Saturday, February 26, 2011

Rosso and Keenan

Wanted to get a shot of me on the red-headed boy.... Rosso.

We had a lovely lesson today.... all sorts of new things.... ground poles, a horse in the arena doing a lameness exam with everyone clucking and chasing the horse to get it moving.... a wee person just 3 yrs old in a polka-dotted coat toodling around, and while lunging - a Border Collie dog running on the outside of his lunge circle but going the opposite way.

Rosso was very quiet with all of it going on... it helps build my confidence more and more. We'll be at our first show before ya know it.

He's a good boy and I think he likes being liked vs. being on the outs with his hoo-man.

Aaaannnnndddd - here's Keenan, the new puppy. She is very floppy. We think she may be full of sawdust vs. real bone and muscle.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

RR Ties plus 10 yrs....

About 10 yrs ago, I asked my Mom for a load of RR ties for my birthday... weird request right?

I used them to outline a small dressage arena and then we had our neighbor, Jack, (who has all the farm implements - dump trucks - tractors etc. one man could want) to put about 3" of sand into the "arena".

I dragged and hauled and moved those RR ties from the pile to my measured 20x60 meter area.

Have you ever tried to move a RR tie?

One word.


OK 4 words - REALLY heavy and awkward.

Oh man, those suckers were heavy - but I drug them all around and put them 2 high around this area.

This past weekend when I rode Sera, one of the RR ties had been knocked off by one of the horses jumping over it or some such thing when they were loose in the front pasture where the arena is.

I walked over to put it back up.



Allrighty then.

10 years makes a big difference evidently cuz I had a helluva time moving that tie and all I had to do was flip it back on top of the one it fell off of. I eventually got it up there but I was surprised at my struggling attempts....


So I guess this means I really am getting older? I can't just be 28 in my mind all the time? My body is really and truly aging???


That blows.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What do they SEE???

The past 4 days our cats have been mesmerized by something in the bathroom.

We walk past and there is a cat staring intently in the corner... they look up as we walk by and run away.

Sometimes it's one cat, sometimes it's as many as 3 cats. Not always the same cat or cat combo.

Our floor is tile... the corner they stare at is where the electric baseboard heat thingy ends. I vacuumed all up in there with the hose attachment.

It's metal and tile.... there are no spiders or webs or anything interesting I can see.

Furry Husband took the front off of the heater... nothing.... no evidence of other life forms.

Behind the bathroom is our bedroom closet and the cats are always in the closet snoozing away... we don't catch them STARING at anything in the closet - just in the bathroom.


None of the dogs have alerted to anything in the bathroom and Toe is really intent about chasing and/or catching any little, furry, quick-moving things like mice.


Mebbe it's their master plan for world domination... to slowly drive their hoo-mans insane and take over....

Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday strikes again!

And here I was all "oh, yoga keeps my back from going out..."

I woke up this morning, got out of bed and went uh-oh... feels like my back is out... I did some stretches on the floor and was in mild discomfort. Furry Husband said I was definately looking crooked.


Figured I could soldier on through my day - met my awesome girlfriend from Colorado Springs for some lunch - drove home to hook up the trailer for my ride with Rex. I got out of the truck and....

I sneezed.

Huge shoots of pain from a sneeze.

Allrighty then.

Can't see me hooking up the trailer, getting a horse trailered over and much less riding said horse. Sigh.

I called and cancelled... felt like the biggest wuss... ended up stayin in, taking ibuprophen and watching the Dog Whisperer...

I called the chiro early thinking I could get in and go on with my day as planned but they were closed for President's Day... I'll get in tomorrow and be good as new.

Hey at least I got to see Hez today! AND she gave me coma-inducing cinnamon rolls....


is it bad to get that much drool all over the computer key board?

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Know I haven't written 'bout da boy in a while. It's because I've been going to Rally shows and to OR to see a friend and there have been negative number temps and 40mph winds. February has kept me indoors a lot and any horseback riding has been non-existent.

It's windy today, 20 to 25mph but it's not 40+ mph, so I went out to tack him up and lunge him. He hasn't really been touched in a month and I figured with the wind, it'd be a trying session with me watching him act like a wild jungle animal, getting him under control, listening and thinking to myself..."'s this ever gonna work?"

Well, oho!

I tacked him up and led him out to my sand arena... he was calm and obedient... lots of transitions up and down from walk to trot to canter and back down again - cars, wind... nah, he didn't care. See buddy boy? I just know you have this in you... what a good boy!

Because he was so good, I didn't keep him working long... there is a reward for being quiet and listening to his hoo-man. I had a grin from ear to ear and gave him lots of skritches all over his face in all his most itchiest spots.

It's all about the little things in life...


