2018-08-06

Yes, He Does Too


Aging is definitely not all in her head… at the same time AJ can not imagine joining a gym, or, heading to a trainer, without the actual exercise, healing, and even euphoria, of being on horseback, especially in nature. It's common for “serious” equestrians to want to be fit for dressage. And, A.J. is no different. She had a new invitation to “play” dressage, on a bomb proof driving World Champion, under saddle, Sundays, before lunch! “Just go up the road a bit if you want. Or ride in the ring.” She was thrilled with a new weekly horse shift 7am -12.  It forces her to get ahead with the radio show! And, she thinks someone should be video droning the farm visits, starting at 6:00am this week in Erin.   But, does she really need to put an invitation out on instagram?

If it works, how will the horses react? It had been crazy enough trying to bring in 3 that weren’t used to being together, while trying to close the gate behind them. As soon as she saw her fellow worker with the two, in hand and none of the other heard around she shouted “I’m leaving the gate for you!”  But there was no weird weather or sounds or objects to worry about...

“More treble. Yes.” She swooned at the way he sound checked at Mariposa, and her crush is back on. “One more decibel down. Yes, thank you.” Did Joel Plaskett get a turn? If so, that part she missed.

Dressage is about flexibility and suppleness, strength and stamina.  And, AJ needs to be mobile through her spine, and flexible through her hips.

She is trying, also, to keep an open mind. Because keeping whales and dolphins in captivity for entertainment is no longer acceptable, and the entire fur industry should not exist. She is actively advocating and promoting horse welfare standards. Is the way we make them dance around indoor rings with us on their backs as an recreation acceptable? What about their live export and slaughter? AJ knows that Jill finds her hypocritical, because she is not a vegetarian, and will someday, likely, eat horse meat. Maybe Christmas 2019? She would also like to drive a horse and sleigh. And in better weather, could you drive a carriage from Hillsburg to Owen Sound? She knew a place with a barn to go stay at…

To her ideal host, at Hillside, she said,   "Oh, I have broken at least one on-line heart since then," bringing him up to speed on her love life. "And since then, I basically, just stopped looking. My social life is great and full!"  She walked few steps and turned back to add, "Don't get me wrong.  I'm o p e n, in case you want to set me up, ha ha."

Calling The One

"Hi, I am a busy radio/podcast producer, aspiring equestrian, and music enthusiast, who is industrious and authentic. I have a day job and a rich social life yet, I crave the romantic company of someone fun, kind, and honest. I love to laugh and all of my friends are funny. I love kids, the benefits of doing yoga and I am also an avid music and radio listener. It would be nice to meet someone who has plans to to to Europe! And maybe even spend some time making music? I love being in nature, and enjoy trips to the market, farm or grocery store, or sharing time in the kitchen as great dates. Does it scare you that I have TWO cats?  Don't worry, I'm a horse person... Are you seeking an intelligent, independent female who can colour outside the lines?"

Jill posted her on-line dating ad with a picture of herself playing trombone, and then she went out to ride for about 20 minutes walk trot in an indoor arena, on a horse who had a goat! A goat! But the highlight of the outing was how Jill had coached her backing up in the strange, she was on her knees facing backwards as the car reversed snow covered rural landscape. “The laneway is behind us at 3 o’clock,” language they use to point out loons while canoeing.

Now that AJ lived in heaven, she wondered if you could put a cat door in a screen door. Because that might make the balcony/new tree fort apartment, even one step better. Not to mention a new showerhead. She didn't even miss living in an apartment where she could watch horses in the field while she made coffee and loafed around her pj’s.
*
It had been a year, since AJ ditched her horse pal, because of feeling out of place at the facility. And so the owners had sold him and his life went on pretty much unchanged. Except for any continued intellectual, physical and even emotional ha ha development. She’d seen a picture recently in a horsey mag, of that place and an equine-wellness Photography workshop. A person was actually sitting down, directly in front a horse to take a close up shot. And in the same publication and ad for Equine Yoga, with a helmet less rider on horse back in a pose. NO WONDER she wasn’t a fit there, or encouraged to work on a spooky-bolty athletic horse with issues, lol.

Was she really considering letting a friend adopt her remaining cat?  They were both side-of-the-road rescues I met my first week on the job, as new receptionist, at the vet’s. They have never been very healthy specimens ha, and we lost Ricky when he was twelve. Lucie has a heart murmur and might be a bit slow. She has a lovely little squeaky meow and is very vocal. She plays 5 - 10 min per day, usually chasing a pipe cleaner or laser toy beam around. She is super snuggly insatiable cuddle queen.  She loves to be combed, has lots of sweet happy sounds.  She does not like the sound of rain or hail or the roof, and would rather be out in a storm than to listen to it. Actually, she is easily startled by (loud) noises, and does well with a baseline of background noise, like the radio.
She hates dogs, and takes a long, long time to warm up to other cats. She snores.  Shall I go on?



