Thursday, January 19, 2012


Flying changes that is.

I really try to be a good student, do my homework and progress.  I took it seriously at the last clinic when Debbie told me I needed to work on my flying changes every time I rode Sera. 

I started at home with the simple changes - canter, walk, canter.  Making sure Sera was really round and through and not inverting or getting stiff in her neck, back or jaw when I asked... I did them all over... long side, diagonally across the arena, figure 8s, half circles etc.  I did them with various canter strides in between too.  Sometimes 5 strides, sometimes 10 strides.  I made them as unpredictable as possible so she'd really be listening to my seat and legs.

And every once and a while, I asked for a flying change.  If she got stuck and it didn't happen, no big deal, I continued on with my simple changes.  I'd ask for a flying change again somewhere in the middle of all the simple changes.

I got a flying change on each side.  They were kicking out and not beautiful but I got them and I was excited.  I called Rex and left her a babbling, incoherent voice mail I was so excited.

I had a ride with Rex that weekend and told her (coherently) how I did them at home... she asked me to recreate it.  I did and I got the flying changes again. 

However, I had a big light bulb moment. 

This work is new to me and I've never ridden Third Level before... all this work and all these new maneuvers are as new to me as they are to Sera.  No one trains her - I take lessons but she's never been schooled by a professional on her back. I've never ridden a school master horse to teach me how it is supposed to go.  We are really the blind leading the blind as we move up in Dressage. 

It was discovered while riding with Rex and our discussions in my lesson that I was thinking about simple changes when asking for flying change.  I was focused on half halts and slowing Sera down for the change like I do when I am collecting her to ask for a walk from canter.

Rex told me to stay forward - don't slow, keep her over her back, deep AND keep her forward through the change.   Sera still kicked out but it was one kick vs 3 or 4, the change occurred faster, smoother and it was more on my aids.  The canter stayed the same rhythm before, during and after the change. 

Ohhhhhhhh!   *ding*  And there is your light bulb!

Probably elementary to those who have schooled them and ridden them before... to me, it was so exciting!  Like Helen Keller asking Anne Sullivan for the word "water".   I LOVE learning the new movements and how to ride them effectively.   

I had a clinic yesterday with Debbie and I hoped she would see improvement too -  that I wasn't "imagining" our flying changes had improved.  I do have a pretty active imagination....

I explained to her my light bulb moment with Rex and she also had a moment of raised eyebrows as well..."oh, I didn't realize you thought to ask for them that way but it makes sense that you did".... she asked me for a flying change.... and another... and another... I must've done 6 or 7.  I've never ridden that many all in a row....I didn't think I could.  I didn't do my simple changes to warm Sera up either.   

Guess what?  I did them!  Got changes every time!  Debbie pushes me to ride harder and to ride better and that is a good thing!

She did see improvement...less kicking, quicker reaction... she says riding at Third Level this summer is very attainable.  I really may get my USDF Bronze medal this year. 

I asked if she would get on Sera so I could watch her do some changes.  Debbie was happy to do so, she's never been on Sera before - we were 3/4 done with our ride time, Sera was warmed up, working and going well. 

Yeeeowch!  When a trainer gets on the horse that only you ride?  Your horse shows all your faults and weaknesses in your riding.  Horses don't lie.  Debbie didn't do any changes but she certainly zero'd in on my weaknesses! 

It was good for me to really see Sera worked correctly.  While I truly thought I was making the corrections and adjustments in my riding the way Debbie was asking me to - I clearly was not .  I'm too "nice"....not that I need to be mean or iron fisted - I need to be much more firm.

I'm not doing myself or Sera justice if I let things be "good enough".  I need to expect more from myself and from my little red-headed mule.  I understood - she can do the work - I can do the work - it was a really great visual to have Debbie ride so I could clearly picture what is needed. 

Sera has to be more committed to the outside rein - I'm to practice letting go of the inside rein for longer periods of time - seeing how long we can go with Sera truly in that outside rein.

Sera has to be able to move forward in collection.  No more eeking the reins out little by little. 

Sera has to be hot off my leg.  No more blowing my leg off... she must respond exactly when I ask.

I got back on after Debbie tuned Sera up with the above concepts and yes... the difference was big.  It will only help us in progressing onward and upward.  It was a great ride and another really great light bulb moment.  I've got a lot of homework til the next clinic Feb. 8th.