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Good Day

Today was 50's, sunny and NO WIND. Oy. The wind last weekend throughout the week about killed me... 30-40+ mph. Talk about exfoliation.

Today was lovely.

I rode my big ol' red-headed mule, Sera Sue this morning in the sunshine and loved every minute of it. And I went trackin' with our little dog, Toe.

J is helping me to reach the TDX or Tracking Dog Excellent level. The tracks are aged longer and obstacles are introduced... things like culverts, large logs, heavy brush or shrubs, dirt roads....

We took him out after the track aged for 2.5 hrs... and he just went right along.... he found all the obstacles J dropped, tracked over a dirt road twice and found his final article, a leather glove, at the end. SUCH a good dog!

While on the track, I found a 4 or 5 point deer antler.... so cool! I've never found anything like that before. J picked it up for me because heaven forbid, I stop following my dog who is hot on the track and mess him up... grin.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Scoop the Poop.

Has anyone seen the movie Forget Paris with Billy Crystal?

Remember the scene where his wife's old, ailing father comes to live with them and as they drive along, the old man speaks out loud every single sign they pass? "Burger King." "Neighborhood Cleaners." "York Street." "Macy's." "Olive Garden." "Smith Avenue."

It goes on and on.

Well, the odd thing is, as my Dad aged, if I drove him somewhere he'd do the same thing, which always made me laugh to myself on the inside.

Today, I was at a red light and I just happened to look in my rear view mirror at the exact time an old man with white hair and thick glasses waiting behind me in his minivan, staring at my bumper, read the only bumper sticker I have with words .... I could CLEARLY see his mouth say "Scoop the poop".

Look in the mirror and say it - very obvious lip reading. Because, trust me, I'm not at all skilled in lip reading. People trying to mouth something to me usually give up with a frustrated shake of their head and roll of their eyes because I'm so bad at it.

I laughed outright at that little old man reading my bumper sticker out loud, all alone in his minivan.

**And yeah... I whole-heartedly believe all dog owners aughta scoop the poop when they take their dogs to any public venue or on walks in neighborhoods. Who wants to be walking along on a gorgeous sunny day and see or worse yet - step in - a big ol' pile o' shit? Disgusting.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hot yoga....

I took a hot yoga class at the gym the other day. Never took a hot yoga class before.

My first impression?

Ewww. Gross.

The room is heated to 100 and at first I was hanging in there.... about half-way through I was checking my watch, thinking to myself "When is this going to end?" "Good gravy it's hot in here" "I can't breathe" "How is it possible for the tops of my feet to be this sweaty?" "The guy next to me is beginning to stink" "Ugh, I think I might puke" "I can't breathe" "It's so HOT" "My shins have rivulets of sweat dripping down them..."

All those thoughts took away any of the peaceful namaste I usually enjoy ... it's like when you have to pee really really bad in an office meeting... pretty soon you have no idea what people are talking about because all you can think about is how full your poor little bladder is.

I felt refreshed AFTER the class, once I was in normal room temperatures again. Tho' I think it was pure relief it was over vs. a benefit from the hot yoga.

My gym charges extra for unlimited yoga and I signed up for the trial of $20 for 20 days of yoga. While I was waiting to pay, with my sopping wet hair and completely and totally soaking sweat drenched clothes, the instructor appeared. I asked him about the benefit behind the heat.

He told me increased circulation, deeper muscle stretch and that it simulates practicing in India. I asked about sweating out toxins... he wrinkled up his face and said, "sort of" in a way that I knew was not truly a benefit.

I like regular yoga - it really does keep my back from going out and it improves my mental attitude. I sweat enough in a "normal" class.

Don't think the Shanster's gonna be making another appearance in the hot room. Shanster not liking the hot yoga.

Thank goodness I tried it AFTER work hours and not over lunch. There woulda been no way to salvage that mess to sit at a desk the rest of the afternoon with other humans.


I'm going to the noon time Anusara yoga class today in a 72 degree room and tomorrow I'll try the Prana Flow in an 89 degree room.

Yoga, yoga, yoga.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Falling down on the job...

Geez. Westminster Dog Show was Monday and Tuesday night on USA channel and I didn't even give you guys a heads up!

I asked people at work if they were going to watch it. (Funny looks anyone?)

The Scottish Deerhound won Westminster if you couldn't live without knowing. grin. The black American Cocker Spaniel who won the Sporting Group is co-owned by a lady I've met at tracking events....sort of small world.

The announcer pointed out when the dogs showing lived with their owners and worked doing what they were bred to do herding cattle or sheep etc., and if the dogs were working as therapy dogs in their communities. Pretty cool.

*Random* - the Food Network had a cake challenge on last night. The chefs were creating life-size dog breeds featured at Westminster out of cake. Of course I watched it... the Standard Poodle won and they made the fur out of cotton candy.

