I mentioned on Friday that I had had a lesson last weekend. It went great, but Izzy did have a "What the WHAT?" moment. And fantastically, it was caught on video. If bloopers are going to happen, I at least want media so that I can watch it in perpetuity.
In case you missed it, here it is frame by frame ...
He's such a funny horse!
Please tell me your laundry pile looks like this. Riding wear on the left, normal clothes on the right. Admittedly, last weekend's laundry pile was slightly unusual as I had the week off from work which meant I wasn't wearing work clothes.
Even so, on a normal work week, my non-riding pile isn't very big. In fact, I own more riding clothes than non-riding clothes. Either I need to quit shopping for breeches, or I need to start shopping for real clothes.
Honestly, what's in your laundry basket?
It's no secret that I spend a lot of time at the barn. I don't have a schedule. It's just assumed that I'll be there every day. It doesn't always happen, but that's my daily routine.
In January, I was at the barn 26 out of 31 days, and I rode 33 times.
In February, I made it to the barn 24 times out of 28 days, and I rode 27 times. Izzy had hurt himself getting cast which earned him a few days off, and both boys got their spring vaccinations and dentals which earned even more days off.
It's a long story, but I just enrolled at the University of Phoenix for two online courses. The first begins at the end of March (deliberately scheduled after my first show of the season). Each course is three semester units and takes four weeks to complete. The average amount of time spent "attending" class and completing the required assignments is 15 - 20 hours per week.
The thing is that I also work full time. It takes 30 minutes to get to work, and since I go straight to the barn from work, that stretch of my drive adds another 50 minutes to my day. Combine that with the two hours I spend at the barn, and my waking hours are nearly filled.
Since my day is not quite packed in enough, I also get up at 4:30 three days a week to run on the treadmill. Something has to give. I already told my husband that our nightly home cooked meals will probably not be on the menu for the month of April. He wondered about my daily barn visits.
Um ... What's to wonder about?
What a silly question!
I am sure you know exactly what I am talking about. Now if only car manufacturers could install a flip-up saddle rack, we'd all be a lot happier.
My trunk's live-in occupants are pretty few compared to some trunks and back seats that I've seen. Even so, grocery shopping always requires a bit of planning. The brown bag, two coats, and boots live in my trunk. I go straight to the barn after work, so it's easier to just store that stuff in my car.
What lives in your trunk?
In case you weren't aware, I teach fifth grade. We are holding our annual track meet this week which means we've been trying out and practicing our events for the past month. We do an actual track meet: running events on a marked track, shot put, discus, high jump, and so on.
I am fairly athletic; I can run and hit a ball, but I am not good at anything. It always strikes me rather funny that I coach my team in events that I can't do myself. I mean honestly, I have to take a YouTube tutorial each spring to remind myself about the finer points of each event.
Earlier this week, I was checking in with my long jump kids to see how their practice was coming. Right away, I could see that there were some issues. As I started shouting out instructions, I realized that I was giving my fifth graders a combination dressage/jumping lesson.
As one kid sailed past me, I yelled out run, run, run ... don't slow down. Push off! (His stride was short and choppy - he needed to lengthen his stride.) For another jumper, I hollered, think about pushing off the board rather than running across the board. To a third competitor, I shouted quit adding in a stride. I really wanted to tell him to count his strides so that he'd know from where to begin his run.
The funny thing was that the kids really did get better with my coaching, and not just at the long jump, but at all the events. While I can't really "do" any of the events that my kids were attempting, I could see their mistakes, and I could offer feedback.
It got me thinking about riding coaches and trainers. I realized that you don't really have to be a great rider to be a great trainer (although I am sure it helps). The flip side is also very true - great riders don't necessarily make great teachers.
It seems that in track and field as well as jumping and dressage, adding more leg, watching where you're going, and using your hind end well go a long way towards making you successful.
Go, Sweaney's Stallions!
Saturdays are nearly always my crank it out, bust our butts, hammer it home riding day. It's the day I don't have to be anywhere else, and it's not going to get dark before I finish what needs to be done. I take my Saturdays seriously.
Not this Saturday. I got a text from a new friend, KM, asking if Saturday would be a good day to come out and meet my boys. For a split second, I remembered how much work needs to get done on Speedy before our first show of the year and thought about saying no. But then I realized that taking it easy for one day might actually do Speedy some good.
KM's husband is a local publisher. My husband and I met him a few times because of the magazine, and the next thing we knew the four of us were having dinner together. It didn't take long for the topic of horses to come up. KM rode as a girl and has lately been trying to reconnect with that particular passion. I invited her to give me a call when she had a free weekend.
People never take me up on that offer, so I was a bit surprised to hear from her this past week. She had mentioned that she'd taken a few lessons at Los Angeles Equestrian Center and that she occasionally rides with a friends up in Bear Valley. I hate to offend, so when people say they can "ride," I always nod politely and act like they've been to the Olympics.
