Archive for May, 2012

Puppies and Ponies

amywink May 28th, 2012

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Happy Memorial Day. It’s been a great summer week as far as puppies and ponies go.

This week, one giant duck , my summer teaching schedule, landed and settled herself into the row and the Great American Dog Trip is on! There’s one more duck out there but it won’t land until we actually leave, so I’m just going ahead as if it will land and I really think it will. Meanwhile, we are planning and scheduling getting ready for the trip–all very exciting. We are hoping to be under a pile of puppies some times the weekend of June 16-17. Our commitment gets stronger when we see these faces:

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Sweet puppies, we are coming!!

Home preparations also continue and I am cleaning the giant dog crate Lady used and getting it prepped to come inside. It’s a lot larger than I actually need but it seemed silly to buy a new crate when I had a perfectly good one sitting in the garage. It is going to get a good cleaning and possible, if my test works, a nice new paint job. I’ve been checking out Rustoleum options and prepping slowly and carefully. We’ll see how it goes!

I think Lady would approve too as her memorial “Dark Lady” rose suggests:
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With all the puppy excitement, I also have the ponies to play with. I had a really great riding lesson Saturday morning, working specifically on my hand position and making my hands lighter. After riding Will last weekend, I also had some questions regarding him and my saddle position–the answers to which i was able to apply when I rode Will on Sunday (more on that in a minute). It is warming up in the morning so next week, we’ll move to the Summer program and start earlier in the day, driving Blessing before the riding lesson starts. I’m ready for it as the sun does beat down after 10 these days.

Blessing, as wonderful as she was last week, decided to be a total SmartyPants this week and ignore the bit, toss her head, and speed around the arena as if she were Formula 1 Morgan. So, I didn’t drive her, just rode along and watched her antics. I also got off and took some video, which I will be working to improve on doing so no one gets seasick watching them! I also need to figure out how to post them.

Still, I got this nice shot of her and it’s a good thing you can’t see how mad her face looked. She was NOT happy.

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She’ll probably think about the difficult lesson and do much better next week.

So that was the Bad Pony. I saw Good Pony on Sunday when i went to visit Will and try another ride. Malen had suggested trying a thinner saddle pad to improve saddle fit so I pulled out my blue dressage pad and dusted it off for our ride. I also placed the saddle a bit better, further forward than I had last week. Both those changes made a positive difference in our ride, which went very very well. We worked on steering since I wanted to get more balanced in the saddle and make sure he knew what I was asking–and that I was actually asking for what he was doing, not just wobbling about and sending mixed signals! We did pretty well and he is very comfortable to ride–as I recall from our beginnings. I was also able to mount quietly, which had been, a long time ago, a problem. But he is older now, I am better, he is calmer, and we did well from the start. While Blessing has his harness, and soon his carriage, I will be riding Will and hope to keep improving our work together. We will be working up to a trot as soon as I feel confident in my ability to give him the correct signals.

He was my very very good and handsome boy yesterday.

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Summertime

amywink May 20th, 2012

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Ah, summertime. The spring semester ended this week and I fell happily into my summer. Yes, I know it’s really spring and summer will be in June but for now, I am not in school and that’s summer time. Besides, starting next week, I’ll be back to teaching in the summer session so I’m enjoying my summer as I can.

It has been a big week. I drove Blessing again Friday, our third drive, and it was quite an enjoyable experience (no photos, I was driving!). She’s a character for sure and it’s very interesting to drive her after driving Will for so long. She’s very light and responsive, except when she decides not to respond, particularly when I ask her to turn. We’ve moved to a french link snaffle and she’s doing very well with it. I will have to spend some time with some catalogs and see about getting another so I can have my riding bridle back for use–and all of this bit talk has led to some ideas for changing Will’s driving bit as well, as I discovered it was actually far larger than he needs.