Peoples are so creative!

Now, everyone go give your dogs a big ol' sloppy kiss....cuz while they weren't at Westminster, they are well loved and part of your lives and that is what it's all about!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mrs. Kravitz strikes again....

I stopped by our neighbor, Mrs. Kravitz's, house tonight. Remember her? She has a really good heart and at the same time she watches us with binoculars and calls to tell us what she sees?

Well, she hurt her foot.

I asked what happened?

"Well - you remember when Jack LaLanne died?"

I nod with a questioning expression.

"The day after he died, I woke up and I felt GREAT. My neck didn't hurt, my back didn't hurt, my ankle didn't hurt... I mean, I felt like a million bucks. So I figure Jack LaLanne had entered my body.

I had so much energy and I felt so good, that I jumped up and went downstairs - I did karate, I rode the exercise bike, I went out and did all the horse chores, I came back in and did more karate - rode the bike some more. I was going crazy!

Mr. Kravitz came home and I told him how great I felt and how much energy I had and how Jack LaLanne was residing in my body now.

Well, at about 8:00pm, he left.

I couldn't move. It was horrible.

My foot hurt so bad that I went to the orthopedic doctor and he told me I ripped all the tendons in the bottom of my foot that connect my toes to my foot."

I told her, " Mrs. Kravitz... don't let ANYONE else in your body. Only Mr. Kravitz can be in your body, o.k.?"

She replied glumly... "Yeah but that don't make me feel like a million dollars...."

Mr. Kravitz was standing there and he said - "HEY!"

And I said, "HEY!"

And then I left.

And no. I am not making that up. How in the world could I ever make something like that up? God love her and I love her along with all her craziness.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

It's like Vegas in our goat pen....

What goes on in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

I don't know what happened.

Spot's red fleece vest was unzipped and laying on the ground when we came out to do chores one morning. Spot was nekkid.

The zipper was busted and Spot gets cold.

Furry Husband got her some new winter coats ... I got an e-mail from him ... and I quote:


Allrighty then....

Toe, Heel!

More animal talk.... grin. I'm such an animal nerd.

I had a lesson with this woman in Denver about Toe and his obedience work. I feel somewhat confident I know enough to get Toe's novice obedience title or CD (companion dog) but wanted someone who has been involved to take a look and make sure I was on the right track.

After all, Toe is my first small dog and it does make a difference in handling.

F put me through a mock judging like there would be at a show. Mostly we were o.k. - his stays are spot on. His stand for exam was good. The figure 8 was decent. His come to me and finish into heel position were o.k. The thing I most need work on is my heeling.

Since I've had big dogs, I always treated with my right hand. When big dogs are in heel position or sitting next to you in heel position, their heads are right there next to your hip... they can see your right hand by just moving their head or neck.

Toe was forging in front and heeling wide... well, it's because I'm using my right hand to treat him. He's small and can't simply move his head to see the treat or my hand... he has to go wide and pop out in front a little to see. My hand goes from my right hip, alllllll the way across my body and down to him at calf level.... that is a long way for a treat to travel to a waiting dog's mouth.

DUH! Made so much sense when F told me why he was going wide and out in front of me.

Now I need to break old habits and treat with my left hand to keep him close in and looking up at me. I'm not very coordinated. It's gonna take me a minute to break that old habit...

Once I began doing that more in my lesson, his heeling really improved.... I also need to get a full length mirror and practice looking in the mirror and not down at him... looking down pushes my shoulder back which in turn pushes the dog out and away from my body. Hmmm. Gotta find a place to practice where I can set up a mirror. It's not going to be in our tiny 900 sq. ft. house... we have no long hallways or big rooms.

I'll work on it for a month and call F for a repeat evaluation.

As she said, "He's got a lot to work through while you get yourself together!"


Isn't that usually how it goes?

Dang hairless monkeys always messing up the 4 legged furred and hairy things.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

New Test Clinic Notes...

I went to a clinic about the new USDF dressage tests and what judges are looking for. As I said before - there are only 3 tests at each level, all are under 6 minutes and they all focus on harmony.

The Oregon Dressage Society has a very thorough omnibus you should consider buying if you will be showing. You can get them at The directives (which we should all read and take note of and many riders don't according to the judges) are listed in the OR omnibus and they are not in the CO omnibus. Directives are NOT listed in order of importance when printed in a test.

There is much more emphasis on transitions with the new tests - can you say coefficient? (meaning if you do a nice transition where it's called for in a test, it's like a Scrabble double word score and you can take it times 2)

Anything I cap locked meant I underlined it in my notes so there must've been special emphasis around those words or ideas. Hope this is helpful to someone!

