The rain is brain colored

It was very hard to make myself go on a trail ride today in the rain.  As I drove to the barn, my head was chattering about how wet and cold I would get, the footing may be bad, What If The Truck Gets Stuck In The Mud.

Because it is raining. Here.

I let my head chatter, and just had my body do the things to get ready for a trailride. Back the truck up to the trailer. Hitch the trailer. Check the lights. Load my tack. All the while my head kept checking the glowering sky, clouds heavy with rain. Finally it was time to load the horse. I felt my first rain drop.

I just had to get Kip out, and it was the thought of trotting around in yet even more endless circles in the indoor arena, that finally got me to load the horse.

Trees!

Walking up the hill

 

I am so glad I did. It was really beautiful at Lake Sawyer, even if there were terrifying ducks and bicycles.   We walked up to to the top of the hill to my favorite field and practiced trotting in two point over terrain.   Of course we has a little gallop, too.

Kip outstanding in his field.

Gallops, anyone?

 

 

I even found a felled tree across the logging road. Jumps! All in all, a great day. Oh, and it rained almost the whole time.

It's just me? Okay,

Is it just me, or does this look like fun?

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Every woman

I got on the light rail this morning, sat in my usual seat, and began my morning email check. At the next stop a large man boarded. He was wearing a dark coat, carrying a gym bag. He markedly noticed me; I looked down. He turned to the same side of the car I was on, and sat in the seat across and one up from me. Sitting sideways in the seat, legs splayed into the aisle, he was looking right at me. I glanced up, and he smiled at me, big. I looked back down, I could feel him looking. He controlled all my movement, out of fear of catching his eye. Even as I type this, I hear a voice say it is my fault to decide to feel this way. He was just smiling, looking. But all I can think is that I will have to push past him to get off the train, that I cannot look without meeting a leer– meeting his eye is rewarding him, any reaction on my part, and I lose. If I get mad, or frightened, or friendly, any reaction, he wins. My only recourse is to not reward him with my attention at all. Even by looking out the window his stare is in the reflection. I keep my head down.

When my stop comes, I wait to see if he is getting up – he is not. I wonder if he is waiting until I get up, to follow me off the car. I wait to see if other people sitting behind me are getting off at this stop, to make him move his splayed legs aside, so I will not have to try to slip by without being touched. I know he will try to press his leg into mine as I pass. I hope for someone, a man, in the aisle behind me will need to get off at this stop, to make this man move his legs out of the way, so I can scurry behind, to not be touched by this very large man who has been staring at me for the 38 minute ride into town. But no one behind me is getting off here. I set my resolve and put my purse between my leg and his, not giving him my gaze. The purse-block works insofar as he does not touch my leg directly, although I feel the pressure increase from his leg onto mine through my purse. As I wait for the doors to open, I pray he does not get up and follow me onto the platform. I am glad I have on pants today and am wearing sensible shoes. No, I don’t think he will chase me on a crowded train platform, but the thought occurs that I am thankful that I can run if I need to. I still cannot look to the left. He’s shifted forward in his seat, the doors open and I leave.

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What is time for, anyway?

I keep having to count on my fingers how long Colette has been gone.  Since she died late in the year, Nov. 2012, I think it makes it seem like longer ago than it was.  But as I sit here, it has been  two years and five months (and seven days).  Which is a long time, I guess.  But because there have been three Christmases since then, it makes it seem like it has been three years.  I have no idea why this makes any difference.  I guess I am still trying to gauge how I should be feeling, after this much (how much?) time has passed.  Mom’s been gone 7 years and 9 months. I am still mad they went off and left me, again.

It is hard to not make every post be about Mom and Colette, because it colors just about everything I do, every day. I am almost desperately pursuing my dreams and goals, feeling like I have to live my life that much harder and more perfectly, to make up (somehow) for them not having as much time as they should have had.

I realize I have four drafts of this basic same post saved since early 2013. I have not posted them, because I don’t’ want to seem …. pathetic? Not sure.

