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And people are already calling me an animal abuser. I'd better turn myself in! 

I love how concerned Mr Toes looks in pic 7. He's all "ummmmmmm..!" 

In case you were wondering...


I'm pretty awesome!

Mr Toes had a loooong week that ended with being eaten by a shark. Or, a sting ray, depending on his position at the time.

My wonderful friend Andie assisted me in the Intergroom 2010 Feline Fantasy Competition this weekend. She poses with Rowdy, my 'little' participation ribbon and Mr Toes. 

My first place ribbon is huge! The rosette is as big as my face and the ribbons are probably as long as my torso. I got a pretty swanky trophy and some prize money, as well. 

Not bad for a cat that hasn't left his apartment home in 7 years, spent 3 nights at a strange grooming shop, 2 nights in a PetsHotel and then got clipped and colored for the first time in his life in the competition ring of a major grooming convention! 

Mr Toes was an absolute star. I'm so proud of him! He's happy to be back home and got lots of catnip and kitty toys. 

This was my first creative groom and I had no practice beforehand. I'm really looking forward to next year's competition. I'll have a whole year to develop and practice a design. 

I'm hoping to find a picture of Mr Toes stretched out, so he looks more like a shark and less like a sting ray. 
More pics - www.facebook.com/album.php

I found some of Haiku's baby pictures!

I always enjoy seeing how markings and colors change as animals age...especially white facial markings.

Today was one of those perfect days! I had pretty much talked myself out of riding, starting last night. I would go and at least brush Truby of course, just not ride, but by the time I got out to the barn it was warm, the sun was shining and it was the perfect day for riding.

So I decided to go riding! Outside. We did a very light warm up on the longe. I'm never sure why people think longing is a sin against humanity. I never use it to tire Truby out or just run her in circles or whatever they freak out about. But I like to see how she's moving and give her a chance to warm up a little before I get on.

Anyway, very easy warm up. We haven't worked outside in awhile, but she was great, even with horses out in the pastures next to the ring. She moves much better outside, not sure if it actually IS wider, or just appears to be wider. Either way, she goes better.

After about 8 minutes that I put on her sidepull and hopped on. We then I had a very nice ride! Walk and trot to the right was fabulous. When we went left she was a bit grumpier. I'm not sure if she was getting hot, bitchy about being ridden, or if the bugs were starting to bug her. There were a bunch of big ol' flies, and a yellow jacket or something that was trying to fly up her nose for a couple of minutes.

I think it was the bugs.

We didn't ride for very long, but we had a really great time. She was nice and soft, very agreeable. She was minorly looky at something stacked by the toolshed near the ring, but other than that she was fine. Didn't bat an eye at the other horses, the tractor driving around and the cars going past. Not that we were terribly close to any of those things, but she was still fine.

She likes her new saddle, no back soreness or grumpiness. My third time riding in it and I'm having an easier time sitting in a more forward seat, as opposed to my favored dressage-y seat. Still have my stirrups a bit too long, but I'll work up to it.

I'm hoping to get in a ride Thursday. Trying to get all the outdoor riding time I possibly can before the ground freezes. I'm thrilled she did so well! I wasn't expecting her to have any major spooking or silliness, but there's always a chance and it has been over 3 years since she was ridden outside.

Did I mention our ride last week was great too? It was. We just walked, and I practiced steering with mostly leg. She did really well, I know she prefers it to rein stuff. I need to give her a little more leeway and the chance to do things herself...I'm too hasty to try and correct or use more rein when she doesn't turn on a dime. When I waited she really did turn! Just need some patience.

Yay little grey horse!
Feeling pretty lazy today. Haiku is still absolutely miserable. I still refuse to believe she ate the ENTIRE 3 foot long bully stick. She has to have hidden it somewhere...but 3 feet of bully stick would have HAD to made her belly swell up at least some. It's not like eating a pixie stick where all the sugar just dissolves...bullies pretty much keep their same mass/volume when chewed up!

Oh well. The other thought being she picked up something like giardia at Hashawha on Sunday. How? Oh, I don't know, maybe because my little dog PLAYED IN THE WATER!!!!!!!!!!

Oh yeah. Little Haiku, who hates water, being wet, puddles, rain, a heavy fog...who has always hated going in water, cheerfully, willingly and COMPLETELY OF HER OWN ACCORD went into the stream (Bear Branch? Or is that Little Pipe? I can't remember) multiple times!

