Blog .:. March 2007 8 Entries

You won’t believe this

24 March 2007 Comments

Normally my lessons are in the early afternoon, well before the kids get out of school. One of the trainers might be working a horse during my lesson, but mostly it’s just me in the arena. Today, however, the schedule was a little crazy and I ended up riding with a couple of other riders in various stages of warm up, cool down, and actual lesson-ing. I’d forgotten what it’s like to navigate, especially when everyone’s on their own plan. But I survived!

That isn’t even the important news.

I was riding someone new today—a mare I’ve watched others ride and thought she’d be a lot like Project Pony. I finally got to ride her today—and she is a lot like Project Pony. Not quite the same personality, necessarily, but she wants the same sort of ride. It was really cool.

And that still isn’t the important news. How much better can it get, right?

We were doing trot work. With the horse I usually ride, we mostly work at the walk. Every once in a while I get on a different horse for these sorts of trot lessons, and it always amazes me how much all the walk exercises make me a better rider at the trot—and that’s due, I think, to the fact that all the work we do at the walk is very technical and correct, so my aids and body control are constantly improving—which can’t help but improve things at the trot.

I had another “ah ha” moment, where I realized what is true at the walk in a leg yield (stay centered and subtle—there’s no reason to throw my body all over the place and over-exaggerate all my aids) is also true at the trot. If the horse is leaning and cutting in, shifting my weight to the outside is just going to throw her more off balance. Staying centered and asking with lighter/more subtle aids will allow her to regroup, center, and respond. It becomes a conversation, instead of a shouting match. And when we’re both balanced, we can have a much bigger/more forward trot and have *plenty* of time to make any corrections that might need to be made—whereas, when we were both careening around like mad women, even though the trot was slower there was no time to to make the corrections.

But the really important news, the thing you won’t believe:

One of the trainers had set up a diagonal gymnastic for her rider and then, because we all know how I feel about jumping, dropped the poles to the ground so my trainer and I could use the line without any sort of actual jumping. But still: there were standards all over the place. There are monsters in those standards, you know. They could eat me. Except they didn’t! I finally got my head around the fact that even though the standards were there so other people could set the gymnastic up as actual jumps, we weren’t going to do that. We were just using the poles to help create impulsion/energy. I could—and did—ignore the standards. Go me! (That’s one “well duh” moment for mankind, one lightbulb moment for Halt Near X.)

Tagged: Horses

What a doofus

23 March 2007 Comments

Oh for the love of Pete. You know those days where nothing really goes wrong in a drastic, important way—but nothing ever goes quite right, either? So the whole thing becomes one hilarious (in retrospect) example of Murphy’s Law?

Welcome to the last twenty four hours of my life.

First I tripped over my own feet. Twice. Bruised both shins. Then I went out to the barn, and because the weather has been weird lately we had this odd combination of melting stuff and icing-over stuff, all covered in a thin layer of new snow. Icky conditions, right? I told myself to be careful getting out of the car, got out of the car, turned to shut the door, and ended up falling/slamming my hip into the door instead. What a doofus.

By the end of the night, I think I had a bruise on every part of my body. All because of stupid stuff I did. Like pausing to make sure a mare was lined up straight to go into her stall (so she wouldn’t hit a hip on the door frame, right?)—and then turning around and walking confidently… right into the door frame. I smacked my hip and shoulder right on the edge while the mare stood there rolling her eyes at me and giving me this “Can you find someone competent to put me away, please?” look.

And then. And then! I get home last night, and my internet’s broken. Ok, the modem. Not the whole internet. Normally resetting the modem fixes everything, but not this time. No, this time they had to come fix it—and they couldn’t come until today. Which meant instead of all the work I meant to do last night, I got to read a book.

Or I would have, if my cat hadn’t decided to become very ill. I felt so bad for her—she was so embarrassed about it all.

Until I woke up this morning and discovered she’d been sick again, and this time had tried to cover it up—with my shoe—and I didn’t feel so bad for her anymore. My shoe! She dragged it out of the closet and plonked it on top of her mess. Isn’t she thoughtful?

So she’s at the vet’s now, getting all sorts of tests run. She hates being at the vet. And again: I’d feel bad for her, except she peed on me while I was putting her in the kennel. I was actually pretty happy to turn her over to the vets for a night or two.

