Monthly Archives: August 2012

Happiness #15

The coolness of an overcast morning during a mid-August hot spell.

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Getting Miss Mocha back on track

July was…well, a lost month in horse time.  Now I’m back to something approximating a regular schedule, and we’ve got the prospect of a show in six weeks.  With reining classes.  Coupled with Furthur concerts two days before.  So various dilemmas arise…

Meanwhile, it’s now time to get the training back in shape.  I think Mocha picked up on it yesterday.  Certainly she let it be known she was ready for work, between nickering to get me to hurry up and get her out (oh, okay, it was also the apples.  She loves the fresh Gravenstein apples).  But she dropped her head and rounded her back for the saddle, and went through all of her “getting the game face on” behaviors.  In spite of a little cut on her shoulders, which fortunately is not where the Western saddle rubs (but the English flap would have).  Snaffle bit this time.

The work itself was pretty basic conditioning–warmup, circle of pearls at walk and trot, then trot and lope cloverleafs in a 7 loop repeat, followed by diagonal figure 8s with flying changes.  Then two track in each direction, haunches in and haunches out, a bit of work asking her to round up and move consistently in collection at jog and lope, a little bit of extending the lope and coming back to collection, and then cooling.  During cooldown I worked on turning from seat only with leg emphasis–needed to remind her with the rein a few times, and we went from that into slow spin practice.  A good work, overall.

But!  Little stinker pulled a naughty while untacking.  If no one else is in the arena, I’ll pull off her boots, then her bridle, and saddle last (actually I uncinch saddle and breast collar before removing the bridle).  Normally, she stands until I release her by pulling off the saddle and telling her to “go roll.”  When we don’t do this in the arena, we’ll often do this in an outdoor paddock and we’ve done it that way the last few times.  But given yesterday’s heat, I didn’t want to cool her out outside, nor turn her out to roll outside.

So I was talking to G, and she decided to start wandering.  With the uncinched saddle still on.  My “whooooah” after she stepped away kind of reminded her, but she got anxious and evaded me (quietly) for a few moments, eyes big.  I caught her, brought her back to where she’d been, and put a rein around her neck, continuing to talk to G.  Then I made her stand still for a while without the rein, but still with the saddle on, while I walked around her, still talking to G.  She watched me, eyes big, now waiting for the release.

Finally I pulled off the saddle and let her go roll.

That’s the kind of small resistances she’ll pull.  Nothing big, nothing dramatic, but little tests to keep me on my toes.  She does a lot of these little checkins to make sure that the rules haven’t changed.  They take relatively small corrections but if I didn’t correct them…well, small steps lead to big landslides, and she’ll get more pushy.  Just the kind of mare she is.  I didn’t even have to raise my voice to reprimand her for this one.  Taking her back and making her stand longer with the saddle on was sufficient.

Afterward, I brushed her up and rinsed her off.  She still asks for a treat when I rinse her face, but she’s pretty good about it now (doesn’t hurt that I’ll let her drink from the sprayer and spend a bit of time spraying under her jaw.  She really likes that).  I almost got her all of the way to the stall’s tie at liberty, only had to take her halter to place her in it.  Not bad, considering we’re almost completely doing liberty leading to and from the arena on a regular basis.

The little pieces of horse training can be so very foundational.  I expect any horse I train or work with to get to the point where I can do certain basics–tacking, hoof picking, brushing–without restraint.  It’s a point of convenience and of self-discipline.  Training the horse to stand and wait for a release is a simple safety issue and can pay off in unexpected ways.  It’s not magic or horse whispering–just a lot of consistent, persistent, training and regular work toward the goal.  A horse that has been trained to stand (or ground tie), relax, and trust its handler will be more likely to respond to those cues to stand in an emergency, or at least be more easily calmed down in most circumstances.

And, with horses, at some point there will be an emergency.  Better to prepare the training for it before it happens.

Like I said.  Not horse whispering.  Not magic.  Just plain old everyday groundwork.  That’s all it takes.

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Happiness # 14

Big, crunchy, Gravenstein apples.  Apple crisp, sausage and apples, applesauce, apple pie, apple cake….now if I only knew someone with a cider press….

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Happiness catchup and a pleasant weekend–music festivals

So as my last post suggested, I was looking forward to a pleasant weekend camping in the woods.  This was our last music campout in the woods, a pleasant and small gathering in the valley where I grew up, listening to reggae music.  As always, I find it mildly ironic that this sort of gathering is happening there.

