Blog .:. October 2011 15 Entries

Do they come with an Off button?

31 October 2011 Comments

It’s been a while since I had a kitten.

Even Onyx didn’t count, as she was over a year old when I got her.

So that’s… nearly seventeen years since Pookie was a kitten.

Do they come with off buttons?

I mean, so far this morning, Pippa has climbed my curtains, climbed my curtains, climbed my curtains, and climbed my curtains. Then she took a break and climbed my curtains, just for variety.

She’s also killed every piece of paper in the apartment, some of them twice, built sand castles in her litter box (she likes to play in there), and climbed my curtains.

She’s doing half laps around the living room, trying to see how far she can get without touching the ground (and while, presumably, hunting for more paper to kill).

But mostly she is climbing the curtains.

I’m exhausted just watching her, and she’s only been up and active for thirty minutes.

Oh. Look. She’s climbing my curtains.

ETA: Simon’s Cat “Double Trouble,” which is exactly what I’m going through:

Tagged: Cats, Cats - Luna, Cats - Onyx, Cats - Pookie

Time for a little change

31 October 2011 Comments

Ro felt really good in our ride today, and it showed in the canter, which was very balanced and more relaxed than it has been.

So, just for kicks, I decided to change direction across the arena, ask for a flying change, and see what she would do.

I figured she’d either stay in the counter canter—and she was balanced enough that that would be no big deal—or she’d change. She’s done changes before, so I know she has them in her, but it’s usually when she does something goofy like jump a shadow. I wanted to see if she’d change when I asked her to.

And she did.

I’m not talking about a go-into-the-ring Third Level Flying Change here, but it was clean, it came from behind, and she made the change when I cued with my inside hip and outside leg.

So, naturally, we tried it the other way, just to see if it was fluke.

Nice clean change again.

Such a good girl.

Then we galloped around like hoodlums, just because.

I’m happy, Ro’s happy.

Tagged: Horses, Horses - Ro, Riding, Riding - Breakthroughs, Riding - Dressage

Of Barrel Racing and Homeless Kittens

30 October 2011 Comments

It’s important, with a horse’s first show, to set them up for success.

Which is why, no doubt, Ro is currently writing her Senator and Representative, demanding Things Be Changed.

No, we did not go to the dressage show. I did drop by for the barn’s party/barrel race, however, and pulled Ro out in the middle of it all.

The big bouncy castle didn’t bother her too much (she’s seen those before). The kids bouncing in the castle didn’t bother her too much. She was a little unsettled when they threw a ball in her direction, and I’m not sure if it was the movement of the ball or the sound as it smacked against the net. We hung around until that was no big deal; she wasn’t relaxed, but she wasn’t spooking, either.

She didn’t even seem to notice the ghosts hung in trees or the tape wound around stuff.

The only thing that really, really spooked her was a stroller going over gravel.

And she was very, very unhappy about the horses galloping around in the warmup ring. To be specific: she was unhappy I wasn’t letting her gallop also.

Pony wanted to go.

This is where she was not set up for success: we got a decent rain again a few days ago (yay!) and she has been kept in for the past two nights. The arena was just barely usable last night, so I hacked her at a walk, but that was just enough to get her out and moving—it was not enough to use up all her energy.

Although she threw a temper tantrum or two because horses were galloping and she was not, she did pretty well, all things considered. She settled back down and never completely lost her brain.

And, yes, we trotted the barrels a couple times. She was obedient. And, uh, whooped by just about everyone, including a kid who had a trainer jogging alongside his trotting horse.

We may not have been the fastest, but our circles around the barrels were the prettiest.

I didn’t have any real expectations for this. Overall, I’m pretty happy with her. For the first real show-ish thing we’ve done, she was pretty good. And despite everything going on, she trotted into the ring to do her barrel pattern on a loose rein and listened to me when I asked her to stay slow, even though she clearly (clearly!) wanted to gallop around.

I have a much bigger problem then Ro.

This is my problem:

I lost Pookie late this summer—she was my one-in-a-million, my heart cat, the one who has been there for everything.

And although Onyx has not seemed to mind being an only cat, it turns out I mind that she’s an only cat. She wants to play. A lot. And with Pookie gone, she thinks it’s my responsibility to amuse her.

So I have been considering getting another cat so Onyx can pick on someone else for a change.

Naturally, someone brought along a crate of kittens to the barrel race. I was checking them out, prepared to resist, when someone called across the grounds: “You need another cat!” And without thinking, I yelled back, “Yeah, I kind of do.”

The next thing I know, we’re taping a kitten inside a make-shift cardboard box so I can get her home.

She spent a couple hours in the bathroom, but she yells almost as much as Onyx, so I locked Onyx in the bedroom and let her out to wander around.

The kitten is bold but not too friendly yet. I think she wants to be friendly, but let’s be fair—I took her away from her litter mates, threw her in a box, drove her around, and locked her in a bathroom for hours. She’s not so sure she wants to be friendly with me, and I can’t really blame her for that.

For what it’s worth, I think she’s going to be more than a match for Onyx. I don’t think this kitten is going to take any crap, so once they adjust, I’m hopeful they will be able to keep each other amused. Because the alternative is that I will have two bold, high maintenance, take-over-the-world cats in my house, simultaneously demanding my attention. I think I’d go insane.

