Sunday, May 31, 2009

Life's a Beach

Today was a lazy day to begin with; boys spent some time fishing in the great little pond behind the house (“little” is an understatement—it’s not “big” in TX terms, to be sure, but it sure ain’t little; it’s probably 10 acres), and we all cleaned our horses getting ready for our long-awaited “perq” that came with a clinic in Winnie, TX: a beach ride.

While it was a bit like herding cats to get everyone here, ready, loaded, and off, we eventually got everyone together and on our way. The boys were a bit miffed, however, that we had to “hurry up and wait”….as youngest told me “no offense, mom, but this isn’t a very fun day so far”. Perhaps the beach will help that!

We brought the horses saddled and bridled in the trailers—wise move, because the beach was hopping! Lots of beach goers and fishermen, and the horses were a bit “up” with all the activity combined with the new setting.

My friend Chris, who’s ridden on the beaches of Cyprus, warned me that horses don’t like the surf. She was right. Most of the horses didn’t know what to think of “the very, VERY large water complex” that moved!

Several of the horses boldly entered the water, only to run out when the breaking white waves scared them silly. Eventually, though, Kelley and J and her crew, whose horses were experienced, led the way, and we all got our horses at least into knee deep water and kept them there and/or moved laterally with the water. The white breaking surf still freaked many of them out—including dear PC—but he bore it like the good soul he is.

Trotting and cantering alongside the surf was MUCH more to his liking! My only complaint was that in my previous fantasies of galloping my horse on the beach, there weren’t nearly so many other beach goers or fisherman to weave around. Nonetheless, it was indeed a fantasy to be able to walk, trot, and canter/gallop alongside the breaking waves (and sometimes in the breaking waves). What a great experience. How many other clinics can compete with a beach ride!?!

After we put the horses away, several of us went out in the ocean sans horses, and it was glorious. Bathtub warm and soft, undulating waves….totally serene and therapeutic. The only bad part was that both of the boys got stung by jellyfish, and they weren’t so happy to be in the water anymore…so I ended up taking a walk with one to boost his spirits, cutting my own therapy short. Ah, well, I did get to live out a fantasy of riding on the beach…AND I’m ready for a lesson with Brooke tomorrow, and the arrival of the Laws! Several dressage rides tomorrow to watch, then the clinic begins Tuesday. Until then….

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Friends, Family, and Fun!

Saturday was glorious. PC was still upset about being alone, but we soon remedied that by getting him tacked up and going out with a group. J, Brooke, and Merideth all went out to school/ride in the morning before it got too hot. Let me say that Falconwood is an amazing place, worth the drive already! They have a top of the line grass jumping arena, a superb sand dressage arena, and four or five different pastures all with incredible, state-of-the-art cross country jumps from BN through P. WOW. I could live here!

We started out doing some flatwork in the SJ arena, doing some X rails and them some smaller jumps, and finally a grid. I was impressed with Brooke, who was on a Friesian cross who was doing LOVELY flying lead changes. Turns out she’d shown him Grand Prix dressage all last year, and he was learning to jump now. WOW. It was a total illustration of how flatwork really DID improve jumping; the horse was “up” and collected so that every fence was round and beautiful!

I had a blast jumping over the N and T jumps. PC actually stopped at a silly barn-like jump (N height, much like the ones at Greenwood he’s done 5+ times…!), but I made him jump it from a standstill. NOTE TO SELF: even if the jump looks familiar, don’t become a passenger! Squeeze with my legs to let him know I’m “with” him.

We did a T&P bank up and down, as well as some other fun jumps like a ditch and wall and a trakehner. The only other problem he had were with the drainage ditches scattered throughout the property (it used to be a rice farm!). He’d never seen such things: ditches with actual water running through them! He stopped then jumped several of them. Finally, I think he’s getting “over” the newness.

J’s horse Phillippa is gorgeous, but she wants to GO!

I got to watch Brooke school the gorgeous Friesian dressage stallion Rintse 386. WOW. What beautiful movement! She was quiet and effective on his back, being still and relaxed but definitely “pushing” him to go. They made a lovely picture. J jumped on to see what “real” dressage felt like….and he, too, looked good on the stallion. He wasn’t used to holding his hands still, allowing the horse’s impulsion to “rest” in his hands, but he did a good job. Brooke encouraged him to push him forward more, and NOT to “break” at his midsection following the sitting trot. That was something new to me; J tried it, and he had a hard time…but when he did it for even a few steps, he looked GOOD. Brooke said that if you broke, your core couldn’t lift the horse—you’re coming down to the horse, rather than asking the horse to come up to you. I think I “get” it cognitively, but I don’t think I have a clue what it feels like…so since the “he-Law” is full Monday for private lessons, I’m going to get a lesson with Brooke on Monday am. Let’s hope I can feel it enough to work on it at home.

The family flew in this afternoon, and we all went to the beach just a half hour down the road after a DQ lunch. The Gulf water was glorious, warm and inviting. We all walked out to a sandbar, then the boys began jumping the waves and frolicking in the water. Alas, though, our fun was cut short when Ellis was stung by a jellyfish. He had 10 or so stings on his leg—OUCH! We went to find some white vinegar which took care of his pain. I’m looking forward to going back with the family, AND to the beach ride tomorrow!

Thanks to J and Joyce (who make quite a team) who were able to fix the plug on my trailer (and to Kelley for finding/buying the plug!). Now the boys are staying in my trailer, and Joyce and I are in the Taj Mahal. Life is good.

Friday, May 29, 2009

It's Always Something

I’m terribly excited; I’m about to clinic with the Law family, Leslie Law and Lesley Grant Law—both Olympians, both amazing horsepeople. It’s a longer drive than usual—just over eleven hours—but if it’s like any of my other clinic experiences, it will be WELL worth it.

If you’ve read my clinic blogs before, you’ll know that something always happens on the way to or from clinics. It’s sort of like having horses: they are rarely all healthy, happy, and whole.

Luckily, this trip, while loooooong, was relatively uneventful. No blow outs. No gas emergencies. No mechanical or equine failures.

This time, it was when I arrived that the problems began.

I pulled into Faconwood, just outside Winnie, TX, at about 10:30 pm on Friday evening. I wanted to get there a couple days early so that both Paycheck and I could rest from the long haul and get used to the new surroundings. I hate to wake folks who might be early to bed types, so I didn’t call—but out came Kelley and J to greet me. We quickly got Paycheck situated (though as usual, he was upset about being in a new place and he wouldn’t eat/drink, though he DID roll…erasing the HOUR PLUS I worked getting him shiney and white before we left..sigh!), and then we pulled my LQ trailer over to where we could plug it in.


That is, we plugged it in, and got nothing. No current. No AC. In south TX. In the summer. Dang.

Long story short, it was the plug. Kelley and J graciously offered to let me us their LQ trailer, which had been plugged in, and was cool and inviting. WOW. I love my trailer, but it’s the dream house, while theirs is the Taj Mahal!

PC, however, didn’t have a good night. He was in a smallish pen so that he could stretch his legs, but he did nothing but sit and pine while he looked for other horses. He’s SUCH a herd animal! Let’s hope he has a neighbor soon!