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Two more necklaces. The yellow and black one is made of components from a necklace I loved in university and broke probably back in grad school. I kept meaning to put it together, but never did; I suspect many pieces have been lost over the years as I remember this being quite a bit longer. The rose quartz was purchased back when I was going to Hong Kong fairly regularly for work. I'm not sure I ever wore it. I haven't been to the pearl market in Hong Kong for almost 20 years, so this was definitely overdue for repair!

To alleviate the boredom, here are some pictures from the barn today. Fancy is looking very glossy now that her winter coat is gone. She's a little ribby, but now that the grass is coming in she should fill out quickly.
siglinde99: (Fancy)
Today at swimming, I was given 50 yard drills to do in one minute even. I don't think I have ever succeeded in doing them in under 1:05, and then it was basically touch the wall and start again. This time, I got 5-10 seconds rest at the end of each 50. In my first hour swim, I have graduated by one lane (thanks to many new members) so I am now right beside the fastest folks including Kevin, who is the amazingly fast Ultraman (I swear, he needs a cape). On a good day, they don't get more than two lengths ahead on a set.

After my swim and coffee, I successfully negotiated the New Edinburgh Garage Sale to drop S off for ballet class, then headed to riding. The rain held off, I managed to get Monty's girth sufficiently tight without assistance (he is a little tubby and likes to bloat), and I had a good lesson! The past few weeks have been all about unlearning bad habits: loose reins, moving my hands around too much, not keeping my horse even between my legs and pushing him into the bit so he goes very straight, throwing away the reins when I canter, letting my legs flop when I canter. I know I have had a good lesson when my left side aches. Today I got most of those things right most of the time, and had a couple of good, controlled long canters, despite being really tired from swimming. It's weird to think that, after all this time, I am finally starting to understand in my muscles what "right" feels like, and start making corrections before I get yelled at by the teacher.

Now I need to write a briefing note for work, do laundry, prepare some craft things to work on for a road trip tomorrow, clean the kitchen, and get some desperately needed sleep. Compared to what I have already achieved today, this looks easy.
siglinde99: (Fancy)
Got up at 5:30 this morning so I could be at my favourite volunteer activity of the year.

The first dressage test were at 7:30, and I needed to be there a bit early to get organized, after collecting S's friend and finding a way to the west end past the closure on 417.

After 6 1/2 hours of scribing dressage tests (that's playing secretary to a judge - sadly this one was not very good at her job, so it was a lot more work than usual, even though I had less feedback for riders to write down), I made announcements over the speaker system, and did general odd jobs for a while. That was followed by an hour or so of taking down jump standards and loading them onto trailers for storage. By then it was 5:30, so we went to my mom's to collect some vegetables and a chair, then to [ profile] pink_lady2's to pick up forgotten ballet gear, then dropped off S's friend, and finally home to cook supper and help with homework.

Most definitely time for bed now, as tomorrow morning promises to be equally insane.
siglinde99: (Fancy)
Today I had an excellent riding lesson on Monty. I managed to multitask by making each arm and leg move independently (push his bum out onto the track with the left leg, while pushing him forward with the right leg, keeping steady pressure with the right hand while giving and taking with the left hand to get him to relax and bend), at the same time as I sat up straight and controlled the speed and relaxation of the trot by focusing on moving my belly button up and forward  each step, and steering by turning my shoulders. I also remembered that a horse is not a motorcycle (no leaning on turns) and that reins are not a steering wheel (keep hands together with thumbs up, and perfectly level on turns - any pulling must be straight back towards my hip).

As I was riding not long after a swim that involved a discussion of technique and using mental images, I realized that my mental image of how I ride was quite different from the reality. It's a bit like my body image - what my brain sees is quite different from what the mirror sees. Today, though, the brain connected with the muscle and my two images came much closer together. The same thing has been happening with my swimming, as I realize that I'm not doing what I think I'm doing (and start actually doing it). At yesterday's swim, I kicked, pulled hard on my strokes, and managed not to get too far behind the others. When I concentrated on almost sprinting to keep up, I could do it for moderate bursts. As a result, I have now been challenged to push myself on speed as well as distance - challenge accepted!

