Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Another library day

Returned 5 books, checked out 5. Total 40 items out (16 are for El Burrito), 5 on hold.

We spent $6 at the cart sale, including 2 Lyle Crocodile books and a nice copy of The American Wilderness (essays by John Muir, with photographs by Ansel Adams).

Managed to download stuff for 20 minutes while reading Curious George to El Burrito, so we didn't get scolded for noise this week.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Library day

Today was a long library day - storytime, then some playtime before the book-cart sale. We also turned in El Burrito's Summer Reading program sheet, and he got a free book. He picked Harry the Dirty Dog, a classic that I remember reading as a kid.

And, unfortunately, I just managed to put a pair of nasty, really visible creases in the covers. For some reason, that really makes me feel rotten, like this little sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. (Which is weird, considering the number of really-well-loved (i.e. tattered, torn, and missing covers) books that I keep around.) I mean, I'm not a "gotta keep everything pristine" person (trust me!) but in the hour or so since it happened, I've wondered how much it would cost to replace it with a "new" one. Must be guilt for messing up the kid's new book.

Storytime was fun, but crowded, so someone sat on my lap quite a bit. He had a good time, though, and has been singing one of the songs this afternoon.

I returned 5 books, and El Burrito found 2 books to check out, plus my DVD. So the numbers right now are 42 books out (16 of those are El Burrito's), 3 on hold.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Riding - last two rides

Okay, I'm behind again.

Friday night: Not a bad ride. No loping this year. :( They were planning to lunge Peyton a bit before we started; apparently he was a bit of a twit on Thursday, but we decided to see how things went. And they went pretty well. We started outside, and Mr Peyton was moving right along, like a dream. Then we went inside, and his trot disappeared until the "encouragement stick" came back. I don't even have to touch him with it, it just has to be there. Of course, he also sees it out the corner of his eye, and it makes it much harder to get his jog-trot back. Lots of trotting, and some patterns. We did okay, even managed the trot-through L. Peyton did spook a bit at the end of the arena, where he'd been twitty the night before - one of the turned-out horses outside stuck his/her head over the gate.

Our demonstration was moved to Saturday, which was of course hellishly hot. Only 87, but the humidity was insanely high, and we were all sweating buckets. It was hotter at 9 a.m. Saturday than it was at 8:00 Friday night (when it was still 80 degrees). And as usual, my face turned it's distractingly-bright shade of red after about five minutes outside. There was a breeze outside, but we moved to the indoor after warming up - it's larger, and there's shade (and ceiling fans). Peyton and I are apparently the Marlon Perkins & Jim of the area - in addition to the bat last week, we had to swerve off the rail to miss a stray box turtle that was puttering along the arena wall.

It was a short ride, 45 minutes instead of an hour, so we only got one trip through the pattern. Ours started out fine, with jogging around the end of the arena, swerving off the rail to go over three poles, and then back to the rail. However, our trip down the center line spun out, until I got the crop again. Circled back to the rail and started that part over, and it went fine. He gets very boingy over poles, and I wish we could have done more than three poles in a row, so I could get the feel for it. He was also, I thought, a little hard to halt at the end, but Sara said it looked nice, so it must have been my imagination. DH got a few pics and some shaky video (hard to handle a camera while wrangling a three-year-old) - I obviously need to lose some flab, and both my shoulders and legs are a little too forward. Peyton's trot is pretty easy to sit, though.

So that's it for the year. Except for this rash on one arm that turned up Thurs or Friday. It's the arm that had a lot of contact with sweaty saddle pads, so maybe it's just prickly heat or something. Or poison ivy, although Peyton is pretty much an indoor pony. Or a reaction to the meds he was getting for his leg scuff. Who knows.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Reusable bag giveaway (on another blog)

The Frugal Girls! blog is giving away one Envirosax reusable shopping bag, with six ways to enter. I've used Envirosax, along with Chicos, Baggus, and Acme Workhorses. Envirosax are one of my favorites, they unpack easily and come in some nice designs.

Riding - Monday and Wednesday

First, Monday's ride: Peyton was a twit, so I carried a crop the whole time. Basically, he was fine at a walk, but a pill about trotting. Didn't have to touch him with the crop, just knowing it was there got him in gear. We did well enough our first time through the course that I tried the second run crop-less. Didn't work.

Tonight's ride: Peyton was a dream (except for one bit). No crop, and trotted right along, getting nice compliments. He got a bit fast when other horses passed us, but other than that, no problem. My pal Miss Katie (filling in for Billy Bob, who colicked a bit yesterday), a good slow-jogging WP horse, passed us twice at the trot. :) Unfortunately, we only had time for the indoor course once, and I missed the trot-through-the-pole-chute trot. But we had a nice working walk, and trotting him over poles is like riding a QH crossed with a kangaroo. Boingy! He did spook at something while I was getting a drink, so we both got sprinkled. Not sure what startled him, but no big deal, he's not a hyperactive spooker (unlike my last horse). Peyton got hosed off last, so Jordan could treat the scrape on his hind leg again (happened over the weekend).

