Saturday, June 20, 2009

On the otherside

I think most people would agree, that horses are a dominating force, if not the only force in their lives.

I know I've gone to the point where there would be mountains of my (and the boy's) laundry to do, but the horses would be done firstt. Where the horses' feed would come before the grocery shopping, they get farrier visits before I get a new pair of trainers or tall boots; and were instances where I would give up time, sleep and a comfortable, somewhat simplistic existence for what I do now.

Point is this: dedicated riders don't have much of a life outside of the ponies.

(and I wouldn't have it any other way)

So when I went from riding two or three horses just to riding one recently, I began gaining a bit more weight. Nothing huge, but something I don't like to have on me.

Riding two to three everyday, you burn serious calories, to the point where you don't really need to "work out", because your work out comes in the form of three stalls, three bodies to be groomed and three under saddle sessions.

But alas, there comes a time in every rider's life that working out means getting their tired butt out of the saddle to do something different.

And truth is: I hate working out.

I used to run marathons (boring), used to swim (don't have a decent body of water in a land locked state) and I do yoga/pilates occasionally, but honestly-- trying to stretch on cement seems redundant.

So bit the big one and got a bike.

The newest iron pony is an old Cannondale roadie. Complete with rams horns and gear shifts on the body. It's old school, retro cool but not incredibly fancy. However, it's light, handles well and very, very quick.

There are a few reasons why I decided to start biking again. The first being peer pressure. The boy and the boy's father both bike (the boy's father usually logs a few thousand miles a year). As does the boy's mother. My mother also bikes. I've always been invited, but never really joined because my first bike (hybrid from college years) is in no shape to join, plus I was always riding horse two or three.

So you can see the logic in joining in.

Secondly, it's low impact. Comparatively to running and swimming, it falls in between. I can't run seriously anymore after popping two splints and being hit by a car and I don't like conditioning in pools. So, biking, and biking in a pack, is good thing.

Plus I made it a goal this year to do a 70 mile bike since I didn't get to run my 1/2 marathon last year.

I'm supposed to go for a ride tomorrow.

Speaking of rides...

After three days off, I took Sinari back to the ground to resolve some neck and back issues. It could be a bunch of things over the past couple of weeks, but she was hiking and leaning like crazy. Having this discussion on the ground, in side reins for three days did the trick. She's coming back nicely, despite triple-digit weather.

We have a Poulin clinic scheduled for next week. Can't wait to see him and show the changes and what we've been working on.

Sincere has been getting the runs. The poor boy has been experimenting on fresh grass and his digestive tract is going ape. So his hiney gets scrubbed and plastered with diaper rash stuff. He's not a huge fan of the bathing, but he's tolerating the majority of it. If he doesn't stop getting out of his fly mask, I swear I'll duct tape it on his head.

Otherwise very quiet, very humid week. Still recovering from overtime at work. Need to get the cats to the vet, get my show entry in for the Cup and a bunch of different things.

If you guys get a chance check out Three Chimneys Facebook page, I had my photos featured for the Van Steenbergh article there as well.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Photo montage 1.0

Because I take so many photos of the farms, the ponies and various subjects, and because not everyone (or should everyone) have access to the Facebook, I'll share here.

Such great heights

Coming off of two deadlines this week I managed to accomplish a lot.

First new published work. I'm sure those with Facebook recognize the images, which were posted about a week earlier to my pro-work book. I really enjoyed this article, from going on to Three Chimneys' grounds and meeting the stallions to having a really excellent subject, it was just fun. Go ahead and have a good read.

I also completed edits on the 1,000 plus shoot I did for Deer Haven Farm. Of the 1,000 I probably got 75 high-quality, nationally publishable images. In fact, 18 of those images of one of the young stallions is going to be in his campaign in the American Haflinger Registry's magazine. The 500 after that were so-so, the rest were just eh. I still have 2/3rds of the herd to shoot still.

Other than that, it was a week that was met with tight budgets, and a little dissapointment. The weather is also somewhere between humid and rain.

While Sinari has been putting on muscle left and right to go through the levels, she's becoming increasingly sore through the body. She's throwing her ribs into me and not giving in either side of the neck. At first I thought it was her coming in and out of heat, she typically cramps on the left, but after palping her back she needs a visit from the chiro and her massage girl. You can't notice it at the walk, but when you begin trotting and definitely cantering, it's there. It's a by-product of a load of "we're going up the levels and here's the work". I'll probably devote the next few days to doing lunge work with her, and introducing the zig-zag work.

