Sunday, March 31, 2013

Spring, please!

It's Easter weekend!

We colored eggs yesterday, and I spent most of the day baking and cooking. Happily, I did get to run out to the barn for a ride on Champ. I wish, I wish, I wish it could have been a trail ride, because the weather was perfect and I would have loved to spend the time ambling through the woods with my buddy, but we had to settle for some time in the ring, instead.

At least I got to ride in short sleeves.

Trot circles, plenty of working on that 'marching' walk the dressage judges want to see, serpentines for bending, and a couple run-throughs of our current dressage test. And since my trainer said I need to canter more, we did about ten to fifteen minutes of canter practice -- all around the ring, and 20m circles in the corners. Not bad, but he does seem to think cantering always means jumping. Not today, buddy!

This morning, with my coffee, I have been perusing real estate ads, and trailer-for-sale ads, not that we are in the market for either one of those things. I *do* like to dream, though. There's one house currently on the market in our price range and preferred location that has pretty much everything we want in a house and horse farm -- established fencing, four stall barn (attached to the house by the laundry room!!), and plenty of outdoor storage. The only thing it lacks is a fourth bedroom, so that makes it not even a consideration. Boo. It's been on the market a while, too.

I don't think I've really recovered from the disappointment of last fall, finding our perfect farm-to-be, and not being able to buy it because we couldn't sell our house for what we needed. The market is turning around now, but the timing is crummy. I don't want to pull my oldest from her high school, so we'll wait til she graduates in three years.

At any rate, as much as I long for the ability to look out my window and see my horses in my field, it's good to get back to the equestrian life in the way I am doing it now. While I'm still home with young children, it's a lot less stressful and simpler. But I still can dream for the time being, can't I?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Kind of Like Mine

So, my trainer offered me a half lease on Champ, which basically means that in exchange for paying a portion of his expenses (farrier bills and some vet bills), I can ride him pretty much whenever he isn't being used for a lesson. Right now, I am just about the only student riding him, but there will be some beginner adults, and some of the kids riding him this spring and summer, I'm sure. Still, it's a good opportunity for me to ride more, which is one of the things that really holds me back in advancing my skills -- one lesson a week = maybe two hours in the saddle per week, which =/= a rapid accumulation of skills. I signed the lease agreement this morning, after my lesson. I'm excited, and Wren is completely thrilled, even though she is still sort of wary of "my" guy.

I probably have about a year to a year and a half of riding him before I am probably going to want to move up to a horse who can maybe do a little better in the dressage department, and maybe jump a bit more. We'll see, though, because right now I want to get my chickeny self under control, and be okay with speed, and jumping, and competitions. Contrary to my nerves, I actually *like* going to horse shows and participating. I even got a ribbon this last time! And it's hanging in my kitchen now, until I can find a way to display it (and the other three I have from YEARS ago).

It's actually prettier than any other horse show ribbon I've ever gotten. I love it.

And while I'm mostly competitive with myself, I do like to *be* competitive in the class or division, so I know there will come a day when Champ will probably not be the horse for me anymore. For now, though, he is smart and honest and safe and sane, and I'm happy with that, even if he's not a killer in the dressage ring. Quarter Horses rarely are. 

I had a great lesson this morning, even though it was --once again! -- freezing cold and windy. Ugh. When will spring get here for real? Champ and I really need to spend some time developing the canter a bit more -- transitions, rhythm, that kind of stuff. I had a couple of beautiful moments where he was terrifically light in the bridle, balancing on the 20m circle without leaning on my hands, and it was SO nice! I love it when it's all of a sudden like riding a rocking horse. And if I want to consider riding something other than the World's Most Boring Dressage Tests, then I need us to be together on the canter and its up and down transitions, as the next level up (Beginner Novice) has canter circles in the dressage tests. We didn't jump at all today, which was fine with me, but I expect I will be doing a lot more jumping soon. My trainer said he looked really good with the trot work we were doing, too, so that was positive. he definitely was not in a mood to halt square, however, even though I know the stinker knows how and when to do that.

So, Champ and I are a team, more officially now, I guess. I am already looking through tack catalogs to find him a nice dark green halter, and maybe another saddle pad or two. He's been using all of Keepsake's stuff, but it's time he had some of his own things!

