Thursday, December 31, 2009

Can't you see what love has done?

The holiday is finally cleared past and what remains of it, I really don't want to touch. Having the long vacation in the middle definitely made things tolerable at work. 

We're back to normal (if you can call it that). 

I'm back to riding full time and looking in at the youngin' when weather is permitting. I'm back to plotting

The year wasn't without loss. I lost my first truck due to its age-related infirmities. I lost a few mounts in July, and subsequently left that farm for quieter pastures. I lost a few responsibilities, membership to KDA, a few pounds and perhaps a few points on the IQ scale when I decided to plan out a number of major clinics for this and the next year. 

While the economy was loosing itself, I was busy finding me, I think I weathered my first bubble out alright. Even started my 401k.

But for the most part, we did well. 

Goal recap for 2009:

Horsey Stuff

  1. Final four scores for bronze
    No. I fell short at the last three. Then due to a situation change, I couldn't show for the majority of the year. Hindsight being what it is, I'm more than fine with it. I still want my bronze though.

  2. Foaling/ Find home for May
    Achieved. Sincere safely foaled out, he's now big (but thankfully not as big as his playmates) and May is safely tucked away in Michigan.

  3. Fourth level/PSG schooling
    Achieved. We ran through a trunkated version of the PSG. The movements are all there, just need the strength. We're taking this year out to get her up to par for 2011's season.

  4. More education
    I don't know whether or not I ment formal or non formal. There was plenty of formal education, but the majority I recieved was informal. Experience is the best teacher and she wolloped me soundly. I learned not to take in-kind trades anymore, to get everything in writing, keep your files straight and always be straightforward in your dealings.

  5. Begin L program
    No. I didn't have enough time or have the scores. Still interested in going after this though.

  6. Attend all scheduled shows/inspections
    No. Especially the inspections. I have my eye on GOV Oldenburg book for Sinari next year, depending on cash flow-- but again, it's all about the FEI.

  7. Expand team and promote ponies
    Achieved. I did expand the team. I did promote ponies.

  8. Successful NDPC show (and expand to three rings)
    Achieved in a roundabout fashion. According to the peanut gallery, it was a success. But I don't want credit for it.
  1. 70 mile bike
    Does the thought count? I got on a bike, found a cat and promptly crashed. During the summer we regularly went on 10 miles. But I didn't get to do any of the long distance stuff.

  2. Start school
    Erm. Yes and no. I finally settled on a degree and will be starting summer classes. But didn't get to do much in '09 due to an outstanding bill.

  3. Smile more
    Achieved. I'm overall a happier person. I can thank my physical therapist, a good pair of shoes, the boy and my pony for that.

  4. Better job.
    No. But not for the lack of trying. I was on the final call back for several interviews and even my own company was impressed with me, and is considering something down the pike
 So what's on the docket for 2010?:

Horsey Stuff:
  1. Condition and train through I1. Gotta nail them tempi's!
  2. Continue to teach and train Sincere. Make him a responsible citizen.
  3. Acquire more farm implements.
  4. Successfully execute clinics.
  5. Save for Embryo Transfer

Non Horsey stuff:
  1. Repair credit score, develop more savings
  2. Go to school
  3. Develop more 'me' time.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Into the light of day

I'm lucky that mum and dad are here to visit, otherwise, I wouldn't have an extra pair of hands to film our fourth/fifth(?) day back into work. Second day in the double. She did well, and much more than what was there in the film. She tired herself out in the footing and became horizontal by the time half steps were asked for. But the little girl was all too game to give third level work a try.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

101 things: new series

At work, we have a series of books floating around called 101 things every golfer/diver/audiophile/driver/ect should do before they die. They're beautiful coffee table books.

But it also made me think as a dressage rider. What's 101 things, as a rider I should do before I retire out and go onto bigger pastures?

101st thing: Learn to meter and letter a regulation dressage arena.

A regulation arena is 20 meters by 60 meters (or for those font of feet- 66 by 197- rounded for conversion). This is the only element of dressage the doesn't change with the level. Your dress may change, where you compete and ride may change, your bridle will change, but the 20 by 60 meter box you enter, perform and exit will never change.

The arena is used not only in competition, but in training. Until you've put one together (or ridden in one), the feel of the distance and finite space feels a bit fuzzy. Think walking a jump course versus looking at the diagram.

The arena doesn't need to be show quality, just accurate. You can make an arena out of ten ground poles and a few staked letters. If you need a judges box, an open horse trailer could do as well.

To measure out, start with a corner, stake it and measure 20 meters (66 feet). Mark the second corner. From the second corner measure 60 meters (197 feet) down the length. If your measuring tape is too short, do it in sections, marking off everywhere you left. From the third corner, measure the second short side and then the second long side.

This is the basic outline, to make sure you have a proper rectangle, you measure diagonally from corner one to corner three, and corner four to corner two. Move the corner stakes in or out so that each diagonal line is equal to 207.8 feet. We have rounded the exact measurements in converting meters to feet (20 meters = 65.6 feet and 60 meters = 196.8 feet).

Now you're geometrically correct, lay the letters. The basic package of letters is AKEHCMBE.

