Thursday, January 19, 2017

In which we share what not to wear on a horse (endurance edition)

This is me, on my horse.
From bottom to top:  Ariat boots.  Synthetic half-chaps with accordian pleats.
Kerrits tights.  A cotton t-shirt. (Very sturdy bra, not visible in picture).
Fanny pack. Cooling vest.  Cooling scarf.  Helmet.
And lots and lots of sunscreen!

I wear the same basic outfit for every endurance ride.  In fact, there are some years that it's difficult to say for certain that I own more than 2 t-shirts, because those are the only shirts that show up in photos.

(I have a variation on the basic outfit to wear on cold/wet rides)

The reasoning is simple:  

When you ride long distance, you figure out what works.  
And you don't wear anything that doesn't work.

My #1 criteria for ride day apparel is:  it doesn't rub, chafe, or scrape...and I know this because I've worn every piece of the outfit many times prior to the event.  

(#2 criteria is purple, because I am very, very vain!)

So, imagine my surprise when, while tracking down something completely unrelated for work, I found a reference to this book:

What Not to Wear on a Horse
by Ginny Oakley and Stephanie Soskin

"What not to wear?" thought I.  "Like...sandpaper?  Jellyfish?  White plastic shopping bags?"

Caption:  "Does my bum look big in these?"


This 2005 book, published for the British horse show crowd, is all about being correct and looking svelte while on (and around) horses.

This book is not intended for me and my crowd.  (Obviously.)

So, while the book's authors want to be sure you notice what is not correct and/or not flattering in this picture:

Caption: "nearly, but not quite.  Hairnet is too long,
and obvious mistake with ribbons."
I could only think: "There's no way that headgear is ASTM/SEI certified!"

(and also:  how can you make a mistake with ribbons, unless they are wrapped tightly around your neck or something?!?!???)

Then there's this:

Caption: "warm waistcoat but we suggest long sleeves may be sensible for warmth
and for covering larger biceps"

Aside from the vocabulary issue with the page above (waistcoat = vest, and don't I recall from the Bridget Jones novels that "vest" is slang for "bra"?), I stumbled on:

1.  A need to cover biceps?  Hey, I work hard to build up my guns, I'm not gonna cover 'em up if the weather is warm enough to uncover 'em!


2.  THE WHIP.  Because Indiana Jones doesn't ride at my barn!  

This book had something to say about attire for crew:

Caption:  1. would you accept a light, let alone a leg-up from this man?
2. nice colour coordination, but not quite smart enough.
3.  easy wear, at home or away, for the showring mother.

I might be stereotyping, but the fellow in the red vest (waistcoat?) would be my first stop if I need help hoisting a water tank or toting a bucket-ton of gear to the vet check.  The guy in the straw hat looks like a vet to me (except that he doesn't have a stethoscope around his neck), and the lady is gonna mess up that nice jacket in camp, but I'll bet she's got a flask of something lovely in that basket!

Here's my crew:

shovels and rakes and implements of destruction
(including chainsaws and off-leash floofs)

Towards the back of the book, the fashion authority did include some apparel that I consider useful:

Caption: fun, funky clothes for the smaller people in your life

Fun, funky and small?

Well, if you say so.

Okay, Gentle Readers:  what are your guidelines and go-to clothing choices?  

What do you seek out and what do you avoid?  The comment box is open!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

In which we combat the wicked white stuff with the virtuous white stuff

Understatement of the week:  
I don't like sn*w.
(or ice)

neither does my truck

But while Monica and I waited for the tow truck to come yank my truck out of the weeds the other day, we pounded the icy driveway into submission with rock bars and shovels,

(...and dogs)
and we got to talking.  

And since we were using an un-be-freaking-lieve-able amount of salt on the driveway to soften up the ice, we ended up talking about...salt.

"This is performance salt," Monica told me, pointing to the label.

ingredients: salt

With time on our hands as we pounded the ice, we dipped into our limited knowledge of salt.

"It was used as payment," I offered.  "In ... Rome?   Root of the word salary."

"Electrolytes!"  she said.  "Performance enhancing...?"

We used more than 100 pounds of performance enhancing salt on the driveway and parking area by the house.  Gahh.

So, I got curious.  And when librarians get curious, you know what we do....


Here's what I've learned (so far) from this cool book about salt:

  • It was considered divine in many ancient cultures, and was often associated with fertility (which I found intriguing, given that by salting the driveway, we effectively killed off all the grass and weeds in that space for at least a year) 
  • Salt is used in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, soap, and textile dye.
  • Evil spirits detest salt, and salt protects against the evil eye.
  • In Haiti, salt is essential for bringing a zombie back to life (assuming you haven't already used a chainsaw, one assumes?)
  • If you try to make pickles without salt, you'll end up with really bad-tasting booze.
  • The Egyptians made salt by evaporating seawater from the Nile delta, and used it to preserve food and mummies.  They also figured out how to combine salt and olives to make the olives edible.  
  • The ancient Celts were called "Gauls" by the Romans, from a word that means salt.  They were salt merchants, and also invented the iron rim for wagon wheels, the barrel, and possibly the horse shoe.  (Just to make sure this post belongs in a farm blog...)
  • The Roman soldiers were not always paid in salt (the origin of the word salary) but they sometimes were.  And the Latin word sal became the French word solde, meaning pay, which is the origin of the word soldier.
  • In medieval Europe, salt was used to cure leather, clean chimneys, to solder pipes, glaze pottery, and to cure upset stomachs.