Kitten doesn’t have a name yet. I’m calling her Pippa because it would just be rude to call her Pipsqueak, but she probably deserves something better than Pippa. Although Pookie definitely deserved something better than Pookie, and Onyx only deigns to recognize her name because anything is better than “Voodoo” (which is what she came with).

If you have suggestions, let me know. You can’t really tell from the pictures, but she is actually a tortie—mostly gray, but she has minimal tan tortie coloring throughout her coat. And, like I said, bold and expressive.

God help me.

Tagged: Cats, Cats - Luna, Cats - Onyx, Cats - Pookie, Horses, Horses - Ro, Riding, Riding - Barrel Racing

As long as I’m asking for advice

28 October 2011 Comments

I need a curse breaker.

Last spring, I decided Ro and I were ready to enter a show. I promptly broke my foot. After a day or two of thinking about it, I contacted the organizers and they agreed to let me ride without stirrups and show HC. Ro’s sinus infection then flared up and I gave up on entering that show.

Later in spring, we were scheduled for a clinic. Ro’s sinus infection flared up right before the clinic; we treated it, but there was a chance she would still be clearing up at the time of the clinic. The clinic organizer worked with me and we moved my ride to this fall’s clinic, but it was still frustrating at the time.

In early summer, I eyed a second show, only to have circumstances intervene again before I could get entries in.

No problem. I thought for sure we’d be good to go this fall, especially after the last surgery we did on Ro, which looks to have finally gotten the root cause of the recurring sinus infections.

Initially, I planned on one show. The organizer cancelled it. I tried another show, but we got a freak storm and I scratched due to the driving conditions. By some miracle, we did indeed make the clinic last weekend, and I optimistically signed Ro up for a show this weekend. Unfortunately, I got my entries in very close to the deadline and the show ended up filling. As I was one of the last (possibly the last) entries, they were not able to schedule me in. This is my own fault, no question about it.


Still, still, still.

Six times I’ve tried to get Ro to a show, and it hasn’t happened once.

There are still a few schooling shows in November, but I’m losing the drive to try. So far, I’ve only lost entries fees on one show (the one I scratched), but I’m worn out by the constant ramping up for a show only to have it not happen.

My barn owner says it’s because Ro wants to be a barrel horse, so Ro’s secretly sabotaging my show efforts. I kind of believe it at this point.

The barn is having a party tomorrow, complete with a barrel race. Maybe we’ll enter that. If we win something, then we’ll know Ro is meant to chase cans. Or cows. I’ll sell my dressage saddle and go buy a western saddle that’s bigger than she is (as they all seem to be).

Because I don’t know what else to do.

(For the record, I was kind of hoping a little pity party would buck up my spirits, as it does sometimes, but it’s not working in this case. I remain convinced that sending in entries for a November show would be a waste of the entry money. Something would happen. It. Always. Does. Ugh. Maybe I’m pairing the wrong cheese with my whine. Perhaps Cheetos would be better.)

Tagged: Bad Days & Bad Luck, Horse Shows, Horses, Horses - Ro, Riding, Riding - Dressage

Basic Massage Techniques—Know Any?

28 October 2011 Comments

I learned some basic massage techniques and stretches when I owned the Super Saint. We’re not talking about full-on therapeutic massage here; we’re talking about just a light massage that I used before our rides to help warm up his muscles and after our rides to make sure there was no lingering tension. Feel good in the moment type massages.

Yesterday I decided to see what Ro would think of it. She’s not a huge fan of grooming, so I expected, at best, that she would be ambivalent. And indeed, her reaction was a great, big “meh.”

Just stroking along the muscle confused her. She kept turning her neck to see what I was doing; it didn’t seem like it was bothering her, but it also didn’t seem like she was getting anything out of it. Switching to my fingers instead of the flat of my hand had more of an effect on her—she did like that. Scratching across the muscle (instead of stroking along it) was only tolerable if there was actual tightness in the muscle. If the muscle felt pretty relaxed to start, she was irritated by the cross scratching. She liked percussion quite a bit (I like to use my fingertips again vs the flat or heel of the hand—I think you can get more of the muscle vibrating with less force).

Since she likes a little pressure and kept responding well when I used my finger tips, I think I’ll start using my curry comb more as a massage comb. It’s one of those big, heavy round rubber ones with lots of points all over it. I suppose I could go buy a special massage brush, but I think this will work just as well.

I was happy to see that her neck/shoulder/back were all pretty loose and relaxed. I felt a few knots but they all loosened up pretty easily. Her hindquarters are much more tense and I’m not sure how much difference I made there. She definitely liked having that area worked on, and she was not shy about taking a step forward or back so I could keep working on particular spots. We’ll see how this improves if I do a little bit on a consistent basis.

I think we’re also going to start adding in some stretches. I suspect she’ll be just fine with the typical carrot stretches and the one forearm stretch I know how to do—she tends to have pretty good range of motion up front. The hind end is what I’d like to work on, especially given that it’s where she’s carrying all her tension. I only know one stretch for that (stretching the leg forward), but I’m sure there must be more.

And in that spirit, I’ve love to know any particular massage or stretch techniques that you use and your horse loves, particularly if it’s something you can explain without feeling like you need to add 1,001 warnings about things that could go wrong.

I’m not interested in really deep-down, therapeutic stuff. I want the sort of thing that could be thrown into an average grooming session. Idiot-proof is good.

Tagged: Groundwork, Horses, Horses - Ro, Horses - Super Saint

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