I will have to learn Blessing’s style, so to speak, since some of the things I do with Will do not work the same for her yet. She does wiggle about in the harness still and it is hard to keep her going straight as she positions her body oddly while moving forward. She also likes to look about a bit and survey the scenery while we trot around the dressage arena and if she doesn’t exactly like what you’ve suggested, she has a little huffy snit which involves a bit of ear twitching, tail swishing and some head tossing…..it’s very reminiscent of a teenage girl. Her downward transitions are still a work in progress as she rather likes to jam on the brakes when you ask, sitting back fairly hard on the breeching, but she does stop when I ask her to and starts up again nicely, and stops again. This was Will’s challenge so it’s good to have a horse who is more enthusiastic about braking than he was at this stage of the game. It will be very interesting to drive them as a pair. Very very interesting.

Since the barn was closed Saturday for a Andalusian event elsewhere, I took my riding lesson on Sunday. A self-study at home, so to speak.
I rode Will, for the first time in about 6 years. Since my riding lessons started, I’ve been gaining confidence and ability and I thought it might be a good time to try things out and see how far I had come in my Do-Over.

All went very well. Very well. No fireworks (not really expected) on his part, and no unexploded bombs on mine (which was possible), so whew. We spent all of our time walking and working on turning and getting comfortable with me in the saddle. And yes, Lisa took photos.

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We look quite respectable, I think. My lessons will continue and so will my homework but for now, I’m very pleased about my own progress.

On other fronts, the Great American Dog Trip edges closer, less than 4 weeks, and I am making more and more plans. The puppies hit their 4 week birthday this week and the photos I’m getting are heartache-ingly enticing. I just have to hope those last two ducks get on board with this trip and soon.

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Behind the Times

amywink May 14th, 2012

After an record electrical storm knocked out my internet access for A WEEK (!!), I’m behind on some important updates regarding Blessing. Last Saturday, I was able to drive her a second time and with a change in her bit–to a thicker snaffle–we had a much better time maintaining contact throughout the lesson and she is a pleasure to drive.

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Since she’s still very young and green, we made lots of big looping turns. She still doesn’t always think she should have to turn but we are working on that.

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This week, she began her road work and this Saturday, I got to see her deal with passing traffic. So far, she’s unflappable, which is terrific. And she looks fabulous. I’m going to let the photos do the talking!

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The Great American Dog Trip

amywink May 5th, 2012

So much can happen in a week and sometimes a simple question leads to an entirely new adventure on the horizon.

It has been a big week on the Carriage Dog/Writing Dog front. I returned my contract and deposit, an experience that cemented the reality of the forthcoming puppy. With the firm commitment made, I needed to think forward toward the new arrival. After being happily inundated with photos like this one:

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and this one:

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I began to consider how I’d be getting my puppy home from Cleveland. The plan had always been to arrange his/her arrival through another Welshie breeder in Houston and that would likely happen in late June…..late June….laaaaaaaaate June….

Okay….could I wait that long……to see this:

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So, thinking that late June seemed…well, late, but pretty sure the answer was no, and not fully on board myself with the idea, I inquired of BFF Kristi whether she’d consider a Crazy Road Trip to Cleveland, Ohio.

Her answer was not no. She was, in fact, pretty engaged in considering it. We did a little discussing and I began staring at maps.

For a person not completely into her own idea, I sure stared at a lot of maps….and plugged in a lot of routes….and thought of a lot of details and got every duck I could lined up in an amazingly neat, and surprisingly swift, row….a row that looks a lot like this:

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Thus was born the Great American Dog Trip (thus brilliantly named by BFF Kristi).

There are two Major Ducks still circling the starting point of this journey but I don’t control those ducks and I have to wait until they decide to land.

But for now, Plan A: Drive to Cleveland.

I do have a Plan B and also a Plan C if those ducks don’t decide to land. And when I think of the Level of Crazy this might reach, I remind myself that for over a year, I drove 115 miles to take a one hour driving lesson and drove 115 miles home….and for one summer, I did that two or three times a week. That was Much More Crazy but it was a he** of a lot of fun.