dancing_crow: (crow)
things I am doing right:

riding lessons resumed, rode a different horse at a different barn, but with the same instructor - didn't die, didn't fall off, acquitted myself well enough, learned something about my left hand

riding the gray horse outside in the snow because it is perfect - cantered in falling snowflakes, snow to his knees, snorting and whuffing, me laughing like a loon

bought my mother Monument Valley - the last call i got from her requesting help for something was because she was stuck halfway through level seven, and she's using it as rewards for working on her taxes

helped friends who are thinking about making a website - I hope long term this counts as doing it right

been taking vitamin D and B, seems to halp me be perkier and cheerfuller

a photo of mine landed on the Explore page of Flickr - that feels like amazing good luck, and has resulted nearly 5000 views and around 40 likes, and each like is making my phone bingle

located my workbench and sewing machine - finished one piece, started the next
dancing_crow: (Kaboose)
The red mare, while being bitchy and surly, has moments of real appeal

She was tight in the back and very unhappy with me this morning, and it got worse before it got better. She hated sitting trot, but nailed walk/canter transitions, and got many of the trot/canter transitions so long as I was posting up until she struck off. After we got some of those ironed out I worked on the beginnings of counter-canter, and stopped at a good point.

She is being tested for Lyme this afternoon so we will know whether that is a factor or if she is just bitchy.

After work, I hosed her off, and then let her play with the dribbly hose. She chewed it, and let water dribble out of her mouth.Then I let water pool in my hand and she drank from my hand. I don't know if she's done that before, or if we just figured it out, but it was incredibly cool.

I went back and rode Penny after lunch. She was doing pretty well, considering the heat, and we got some nice forward work. She hangs on my left hand which I tend to set-and-forget, so we reinforce eachother in a bad way. I have been working on softening that hand particularly, and not letting her (or me) hang on it.

While I am fond of Penny, and Ruby cracks me up, I really want Kaboose. I want her to be mine. i want to keep her outside at a nice barn, and be her friend and rider, and trust her and have her trust me.

le sigh.

dancing_crow: (penny)
Penny still has go.

Some switch has flipped? some perpetual urging has paid off? Maybe I'm doing something right? (that can't be true, must be something else)

So now we are focusing on chanelling that go into nice transitions. I got a couple of veryvery nice walk-canter  movements, but getting back to walk is not there (yet).

She is still moderately unflappable, which is nice. Although there was something scary at one end of the ring, prompting various evasive manoeuvres, she was persuadable, and then when her noseband snapped and was flying around she didn't care at all and let me unbuckle and remove it while remaining mounted. (standing still,

Another lesson for Bob. He loves Kaboose, it is not wrong to push him to ride her better? Quieter, calmer, less elbow, more riding from the center of his back. He is getting better, quicker than he thinks. I'll tell him that tomorrow.

I saw a fox on the way up the hill. Bob and Leonor have the Best Wildlife Evar. I saw the mooses when I was out with Bob this spring, and there is a hawk that lives further along the power lines.
dancing_crow: (penny)
The large and usually phlegmatic Penny horse has developed an unexpected turn of speed. I think some of the work we've been doing to get her more go has worked. Unfortunately she has developed a parallel lack of stop, and erratic steering. (we had one digression off the path at speed that made me think of the Gary Larson cartoon of the horse crumpled against the tree, and the guys standing around scratching their heads) I can't quite decide if the steering issues were simply not present when the biggest thing was to keep moving, or if they are new.

Whatever - I am pleased to have the go, and we can work on recouping the stop.
dancing_crow: (Default)

Well, I'll be.

That's my kid! Right on the page at MSN! Although the people who wrote the picture captions haven't a clue.

I got to ride horses today. It was a good day.

Alice is on the Spirit of Massachusetts, steering. Actually by now I hope she is sleeping.

I decided that if Bob really adores Kaboose, he should ride her better, so I administered a lesson of sorts. He has to sit up and ride from the center of his back, instead of the middle of his stomach. Plus be quieter. Part of what he likes about her is that she is more sensitive. Which means (to me) that he has to be a quieter rider, out of kindness and efficiency.

I rode Penny, and we worked on transitions because most of the comments in our tests were balanced between "hollow in transition" and "half halt needs to improve impulsion" - sooo lots of  get-off-my-leg and bend while you do it. Also I HAVE to stop holding her on the left rein so hard, because we have a veryvery bad feedback loop going there.