My riding homework this week is to figure out what is the cantering equivalent of the belly button trick for cantering. I can canter just fine, in that I can get the canter, hold the canter, and feel like I'm having fun. The truth from where my coach (my mirror) is standing is that I tense up the moment I hear the word, curl my toes around my stirrups instead of stretching my heels down, and let my reins go floppy. My coach suggests whisky, but I have to drive back to town after my lesson :).
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My teacher left out the saddle and bridle, and told me to just get ready on my own today, as she had another appointment until just before class time. When I got to the stable, the door was closed, so I closed it behind me and was in a space I have never enjoyed before. There were nine horses and me.

The horses were happy to have company (except Maple, the murderous pregnant mare), so I spent some time just walking from stall to stall for pats and hugs. Then it was time to groom Mr. Tibbs (giggling again that my horse is named for [ profile] suelet's sweetie) and I managed to get all his gear in place without incidents or do-overs. I don't think I have ever had any barn completely to myself with just the horses. It was very peaceful As a bonus, my lesson didn't suck - I got decent canters in both directions (and an excellent canter on the good side), and learned to get Tibbs to do a tight turn (by bending the contrary animal away from where you want to go, so that he pulls really hard in the opposite direction and ends up where you intended in the first place).


May. 11th, 2013 09:19 pm
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Biked to swimming in the rain, practised sprints for an hour, then did an hour of drills and biked home. Promptly had a nap that went on far too long. Did a bit of cleaning and a few minutes of gardening, started a load of laundry and bought groceries. By then, it was time to pick up S. She must have been even tired than me, as she has been asleep for four hours, and long-since missed supper. I'm torn between fixing her some garlic cheese bread to eat in bed, and just letting her sleep. Poor little goob; she needs all her energy so she can do this again tomorrow:

ShuLing at Lower Saxony (on Nellie) 019
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ShuLing and I worked the fall horse trials today. I got to scribe with a new judge, Anne Galt. I would love to take lessons from her, but it appears she just does freelance judging work.

It was a very bittersweet day. The weather was beautiful and the park never looked better, thanks to the volunteers who put in many hours building, painting and setting up the cross-country and stadium jumps. All the usual volunteers were there to run the show itself. I found out my friend Rowan is trying to buy two of the horses, and my former coach Jenn is also trying to buy two, and is hoping to be able to offer lessons from her place in Aylmer. There is lots of interest in my boy Fitzroy, so hopefully he will go someplace good.

The bitter parts were the sadness of people who have been riding there for 20 years, and have yet to find another stable that works for the moderately competent recreational rider of a certain age (I'm SOOO glad the City paid attention to the results of their survey last year on what people over 50 want in recreation). Getting details about some particularly difficult transfers of boarders was tough too - one 31 year-old guy who is blind in one eye and has been at the park forever took 3 hours to get trailered, and had to be blindfolded to get out of the trailer, into the new barn and into his stall. He wouldn't come out for days. It was not clear whether his bestest buddy in the world went to the same stable. Duchess, the newest barn cat, has a home (indoors, and with two dogs, but Shelley is hopeful she'll adjust eventually). Jacob has been promised a new home with one of the boarders, but he's still there and desperately lonely. He couldn't get enough pats today, and even ran into the cross-country warm-up ring. I didn't see Scooter (my favourite), and I couldn't find out what arrangements have been made for him. The lesson rings are desolate, ungroomed and higgledy-piggledy. We went to see the horses but could only find three of them. They can't go in the big field any more because the fence has been allowed to deteriorate to the point that it is dangerous. The horses could easily escape onto the road, or even the Queensway.

We managed not to be too teary, but people are heartbroken and bitter. Although there are promises that the park will continue to operate under new owners, we all know that people will eventually build allegiances at new barns, or give up riding altogether. This was probably the last event for the Friends of the Park.

The Friends of the Park were more than friends. We, and the animals, were family. Having our family torn apart with a pre-cooked deal and double standards regarding money-losing city operations is disgusting. The Park came very close to breaking even using registration fees (83% cost recovery), unlike the golf course, libraries, and indoor swimming pools. At least one person said they have been engaged and committed to the democratic process, but they are now so cynical they will never vote again. I'll be voting, and trying hard to make sure people remember this.

Riding show

Jun. 4th, 2012 09:56 pm
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I got a few pictures I was rather pleased with.

I liked the range of blues and whites in this:

This one shows the crazy skies we had:

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Today I learned that if I want a really good circle with a bendy horse, I need to put my outside leg on like I'm about to canter. Once I was told, I magically made Mercedes bend every time. It feels wonderful, and I have occasionally gotten it in the past, but I didn't know what I had done to make it happen consistently. When cantering, I needed to put my outside leg even further back than before. That kept her from leaning in in or cutting her courners. This is counterintuitive, but apparently the pressure behind the girth keeps her rear end from bulging out, so her front end doesn't get pushed. in to the centre.

