Saturday, December 21, 2013

In which part four of the five-day challenge shows that I'm not a "show gal."

16. One thing you’d like to change about your horse
I would like her to be shorter.

I know people think that I would wish to change her temperament to something more amenable, but I don't.  If I could wish for two changes, "sweetening" might be the second change.

I'm not usually taller than anybody,
and certainly not usually taller than Monica!

But she's only cranky sometimes, and she is ALWAYS tall.

Shrimpy and Gigantor

17. Your horse’s future
In the immediate future (while I work on various pain issues), Fiddle will practice being a home-taught therapy horse.
Yoga on horseback.
Trained stunt horse, closed course. Don't do this at home.

Fee has figured out the difference between the gigantic thumping cue that means "keep walking whilst I twist sideways in the saddle and pound on my left hip and dangle my right leg off the far side" and the teeny little shift in my seat bones cue that means "please execute a shoulder-in to the center of the arena."

Did I mention that I really like this mare?

Long term, we're gonna do a bunch more of this:

Leaving camp on the last loop of a 50-miler

18. Your worst horse show endurance ride ever

Going to any endurance ride is better than staying home.

Still, Renegade 2013 had some exceedingly sucky bits.  Read the whole account HERE.

19. Favorite horse show endurance ride venue
The Renegade Rendezvous camp and ride is by far my favorite event of the year.  Not only because it's the prettiest ride in our region (even when it rains, like it did this year), but also because it's a great social event for my family and friends.

The accommodations aren't posh, but they are very friendly.

20. Your show day endurance ride routine

I wrote three chapters of a book about this, ya know.

HERE is the link to the Bad Idea Fairy's version of ride day.

The Bad Idea Fairy
and her trusty steed "HoldMyBeerAndWatchThis"

Mine is sorta like hers, without quite so many mistakes.  (Hopefully.)

Speaking of the book, by the way, Monica and I very quietly passed our ONE YEAR AS PUBLISHED AUTHORS anniversary last week.

More than 500 copies sold so far (that's more than 5 times
the national average for an indie-published book)
and still selling steadily!

Do you have yours?  Do you need another copy to loan to a friend or to an endurance wannabee?

The e-book is quick to download (put it under the tree!) and only $9.99!

The print book won't arrive in time for Xmas (unless you live in the Seattle area--call us to arrange delivery!) but you still have plenty of time to read it before going to your next (or first) endurance ride.

HERE is the link to buy the print or electronic book.

If you haven't read the FREE first chapter, do that first HERE.

Coming soon:  
Part Five of this challenge, and some stories for the season!

Friday, December 20, 2013

In which this is part three of the five-day challenge, and I am challenged

Fly On Over started this challenge.  I've done the first two parts, and part three is a bit more challenging!

11. Critique your horse’s conformation
Horse, brown.  Other than that????

I am terrible at conformation critique.  Somebody who knows something, please chime in? 

Draw some circles and arrows and a paragraph or something, and explain what it's about? 

bum high

  • Her legs seem square, maybe a bit long for her body.  
  • Her butt is at least 2 inches higher than her withers when she is standing still on a flat surface.  When she moves, her hocks bend and her butt is significantly lower than her withers.
  • Her back is long compared to most Arabs, but seems appropriate for her.  
  • Neck, maybe a bit short?  It keeps her head from banging into her shoulders, so I guess it's functional.  
  • Her head is gigantic, but a little dinky head would look silly on this mare.
  • Feet: size 2W Renegade boot, so they're big.  The farrier stretches out a size 1 steel shoe for her all the way around.


Mostly, she's just huge.  I know she sticks at 15.3 hands (really!) but I'm only 15.2 hands, and it's a long way to the top of this mare!

12. Horse’s favorite riding exercise
Arena: Fiddle loves dressage practice.  

Laterals, collection, anything fancy she can do at the trot is her favorite.  
(Canter, not so much, but a lot of that is my lack of skill.)

Former Racehorse turned Dressage Machine

But her real joy

Jubilee ride, October 2013

is trails.

13. Favorite spa day products

14. Three best things about your horse
1.  She stops to think about stuff.

2.  She will do almost anything, as long as I can explain what I need.  Pin a ribbon on a tree at the top of an embankment over the trail?  Okay.  Trot forward when all the other horses are walking?  Okay.  Abruptly stop trotting down the trail and stand quietly tied to a tree while somebody chainsaws down an adjacent tree?  Okay.

3.  18 months post-spay surgery, she is happy, and I never thought she'd get there.

15. Favorite picture of your horse

This isn't a very flattering picture of either of us, but it shows our relationship precisely: I'm busy doing stuff.  She's hanging out, waiting patiently for me, because when I'm done we'll probably go someplace and do something cool.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

In which I'm continuing the Five Day Horse Blogger Challenge: Day Two

I started the "Five Day Challenge" HERE.  If you want to play along, welcome!

6. Favorite equestrian book and movie
A good horse movie has to be something pretty and not-completely-inaccurate, which is pretty difficult, because once Hollywood gets involved it seems like reality just flies out the window.  So I gotta go with "The Man From Snowy River,"

Excellent form downhill, with the rider's spine roughly parallel to the tree trunks.
Don't try this at home, though!

which is not only a terrific film (though I thought the soundtrack was dreadful) with good horse stuff in it, it's taken from a bang-up good poem by Banjo Patterson, which pleases my Snooty English Major Self.