Leonor was thinking about transforming Ruby into a driving horse, so I watched her do some Clint Anderson lungeing and then I put a surcingle and bridle and side reins on her and we did some classical dressage lungeing. I could see her thinking. She is not sure. Also when I took off her tack, she trotted over to the gate, unstead of hanging around mooching for peppermints. Which made me laugh, because nearly nothing makes her not mooch for peppermints.

dancing_crow: (Kaboose)
I rode all three of the Canadian girls today.

My legs feel like spagetti. Plus something about Ruby's trot does vera bad things to my back.

Maybe Ruby should be a driving pony?
dancing_crow: (penny)
so the forecast for today was scattered thunderstorms, and they all scattered somewhere else - we had sun for most of the day, and it felt woonderful.

I rode Kaboose and Penny (serially, not in parallel) out this morning, practicing trotting and forward and hopping over stuff in the trail. Kaboose was interested and forward, Penny stomping along in good form. I wanted to ride her without touching the test.

Saddle, bridle, girth, clean pad
brushes, buckets, hay in net
breeches, boots(polished) coat with gloves and stock in pocket, shirt to don in am.

tomorrow morning: pack lunch, eat breakfast and roll out by 6:45

First test at 9:00, second at 10:50

The forecast for tomorrow is also for scattered thunderstorms.
dancing_crow: (penny)
two days riding, back to back!! the astonishment might tip me over.

Kaboose is sound again, but still amazingly grumpy. Lani suggested testing for Lyme, which is good advice but expensive. Bob rode her today and was having some issues with cantering, both the transitions and maintaining a canter. Part of the issue is that he is a kind of floppy rider, and he was sending decidedly mixed signals, and part was just that she was tight and grumpy. And yet he loves her, and she works well for him when he is still(er) in the saddle. When I hopped on her, she did better, but still tight. We called her done, because the rain was coming down (again).

Penny was also sound, but sooo sloooooow. I worked and worked on getting her to move smoothly and quickly off my leg. It is getting there, but slowly. Yeah - slow through time, slow from her, slow all around.

Andin the personal grooming department, I have been shorn like a sheep. I finally have hair that looks the way I think I do - about an inch all over. I love it. If the place hadn't been open, I was going to take Al's beard trimmer to it, with one of the stops on it to keep from taking it all off. Just most of it.
dancing_crow: (Kaboose)
Rode Kaboose and Penny this morning.

Working with Kaboose is easier than Monday. She came home with her basic bitchiness unchecked - I had been working on her not making faces when I saddled and girthed her, and on Monday I got a Dreadful face and teeth snapping, so we ran over some of the ground rules with carrots and clicker and holding still. She was better today - she saw me coming at her with the saddle, and was flicking so fast between "Carrots" and "f@#kng saddle" her ears were getting whiplash. She has a lot more go than when she left, and is still tight in the back until well warmed up. I had thought that was winter, but I think it is just her. We stayed on the flat today, working for forward transitions and a niceer canter.

If Kaboose is a knife edge between exhilaration and panic, Penny is a balance between affection and exasperation. She is easy to ride almost well, and surprisingly hard to ride really well. Because she is comfortable, and straighforward, it is easy to not ask so much because it seems like she is trying. She isn't. She has perfected the art of doing less. And she is rubbing it off on you me. We got some much better work after a handful of walk-canter transitions, and then I spent a surprisingly long time trying to get trot-canter transisions forward and smooth instead of head-shaking and jumpy. We have a long way to go.

Lunch with Al. He was pressing me to clarify what I want. I want to ride some first and second level tests. I want a horse and teacher that can get me there. We spent a long time kicking those ideas around.


Jun. 9th, 2009 06:53 am
dancing_crow: (Kaboose)
Kaboose, the Red Queen, has returned!! 

She has been steadily schooled over fences for the last couple months, and "loves it" (where I am not entirely clear that horses love anything besides food and eachother, although they can certainly be interested in various projects). I set up a bunch of things to leap over, with mixed success. We made it over everything. My position needs tons of work. I was dubious about some of the fences and that is deadly for making it over. Once I lowered a couple so I had no excuse, then we did much better.

I had forgotten how poised I was on the knife edge between fear and exhilaration when riding this horse. Some of the fear dissipates as I ride her more, and trust her more, but that first rush is kind of deadly.

I rode Ruby briefly. The firewood was delivered while I was working her, so a lot of the lesson was an exercise in distraction.