This post was actually supposed to be about my show yesterday. The main thing I took away from it was it was a huge effort, with unknown elements and all kinds of things thrown in.   traffic is a huge unknown. then when you arrive, how easy is it to park the trailer?  Kip does not tie well, and wont’ be left at the trailer, so I have to have a stall.  How far is the stall from where you have to park? I had to take 6 trips from the trailer to the stall,  bringing: saddle, 2 bridles, vest, saddle rack, helmet, boots, muck bucket, water buckets, hay net, hay, and manure fork.  this venue was particularly spooky — so many things to distract — wind chimes, rainbow spinners, LLAMAS, donkeys… Then I am supposed to ride a perfect, relaxed dressage test, and  be accurate and brave in the jumping. It is a tall order,  this passion of mine.

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The National Museum

Day 2 was the National museum.We were going to participate in a drawing group activity —  but when we got there, there were masses of people, all of whom looked way too serious. So we chickened out, and just looked at the art instead.

1There are a lot of things in London  that I think are just to make Americans turn into twittering adolescents.  Like this big, blue Cock.  Not to mention the tube stops; Cockfosters and Saint John’s Wood.

 

 

 

3

 

Of course the main thing I wanted to see was the Whistlejacket painting by Stubbs. It didn’t disappoint. Monumental and exquisite. You could get right up on it.

I thought he was cute.

I thought he was cute.

I liked this cat

I liked this cat

This Seurat was just about purse-sized. I was tempted.

This Seurat was just about purse-sized. I was tempted.

Michelangelo cartoon. This was quite large, and surreal to be in the presence of.

Michelangelo cartoon. This was quite large, and surreal to be in the presence of.

 

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London – Day 1

20141023_015413The flight over was fine – I navigated the airports by myself and got myself through passport check and customs, where Jena was waiting to rescue me. I am not sure I would have been able to navigate the two tube stops and bus to get to her house.  But she was there, so I didn’t have to.

Yesterday, Thursday the 23rd (still getting my bearings) was, as you’d figure, a jet-lagged blur.  Jena and I  did get a new sim card for my phone at the 3 shop, where I tried to grossly overpay for a card with unlimited data, but the very nice and super English-sounding young man, made sure I got what I needed and for only £15.

We were on West Hampstead High Street, and of course, there is a used clothing store that Jena takes me in to — and I find the best, most Londony Greatcoat.  It is grey wool, with grey satin button covers.  And just tatty enough.  Nicely used, and missing a button or two here and there.  20-year old me would have killed for this coat.  I could’nt leave it there.  Although I was doubting my judgement, because  I was in a delirium of jet-lag; but in looking at it this morning, I can confirm — excellent coat.

Jena and I decided to go to a pub for a Cider, and went in a fantastically authentic-looking pub.  We walked in, and immediately realized it was filled with old men. It was a little too authentic, although if I had not been so disoriented from jet-lag, I would have stayed.  It had a  coved ceiling, diamond panes in the windows, all dark wood and with the bar jutting into  middle of the room.   Pull taps, with their long, wooden handles all along the bar.  When we walked in, all the pink-faced, large men, swiveled their heads to the door to see who came in. They all seemed to be  very tall and right out of a scene from All Creatures Great and Small.   A bit of shock registered on some faces.  (Strange women! In the pub!)  The men were sitting in shallow, high-backed pews, with tiny tables just big enough for two pints. There was no where to left to sit.  As we turned to leave, the nearest man out of Central Casting looked at us, and with a hand outstretched, gave a heartfelt plea — Don’t leave! Don’t leave Don’t leave Don’t leave Don’t leave!

If I had not been so exhausted, I would have loved to stayed.  I hope he would not have gotten too lecherous too quickly.  There is still time to talk to old men in pubs.

We went to the pub across the street, and it was suitably authentic-seeming, and a lovely young punk-girl recommended a delicious  lager.  Jena and I finally got to have a seat and a chat. I caught her up on most of the Seattle goings-on, and the guy in the next booth also enjoyed hearing my stories.

We met Eric for some Indian food at Gugulies. It was every bit as good as you’d expect Indian food in London to be.

It was 8pm and finally late enough for me to go to bed. Too exhausted to sleep.

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French Creek Derby at Polestar – 2014

We got 4th place! Sweet!

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Pony Club Camp, 2014

This gallery contains 13 photos.

Camp was wonderful, and I loved spending so much time with Kip, who was spectacular. All our cross-country rides were a joy. Here are some of the things we jumped this year, in no particular order:

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Success kid.

I think we finally have it.

