Monday, February 27, 2017

In which awesome knightly things were planned, and then it all went straight sideways

It's always good to have a plan so you have something
to crumple up and use for traction when you get to a slick patch of reality.

The PLAN was to arrive at the trailhead early, do a quick loop (about 7.5 miles) and then head over to Fish Creek.

The REALITY was that we woke up to sn*w.

Just enough sn*w to make the dogs happy!

It wasn't a ton of the pesky white stuff, but it was still falling, and I have a standing policy that I don't hitch up and drive away from home when there's sn*w on the roads.

So, we went to breakfast.

In the hour or so that it took to order and snarf the veggie omelet and amazing homemade biscuit with marmalade, the roads cleared, the skies cleared, and we made a New Plan.

The New Plan was that we would all meet up and partake of Knightly Games, which are now informally being held mostly-monthly in the arena at Fish Creek.  Duana had a wonderful time doing this in November, and was eager to try the games with her young mare Freya.

Alas, Du got a call from home that the water heater was behaving in an untoward manner, and she was required to return home to help with the mess.  Instead of swords and lances,

Something this spendy should be more fun.

Du and Jason (and Dean and Katie) got to wrestle with a big, expensive box.

Then, Dory had to go wrestle with a bit of fenceline that was leaning in an alarming way under the weight of wet sn*w.

And Monica was under deadline to get some photos of her artist booth so she could enter some spring events.

That meant that back at Fish Creek, it was only Patty and Flower and the Dragon and me.

(and the Knights)

So, we introduced ourselves

Fiddle knows the rules:  weird stuff means cookies

We meandered around the arena as the Knights and their minions got into their garb, set up the weaponry, the quintain

Garb is an important part of the game.
My endurance garb was pressed into service, as it's the only garb I've got.

and the Heads.

Heads   photo by Tamara Skeen

Flower and Fiddle are both new to these Games, so we started off with baby steps:  walking through the weave poles, and then trotting them with no weapons in hand.

Then, we walked the poles and pushed the heads off with our hands.  That got a little reaction from Fiddle (WHA-A-A-a-a-a-a?) and almost none from Flower.

Next we added weaponry.  For beginners, the preferred weapon is a boffo.

Desensitizing the wild pony to the boffo = NBD

We walked the pattern and bashed heads, gently at first

and then more energetically.

Then: trotting!

Still not the thundering hooves you see in the movies, 

but a very nice start, and we were all well pleased.

Patty and I have spent the winter training our dogs, and we were happy to apply some of the things we've learned in canine training to our new equine adventure:

Still with the sn*w on the ground.  I am so done with winter.

  • Start small
  • Increase difficulty slowly
  • Reward the "try"
  • Praise praise praise praise praise  (add carrots, where appropriate)
"It's like dressage, but with a boffo.  We can do this."

When I got home at the end of the day, the art festival booth mockup was set up in the driveway.

Monica explains her artistic process to an interested onlooker

So: it wasn't the day we planned.

It was a Good Day, anyhow.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

In which it's hard to write something new about a familiar routine

The annual PNER Convention is done, the sn*w is melted, 
and the Swamp Tulips are beginning to sprout....

...and so, it's time to start legging the horses back into condition for endurance season.

The Usual Suspects try not to take training too seriously

My challenge right now is to write something new about a process that is not new to me--or to this blog.

So tonight, I'm using special effects.

Dory told me about the free app called "Prisma"
 that does crazy things to ordinary photographs

This way, maybe it won't be too boring when I gush about the glories of blue skies overhead in February !!!!

The blue only lasted for an hour, and then the grey returned.
But I was out under the blue the whole time it was there!

The Prisma app makes a "blue sky" into quite a different experience!

Our forests are very green, but it's still a moss-and-fir-tree greenness.

The grass is still dormant, and the leaves haven't budded out yet.

The trails are still muddy, so we train on the armored logging roads.  Fiddle and I covered about 7 miles today in 2 hours--a nice, easy start to the training.  

It would be easy to over-train right now.  When I talk to other riders, especially the Green Beans, I am a little jealous that they are logging 20 or more miles a week.

But I know better.  A super-fit horse in February will be accruing micro-injuries and getting tired by May, and I don't want that for Fiddle.

She's 15 this year, and my task is to be proactive about preserving her joints and tendons, while getting her back in shape for distance following a year off to recover from a stifle injury in 2016.

I'm in no hurry. 

My intention is to enter the 25-miler at Coyote Ridge at the end of March.  If that goes well, we'll try the 50 at April Daze a month later.

The rest of the season--the rest of her career, really--depends a lot on how well we get through those first two events.

So, we're taking it easy.  Lots of walking, lots of hills, some trotting.  

No hurrying.

It's a good time of year to pay attention to my horse.

And that is, of course, a Good Thing.

Friday, February 10, 2017

In which we celebrate Ross, who was at his best on the full-moon nights

Tevis completion 1997  21:17 (74th place) with Patty

"I'm not done playing yet!"  (age 4 months) Iwith Patty's dad Dick  1988

1996 with Patty

1996 with Darlene and Feather B (horse) and Patty

2009, with Madeline

2012, with Madeline (front) and Sirie (rear) and Paisley (dog)

2012 with Patty, photo by M. Bretherton

2013 with me

2013 with Patty, his all-time favorite person

Kupenda Derasa 1988 - 2017
He trots ahead.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

In which it sn*ws, and half of the state shuts down because We. Just. Can't. Cope.

Photo dump:  it sn*wed.  


It was pretty (if you like grey).

You can barely see the house, and the sky is completely gone. Other than that...?

Sn*w on a farm is a pain in the tail feathers.

Cornelius the rooster refused to come out of the coop until
Monica scooped out a path for him

The roads were a mess, and

The reindeer are on vacation.  Tootles the tractor is our next best option.

everything between Seattle and the Canadian border closed (or froze shut).

The goats didn't come out until white stuff stopped falling.

At Haiku Farm, we did what we always do,

Clear paths and driveways
feed animals

reading time with friends

including a bit of play.


Foxie Loxie


By the end of the day

driveway clear

The smoker full of food for dinner

(we smoked EGGS!)

wiped out from the fun.

It was melting.

And that is Good.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

In which the day gets better, and we meet bicycles out on the trail

Today started out badly.  So I went riding.

"There's something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man."

Or woman.  (Turns out that Churchill isn't the one who said that, but it's still kinda true.)

"No hour of life is lost that is spent in the saddle."

(Churchill did say that.)

 Unlike our ride on Friday, we didn't get soaked with rain.

 I was a little sad that nobody else was available to ride with us today,

but as I said earlier, the day didn't start well and I wasn't very good company for anyone else

...except the Dragon, of course.

We were happy to meet some folks at the "lunch stop" field.  These are students from the Washington Student Cycling League, out for a training ride with their coaches.

Chloe's mom tagged me on Facebook:  Chloe loves horses
and was thrilled to hand out treats to the Dragon on the trail!

The conversation on the trail led to further conversation online.  Now, we are hoping to put together a joint training session for bike students and horse riders (and young horses like Freya)!

Fiddle models the "pirate" fleece cooler that Patty got her for Xmas, and
the purple halter that Duana won in the raffle last weekend.

After riding, I took a two hour nap.  The day is nearly over, but it's much better than it was at the beginning.

Tomorrow, it's supposed to sn*w.  Bahhhh.  But I guess I'll save those cuss words for later.

For right now, it's good.