2017-08-22

Trekking In Iceland, Day 2

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Trekking In Iceland, Day 2

Looking at the rocky moguls and lava rocky ridges and ditches and creeks of the environment, as they tacked up AJ was wondering where exactly they would be riding.  And then suddenly they were all just running full speed over that treacherous terrain.

On the first day, AJ had shouted at her no-longer-mounted riding buddy to “let go!” and then had also had to do it herself, during “the incident.”  On the second day, she witnessed a guide with a bay named Noah, demonstrate the complete opposite of that sentiment! It was like a circus act, as he, for some reason in an instant as the herd was first released and just beginning to run, he fell off, and then held on as he got dragged, to somehow sort of stand up, and then miraculously vault on to the horse in motion.  We were amazed and he was hoping no one noticed!  Incredible! 

“Imagine riding Oliver with no reins,”  AJ was the topic of some impressed conversation that night at dinner also.  It had been discovered late in the ride that she had done the drop noseband up incorrectly, making her communication with her mount through her hands and the simple snaffle bit far less than ideal.  All she knew for the first few hours of the ride was that he was a smooth but forward horse who was disinterested in her efforts to slow or steady him.  Others were surprised to see him being more forceful, and in fact difficult with head shaking, than usual, and AJ  had just concentrated on using the horse of the guide in front of her, as a break, and trying to just ride the rhythm, instead of fighting with him.  

They crossed the river over and over and over, often in water deep enough to actually swim. And they rode alongside it for miles and miles and miles.  It was glorious!

At one point, the herd had splintered.  And as they tried to round up the rebels, one of the other guests fell off their horse.  Some riders helped that situation and the others herded the ponies that were on the wrong side of the fence towards the rest of the herd. Success!  

Then, with everyone’s attention on the fallen equestrian, one black and white pinto came barrelling back across the river to run the fence on the wrong side.  AJ was the first to notice and took prompt action.  For all her inexperience and ineptness on the gaited trek, she had a good understanding of herd dynamics and successfully, with the willingness of her mount, cut off the free-galloping individual, several times in several directions, and sent the adventurous independent loose horse back the direction it needed to go.

It was one of the highlights of the ride for AJ, when that guide said “You are a bad ass rider that could take my job!”  AJ had felt that she had not quite gotten to the point to actually keep up with the pro riders properly, but at least had become a competent guest rider, that was on occasion actually useful.

In terms of tack check though, she was also disappointed that it took her 3 days to notice that her stirrup irons were the only ones withOUT rubber grips, making it even harder to keep her feet in them…

AJ had Jill laughing imitating a joke her room mate-during-the-adventure would do, when they weren’t riding, impersonating North American riding lessons “OK, OK, OK, everybody line up, we’re going to canter.  ONE-AT-A-TIME!!! One length of the arena…” Meanwhile, how often, when we were riding full speed in the front of a herd of loose galloping horses, did a guide command: keep going, keep the speed! “I have to rush and open a gate, or fix something! You people in the front do what has to be done!”

AJ said most of her relaxing came from watching the 4 guides round up the herd from their overnight paddocks, to check for shoes, and match to riders etc.  “I feel like I can't even be bothered to ride in North America now…”  

2017-08-01

Trekking In Iceland, Day 1

Jill had just landed a “dream” job at the so-called epicentre for academia, and equine industry/government.  AJ didn’t want to be discouraging about the limitations to actually furthering Jill’s horsemanship with such a career move, so she changed the subject to her recent trek.



Let me start, by describing the incident.  Suffice to say, we shouldn’t do the beginning at the beginning, we should do it later.   When we are more ready for it!  I had no idea what to expect, as no one provided any kind of over view. The weekend cowboy friend who had inspired the confidence in me to go on such trek, as unfit as I am, and as unfamiliar as I am with the discipline — you know because if he can do it I can do it  — fell off in the first 3 min of the first day, right in front me.  Just as all the whole herd was taking off in too many directions, with many galloping past us. It was so dramatic!  These horses went running every where and anywhere, into the trees, over dangerous rocks, all over the place! It was insane!

My friend who, who after many valiant saves in keeping his balance,  was now on the ground, was holding on to his horse by the rein.  And the pony was running and dragging him.  “Let go!” I shouted while actually managing to stop my incredibly bouncy chestnut. I hadn’t figured out how to get the tolt yet, and had been basically trotting out of control with no stirrups.  

I had no idea what the protocol was when there was a rider down.  

Have I mentioned we were riding with running loose horses? 