I love these moments ... and I absolutely love my mare for having so much try in her and working so incredibly hard.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Denver National Western Stock Show

It's that time of year.  Stock show!  Furry Husband and I went last Thursday - we like going during the week when it's a lot less crowded.  It was sort of a boring stock show day, no big events going on, but still FUN!   
We got there around lunch - Furry Husband got his corn dog - THE, one and only, annual corndog!  I got some ribs... we went to the coliseum because we thought they had a ranch horse class going on, only it hadn't started yet, it was collegiate judging. 
There were groups of all different animals... 4 angus bulls set up over there,  a group of 4 herefords in a pen at the end of the arena,  4 sheep held in head stanchions at the other end of the arena, another set of 4 sheep moving in a small round pen, 4 pigs in another round pen over yonder.  There must've been a couple hundred college age people/teams with clipboards.  The sheep in head stanchions were being felt and fondled while other groups were standing around or in front of the other animals evaluating, taking notes, judging.   
The entire coliseum was empty - absolutely NO ONE in the stands.  Just the few hundred college kids evaluating animals in the arena below.
We sat down to watch while we ate.
The announcer gets on the loudspeaker and dismisses the Junior Teams from the floor.  Suddenly the area we are sitting in is flooded with college kids.  The announcer comes on and says, "The people in section 219... please move... to the people in section 219.... please remove yourselves." 
We are the ONLY people there... Furry Husband gets up and promptly leaves.
Uh... honey?   A little help?
I'm stuck in my seat, I have my purse, napkins, plate o' ribs, plastic forks to gather up and my hands are all covered in rib juice - not making for a seamless escape....all the college kids are filing into the seats around me.  I'm trying to lick and wipe my hands off as fast as I can to grab my stuff and get out.
Lucky for me,  Furry Husband came back, took my plate and we moved... sheesh!  They didn't have the area marked off or anything... and there was NO ONE in that coliseum, I swear! 

We walked around and looked at vendor booths... fun to see everything.  Got a pair of leather gloves at the Carhart place for $16... Dave got a pair of warm chore gloves there too for $8... I bought a book at a vendor that has all horse books...I'd read about it, wanted it, forgot I wanted it and there it was on the display table... so got it. 
The Eighty Dollar Champion  by  Elizabeth Letts - about a time in 1958 when a poor Dutch immigrant buys a big grey plow horse from the kill van for $80... he needed a new lesson horse for the place he teaches riding lessons... they become the TOP Jumper competitors of the day - he earns the nickname "The Flying Dutchman" and the horse was named Snowman....true story. 
I read the first couple chapters and I'm totally sucked in - it's gonna be a good book!  Love those sort o' underdog/rags to riches stories!!
We left after walking around a couple hours... stopped at Odells brewery on our way home in Ft. Collins... sat and talked and had a beer in PUBLIC with real people all around.  We seem to rarely meet for beers or go out to dinner   not on purpose, guess we just get busy with other things so when we do meet in public, it feels so out of the ordinary. 

We always talk about how weird that is - how rare our forays into public, popular, crowded places are...tho' I suppose once everything you love is at home, there is not much reason to go out looking for entertainment! 
Well.... that's my story anyway and I'm stickin' to it!  (Besides, it sounds much better than being a 41 yr old boring cat lady recluse...grin)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Crazy Cat Lady?

Furry Husband called me yesterday to ask if I had anything to add to the grocery list because he was going to stop at the store on the way home.

I told him I loved him SOOO much, that I had something to add to the list but I would stop at the store to pick it up myself.  That is the depth of my love for him - I would not make him buy tampons.

He laughed and asked if I would pick up some cat food too?

I went to the store to buy feminine product and a ga-zillion tins o' cat food.  I don't know why I found that to be such a funny scene at the grocery store check-out line....

tampons and cat food in my little basket.

I shoulda added a couple pints of ice cream and a cat brush.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Ninja Runner

Furry Husband and I go on walks most mornings... it's such a nice way to begin the day, we get our thoughts in order, the dogs love it and we all spend some quality time together.

I wear a reflective vest thingy and we both have headlamps for visibility with cars because no one is awake on a dark, dirt, road at 5am or expects to come across people walking dogs at such a funny hour and we don't want to get smooshed by anyone half-alseep.

We generally take up the whole road with 4 dogs on 26' flexi-leashes and 2 hoomans trailing behind.  If a car comes - we easily hear it in the silence of the morning and at this time of year, headlights are seen long before the car is near.  We call the dogs, they come running, and we all walk on the shoulder with dogs near us and flexi leashes locked with a short feed.  In summer, when it's light in the mornings, we see other people walking dogs or jogging and we'll do the same thing. 

No big deal.

The other morning we were heading down the road when all of a sudden there was a jogger... RIGHT THERE.   No warning, no shout out that he was coming or he was there.  He was so quiet none of the dogs alerted us until the poor guy was on top of us... he was all in black, no reflective gear or headlamp and it was a starry, moonless morning where you couldn't see your hand in front of your face.  You might say, darker than the inside of a black cow, sort of dark.

Keenan began going ape shit because at the very least it surprised and startled US, and with her issues... well, it put her on high alert and "I will friggin KILL you, you mutha *%#(@$", mode.  I'm just glad Furry Husband didn't let her go and she was close to him when she went ballistic.