I brought out Penny, and was thinking about popping over the same set of jumps I'd set for Kaboose, but I was so dubious about them I decided I'd just set back the whole process by weeks. So we did trot-walk-one-stride-trot-again until she was much more forward and round and worked on some canter departs. We did hop over a couple of fences, but nothing I knew we might argue about. I was grateful to be on Penny and almost bored, after the excitement with Kaboose.

There is a combined test coming up at the end of the month, and I want to take Penny or Kaboose in it. I think we have to do the shortest fences (2feet/60cm) because it is my courage that is failing. I don't even know, at the moment, how to start making the decision.
dancing_crow: (Default)
Fri had a long ride with Bob, I rode Ruby, and I think she was getting footsore at the end - mincing going down hill, and stumbling. She was fine in the pasture after we turned them out. Then the giant scrimmage to get to family camp.

Sat was mostly settling in, but also boating and a little quiet reading and some (indoor) wall climbing which I didn't totally suck at. I did creditably well, and was willing to stretch for things and use my legs, but it isn't my sport, in the same way running isn't really my sport but I can see how it might get compelling.

Sun they opened the High Ropes course. Aerin scrambled up everything with such joy and speed and grace, I got kind of choked up about it. She came down from the most difficult one (called the Vertical Playpen) and wondered aloud what our circus teachers would do with it - the toe hangs and knee hangs and arabesques all as part of solving the challenge. I did one called Floating Islands - it looked like a video game designer had thought it up; little 2x4' platforms held up at the corners, 20 feet in the air, and you had to step from one to the next. It was possible to reach the next only by standing quite close to the edge of the one you were on, and reeeeaching out (over the abyss) to get the strings for the next one. One is, of course, harnessed to the nth and completely safe, but it doesn't feel like it to your hind brain.

Monday accompanied the marching band in the Memorial Day Parade and Program, helping hold, water and feed the animals children young adults kids. They had a picnic after, and I went off to work.

I rode today, jumping Penny over tiny courses (short fences, short sets of things strung together) and while she did great, my position frankly sucks. I need practice on somebody steady, to get my leg, hand and eye back. Penny is very honest about things - straight to the fences, no wibbling, no offers to slide out from under you. We had a minor skirmish at some large blue barrels I had tipped over, mostly because the fence was narrow, and we came into it a little awkwardly. Oddly, the skirmish happened after we'd cleared it cheerfully, both directions. But we finished flying over everthing in fine style, and I got a lot more go out of her than she is usually willing to offer. Bob thought he'd try on her tomorrow or Thurs, weather permitting.

Ruby's feet were sore enough on Sat that she couldn't be ridden, and she seemed a little tender today, so she is getting a short rest and then light work. She might need shoes. Especially if she keeps carrying people who are large.

dancing_crow: (ruby)
The smaller, younger, squirmy Ruby horse and me (with stompage!) from the Sunday show, for proof (of white britches? of the test? I dunno.)

She is very interested in EVERYTHING ELSE, and desperately wanted a drink at the puddle, but overall did pretty well.


May. 17th, 2009 02:51 pm
dancing_crow: (penny)
Well, a success on several counts. No puking. No falling off. I did breathe, for both tests. There was laughter and stompage. And a ribbon.

For Ruby I maintained a sense of humor (I burst out laughing at the halt, she was that foolish) and a good thing too because she was classically squirmy for most of the test. Glenatron - we had ring stompage! you would have been proud! One section down, but a majority of feet remained in the ring and we were not disqualified. Final score 54.0% from an Extreemely generous judge. It won us a ribbon! Sixth place, because all the ribbons I have won since I restarted this process are Sixth Place!

Penny behaved verry badly for Bob, cutting corners, failing to canter, breaking from the canter and finally plowing right out of the ring to eliminate herself. I hopped on her and spoke severely for a couple minutes, and we had some much better moments in our test. Again, the judge was generous. She broke the canter in the first canter circle, and then we failed the last canter depart in Training 2 (because she was tired and it was in a mud puddle) but there were some very nice trot circles, and the judge gave us 7s (!!) for the free walk to med walk transition, and for both changes of rein. Final score of 57.14, which is waay better than we deserved.

I compete because I like to know how I stack up. I like to have a goal. I like dressing up in silly clothes and prancing around on a pony. I actually like memorizing my test, and practicing it. I hate the nerves beforehand, and I have trouble talking myself down from them. Once I am riding, I like being watched, and even judged, and I loove the comments.

