Sunday, November 1, 2009

Waiting for the plague to descend

One thing I regret currently about living in the city is that during times like these where we're having a "pandemic" and "swine flu is a national emergency" it would be nice if we didn't live right in the heart of the city. More people=more chances of catching the flu. Luckily, everyone I know who's had it has been miserable for a couple days but come out of it OK. Even my friend's son who had complications bounced back quickly with some antibiotics. And some kids we know who have asthma have been OK. So, I'm trying to listen to my experience as opposed to the media, which does not make money by easing people's fears. I was thinking the other day I wonder how a station that only reports good news would go over? Would people watch it? Would it change that general sense of depressive worry and angry suspicion in our society or would people just ignore the station altogether.

The chickens still aren't laying eggs. I've been reading all sorts of theories about how they don't have enough light or whatever. I think we're probably going to just have to wait until Spring when they are old enough and getting more light. At least I am feeling good about how Woodia, the cross-beak chicken is actually growing. Janey, the Americauna and Alina the sexlink are huge and Woodia has not caught up to them in size, but she is growing. I clipped her beak a couple weeks ago and felt horrible because it started bleeding and she shook her head around and blood splattered everywhere, but it healed up just fine. I'm going to try filing it down next instead of clipping it. Oh - for those who don't know, chicken beaks keep growing like fingernails but get worn down when they peck. Because Woodia can't peck with her cross beak it just keeps growing and needs to be clipped - or in this next case filed.

I didn't get to ride Girlfriend all last week because I caught another cold and was too exhausted to do anything other than take care of Lil Girl and go to work. So, I went out yesterday afternoon but didn't have a lot of time because I needed to be home in time to get the house ready for all the neighborhood kids coming over before trick-or-treating.

(Ironic little interruption here - as I'm typing this my 5 year old daughter is dancing around and jumping over the pitbull who is lying on the floor. She just sat down on the dog and the dog jumped up and I had to say, "Careful Honey, don't hurt Willow!" Yes - I need to keep my child from hurting the pitbull.)

Anyway, the only time I had to ride at the stable yesterday was during a group class. I didn't realize they were going to have a group class at that hour because usually the group class is earlier during the jumping class. But I guess a lot of people had to reschedule their classes to Saturday afternoon so they all ended up in a second group class. I asked if I could do a practice ride in the arena during the class and our instructor said yes but I needed to keep up with the class so I wouldn't disrupt it. She looked a little skeptical but I said I would.

At first Girlfriend was thrilled to be in an arena with four other horses because she thought it meant competition! She walked really well at first when everyone else was walking to warm up. Then everyone started trotting but she needed more time to warm up her old joints and she started doing her little jigs in the center of the arena where we were walking. Then I decided she was ready to join the circle in trotting and she did Ok for a few minutes until the first student was told to canter while the rest of us trotted. And it was Doc, her pasture buddy who she is super-herd bound to. She got really restless and broke into a canter a few times, and I held her back but she started doing her head shaking, butt-bucking moves and cutting sideways into the middle to show she was not going to have any of this boring English posting trot stuff.

I took her back to the center of the arena and watched everyone for a few minutes and wondered if I should just give up for the day. But in my lessons our instructor never lets me quit till I get what I want to do right, so I decided I'd try again and if we were too disruptive our instructor would tell me to leave the arena anyway. So we went back out to the circle to try and trot with everyone else and she did better. In fact, she finally got into the groove and trotted right in line with everyone else - no jigging, no cutting into the center, no bucking or swinging her head around in frustration. We were also using the hackamore which is much harder to keep her head straight as opposed to the snaffle. She doesn't like the snaffle, that's for sure, even though my vet said the snaffle I have is less harsh than the hackamore I have. The hackamore apparently has "more stop" although that didn't do any good when she ran off with Jessie.

About five minutes before the lesson was over, I was exhausted from still getting over my cold and posting so much. So I went to the center of the arena and hopped off Girlfriend and our instructor said, "Julia! You're still here! I didn't even realize you were still here because Girlfriend blended right in! That was excellent! I am so impressed!" Then she paused and said, "I am really impressed!" Let me tell you, if my instructor tells you she is impressed, she is actually impressed! She does not give compliments to "build confidence" or "make you feel better". That's what I like about her is she will tell you if you are riding badly and she'll hound you about what you need to improve until you improve it. So when she compliments you it really means something!

I'm impressed with Girlfriend that such an old girl who was only trained to ride Western gaming is actually willing to learn English dressage and does well at it. I didn't think I would ride her English but she is doing so well at it and seems to enjoy the challenge of learning new things. As long as I lunge her and let her get her ya-ya's out running full speed or ride her really fast when no one else is in the arena for a couple laps, she is happy. I'm planning now to ride her in some English classes next summer when we have our annual show at the stable and actually entering her in the S.A.F.E. annual benefit horse show.

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