Last time we were near water (Long Arm dam) a bunch of weeks ago I went with the secondary purpose of teaching her to like water. Clicker, lots of treats. Started clicking her getting near or looking at the water, then for getting in it, than for standing in it. She thought it was "ok" and was more agreeable to getting wet than she had been in the past, but wasn't enjoying it so much as not hating it. Well, this weekend we went for a good long walk, and ended up stopping at Hashawha (near the cable suspension "bridge" if you remember from outdoor school back in the day!) I walked up to a nice crossing for the creek and stopped. Haiku pranced merrily into the water and splashed around. Cool! I felt like sitting down, so I went in a little further down where there was a slab of concrete in the middle of the stream. Haiku had plenty of leash to stay on the shore, but she followed me in. While I sat, she jumped into and out of the water. Looking at stuff, sniffing at weeds growing on the banks, walking around, checking things out. She even went in up to her belly, but that was a bit much for her. But she just walked back to where it was more shallow without any concern.

So while I tried to keep her from eating anything she could put in her mouth (she loves eating/choking on grasses and weeds) and drinking water, she got some of both.

Since she's not pooping A LOT, more like oozing some poo constantly, I think it's less bully stick (OMG, that 3 ft is coming out NOOOOW) and more of "mah intestines are sick".

Haiku has been having lots of tummy problems this year. It sucks.

Anyway. I'm feeling lazy. I think riding Truby won't happen. My back is a little sore from chiro adjustments and why ride with a saddle that doesn't fit? That's mean. I'm going to order the Bates saddle today. Just need to measure for the girth and stirrup leathers. Probably next week I'll have it and will be able to ride her. Some lunge fitness exercise will do just fine for this week.

Guess I'll go eat some breakfast and then head to the recycling center then to the barn. Nice easy day!

A Haiku post! Yesterday was such a lovely afternoon that I really wanted to take Haiku out for a walk. Didn't want to go to the pond or the school. I'm really, really tired of talking about dogs to people. At least non pros, it's still fun to bitch and talk to other groomers! Anyway, called Andie to see if she and Steed would come with us, but she had to teach class :(

So Haiku and I went to the Rhinehart Road Equestrian Trails, the one that leads to the model airplane launch. Yes, I KNOW I shouldn't be walking on the trails alone. I know, I know, I know.

Anyway, Haiku and I enjoyed a loose leash walk up the hill. At the top I did some sit and come practice. Haiku did great! Even with everything to sniff and check out she'd sit when asked and come, target my hand and sit at my feet. Perfect! Since there's no one around I often let her off leash. Yesterday I let her loose, but kept her leash on. She'd run off and sniff things and after letting her sniff a moment or three I'd call "Haikooo! Here!" and she'd bound over, quick as anything, bump my hand with her nose and sit at my feet, looking up for her treat. Every. Single. Time! She absolutely loved it! After a couple of those, I watched her really getting into some sniffing, I walked away a bit and called for her. She instantly left what she was smelling and ran over. Clicked her and gave her the rest of the treats. Then I picked up the leash and we walked back down the hill to the car and went home.

Even though we're just getting back into training after a bunch of time off, Haiku is super responsive. Very eager to please, remembers all her tricks from classes. At least the ones we've started with now. As soon as she sees the clicker she is Ready To Go! Even when not training she does things she thinks I want. Sitting and laying down when asked, leaving things alone (we need to formally work on leave it, but still!) and generally being a good dog.

I would like to work her towards good citizen training. I think that will be our goal for next year. Some things are already easy for her, but there's alot there to learn and work on. I'll have to do some research into that and devise a training plan. I also want to teach her a silly trick. I don't know what. But something fun and silly and completely frivolous.

Today's ride on Truby wasn't the best ride, but it was an important ride. Seems like Truby has gotten over the joy of being ridden. Being Truby, she'll wait for a good time to tell me...like when I'm pissing her off!

So today it was cool, not very humid, just a nice early fall day. Got to the barn a little later, had time to relax, make some oatmeal, do some yoga...much nicer than the last month of throwing myself out of bed and flying to the barn, hoping to beat the heat.

I used only her thinline pad. Still too wide in the tree, but she seems to like it better than any of the added padding I've been trying. Lunged her nice and easy, walk and trot, lots of walk. More than usual. She did well, not rushing as much, mostly going long and low. Sometimes she'd stretch down, sometimes she'd lift her head, but move uphill, legs under her, round back. Pretty!

