cleaning stalls. I flagged him down before he left to ask if he knew how. I think he could show me how to do it without language being much of a barrier... I know a tiny bit of Spanish and Furry Husband knows restaurant Spanish... I think between the two of us, we could communicate basic ideas.

Besides, from trips we've taken abroad, where there is a will - there is a way to communicate with other human beings when you don't speak the same language... hands, pointing, using pictures...

He works at a barn near our house and I need to go there to find him. I haven't with the sub-zero weather...but hoping to find him this weekend. I have washed tail hair at the ready...

Could I be any more ADD? Is that quilt ever going to be finished if I try to pick up the art of horsehair hitching?

Ay yi yi.

I'm excited to learn this - I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New Horses....

After my lesson with Rosso, a woman from WY brought her 8 yr old, green broke, TB/Dutch Warmblood cross mare to get some video. The mare hadn't had anything done for a year other than farrier work, vaccinations etc. She loaded, trailered in from WY, had never been to Rex's arena. She unloaded nicely, walked calmly on the lead around the arena... the blanket came off and she was turned loose.

She calmly walked around the arena, walked up to people for attention...the owner had to chase her around a bit with the lunge whip... even then, she mostly trotted... galloped a couple times... once the chasing stopped, she would walk up back up to the people to be with them. No snorting, no bucking, nothing you might expect from a horse touched for the first time in a year let loose in a new place. She seemed perfectly at ease, confident and relaxed.

She isn't papered. She has a lovely topline, very nice conformation... she moves wonderfully and could certainly do any work asked of her. She is 15.2 or 15.3. Dark bay... asking price $4,500. Rex thinks I could get her for $4,000.


I was/am really tempted. I was really impressed with her demeanor combined with her ability... and the price... I liked that she was smaller....


I have a hard enough time finding time (especially in winter) for my two riding horses. I'm just getting over brain bugs with Rosso who is also a green broke 8 yr old.

However, he is a big scardey cat which is what my brain bugs get going about and this mare was so calm and handled everything with ease. I can tell you when I take Rosso to a new arena, it will NOT go so well. It's not that I'm projecting, it's just absolutely not his personality to take things that much in stride.

If I didn't have Rosso, I'd scoop this mare up quickly. I really did like her that much.

But I do have Rosso and in this market... well. I have Rosso. He's a good boy and pleasant to have around, I'm not going to unload him - but man. I really, really liked that mare's temperament in combination with the rest. She is still green broke which means I'd have much work in front of me.

After my trials and tribulations with Rosso I had sworn off the green horses and I keep saying my next one will be broke and ready to go.

Big sigh for reality.

Speaking of new horses....

My neighbor who watches me with binoculars? Mrs. Kravitz? (she watches everyone with's not just me)

She lives behind this family... this family is directly to the East of our house. This family is not really the smartest family when it comes to animals. They had horses in their pasture once with a sagging fence held together with a mish mosh of hay bale twine, barb wire, rotted wood posts, t-posts, smooth wire... sort of whatever they could find. The fence was low enough in areas for me to step over without effort. The pasture is weedy and sparse. There is no shelter. There is trash and debris in the pasture. Their horses routinely got out and would run screeching up and down the roads.

One night when their horses got out, my 2 yr old Holsteiner colt, the one that I'd saved up to buy by working 2 jobs for years, tried to jump our fence. He didn't make it and injured himself so badly we had to put him down.

I wasn't so pleased when three horses, two weanlings and an older mare, showed up in this family's pasture.

They are owned by someone else. He came over and patched the fence a little better than it was before. The horses haven't gotten out. Not yet anyway.

He comes and throws hay to them once a day. The weanlings have large bellies and look wormy. They all need their feet trimmed...they aren't starving or completely neglected. They have water and feed once a day. Anyone with horses in this family's pasture is a dumbass, in my book, anyway.

The guy shows up and tries to get the weanlings to come to him... they are leery and don't come to him. He chases them around the pasture... stops... tries to get them to come to him and when they don't he throws sticks or rocks at them and stomps off.


It's not really the best situation by a long shot.

What's this have to do with Mrs. Kravitz?

Well, she's been looking off and on for another horse. Her two horses have had lameness issues. She hasn't found anything because she doesn't want to pay very much money and she wants a horse that is dead broke, trained in basic dressage and 100% sound. She thinks by offering a good home someone would give her a free horse or a horse for less money.

She's been watching the debacle in the neighbor's pasture and in the last cold snap, she marched over, paid the man $700 for one of the foals. She took the one she liked the best and she called to tell many at the barn we all ride at. She says she couldn't take it anymore - watching them suffer.

