Monday, October 02, 2006

The Fields Are Calling

Zoe has been doing great since the show. I gave her a bit of a break, mostly because I needed to pay more attention to Jimmy for awhile. He was getting sore in the hips. I couldn't wait for the chiropractor to come for him. The poor guy would almost sit down when you ran your fingers down the sides of this spine. The Chiro is a magic doctor. She came, adjusted his usual spots, and Voila! he was well again. No more stocking up in the back, and his hips were back to normal. No more sitting under the finger test. We've had some great rides since then.

Zoe's newest thing is a big cut on her right front leg. It's a puncture wound, so you know that will take forever and a day to heal. She tends to get a bit proud-fleshy around wounds like that. So I (and B) have spent some hours hosing and washing and preparing the wound. Late last week it looked like the inflammation was moving down her leg. Her knee was very swollen, but she wasn't lame on it. I rode her and the swelling went down slightly. She was good under saddle, so at least there was nothing bad of that nature going on. On Sunday it looked as though the inflammation was moving down her leg a bit, or dissipating altogether. I was also happy with how the wound was looking. I used the magic McKillip's powder to reduce the proud flesh. I will use a technique I learned from my vet from one of her many other wounds -- every other day Furall, every other day McKillips. I hope the wound has closed enough by the time I leave town this Friday. Otherwise I have to trouble B with more wound treatment chores.

Now I need to leave my office and take advantage of this beautiful fall day. Temp is 86 degrees Fahrenheit! Lovely! The fields are calling me and Jimmy!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


I have a long post in draft mode, but it seems to be taking me some time to complete it. I thought I better put something up for anyone who might be looking for some entertainment (and you came here?!?). Here's a blog that I have been reading every day. It's the first blog I have religiously read every morning., blogged by a nature photographer/videographer who has been tracking a pack of wild dogs in Africa. The photos and videos are truly magnificent.

I hope to have my post about the show at the Kentucky Horse Park up soon. I've been obsessing with the wonderful photos that were taken, and can't settle down enough to write all the details. It was a dreamy weekend.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Kentucky Horse Park

We made the long trip to the magnificent dreamworld of the Kentucky Horse Park last weekend. This was Zoe's first show! I am pleased as punch with her outstanding performance. She was absolutely marvelous at her first show, not acting nuts or bonkers ever. She rode like a pro the whole time. It was a pleasant surprise, and I am really proud of her.

We won the class for our second test (Intro B) with a 70%! Our first test was Training Level Test 1, and she wasn't as settled in. She had some fun at the canter, and comments were that she wasn't on the aids enough. :-) We got a 57%. I thought she did great during both tests - beautiful!

We arrived at the Horse Park Thursday after noon, unloaded the horses, unpacked the trailer, and started settling in. The USEF/Markel Young Horse Championships were also happening that weekend, and our trainer, D.B. was riding in the Six-Year Old Championshops. We went to watch the trot out Thursday afternoon. Beautiful, beautiful horses. That was the start of a dreamy weekend. Any horse lover's paradise is the Kentucky Horse Park, especially when the top horses in the country are there.

I can't remember the exact order of things, but I think after the trot out, everyone tacked up for their first ride on the show grounds. I opted not to ride Zoe right away. I wanted to give her time to see the grounds and settle in, just to avoid any excitement under saddle. I walked her down with Lili and Chassara and let her graze and look at things while the others rode. The first day was a challenge getting from the barns to the show grounds. We had to walk through a parking lot, a second set of barns, near vendor tents, and then down a big hill overlooking the 4 rings and warm-up areas. Zoe was a bit tense with blowing nose and a few tentative steps, but she followed me down without incident. She didn't particularly like being up on the hill looking down at the show grounds and got the most prancy there. Once we were down on the grounds, she was perfectly happy to eat grass, but did call for Lili a few times. D.B. schooled B. on Lili (if I am remembering correctly). She looked great!

We got back to the hotel late and threw some pasta on while we unpacked. B. had brought some homemade pasta sauce (yum!), and since we had a kitchen, we planned to make dinner a few nights at least. Bill and N. came by with a few bottles of wine (O'Reilly's Pinot Noir and Cab Sav). We gave a taste of the Pinot and promptly put a cork on the bottle of Yellowtail we had previously opened. The Pinot was delish! The pasta tasted exceptionally good after only eating turkey slices and trail mix all day. We fell into bed shortly after dinner.


Friday Lilikoi had her first tests, First Level Test 1 & 4. D.B. schooled her. B. rode a great test, but went off course twice, still earning a qualifying score and winning the class! In fact, she won both her classes on Friday.

Friday was the start of the Young Horse Championships, so we watched quite a bit, especially the 6-year old test and D.B.'s ride. He won the preliminary! It was very exciting. The best part was being able to watch the warm-up. D. was schooled by Scott Hassler of Hilltop Farm. I learned a ton by watching and listening. Scott also listened to our questions and answered them earnestly.