The Narrows Pony Club Combined Test was just fun, from the beginning to the end.  Kip and I have figured out loading and hauling.  This show was at Donida, and I am fairly comfortable with the layout, and know I can get the truck and trailer around, and park in a way that I know I will be able to get out, so there is not much anxiety about that.

Kip in his stall, finishing breakfast.

Kip in his stall, finishing breakfast.

Showing at a venue I am familiar with has made me much more confident about maneuvering the trailer – I actually backed it around a corner, to make it more convenient for me to load up, when we were leaving.  In the past, I would have schlepped my stuff for BLOCKS rather than even think about backing up!  Yesterday, it occurred to me I could back around the corner, and get my tack room 20 feet closer, to make loading just a little easier.  And I did it. That alone is HUGE.

My dressage ride time was at 11:40.  I was riding the USEA Novice A dressage test (again), and then there is a stadium jumping round. The scores of those two rides together combine for your final score.  I had also purchased an extra jumping round, because jumping is fun (so fun, omg), and over way too soon.

I arrived at the event way before my ride, so I could settle Kip and check in and look around, without being hurried at all. When the time came, we tacked up and moseyed out to the warm-up arena.

The last time we were here was for the Dressage Rally, and the warm-up was your classic MESS, with people barely (or not at all) in control of horses careening around, or horses that were freaking out, rearing and plunging around the arena.  No less than three times, we had horses kick at us as we tried to warm up, and the final one came so close, I felt the hoof brush by my knee.  Unsurprisingly, Kip was a wreck in warm up after that for the whole Rally.  Our scores reflected that. grr.

I was relieved as we warmed up this time, that Kip did not seem to remember that the last time we were here, the other horses were dangerous – he warmed up nicely, and did not act like all the other horses were going to attack him (poor guy).

Our test was our usual “tense, above the bit, needs to stretch more into contact, abrupt transitions” and full of 6’s, but I did not mind, since he’s been off for two weeks due to a pasture accident, and this was just the third time I had ridden him since getting his stitches out (I forgot to mention that before now). Also, I lose my mind a bit in tests – I forget where I am, and am concentrating so much on what I am doing, I realize at the last minute, that the next movement needs to happen right now! Holy cow, Canter, canter right now!  Abrupt transitions, indeed.

After dressage, I went back to the barn to switch tack, and came back to find that Novice jumping would not start until 12:50.  So I hopped off Kip, and let him have a little snooze in the sun while I watched the Beginning Novice jumper rounds. It was good, because Novice was the same course, just with the heights raised.

Beginning Novice/Novice course

Beginning Novice/Novice course

The weather was beautiful, with white puffy clouds – it was supposed to rain, so I was prepared for that. Luckily, I keep a spare white short-sleeved show shirt in my trailer for just such emergencies — but did not bring sunscreen. Today I have sunburned arms, with my left sporting an outline of my medical arm band – a good start for my EventerTan.  I just need the helmet line across the forehead, and I will be set.

When it was finally time for the Novice Jumping rounds, I needed to wake Mr. Kip up. He was in full-on snooze, with his muzzle resting on the top rail of the arena, top lip pushed back a little bit to bare his horsey-teeth.  His eyes would flutter open a bit occasionally, and then would droop back closed, like a YouTube puppy, sprawled in his food dish.  It was adorable, but sleepy-puppy-mode will not get us over what look to be giant fences.  At novice, the fence height is 2’11” which does not sound tall, but sure looks it from my vantage point.  Some of the obstacles were also oxers, and their max spread is 3’3”.  With the exception of the first vertical, this course was max height, with three wide oxers.  This can make these jumps look massive, at least to me.  My job here was to not let Kip know these were intimidating, and to get his feet moving.

In the warm up arena, there was an X, a max vertical and a big oxer.  We jumped the X to get the idea that jumping was happening now, and I asked for a nice rolling canter. The vertical was no problem, so I called heads up on the oxer.  Well. On the approach, Kip’s head goes up, and ears prick forward and he gives his best WTF?!?  suck back; so I put my leg on – and he started sliding to a stop, but it was too late and sproinged over at the last minute. I had thrown my shoulders forward (it is hard to sit up when this happens) so I landed in a heap on his neck.  But he did not touch any part of that oxer.  My number gets called immediately.