I'm so happy. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013


Sunrise on the way to the barn, 7:15am, March 23, 2013

The first go at this post was full of early-morning self-loathing, and regret, but I am getting over that now.

I want to focus on what went right about my first horse trials in seventeen years, but even at 4am, the morning after the event, I am having a hard time. I had hoped to post about how amazing I felt all day, how incredibly powerful it was to ride Champ and complete each phase of the event feeling strong. Instead, I am embarrassed by how I rode, and how stiff and nervous I look in all (well, most) the photos of me actually riding. How much I am hanging on that horse's face for dear life, how I am not letting him to his job because I am scared to let him go fast enough to do it.

I guess I'd also forgotten just how short and round I really am, and I can blame it on the white(!!) breeches and the bulky safety vest, but somehow the image I had of myself had a much leaner, longer, more elegant person in it, who, when sitting in the saddle, didn't take up ALL the area. Ugh, middle-aged rider who thinks she's still physically twenty-something.

Not the frame of mind I want to go forward with.

Instead, I am enjoying that I was good enough for fifth place in dressage, out of the ten or so people in my division, some of whom were riding instructors. I am enjoying the fact that I had a spectacular day with my daughter and husband and barn friends and family, and that Wren was an excellent and willing groom, full of love and care for the horses we had at the competition.(she informed me that she didn't like the title 'groom', and preferred to be known as the helper). She filled water buckets and helped hang haynets, carried equipment, and kept horses and people company.

It makes me happy that Champ's dressage test, while not fabulous, was under a 40, and I got some nice and helpful comments from the judge. Dressage is my 'thing', it's like dancing. And better dressage equals better riding position, better security over fences, and a happier, more confident rider.

Final halt at X. Not completely square or balanced from this angle, but we scored a 6 on this final halt. Got a 7 on the initial halt which was not square, but straighter.

I am thrilled that I didn't fall off, and that I even managed to survive one really huge spook on the way to dressage, and two hard XC refusals that really unbalanced me. I am happy that my trainer was happy that in three stadium refusals, I never let Champ turn away from the fence, and got him over it, even from a near-standstill. Not great form, perhaps, but at least I didn't wuss out and give up on it all.

In hindsight, I wish, I wish, I wish I'd let him gallop like he wanted to. We probably would have had more fun and fewer XC refusals, but I stayed on. That was my goal. A small goal, but a valid one for someone with so little competitive experience.

I am happy I made it all the way around this cross-country course. Especially those barrels, and that 2' high, 2' spread oxer.

I am amazed and happy that Heart of Gold/Champ/Mr. Princess puts up with me and lets me ride him and have a few moments of calm confidence occasionally.

Earlier, I was questioning my desire to do this kind of riding, but now I think I have gotten to the point where I just need to remember that with practice, and experience, will come the kind of relaxed confidence I want and need. I know I don't have the guts for much more than what I am doing, because even that 2/2 oxer was a scary proposition -- or maybe it's that I haven't gotten to the point where I can give some control over to Champ and let him do his thing while I balance and stay centered and quiet. Maybe I just don't trust that he will jump.

But I know what I need to and want to work on now. More flatwork for impulsion and balance. Better transitions. More speed. Rhythm. A decent rein release instead of the flappy business I've been doing.

And he looks so gorgeous in green, I want to get him a nice new halter. This is the first time since I started riding him in the fall, that I wish he were really mine. Maybe someday, or maybe some other wonderful horse one day. But he's my Champ for now. We'll see what we can do together.

(and thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to my wonderful husband, who puts up with me and supports me, and makes everything possible. I love you.)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Last year, right around this time of year, actually, Wren started to learn to ride. I chose Hunter's Ridge Equestrian Center in Powhatan, VA, because I liked the phone conversation I had with the owner and trainer, Kathy Pitt. She was knowledgeable, friendly and kind, took care of her horses well, and most of all, was willing and able to teach a very young child the skills necessary to ride. Wren was six, and completely in love with horses.

We met Keepsake, the venerable pony.

Twenty-six years old, a Welsh pony mare, and quiet and dignified, Keepsake was the perfect beginner's pony. She was tall, just about 14 hands, but she was calm, and slow, and tolerated just about anything happening on her back or around her and barely batted an eye.