After D.'s ride, I was anxious to work with Zoe. This was going to be my first ride on her at the show grounds. I went back to the barn and tacked her up. No one was around, and in the morning when I took Zoe out for a short walk and look around, I got in trouble because it made Lili upset, so I was afraid to take Zoe without B. around. I waited and waited, and when B. did come by, I pulled Zoe out of her stall. B. asked whether I wanted to wait for the Championships to end, and I said no, I have to do this now! I could barely wait any longer. So I led Zoe, who was all tacked up, down to the show grounds. It was an easier walk, but she was still on high alert. I longed her first, and she did very well, and relaxed easily. I mounted her, well, almost falling off before I even got on! I mounted without a mounting block and on sloping ground. My hand slipped out of her mane as I was pulling myself up, and I had to use my one leg to pull myself up off the ground. I would have been too embarassed to fall on my butt at that stage, so I managed it. :-) Zoe was ver good even during that. She stood stock still, so I don't even have her to blame for my graceless mounting. :-)

Once on her, we walked around the longe area for about a minute and I took her into the foray of horses warming up. I had no idea how she would act in this situation. In the past, she has reared, bucked, etc. So I was worried she might be a little reactive to all the excitement around. I had nothing to worry about. She started out like a pro and was tuned completely in to me. She felt extremely responsive and relaxed. I had a blast riding her! It was great fun to feel her listening so closely to me. She's such a good horse.

We were planning to make dinner back at the hotel, but with D.'s win, everyone wanted to go out to celebrate, so we ended up at a Mexican restaurant. It was a nice dinner with lots of toasts to D.'s and Catapult's success. During dinner I wondered aloud how S. was taking the car ride with all the dressage girls. About a minute later I got a text message, "Get me outta here!". It was hilarious to receive it just after I had mentioned this to the group. I passed my phone around with the message on the screen for everyone to read. They had a good laugh. After dinner, it was back to the hotel for bed. S. and J. were due into town late that night. It was good to have my hubby sleeping close to me that night.

Saturday was an early start, but at least we didn't have to braid manes. B. had a local person braid for her, and decided to have her braid Lili again for the Saturday tests. Lili looked so nice! It was a slow morning for D.B., so he didn't make it in time to school Lili before her first test. B. kept looking at me to give her some advice, and I was really afraid to say anything. I have to get better at that. I hope the advice I did give helped her out. She had a good test, not going off course at all. Lili got a 66.2% at First 1.

Between her tests, I got to take Zoe out again. S. made this little video with his digital camera.

It was another great ride. I was looking forward to finally getting our tests done on Sunday.

B. had a super-dooper ride on Lili for her afternoon test. D.B. was there to school her, which makes a huge difference. Lili got a 66.9% on First Test 4 -- only her second time riding it! When she came back with her first place, she had the biggest smile and was walking on air. I am so happy for her!

Sunday - the big day

Finally Sunday rolled around. I skipped dinner Saturday night -- too tired and already thinking about my rides. Hit the pillow, and went right to sleep. Practically jumped out of bed at 5 AM Sunday morning. (jumped in Epona terms, not the normal person's terms)

D.B.'s groom offered to braid Zoe for me. She did a spectacular job. I got to wear my new white Irideon breeches (I love Irideon!). Every day we have been able to do more and more, so I got to mount her at the barns and ride her down to the show grounds. She was calm and collected. At the schooling rings, B. was able to help me warm her up and get me to relax. Things go to pieces when I get tense. :-)

We entered the ring for our Training Level Test 1, the harder test first. Zoe was great! We got all of our canter transitions easily (when I get tense I usually mess those up by overpreparing and making the horse tense). She felt really good, if still a bit distracted. I couldn't believe the test ended so quickly and so overshot my turn down the centerline at the end (thinking there HAD to be another trot across the diagonal!). So, I went off course, but Zoe handled it all well. We got a 57%, with judges comments of "beautiful horse. horse not on the aids enough. playful canter." I was really pleased with her!

Our second test, about 30 minutes later, was Intro B, a walk/trot test. Zoe felt much more settled in, and I was definitely less nervous. On our final trot across the diagonal, I felt Zoe was really underneath me and solid, so I pushed her just a bit and we did this fabulous medium trot. It felt awesome, and we got an 8! Also ended with an 8 for our final halt. This gave us a 70% on the test, and a first place! What a dream she is!

You can see some of the professional photographers shots.

We also got to see Opus*, Zoe's and Lili's sire at the show. He is a cool looking stallion, and you can see Zoe in him. Sven snapped this shot of him early Saturday morning.

Also check out the brag about Lili and Zoe on the Little Bit Farm news page!

The final excitement of the weekend was getting to watch David Blake win the 6-year old Young Horse Championship on Catapult! Go, David, Go!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Purpose

Ever wonder what I am training my horses for? What we *hope* to be able to do someday? Check out this video to view one of the Masters.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Monday, August 28, 2006

Fred Comic: Episodes 1 & 2

My first Comic creation...

