Monday, July 25, 2005

Agility Trial

This weekend I volunteered with the local dog club to work their summer agility trial. I was the scorekeeper -- responsible for entering in all of the scores and times and preparing the paperwork for the judge and AKC. It was pretty cool. I got to be in the coveted RV -- with air conditioning and satellite TV. No one gets to come inside the RV unless they are a member of the trial committee.

I learned a lot about scoring the runs and rules for agility trials. It was a great learning experience. I would have liked to have been able to watch more of the runs. I got to see about the first 4 or 5 dogs of each class before I had to run back to the RV to start entering their scores. Now that I know more about agility and am handling a dog in agility watching the runs is a great teacher. It is interesting how people walk through the course before the runs begin. What are they focusing on? They look like idiots waving their arms, turning in circles, talking to an invisible dog. However, these are important planning and visualization moments, and the people who do this well are usually the ones that get the Qs. Well, it really depends on whether your dog feels like going through the course that day or not....

All in all, it made me excited about the idea of one day competing with Fred. We of course have to wait for a CPE trial to be offered in our area (becuase I am not traveling great distances for this). We are supposed to have a CPE match in January and our first CPE trial at the club a few months after that. That's a great target time for me and Fred. Most of the trials in our area are AKC, and my poor mixed breed dogs are excluded from such events. I think they are afraid the mutts will crush the expensive purebreds and all those people will stop buying from breeders and get their competition dogs from the Humane Society. What a tragedy that would be to find fun homes for the millions of homeless pets.

I did leave the trials feeling more confident that Fred and I have potential. We couldn't have any worse of a run than some of the people at this trial. There were quite a few dogs running out of the ring, ignoring the handler, hamming up to the crowd, etc. However, I am confident that if Fred did get distracted that I would be able to get him back to me and we could finish the course. It just may be a while before we move out of Novice A.

I have always said that the horses are my real priority. I do the agility and obedience with Fred because I love working with him. But I do it for fun only. I ride the horses for fun, too, but I have bigger goals of competition with them, especially with Zoe. So my money and my time (but especially my money) go to the horses. Heck, if I could, I would quit my job (assuming independent wealth) and devote my full time to training horses and dogs. That would be the perfect life for me.

And maybe I'd have to move to a place that has a little less humidity in July. Nah, I think I'd miss the cornfields.

Crap. I let the secret slip.

Welcome, Ed! I know you won't be able to resist reading my boring blog on my horses and dogs now that you know it exists. So, read up! You'll be sad to find that I don't rail on any work issues. I write this so that my focus is on my real passion and I'm not stressing about work. I hope you like horses well enough.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

So Hot!

It's heating up again. Thank goodness for central AC. We have it set at home for 79 degrees, but it is enough to keep the humidity out. I wouldn't be able to sleep otherwise and the dogs would probably be miserable.

A barn friend emailed me. Jimmy lost a shoe; looks like his back right, the one he tends to lose the most. I noticed last weekend that it looked a bit crooked. Hopefully he isn't lame on it (she said he looked fine) and I can ride this evening. Hopefully it cools off so we don't die of heat stroke while riding!

I love summer, and I can even stand the humidity, but I have to admit I don't like riding when you and your horse are dripping with sweat and we haven't even saddled up yet. It's not like I can wear cool shorts to ride in. It's full seat breeches, tall boots, and a helmet. Not exactly the coolest workout clothes, but at least they protect you from other incidental injuries. I do love my Irideon riding wear.

That's all the time I have for my post today. I have to get out to the barn now!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Clinic Update

Had a long week of being out of town and no riding. :-( It's so hard to do that! It's especially hard when you are stuck indoors for massive amounts of time and have no free time to exercise. Plus they feed you high fat, rich food. By the end of the week I just wanted to run, ride, and eat plain, boring food.

So I got home exhausted and stayed exhausted into this week. However, I did ride Jimmy and Zoe in clinics with David Blake this weekend. I had great rides on Jimmy. On Sunday we were so engaged and through (Durchlassigkeit). It felt great. I think we get better and better every day. Saturday I lunged Zoe and David rode her. What a sight. She is so cute. David made her look like she has steering and balance in every gait. I rode her on Sunday (not in a lesson) and she did feel like she has steering! Her canter was pretty good, but going to the right she just did not want to bend. Anyway, I didn't want to worry about that right away. It was so hot this weekend that the horses (and I!) were tortured with working in it anyway. All in all, it was a good weekend.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Dog Training

I'm excited about teaching my first dog obedience class this fall. I met with the training director last night and my co-teacher to go over the new curriculum. We are teaching "Obedience for Agility", a course centered around fun games and building skills and partnership between the dog and the handler. It should be fun and a challenge at the same time. It is tricky thinking about how to break down a behavior into trainable units and be able to explain that to an inexperienced handler. I think I'll be successful at it.

