Sunday, January 29, 2012

Winter Blues

Actually, this winter has not been all that bad. We only had a few days of curse-inducing cold, but other than that, it's been bizarrely warm. I haven't been able to enjoy it very much since I've been back in school (last semester, booyah!). But I've still done some fun stuff.

Royal and I have been playing with the Game of Contact, and so far it's been going well. I had to get a new bit (current Confidence Snaffle was too small and the Comfort Snaffle too thin), and Royal appears to be adjusting well. He still goes best in the Cradle, but seems okay with the current one. But I have discovered that he LOVES to stretch... for a couple of steps. We didn't go through the whole "Reins are short, what to do?" phase I saw with the other new horses. Every single one got stuck and had to be helped through it gently. Not Royal. He took the ground prep that we spent so much time on and went nuts with it. No stickiness, just stretch, stretch, streeeeeeeeeeeeeeetch. For a step, or two. Then he tries to turn into Royal the Giraffe again.

In the past, this would have frustrated me greatly. Damn it, why don't you get it! But Royal's moved like a giraffe on crack for nearly 15 years; I'm not going to change that in a few sessions. It's going to take time, which is fine with me. I have become a little quicker to pick up the contact after he bobs back up and today that seemed to make a difference. It was a bit harder since we had to share the arena with a mare. She wasn't in heat but that doesn't stop Royal from obsessing over her. But, in the end, he held a nice stretch at the trot for 5 steps, and that was a good note to quit on.

I was able to do something I've been meaning to do since October and buy a photo from the MN Hunt Cup. I liked some of them, but one really stood out (credit to Cynthia Fleishman Photography).

I think it's a good one. Royal looks happy and interested, my leg is somewhat stable, and I'm not pulling a hugely weird face. Good times.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Jumper Chic

Too busy for a full post (back in school, eep!) so I'll just post this:

Royal with his custom-made fly bonnet. I'll have to trim the ears down, but I think he looks so cute! My matching obsession continues.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

I'd Take A Carrot Like This Back To The Store

I promised myself I wouldn't do it. I already had a perfectly good carrot stick and not everything has to match. So no, I wouldn't do it. Nope. Not happening. No.

But I couldn't help myself.

A BLUE carrot stick? My word! But I just had to have it. I think it's part of the fun of horse-ownership, matching everything you can. Most of my brushes aren't royal blue, but everything else can be. Why not? I had a coupon and I can use my blue string to make everything really coordinated.

They really put a lot of work into it. Even the divots in the handle (for grip) are Parelli horse heads. And of course "Parelli" is emblazoned all over the thing.

I still think it looks cool.

I haven't had too many chances to play with it. I've been feeling sick for most of this week. On Monday we did some jumping and went for a walk on the road. The deer carcass was gone, but Royal still gave that area the stick eye. Tuesday was really warm (50!) and the horses were sweaty just from standing around. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday were freezing cold and I couldn't stand being outside for more than a few minutes. Where did winter come from? Saturday was better. My Game of Contact DVD set come earlier in the week, so I'd been watching that and get lots of ideas for things to try. But Royal made me eat some humble pie.

Often, the things I think are going to take us a long time to figure out often only take a few minutes and the thing I think will only take a few minutes take a few hours. Such is life, and I still have not learned my lessons well. I started off doing some bit isolation with Royal (teaching him to stretch down into the bit) on the ground, and about thirty seconds in, we both hear a crack. Oh no, not Needle-Dick! Yes, and he was just getting started. For the next two hour, echoing cracks sounded throughout the arena as I tried (and mostly failed) to convince Royal that the world was not ending. It took about an hour and a half before he calmed down and realized that bit = stretch. No riding, as I wanted to quit on a halfway sane note.

Today my friend came out to the farm to meet Royal and do some riding. Royal was very well behaved and even my dad's horse BJ got in on the action. Much fun was had by all (except for a bit of unpleasantness at the end) and I think I can make my last day of vacation count. And then, back to school. Sigh. :(

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Some Bad News But We Muddle Through

Thursday was a bad day. The ice started sliding off the roof of the arena (something that usually happens in March), which Royal took as a Sign That The World Is Ending. In a lot of ways, I get it. The noises are random, both in timing and sound (everything from a soft "whoosh" to a loud crash that shakes the arena) and he can't see what's causing them. But another part of me is somewhat exasperated. These sounds happen every year and so far, the building has not come crashing down on his head. But there's nowhere else too play (too icy and slippery), so either we do nothing for however lot it takes for the roof to be snow-free (a month, in some cases) or try to do stuff while Royal works himself into a sweaty frenzy. And Thursday was the latter. Poor guy got so sweaty, but managed to be much calmer at the end of the session. I have some ideas of what do when it happens again (as it will snow again, and then it will get warmer), but I'm starting to get desperate.