Start with A and C, place them half way down the short side, letting A stand back a ways from the entrance. Once aligned start clockwise from C, six meters from the second corner, put M into place, 24 meters B, and six meters from the third corner F. Repeat with K, E and H, same distances. Go back around and align all the letters with each other, using X (center of the arena as a check point.

If you have to move the arena (eventually you will if you groom the arena), mark off letter spaces with electrical tape.

Congratulations, your first arena! Go ride. 

Monday, December 21, 2009

Its beggining to look a lot like Christmas

I'm finally on a short break from work and I can catch up with a few things.

First, it snowed. Not torrential, but enough to sell out the eggs, milk and bread for the week. People are odd here about the white phenomenon. It snows, and there are at least ten accidents, a death or two and the grocer is sold out. Seriously.

The ponies are tucked away. Sinari is camping out in her ultra-thick stable blanket enjoying the periodic ride out in her newmarket sheet, Sincere is running around naked.

Sinari's and Sincere's Christmas lists are simple: food, treats, and attention. They've always been simple.

Mine however is a little more...expensive and somewhat leather induced.



Custom saddle for Sinari. Home base for the team (sans extra wattage), Petrie boots and yes, that's right ladies, a Pikeur shadbelly.

I've been eying custom saddle for sometime. In fact, I told Sinari if she went FEI, she would get one. It's getting close to time to pay the piper. Don't get me wrong I love having the Duett (actually due for a re-flock), but having something that's truly built for the both of us is something we've both been craving.

I've also been coveting a proper shadbelly and boots for when we go down the centerline at FEI. 

As for property, I have a feeling it'll happen sooner than later.

But really, what I want for the holiday is time. I want more time to train. More time to sleep and more time to just be. Everything else is going great. 

Saturday, December 12, 2009

What you don't have you don't need it now

I've heard several times, that horses are like potato chips. You cannot just have one, or in my case, two.

Seriously. I have issues. It happens every year that the stallion issues in the trade magazines come out. 

I'm addicted to breeding.

Those glossy advertisements, enticing videos and dreams of putting my next super pony on the ground is really almost too much to bear. Stallion auctions are the worst too. Low-cost breedings from very classy stallions. I frequent the GOV-Oldenburg, the KWPN and New England Dressage Association's yearly ones, with the hope to someday add my own superstar to the roster.

I also live in an area that is the cradle for thoroughbred reproduction. People ship their mares from here and yond to reproduce with the top players in the game. 

To tell the truth I'm not unlike others who breed.

Breeders continuously live in the world of 'if', 'could be' and experimentation. They're part dreamers, part historian and alchemist. They devote their time, energy and most of their discretionary income on reproducing in hopes of their next star.

I've already purchased the first breeding for Sinari when she retires out. He's pictured above.

So when I see a super nice mare, or even a relative of Sinari, who I think would be an excellent riding pony and producer, it's all I can do to say no. I've stopped looking at classifieds, stopped going to auctions and listening to people who insist I buy. It's not because the individual isn't nice. Contrary, the economy has given me a steady stream of premium, proven and keur mares within budget range.

It comes down to time.

Lately, I've only had two horses to work, and one to seriously ride for the first time in a few years. It's nice. I've been able to progress twice as fast with Sinari, concentrate on Sincere, assure that the barn is in good order when I leave it and still make it home, by latest- seven in the evening. Three to three and a half hours.

I found that as you progress through the levels, the more time you spend conditioning, keeping that condition and keeping everyone mentally at ease. In addition to doing my own stunts, I do my own work. From cleaning stalls to ordering feed. I do it all. And there aren't vacations until I leave the physical area. 

On top of this, I have the pesky rule that all mares who I intend to breed must be proven via performance. I love strong damlines, I love riding good mares and it commands stallion owners that much more easily.

Creating these individuals, again, takes time.

Time is also relative to money. Currently it takes 80 hours to produce the pay that I earn. It's decent pay that gets me a lesson a week, feed, board for the lot of us and assures that there is gas in the car. But it's still 80 hours. Breaking it down out of 240 hours (five day week) total:
80 hours at work
80 hours of sleep
40 hours at the barn
3 hours in the car
10 hours eating
10 hours working on individual projects
5 hours during-the-week errands
10 hours shower/bath
2 hours for the misc. stuff I can't think of

Doesn't leave much time during the week to accomplish much of anything. 

To produce another Sinari right now is not only out of question, but unfair to another mare who deserves the attention and love that she would get. 

I made the executive decision not too long ago to concentrate on quality, not quantity. Any breeder can produce quantity year after year and eventually get results. However, the difficult task is to produce consistency, quality and results at equal pace.

Right now, to produce that, I need to produce FEI. Can't produce FEI until I ride FEI, can't ride FEI until I train to get there.

Following this vein, I've turned down my magazines, banned myself from auctions and automatically deleted emails about mares. I'm here to train. Eventually, I'll feed the repro monster. But now, credentials first.

Side note:
We're hitting stride at work, and won't be able to post consistently over this week and the following weeks due to schedule. If I do, it will be short. Sinari is doing wonderfully, Sincere is doing much better since last week. Saturday sessions will resume at Christmas.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

What's in your bucket? Trailer edition

My earlier post about grooming kits inspired this.