My friend Rebecca from work had a potato soup that smelled amazing last week, so I asked her for the recipe. Here it is, in her highly technical, I love to cook, language:

Potato soup

Buy one of those little half hams and cut it up. Cut up some potatoes and celery and maybe some onion or whatever. Bung it all into a pot. Throw in some chicken broth. Cook it all up for a while and tadaah.

I used 5 potatoes, 1 onion, 3 stalks of celery, most of the ham, and enough chicken broth to cover. I boiled until the potatoes were soft, then mashed the potatoes up a bit to give a creamier texture. It is as delicious as it smelled.

Update - Rebecca said I should have added a roux at the end to make it creamier. Then she gave me heck for not paying attention. Her cooking instructions and her work style are eerily similar.
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I can't hold enough instructions in my brain when trying to jump. Nothing is sufficiently internalized to be automatic, and when I try to remember too much at once, I tense up and it all falls apart. For the last four months, my friend Rowan and I have been asking for one take-away from each lesson - the thing we need to think about all week so that it will be automatic next time. It seems to be working.

Today, I did a three jump gym line at the canter. To do this and look good, I had to have short reins before getting to the first jump, dig my knuckles into Mercedes' mane, keep my heels down and legs on, get my left (outside) leg back to ask for the canter, and stay in a nice two-point position. I actually did it, which meant my upper body didn't go all tense and Mercedes stayed at a nice canter, if not a perfectly straight line. This week, I'll be remembering how that felt and how I need to put all the pieces together at the same time.
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Yesterday, swimming was all about butterfly. I got my second kick lined up with my push, stopped putting extra bits into my keyhole, and really had the pelvic thrust working. Between that and serving at feast, I have definitely fought off old lady arms for a few more days.

Feast was a ton of fun, though I wish I could have had many more hours to visit friends old and new. I managed to stay incredibly busy, between Fian, serving, Kaboone, and court stuff. I may be the worst head table server in the history of the SCA. Also, it would be nice to remember the names of people I am toasting or calling into court. One more brain fart and my head would have exploded!

It was great to see Glenda again after 30 years. I wish I could have had more time with Anne, Susanna, and a few others I rarely get to see these days. I did have fun geeking out on Fian stuff with one woman whose name I didn't catch. Hopefully, she will decide this is fun and contact us with a proposal. I also had a good chat with Dubhease; it has reinforced my desire to get back to doing some bardic stuff. I have a story I have been dying to tell ever since I rediscovered it, and always forget to rehearse so that it will be ready to deliver at an event. By the end of the day, I felt too broken to go to Mordain and Aelflaeda's for the post rev, something I really regret.

Today at riding, we were working at making our horses more elastic (going faster and slower, not more bendy - that's a different exercise). Part of it involved cantering and I had a breakthrough thanks to all the butterfly yesterday. To keep my legs on and sit up and make Mercedes go, I need to use a pelvic thrust here too. The rest of my class was spent humming "take a jump to the left...". I believe it was my best cantering ever. 
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I tried to sleep in, but failed. Instead, I used the time to clean the kitchen, do laundry, read for a bit, start supper (pulled pork in the slow cooker) and get rid of junk.

Then it was off to riding, which went fairly well. It may be the first time EVER that I have had a lesson without getting yelled at about loopy reins or no leg on, or both. I remembered a lot of stuff from the dressage show last week and was able to apply it. Sadly, dressage does not teach on how to grab mane when going over jumps. This is something I always struggle with, but today I watched how ShuLing does it and finally figured out where some of my problems are. For next time, I need to remember that "grab mane" really means "dig your knuckles into the horse's neck, do a mane release as required, and do not let those knuckles leave the horse's neck until he/she has landed."

Next up was a trip to the barn where ShuLing helps out. I had been all set to read a book, do some spinning, or maybe drive into Kemptville to pick up a few things, but they needed Buddy exercised, so I got to ride him. He is a nice tall thoroughbred, about six years old. He is also incredibly bouncy and a bit lazy. I have heard my instructors telling me for at least the last year that I need to get the horse balanced. Balanced means the rear end is working at least as hard as the front end, and the horse isn't pulling down into its bit. Buddy was not/not balanced! After my lesson where Shi had been beautifully balanced for once, it was a shock to the system. But I was really able to feel the difference and figure out how to correct it.