For books, I'd have to choose Julie Suhr's Ten Feet Tall, Still, and Angie McGhee's Lighter Side of Endurance.  

I've read both of those many, many times.

7. Most common riding misconception
The most common riding misconception from non-endurance horse people is the idea that you have to have an Arab to ride endurance.
L-to-R:  Warmblood, Appaloosa, Walker, Arab, Spotted Thing, Standardbred
The common misconception from non-horse peeps is that if you ride long distance, your butt hurts.  Err, no.  Whatever hurts (on the rider) is whatever works worst on the rider's body.  For Patty, it's her knees.  For me, it's my hips.  My bum is fine, thank you.

8. Two riding strengths and one riding weaknesses
I am extremely persistent, which I think is a strength.  And I really, really want to improve, another strength.  My body distinctly lopsided right now because my left hip is falling apart, but I'm doing my best to keep riding and work on stuff that I can improve.

9. Least favorite thing about horses and/or riding
Being broke isn't nearly as much fun as I make it look.

10. What do you feed your horse?
In order by frequency of feed:  Hay. Beetpulp.  Carrots.  Apples.  Goats.  Trespassers.

Monday, December 16, 2013

In which I try to inspire some writing with a 5-day challenge

The weather outside is not frightful, although we had sub-freezing temps for more than a week recently (read: frozen water tanks, frozen hoses, frozen finger tips, and frozen trails)
Nothing to see here, move along, move along.
Riding in cold weather isn't just a challenge for staying warm.  I'm actually pretty good at staying warm, thanks to the Gods of Polarfleece, the Deities of Wool, and the Angels of Those Little Chemical Heater Thingies that You Put In Your Pockets.

The challenge for riding in the cold is the footing.  The recent cold front moved in slowly, so the rain soaked into the ground and then froze, solidly.  Not slippery (mostly), just Rock Hard and Unforgiving.  Not a lot of fun to trot on for the pony, and not much fun to walk on for me (because riding my horse at a walk is the most painful thing I do with my arthritic hip).  So mostly, I stayed home.

I did venture out without the Dragon once--Cathy over at Cascade Gold Akhal-Tekes hosted a fun barn party, and let me borrow Ari for the day.

Ari's trot:  I've bounced on couch cushions that had more impact
on my bum than this fine fellow.  Comfy!

It was a fun excuse to mess around, but with temps in the low 20's, we only played for a couple of hours, and then we adjourned to the house

Extra festivity points for the "candy corn" tablecloth, which makes me smile.

and feasted a bit more.

I gotta admit that for the last few weeks, I've mostly been working weird strange hours at the library (my building is being remodelled, so I am "on loan" to other libraries for the duration), writing the new book, writing up the annual holiday story booklet, and trying (unsuccessfully) to ward off evil cold germs.

The blog has gotten a bit neglected.  Sorry 'bout that.  BUT I'M BACK NOW.  Sorta.  Kinda.  Achoo.

Here's a challenge originally posted on the Fly On Over blog.  Maybe my readers want to pick it up too?  It's five questions per day.

(I think the idea is to do five questions per day for five days in a row, but hey.  It's not like we are big on rules here at Haiku Farm.  The most we cop to is "guidelines.")

Here we go for Day One :
1. Most influential person on riding
Clearly, the most influential person on my correct riding is Dory.
Dory with Burley at a recent schooling show
Dory is the reason that I disagree with lytha that "dressage is a crying sport."  It isn't, at least it isn't when Dory is teaching.  She pushes me with tough stuff all the time, but I don't think she's ever overfaced me.  I'm still not a great rider, but I'm a better rider because of Dory!

The Usual Suspects are most influential about how often I ride.  They say (and I agree) that riding makes pretty much everything better.  Riding with Patty and Sirie and Duana and Katie and Dory and Dean and Monica and the others definitely makes everything better.

The Usual Suspects: taking themselves seriously as usual
2. Piece of tack to splurge on
Is this un-American?  I don't need anything...and can't think of anything that I want.  Much of my gear has been carefully acquired over a lot of years, and the rest has been thoughtfully gifted by Friends Who Know How to Shop.

I guess if the Money Fairy clobbered me really hard (or if Oprah suddenly decided to promote one of my books), I'd buy a new horse trailer, but really, the current version of the SS Illegible does just fine.
If the Money Fairy clobbers me...otherwise, NBD.
Also, it could be painted purple.
3. Top 5 riding playlist
When I'm riding, I don't usually take music with me...except the music that is already in my head.  Mostly it's children's songs, boy scout tunes, and sea chanties.  Lately, it's been an ongoing version of "Donkey Riding."

4. Most important aspect of your barn?
It's in the back yard.

And in the evening, I can deliver a "bedtime cookie" to the Dragon.
That's the best.

5. Three winter riding goals
1. Figure out a really amazingly good pain reducing routine so I can train (and ride) a 50-miler or two next summer.

Acupuncture is helping, but hasn't "fixed" the pain thing.  Sigh.

2.  Fix the Dragon's "I will kick other horses" attitude.  Or at least, decrease it significantly.
3.  Ride.  Often.  With friends.

Okay, Readers.  It's your turn.  I'll try to post the next part of the challenge in a few days.