Wren rode her all spring and summer, and in the fall, the time came for Keepsake to be retired. Wren had moved on somewhat to Champ, and Lily, and even took a shot at riding Gabby (which ended in her first fall), but Keepsake was always her favorite. We told her she was Keep's last little girl to teach to ride.

After Wren had a couple of confidence-shaking falls in the crummy cold weather this winter, Keepsake came out of retirement so Wren could regain some of the confidence she lost. All Keepsake was really up for these days was walking, so that is what she and Wren did.

Wren was lucky enough to have a couple of lessons more on Keepsake, and I am happy that we got a few more pictures of shaggy, beautiful, sweet Keepsake.

January 2nd of this year, Keepsake suffered a small stroke, but recovered, and wasn't permanently affected.

Sometime yesterday, Keepsake, who was afflicted with melanoma, a slow-growing cancer common to grey horses and ponies, became ill. She colicked, and couldn't recover this time, and the decision was made to let her go.

I am so eternally grateful that Wren had her in her life, and that she was able to have a good experience with her. I am worried that Wren will not want to ride anymore, without her staid and solid pony friend.

We're really going to miss you, Keepsake, but I know you are galloping around greener pastures.

I just have no idea how to tell Wren.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Weather of the Irish

We certainly had Irish weather today for cross-country schooling. Rain, rain and more rain. And it was COLD, too, which was not the most fun we could have had. But, we all did well, and more importantly, had a good time, so it was worth the chilly, inhospitable weather. Eventers do it in all weather, anyway, so no time like the present to get used to it.

It took two trailers to get us and four horses to Deep Run Hunt Club to school over their really nice course. lots of fences at all levels (well, up to Training level, which was more than we really needed anyway). I wish I'd had my camera, but I didn't want to risk falling on it, or having it get soaked. So, no pictures for this post, sorry.

After tacking up in the rain (yuck), and getting out on the course, we started with a small log pile, which we jumped several times. No problem there. Then to the Novice level water complex, where we practiced just trotting into and through the water. Champ was NOT about the sound of the splashing, and didn't like getting his belly wet, and for a few minutes, I thought he would end up dumping me in the water, but we were able to successfully trot though it, and jump the fence on the other side.

From there, on to another log pile, where I needed to work hard at sitting UP after the fence. Too-slow recovery almost got me unseated. Oops. After that, another wooden fence built with landscaping timbers, and a teeny tiny gate set into a fence line under some trees.

The, the barrels. Dun-dun-DUN!!!!! Uh, no, says Mr. Princess. I am NOT jumping those things with all that muddy slop right in front of them, and no way, no way, no way! Three or four tries, and then I slipped my reins, whacked him a few times with my crop, and made him step over those stupid things. It was more like setting up for a small rocket launch, since he decided he would step over part way and then LAUNCH himself over like they were going to eat his legs or something. Seriously, horse. But, yay for me! I stayed on!! Thank goodness for nice thick knee rolls!.

The last fence was a small, see-through-ish log frame set on the hillside so that you had to come across the grade of the hill to go over it. Once again, the Princess did not like the muddy approach, nor the wet cedar branches hanging down near it, nor the fact that he was soaked. Once again, reins-crop-stepoverityoudummy!! He did. It's because he loves me. Frankly, at this level and at this point in time, I could care less if he walks over every single one of the fences. We just have to get over them, between the flags, no matter how we do it. I'm not looking to win, I'm looking to finish with a number, not a letter. If we do that, goal accomplished!

Let's just all hope for dry conditions, though.

Trailering home was fine, although Champ decided to get out of the trailer by the side door, instead of the back door, like he's supposed to. What a butthead! I can't believe he didn't hurt himself.

Soon, we'll be back to the barn for a vaulting lesson for the girls. I will be happy to be able to stay warm and dry, although I think i will be oiling and cleaning my tack while they vault.

Can't wait for next Saturday!!

Friday, March 15, 2013


Well, I have to say yesterday was just freakin' FABULOUS for me.

It being Thursday, it was my regular lesson day, and even though I have been riding Champ two and three times a week for the past couple weeks, I still needed my lesson to work on jumping.

Of course it was completely clear, brilliantly sunny, freezing cold --the coldest day of this week -- and WINDY. The wind was ridiculous at my house in the suburbs, but it was close to insane out in rural Powhatan county. Nice. Remember what I said about this not being my favorite weather to ride in?