Sammy, another one of our dogs, was down in the ditch on the side of the road sniffing some interesting smells and I'm sure the Nina Runner didn't see him, cuz he's black, and it was so dark out. 

I'm sure he had no idea there was a flexi line cutting across the road.

He tripped on the flexi and landed in the ditch.... got up and just kept jogging away.   I think I shouted after him pathetically, "We didn't know you were there!  We didn't see you!" or something to that effect .... not that any self-respecting Ninja would reply back as they disappeared into the deep night.   grin.

If we knew he was there, we would have corralled the dogs up, pulled off to the side of the road and let him pass.   Next time I hope he gives a shout out...  ya know, if we haven't ruined his New Years Resolution momentum already.

Running into a pack o' dogs, one that wanted to take your head off and being clotheslined at the shin to fall into a ditch in the dark and cold at 5am would curtail just about any one's momentum for a nice run before work in the wee hours of the morning!

Poor Ninja Runner!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Such is my life....

A co-worker of mine and I were talking about farmers/ranchers and alcoholic drinks... I used to wait tables at this funny, little restaurant frequented by farmer/rancher types.  When I asked someone at a table how they were, they responded with phrases like, "Finer than frog's hair parted 4 ways!".


Yes, I suppose that is pretty fine indeed.

I remember the Boot Scoot Boogey was the song played over and over and over on the jukebox over on the bar side if that gives anyone a time reference.

Anyway, this co-worker and I were talking about how many farmer/ranchers would order a Budweiser or Coors and add tomato juice to it.   Or they would order a beer and add a pretty fair shaking of salt to their beer.

Condiments I had not witnessed being added to beer in the college bar scene and a practice I don't see much of, if at all, when Furry Husband and I go out to eat, which isn't often.  We do most of our drinking at home, a glass of wine with dinner.  Our alcohol choices these days are bottled, microbrew beers and wine.

My co-worker mentioned that she bought a Budweiser brand beer that had Clamato already added to it... and she didn't care for it but she'd bring it in for me to try.  I never minded tomato juice or salt in my beer from my days back at this restaurant, I remember it being pretty tasty - and of course it's FREE.  I'm no dummy.  I'll take free food or al-key-hol any day.   I figure it'd be a kick in the pants to pour a glass of tomato juice beer and think back on those days of yore.  Of course I told her I'd give it a try.

She kept forgetting to bring it to non-work functions.  

Thursday before the New Year holiday she brought it to work wrapped up in a bag.  We aren't supposed to have ANY alcoholic beverages on our work campus.  I left it on my desk near my coat.... and I FORGOT it at work.


That night right before falling asleep, that lovely twilight when all things are calm and peaceful and floaty?

My eyes snapped wide open. 


I forgot that stupid beer on my desk! 

Yeah, it's wrapped up but what if a security guard or some other person gets all nosey and takes a look to see what it is??   I tossed and turned - fretting - and had a story made up if I should get busted.  It must've been a prank, I have no idea what it is or where it came from....

I went to work the next day and of course no one had even given it a second glance.  I put it IN my purse and at the end of the day, stopped a few places to run errands.  I took the beer out of my purse and set it in the passenger seat... I made it all the way home and as I was taking groceries out, the beer dropped in my driveway.

I heard a little "pfft".


I walked in the house, groceries and my Clamato beer in tow.

Sammy and Bequia, our old dogs, rushed to greet me.  Sammy wears a diaper because as he's aged, he's become incontinent.  We give him pheynolpolypropelene or whatever those pills are that help a dog keep his bladder tone but some days it just doesn't work.  His diaper was SOAKED through with a large pee spot on the floor where he'd been laying....

I took the diaper off and tossed it in the sink while rushing him outdoors... a little dribble of pee trailing on the kitchen floor marking his egress.

I let the young dogs out of their kennels....

I returned to the kitchen to investigate the warm Clamato Budweiser beer that had been in my purse and on the passenger seat of my car all day.  

Hmmm.  The top isn't open... did I imagine hearing that little "pfft" noise?

Maybe the hole is so small, I can't see it.  I squeezed the beer can... nothing.  No dribble o' beer.   I was looking the can all over, squeezed it again and a spray of beer shot out....there was a tiny, hairline, cut on the body of the can.  It must've landed on a rock or something just right....

I popped it open and poured the very warm beer down the drain.  All that fretting, my co-worker forgetting over and over about this beer.  So much effort... all down the drain.

It smelled like beer and tomato juice and dog pee.  It was a really gross combo of smells. 

I rinsed out the can for recycle.... hand washed Sammy's diaper....cleaned up the trail of pee on the floor... put everything back in order.....

Later that night, Furry Husband got home.  His eyebrows went up in a question... he picked up the empty tall boy of Budweiser Clamato beer.

"Uh.  Honey?  Do we need to have a talk?"