Fred Comic

Monday, August 21, 2006

How Important Are Teeth?

I took Zoe for a ride down the road with Lili. She was really awesome. On high alert at the beginning, but got braver as we went. We had to go by a house close to the road, with fences and trees, and children riding bikes. She was on alert for that, but kept going by without incident. We had 5 cars pass us by (strange way out here). One car was a big tow truck -- loud and big. She about jumped out of her skin with that one, but she wasn't too bad. Feet weren't off that ground for more than a split second. :-) On the way home we had to walk by the kid-house again. This time they had a go-kart zooming on the street (put it away before we got too close, thank god), a tractor started up as we approached, and 2 cars went by. Zoe did great. She stopped several times, but so did Lili (the experienced one). Zoe at least went forward when I clucked and squeezed. I think B. was having a harder time on Lili. To Lili's credit, she was picking up on Zoe's nervousness and reacting to that a bit.

During the rest of the beautiful ride, Zoe felt great. She was a bit crooked for much of it, but as she relaxed, she got straighter. I felt a huge, floaty trot. So nice. I wish we could have had a movie camera loaded on a truck following along with us, because I think these horses would have looked beautiful trotting down the road tonight. We even did some cantering. I could tell Zoe enjoyed it. She is funny, though; she didn't want to get ahead of Lili, even though we were on the opposite side of the street. If she got a neck's length in front, she immediately slowed down. Still, I was very proud of her (and me) for being so brave. I need to tell you about last night...

This probably deserves a post of it's own, titled, "Gunshot and Gunshy, but still riding".

Chiropractor came out -- only did a health certificate for Zoe for the show in Kentucky September 10 -- but I was at the barn and had time afterwards, so I decided to ride. Thanks have to go to my dear husband for making that happen. His adventure with horses was cut short because I had totally forgotten about the chiro coming and we were there for him to have his first ever ride on Jimmy. We had to cut it a bit short. Pure coincidence that we were at the barn the same time the chiro showed up. [What is happening to my brain, by the way??] But S. did SUPER. I did break down laughing once when he got a bit off balance and almost fell off. It was his reaction that I thought was funny. He was laughing at it, too! He did a great job of rebalancing himself and staying on. It wouldn't have been funny if he had fallen. Self-preservation does kick in and let you do some amazing things...

Anyway, I am supposed to be talking about Zoe.

I decided to take a spiin on Zoe. Well, the crazy neighbors 1/2 mile away were busy shooting guns for some reason. So there were big pows! and bangs! happening every few minutes, which had Zoe on edge. Several times I thought it wasn't the best idea for me to get on her, but I kept going. She got a bit crazy when I put the bridle on, wanted to bolt for an instant, for example. Then to mount her I had to work with her to stand still. I got on (with her standing still, by the way), but as soon as we I wanted to move out after mounting, she went up into a rear. Stood on her hind legs for what seemed like minutes. That girl has some balance. It wasn't scary, but when we rounded the side of the barn, Lili was excited and upset in the paddock. I thought it not wise to walk Zoe next to that with a narrow path between the paddock and the apple trees. So I got off right there and walked her out to outdoor. I walked her all around the arena with the gun shot going off until she started to calm down. B. came out, too. That gave me some confidence. When I thought she was calm enough, I decided to mount. Okay, so I had my dressage whip in hand at the time. I got one foot in the stirrup, stood in the stirrup, put my right hand (with the whip) up and she immediately wanted to take off. I took my one foot out of the stirrup and stopped her and jumped to the ground (or jumped to the ground and then stopped her). Did that twice. Then I decided I better do a small mounting exercise with B.s help. B. held her while got on and off (without the whip in hand). Then B. let go and I got on with no incident. So I walked around. Good. At that point I had built enough confidence to keep on going. We had a little ride, walk/trot/canter. She wasn't that great at the canter. Kicked out (a high kick!) picking the canter up to the left. I was tending to scrunch down with my upper body. I hate it when I do that. As soon as I had better form, so did she. So we had a nice turn in the arena with the gunshots going on. I tended to stay away from the south end of the arena, the side closest to the gunshot. Why puch my luck??

Yeah, I didn't push my luck last night, but I guess I did tonight. After a wonderful ride down the road, we got back to the barn and started to untack. I had Zoe in the cross tie area. I was taking off her bridle. To do that, I have the reins over her neck, the halter in the left hand ready to slip on after the bridle is off, and I take the bridle off standing on her left side with my right hand under her head on the right side and my left hand, with halter, on the left side to slip that side off. Somehow, and I have no idea how this happened, Zoe managed to get the rein through her right leg. I really don't know how this could have happened. I supposed that she could have suddenly pulled her head down, maybe to wipe her mouth?, pawed with her right leg at the same time, came back up with the rein around her leg. I suppose that could have happened. Regardless, she got the reins around her right leg and freaked out. She started pulling her head up and feeling the pressure. I was just about to get the headstall over her ears when she pulled up, which yanked the bridle out of my hands, and she probably felt pressure from both sides, top and bottom. Freaked. At that point, I just had to tell her "easy.." and hope she didn't hurt herself. I don't really care about the bridle. I pretty much hate the bridle anyway. I like the fancy browband (made by friends of ours who are starting a fancy browband business, Simple Change Browbands), but the rest of it is a piece of crap. She/we got the bridle off. I thought she must have broken it, but it was fine.

