Sunday, July 21, 2013

Three Year Olds

Three year olds are a trial, be they horse or human.  I'm not sure what I was thinking, taking on two three olds at once.  Actually, I wasn't thinking... The cuteness of three year olds over-rides the rational part of the brain and results in "SQUEEEE!  ZOMG! SO CUTE! MUST HAVE!"  It's an evolutionary adaptation to insure the survival of the species beyond this hellacious year.  

My three year olds, clearly conspiring against me.

It's a tough age.  Their bodies are much more developed than their brains, which is problematic.  It makes them clumsy, confused and prone to tantrums.  Training a clumsy, confused creature who is prone to tantrums is ridiculously difficult, but must be done for their own benefit.  And, because training a clumsy, confused, emotionally unstable creature isn't enough of a challenge, they're also trying to learn their place in the social construct.  That's science-speak for "super defiant control freak".

Case in point: My son needs to learn to use the potty.  Physically, he is capable of this.  Mentally, he has no desire to change the status quo.  Up until now, he ran around gleefully oblivious to toilet etiquette.  He went where and when he wanted to and someone else took care of it.  While I can see the attraction to that lifestyle, it doesn't change the fact that he needs to start attending to himself, mostly because I'm tired of doing it for him.

Second case in point: Jack needs to learn to carry himself and behave in a way appropriate for a saddle horse.  He is physically capable of this, but his life on the track wasn't like this and he's at an age where he's clumsy and defiant.  He doesn't want to change his status quo and, because he's 17h, I can't do it for him!

So, what do you do with these three year olds?  You point them in the right direction.  You show them, through your actions, the correct way of going.  You have infinite patience.  You accept the mistakes, but make the "right thing" easy.

So I sit my son on the potty, no matter how much he resists, and I wait until he gets it.  I give Jack the aids and I wait for him to get it, no matter how much he avoids it.  And I remember to have patience, because they are only three and they will get it eventually.

I believe it was Einstein who said, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results". He obviously knew some three year olds.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Things To Do When It's 100 Degrees...

... Sit in the house and drink Sangria.

My lazy version of sangria is to stick popsicles in cheap wine.  I use the good popsicles, though.  The ones made with real fruit.

See?  Fruit!  It's healthy.

Surprisingly, the horses don't seem to be too bothered by the heat.  They have plenty of shade and water, though.

Jack has discovered a novel way to keep cool.  He lays in the mud.  Unfortunately, the biggest and best mud puddle is the one that surrounds the water tubs.  His wallowing has resulted in dumped water tubs on more than one occasion.

Of course, dumped water tubs mean more mud.  Maybe he's smarter than I give him credit for.

While I admire his innovation, getting all the dried mud off of him is really a chore.  Between his stereotypically Thoroughbred thin skin and his stereotypically 3 yr old wiggliness, cleaning him up  to work is more work than working him.

As for work, we're keeping it light.  Spider and I working on polishing our walk work.  I've always been told that walk is the hardest gait.  I can believe that, it's certainly the easiest gait to screw up.  The walk is the only gait that lacks a moment of suspension, which makes it difficult to correct.  You can hide a lot in a moment of suspension.  If a horse gets jiggy in the trot, you can kick him in that moment of suspension and get him moving again.  If he gets lateral in the canter, same thing.  If he gets too strong, you've at least got some impulsion to work with.  But, the walk is a marching, four beat gait that puts all your tension, all your stiffness and all your other faults out there for display.  Performing the walk part of tests always makes me feel naked.  Hopefully, all the work we're doing will help with that, or at least make me more comfortable in my nakedness.

Jack is being introduced to the long lines.  While long-lining can be quite physically demanding, it doesn't require much energy in the introductory phases.  What Jack is learning now is to get used to the feel of the lines on his sides and legs, to not try to turn and face me when I move around him with the lines and to stop and go on command (a concept he's spotty on under saddle, too).  It's good work for the heat.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Just What We Needed....

More rain!

NJ is being inundated again, so I'm holed up in the house.  It's raining hard enough that the horses are also holed up in the barn, which rarely happens.  They usually prefer to be out grazing when it rains.

I have five stalls, and four horses that obviously can't count.

This is a 10x12 stall, and those horses are all over 16 hands.  That's 3600lbs of horse crammed into 120 square ft.

All three geldings cram into one stall, while Matilda gets her own.

Clever little mare.

Since I'm holed up in the house, I've been messing around on the internet.  I should probably be cleaning or something, but the internet is more fun.

My internet wanderings have led me to David Ramey, DVM's website and I've been reading it for hours.  It's really good stuff!  He offers a science-based look at equine medicine and maintenance, which is refreshing and informative.  Equine husbandry relies too much on voodoo, snake oil and "But, that's how we've always done it".  It's past time we started demanding some proof, or at least decent evidence, that the crap the industry is shilling actually works!

