Saturday, June 29, 2013

Pony Camp and nerd jokes

Someone posted "21 jokes only nerds will get" on Facebook and I'm still chuckling to myself over the one that says "The programmer's wife asks him to run to the store and buy bread. She adds "If they have eggs - get a dozen." The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread."  My husband doesn't find that one as funny as I do.   The other one that made me laugh out loud was "A Higgs-Boson walks into church.  The priest says "We don't allow Higgs-Bosons in here," The Higgs Boson replies "But without me, how can you have mass?"  =snort=  Yeah, that's a good one!

Yesterday I went out to the stable to have a riding lesson right after pony camp and Trainer K. suggested I go into the arena and stand on the mounting block and tell her if I thought I could ride in that heat.  The "I want a lesson before she goes away for a week to a clinic with Andreas Hausburger from The Spanish Riding School!" part of me said "Yes," then the "I really don't want heat exhaustion" part of me said, 'Ok, probably not."  It was 90 degrees outside and over 100 degrees in the arena and the idea of doing a bunch of cardio in that heat (ie: posting trot) did not sound good.  So,  I went out earlier today so I could ride before the heat and by the time I was done riding at 11:30am it was already getting hot again.   My leasee has a riding lesson at 5:30pm tomorrow and I'm not so certain it is going to happen which would be disappointing because she too will have to wait quite awhile for another one till Trainer K. gets back.

I think things are going to work out with my new Leasee (she needs a nickname ... hmmm ...).  She's very unfamiliar with Dressage and at her last ride I had to switch the way she was holding the reins because she had them upside down (she was holding them the proper way if she were doing neck-reining with one hand) but the bigger picture that she and Maiden click and Maiden is calm and happy with her and she seems to adore Maiden and communicate well with her is more what I'm concerned about.  When she talks about the Western horses she rode in her lessons previously their shenanigans sound a lot more dangerous than Maidens.  Ok, granted an experience I had with Maiden ended up me up in an ambulance, I still find that to be rider error more than horse related.  I still feel Maiden is safe if you're not completely unfamiliar with horses.  I think Leasee is right on the "it's ok" side of the line of being experienced enough to be with Maiden once or twice a week - especially because one of those times she'll be having lessons with Trainer K.   Much like I was when I first got Girlfriend.  Although honestly, I'm still amazed I never came flying off of Girlfriend the first few months I had her - or even the first few times I tried out riding her.  

Maiden is also a lot easier to tack up and put a bridle on than some of the ponies at Pony Camp.  Yesterday I was putting Bugsy's bridle on and he actively tried to chomp my hand.  The Greenie (teen volunteer) who was working with me said, "He tried to bite me so many times yesterday - can I work with you in the crafts classroom?"  I said I already had promised another Greenie but I'd pull rank and tell one of the older Greenie's they had to switch with her.  They're really great little ponies who are very safe with the kids but they need some benign little bad habit outlets I suppose after hours of packing around excited little kids who wiggle and dance on their bikes despite the best efforts of the instructors and Greenies.   I'm really getting attached to the ponies and have found myself addressing them as "Hey Little Buddy," and "How's it going, my friend."  Yesterday I was telling Trainer K. that my daughter is going to get back on a horse again and said "This time is it my friend, Dreamy the Halflinger."  I don't know where the "my friend" came from except I feel like I bonded with him when I taught a lesson with him.  And he stepped on my foot twice.  Sigh.

That's a big deal, too!  My daughter is going to get on a horse again for the first time in seven months!  Or more specifically for the first time since my broken sacrum/L4 accident.  She really seemed to enjoy working with me all week at camp and when she was out somewhere on the farm by herself running and errand for me she met one of the younger instructors (I think she's about 21) and really liked her.  So, I signed her up for a lesson and the owner put her on Dreamy because he's "dumb and kind".   And because he's a Halflinger he's not really tall, but he's not one of the ponies because she's said she doesn't want to deal with "bratty ponies".  I have not been able to convince her that these are very sweet ponies and not at all like the little freakazoid ones she rode with that crazy, drunk riding instructor we tried out for a couple months before switching to Trainer K.   I think my daughter's been turned off ponies for life after that experience.

I enjoyed my week at pony camp.  I felt like I was really in my element.  My biggest concern for next week is that it was so hard for me to learn 14 kid's names.  I'm wondering if we can do nametags for more than the first day so my poor addled old brain doesn't explode.

Meanwhile, Maiden is doing well.  Since it was so hot yesterday I gave her a bath (which of course meant I had one too ... I have not figured out how to wash the mane of a 15.3 hh's horse with her head up in the air without taking a shower myself).  When I rode her today it was too busy in the arena to lunge so we walked around for awhile before I got on her back, but I still think she wasn't very warmed up and Trainer K. calls her a "cold backed horse" and when her muscles aren't warmed up she's kind of stiff and cranky.  And she was cranky.  I tried to use some contact to ask her to stretch when we first started riding and she got angry and started doing her little hops and backing up.  I started to panic a little because 1) she was backing up kind of fast and aggressively and 2) I could hear the loud, bitchy old trainer riding up behind me and I didn't want to deal with him yelling at me so I made a poor decision and let the contact out a bit and Maiden immediately moved forward.  But then when I applied some contact with the reins again a few steps later asking her to stretch she got REALLY pissed and this time started throwing her head and hopping.  I didn't let up (while cursing myself for wimping out and letting up a few steps ago) and held steady, gave her some leg, gave her a little whack with the dressage whip when she started to jig backward.  Then she did her angry piaffe and I stuck with it until she finally acquiesced and  went forward.  I said "Good girl!" and let the reins out all the way to the end so she could stretch her neck way out and then we were all good for the rest of the ride.  But that second time I  had to use Herculean will to stay calm.  I told myself I could just ignore or tune out if bitchy old trainer started yelling at me.  Plus, Trainer K. was in there and he usually doesn't mess with me if she's there because professional boundaries say one trainer should not mess with another trainer's student and he will stick to that if another trainer is there - if not it's fair game to be completely unprofessional, boundariless and inappropriate.  Sigh. But I also forced myself to breathe and stay calm and instead of worrying about what she was going to do just calmly say, "Oh, so you think it's a piaffe day, huh? Well, it's not," and remember I am the lead pony here - not her!

Anyway, we had a much better ride after that AND when we were cooling down and I'd taken my feet out of my stirrups (which in and of itself has been a huge deal because I've been scared to since the accident) I actually felt confident enough to do a little trotting without stirrups for a 20 meter circle.  It wasn't much but it helped me feel like I really made it over a lack of confidence hump!  I know I *can* do it - I've ridden walk, trot and canter bareback in lessons (not on Maiden but two other horses) but I've been really scared to since January and it felt good to feel confident enough to try it again.  Not confident enough to go further than a 20 meter circle, but even that was enough to make me feel proud and excited and like there's still hope for me!

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