As I was gathering up the bridle and getting Zoe back to face the front of the cross ties, B. asked if she hurt her tongue. She thought she saw blood. So I took a closer look. Yep, lots of blood, but nope, not the tongue. I saw immediately that she was missing her third incisor on the right side. Sigh. I looked on the ground and found the tooth. Great. My horse is going to have a big, rotten spot in her mouth now, I thought. Figures. She's fitting right into the family of animal misfits with medical bill after medical bill. Needless to say, this brought me way down after an excellent ride down the road. I came home and started looking for equine incisor information. Looks like the permanent 3rd incisor doesn't come in until the horse is 41/2 to 5 years old. That could be good news. Zoe is only 4 (in May). It could be that she was losing that baby tooth anyway and that's why it came out. Boy, am I hopeful that that is the story. I do feel pretty confident that it will be something like that. She had no trouble eating, drinking, etc. I looked at some pictures online of baby incisors that were pulled, and to my untrained eye, they looked pretty similar to the tooth I had from Zoe! So I do feel much better now. It's a pretty small tooth, and I bit the root is still down there, so tooth will emerge. But I am concerned about possible infection, etc. I'll call the vet in Arthur tomorrow morning to see about having her checked out. The more I think about it, I feel more and more sure that this was a baby tooth that she was going to lose anyway. I guess just keep your fingers crossed. Will she be a mutant that fits into the family, or are we the luckiest girls around today?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Clinic vs Allergies

It's a toss-up between what I should focus on with this post. If I posted more often, I wouldn't have this problem, but I pretty much let things build up until I have too much stuff to write about. So I will focus on the clinic first.

D.B. was here last weekend. At last, the weather was perfect for riding. They also finished the expansion of the indoor arena to a whopping 172 ft.! Since we were all so excited about the large indoor, and it had been raining all week, I rode inside. I was afraid the footing in the outdoor would be too deep/muddy. I guess being conervative was my mistake. I had an awful ride on Jimmy. He was in a mood all week, and I didn't have one good ride on him the whole week leading up to the clinic. I wasn't looking forward to riding him in the clinic, actually, because of his mood. I think he had a lot of reasons to be grumpy. Zoe moved out the week before (the allergy story), and the love of his life, Flo, is staying in her place. He really loves Flo. He loves her so much that he can't stand to have her out of his sight. She is also attached to him. So you can imagine me trying to take him out of the paddock without her. Yep, she had to come, too. Then you can imagine when she was in a stall and couldn't see him in the cross ties, and vice versa. Yep, I had to move her to a stall closer and in direct line of sight. So I had to ride him in the indoor, which was in several stages of expansion. Wall up, wall down, sand suddenly to dirt, etc. All of those factors put Jimmy on edge. The first ride was impossible. He kept trying to look at Flo, Flo kept calling to him, and I had a horse who was stiff and tense every step. Argh. The second ride was marginally better. Flo had to be in the barn, but not in direct line of sight. Jimmy was slightly more relaxed, but still felt like a stiff board with an iron jaw. The third ride I focused on relaxation. We walked and walked and walked. He was relaxed and stretching over his back. We went into trot. Slam! An iron jaw. A stiff back. I tried and tried to get him to relax and stretch. On no, none of that was happening. We cantered. A stiff board, leaning one way, then the other as we changed direction. Head up, jaw clamped. I went back to walk. And we walked and walked and walked until he was relaxed and stretching again.

Based on this information, you could possibly surmise that the same general pattern emerged in my lesson. Yes, I got to pay $60 to ride a horse that wouldn't relax, wouldn't cooperate, and felt like an iron bar underneath me. David finally let me stop trying. After 40 minutes of telling me to "supple him" and me finally getting so mad that I really did use my spurs and dressage whip (which, by the way, always makes Jimmy even more tense), and me about to burst into tears on Jimmy's back because he was being soooo belligerent, David did say, "Okay, I guess that is all we are going to get from him." Yes, David, that is all. Otherwise I would have cut him up in pieces and left him strewn around the arena. Most definitely, my most least enjoyed clinic lesson ever.

