Sunday, January 15, 2012

Snowpocalypse ... sort of

The media was all abuzz about Snowpocalypse finally coming to our region.  The National Weather Service predicted a chance of 2-4 inches in our neighborhood.  Sadly when we got up it was just a dusting.  It is snowing now though and very pretty.  My daughter is outside measuring it as we speak.  I, personally, am hoping it snows enough that my husband gets an enforced snow day tomorrow.  Well, my daughter just came back in and she reports "0 inches for the driveway and the road, but 1 centimeter for the driveway and 1.5 centimeters for the road," and "I'll check it in a half hour. Now I'm going to go record my findings."  Ah ... the science of weather.  She's also really into telling me what kind of clouds are in the sky and what they mean.

M. at the barn (who owns the Lipazzans who I think look like squinkies) and I finally got to go hang out outside the barn together yesterday.  We went to lunch at a local diner and then went to a tack store in Bellevue so I could look for breeches and check out their dressage saddles and because she needed to return something.  I was looking for new breeches because the two pair I got four years ago are cotton and one pair is already falling apart, so I was looking for a higher quality pair that will last a long time and that has a full seat for when I'm riding Toad I can feel a little bit more secure.  You know, seeing as they don't make velcro seats.

Actually, I was marveling yesterday how much trust, respect and really solid communication has developed between and Toad in just the four months I've had her.  When I first met her it was like she had no idea that I was even there and I was like an annoying fly that was there to tell not to crowd me, run away from me, or get in my space.  Then it was like I was some big presence that told her what to do but she was still unsure and insecure and worried she wouldn't do something right.  Now she is my little pocket pony who comes over to me and lays her head against my chest and lets out big, relaxed sighs when I get to the barn to see her and she is much more tuned in to me and when she starts to freak and I'm there and I *remind* her I'm there, I can tell that having me there to give her direction is a relief to her.  Yesterday I let her free lunge then actually got her to do walk/trot transitions in a circle around me (without the lunge line).  She was trying to so hard to listen to me and do what I asked and she did a really good job.  She got lots of snuggles, kisses and treats after that!  She also played really hard beforehand though, so she was completely ensconced in billowing clouds of steam when were done.  Trainer K. loaned me her cooler (a big wool blanket that lays loosely over their back ... which I should never touch without my gloves because I'm allergic to wool and I had to immediately wash my hands because they started to turn red and inch when I took it off her ... duh.) and I walked her around the arena for about 40 minutes.  We're working on walking on the lead line and listening to me instead of just rushing ahead until I demand she stops.  She's doing great in the arena and barn but we still have a lot of work to do outside the barn walking down the street or out to the back pastures because she gets so excited and has never *had* to walk nicely out there until me so there's a learning curve.

Trainer K. came out to lunge her horse - a big goofy Warmblood named Madios - and warned me that Maddy was waiting for any excuse to explode because he hadn't been out in the pasture because it was too icy.  He did blow up a couple times and try to run off on the lunge line and did some bucks and bolts.  Toad reacted the first time and started to scoot right into me (I should've used better judgement and led her with me between her and Maddy) but as soon as I said, "Hey, you're fine. Knock it off," and pushed back when she scooted toward me, she calmed down and looked at me like "Protect me, Mama!" which is a huge improvement for her from the old days of just ignoring people around her and continuing to freak out.  The next time Maddy had a little explosion and started bucking and bolting we were farther away in the arena and I said immediately, "Be your own horse. Remember - you are your own horse! Let's keep walking," and Toadie had her ears back and was on high alert but just continued to walk with me.  She's growing up, my girl is!

I turned Girlfriend out in the arena when no one else was in there and she rolled a lot but her legs are still too stiff and sore to even trot, let alone canter or gallop.  She pranced a little and threw her head to get some energy out, but even she knew that trotting or cantering was too hard on her legs (which is huge for her - when I got her she loved to run so much that she would've probably tried to run with a broken leg).  So, we spent a lot of time walking around the arena.  She's such a sweet girl that I didn't even have to put her lead rope on, she'd just follow me around everywhere I went as though I had a lead rope.  When I wanted her to stop I'd say "Whoa" and I put my arm out in front of her chest and she'd stop immediately.  She's such an amazing girl!  And she's so cute next to Toad because she's so little and cute and right now she's super fuzzy and Toad is so tall and skinny.

Back to hanging out with M.  We were at the tack store and I said I really needed a better lunge whip because the one I got last year is super cheap and too short.  I found one that is just like Trainer K.'s and it was definitely better quality and long enough, but then I saw a bright magenta/pink whip and pulled it out to look at.  It was not only super pretty but much lighter and "bouncier".  There are a lot of times I can put the lunge whip under my arm with Toad, like when we're doing spirals or she's super amped up, but there are also times that I have to have the whip out all the time if she's feeling super lazy and keeps trying to stop and roll.  And with Trainer K.'s whip, if I'm holding it out a lot over fifteen minutes it starts to stress out my really bad arthritic wrist joints.  And Trainer K.'s whip is stiff, whereas this new whip has some bounce to it which also makes it feel lighter.  I was holding it in the store, practicing flicking it like I was flicking it at Toad's back feet and said to M. "I'm really interested in the physics as to why the fact that it is bouncier makes it feel lighter and the distribution of the movement over the surface of the whip changes the perception of weight,"  then paused and said, "Physics is kind of a hobby of mine," waiting for her to do what 90% of the people I meet do which is to screw up their face in confusion and say, "Really? Uh ... that's ... um ... nice?"  Instead she said, "Oh, that's cool," to which I said, "You don't think that's weird?" and she said, "Not at all," and I said with relief, "Oh good! I need more friends who don't think that's weird!"  It's totally fine for good friends to think it's weird as long as we still like each other - it's just a relief when they also think it's interesting.  One of my new friends up here is actually a physics major in college but I can't quite keep up with her yet.

Ok, off to help my daughter record and graph the results of her snow measurements.

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