I could go on for several more paragraphs on that subject, but that's a post for another day.  The rain just stopped, and the sun is peeking through the clouds.  I think I'll go ride a horse or two.

Monday, July 8, 2013


I've been awarded the Liebster Blog Award thrice, which is fun because I haven't had this award before.

Liebster is German for "beloved and valued", and to accept it I now have to do the hokey pokey.

No, wait, that's not right, I have to thank the person(s) who nominated me...

And I do thank them, because it's so great to be acknowledged!  I was awarded by Saiph Torren  of Wait For The Jump,  Dragon of I Trot On and Checkmark 115 of Chasing the Dream.  I didn't know about Wait For the Jump, so I'm glad she de-lurked to award me because her blog is really fun, and I really like I Trot On and Chasing The Dream.  They're all very good blogs to follow.

Now I need to give 11 random facts about myself:

1.  I'm allergic to monkeys.

2. I have a neurologic abnormality called synesthesia.  I think of numbers, letters and abstract ideas as colors.  For example:  I think of the number 7 as red, the letter K as pink and being sick as purple.

3. I love heat and humidity, but can't stand the sun.

4. I have Inflammatory Bowel Disease, and it's causing my spine to degenerate and fuse.

5. I'm out of wine, and will need more to complete this list.

6. I got more wine, so let's go!

7. I like the smell of marigolds.

8. I once took lessons from an Olympic Eventer.  She told me to stick with dressage.  I did.

9. I enjoy menial tasks, like mowing the lawn, dragging the arena and cleaning stalls.  They give me time to think, be alone, and have a drink.

10. I am terrified of lightning.

11. I went to grad school to study neuroethology, which is the physiological basis of behavior.  It's basically animal behavior for super-nerds.

Now I have to answer a bunch of questions from my nominators (Is that a word?)

I'll start with Saiph's, since she was the first one to nominate me.

1. Who is your favorite horse? (Either real or fictional) Why?

Secretariat. His Belmont Stakes win still sends shivers down my spine.  It's a beautiful thing to watch. Plus, I've got a soft spot for a chestnut.  (Jack is a great-grandson of Secretariat, BTW)

2. What is the most exotic/unusual pet you've ever owned?

I've had snakes, lizards, turtles, salamanders, newts, rats, and ferrets... but by far, my most unusual pet was Frankie the Fan Belt Kitten.  When I worked as a vet tech, a feral kitten was brought in that had gotten caught in the fan belt of a minivan.  Her jaw was broken, her tail was missing, one of her ears was half cut off, and she had cuts all over her body from the belt.  The on-call vet stitched her up as best she could.  She had so many stitches that we dubbed her "Frankenpuss".  As Frankenpuss recovered, her personality started to shine through, and we quickly re-named her "Frankenbitch".  She was a tough little cookie. She made a full recovery, and needed a home, so I took her home with me.  But, I lived in an apartment at the time, and apartment life was not for Frankie.  I eventually took her to my parents farm to live, where she is still alive and raising hell at the ripe old age of 13.  

3. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A jockey.

4. If you ended up being something else, what made you change your mind?

I got too tall.  Which is ironic because, at 5'3", I'm much too short for dressage, but that hasn't stopped me!

5. What are your long-term riding career goals?

Don't fall off too many more times, because it seems to hurt worse now that I'm older.

6. What is your greatest riding achievement?

Not getting killed doing it.... yet.  

7. What is your greatest regret?

That I didn't meet my Spider until he was 11.  I wish I could have had him since he was a baby.  

8. What is your favorite movie? Why?

Star Wars.  Because it's awesome!

9. Have you ever read a book that moved you so much that it changed your life? Which book?

I think every book I've read has changed me in some way.  I love to read, and will read just about anything.  Some books change me by expanding my knowledge of the world around me, some books just hone my BS meter.  

10. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? What would your house be like?

I'd live somewhere in the Caribbean.  My house would be very open and airy, with lots of colors.  I like colors.  It would also have acres of pasture for my horses.

11. If you could have any saddle, which one would it be?

I've already got seven, my husband would not be happy if brought home another one, no matter how "perfect" it was!