Also I rather like being done before lunch? I think that is specific to dressage shows, and competing at the lower levels (where I have been all my life!)

dancing_crow: (penny)
The Penny horse was tired but willing, and we rode our test (T2) twice (taking heed of Hannah's experience) and then practiced some canter departs from the trot, working to smooth them out. Penny's default is to slow down and stop. It makes her a reassuring trail horse, and very forgiving for Bob, but it means getting her MOVING is HARD. However, all our down transitions rock! 

The Ruby horse was sassy, still. We rode our test (intro B)  twice and after I got it un-conflated with the other test, we did it again just to be sure. Then, because she still had attitude to burn, we experimented with more cantering. She is getting more assured at the canter in both directions, and much better picking up the right lead, but it is fast and bumpy and verry pony-like. We tried some circles, and some straights, and a little more plain around the ring. I am hoping some wild child will fall in love with her and have to own her. She needs a kid of her own.

Finished fabric, part of an ongoing series of ten leaves.
dancing_crow: (ruby)
Enticed Bob out for a loongish trail ride, and he showed me some of the trails off the power lines. I rode Ruby, who was squirmy and inclined to stop abruptly to check the bushes for moose. She is still about 50-75 lbs overweight; she needs a backbone and some withers, and the saddle stays put better when I eschew a saddle pad and just use one of the sticky mats they have to keep things from slipping. She needs some more conditioning too - she was sweaty and tired (although it was HOT, hello? summer? in April? yikes!!) much too soon.

She behaved markedly better getting home, all tired like that.

I know a tired dog is a good dog, is a tired horse a good horse?
dancing_crow: (penny)
exercise: ran, outside! for about 2 miles? total, probably 1.5 of that running
horses: Penny! Trail ride! lost in the woods! 1.5 hours (no moose)
fabric: Yes!
plus: Tax Cake for Al.

Just because it is a thankless task, doesn't mean you shouldn't get thanked. This year's was chocolate with melted raspberry jam+cordial in between and white sherry frosting (no vanilla [yeah, I know, panic in the streets], sherry worked pretty well)

I keep thinking I am not running right because it hurts so many different parts of me, and I can't breathe. I can bike all day, I can walk a long ways, I can ride horses for a long time, is running really that much harder?

I vow never to go thrashing about in the woods without a GPS again. I think I was one hill away from the other end of the power line trail I wanted to get home, but the town line went the wrong way so we had to turn around and go back the way we came out. Penny was completely awesome. Aside from keeping a sharp eye out for any more moose, she kept moving nicely.

I think I both niggle and mumble with my leg aids. I was trying to say nothing until I wanted to say something definite. It seemed to smooth communications.

dancing_crow: (headstand)
exercise: Lani's barn, all of it, plus some circus. next week I need to get up on the trapeze again
horses: trail ride with Bob
fabric: fail

most unexpected moment: not one but two moose in the woods; the horses were bug eyed and rooted to the spot, and would have bolted if they'd come any closer, as it was Ruby expected more of them all the rest of the way home, she kept a very careful lookout

dancing_crow: (penny)
exercise: 3 miles (got my 5K, YAY) ran 2 of it, plus lots of arms
horses: Penny and Ruby
fabric: yes, sort of

Painful running. I have the breath for it, but it feels like my legs are going to fall off. BUT - I made it to 3 miles total, and all I have to do now is increase the running part, and decrease the legs falling off part.

Made it to see the girls, got Penny first (Ruby really worries that I won't play with her and give her peppermints and cookies) and we did a lot of bending to the right. She resists on the right and won't fill the left rein. So I tried to be lighter, and use more leg to get her OVER. With a lot of release when it went right. Some of it goes much better. We hopped over a couple small fences. I think she'll be fine in a small combined test, depending on the scary quotient of the fences. She is lumpy and disorganized. Some of it is being 5, some of it is being large and hard to move around. I had a big gelding form Canada growing up, said to be Perch/TB cross but he looked exactly like Penny, and he moved the same way, until he was really fit. So clearly I have fitting up ahead of me. Maybe that will get her some withers too.

I rode Ruby bareback, working on basics; walk, trot, whoa, less hand, more seat, think about bending, put your face in the bridle and go forward. She is squirmy and bouncy and interested in eeeeverything and stops suddenly. All of this is fixable, because she is so dang Happy! When we were done, I pulled her bridle off and we did some free stuff with the clicker.