She's getting into a bad habit of walking off or sideways when I get on her. Today it took two tries. (Truby protest #1)
Decided NOT to try for any stretching, overbending or leg yielding. Just ride her nice and easy. Started off with some nice walk work. Little bit of trot, more walking. She was doing pretty good, offering some stretch, stepping from my inside leg juuust a bit. Today the arena was clear except for a cavaletti on each side of the arena, on the rail,  and one on the diagonal. She'd get loosey goosey to them, either quick or super slow, always trying to avoid them.

That started the fight. Because I wanted her to just trot over them. Didn't care if she hit center, just wanted her to go to them straight. I got fussy with the reins and strong with the leg. Then annoyed that she wouldn't move off my inside leg. After one she had been quick to I asked for a canter. She did a bucking spree. Not unusual for her first attempt at cantering, and first time I've asked without cantering on the lounge in our warm up. But towards the end she got a few harder bucks then normal. She was pissed. By this point I think the too wide saddle was pressing into her back, not banging her withers, but just pressing into her. I could also tell *I* wasn't moving with her as lightly or as well as I had last month. Didn't try for a canter again, because she was a bit high and I wanted her more relaxed.

BECAUSE I CAN'T LEARN FROM THE PAST, I started doing a strong overbending on a circle thing. Truby wasn't having any of it. I was getting ticked. I know it's wrong, wrong, wrong, but if I thought I could have stayed on her, I would have whipped the hell out of her. MAKE her move from my leg, dammit! Luckily, I'm a big chicken and out of practice and know better, so I did NOT whip her at all.

One of the two times I've let someone else ride her, they misused a western curb bit (long story...it was only a month and I had no idea until I got back from my honeymoon, anyway, long story) so Truby is sensitive leaning toward over reactive to strong rein usage. I can use my reins correctly, but I can't get in her face and make her do something.

So, I was pissed off, having fallen into last week's mess, knowing I had done it and not sure I could get out of it. Using too strong rein, too strong leg.  Truby was getting backed up pretty bad, ready to run and/rear. She was like a llama, head and neck straight up and PISSED. Swatting her tail hard. I brought her back to a walk and lengthened my reins. Stopped bugging her with my leg. Started singing along with the radio. Upbeat song brought us to a trot, where we did more of the same.

At some point, I don't remember how, we got some real forward trot going and I was able to ride her strongly, asking her to stretch and yield off on the circle. That went pretty well. Then I got greedy, asking for more, more, more and Truby got pissy. Back into the llama neck, head up, looking to rear/take off. Pretty bad. gearing up for a big fight.

Finally did something smart and dropped my reins. One hand, long rein, hand low on her neck. Left my leg light on her sides. Since she had nothing to fight her head lowered and she lost the backed up feel (thank god! I hate that SO MUCH). But she was still pissed, swatting her tail and twitching her skin like she was trying to dislodge a big biting fly. I couldn't tell if she HAD a fly biting her (entirely possible) but I think it was me. So on a long rein we walked. She could go anywhere as long as she walked forward. Every once in a while I'd pick up a rein to direct her to another part of the arena, but mostly I left the rein long and tried directing her by bumping - not squeezing or pressing, but lightly bumping my leg against her. Worked out pretty well. Eventually she stopped wringing her tail, doing the violent skin twitching and started to relax. She wasn't thrilled to be being ridden, but she wasn't going to fight or have an attitude with me sitting quietly. And that's what we ended on.

We pretty much ended on a good note. About 10 easy minutes of lounge work, maybe 35 minutes under saddle. Barely sweaty under her saddle/girth. Truby seemed pretty cheery, I pulled off her tack and hand walked her out in the field by the arena, sponged her off with some diluted liniment and gave her treats. I plan to lounge her without tack Thursday or Friday afternoon, outside if it stays cool. I'll start with a Tuesday ride and a other day lounge.

Didn't stick to plan. I planned NOT to do the overbending so that we wouldn't get into trouble. I should have either avoided the cavaletti on the rail or not fussed with her going crooked.

Got greedy. I think one of the big problems I'm having is that I get too demanding. I need to not expect her to go perfectly and when I get nice work from her I need to release her from it. She steps away from my leg, great! Her reward is a break from that exercise. Even if it's just to go down the long side, she needs a break. I've been asking too much, too often and rewarding not nearly enough.