I arrive home to an e-mail from the vet school, saying that I did not meet their standards and that they would not consider me further. :( So all that time and panic during the application process was a waste, not to mention the $200 it cost to apply. I was sad.

But then I kind of got mad. I mean, I know my GPA is lower than ideal, but I had 3 vets willing to write letters of recommendation for me, one of which is a professor at the vet school. I had plenty of experience, wrote a good personal statement, and obviously I know what the profession entails. So, my immature response is more along the lines of:

I'll do a review with them to see if there's any point to reapplying next cycle, or if they're not going to be able to see past the Semester From Hell. I really don't feel like wasting my time and money reapplying if they're still just going to laugh at me.

So, I was still feeling bummed on Friday when I went out to the farm, planning to go on a ride on the dirt road. But apparently he was still a little freaked out from the day before and was really acting up. Going north on the road, I could see a blue tarp on the side of the road with stuff on top of it. People are always throwing garbage on the side of the road, since it's a quiet little dirt road. They'll leave fridges, cabinets, paint cans, all because it's just so hard to dispose of it properly and safely. Scum. I couldn't see what lay in this particular tarp, because as we got closer, Royal started to act up. I went to bend him, and he stiffened and did a rear/spin maneuver that nearly flung me out of the saddle. I got off and sent him strongly backwards and sideways until he calmed down. I was able to get back on and we walked past the tarp, on the other side of the road and I still couldn't see what was in it. Shortly after that, the barn owner came out on her mare and we rode up the other side of the road together. When we got back to the tarp, she got her mare close enough to see that it was a CARCASS on the tarp! Namely a skinned deer and other parts of animals that she couldn't identify. No wonder Royal wanted nothing to do with it. Poor guy.

Today was a lot better. All the ice on the roof was gone, so no scary noises. Royal was a little apprehensive at first, but I focus him on other things, like pedestals and figure-8s at liberty. We also had a very nice bareback Passenger Lesson, with minimal tension. Life seems to be getting back on track.

Royal sports his fancy blanket on Tuesday.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy 2012!

I don't usually pay attention to the New Year thing, except that I have to write new dates and I invariably keep forgetting it until March. For me, the new year doesn't really start until spring, when winter gives up its stranglehold on us, things begin to grow again and my horse starts molting. It is very difficult to shout "HAPPY NEW YEAR" when I'm coughing up bits of horse hair, so I suppose I'm happy with the way things are.

I don't usually make *New Years Resolutions(tm)*, mostly because I never stick to them. But I'll make an exception this year. John Cheese at has a good article about why *New Years Resolutions(tm)* often fail and it's often because they're not specific enough or people don't really think about what they'll have to do to accomplish them. As a side note, I was a coffee shop on the 30th and saw that they had a chalkboard up where people could write their *New Years Resolutions(tm)* and there was an example of every potential pitfall on the list. "Eat healthier" "Exercise more" "Be together with Marta until 3012!" Sigh. People, specifics please.

Where was I? Oh yeah, I'm making an exception this year.

My resolutions for myself are:
-Cook at least 1 meal per week, something that involves mixing, or stirring, or grilling, or baking. I absolutely hate cooking and find it much easier to get something on the way home or stick something in the microwave, but I'll try some new stuff this year.
-Begin running in the spring/summer. I tried this last year and between the bizarre spring and horrid summer, never got the energy up for it. And I can't afford a gym membership or treadmill, so it's outside or nothing. Hopefully this year the weather cooperates.

For me and Royal
-Compete in the Starter division at the spring Otter Creek Horse Trials, and finish with a score
-Compete in the Beginner Novice division at the Roebke's Run Horse Trials and at Steepleview Horse Trials, and finish both with a score
-Take at least one cross-country jumping lesson
-Go trail riding more!
-Compete in at least 2 schooling shows
-Self-assess to Level 3 in On-Line, Freestyle, and Liberty and be well into Level 4 by the end of the year

All nicely specific and achievable, if I do say so myself. Here's to a new year of success!