Mostly everyone gave a large, collective groan.

Mrs. Kravitz wants to ride at Third Level by the time she's 65, yet she won't listen to the instructors or judges or clinicians. She has a different answer for why her horses won't do what they need to do to progress and she's sort of her own worst enemy. It's not that she can't physically do the's that she gets in her own way and will never really progress because of this.

So when she brought home this horse... no one saw much good coming out of it.

Mrs. Kravitz was over the moon about the little horse. She begged me to come look at it... she showed me how she can hug it around it's neck, kiss it's nose, lead it around and how she's taught it to stay. The weanling left behind was calling and calling... I asked if Mrs. Kravitz was bothered by it. She told me no - that one is a spitfire and it bites. She didn't feel bad it was left in the pasture and she didn't feel bad for the older horse because it wasn't a baby.

The next week the farrier came out.

The farrier told her the little horse was a conformational train wreck. He said the other weanling in the pasture had straight legs and was the better horse of the two.

She asked me if I wanted the horse she rescued for free.

*cough* No.

Now she tells me she feels so bad for the other little horse. She didn't feel bad last week.

And here I had sort of convinced myself... well, if she wants to save a horse and have a pet... so be it. Heck, we just brought home a "mutt" puppy that needed a home at Christmas time, who was I to judge?

Turns out tho' she didn't really want to save a horse... looks like she wanted a cheap, young horse that might turn into a star riding horse. Now that she knows it's not going to be, she is looking to find a home for it.

In this market?

A crooked legged weanling with little training?


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Rally & Rosso

Hez saved a 2nd person from the same mistake I made in the last post in a round about way.

I went to the drop-in rally class Friday night and a woman there is entered in the same show with her German Shepherd dog. Somehow we got on the subject of Novice A vs. Novice B... she made the same mistake I did. She put an obedience title on a dog about 15 yrs ago.

I told her the trial secretary was able to move me into Novice B and she should e-mail her right away. See how awesome Hez is? Saving us returning and clueless dog performance people from ourselves.

I had a ride on Rosso yesterday.

I hadn't ridden him for two weeks with Christmas and New Years weekends I don't trust him outside at my place, and yeah, we'll get there one o' these days, but in the meantime, I'm using the indoor arena and the watchful eye o' my most excellent friend and trainer!

He needed some face time even tho' it's always very tempting to ride Sera because I have so much fun, I'm learning all sorts of new things and I don't have any brain bugs about her..

Rosso was very pleasant... I lunged him and he was quite obedient... I took him to the middle of the arena and climbed on. He stood quietly like a good boy. I sat on him and scritched his withers...told him what a smart, good boy he was and asked for walk. Away we went...

The arena had 2 other horses and probably 6 people including Rex... it's a small dressage arena 20 x 60... and it was busy and loud. After a short walk break, Rosso popped up in front giving his head a shake because he didn't really feel like going back to trot.

I stayed on. I stayed calm. I pushed him forward and he gave it up. I wasn't shaky afterwards and all remained well. Yay for me! Y'all know I've been getting over some pretty big brain bugs with him for a while... been worried they might reappear if he showed some "behavior".

We moved on... after another walk break we were going to move into right lead canter. Just about this time the other two horses left the arena along with all the people save Rex. Rosso didn't like being abandoned. He wanted to run, fret, go sideways vs. straight, shake his head and in general act like a big idjit.

And ya know what?

I stayed on and I stayed calm.

Who IS this person??

We stayed on a 20 meter circle, spiral in, spiral out, change direction in the circle, spiral in, spiral out.. asking him to focus on ME while staying forward. Before ya know it his trot became rhythmic, he was reaching into my hand and his ears began swiveling back to see what I wanted next.

We never really did get to right lead canter because he worked hard learning to listen to me. But it's all quite fine with me.... think it was a lesson well learned for him and for me. We'll get to right lead canter next time. He got over himself pretty fast and I rode him through it without getting a bad case o' the jello legs.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

*Head hits desk*

Thank the good Lord above for my friend Hez.

She read my blog and told me Novice A is only for dogs AND handlers who have never earned a title before.

Crap, crap, crap.

I earned a CD on my big ol' Booker dog prolly 8 or 9 yrs ago ... meaning I need to be in Novice B.

I thought it was on the dog - if the dog hadn't had a title in rally or obedience - it would be a Novice A dog. Guess I need to brush up on my AKC regs.

Ya think?

I notified the show secretary and she can move me into Novice B.