The test changes focus on:

Intro Level
Forward and steady tempo - elastic contact - proper geometry of figures - correct bend, circles and corners. No more slice of bread or egg shaped circles. Riders will be judged on independent steady hands and a correctly balanced seat. The only coefficient in this test is for submission.

Training Level
Supple is key in this test. Horses should be freely forward - steady rhythm - accept contact with the bit. Willingness is huge - it's mentioned 9 times in the test directives along with calm. The canter transition has a coefficient. The judges say the USDF is emphasizing correctness vs. flashy. Will there be a change? Guess we'll wait and find out eh?

First Level
In addition to the Training Level goals, there is a call for more push or thrust forward with improved balance and thoroughness. Horses should be more consistent in contact with the bit. Supple and consistency in tempo are used a lot in the directives for this test. There is a new movement of lengthening the canter now. Changes in collective marks are for gaits x 1, impulsion x 2, submission x 2.

Rider collectives are going in this direction but the judges said they are not in stone at this time: Rider position - correct placement of weight, able to follow horse's mechanics (elasticity)
Use of aids - effective without obvious aids, geometry of figures
Harmony of horse and rider - attentive, relaxed, fluid, trust in rider

Second Level
The forward thrust from First Level is required with more weight in hind quarters - more uphill - especially in medium gaits - horse should be reliably on the bit - STRAIGHT and with more bend, suppleness, thoroughness, balance and self carriage. Clarity of transitions - the judges talked here how many rider/horse teams sort of simply peter out after the medium gaits and there isn't a clear transition between medium trot and collected trot. Harmony is emphasized with words like calm and effortless in the directives. There is more counter canter and the size of the turn on the haunches is defined to 1 meter.

Third Level
More uphill than Second Level and now increased engagement and EXTENDED gaits are introduced. Again , well defined transitions are emphasized and the need for engagement with increased flexion in the lumbar-sacral joint and hocks. The forehand should be lighter. Regularity, uphill and fluency are the words used most in the directives. Flying change on the center line is new. Test 3 has 2 changes, test 2 has 4 changes. There is no coefficient or special attention paid to flying changes - there was talk about how "we" make the flying changes a big deal and they should not be and the new tests reflect this.

Fourth Level
This was the level with the most changes. The directives talk about sufficient suppleness, impulsion, LIGHTNESS, engagement of hindquarters, CADENCE and EXPRESSION. There are 4 tempi changes which is new, a working canter pirouette, collected walk pirouette, a focus on permeability - meaning no blockage of energy, lateral reach and SELF CARRIAGE, elasticity and suspension, self - carriage in the flying change, size of the half-pirouette is not AS important. Test 3 isn't as hard as it previously was - many didn't show Fourth Test 3 and moved right into Saint Georges level because it was just as hard - they are trying to use Fourth Level to prepare the riders well without frustrating them. Straightness under submission is a change in the collective marks.

I'm still here....

Just hibernating...

It's cold and dark and hmph.

I went to an interesting clinic last week... it was a sit and listen vs. riding... given by two judges who discussed the new dressage tests. (they change tests every 4 years)

I took notes and will post them when I can find them.... mostly the big focus is on harmony and the reoccurring message was that a foible or mistake is really not the end of the world as long as the big picture and the whole test flows well and is pleasing to watch.

They are also reducing Training to Third level to three tests vs. four which was interesting to me tho' I don't know why. grin. Well one less test to memorize anyway. And judges really don't care if you have a caller or not, doesn't affect your score one iota.

I'd always memorized mine because I think it looks better.... but maybe if I'm not stressing over possibly forgetting my test, I'd have a nicer ride? Dunno. Will have to think about it.

Stay warm and cozy wherever you are!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Prancing around?

Thanks so much for all the well wishes on the new job! Think it's going to be a good place... busy and the people seem nice.

A new co-worker is a younger fella. He and his wife bought a 25 yr. old draft cross that his wife learned how to ride on. They moved from the East Coast and brought "Joe" with them. And I really think that is fabulous - an oldster that found a home. Anyway, this fella is learning how to ride and told me he doesn't know very much about horses. When I told him my focus was on Dressage he asked, "What is that anyway? Isn't that just prancing around? I like to talk to my horse!"


Yes. That is what we do, Sera and I, prance around and I never, ever speak to her, encourage her, skritch her or have any sort of affection for her. (roll eyes)

I didn't take too much offense because he doesn't know .... think I said some generic thing about how any horse can do Dressage, it encourages good movement in any horse and it's definitely very much a team effort between horse and rider.

I told Furry Husband and it's become a phrase we use now.

When I head out to do chores he asks me if I'm going out to prance around. When he goes to get the paper I tell him to be sure he prances around out there....

So I want you all to go forth and do your best to prance around in whatever you choose to do this weekend!

I'm headed to see the tax man today .... wonder if HE does any fancy prancing around?