See? I have a maintenance program. Don't judge.
This past February, I wrote about my ancient clippers and how poorly I care for them. Let me rephrase that, your Honor - I don't do any clipper maintenance unless you count blowing the loose hair off of them. Either here or on Facebook, someone chastised me about my lack of a maintenance program. "I hate your face right now" (as one of my colleagues is fond of saying) because you finally guilted me into opening the 20-year old manual for the second time ever.
The first time I opened the manual was a few weeks ago when Maureen politely asked me if I'd make a copy of it and mail it to her. I almost just mailed her the original as I clearly was never going to use it. Joke's on me, I guess. With my OCD tendencies, I couldn't unsee the invisible look of reproof from Oster regarding my own clippers and their obvious need for some TLC.
I apologize to whomever's face I just claimed to hate. It's really the fault of my 5th grade English/Language Arts curriculum. For the last few weeks, I've been teaching the differences between scientific and technical texts. Since the whole clipper thing was fresh in my mind, I stupidly told my kiddos that I had been leafing through my clipper's manual which would be a technical text as it tells the reader how to make or do something. And since I DO NOT TELL LIES, I felt compelled to actually look through it.
Again, I couldn't unsee the fact that my clippers REALLY NEEDED SOME MAINTENANCE. So, I sat down over the weekend and flipped through the booklet, mentally ticking off the things I was willing to do - clean the area beneath the blades, check; remove the cover from the bottom cap, check; remove the cover of the gear mechanisms and lube it all, um ... are you kidding me? Big fat NO. But remember, OCD.
In the end, I started with the easy stuff, see those filter caps above, and figured I'd just clean the parts that seemed easy to reassemble, and go from there.
Funny moment: as I was peering into the cavity of the gear box thing, I realized I couldn't see diddly squat. I suddenly remembered that I keep a headlamp in my barn bag, so I tossed that on for a hands-free light. My husband walked in about that time, and I know he had to try very hard not to laugh at me because this kind of crap is NOT MY JAM. It helped though, and as a bonus, it made me feel all kinds of empowerment. I actually took out all of those innards.
Once I got going, it was - dare I say it? fun. Gross, sticky, and black, but I felt like I was doing the community a service. Go, me. But of course, just about the time that I was feeling quite successful and well, mechanical, a random washer dropped onto the table from the towel that I had been using to clean the parts. Well, hell's bells. Where did that come from? I had clearly said that part out loud as my husband snickered from the living room.
In the end, I sort of just guessed where it went. When I told my husband that I was hoping everything would still work when I plugged it in, he asked how much clippers could cost anyway. When I replied that several hundred bucks would cover it, he urged me to FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS.
To my relief, they whirred to life just as they always do. They've even already been put back to work, and before I put them away, I blew on the blades to clear out the loose hair.
See? I have a maintenance program. Don't judge.
My husband's birthday is tomorrow. Happy birthday, honey!
My dad's birthday was on Tuesday. Hope it was a good one, Dad.
I read a lot of cards this week.
But none were as good as this one ...
I could kick myself for not buying the whole stack. Best card ever.
Making plans is the easy part. You peruse Facebook and click interested. You open your email and read over the show premium or clinician info. You click add event to your calendar. Suddenly, you've made plans.
I tend to keep my plans pretty close to the vest, especially so if they're important plans. But lately, I've been a bit more forthcoming about my plans. Plans like earning a bronze medal. Plans like riding with Lilo Fore. Plans like showing Izzy. So far none of those things are happening.
In my experience, talking about things that haven't yet happened as though they are a "done deal" somehow makes them even harder to achieve. This is especially true lately as the Universe and I aren't on particularly good terms.
Speedy's health issues have made that bronze medal look much farther from my grasp than it did in October. Lilo Fore? Had to cancel that. Izzy at a show? Well, no, not yet.
And yet ...
Ooh, look! I just got the info on an Erika Jansson Cavaletti Clinic that's being held in May. This would be a good outing for Izzy. Sign me up!
I had a rough last week. Fortunately it wasn't because of horses; they've given me enough gray hairs this winter. On Thursday, a friend tagged me in a Facebook post that pretty much saved the rest of the world from total annihilation as I was very close to going postal - how much crap can one person take?
It's Dwight's face that cracks me up the most. I know that's the look that Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, must have on her face when Izzy starts with his jackassery. I looked at that meme all weekend long, laughing harder each time. It's easy to get a little punchy though when you're on the edge.
Thankfully, while horses can drive us to the brink of insanity, they can also keep us standing squarely on our two feet. My own equine therapists, a Goddess and a Wild Card did their jobs well (sort of) over the weekend, leaving me mostly prepared to tackle Monday. My husband drew a name for last week's book give-away. Congrats to Mag for winning a copy of Is Your Horse a Rockstar.
Mag wrote, "I think mine would be the "mean girl" even though he's a gelding. He has to show everyone that he's in charge - pasture mates, stablehands, etc. I would love a copy to see if that's one of the choices!"