Sincere is more curious than ever. And opinionated in the right way. In addition to starting to actually lead sans butt-rope, he's now being taught to stand without a rope to pick out his hooves. He loves to be groomed, probably because he's starting to shed out his foal coat, to, of all things, a dark liver chestnut.

I'm wondering what he'll do when he will grows up. Knowing my luck it will be show jumping or eventing or arabian hunters. But right now, I'm feeling hugely lucky to have two really great, talented horses in my barn.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Fast horses and S&M stags

This week has been a little wonky. With time (and weather being out of sorts) being under a huge crunch, I only stepped in the stirrups every other day.

Friday, we went out for a "bend and send" set. After warm up we immediately hit the canter and did extensions up and down the polo field, then attempted multiple changes on a straight line.

After having a good lesson Saturday (can we say schooling pirouettes? Cleaning up the extension to collection?) and fiddling with Sincere, I was hauled out to one of the meccas of flat racing: Churchill Downs.

My first experience at Churchill was coming to the state in 2002. After initially looking at the pony that would be mine, we hauled over to CD to look at the empty track and visit the museum. It was cool, but you could definitely tell where the cameras weren't looking. I guess that's why I hold preference for the smaller tracks, such as Saratoga and Keeneland.

I attended my first live race there, Derby '05 (Giacomo's Derby). I was invited by the track vets and their crew for a large spread and good times. It was a great experience. But, hindsight, after seeing racing in England and the UK over difficult and fabulous courses, American racing seems like NASCAR and less about the test of the horse.

Fast forward four years, I'm back on the track during Belmont weekend. During that time CD finished it's renovation. I arrived in to a diverse mass of humanity with the boy and his family. It was a great day with the Good Times Mint Julep, a Grade III turf for fillies and mares, the simulcast for the Belmont and the rest were various allowances, claims, maiden specials. Treated to corporate box seats instead of a backside pass this time around, it was a much better overall time. Maybe it was the seats or the company or the fact that the racing industry is making an effort to clean up the not-so-great parts, but it was a good time.

After the Belmont, we booked it over to Proof on Main. It's a quirky little restaurant that doubles as a hotel and art house. It's an intimate atmosphere with a sense of humor. Complete with a life size bronze Pan sitting at the bar, red penguins, unique photos, one way glass urinal and an S&M decked out stag's head on the wall (you can barely see it behind the Pan).

After a hugely decadent, original meal, with fabulous wine (a quarto of Kung Fu Girl and a small flight of Ice Wine) and home made water melon cotton candy as the dinner mint we crawled home. I love Louisville.

Work resumed today, worked on the same things during the lesson yesterday and lead Sincere around the paddock. On the list of to do this week involves cleaning my tack (which has been neglected for a number of weeks), doing laundry, getting my entry in for NDPC and ordering a ton of feed.

Now if my bank account would behave, life would be even better.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

It's funny how the night can make you blind

I haven't updated in more than a week, and a lot has happened.

I ended a couple affiliations in the past week, hopefully for the better. I also experienced some physical drama that left my body feeling like it went through the ringer.

I'm still riding despite this.

Sinari is going along, but having that "I'm building to the upper level blues". She's gained muscle, but occasionally becomes sore from what's going on. Even now, as a 10 year old, she looks different every once in a while, blame it on the hormones and the development. Her last two weeks have been on and off, due to my crazy schedule and obligations.

Her willingness though hasn't changed, the mare now throws clean changes on demand (thanks to my PT guy who has straightened me out), does a really educated looking half pass and (finally) cleaned up that turn on the haunch. Played with half steps. The haunches and shoulder in went back to being a mental concept and the half halt went out the door a few days ago, but they seem to be making a return.

Otherwise, really pleased.

Sincere is already bigger. I also think I screwed up along some of the lines of initial training. I scared him fairly decently the other day, so it's back to square one as far as catching and leading is concerned. He still does everything I ask plus extra when it comes to standing still and tolerating it.

I'm still getting a kick of photographing him. This photo was taken about three days ago in the midst of having his own party.

Like Sinari he's changing, but quicker. He's already much larger, much more filled out, but without loosing the legs or apparently the ears. I swear I didn't breed to a donkey! His routine is simple, nurse, sleep, run around like mad for ten minutes, rinse, wash repete.

He also stands around pretty damn cute:

I really need to get new photos of Sinari in action before she catches wind of him.