Friday, December 19, 2014

In which dressage lessons (aka "couples therapy") continue

Flower is inexplicably lame* which means two things:
1.  Patty can't ride in lessons with us right now
2.  Patty is available to take pictures and video!

Probably an abscess.  What a pain in the tail!

*Flower will probably survive, given the video (below)

For the rest of us enrolled in lessons, a.k.a. "couples therapy," this means that there is a photographic and video record of our successes and failings.

Patty isn't shy with my camera--she shot more than 200 images and 7 videos at the lesson yesterday!

The camera is set on "rapid fire," so we often end up with batches of 5 to 10 photos taken in quick succession.  That's how the numbers add up so fast.  In this case, "many" is "good" because it means I can hunt through each series to find a good, representative image for the group.

Our friend Sally joined the Suspects for the lesson, and that is good.  One more friend to cheer for.  We like cheering for our friends.

Most of the victories are minor, of course.  But there's the big bugaboo lurking over my head, as explained in a recent post:  
my canter work sucks.

I've identified four problems with cantering that I need to address for success:

1.  I don't practice riding the canter very often, and so I don't have very good skills.
2.  Fiddle doesn't canter much at liberty.  We have observed that when she canters in the pasture, the gait is usually preceded by, and often interspersed with, bucking.
3.  Fiddle is not very balanced at the canter under saddle, and her transition to canter usually involves bucking.
4.  When she bucks, it hurts me.  Even though she doesn't buck very strongly and she isn't sincerely trying to unseat me, the concussion slams the muscles around my repaired hip, and it jolts my organic semi-busted hip.  And if I think I'm going to get hurt, I tense up and do all kinds of unhelpful things, which makes her transitions even more dreadful.


The first problem to address is me.  At the recent lesson, I asked to practice cantering...on Hana!

I'm not afraid to canter on Hana, so she can help me overcome my lack of skill.

I will also practice on other horses, but since I know Hana so well, she is perfect for beginning to get me past the first mental stumbling blocks!

The next step will be getting Fiddle stronger at the canter--first in a round pen at liberty, then on a longe line, and finally on a longe with a rider.  Stay tuned for that.

There is one place where we can canter (err, gallop) together without too much fear:

The buck-to-canter transition is less of a problem on trails, too.

So we'll be practicing that some, too.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

In which Santa brings us some December Sunshine for our photo shoot

This is the third year in a row we've taken shots at Santa Jim.

Monica is the official photographer for the North Pole (and Haiku Farm)

In 2012, we needed pictures of Santa to promote the newly-published Endurance 101 book for holiday sales.

We didn't even have a real copy of the book yet, so Santa and Jingles had to read a mockup of the book for the pictures...but we did get a completely unexpected sunny day for the shoot.

If you need a copy of the book to put under the tree this year, order fast, and
ask for Priority Shipping--the elves do their best to get books
out the door on the same day that you order them!

In 2013, the Antler Humiliation Festival started to attract more people who wanted some pretty photos with Santa.  And again, against all predictions, blue skies in December.  Amazing.

I always try to get at least one picture of Monica performing
Photographer Yoga poses

This year we had a BIG crowd gathered in the empty pasture next to the stallion pen, dressed in finery and smiling at the camera under -- you guessed it -- sunshine and blue sky. 

I think Santa has some weather magic.  Hmmm.

People, horses, dogs...and antlers too

This year we also had an extra-special prop for Santa:

A bright red 1923 Model-T touring car!

The Model T was restored by Fish Creek Farm owner Dick Borton, who carefully eased his pretty red prize out of the "T-House" and up onto the knoll to take advantage of the beautiful light.

Santa Jim with Patty and her parents, plus Rudy the dog

And then, the picture-taking started:

There were so many dogs hanging around waiting for a turn to talk to Santa that we were able to wrangle a bunch of them into a single photo.

At least twenty dogs got pictures taken with Santa, but not
everybody would sit together for a single photo.
We were lucky to get eight dogs to hold still!
 And since there were so many good-looking dogs available, plus a talented photographer, Patty was able to get some website photos for her brand-new business!

The new pictures haven't been added to the website yet, but
Critter Calls Mobile Vet is up and running now!
If you are local and need a small animal vet, Dr. Patty is the best.

Of course, we had to get a group photo of all the Usual Suspects.

Jeff held the camera so Monica could join us in the picture

Some folks might prepare for the season by spending a bunch of time and money at the mall, but to me, hanging with my friends in a pasture on a sunny winter day is the best celebration of all.

It. Is. So. Good!