Meanwhile, I haven't seen Zoe or Jimmy since Monday. I am starting to go through withdrawals! After pilates tonight I will go out to ride Jimmy and clean the 2-day neglected paddock.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Weekend Report

When I am on vacation I usually stay away from the computer. That means I fell behind in my blogging. Last week I had the week off. I started it out by taking Jimmy to a dressage show in June 25th. We competed in First 4 and Second 1. The First 4 ride was going well and I felt good about it -- until I realized I had just cantered Jimmy on the wrong lead for 3 movements! Aaargh! He never does that! Aaargh, aaargh!! So I was marked with a 1 for all 3 movements. Took my score down to 52%. Well, I can hardly be mad since it was my stupid mistake. I just wasn't riding the test the way I should. It was a learning moment. It was better news for my Second 1 ride. I knew we wouldn't be perfect with this ride as I still had 2 trouble areas -- the simple change through the walk and my shoulder-ins becoming neck-ins. I rode the test well enough to get a qualifying score, 60%! I got 4s on my simple changes, and deservedly so. But I got some decent scores the rest of the test. My shoulder-ins were a bit abrupt so those were maybe 5s (I don't remember exactly), but I started the test off with an 8 for my halt, salute! I'll ride both of these tests again in August and hopefully receive high 60s or even 70s.

Since Zoe broke her side reins and I haven't ordered new ones yet, my work with her has been on the light side. This past week was also terribly hot and humid and really hard to get good riding in. I tended to ride Jimmy in the morning first and by the time I finished with him it was too humid to do anything more except my chores. One day was so hot I don't think I even left the house. That was a boring day. I did ride Zoe one time on Thursday and that was an interesting ride. I lunged her (w/o side reins) and then rode. She was fine for walk and trot. When I asked for canter she started bucking all around and going out of the arena into the grass. We just bucked around and around, but as long as we were going forward, we kept going. Finally she stopped bucking and we did some nice trot work. All in all it was about 15 minutes, but it sure was exciting. Okay, not exactly how I planned the ride to go. Thankfully I had a good seat because no one was around at the barn and it would have been bad for me to get hurt. She didn't get me off her back.

July 1-3 I went down to Kentucky to help my friend with her horse. She has been doing an amazing job since I was there last month. She started lunging with side reins and doing stretches for the horse. A wonderful difference. Ellie was soft and supple at the trot and MG was doing so well getting her to relax and use her back. I had her start adding in some canter. Ellie has been going for years on the trail where it is only necessary to balance on a straight line. A few months ago she couldn't even balance on the circle at a trot, so you can see she is re-learning how to balance in all of her gaits. Therefore, the cantering on the circle is not easy for her at all. On the lunge she wants to trot faster and faster and is reluctant to take her canter depart. MG has to work at using half-halts to slow her down and puch her into the canter at the same time. Usually Ellie loses her mind about this point. But with patience she is able to do it. When MG is on her back, Ellie has the same tendency. She tends to ignore the canter signal and chooses to trot rapidly instead. MG has some really good canter departs to the left that lasted 1-2 steps of canter and fell back to trot. When we changed direction, Ellie wouldn't even try to canter, and this was supposed to be her good side. MG had to work until Ellie actually responded to the canter aid by cantering. She worked at it for a long time. Finally, I had her go along the straight side and ask for it on the long line instead of on the circle. She eeked out a canter that way, and she was able to stop after that. It is going to take her some time to teach Ellie balance at the canter, but she works with her every day, so by August I expect she'll have it.

While in Kentucky I also got to see a Lakota Indian Naming Ceremony for the rare white buffalo calf born at Buffalo Crossing. That was really cool.

And since fireworks are legal in Kentucky, I also saw some amazing neighborhood fireworks displays. I thank god that fireworks are not legal in my state. I'm not thrilled with the idea of your drunk neighbor shooting fireworks at/near your house. I prefer to be a few miles away from the actual fire part.

4th of July celebrations with my family consisted of a lot of food and dips and people sitting around watching rerun television. It was really boring. I wanted to play a board game or cards but there weren't any games in the house! I couldn't believe it. Since I had eaten only a granola bar for breakfast and had worked both the horses and skipped lunch, I pigged out on all of the vegetables and dips. I had a yummy portabella mushroom sandwich off the grill. And my aunt's mom made this delicious fruit layered cake thingy that was light and fruity. I loved it. I ate the leftovers from that at lunch today. I didn't have the willpower to eat only half the leftovers and leave some for myself tomorrow. Oh well. Oh, and we didn't even watch the fireworks display. By that time it was cold and drizzly and we just wanted to go to bed. We didn't even get to go swimming in my uncle's pool because it started raining as soon as we go to their house.

All in all, I can't believe that it is already July. Why does time have to flip by so fast?