Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hanging out with rock stars

My best friend in junior high and high school was Jessica, and even though we're now on opposite coasts, we remain great friends. Growing up, Jessica and I spent much time in her basement playing Super Mario Brothers, and her little brother Nate hung out with us sometimes, too, mostly to show us how much better he was at video games.

Nate was always awesomely talented, musically. He played trumpet and piano. While he was still in his mid-teens, he and some friends formed an honest-to-goodness jazz band and got gigs fairly often. During Nate's college years, he took time off to play in the Glenn Miller Orchestra.

Nate is now modestly famous as a member of Bright Eyes and Conor Oberst's latest project, the Mystic Valley Band. The Mystic Valley Band played Portland last night. Jessica flew out from New York to meet me and my friend, and we all went to the show. Nate got us all back-stage passes, so after the show (which was super) we hung out with the band for a few minutes. I felt incredibly old and dorky, but they were all gracious. The drummer regaled us with tales of hanging out with Bill Murray at South by Southwest. Being a huge Bill Murray fan, I was very impressed.

Jessica is winging her way back to New York. It was so fun to see her, and to see Nate, who in my mind is still twelve. How can he be thirty?

Tomorrow my mom and I are headed over to Cape Arago to see the tide pools.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Be the side reins

Mom's visiting for two weeks, so I've been a bad blogger and rider. Willow got four days off in a row this week. I'm sure she was devastated.

Saturday's ride was not bad considering Willow's extended vacation. I did decide that once again I've not got her enough on the outside rein, and that's allowing her to start some small arguments with me that keep me distracted from getting her to step through to the bit with her inside hind. ("She needs to bend in spite of the outside rein," is the Wolfgang advice I'm hearing in my head lately.)

So yesterday my goal was to be the side reins, especially with the outside rein. I stayed playful and cajoling with my inside rein and used it and my inside leg to get the bend in spite of an extremely steady outside rein. At the same time, I concentrated on making sure the whoa and the go were available to me at all times. Willow tried for awhile to convince me she couldn't do all of that at once, but I stopped letting her pick those fights. If the go went away, I booted her forward with both legs and whip. If the whoa went away I used voice and many less-than-ideal half halts to get her attention. Everything came together pretty quickly, and at the end of the ride I got a fantastic sitting trot, and the canter departs were coming within the frame instead of the usual leap forward.

My next-door-neighbors to the south have always had a "hedge" bordering our two properties that probably could be designated a national forest. It consisted of a jumble of trees and various shrubs, plus some gargantuan blackberry bushes, and was perhaps twenty feet wide and twelve feet tall. Two days ago, they hired some fellows to cut it all down. It has taken two days so far and they're still not done. After the first day, I had a funny dream that they had finished cutting everything down and it turned out there was a whole house underneath. Well, maybe I'm a little psychic, because it did turn out there was something unexpected under there:

Friday, October 10, 2008

Videographer a railing this time

Here's another video of Willow, this one from Wednesday night. It's still not very clear, but I think we're a little less itty bitty. It was a cold night, and she'd had two days off, so she was somewhat tense from time to time. Overall, though, her frame is much improved.

There's one lengthening on here that makes my heart glad, and the leg yields at the end are big and rhythmic. You can see that she's a little tense throughout the canter work, but at times she was very much on my seat in canter.

Still gotta work on throughness, but then, who doesn't?

For all of you who have been waiting with bated breath for an update on my carport project, you're in luck! I worked all day on Sunday. As carports go, I think mine is now quite beautiful.



I realized as I was uploading the pictures that Sam the dog is standing in the exact same place in both, at the top of the staircase, peering out between the handrails. Don't worry, he did move about during the 8-hour project.

Friday, October 3, 2008


Two weeks ago I had a nasty cold. Then, three days ago, I endured a (thankfully brief) bout of stomach flu. I am dog tired tonight. But I didn't let that keep me from the barn!

Willow's getting used to working in a shorter, higher frame (thank you, Leslie!) so tonight I started throwing in some first- and second-level stuff just to see how she reacted. It went quite well. The trot leg yields were super, as were shoulder-in and travers in trot. The best part, though, was some simply stupendous trot extensions. I don't know how I'm ever going to be able sit them. I'll worry about that later. Tonight I just said, "Whee!"

Towards the end of the ride I worked on getting Willow to really let go of the bit and be supple through the neck and poll even on the shorter rein. She's starting to get the hang of it. She's always such a good girl, even when I change everything up on her.

Tomorrow I'm going to buy utility shelving for my carport. It's kind of sad how excited I am about this project.