Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sydney doesn’t like horses - who knew?

Ken and I traveled together this weekend.  Since his baseball season is over (bowed heads) he decided to join me for one of my “Weekends with Blu.” 

To start the weekend we had to complete our first Fantasy Football draft of the season.  Friday night at 6pm our family and friends league (Burrito) had an online draft.  It’s lots of fun because there is a chat room along with the draft so we were interactive.  This league is extra fun because our two nephews joined the league last year and came back again this year.  They’re totally fired up about fantasy football.  My brother even drafted from Australia.  It was Saturday morning Down Under.  For me, I’ve been so busy with horse things that I’ve done very little football preparation, unlike past years (I’ve been playing fantasy football for 9 years).  This draft was going to be interesting because there are quite a few new players and with the lockout it altered a lot of tried and true plans.  Only time will tell how it went because I usually have a great draft but then my teams turn into the “all injured team” once the season starts.  But maybe I’ll break the jinx by starting with an injured QB (Payton Manning in the 5th round) and he’ll get better.

Saturday morning we got up at 6:30 and enjoyed a nice breakfast.  The camper was packed up and ready to go with the exception of the cold food.  We transferred it all from the house fridge to the camper fridge.  Which reminds me, we’re having issues with our camper fridge YET AGAIN.  We have a “thing” about camper refrigerators.  Our Six Pac had a bad Norcold fridge that we had to get repaired (we bought the camper new and the fridge died just after the warranty ran out) and we bought our Host in February 2007 yet by August 2007 when we drove out to Ogalalla, Nebraska the Dometic fridge went bad.  We had to stop in Park City, Utah to buy a cooler for our food.  We got it repaired under warranty and it had been fine since then.  Until now.  When I was down in Watsonville for the show I thought it seemed a bit warmer than it should.  I’ve got a thermometer inside and it was showing low 40’s rather than low 30’s.  I hoped it was an anomaly but when I brought it to Camping World for some other maintenance I had them check the fridge.  Wouldn’t you know it’s got a “weak cooling unit” and they said our warranty wouldn’t cover the repair until it broke entirely.  I’m now in a waiting game.  For this weekend Ken and I brought a cooler for the truly perishables like meat and beer but left the sodas in the fridge.

Sydney in her travel carrier between our seats

Anyway – back to the trip.  We brought the dogs and parrot with us.  When Sydney travels it’s in her travel carrier, on the seat between driver and passenger.  The dogs ride in the back seat area with the seat up and lots of dog beds for padding.

I parked the camper in my usual spot next to the barn and got Sydney set in her usual spot on the table looking out the window.  She likes to watch what’s going on….usually…..

After saying hi to Blu I asked Todd if he’d be able to give Ken a lesson anytime this weekend and he replied “how about right now?”

Ken was a great sport because many months ago I’d asked him if he’d be interested in taking a lesson.  Something he’s never done before, though he’s ridden my horse Cre and a number of horses up at Deadwood over the years. He’d said yes at the time, and I’ve not forgotten it.  (Though I’ll bet before the lesson he’d wished I had.)  Todd pulled out his mare Easter and saddled her up.  He and Ken walked up to the round pen and Todd started with the basics.  I sat off a ways and watched and took some pictures and videos.  I don’t think I stopped smiling the whole time.  It was pretty cool to watch because Todd used motorcycle terms and I could tell when Ken got a concept and got Easter to go where he wanted her to.  His posture changed part way through the lesson, too.  He sat back and looked relaxed.  He had Easter walking in serpentines all around the round pen and eventually Todd had Ken ride her out of the round pen and into the arena continuing to turn her any way he wanted, stop her, and back her up.  

When Ken was done he had a genuine smile.  I was grinning ear to ear, too!

Sharon and Bill pulled in with Rocky in the trailer while Ken was having his lesson.  Bill was next up with his lesson while Sharon and I worked on getting the trailer ready for the Comstock Arabian Horse Show in a few weeks up in Carson City, Nevada.  We needed to organize the trailer and Ken helped, too.  

How do I know Sydney doesn't like horses?  When I lead Blu to the arena or hot walker we had to walk past the camper window where Sydney hangs out.  As I lead Blu to the hot walker I heard her start to growl.  She normally only growls at the sight of gloves or tubes.  So to hear the growl come from the camper was a big surprise!  We shut the blinds after a little while because each time a horse would walk by the window she'd get upset.  We want her to enjoy the trip as much as we do so we didn't want her experiencing any extra stress!

Sharon had her lesson after Bill was finished and she and Nazz looked wonderful.  He was going so slow and smooth, it was a joy to watch.

Then it was my turn.

We worked on flexibility exercises and leg sensitivity exercises.  I moved his head to the outside of a circle while keeping him moving in the opposite direction.  For example, if I was walking in a circle to the left his head was facing out, to the right, while still walking to the left.  And vice versa.  We did this at the walk and at the jog and when I moved him into a jog I probably got the stupidest look on my face.  I swear I was riding a different horse!!!  His jog was so SLOW and smooth I literally got goosebumps and the hair on my arms stood up.  I still thrill to think about it.

We worked the exercises at all three gaits: walk, jog and lope.  His lope is improving, too.  He is still struggling with the correct right lead, but getting better at it.  And I am too.  I’m able to tell when I’ve done something that will cue him into using the “easy” lead rather than the correct lead.  For instance.  I realized once when he took the left lead I’d tried to keep him going in a straighter line by touching him with my right leg.  He interpreted that as a prompt to lead with his left leg.  Just the tiniest bump on my part and he grabbed the opportunity.  But I’m happy that I realized what I’d done to cause it. 

When the lessons were all done and the horses groomed and put away we relaxed on the lawn and played with all the dogs.  Sharon and Bill brought their two Corgis, we had our two Ridgebacks, and Todd had his new puppy, Cooper.

We barbecued Hot Dogs and Hamburgers for dinner and had an early night.  Todd was off to a Quarter Horse show early Sunday.  He was taking two horses – one in Halter and one in Western Pleasure.

He came back to the ranch between the Halter classes and the Western Pleasure classes since there was a long break and Sharon, Bill and I grabbed the opportunity to squeeze in a group lesson.  It was short and sweet.  The horses were again great.  Ken watched and took some video of me and Blu.  It’s fun to see how things are progressing in these last 5 months.

I put a few clips from the video together.  Not perfect, but a great ride.

I bathed Blu when the lesson was over and since Sharon and Bill were about done too, Ken and I decided to hit the road for home. It was the earliest departure I’ve ever had on a Sunday.  Noon.

Best part about that was that we got home in plenty of time to hang out in the pool and enjoy a cold beer.


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