I teach fifth grade. I am actually pretty good at it and work hard to make learning fun while still meaningful. Science is one of my favorite things to teach, and this year has been particularly interesting since I decided to fully implement the Next Generation Science Standards.
The NGSS are as rigorous as Common Core, but a lot more fun. The NGSS are also very specific, Support an argument that the gravitational force exerted by Earth on objects is directed down, but easy to understand. For the past few weeks, we've been working on the structure and properties of matter, a weighty topic, I know.
Our latest investigation involved determining whether the mixing of two or more substances results in new substances. We used hair volumizer (a high amount of hydrogen peroxide), soap, yeast, and warm water to create a foamy fountain, commonly known as Elephant Toothpaste.
Once the fountains had done their work, beautiful, fluffy piles of colorful foam rested in the grass. All of the kids laughed and ran around admiring everyone else's colorful "creations." One of my girls came up to me and squealed, it looks like unicorn poop!
I burst out laughing and agreed with her wholeheartedly. It took a while to get everyone cleaned up and back in the classroom, but later, I sent out a couple of girls to photograph the piles. They had lost their fluffy appearance, but they sure did look like unicorn poop!
Alternately titled ... How To Waste $18.95, My Horse Is a Destroyer of All Things, and How to Lose a Fly Mask in Three Days.
No joke. Three days. That's how long Izzy's fly mask lasted. And lest you think he has rude neighbors, he doesn't share a fence with anyone, AND his paddock is HUGE, so it's not like he's touching the fence every time he turns around.
This is not a criticism of the fly mask. I love the Cashel Crusader Fly Masks, especially since 5% of the proceeds get donated to charity. A purchase of the orange, blue, or pink fly mask supports the financial needs of Animal Rescue Efforts, the Wounded Warrior Project, or the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
I've bought quite a few of these fly masks and find them sturdy, easy to clean, and effective. I particularly like the special hole cut for the forelock to poke through. I also like that these masks are trimmed with a low-napped fleece that doesn't attract stickers or other debris. The mesh is also very soft and is purported to block 70% of the UV rays.
I have no idea how he managed to rip it completely apart, but there is no way Izzy is getting another one this summer. It's frustrating because the flies are swimming in his eyeball goop, and the sun shines like 20 hours a day here throughout the summer. Not only is it bright, but it's also particularly fierce.
Do they make fly masks out of metal?
Since December maybe, Speedy has been escorting the big brown horse to work and then standing patiently by as Izzy's moral support. Izzy slowly changed from a horse being chased by the scariest of monsters to a loafer of a pony who was getting pretty happy to just pack me around in ho hum fashion. He liked having a friend nearby.
Over the weekend, I decided to see what would happen if Speedy stayed tucked in his paddock while Izzy and I made the trek to work on our own. The verdict? Some things went great, some things went not-so-great, but nothing was a disaster.
In the what went right category, Izzy saddled quietly, never whinnied, walked when I asked him to, offered some nice stretch downs, and generally went where I pointed him. On the negative front, his back was as tight as it can get which meant his stride was about twelve inches long.
I did a bunch of exercises to help him relax: walk to trot to walk transitions, mini-serpentines along the rail, and changes of rein across the diagonal. To his credit, he would take a deep breath and relax for a moment or two, but then he would remember that he was alone and his tension would come roaring back.
I finally moved on to some canter work and was mostly pleased with the left lead canter. He picked it up, stayed tense, but he never bolted or freaked out. He did a few nice little canter to trot to canter transitions before we came back to a walk.
To the right was a different story. His tension was at maximum power in the right lead. He just couldn't get a bend to the right which meant that he couldn't hold the lead. I did every exercise I know, but things felt like they were snowballing into an avalanche.
The one thing I didn't want for the day was a fight. I finally brought him back to a walk and showed him exactly what I wanted. I straightened out his front end, lined up his back end, and convinced him that he could let go of the inside rein. Then he picked up a round and relaxed right lead canter. We did it twice and then called it a day.
Do I wish he had come to work relaxed and happy? Of course, but Izzy is simply a very hot horse who lacks confidence. Nothing is ever going to be easy with him. I was quite pleased however that he was rideable even if it wasn't always pretty. That's progress.
My new plan is to bring Speedy with us most of the time, but at least once a week, I'll leave him behind. Izzy has shown that he can relax completely and work beautifully when he has a friend nearby. Eventually, he'll be able to do the same work on his own.