My work has been on a Japanese-styled cleaning kick for the past year or so. While I don't believe in using miles of colorful electrical tape to organize my life, I believe in being well prepared and keeping things as simple as possible. I've been delaying the deep-clean for sometime, but the onset of snow yesterday caused me to speed things up.

This weekend, I went all my supplies this week, tossing out the ones I haven't used, or are expired, and making note of the ones I need to refill on.

I packed away the stuff that is seasonal and transported it home, I took my halters and some equipment in for repair, I oiled, greased, raked, stacked, washed out, hung, dried, poured, reassembled and winterized just about everything near me. 

Aside from winterizing the barn, I winterized the trailer I use. This rolling box on wheels pulls double duty as equine transporation, an over sized tack and changing room and sometimes hotel.

You literally stuff a temporary life in a space the size of a New York apartment.

Among the basics in the trailer I frequent is a broom, shovel, minor farrier equipment, step stool, extension cord, white board (for schedules, and phone numbers), flairs, a small bag of kitty litter (helps with stuck situations) rain gear, plug in for phone, collapsible chair, flashlight with fresh batteries, surge protector, a leatherman tool, bungee cords, fan, trailer/truck jack, trash bags, magnetic plate, WD 40, supply of towels, collapsible wheelbarrow, human first aid, horse first aid, fire extinguisher (I also carry one in my truck), equine paperwork, muck tub, fork, curly hose, various horse-show/travel only supplies, racking for bridles/saddles, camping supplies (tent, bed roll,  pillow, mess kit, and sleeping bag), food/water, Crisco, and buckets for food and H20.

This winter I did a few things differently, to start, I re-parked and chalked it in the open, on gravel. Kentucky mud is notoriously sticky and hard to get out of. Last winter, when we had the ice storm, we were deep in mud until May and around felled trees. It was even hard with a 4x4. If I have something this winter, I don't want to spend three hours with the owner digging the trailer out.

Inspected all the seams and framework. I pulled out the mats, inspected the floor and gave it a thorough sweep. Ditto with the mats. I put plastic lining in the windows to keep out snow. Inspected, WD'ed/greased the hitch, put the muck tub, over it and the electrical to keep away moisture and put the lock back on the receiver. I inspected and covered the spare tire and the regular tires were re-inflated. All hinges also got a healthy dose of WD and grease. It'll be due for inspection and possibly a re-pack in the spring.

Instead of leaving my much-abused supplies from above to rot over the next three months, I inspected and repacked everything in Rubbermaid containers with cedar blocks and a small bag of salt. I removed all old paperwork to be filed at the house and took whatever dirty laundry home as well.

Felt very accomplished at the end of all this. 

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Empire state of mind

Went to a friend's aid this week, so between that and overtime at the Jungle, my riding was grounded.

Instead, I've been battling wet, flooded stalls and clocks that go way too fast. 

I got to have a session on Friday on the ground. Which was progressive. She was leaning left, so I worked mostly loosening her up in that direction.

From week prior we got to sorted out the changes. I was correct, it was a bit of claustrophobia and a bit of footing. She's offering them clean and straight again.

We're back officially indoors again for the winter. 

Watching her on the lunge, I noticed a few things. My saddle needs reflocking. It's about time, it's been a full year and she's changed immensely. We're also due for a massage.

I was talking to a few people, and it reminded me of the promise I made to the pony a while back: if you go FEI, I'll get a custom for you (even if I have to steal it). Well... she's filling her end of the deal and it's honestly time to find someone who can make it thoroughly. If I can hold off the purchase for the next 18 months, I'll be happy.

I need to pick up mash, stall dry and switch her door out to a yolk so I can keep her outward facing window closed.

As I lay me down

Winter is finally here. Along with the plummeting temperatures, snow and first-cold snap antics.

My normally well-behaved young man turned into a fire breathing adolescent. High from winter frost and probably a fresh pump of testosterone. From last week where he was contented to pick up all feet to steel pony statue.

We had our first discussion in a long time.

Our discussion went deeper as he began to throw his now sizable weight around and voluntary stand on his hind legs.

I have a feeling this was inevitable. 

Measures were taken, the little boy was laid down several times and subsequent order was temporarily brought to the world.

Doesn't mean that I have some nasty rope burns and my right shin took a beating. He's become much stronger, much taller and much quicker. 

I hate resorting to laying him down (and I'll probably get flack for it here), but I understand why. I don't like fighting with my horses, it really ends up in frustration for both parties. But, in this case, it was this or go through round after round of resistance.

Afterward, he is his fine, sweet self. Like nothing happened.

Colts. I swear.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Saturday Sessions 1.3

Start on a 20 meter circle (either direction at any gait). When you hit the long side of the arena, half pass to center line.

More advanced versions:
Steepness of the line, add zig zag in the half pass.

While a 10 meter circle will set you up for half pass, a 20 meter circle will test if you can change the degree of bend to match the line and how well can you adhere to riding on the line as well without compromise.