But Champ was a sweetheart for me, getting ready. He even stood quietly and munched his breakfast while not tied in the cross ties. I brushed the shavings out of his coat, he spilled grain everywhere, it was all good. I was really afraid he would be way waaay forward in the ring, where the wind is terrible, but our warmup was pretty good. A couple circuits of a competition-sized ring with no stirrups at the trot, some circles and bending lines (still with no stirrups -- ow!), and then some canter work, in which he started to feel like a freight train, and as per my usual mental response, I started getting nervous. But, I decided I could handle this, and although he felt strong, I was going to stay in control.

We worked on a course of nine fences set at 18" to 2'3". My lesson counterpart, Allison, has been riding a long time, and can jump four feet with whatever horse she is riding, even do it without stirrups, which to me is an insane marvel. She took Promise over the course with a steady, comfortable pace, nice rhythm, the kind of thing that makes jumping a lot of fun. I thought, man, why can't *I* have that kind of control? I would love to feel secure and calm going over these fences, and not like I am steering a runaway freight train! But then it was my turn, and I figured I'd hope for the best, but I was determined to jump all the fences all in a row without stopping, no matter what it looked like.

And I did! Well, we had one refusal, which was really due to my not making a smooth left turn into the oxer, and overshooting it by a little -- enough to make Champ think, "What? What are we doing? Oh. Uh, I'm not sure, I better stop here." It wasn't a bad stop at all, more like a slowing down to a speed at which he could not safely and smoothly jump. So we circled around and approached it again, and he jumped it this time, no problem. And then we went on to my favorite (not!), the one-stride combination, where we got over it no problem, but his effort over the second fence was enough to bounce me out of the saddle a little, and I lost my left stirrup. Still determined to keep going, I turned him toward the last two obstacles, an easy line of two fences with a couple strides in between. I had a decent number of strides to get to the first of those two fences, so I worked on regaining my stirrup, turning, maintaining my pace, looking for the fence, and getting him straight to the approach.

Stadium jumping is a brain workout.

Success! I got my foot in the stirrup a couple strides before the fence, jumped it, two strides to the last fence, jumped that, and we were done! Victory gallop!

The whole course was rhythmic, mostly balanced, timely, and mostly smooth. It was so comfortable and so confidence-building! Then my trainer took us out back into the mares' pasture for cross-country schooling on her selection of small and inviting fences. I jumped around seven fences, uphill, downhill, in the shade and in the light, through the trees, and over some scary-looking steel barrels next to a ditch. It was SO. MUCH. FUN. The last time I rode a cross-country course, in 1996 at Foxcroft, I was so terrified, I was crying. This was so much better! I felt all Olympic-like, even though my fences were incredibly teeny.

I wish I had pictures, though. Champ was a total blast to ride and such a sweetie. I finally feel like I might have faith in a horse, like he is someone I can trust.

The rest of the day was untouchable. I felt amazing all afternoon! And I even managed to score, for cheap, the elusive hunter green polo shirt for my cross-country ride! And it was Pi Day, too, so I made a chocolate cream pie (which didn't fully set, so it was more like chocolate pudding).

Really fabulous. I had a great day.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


She swings with a purpose, intense, pumping her entire body to force herself higher and higher into the impossibly brilliant sky. I know this is motion she craves, and she will swing longer and harder than any other child on the playground.

Then, she slows the swing and when it has reached the right level of power and height, hurls herself off the seat into the big beyond. Like flying. I would cringe, and I usually do, but this is my physically intense second child, and cringing is only an exercise for the overactive anxiety center of my brain. It does no good. "Learn the hard way" applies to her more than either of my other children. Some days, the world is just not big enough to contain her energy, and it spills, messy, and occasionally destructive.

She is a complicated balance of utter fearlessness and crushing anxiety. Scared, and dangerous, willing, and worried.

Her creativity knows no bounds. She creates entire worlds, characters, and complicated scenarios in which she is the heroine, the caretaker, the administrator. Or the horse.

Now, she gallops in the sunshine, legs pumping, propelling her forward as fast as she can make her muscles move her bones. She gallops across the playground and flings herself, leaping, down a terraced hill, over each one of the stone borders. If she were an event horse, galloping cross-country, this would be at least a two-star event. She is fearless, now, and gulps oxygen, and life, in great big quantities.