Apparently that oxer woke him up, because as we cantered into the arena, he was seeking every jump in the place, trying to figure out which one was first.  It is a great feeling, to have the horse asking you if he can go to that jump? Or that one? Which is first?  I gently steer him away, as he wants to lock on to fence after fence, until we make a left turn and approach fence one, and I let him know, it is this one.  Fence one was a natural vertical, not a problem. Fence two had been really sticky all day, with horse after horse taking one look at it and ducking out.  I made a wide turn to it, so Kip had plenty of time to scope it out before we got there – it was a faux corner, with the left the pointy end, and the right the wide end, with gates beneath it. Kip didn’t find it scary at all. We took a right to number three, then a loop around to the left to the number four, the first maxed oxer. Kip had landed on the wrong lead after three, so we were counter-cantering to this giant fence, but he was in a great rhythm, and happy to go, so I let him. Swept to the right for number five, a very flat-faced verticle. At this point, Kip was going hell bent for leather, and I needed to get him off the forehand, and rocked back on his haunches. Six and Seven were coming up, a three-stride– and if I let him stay flat, we were going to pull a rail. It is also at this point that I am glad I decided to switch him to his jumping bridle in between phases.  Sometimes he is such a lamb, I feel bad for having the slow twist snaffle on my jumping bridle – then there are other times, that I am really glad it is there.  He can really take over and just blast around a course, unless I make him slow down.  But, he came back nicely, and six and seven were no problem, left to eight, which was a big, blue and yellow striped  oxer made entirely of panels. It looked massive. We came around the corner with Kip cross-firing like crazy – he was on the right lead in front, and the left in the back. I tried to pull him up to rebalance and get a correct lead — heck ANY lead, but  Crazy beast was having none of it, and the fence was approaching rapidly, so I left him alone and just made sure my heels were down, and I was sitting up.  He landed on the right lead, and took us to the last combination, vertical in, two strides and oxer out — we were done.

That was entirely too much fun, and I was glad I would get to go again.  I let Kippie catch his breath, and we were back at it.  This time through, I was able to concentrate on keeping the rhythm the same, and setting him up way in advance for lead changes.  This round was much prettier. But just as fun.

Third - not bad!

Third – not bad!

Then we just hung out for another hour or so, waiting for scores.  Dressage was a 40.0 (egad, I am getting worse) and jumping was double clear.  I never did find out what optimal time was, but I didn’t get any penalties, so it must have been ok, because I got a nice yellow and orange ribbon – third place.  I collected the pony, loaded him up, and was home by 5:00.  It was a lovely day.

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Area VII Adult Rider Spring Fling at Aspen Farms

Well, isn’t that an uninspired yet descriptive title.

Spring Fling was very much in the success column, even with the lack of ribbons.

We loaded up and hauled in with no problems.  The thing I was most nervous about, finding a pull-through parking spot, was not a problem.  I found a spot in the first field, right next to the portable stalls.  I unloaded Himself, and set out to find the dressage arenas and to look at the course.

I got there in plenty of time, so after scouting things out I sat in the truck and ate junk food while watching it pour.  Did I mention there were intermittent downpours?

It was raining lightly when we went up to the Dressage warmup, and Kip was being a ass, and spooking at sticks along the trail.  I wanted a good, long warmup and it was a challenge, but got him a little bit relaxed.  He took every opportunity to sling his head in the air and gawp at things — other horses, the wooden dock along the arena, the judge’s Easy-up — all excuses to tense, counter-bend, brace and all his other favorite things,  as we made our way around the warm up. I have a challenge of keeping his attention without picking at him while doing dressage.  But he is just so distracted by every little thing–I have to figure out how to keep him focused with out nagging him. Because that just makes him turn off and quit listening all together.

It was raining pretty hard when we went in for our test, and since Kip hadn’t see any of that end of the arena, there was plenty to distract him from the task at hand.  Also, the footing was really heavy and he was behind my leg for the entire first half of the test.  I finally got my wits about me and just booted him up into the contact for the second half, and our scores reflect this – the second half of the test is is 6’s and 7’s with an 8 thrown in for good measure – as opposed to the first half  of 5’s and 6’s.   The free walk kills me – The second I ask him to stretch down, he does at first, but the very first thing that catches his eye, Zoom! up goes his head. *sigh*.