Mag's copy is in the mail, headed her way. And Mag, I'm wondering if your gelding might be The Macho Man, The Boss, or even The Prize Fighter. I hope you'll let me know!
I had a funny "recall" moment the other day. I'll get to my point, but first ...
Endurance races were grueling, gritty, and hard-core affairs. If your horse crossed the finish line in last place hungrily looking for his hay bag, the day was a success. If the rider could make it to the awards dinner with only a few scratches and some seriously smelly clothes, the entire weekend was worth the multiple tanks of gas to get there. Endurance racing is an extreme sport for sure; it's raw, it's bone crushing, and it will wear you out. I loved it though.
When I first started showing dressage, I thought it was just a big party. White pants? A coat in the summer? Weird, but let's do this! Instead of being mounted for 10 - 20 hours, I rode for an hour. Maybe. Instead of looking for the ubiquitous neon pink trail ribbons, I watched for letters. I tried to get everyone I knew to come and show. It's fun. It's cheap. You'll love it. The most common "no" that I heard was My horse isn't ready.
Upon hearing the scores from my first show ever. The "trainer" I had just lessoned with warned me not to tell anyone that I had ridden with her. She predicted I'd earn a 36% and didn't want my scores to reflect on her. The joke was on her as we earned two scores of 63.5%. You can bet I didn't mention her name.
I wondered how a horse couldn't be ready. Can he walk, trot, and canter? Then he's ready. This was of course as I was making my way through Introductory Level and then Training Level. I honestly believed that any horse who was sound and could stay in the ring was ready. I still felt this way at First Level. So maybe a lengthening of stride wasn't there, but come on, it's just basic stuff.
And now I get it. Third Level. We're just not ready, and I don't see how we will get ready. There simply isn't enough time to get everything show ready by March or April. We have a chunk of the Third Level stuff good to go. I can get a nice bouncy collected trot. Speedy loves the medium trot even if he can't really show utmost ground cover. We have a show-worthy turn on the haunches, and the 10-meter stuff is pretty easy for him.
What we don't have is a reliable flying change, especially after being off for more than a month due to those two abscesses. The half pass isn't that great either. Unlike a trainer from eons ago, Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, isn't (too) worried about me embarrassing her. It's really the other way around. I don't want to get out there and make her look bad.
I've made her promise not to let me show if I am going to go out there and look stupid. She always laughs, but I am dead serious. I don't want to end up on some YouTube video or on a COTH thread about riders who are idiots.
On the other hand, I refuse to succumb to the we're not ready excuse. I don't think I am ever going to feel ready for Third Level. I am going to have to settle for at least we're trying.
Besides that, we've already looked like idiots plenty of times. What's one more?
Today marks my first workday of 2019. Bummer, but it pays the bills.
Since Friday, my brain has been trying to remind my body of what 4:45 a.m. feels like. I started waking up at godawful times only to remember that it wasn't yet Monday. Gratefully, I was able to roll over and head back to sleep. Not this morning.
I can hear Speedy laughing from here. All right already; I am up!
If you haven't been invited to a barn party this year, throw one. There is nothing more stress-relieving than hanging out with a bunch of like-minded, horse crazy folks eating too much food and laughing at stories that the rest of the would find world find boring.
On Friday night, Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, opened her beautiful home to all of her students and friends for her annual Team Symphony Christmas bash. Chemaine had students from all over Kern County show up, and it's a big county. That lady really gets around!
Team Symphony's party was like a lot of others. We brought more food than anyone could possibly eat, and I mean that. Somehow the two food tables, yes, TWO, kept getting refilled. It was like the miracle of the loaves and fishes. One thing about horse people is that we love to chow down almost as much as we love seeing our horses dive in.
Like most barn Christmas parties, we all brought horsey-themed gifts to swap and steal. At the end of the night, I ended up with not one, but two new ornaments! One I "stole," and the other came from Chemaine. She had hand painted each student's horse on an ornament. Mine had both of my horses depicted!
Part of the evening's festivities included a fun game of "Reassemble This Bridle." I laughed because not long ago I wrote a post about cleaning three bridles and getting confused when I started putting them back together. Chemaine paired me up with my friend Wendy, an amazing barrel racer who also rides dressage. Not to change the subject, but here's Wendy on Bloo.
Since Wendy and I were up first, Chemaine gave us a moment to strategize. Not wanting to be responsible for the crown piece and brow band - I look like a retarded monkey when I try to figure out those pieces and that's in the privacy of my own tack room, I told Wendy to do that part while I tackled the reins and bit. We end up winning with a time of 1:16. Take that, retarded monkey!
Like all good things, the evening eventually came to an end but not before everyone handed out lots of hugs and well wishes. It was a Christmas party after all, and the spirit of good will was definitely felt as everyone wished each other's horses good health, top scores, and success in the coming year.
Thank you for having us, Chemaine. I am so looking forward to 2019!
Group trail rides at dude ranches are not my thing. There are a few exceptions of course. My husband and I booked a trail ride in Belize that took us to some Mayan ruins; that was fun. I also took a private trail ride in Scotland; again, fun times. There was also that weeklong, point to point ride I did in Ireland. That was more than fun. But generally, the nose to tail thing just doesn't float my boat.