May she only learn to harness her power, and use it. Let it never be dampened, or extinguished.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


I mailed in my entry for the Calais Horse Trials yesterday afternoon. I'm committed now, and I'm going to do it, even though the preliminary forecast is for rain that day. But there's still almost two weeks to go yet, so maybe that will change.

I've got my show clothes, and I finished the garment bag I decided to make, on a whim, last week.
It's even got my heraldry on it! I think I am going to make a small accessory bag to go with it, too, for all those little things I have to have, like hair stuff and a stock pin and my choker for my show shirt. I'm trying to decide if I want that bag to be a flat type of bag with a zipper on top, or do I want the bag more three dimensional, like a box. Still thinking. Maybe something like this. Or even bigger (better?), this one. I'm kind of a container/bag/box/tote junkie, though, so I may just make both. Heh. Anyway, here is the garment bag, all finished:

The bag came out pretty darn good, and I am pleased with it. It's heavy cotton duck canvas with a heavy sport zipper and an ID pocket underneath my badge. It's maybe an inch or so wider than it needs to be on each side, but that gives me more room for bulk inside. The inside is finished with my serger, which is fine, but I wish I'd lined it in regular cotton or something, just for the super-clean interior finish, not because it needs it. Next one, maybe. There's always that balance in a project where you want to make it the way you want, but you also want to make sure you don't run out of steam and actually FINISH the project. I was determined to get this finished, so no lining. ;)

Maybe the next one will be made of waterproof fabric or something.

My packing list is made. I think I have almost everything I need, except a dark green polo shirt, a belt, and some hairnets.

This is going to be fun! And I promised myself a big bottle of Dogfish Head Sah'Tea for AFTER the event.

On the subject of making things, and so my non-equestrian friends aren't totally bored by my ramblings, here are some of the random ideas I've had and executed lately:

A halter tag for Champ (of course):

A copper bracelet for my wonderful daughter, to remember her dog:

A copper bracelet for me, so I remember one of the essentials of riding:

(it says 'ALWAYS get back on', with a stamped horseshoe on either side)

And a clown costume for Noah for his preschool's Clown and Circus Day (not so much made, as cobbled together):

And because I couldn't resist how cool she looked, here is a picture of the future graphic/digital artist at work with her drawing tablet:

I'm itching to get on the torch these days -- LOTS of ideas -- but today I have some appointments and day-job work, and I really need to get a run in. We'll see. Just like the trees start to reawaken after the winter, my creative fire is being stoked by the change in seasons. Let's hope that fire leads to my playing with fire SOON.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

No one can find the rewind button.....

The long Friday night drive wasn't always contentious. It used to be filled with chatter, and music, but the silences changed once she discovered personal music systems, and my radio station choices weren't cool enough. Oh, we still talk, and these days it's about the big stuff, more often than not -- drugs, alcohol, sex, who is doing what to whom and why that matters -- but it's not the same as it used to be. Now, getting in the car sometimes feels like being trapped for an hour and a half with a caged animal, unpredictable, wrought with emotion. I try to look at this time as a place for her to unload, and to explore ideas and discuss things, but some of the ideas push those hidden, super-sensitive buttons in my psyche, and the drive turns into a couple of hours of parental verbal and emotional flailing.

Silence. Wild gesturing. Accusations, sarcasm, bitterness, drama.

And not all of it from me, either.

It's hard to remember she is just fourteen, an age that seems simultaneously grown up and still so childish. Interminable, and instantaneous. She will not hold on to these views forever. YOU did not hold on to your views forever.

She will be all right.

I struggle against the outside influences that I don't want her to be immersed in, as any good parent does, try to help her steer her ship through the stormy sea of adolescence without actually steering it FOR her, but the sea is full of flotsam, and the sharks are everywhere. It's hard to teach her to see the rays of light through the clouds, when they are constantly shifting and disappearing in her view.

The world is inherently a good place, people are basically good. Don't be naive, but look at the world with joy. Don't be afraid of the dark elements that exist --  you can avoid them, even if others with you do not. Don't judge too much, or hold yourself up too high. While there will always be someone who may do something better than you do, there will never be another YOU like you.

Sometimes I feel that quiet desperation that my job is almost done -- have I done enough? Have I taught the right things, imparted the wisdom she won't even understand for a few years yet? It's a breathless feeling, knowing that "life's like an hourglass, glued to the table".