Okay, so let me fast forward to Sunday's lesson. I had a totally different feeling about Jimmy going into Sunday. I could tell he (Jimmy) was in a better mood that morning. I also decided to ride outside, which usually helps Jimmy calm down. So Sunday's lesson was much better than any ride that whole week. He wasn't in top form, but he was cooperative, loose, and supple. We had a nice ride. My good Jim ended on a good note. David isn't back until December. I decided that weekend to retire Jimmy. I wouldn't ride him in any clinics unless he was doing really well and someone needed to sell a lesson. I am going to have my saddle refit for Zoe. No more shows for Jimmy. And I have decided to look for someone to lease Jimmy, to ride him a few times a week and have fun with him. This was a really hard decision for me. It has actually taken me this past year to acknowledge this decision. It's hard to retire a horse that I have such a great relationship with. But Jimmy is telling me he wants to be retired. On top of that, I need to devote my attention to bringing Zoe along. She is doing fantastic, and is finally looking like a grown horse. It's time to make the switch. I love you, Jimmy.


On to the allergy story. Read the Dr. Doom post to get the background if you don't have it already. Bottom line is that I moved Zoe to B.'s place and she is doing great. She came back to A.W. for the clinic and B. was planning to take Flo back home. However, within 10 minutes of being in the stall, Zoe started having her allergic reaction. Hard snorting, wiggling her nose, and even her eyes looked swollen, like she could barely keep them open. She started flipping her head. When I got her on the cross ties to tack her up, I was almost in tears watching her. It was obvious that I really could not keep her at A.W. anymore. I was sickened by the thought that B. was going to leave her here.

I owe B. so much. She saw Zoe and said, "we cannot leave her here!" We took Zoe home that night. For the Sunday clinic, I left her out in the paddock and she was fine. It has to be an allergy to the shavings, maybe the old hay....okay, we don't really know. Shavings are on the high suspicion chart. I'll test that by taking a bucket to B's this weekend to see if she has a reaction when she smells it. B. is letting us move the chicken coop out of her third stall into the garden, so Flo can come home and Zoe can stay. Thank god. Thank my lucky stars. That does leave Jimmy at A.W., and it is near impossible to have two horses in different locations. Another reason the timing is good for Jimmy's retirement. If I can find someone to ride him, love him, and clean his stall, I'm set.


The bottom line really is that I need to get my own place set up ASAP and get my horses home!!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Vet Report

Doc came out on Monday and checked Zoe out. Remember, his nickname is "Dr. Doom". His diagnosis was that Zoe is having a bad allergic reaction to something in the barn. He was amazed by the severity of her symptoms when the fan was on in the stall. His advice -- move her out right away. He was not very positive about other treatments -- medication will only treat the symptom, not the cause. The cause is in the barn somewhere. His other advice -- get my barn set up yesterday! Sigh. I wish. The current quote for just the supports, 2 windows, and covering the back walls of the stall is $6,000. Doesn't even include stalls. Ugh. Doesn't include fencing, either. So I was really depressed after Doc's visit.

B was extremely generous when she heard the news. She offered to switch one of her horses out of her barn to let Zoe go stay there for a trial period to see if the symptoms disappeared. So I moved Zoe on Wednesday. All of her symptoms disappeared within 24 hours. Good, but not good. It means it really is the barn and not something in the atmosphere in general. I told Doc I may not be able to move her that quickly on a permanent basis. He suggested I take her back to PRF rather than keep her at AW. And as long as she is at AW, she should stay outside all the time, according to him.

This is depressing me again, so I better stop here and just go to bed.

Friday, July 28, 2006

I should be working

I should be working, yes I should. I have a lot I should be doing. A big presentation, writing an article... But I feel like vegging out. I had my pilates mat class today -- got to skip the company picnic so that I wouldn't miss pilates. It was really hot and muggy out anyway. Now my muscles are stretched and tired from pilates 2 days in a row, plus I rode Zoe after pilates last night. That's a lot of working out in 24 hours. I either need some caffeine (which I haven't touched in 2 years), or I need to stretch out in a comfortable, cool place and pet my puppies. My mind wants to relax with my body. What will typically happen is that my brain will kick into gear about 4:15 and then it will be time for me to get home, or to the barn. And my creative flow will again be interrupted. That's the hardest thing for me. The typical work day doesn't fit my natural flow. I am forced to "work" when my brain can't, and when it can, I am usually stuck in a meeting or I have to get to my next activity. Time pressures. Ugh.

I rode Zoe last night. She was very good. I am concerned that she has some sharp points on her teeth. At the end of the ride she seemed to be in some discomfort on the right side of her mouth. The vet comes Monday to check it out. She's been tossing her head still, but really only in her stall. We stopped feeding her the hay that no one really liked and she seemed to get better. Maybe there was something in the hay, or maybe she was just pissed off that we were giving her crap to eat and she was hungry. I think it was probably the latter.

I am feeling really good about riding Zoe these days. She is becoming more and more reliable, more consistent, and I think she enjoys our rides for the most part. When she doesn't enjoy it, she tells me, and we work it out. It's a good relationship being formed and that makes me happy. I'm not as afraid that I won't be able to handle her. We get along quite well, and I have always made it through her fits. I can feel her becoming more and more mature in the mind. It's cool. That is one of the exciting things about being working with a young horse. I am looking forward to our first show. She is going to kick ass.