We totally caught a break in the weather for our Jumping rounds, with no rain.  The footing in the jumping arena was draining better, too; so was not nearly as heavy as in the dressage arena.  Our first go was a Ride and Review.

We did great, focus is not the issue here! — First, a small BN log, then left to maxed out brush jump.  I really stepped on the gas to this one, because it was huge and funny-looking. I knew if I didn’t run like hell to it, we were not going over. Kip sucked back a bit, but I gave him a smack on the shoulder (with my new bat, which I love).  That focused him, and he sailed over it.  Bend right to  Novice logs, and a right turn to an airy vertical, left to more N logs, and jump six was a covered bridge-thing, with holes near the ground line, which looked weird and scary — Leg on and look up.  Kip jumped it fine and then back to the right for another solid log pile, and on to a max oxer, two stride combo- we stalled a bit at the oxer so I put my leg on for the out and we made it okay.  Right to an up bank, much easier than I anticipated, and I brought him to a trot for the down, so he could see it. Slight hesitation but down we went, and jump eleven was another solid log pile.

I felt it was a good, solid round.  I spoke to Johnathan for my review, and he said we were a little quick, but that he was really rolling, and maybe his most comfortable canter is a bit on the fast side. He commented on how fast we were going to the second fence, and I told him my run like hell strategy, he laughed, and said that that worked, Kip did seem to be wanting to suck back, but after that he was nice and bold to the fences.  He did tell me to “ask and allow” more — to put my leg on for a stride or two, then allow Kip to answer.  I do tend to put my leg on and keep it there.  So, he asked me to do the 1 & 2  again, with the ask & allow — of course Kip’s seen this hairy jump now, so I was able to give him a much more polite ride.

For our Derby round, I got complacent to the four, I let him get flat, and we pulled a rail! Totally my fault – I did not ride to that stupid fence, and we left long. I felt bad for letting Kip down.  He really jumped the remainder of the course, though; he was not gonna touch another rail after that.  (Even now, I just put my head in my hands over the memory of this. Such a stupid mistake. I am sorry Kip!)  This was our first rail in competition.

Since we had a rail, and such a tense dressage test, I knew there was not a chance of ribbons for us.  I waited around to pick up my dressage test, which was released around 4:30-ish.  I got a 39.1.  Very fair and deserved, but so disappointing.  When I got home, I pulled out all my Novice dressage tests, and I have not improved my score in two years. In fact, this score was my second-to-worst score on this test.

I need to simultaneously work on my dressage, and relax about it – because it is my trying so hard that is resulting in these bad scores – I am feeding Kip’s anxiousness with my own.

Overall, we finished 15th in a field of 33.  Not bad, but I can’t help but wonder where we would have placed, had I not gotten that rail. (Or could actually ride the Dressage. humph.)

Next up: Dressage Rally. Hoo, boy.

 

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2014 Season – I love planning!

Here are the shows I hope to make this season:
Donida Dressage Schooling show on February 8, March 1, and April 5

Jumpernite, Maybe; This is a really expensive schooling show. I am not convinced I want to pay so much. It is $30 a class! February 22, & March 22

April 25-27 Dressage Rally!!

May 17, Baywood One Day at NWEC.  The real beginning of the season.

May 24 & 25 – EI Horse Trials at the Washington State Horse Park. I really hope I can school here first – my last XC experience here was the rather scarring technical fall at the ditch. I am still mad about that.

Then in June – Nothing! There is nothing scheduled but the Aspen Farms Horse Trial – so I guess if I don’t want to  pay $500 for three rides, I just don’t get to compete in June… 🙁

But July makes up for it – Pony Club camp from July 17-21, then off to Montana to watch the Event at Rebecca on the 25-27! Best two weeks of the year!

August 2 & 3, Lincoln Creek Back to Back One Days , and the 9th is the Skagit Valley Derby – this is a maybe.

September 13 & 14, the EI back to back One Days, and Sept 27 & 28 the Lincoln Creek Event.

Wrap it all up with the Show Jump Rally  October 17 – 19 — this year we have been assured Horsemasters will be able to go. Last year we got bumped, because too many PC teams went, so there was not enough space for us; so this year they are running a third arena.

If I go to all of the shows I want to, that is about 22 dressage tests,  eleven Cross-Country rides, and around 10 Stadium Jumping rounds, give or take.  Is that enough? I guess it will have to be.

 

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