We arrive, finally, without the arguments that have been so prevalent of late. A few minutes to pet the ponies, to chat about horses, and then she is ready to leave me. I hug her as completely as she'll let me. "I love you, have a great weekend!" I call, as I do every time I leave. I don't expect to hear it in return, though I know she means it.

Unguarded, "I love you, Mom!", as she runs into the house.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


I. Had. The. BEST. Lesson this morning. It was fabulous!!

Champ is really warming up to me, I think, and he was a total sweetheart for grooming and tacking up. When I got up this morning, I started praying to all the gods and goddesses that it would NOT rain until after my lesson (big storm supposedly on its way here). For some reason, I felt really really brave today. I wanted to jump that horse. I wanted to do a whole course of eight or ten fences, and NAIL it.

And since I got some new gear for the horse trials, I had to try out everything so I could make sure it all fit and worked right. I didn't wear the white breeches, but I did put on the new green and black socks, and my new gloves, and a new thermal undershirt which is WARMWARMWARM (I need to go get another one!). I wore my green helmet that I'll wear for my cross country round, and I put Champ's new dark green saddlepad on him, too. He looked great, and I was happy to have my very favorite gloves again -- SSG All-Weather, in green and black, of course.

I knew this lesson would be good. How did I know that? I don't know, exactly. Champ was quiet in the cross ties, and didn't even flinch when I groomed his belly and stifle area, where he usually squeals and kicks. I shut the radio off so it would be quiet, and I started and ended the grooming with pretzels, his favorite. It was so cute to see his ears perk up when I rustled the little pretzel bag!

I couldn't find my dressage whip, so I went with spurs instead. But I promised I would take them off to jump -- no risk of inadvertent spur to the side, and I certainly wouldn't need to go any faster once we got into jumping.

In the ring, he was pretty darn good. Still kind of mincy at the walk and the trot, but not horrible. I adjusted my stirrups to jumping length, and automatically, I felt really secure. I think too-long stirrups might have been a large portion of my problem in my last crummy jumping ride. We got right to the jumping after a brief warmup. I cantered and galloped him around the ring until the tears ran down my face (it was cold). I practiced my galloping position for real, and didn't lose my balance.

My trainer set up a course with some very difficult turns and lines, but I was ready. I kept telling myself that I would sit up and keep my shoulders back and that I would WAIT til he jumped, let him throw me out of the saddle instead of anticipating and getting ahead of him.

We jumped, the flowerbox to a TIGHT left, to the HHS gate, to a sweeping right to the moon and stars, then across and to the right to the brick (odd angle)...and there is where I was so tickled to have made the turn that we lost forward motion a bit, just enough for him to get disorganized, and he started to slow down......and then he sort of stopped and turned left just a little....and.....I.....fell.

We weren't going that fast, and he turned to his left, away from the fence. I saw the white wing standard in my peripheral vision and I KNEW I was going to hit my mind I was wondering how hard that was going to be/how hurt my shoulder was going to be, and then I realized....I missed it....smacked my hand on the jump cup....kept going down into the ring sand, holding on to the reins still....and Champ was walking backward away from me and I was trying to hold on to him, and he was dragging me, but I knew I wasn't hurt, and I let go, and Champ....I looked up and he was just standing there, looking at me.

"What are you doing down there??"

On my hands and knees, I realized my right hand hurt like all the fingers had been bent backward, but I knew it was no big deal. I took my glove off to check, even though it didn't really hurt, per se. I was surprised to see I had scraped all the skin off all my knuckles, which were bleeding. Huh.

My trainer gave me a leg back up on Champ. I was shaking all over, but not scared, not hurt, NOT NERVOUS. Somehow, I knew I could do this. I just knew it. I knew I had to do more, so I wouldn't be scared, and so I wouldn't let ANY self-doubt creep in. I felt rock-solid on that horse.

I finished the course with the oxer to the one-stride verticals, a straight shot. Kathy wanted me to halt at B on the other side of the ring...after one post-jump circle to get ourselves together, we did exactly that.


I can't remember the last time I had THAT much fun, or felt that confident, jumping a horse. Maybe never.