Only two more rides. :(

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Riding on July 4th eve

We had a short lesson tonight, since some twits across the road from the stables started in with the firecrackers. Sara decided to err on the side of caution, since the lesson is mostly kids and a couple of the horses are a bit skittish about fireworks. Plus, a storm front was moving in, and they were a little "up" anyway. (Except for my pal Peyton.) So we knocked off 20 minutes early, and we'll make it up on Demonstration Day.

Peyton, the little twerp, was being a Pill. He started off with a nice walk, and we were doing some sort-of-serpentines along the rail, practicing the steering finesse. Then things got stuck. He would trot only under strenuous exertion (from me), start off with a power trot or a stride of loping, and then, when we tried to cut across the arena (instead of running down the kid in front of us), would sputter into a walk and wander to the right with me trying to get him back to a trot or turn him to the left. He almost wandered into Sara #2 (junior instructor) twice. I don't have the leg strength right now to encourage him enough, apparently. So Sara (#1, the boss) got on him for 5 or 10 minutes and they had a little Come to Jesus meeting. She had to work at it too, so I don't feel too bad.

But, after their little talk, I got back on, with a crop just in case, and he was much better. The other five students went into the indoor and I stayed in the outdoor with Sara. She showed me how to ask him for his smooth little "Really, I'm a Quarter Horse" shuffle-trot, and we did a couple of laps like that. Very nice. Then we went in with the others, saw half of an obstacle pattern, and had to go in to escape the pre-Fourth idiocy. (The stables are inside the city limits, where fireworks are hypothetically banned. But the cops can't be everywhere, so it happens.)

So, hopefully on Monday he'll still remember all this and so will I, and we can try getting down to business for our last 3 rides.

Things to remember: Toes up, heels down, legs back, back relaxed, shoulders back. The key to the WP trot is to hold the reins out to the sides a bit and just "tickle" his mouth, to ease him from the hunter trot down to a jog. Also, every horse in the barn knows what a carrot being snapped in half sounds like, and will start begging for one shamelessly. And, if/when I have another horse, the stirrups will be "poled" anytime it's on the rack. A broom handle through the stirrups will work wonders and make your ankles like you. My ankles aren't really happy right now. Too much torque. It's enough to make me consider an Aussie stock saddle.

Other notes: the Kleen Kanteen may be raved about, but it's not insulated, which I dock it a point or two for. I started out with half ice, and in 90 minutes it was luke-warm. :(

Thursday, July 2, 2009

More riding

Summer riding, night 2 (of six total). It was a lot cooler today - the high was only 82, and it was either 75 or 79 as I drove home (at 9:45).

I still can't remember how I had the boots laced last year, and they're still digging into my ankle. On Friday, I may try an extra layer of sock, just over the ankle. And it would probably help if I wore them around some more, because I doubt they're really broken in yet. Part of the problem may also be the fenders on the western saddles; if they're not set right, it can put some torque on your knees & ankles. (A broom handle through the stirrups while the saddle's on the rack will help this.)

Anyway. Lots of trotting tonight. Some issues with turning left, which I think was my fault for holding the rein out to the side too far. Which was weird, because as we were warming up at a walk, I had Peyton doing some nice serpentine-like lines down the sides of the arena, no problem. Maybe I was trying too hard later. Also some issues with getting a trot, but only in the indoor. I could get a trot at the end of the arena, and then it would sputter out halfway down the side, no matter how I kicked, squeezed, poked, or clucked. Jordan (assistant teacher) got a lunge whip, since there weren't any riding crops in the indoor, and after just showing it to Mr Peyton, he cocked an ear and decided to trot after all.

We did some nice patterns on the obstacle course, after Peyton was convinced to trot. He still hasn't done that nice little jog-trot from last year - I haven't asked for it yet, and he's wearing a snaffle this year, which may put him in a different mindset - but I love his walk. It's smooth and a walk with some purpose behind it, most of the time. Not the motivated but filling-loosening walk that my last horse had - it was fast, but if I was the least bit tense in my back, it felt like my teeth were being jarred loose.

Sara said the plan is to work on the basics this week, and then maybe some loping next week. If I can get our act together, I guess. I need to remember how I was asking for things last year, because I'd bet part of it is just that I'm not asking for things the right way. And the rest is probably that it's summer and Peyton's apparently one of those essentially lazy horses. So, I need to figure out the boot lacing, try to get the stirrups short enough to use but long enough not to kill my ankles (we do post, even in the Western class), and remember to use a steady squeeze, not an intermittent one.