Jimmy is doing great, too. I rode him earlier this week. It wasn't the best ride, but I think that was because I was PMSing. Horses are very sensitive, and I think Jim could tell I was on edge. I made him canter a lot. When he gets stressed he takes on characteristics of a 5-year old. This time he developed a phobia of a bench by the arena and the entrance to the arena. Whatever. I didn't ride that long, because I know it is more destructive than constructive to let your bad moods creep into a ride. I tried to stay soft and encouraging, but I could tell underneath my nerves were grating for no good reason. I rode until Jimmy was soft and comfortable, and then we quit. Tomorrow Kimberley, the 12-year old daughter of a co-worker, will be coming to ride Jimmy for the second time. She was sweet, and it was fun to see her excitement around the horses. I look forward to another morning of working with her! I'm not sure Jimmy is as excited as we will be, but he will be a good boy.

Oh, I found a blog today that I loved reading. I realized that I know the person who writes the blog even though there is an absence of real personally identifying information on the blog. Yet, I just got the feeling of this person reading it, and some subtle clues confirmed it for me. It was a cool experience. Pretty Typewriters I bookmarked the site for future reading.

Speaking of interesting blogs. I also spent an afteroon looking at this cool comic blog a few weeks ago. It looks like the author is in hiatus right now, but it was fun reading it: Adventures of a DramaGeek

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A Big Missing Story

Oh, yeah, upon review, it looks as though I left out a pretty significant story. Memorial Day Weekend (May 27 to be exact), Zoe got a huge cut on her nose. I really can't go into details right now, but I hope to come back and edit this post to add more. Suffice it to say for now that she had to have surgery to close it up. Argh. BUT she is healing great and the scar is disappearing.

Another story about Zoe, a few weeks after her wound started healing, oh, around 4th of July to be exact, she started tossing her head in her stall and stopped eating hay and grain in her stall.

So we moved her to another stall where she started eating again. And I stripped her stall and found tons of smelly mold under the floorboards. That started the huge project of stripping out the moldy clay and putting in new footing and rubber mats. I did that the same weekend I helped friends bale 8 acres of hay and load trailer after trailer of hay.

But I still love the country life.

Zoe is doing better with the head tossing, but still seems to have an irritant in her nose. It's not going away, so I will have to call the vet out to check her head -- nose, eyes, ears, mouth. The horses just love it when I spend more money on them.

Grueling Heat

Looks like my last post was in April. Time is flying by. I have only had time for fleeting thoughts of posting to this blog, but other commitments and things like fighting Japanese Beetle infestations have kept me away from posting. I'll see how much I can catch up on today.

Since I mentioned Japanese Beetles, can I just say how much I hate those things? They are ruining our idyllic country residence. Apparently we have many of their favorite trees on our property. Starting at the Cherry, Apple, and Pear trees they have completely devastated rows and rows of trees. After walking the property and finding branches of our Cypress trees sagging under the weight of beetles, I decided I had to do something about it. I looked online for Japanese Beetle eradication. Depressing. Milky Spore can take years to make an impact. Kill the grubs -- over 5 acres?!? Expensive. I did break down and buy lots of Sevin, mixed it up and sprayed the trees that had the worst infestations at the time. It was absolutely disgusting. Now I am afraid to go near those trees since the dead beetles -- probably millions of them -- have dropped dead around the base of the tree. Get within 20 feet of the area and the stench is disgusting. Inches of rotten beetles, yet the ground still moves under foot as the living beetles search for a place to lay eggs. I feel helpless in this battle. And I am very concerned about next year. How could there be even more!? Plus, I could treat the heck out of my property, but the damn things are going to fly in from the croplands surrounding us. They will have a fat winter and spring feeding on corn and soybean roots, and emerge ravenous for our delicious, delicate tree leaves. Next year I am learning how to operate the giant sprayer. I am mixing 50 gallons of Sevin, and I am spraying the crap out of these things. I am saving my trees.

Now I'm just mad.

So let me move on to less stressful topics. Such as my horses. :-) We had a clinic this weekend. We had one last month as well, but I never got around to writing about it. At this point I will just say that the clinic in June was excellent, and get on with writing details about the most current clinic. I rode both Jimmy and Zoe both days. I noticed that I was the only person riding 2 horses in the blazing afternoon sun. I noticed that some of the other clinic participants were having David ride their horses instead in the blazing afternoon sun. On Saturday I had 45 minutes between my two lessons, which gave me enough time to cool out the first one, hose him down, put him away, rest and cool off myself for 10 minutes, and start saddling the next one. I rode Jimmy first. He was just great. I am very happy with our progress on keeping a nice, soft connection through all transitions. We did our best simple changes EVER. Jimmy felt so happy and relaxed the whole time. I was very proud of him. It was hard riding him so intensely just from the standpoint of the heat and sweat constantly in my eyes, but Jimmy was a trooper and pleasure to ride. On Sunday he was even better. We needed virtually no warmup and could start from the place we finished on Saturday. That was great. We decided I need to do a lot of counter canter with him to strengthen him in his downward transitions. It is going to be fun homework for the next 4 weeks, and I already look forward to the next clinic.