Too strong. I absolutely can not use lots of rein. Just can't. Truby moves well with leg aids so I don't really need that much rein. So when I *am* overbending her or whatever, I must minimize rein use. And if she's not responding, I can't just use more rein, I have to find another way. Same with leg. She moves beautifully from it, but not when I'm over using it or using it very strongly. If she's not responding to regular leg pressure, she seems to do better with a light bump-bump-bump than a stronger or longer squeeze. The bumping has always been hard for me, but if it works for her, I'll learn it. (I always back up my leg with rein, but I'm not going to be able to get louder and louder with my rein and leg, I will have to find another way.)

Saddle fit. Julie is generously letting me try her adjustable tree saddle, so there is my (one) saddle fitting option. I think I'll pick up some shims and see if that helps.

Me. I have an old riding injury that shoved my right hip up and forward. It was pretty bad earlier this spring, but my acupuncturist did something weird and it fixed itself and hasn't bothered me. Well, I found out that it's one of the cardio machines that messes it up. The one I've been using alot recently. Last night it was actually painful. Usually it's just annoying and really alters my body and way of going, but now it hurts. So I'll be checking my insurance for a chiro. I foresee many weekly treatments to get that fixed, build the (correct) muscle to hold it in place, getting it fixed, working on muscle, getting it fixed...etc. Annoying, but it really effected my riding today. Not even the pain, I'm used to riding and doing stuff while in consistent, constant pain, but the fact that I was sitting so unevenly really gave us a hard time.

My attitude was much better. I still got frustrated, I still go pissed off, but I was able to breathe out, drop my reins and STOP THE FIGHT. Go me! That's a biggie. Riding with music helped! I didn't really notice it, but when I needed it, it was there. Thanks to Anna I've been thinking "today is gonna be a GREAT DAY!". My goal is to say that every day this month. I'm calling on Spongebob to be my muse. Or something.

I realize that I'm out of practice, out of riding shape and quite a bit heavier than when I used to ride for realz. But I'm working on all those things. I have my fibro/lymes under control and I'm in a lot better shape than I used to be. Thanks to yoga and belly dance I have a pretty good grasp on how to use and move my body. Weight lifting, aqua fit and cardio have been helping with my general stamina. Still need to lose a good 50 lbs, that will take the longest. Always working towards it. Really hope they have my bellydance class at the Y this fall, that helps lighten my seat like you would not believe! I rode my best when I was bellydancing, beginner though I am.

So anyway, even with those things against me I still have my brain. I know what I can do, how to do it and usually what I should do. I understand the theory and what it should accomplish. I've got  better feel than I ever did. Can we say LATENT LEARNING, anyone?! I know how Truby thinks, the things she already knows and what will get me into trouble with her. I know how to ride her and how to teach her new things. I know how to enforce things she's not doing well. Of course, whether or not I choose to use this knowledge..! But I'm getting there.

Today was a huge step forward. It wasn't fun, it wasn't pretty, but damned if we both didn't learn alot. While I do not want to repeat this ride, it's important to have had it. I did things wrong, but I overcame them and did the right thing. Truby learned that we might screw up, but eventually we can get our shit together and work through the problem. She learned she can't buck me off, or scare me off with llama head. We learned that we're both more than willing to get pissed off and start a fight...and continue a fight...but if I choose to do the right thing and end the fight, Truby will too. I'm still working on backing down when Truby waves the flag first.

In case anyone thinks I'm being too mature, I'd like to end with something I tell Ethan all the time: I hate learning! I just want to do everything perfectly the first time and always!

I'm going to host a party for local groomers this winter. Because I'm INSANE. I'm thinking of having it potluck, CCH providing drinks and chips. I have a friend that would come and do $5 hand jobs massages, having a swap n shop (everyone brings 'stuff' they want to sell or trade. That shampoo they didn't like or blades they don't use, etc) and maybe games. Andie was thinking of story telling hour. I was thinking of games like Breed Bingo or Name That Breed.
Anyone have any ideas? Fun party games? What else could I do? I'd love to know!

Aug. 8th, 2009

I had an absolutely wonderful, fantastic, amazing day! 

Now, I'm sooo tired.

Details to follow. Maybe.



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