On a side note, another of my favorite comics in the paper is Rhymes with Orange by Hilary B. Price.

Furry Husband says her comic yesterday nailed me spot on. Geez. Just cuz I sing little nonsensical songs to the cats and dogs every now and again? OK - ok.... maybe daily.... (reason 529 y'all should be glad you don't have to live with me...)


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Rally and Joe Hill

I received my judging program for the Rally show I entered Little Toe in.


I'm nervous!

This will be the first "show" since I was showing Booker in obedience and conformation... so long ago... in a galaxy far, far away.

The Novice classes begin at 11:50am each day... Novice B goes first then my class, Novice A. Monday, I'm the FIRST one in the ring for my class. *nervous sweating begins*

You'd think by Monday, I'd be settled in right? Oh, you should all be so very glad you don't live in my head!

I'm hoping to get Toe's Rally title in one weekend. If we don't, it'll be my fault for being weird and nervous enough that Toe looks at me and thinks "What in the...."

Wonder if they sell any margarita's at the venue? That aughta relax me... could slosh into the ring. Oh hell, that wouldn't be a good idea either.

Speaking of hell....

I finished "Horns" by Joe Hill last night.

HIGHLY recommend it. Joe Hill is the pen name for Stephen King's son. It is not scary like his Pa, tho it is in a similar vein. It won't have you jumping out of your skin or terrified to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night when the house is dark... however, it is an excellent read in it's own right.

Wonderfully imaginative, well thought out, developed, surprise twist or two, characters you love and others you hate, along with an ending that makes you give a big, happy, bittersweet sigh.

Was hard to put the book down. I think it's better than his last book, Heart Shaped Box and think his books are only going to get better and better.

Poor Furry Husband had to repeat things to me more than twice while I was engrossed. It's worse than trying to get a guys attention when he's really into a close football game with his favorite team and only seconds on the clock, when I'm sucked into a good book.

Hmmm? Whazzat honey? Whadja say? Sorry, I was at a good part....

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Debbie Clinic and quilt update...

My quilt top isn't moving much. I don't know how my Mom-In-Law does it. I stitch ONE long row across and I feel like my eyes will fall out of my head. (I'm doing this by hand - no sewing machines involved and yes, I realize it would go much faster with a sewing machine)

I had a clinic with Debbie Riehl-Rodriguez last Wednesday before the weather turned bitterly cold. It was really fun.

May I tell you how much I love my little red-headed Sera Sue? Feels like I should be writing her name in my notebook with hearts and flowers surrounding the script...

Debbie is normally very difficult to impress. Many times I think Sera and I are doing well and Debbie will bring me back to reality. She is very encouraging and supportive and at the same time, she lets me know things aren't quite as peachy keen as I may think.

She said Sera and I have made big improvements! She kept telling me how pleased she was. I kept telling her, if she's pleased, I'm pleased!

She thought Sera was overall in much better balance and carriage over her back. She was jumping nicely thru her canter and her musculature was developing the right way, she was consistent in the bridle and coming out through her withers. I need to work on keeping my inside leg more still and supportive... my hands more quiet...sit back a bit more... but over all she says we've made really good improvement.

She asked me about flying changes.

I told her what we'd been working on, how we'd been introducing them but that Sera kicked out behind.

Debbie said - lets give it a try.

She wanted me to canter around the short side, move across the arena on the diagonal, at X, or the middle of the arena, begin leg yield to push her hind legs closer together and before reaching the other side, ask for a lead change.

It took a couple tries for Sera to react with a change. And when she did change, it was clean but she kicked out.

I told Debbie - that is what she does.

Debbie said - that's IT? That's ALL she does? You didn't even lose your seat!

I said - well, no. I don't, but that is what she does, she kicks out.

Debbie laughed and got excited. She said, I thought you meant she KICKED OUT!

And she proceeded to tell me about horses who kicked out so violently their riders ended up on the horses neck, or on the ground or the horse would bolt and the rider was along for the ride.

Ohhhhhhh.... well, this is my first experience with flying change so I guess in this instance ignorance really is bliss. heh heh.

We practiced our flying change a couple more times... not making a big deal out of anything if she didn't change, bringing her to trot and asking for the lead change. If Sera got too excited and began kicking out over and over when I brought my leg back, we brought her to walk and asked for haunches in to let her know my leg meant to move, not to kick out. All very calm, quiet and no big deal.

Debbie thinks if we can get our flying changes, we can show Third Level next season.

I'm happy we are improving... I know there is ALWAYS room for improvement... but I'm sure glad Sera and I gave Debbie something to smile about this time around!