Zoe was also well-behaved for her lessons. She still is not quite as balanced consistently, but we are getting there. I love riding her when she's good. :-) She is so much easier to ride than Jimmy. Her stride is big, but not as bouncy. Anyway, I had a moment of ah-ha! when we were doing trot/walk transitions. In order to get the reactions I wanted (smooth transition, acceptance throughout, balance every step), I had to use all of my pilates muscles (aka my core). She was beautiful! It felt so wonderful. That is what I have to look forward to. On Sunday she was also very good, but did have some attitude later in the ride. I guess I am pretty used to that popping up as she gets tired, because I found it easy to ride through and get her back to being happy. Meanwhile, I impressed David and the onlookers with my "good riding". It was quite fun. Again, she feels so wonderful when I get her through and balanced. I ride for those moments every step. I will work on that consistency for the next clinic.

Crap. It's 5:00 already and Sven has called for me to take us home.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Settling In

We have moved. The place is gorgeous and peaceful. Last weekend we got our new Dixon ZTR Ram Mag riding lawn mower. It rocks. It will still take us about 4 hours to mow, but at least the mower is fun to operate. It's zero-turn radius (ZTR) so you can spin in little circles, or go around trees and still get a close cut.

Last weekend I also had a clinic with David Blake. He rode Zoe on Saturday, and I rode her on Sunday. I almost cried watching David ride her. She looked awesome. She is coming along so well and starting to look like a mature horse. She is accepting the bit nicely and this weekend was so willing and beautiful. I had a great ride on her on Sunday. I couldn't be more proud of her and her progress. It made me feel great to see it.

Not to ignore Jimmy, he is doing great as well. I have been riding him about 3x per week. Monday was a beautiful day and he wouldn't let me ride him in the indoor, so went for a nice ride down the road. It made him happy. :-)

We close on the sale of our old house on May 1. Can't wait for that to be over.

Some fun country stories:
Our first weekend in the house we had a tornado go through nearby. We were huddled in our basement eating dinner with friends during the worst part. We were relieved that the house we had owned for only a week was still standing undamaged afterwards. Of course, the place has been there for over 100 years, so hopefully it is a good spot.

A duck went into our garage and wouldn't come out. Sven and Fred had to work together to herd it out. Only in the country!

More tornado threats last night, but nearly as close as a few weeks ago. It just made me dream about tornados coming. How much fun is that to dream about tornadoes over and over? Ugh.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Time Flying

But we are having fun? I guess it is hard to decide if moving can be categorized as fun. It is exciting, but also a lot of work. I have missed a ton of riding time so that I can keep packing and get the house cleared out enough to have it on the market by March 1. It's terrifying to look at the amount of "stuff" that we have accumulated over the past years. We are renting a 20 yard dumpster to throw out as much as we can. I feel bad for the landfill, but you gotta do what you gotta do. I have already donated thousands and thousands of dollars worth of goods to Goodwill. Now we are getting down to the junk. Or can I still donate some of this? I wonder.....

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Home Sweet Home

Our offer on the new house was accepted on Thursday, January 26, 2006. We have our dream house! When our agent called to tell me the news, I was immediately elated, but then the thought that ran through my head was, "Oh, god, what were we thinking?!? No, no, tell them we don't want it! Forget it!" The reaction made me laugh at myself. I was so calm through this whole thing, not worried about the negotiation or the consequences of buying this property. The first time I was nervous was when we gave our last offer. I knew that this offer would be the one that was accepted. We had the choice of whether to leave it at a stalemate and walk away, or to go with our last and highest offer possible. We both at first thought we should stay at our last offer and not go up. But the more I thought about it, I knew that we were only a few thousand dollars away from making this work. I think Sven knew that, too, and that's why he wanted to stay firm. It was a hard decision to make. To weigh all of the consequences, to put ourselves out there, to make a huge change that neither of us was planning on right now. In the end, I wanted to make it happpen, and that made me nervous. I finally started thinking of the next steps, getting the financing, actually making the payments, making changes in our lifestyle to make this work, and selling our house. I looked around the house. I like this house. I like the things we have done to it and I like the little features it has all over the place. Was I really ready to move? The thought of the house on five acres made me feel more sure of the decision. Of course, we don't get to build it from scratch, but we can make it ours over the years. It offers all the elements we were already planning -- the trees, the buildings, the size. And the location is just great for us. I found that I really wanted to make our last offer. I really wanted this. Luckily, somewhere deep inside him, Sven wanted this, too. He agreed to making the final offer. I called our agent and she made the offer. The seller accepted it within the hour. The rest of the day I walked around in somewhat disbelief, telling people we have this great new place. Meanwhile, the checklists of things we have to do in the next month is growing. I've started a list and it grows every time I have a few moments to think.