Because I didn't want to waste any of Champ's forward way of going, I practiced my dressage test once, and it was great. Nice, tight bendy turns down the centerline, nice square halts at X....kind of egg-shaped 20m circles, but at least he was moving out and not trotting with all his feet tucked under him. I called it good. Kathy called it great! On the walk back to the barn, I felt like I could do ANYTHING.

Kathy took this picture of me after my lesson.

I LOVE this guy!


This past weekend, Travis was in school pretty much all day for his photography class. That meant me and the two kids home by ourselves. It was terribly cold, but I knew we had to get out of the house. A trip to the local winter farmer's market was just the ticket!

Luckily, there was a cool playground to explore!

And quite a good number of vendors, too! Artisan cheeses, wool and yarn, jewelry, cold-weather veggies, lovely breads and baked things, food trucks with all manner of tasty treats. And of course, the REAL reason I wanted to go to the market....

Yoder's Doughnuts!! These things have to be available in heaven. I kid you not. I don't even like doughnuts, really, and I could eat a dozen of these beauties all by myself. Sourdough, yeast-raised doughnuts being made freshly one at a time....oh holy mother....and then glazed with the best, not too sweet vanilla glaze. I had one while it was still HOT, standing outside in the cold, and I thought I would die from the yum. Best. Doughnuts. EVER.

They're made by a Mennonite family of five kids and their mom, and I think they are from Madison County, where I used to live. It's about a 2 hour drive, and they are there every Saturday.

At the market, we also saw sheep and goats, and got to pet them both. Wren was particularly taken by these animals, and declared we have to have one of each. When we get our farm, finally, dear, then we will. :)

I loved the soft wool of this sheep. I even bought some grey wool roving form this vendor, so I could needlefelt a small version of the pony Wren rides, Keepsake. And speaking of needlefelting, Champ goes everywhere with us now, riding on the dash of my car.

It was a great, if very very cold, morning. I think we'll have to do that again, especially for the doughnuts!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Saturday Assortment

I don't mean to get into politics here, because I try to keep that out of my conversations with most people, but I have to say something. If you post a picture that makes fun of the First Lady and compares her to one of the apes in Planet of the Apes, and I then say I think that image crosses a line, don't respond with a dissertation about how fun has been made of all presidents and first ladies in years past, and how certain white presidents were also compared to monkeys and apes. I don't have a problem with people engaging in lighthearted teasing, or satire, it happens all the time, we are ALL guilty of that, no matter how pure of heart you think you are. I mean that if I have to explain why an image of a black woman next to an image of an ape is racially insensitive, if not outright racist, then I guess I don't know what else to say to you. It's not 'political correctness', it's being decent. Read your history.

Act like a human being.


I think I might be getting somewhere with Champ. He's still tough to figure out -- he seems to have no rhythm at all, and I can't figure out how to make that happen when I need it, beyond making sure we canter and jump before we do anything like a dressage test. How DO you bring out the rhythm of a horse's walk and trot so he's not mincing along like some 18th century dandy?

He was sweet in the cross ties for grooming, and although we had to have a discussion about the work that was going to take place in the riding ring, it was okay for my first time riding trainer-less. I wish I could have gone for a trail ride instead, but I don't know the trails, and I don't feel confident enough to just try and figure it out by myself. I practiced my test a couple of times, and worked on that last tight turn down the centerline toward X.

Already I want to go back out there tomorrow morning.


My friend, who is a mosaic artist, posted a link to Dolce & Gabbana's Winter 2014 line (I know, right?), which shows part of the collection done using Byzantine mosaics as inspiration.
I love the Byzantine period -- so glittery, so ornate, and so interesting! -- and seeing some of the ancient mosaics interpreted in clothing is just fantastic. I think this one is my favorite:

Yep, I think I would totally wear that. And the shoes. And I would definitely wear the one behind it, too.

And speaking of shoes....these would be my choice, were I to be able to afford anything with the Dolce & Gabbana label on it. I like the bag, too, and would NOT turn it down were it gifted to me, but I prefer mine to have a shoulder strap -- need to be hands-free, sometimes.

Travis has gone to school for the day, and I need to find something to do with Steroid Rage Boy (poor Noah is on steroids for respiratory junk), and his sister, Does Her Own Thing. Ha. I think a trip to the winter farmer's market for some homemade sourdough doughnuts, and then some holiday redecorating might be in order.

Let's have a good day!