This weekend it was all about friends–old friends and new friends.  We camped near someone we knew from the old political days thirty years ago; while she didn’t clearly remember us (hey, thirty years without contact can be a while) it was still pleasant (we weren’t close).  Plus hey, there was a lot of female and crone energy in our site, which was extremely pleasant.

Normally I try to take some of my stone bead jewelry to this gathering and do low-level barter for fun stuff.  This year, I didn’t do it because…well, lots of crazy life stuff this summer, as my posts made clear.  I didn’t think it was that popular.  Ironically, this year people came looking for it.  Lesson to me–always bring the stones.  Oh well, it is what it is and I will figure it out eventually.

DH and I went out all three nights to watch meteors.  Despite facing southwest instead of northeast (better vision in that direction anyway), we saw lots of meteors, including some spectacular big ones every night.  We provided amusement to folks wandering between their camps and the music because they’d ask what was going on and we’d tell them about the meteors.

I spent a lot of time talking to people about neurodiversity, education, and lots of professional stuff.  Lots of people at this festival in the field in varying ways, so we talked a lot of shop and agonized over how horrible the current state of affairs is for people of all ages at the margins.  I read a couple of very good books, and sketched out some new site additions focusing on neuroscience and neurodiverse teaching options.

Ended up buying a new set of poi (now up to four) and I think I like this new lightweight set of lighted poi.  It has the most programming options available for the lights, though they still switch on without warning (I think they’re going to live in a bag for traveling).  I danced with the new poi and had a lot of fun with them, plus they can be shortened up enough to spin indoors.

But overall, it was just plain nice to hang out in the woods, listen to good music, and enjoy a relaxed, mellow camping vibe.  Unlike all the other big events we’ve done this summer, neither one of us got sick or injured.  No one died just before we left to come to this event.  No big drama of unexpected weather (Um, does that give an indication of just how crazy things have been?  Let’s see.  Red Rocks–weather and nasty irritable bowel flare.  Country Faire–Lori’s death.  Horning’s–DH went into the hospital.  Illinois–my bad fall.  Bam, bam, bam.  Four weeks in a row of craziness).

Nothing like that this go-round.  Just a plain mellow, relaxing time with no drama.  A lovely quiet time of high summer, hot in the sun but comfortable in the trees.

And now home to a massive batch of windfall Gravensteins (they all decided to fall off the tree, half are sunburned so now I need to do sort and salvage).  Then I need to dig garlic.  Two weeks left before I go back to work.  Yikes.  Where did the summer go?

I did not work on the novel or any writing this weekend–it was all about thinking and planning for work and the school year ahead.  But at least I finally feel like I am back on track and ready to go.  Finally.

And a clear sign that I am ready to go back to being productive–the return of the organized to-do lists.  That being said, ’tis time for me to get to it.

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Happiness challenge 9

Getting ready to go camp in the woods and listen to music for a few days!  That makes me very happy.  And, also, it’s not going to be hot.  Next-to-the-last big event of the summer (there’s Gearcon next weekend).  Back soon.

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Happiness challenge day 8

I am happy that it has cooled off here in Portland and that we’re on the downhill slope for the really hot days of summer.  Looking forward to sunny, 80s August evenings!

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August Happiness Challenge #7

Talking on the phone yesterday to my friend Geri.  I haven’t been able to talk to her for a very long time, and hearing her voice again was marvelous.

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Happiness challenge for August

So in the spirit of the Happiness Challenge for August I’ve read about elsewhere (no linkage because I don’t have permission to do so), I’m going to try to post about things that make me happy this month, one a day.  2012 has been a horrible year in many respects so it needs some positives.

And since it’s the 6th of August, you get six things.  Not necessarily in order of priority…

#6 Curiosity landed safely on Mars, and the ski bums are arguing over who’s gonna get eventual first tracks!

#5 Finding out that the medication adjustment for DH is fixing some things other than what it explicitly was intended to fix (as in the damn medication affected stuff other than pulse rate!).

#4 That DH and DS are currently healthy and happy.  I don’t know what I’d do without my guys, father and son.  Love them both intensely, and part of this year’s horrorshow has been the sudden fear that I might lose one or the other of them.

#3 I still have a day job and it appears that things are looking up there.

#2 The garden is magnificent this year.

#1 Miss Mocha.  She truly is my heart horse.

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