The most important thing is that I still feel like we did the right thing. We are moving along our path. We have chosen the path that fits us best after several options were presented to us. It's exciting, it feels good, it's scary, but in the end it feels right. This is our dream coming true. Be careful what you wish for.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


I seem to be in a phase of lots of transitions - transitioning to a new barn, new focus on the job, and now perhaps a new house! First let me give a quick update on the barn news. Zoe is doing great. She is now very steady under saddle and looks great on the longe. She has a nice work ethic and I have seen no signs of bad behavior since her bucking in early December. I credit my consistent work with her and her satisfaction with her new environment for the continued improvement. I am extremely happy with our progress and the prospects for our future. Jimmy is also very happy. We went on a long ride down the road with Flo on Sunday. There is nothing like that in the world. Jimmy and Flo pace each other so well that it is always a harmonious ride.

Now for the short bitch session on the "saga". The old barn owner is now showing her crazy side to more people. She kicked out another boarder for cleaning her stall and accused her of putting more shavings in the stall, which the boarder refuted. That was enough to get her kicked out. Wow. The next victim was my friend who owns her own business. The barn owner was a client of this business and had a few no-shows to appointments that required payment. When, during her normal business process, this debt was found, she was sent a letter asking for payment. The barn owner called the business and yelled and accused my friend's employee of using this situation to get "revenge" on D. for the events that transpired with me. Whatever. When my friend sent a letter asking for an apology to the employee that was a victim of irrational yelling and accusations of retribution, the barn owner wrote back saying that the employee owed HER an apology. (?!?) She then went on to provide a two-page, single spaced narrative of the situation with me and invited my friend to talk to her more about it. Okay, that is a true manifestation of insanity. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. This barn owner needs to forget I ever existed and move on. She doesn't realize that no one cares what she thinks of old situations.

Now let me jump to the chances of moving. We found a property that we want to buy. 5 acres, tons of trees, 2 outbuildings (one of which is easily outfitted for horses), 2800 sq. ft. house. The cost is a bit high, but it is in the right area for us and has everything we need. We find out this afternoon if we pre-approve for the mortgage. If we do, we will make an offer on it. We hope to do a land trade of our 18 acres, which is 9 miles away, for some acreage around this new property. That would be a perfect scenario!

I don't want to talk about work in this blog, so on that front I will just say that I am transitioning off of technical operational stuff and back to educational technology, which is my true focus. It is very good!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

A Magical Time

I am back from a great vacation. The timing couldn't have been better for me, and going to a place like Disney World, an alternate reality, was just perfect. There's nothing quite like spending 9 days in Disney World. We ended up enjoying ourselves much more than we thought we would. The crowds weren't bad, and using the FastPass system cut way down on the lines we had to wait in for the rides. Last night I was dreaming about my favorite ride, The Tower of Terror. I was the operator of the ride. Heh heh. You know, telling people where to sit and to put their seatbelts on, etc. We had a huge line. I was supposed to be giving out gold foil wrapped goodies that somehow included ice cream (!) to each visitor. That was strange. But we got through the whole line of people and gave out all the goodies and celebrated in the end. Funny.

Another of my favorite rides was the Rock 'n Roller Coaster. And of course Space Mountain. I think we visited Epcot a zillion times because it was the closest park to us, an easy walking distance. Disney-MGM Studios was close, too. We went there several times (that's where Tower of Terror and the Rock 'n Roller Coaster are).

One of the highlights of the vacation was running in the Disney 1/2 Marathon. That's 13.1 miles. We did that on January 7, 2006. I had one of the best runs of my life -- no stitches in my side, and I felt strong the whole time. However, one bad outcome came with my knees. At mile 9, my left knee was painful. I stopped at the first aid tent and got it wrapped. It felt better until about mile 11. I had to walk most of mile 11 because my knee was hurting so badly. I also walked part of mile 12, but I was bound and determined to run mile 13! I was almost in tears by the finish, but I sprinted to the finish line and then could barely walk on my knee. Other than that pain, my body felt good and strong. It was remarkably easy to run 13 miles. I finished in 2:35:54, not a bad time considering a first aid stop, a bathroom stop, and having to walk about 2 miles! I am entertaining the thought of trying a marathon sometime....but first I need to have my knees checked out by a sports medicine specialist. They are still painful a week later....

Monday, January 02, 2006

A Saga

The saga goes that I moved my horses recently again to a new barn where I am extremely happy. We've been at the new place since the beginning of the year. We had been at a barn for 3 months where I was the "evening barn manager", but that did not work out. I wasn't happy and my horses weren't happy. And apparently the barn owners began to have some issues with me either in terms of me training a three year old and not using them as a primary resource for my efforts, or because they did not care for my personality. Either way, it really is not important to me. The best thing I ever did was leave. Our new place truly feels like home. [I originally posted a longer version of this story to share with my sister. I prefer this summary because it protects the identities of other people in this community who may have been mentioned or alluded to.]