Next, I'll answer Dragon's:

  1. Get up early to ride, or stay up late?
Both.  I have my own farm and two kids, I ride whenever I can!
  1. What do you do for a living?
I'm a Farmwife.  It's not particularly glamorous, but it's fun.
  1. What do you wish you did for a living?
Right now, I actually enjoy this quite a bit.  I've only been at it for three years, though.  I might get bored soon.
  1. If you could try any type of riding what would it be?
Sidesaddle.  It just looks interesting.  I'd probably fall off.
  1. What is one thing about your horse you wish you could change?
I wish he were younger.  He's 18, and I'm not ready for him to be old.
  1. If you could change your horse's name to anything (registered or barn) what would it be?
Spider's real name is not Spider, he had a ridiculous show name under his previous owner.  Spider was just his barn name. I actually didn't even know about his ridiculous show name until I signed the sale papers and the show name was used.  I knew I didn't want to use the show name, and I thought about changing his name to something else.  In the end, I decided that "Spider" really suited him best. 
  1. Facebook, Tumblr, or Instagram?
Facebook.  And everyone should totally follow Spider on FB.  The link's in the sidebar!
  1. Ebay, Craigslist, or Tack shop?
All of the above.  I have a problem.....
  1. If you could take on the life of any character in any TV show or movie, who would it be?
Oooh, I honestly don't watch enough TV or movies to say.  I tend to watch the History Channel and Food Network.  
  1. If you had an unlimited budget, what type of car or truck would you buy?
Some sort of fast little sports car.  I currently drive a Ford F350, it takes up 4 parking spaces and moves at half the speed of slugs.  It would be nice to get to highway speed on the on ramp and not have to park at the very end of the parking lot.    
  1. If you could move to any part of the world, where would it be?
The Caribbean!  But, only if I could take my horses.

And Now Checkmark 115:
1.Which horse in your life has been your favorite and why? Leased, owned, ridden etc.

Spider, hands down.  I can't really explain it, though.  He's not the fanciest, or the nicest, or the best at anything, but there's just something about him.  He and I just click.

2. What is your fav/least fav thing about your current barn?

Favorite thing: It's mine, all mine!!!  Least favorite thing: It's mine, and I have to take care of it.

3. Biggest pet peeve?

People who refuse to open their minds to new ideas.

4. What is the scariest horse related incident you've been involved in? (colic, trailer accident, etc)

I was on a trail ride with a friend, we were miles from the barn.  We had decided to gallop a bit down a long stretch of a clear trail.  I was in the lead, when her horse suddenly passed me without her on board.  Her horse was panicked and bolting.  My horse was trying to bolt, too, after seeing the other horse bolt past us.  I needed to get back to my friend to make sure she was alright.  I ended up having to get off and lead my horse back to where she was.  She was OK, just banged.  Her horse had stumbled, then panicked after she fell off.  Luckily, there was another group of people a little further down the trail who managed to catch her horse and bring him back to us.  It was definitely a scary few minutes, though, when I wasn't sure if she was OK and then when we didn't know if the horse was OK.

5.  Post a pic of your fav throw back & why.

This is from back when I wanted to be a jockey.  My legs were the perfect length.

6. Netflix or redbox?

Neither.  I do not have the attention span or time to sit and watch a movie anymore.  

7. Tell us your plan of attack in the event of a zombie apocalypse.

Steal all the horses in my area, then start recruiting for my zombie fighting cavalry.  I figure my dressage knowledge will help me train my cavalry force, which I will then use to conquer the surrounding towns free the surrounding towns of the zombies.  

8. Coke or Pepsi?

If it's got Jack Daniels in it, I'll drink it.

9. Iphone or Droid?

iPhone.  I have Macs, I like that the iPhone syncs up with them automatically.  

10. Favorite meal.


11. Biggest obession besides horses.

Gardening.  I love it, I grow flowers and fruits/veggies.  I have filled every bit of space that isn't being occupied by horse stuff with gardens.  I also can't pass a Lowe's or Home Depot without stopping to check out the clearance rack.  I admit it, I have a problem....

Allright, that takes care of the first part.  Now I need to make my own questions and nominate people.  And I'll totally get to that, at some point....

For now, I'm having trouble finding blogs that haven't been nominated and I'm working on writing some posts, potty training my youngest, and surviving the monsoon that has been unleashed upon the East Coast!

Thursday, July 4, 2013


Happy 4th of July!

I am still only a "marginal" 3rd Level rider.  I got a 52% at my last show.  I deserved it, but I don't think the comments on my test really reflected it well.  I got a 4 on one half pass, and the only comment was "needs to start from centerline". I got a 5 on a medium canter where the the only comment was "needs more".  Needs more what?  My collective remarks were "Work on engagement, collection and throughness, then the movements will be easy". Bwahahahaha!

I'm not one to complain about a judge, the scores were fair.... but I wish I'd gotten better comments.

To be honest, I'd probably ridden about 5 times in the two weeks before the show.  It was raining, I wasn't feeling 100%, and I got lazy.  No more of that crap.

As of Monday, I'm doing the "30 day ab challenge" that's all over Facebook and Pinterest.  I need to be fit to ride well.  I'm also making it my goal to ride every day, no excuses!

Since I'm doing the "ab challenge", I decided Spider should be doing it, too, and started working him over raised cavaletti.   He's even cantering over them now, he always used to jump them at canter before.  I'll make a dressage horse of him yet!


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