Being six feet above the ground connected to tree trunk legs kind of changes your outlook on trail rides. Suddenly, nose to (bobbed) tail rides look like a lot of fun.
Over the weekend, my husband and I joined three other couples for a trail ride at the Covell Clydesdale Ranch in Cambria. We booked the trip more than a month ago, not really sure what it entailed. None of us were disappointed.
The Covell ranch covers approximately 2,000 acres of rolling hills above the tiny coastal village of Cambria. The ranch has approximately 50 head of cattle and nearly 70 Clydesdales. The horses range in age from yearlings to old timers living out their retirement years. The working string is currently made up of 10 Clydesdales, mares and geldings, but a few others are being trained to join the team.
After getting all of us checked in, Tara, the ranch owner's daughter, gave everyone a quick tutorial in how to ride the horses. Each Clydesdale is taught to drive, that is their original purpose after all, and they are ridden like driving horses. Tara showed everyone the technique of slide, grab, and pull. We were directed to slide one hand down the rein, grab it, and pull it straight back to ask the horse to turn. To stop, you have to slide both reins through one hand, and then pull straight back with a rein in each hand.
The horses do not work off of the rider's seat or legs which meant no leg yielding or steering with your seat. Turning was also a challenge as an open rein did nothing. It took some concentration to turn left and right, not to mention a lot of room, but once I got the feel for it, I was quite delighted with how responsive my girl was.
After a few minutes of practice, Eileen turned out to be very soft in the bridle and wiling to listen to the quietest of aids; not all dude horses are that sensitive. With only the slightest wiggle of my calves, she broke into an easy trot. To come back down to a walk, I simply picked up both reins. What a lovely mare she was!
In the nearly 30 years that we've been together, my husband has ridden maybe a half a dozen times. Considering that his actual saddle time is pretty limited, he's listened to me long enough that he's picked up a decent skill set. At well over 6 feet tall, it was fun to see him look small on a horse.
The horses were trained to stay more or less in line, but Tara said that we were welcome to ride side by side. Most of the horses were happiest following one after the other. We did do a few trot sets and were even given the go ahead to trot up the final climb to the top of the hill. I was pleasantly surprised with how smooth Eileen was. We were all in western saddles of course, but even so, I was able to do a tiny rising trot and never felt as though Eileen's gait was too big to stay with.
If you live anywhere within a hundred miles of California's central coast, you should look up the Covell Ranch. Tara has done a great job with her Clydesdales. They were all well trained, their feet looked great, and each horse looked healthy and happy in their work. You can find the Covell Clydesdales on Facebook and Instagram.
Well, two actually. As promised, I kept it simple. I wrote down everyone's names and my husband picked a winner, one at a time.
Last week, Roeckl sent me two gift certificates to share with whomever might be interested in owning a new pair of gloves. My personal favorites are the Lona Two Tone Roeck-Grip gloves, but the gift certificates are for whichever style you'd like to try.
Keeping it old school, I wrote everyone's name down on a slip of paper. It took me a while though because as I wrote down your names, I visited your blogs/websites if you had one, and then I found myself reading instead of writing.
Once I was sure I hadn't missed anyone, the hunt was on for a suitable container from which to pull two names; I didn't want to use just anything. Then I remembered that one of my sweetest students had given me a small gift last week, so I dug out her gift bag; it was the perfect size.
My husband was happy to pick names out of a bag, and he even suggested I video it. He's normally pretty shy, so I am not sure why the sudden interest in being a film star. I told him no to the video and to just pick already. Drumroll please ...
Thank you to everyone for commenting and sharing your experiences with Roeckl. I sure do love the gloves myself. Of course, now I want a pair of the white Lisboa; they come with Swarovski Crystals on the backhand. Who doesn't need those for showing?
Stephanie, your certificate is in the mail. Alanna, I've sent you an email.
Last week, I shared some pictures of my colleagues' kids hanging out with Speedy at our last show of the year. If you missed the post, check it out if only to see how cute those girls were.
One morning last week, I found two of the above cutie pies standing outside of my classroom door just as our morning bell was ringing. Before I knew it, one of the girls had shrugged off her obviously heavy back pack and excitedly chirped that she had brought me some candy.
I am not going to lie, I cringed inwardly since I am on a weight loss marathon and am doing my best to avoid all candy and sweets. I smiled anyway and eagerly asked what kind. She quickly clarified that it was candy for Speedy - the kind he likes.
At the show, the girls had laughed in surprise when I handed them some candies to feed him. They didn't realize he liked real candy. They of course enjoyed a piece right along with Speedy.
Seriously. Is that not the cutest thing you've seen today? It's kids like these that keep me coming back for more. I can't wait to see what Speedy thinks of the cinnamon flavor. He's a pig when it comes to candy. Wait until I slip him the sour apple one!
You still have time to comment on Monday's post for a chance to win a pair of Roeckl gloves.