It can't melt soon enough to suit me!

And just think:  we used all that valuable stuff just to get rid of ice that would (eventually) melt anyhow.

UPDATE:  it took a week to melt, even with Performance Salt spread liberally.  And later this week...ahhh.  You guessed it.

Spring cannot come fast enough.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

In which Crystal visits and we ride ponies and don't completely freeze

It hasn't sn*wed for more than a week, and the dratted stuff will not go away.

The roads are safe(ish) to drive on,
but taking a combination rig to an iced-in trail head is a bad idea.

 I do enjoy reading, of course.  I'm a librarian.

But seriously, there is a limit to the number of hours I want to spend in my chair,

Even with a nice warm cat on my lap (and the pages), I don't want to spend my whole day here.

So with Crystal returned to town after her deployment, it's just the kind of excuse I need to get out of the house

First: breakfast at the Stilly, featuring a cinnamon roll the size of Crystal's face

and then, over to Fish Creek to ride.

Duana went to Mexico and forget to take me, so I stole her horse (again).

Ariana and Flower got some arena time, too.

Crystal and Ariana

Patty and Flower

Crystal always wants to learn more.  

Patty gives Crystal some pointers.  Ariana is a lovely lesson pony.

Crystal is one of those self-taught riders with lovely light hands and a nice seat.  Yeah, I'm jealous.

We rode for a while, and then swapped ponies.  It's been years since I've ridden Flower.  She's learned a lot since then!  

It turns out that while Patty and Flower are extremely good at shoulder-in movements, they are not terribly good at haunches-in movements.  However, Fiddle and I are totally good at haunches, but we aren't good at shoulders.  It was great for me to practice shoulders with Flower, and work on her haunches with her.  

Next time we're all in the arena, Patty will get to climb aboard the Dragon and practice haunches and teach her some shoulders!

Finally:  Rick ("Mr Crystal") managed to dodge the camera almost all day.  Until Matilda took action, that is.

Rick has the "Matilda Seal of Approval."

At the end of riding in the cold, it's good to come back inside, eat a cookie, and sit in a comfortable chair by the fire.

So that's where I am now.

And that is good.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

In which the sn*w is still with us, but we throw a party anyhow

Happy New Year!

Santa Jim got up early this morning. By the time my feet hit the bedroom floor, the turkey was already smoking along on the back porch.   


Out in the yard, Chicken Thirteen was clearly not thrilled with the white stuff all over her garden.

Do. Not. Like. This. Stuff.

I wasn't the only member of the household stalking around the yard with a camera.

How to caption this photo?  I mean, really?

The sky got light, but it never got warmer than 36F all day.

We were a little concerned that people wouldn't be able to come to the New Year's party because of the sn*w, 

but the county road crews were out early and late with the plows and the sand trucks.

It's possible to get around when the weather gets cold, but hurrying is best left

to those without wheels.

Roo hoped that nobody would come to the party

because the turkey smelled so good coming out of the smoker

and even better once it was sliced up in the kitchen.

Please may I have the turkey?

Sorry, Roo!  

People came to the party.

And together we ate the turkey, and drank the apple cyser (mead) that Jim made from our apples last summer,

Margie and Craig brought corn chowder, Megan and Henry and Patrick brought lasagne,
Kathryn brought meatballs, Patty brought oranges, and Rosemary brought scones!

and there was plenty of food, and talk, and stories

I think we have more food left over at the end of the party than we started with before the party began!

to welcome the year properly.

May this be the year we get stuff right.  
So says me, so says we all!

Friday, December 30, 2016

In which I don't complain (much) about weather and we go for a ride!

I have a policy about not complaining about weather that doesn't
require a shovel. 

Blue sky above, sn*w in the pasture.  It could be worse.

There wasn't enough sn*w for that.  The driveway was icy for a few days, but the roads got clear pretty promptly.

I've been feeding hay at lunchtime so our dear Dragon doesn't run low on fuel.

I haven't missed any days of work due to unsafe roads so far this winter, and we even made the drive up to my folks' place in Bellingham for Christmas dinner.

The coffeepot has settled comfortably into the new apartment lifestyle,
and seemed entirely at home during the festivities.

 But the roads, while safe enough for ordinary travel, haven't been very inviting for truck-and-trailer trips.  And when everything was thawed out yesterday and I was set to take a lesson...

When a truck this large has a dead battery, it actually ha$ TWO dead batterie$.  $igh.

(I did manage a quick scamper to Les Schwab for two new batteries, and squeaked in a lesson with Dory before work, but it wasn't the leisurely morning I had planned!)

What's really been missing--for nearly two months!--is a nice trail ride.

And today we had one.

Just me and my Dragon

The lesson yesterday required a lot of core strength work, and so did my physical therapy session this morning.

So my muscles were fatigued and I was feeling pretty floppy in the saddle when Fiddle and I finally got to the trails.

But, even when she is "blade down" and charging the trail at that enormous trot that makes me think of knights and armor and warhorses 

my Dragon takes good care of me.

Her only hesitation all day was at the bridges, and I didn't wonder why.

I could smell all the dead fish, and the smell is not a nice one.

Spawning salmon swim up the creeks this time of year to reproduce and die...not always in that order. 

It's a little uncanny to see rotting fish still swimming.  The eagles don't mind.  Spawning salmon are like wiggly eagle candy.
The smell is not one that is quickly forgotten.

But we quickly left the dead fish stench behind.  You can do that when you ride a Dragon.

And you know?

It's cold out there.


It's good.