My story is that I managed to stop Dude, and was “emergency-dismounting,” so as to make sure the person on the ground in front of us was okay.  When my mount would not stand, even for a split second, with the herd galloping past him, so next thing you know my face was in the dirt. 

The little chestnut began to run.  Why would I hold on?  I had just yelled at the rider in front of me to let go! After wrenching my shoulder significantly, I released the rein, and also let go of the idea of getting back on if my friend was ok, and then catching up with the other riders.  

And, so we sat in the grass and waited for what would happen next.  When the guides finally arrived, ponying our horses back to us, my dude had lost my brand new Tapestry Equine neck strap that I had looked forward to using to help me stay in the saddle in any difficult times, while saving my horses mouth. Alas. 

“How Ironic!” Jill lamented, clearly getting it.

AJ said that the one upside of new guide to guest ratio, as they travelled to rejoin the others, was that she finally got a bit of instruction on how to activate and package at the same time to get the tolt, the smooth gait she was going to need to survive the journey.  In catching up with the other riders, she had also had her first experience of looking across the rocky ditch and asking her mount to carry on, expecting him to jump it, and having him run right through.

Finally connected again with the others, who were resting the herd and changing horses and such, they began again, riding around a beautiful lake.  It was a magical landscape and she was very happy to be there.  She couldn’t believe After about 2 hours, at more pace than her “Dude” wanted to offer, AJ was getting tired.  By this time, AJ had been awake for about 39 hours straight.  Her host had said not to worry if she didn’t sleep on the plane, because the first day was an easy ride.  

2017-06-11

A Not So Good Friday

AJ had long thought Bob had more potential than the place he lived, but it didn’t seem like there was any flexibility on his location or part-school-horse-board bill. So she just tried her best to offer him some chance of development, one ride a week, gas money provided, while taking an informal break on her own progression as a rider or trainer, concentrating instead on her radio projects. She thought of herself as his occassional yoga teacher and made sure to log at least 20min of trot in her fitness app for each drive out there.

He had some new bad habits. Backing up for no reason, not standing at the mounting block etc. He had actually banged her in the face with his neck as she got on. Was it related perhaps to the fact that he had been ridden by the student worker “every day this week.?” AJ thought so, but decided to concentrate instead on some improvements, like the fact that he actually chewed on the bit when she put on his bridle! The teenager must have been getting lighter in the hand. The brunette in branded stable attire had asked AJ, privately, “so how do you like working with Bob?” AJ said, “Well he is definitely a BOB.” and admitting he’d been hurting her ankles a lot lately, “Because, I am old. And when he does his spook-turn-bolt thing, I tend to jam my feet down in the stirrups.”

After some ground work and mounting in the arena, they did a bit of work at trot and then headed out into the sandring to repeat similar warm ups and patterns. Then, AJ headed out for the small training exercise she was inventing on the spot for him that day, as she did each time she rode. They began walking down the spooky driveway. She did not trust him around the fields, but he was usually dead in the ring. Since she had already got him to relax and stretch long and low in the ring, she wanted to spice things up a little bit and go do something a little scary for a minute and then return to the ring for some more relaxation, but with some extra impulsion. It was their regular routine…

Unfortunately, after just one car length, she was being yelled at! “Turn around turn around. There’s too many machines down there, he will freak out.” The farm owner was loudly freaking out, in front of many visitors, as usual. That’s why AJ avoided riding evenings, holidays or weekends… The screecher was making it clear she felt AJ didn’t know what she was doing, and AJ didn’t appreciate being treated like a 12yr old beginner. “Can’t you see there are all those tractors doing stuff?” The so called head coach thought one should avoid scary objects, instead of school them. Jill was a sane and cautious rider, but not a fearful one.

The bossy shouter suggested AJ and BOB head out to the fields an alternate route. AJ said she’d just wanted a tiny challenge, and didn’t want to take on the risk of the actual fields…

“Aha” was her smug retort. It was the layers of rules the screecher kept adding to that prevented AJ from schooling him out there.

first it was no figures or circles, then it was no use of draw lines, then it was no going out with other horses “Bob makes them crazy,” and then it was no going out around with fields with any other riders…

AJ walked the few steps back to the barn, put him in his stall, whipped off all his tack and put it away. A minute later she returned to the stall door and said I love you Bob, but I am done here.

Luckily as she exited the building she ran into the Grand Prix rider she’d shared the arena with one tornado-day ride a few weeks back. She’d been wanting to get in touch with him! “Next we’ll be asking for autographs around here.” The farm owner was a bit pathetic in her effort at a joke as she overheard the celebrity equine biz owner agree to guest on the horse talk radio show with AJ… and exchanged contact information in the warm spring sun.




You have to CLOSE one door for the next one to open right?