The evening has been spent doing homework (they both understood!), cooking (lasagne, brownies, merengues, and finishing the pulled pork - which Geoff liked), bottling the blueberry melomel, and still more house cleaning in preparation for garbage day tomorrow.

Every weekend should be this good.
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The Althing was fun. I enjoyed my drive down and back with [ profile] rozzie
It was a great opportunity to chat about tons of different stuff. The event itself was quite delightful. I loved hanging out with my DARC buddies and visiting with other friends I get to see far too rarely (I'm looking at you [ profile] suelet). Court was great - I was very pleased for both [ profile] roller007 and Gaerwen of the endless cup of scotch.

It was a very long day, though, and 7:30 was far too early for sane people to be at the stables for the Ottawa Horse Show. Fortunately, the previous day's drive to Orono and back had demonstrated fairly clearly that I'm not sane. Scribing for the judge was both easier and harder this time. It was cold in our little booth as we were out of the sun. My feet were wet from walking through the grass to get there. I did get so see some good riding, and Caroline, the judge, was very patient about explaining new terms and how to recognize and correct for the errors that had led her to use the terms. I hope to incorporate the info into my riding in future.

After the dressage portion was over, I was too tired to hang out and watch the rest of the show, so I headed for the back field to have a few cuddles with the barn horses before heading home for a nap. Here are a few of the horses:

This is Shi, my current ride. She is a Canadian.

This is Pam, another Canadian who was purchased at the same time as Shi. I haven't ridden her yet, but she is incredibly friendly.

Riding Shi

Sep. 11th, 2011 09:20 pm
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I took Shi over a jump course today. It was "interesting". Shi is a sweet Canadian who is still quite green. She is easily distracted and aids have to be constantly and steadily applied. Otherwise, she will see a butterfly, or another horse, or a duck, or just get confused, and her rhythm (and direction) go to hell. This was only my second time riding her, and it was better than last time, but my abs are sore from all the concentration!

She loves to canter through the jumps, but she doesn't know how to keep herself gathered up to get the height, so I got very tired trying to push her forward "just enough" while keeping her head up and slowing her down so the propulsion would come from her rear end (aka collected).  At one point she veered wildly and then tried to jump some high crossed poles that I was quite prepared to let her refuse. She knocked them down, of course, but I stayed on. She was close to perfect the second time through. We did all the jumps at a trot, though she was allowed to canter out. It was a reasonable compromise, at least until I master a collected canter with her.

Up until now, I have been riding horses that schooled me. They were mostly old hands who knew the commands. Some would do what you wanted whether you got the aids (instructions given with hands, legs and seat for non-riders) right or not. Some wouldn't do what you wanted unless you got the aids right (much better way to learn, thoguh very frustrating at first). Shi is the first horse I have ridden where I am the one doing the schooling..
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The big white horse with the dinner plates for feet is Mercedes. I have been riding her for three weeks now. She's a at least partly Irish Draught, with a sweet disposition, who loves to jump.  The other part is reputed to be tank, with no brakes.

Since I started to ride, I have had troubles with keeping my legs on (ie heels firmly clamped to the sides of my horse for control). When I started, there was so much focus on keeping legs on to steer, while not pulling on the horse's mouth, that I have simultaneously suffered from loopy reins. In the last couple of sessions, my instructor has been trying to teach us that we need to push our horses forward with our heels, while maintaining control with the reins so our horse would stay collected. Mostly, that sounded like jargon and I just couldn't do it. This may have been partly because I had been riding the same two horses for quite a while, and they were very forgiving of my mistakes.

When I fell off my horse over a jump at Christmas, I suddenly understood the consequences of not fixing this. I re-did the jump and stayed on, and tried for eight weeks to remember how it felt to hold the reins tight and have my legs on, until I could sign up for riding again. Apparently it sank in, because with Mercedes, I understand what my instructor is asking for. She is responsive to leg commands (and goes like stink!) at the same time as having a really strong mouth and neck, so I'm not afraid to use the reins.

There is still an element of Fear Factor with Mercedes. Today was my first time jumping her. I needed a lot of control to keep her from running wildly out over the jumps. In fact, she jumped all of them, even the little one she could have easily stepped over. It wasn't my best jumping session ever, but I learned a lot about technique today and am very satisfied with my progress.


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