People who spend a lot of time in the saddle have a way of communicating their riding ability without needing to say much. We jump 2'6", I show at Second, we've completed a couple of 100 milers, we just did a 14 second barrel run over the weekend ... In just a few short words, you know those people can handle just about any well trained horse on a 45 minute trail ride. Outside of that, it can be kind of risky if your horse is only well trained and not dead broke.
When I mentioned the ride to the ranch owner, she graciously offered to let me borrow Archie, her senior citizen who happily packs anyone no matter their skill set. Unlike Speedy, who has buttons installed all over the place, Archie's buttons are hard to hit accidentally. In fact, you have to press his buttons quite authoritatively before he'll believe you did it with intent. I texted KM the night before with her riding options.
KM's a pretty smart lady, and she's honest about her riding ability. I don't often find that. As we rode, she was glad that she had opted for the less reactive horse. Even though I was able to ride him on the buckle for most of the ride, Speedy did get a bit excited as we passed the Haner Family Farm. Archie barely looked at the grunting pigs and the honking geese.
We had started the ride in the arena so that KM could get a feel for Archie before heading out, so when we got back to the ranch I asked if she wanted to pick up a trot or canter back in the arena. She declined, but she did say yes to hopping up on Speedy.
As they followed the fence toward the far end of the arena, she quickly called out that he was too much for her and that she thought she should get off. He had coiled himself up and was getting quite tense. I hate to see someone get off out of fear, so I quickly led Archie down to Speedy and had her head back toward the gate.
I encouraged her to ride a small circle around me and Archie, but I gave her a few small directions. I showed her how to bend him to the inside and sponge the inside rein. Once Speedy had some bend, I instructed her to use her outside rein to slow down his run-away walk. He was simply unbalanced and tense because of it.
Almost immediately, he relaxed, and his walk got much prettier. KM felt it, and the tension left her body as well. After walking both directions, she felt confident enough to pick up a rising trot. She was able to change her posting diagonal and keep Speedy on the circle.
By then, KM had been in the saddle for an hour and a half and was ready to be done; Speedy, too. KM thanked me for not letting her get off while she was scared. I was really impressed with her ability to be honest about how she felt, and because of her honesty, I think she added a bit more knowledge to her riding toolbox.
I hope she comes back to ride with us again; even if it's a Saturday.
"May the road rise to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and the rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand." - An Irish Blessing
I would like to wish all of you a bright and prosperous 2018. May your ponies be healthy, your ribbons all blue, and your breeches fit a little looser than in 2017.
Happy New Year!
I am not sure if it was because I was so sick during the mad shopping craze that starts with Black Friday and didn't get to "participate," but I have been enjoying this holiday season without the stress of BUY ALL THE THINGS. I have felt a true sense of peace and happiness this past month along with a desire to celebrate the season with my family and friends.
I truly hope that you feel a sense of peace and joy today with your loved ones. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas from our house to yours!
- Sean, Tobi, Brienne, Speedy, Izzy and me!
During the week, one of those most-used words apps went around on Facebook. I don't usually click on stuff like that, but that one looked intriguing. I clicked. I am glad I did it; my results were pretty funny. Here are my most-used words on Facebook.
The three most used words - blog post today, come because I share each day's blog post on Facebook for my friends and family. I start each one the same - Today's Blog Post. I obviously need to change it up a bit!
Some of the other word choices are obvious - Chemaine Hurtado (my trainer), horse, and Speedy. Tucked to the right of post is the word socks. That cracks me up, but it's true; I have a thing for socks!
It's a fun image because it really does sum up what I share on Facebook - mostly horse stuff!
Holy Toledo, Batman! Was that ever a tough couple of weeks. I came down with a debilitating case of bronchitis that knocked the wind out of my metaphorical sails. Even with having Thanksgiving off, I still missed nine days of work and only went back on Friday out of guilt. I am still only running on partial power, but at least life is getting back on track.
Before I even made it to my classroom door on Friday, I had a bunch of fifth graders wrapped around my middle, hugging me warmly. I was very seriously informed that the substitute was very strict, but she had to be because that's her job. I am not sure who was more excited to be back at work, me or them!
Later that morning, several students shyly handed me gifts that they had either brought hoping I'd be back, or purchased that morning from our Sant Shop. One student in particular knows me well.
Of course I oohed and awed and eagerly flipped open the top.
I might have squealed just a little bit. How cute is that?
After putting on the necklace, I wondered what to do about the box. I didn't have to heart to toss it; it's too sweet. I found the perfect spot to leave it. My reading room is my favorite place in our house. While it's not overtly equine, I've snuck a few things in that make the room particularly mine.
Getting back to normal is a good thing. Doing it with horses makes it even better.