(Before anyone thinks I am being flippant about Pook because I don’t care about her, let me point out that I rearranged my entire room last month so her favorite hiding spot—under the nightstand—would be next to one of the heat registers. Making it extra toasty warm for her. And when I come home from the barn all tired and stinky and wanting a hot bath and a hot dinner, the first thing I do is turn on the heating pad for her, so she can snooze on it for an hour or so. And at night, when she comes by and lets me know she wants to go to bed (she has this walk she does), I will sometimes go read a book in bed for half an hour or so to let her cuddle in and get nice and warm before I go back to work. Because I am my cat’s slave. I’m being flippant because laughing about it all is much more productive than worrying every minute. The vets will do their magic and she’ll be fine. I hope.)

But back to my Murphy’s Law day. I got home from dropping her off at the vet to wait for the computer techs to come by and fix my modem. They showed up—right as I was cleaning up the last mess Pook made. Figures. He couldn’t have waited five minutes more? And he was very cute—I don’t know if that makes it better or worse.

Bet your day is starting to look better, isn’t it?

Tagged: Cats, Cats - Pookie

Enough with the record breaking

20 March 2007 Comments

Remember November? It was one of the coldest Novembers in who knows how long up here. My brain almost froze solid. It was brutal, and I’m still trying to warm up from it.

Well, turns out March is one of the coldest Marches in thirty years. 

Or something like that. The newspaper said so, so it must be true. I really wish they hadn’t—I was surviving this cold snap by telling myself it was better than November. It is, but not by much on some days. At least I have super-warm longjohns now—I love these things (Christmas present. Best present I’ve ever received, I think. And that statement should tell you just how much I hate the cold. (If you’re wondering why I live in the Great White Wasteland if I hate the cold so much, the answer is: if I were farther south, I’d be whining about the heat. Or the rain. Or whatever. I enjoy whining about the weather, because it’s pointless and I know it’s pointless. I’m weird like that.))

On the positive side, though, May is only six weeks away, and in May we’ll have breakup. Melting! Snow! Ice! Water! All on the same patch of road! Wheeee!

And in other other news, I finally gave in and moved my laptop to the office (I like to work in the living room so I can have movies on for background noise). Now I have the MareStare cams running on the PC while I work on the Mac. Sigh. I knew that was a bad idea—guess how much work I’m not doing? But my timing is good—caught two foalings soon after getting the computer set up.

I really should get back to watching mares stand around doing nothing work.


It doesn’t pay to be an optimist

15 March 2007 Comments

Fall from innocence, fall from grace, fall from the top of a very high mountain.

At least, in the latter case, you can always tell yourself that gravity still loves you. If that’s any comfort.


Pop Quiz: Color Genetics

14 March 2007 Comments

You’ve bred your grey mare to your friend’s black stallion. You don’t know what your mare’s base color is, and your friend doesn’t know if her stallion is homozygous black.

The foal could be (choose all that apply):

a. gray
b. black
c. chestnut
d. bay
e. A surprise. You didn’t “breed” your mare so much as she jumped a fence late at night.

The foal is born and it’s black, but it will gray out. This tells you:

a. Your mare’s base color is black
b. The stallion is homozygous black
c. Both A & B
d. Neither A nor B
e. You’re going to spend the rest of your life trying to keep gray horses from turning green

Whoops! It’s not turning gray after all. It’s just black. Now you know:

a. Your mare’s base color is black
b. The stallion is homozygous black
c. Both A & B
d. Neither A nor B
e. The joys of trying to keep a black coat from bleaching

I lied. It’s not black. It’s bay. Which horse carries the agouti modifier?

a. Your mare
b. Your friend’s stallion
c. Either
d. Neither. Your mare jumped the other fence and visited your neighbor’s bay stallion.

Turns out the foal is turning gray after all, but its base coat is chestnut. Now what do you know?

a. Your mare’s base color is chestnut
b. The stallion carries a recessive chestnut gene
c. Both A and B
d. Neither A nor B. There’s that other fence line and the chestnut stallion. What were you thinking, pasturing your mare between three stallions, anyway?

Except your foal isn’t turning gray; it’ll stay chestnut. This means:

a. Your mare’s base coat is definitely chestnut
b. The stallion carries a recessive chestnut gene
c. Both A and B
d. Neither. Boy, that chestnut stallion has some potent color genes!

Your new chestnut filly grows up and is bred to a homozygous black stallion. She has a bay colt. This is:

a. Impossible. She clearly lied about her parents’ colors on the breeding application.
b. A relief. It’s so hard to sell chestnut mares.
c. Entirely normal. What’s the point of this quiz, again?


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