I am stunned by how fast the clickering goes, both for Ruby and Penny with the mounting and dismounting issues. Getting a small change comes quick, and refining is seems much easier. I was thinking of how to get Ruby to step up onto something, and we couldn't get there, so I made it smaller, and easier. I found a piece of plywood, and got her two front feet onto it, three or four tries, and Bingo, she has that. We are still hammering in the ones we've been working on - picking up feet with a tap, follow the target with me on either side, walking and trotting, touch the target EVERYWHERE; up, down, at her hooves, on either flank, near her tail (pretzel pony!). We run through those every day.

and now, done. Thank you very much.

And happy April Fools, sorry I got nuthin', because I love the theory.

dancing_crow: (Default)
Exercise: ran, chased by trainer around weights for upper and lower body
horses: three Canadians
fabric: yes

I hate running. However, I have accomplished a paradigm shift, where walking is sometimes too slow, and then I can run somewhere.

woot, anyone?

The weights thing has to give me a rest because I feel like my arms are going to break off. I can do nothing but horses tomorrow, and skip Yoga/pilates and count on circus to stretch and whatever else.

Rode Ruby down the road and back. We got further than before. Still a lot of spooking, and some very snorty moments but in general better behaved than Monday. Also 20 degrees warmer and many fewer leaves flapping around. I am thinking that rocks and trees are much less scary than mailboxes and storm drains, which might explain some of the difference between the fall pony and the now pony.

Took the red horse on the trail ride I meant to do Monday when I got lost, and we had a lovely time. The ground was clear almost all the way around the loop. We mostly walked and trotted, but we did do  a little cantering and jumped over three downed logs. One was after we had to walk over two because they were under something I would have cracked my head on, then two strides of trot and pop over. It was awesome. Except for the remarkably duplicitious mud that I failed to understand but we got through that too.

Still working on Penny in the ring, doing a lot of mounting and dismounting. She's getting better, calmer and more likely to stand still as a rock while I mess about on and around her back. After a stiffish workout I practiced leading her up to everything and mounting from it: cavaletti blocks, large rocks, stumps, a small plastic barrel with sand in the bottom. Definitely improving. Tomorrow, the folding chair.


Mar. 23rd, 2009 09:33 pm
dancing_crow: (penny)
exercise: barn cleaning
horses: all three Canadians
fabric: yes indeed, took me all weekend

Thank you all for the sympathy. Right now it is more not knowing than not having.

I did ride the red mare today, and we went off stomping in the woods and got LOST. I was amazed and disgusted because it just isn't that much territory to get lost in, but I managed it. The nastiest part was the ice remaining on the trails in the shade, which caused us to skid and slip and get worried. The bravest part was where I hopped off and we tiptoed across an icy bridge because honestly the only other way home was ALL the way back. Fifteen minutes home one way, and hour and a half the other way. Maybe she heard that reasoning, because she did it like a trooper. And stopped on the other side, when I had to drop the reins because I couldn't keep up, and got handfuls of peppermints. The ice was awful. The mare was veryvery good.

And then because I'd failed the training part of the morning (my knees vetoed running on the treadmill) I rode the other two as well. Penny goes like a freight train, but can be brought round and light(er) on the left rein. On the right she is ugly and bent wrong and dropping her should and... We have a lot of work to do. Plus we are clickering standing like a plug, or a rock, or a bored horse, next to the mounting block while people scramble up and down her side, and not squealing like a pig when the ride is done and the rider goes to dismount. I ahve no clue why she might be nervous about these things, or if she just got in the habit of being pushy. I think the dismounting really worries her, so we are really schooling that to desensitize and relax her. The mounting block is straight up rudness and we can fix that easily enough.

And finally I took little Ruby down the road. She was alert to all potential hazards, and a little spazzy. Cars going by bothered her, leaves blowing past bothered her, the melt water running down the edge of the road and the shadows of the trees across the road and the flags in the graveyard, all bothered her. This is not the cheerful, forward little trail horse I rode in the fall. I don't know where she went, but I'm working on getting her back.

Ended the day looking after Lani's horses. Her stud colt (just 4 years old) is getting increasingly obnoxious. He chomped a great hole in his (now ex) pasturemate, and now he busts out of the pasture routinely and goes to talk to (squeal and paw and rear and show off for)  the horses in the back field. He is hard to get to the head of, and mouthy. I think he would be better with hard, steady work, but the weather and Lani's life have not conspired to make that happen. I haven't got the chops or the courage (at the moment) to offer to help. All the rest of them were just wild with the wind. Blankets for tonight because it will be cold, and yet, we are anticipating 45-50 farenheits tomorrow. I will be pleased when it warms up, but I realized that the instant the ice is gone the black flies will come out. And that is a tough call: Black flies, or ice?


dancing_crow: (Default)

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