Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A very sad day

I put my elderly vizsla Marko to sleep this morning. His ongoing wobbliness progressed suddenly to partial paralysis of his hind end, starting yesterday after work. I spent the whole night snuggled up to him, saying goodbye, because I was pretty sure the prognosis wasn't going to be good. And it wasn't. The vet was just wonderful about the whole thing. I was such a wreck.

Marko was in the habit of bringing me a shoe every morning. He brought me a hiking boot this morning despite hardly being able to walk. I guess one positive is that he was still himself, and not in pain, right up to the end.

He was almost thirteen years old. I'd had him since he was a puppy.

Monday, April 27, 2009

I should not ride for nine days more often

I'm back from my trip to Texas and Nebraska. It rained the whole time I was in Texas, so alas, even though I brought my boots, I didn't get to ride. I had to think a bit before deciding whether I could bring my boot pulls through security. I finally decided I probably couldn't and stowed them in my carry-on. A determined terrorist could bring down an airplane by wielding a single boot pull, I'm sure.

To make up for the monsoon weather in Texas, Nebraska was warm and sunny. And then, to make me happy to come back, Portland was warm and sunny! In April!

Usually when Willow gets a few days off, she's stiff as a board when I bring her back into work. Imagine my surprise when I hopped aboard on Saturday, and she gave through the neck and back at all three gaits with no arguments. I couldn't make it out Sunday, but again tonight she was softer than she's ever been, right from the get-go. I kept her in walk for a long time, just marveling at the rubber-band feel in my hand. Did someone come train my horse while I was gone? Or was Willow just practicing her visualization exercises? I can't figure it out. Maybe if I never ride her again she'll be going Grand Prix by June.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Lesson #8

I was totally right about the trot not being forward enough in that last video I posted. Too much time passed between lessons and I got complacent. I keep settling for a "good enough" trot instead of digging down and pulling out what Willow really can do. I thought Willow's trot was feeling just super in my pre-lesson warmup yesterday, but then Leslie came in and was all, "Um, that's just pokey. More forward!" And of course she was right. The cool thing is, when Willow is really engaged, she gets very light in the hand. When she's leaning, of course it's just an indication that she's not engaged behind. Duh.

So we worked on forward in trot, and happily Willow cooperated. Right now our other bugaboo is that Willow wants to bulge her ribcage to the inside when we track left. And she's a big girl, so I have to find ways to finesse getting her to move it over -- there's no way I can muscle her into it. Leslie is very sympathetic about my struggles with this; her gelding is 17.2.

We worked on leg yielding for the last 15 minutes. When I turn down centerline, as soon as I straighten I've been dropping my driving inside leg. So we worked on fixing that, and the leg yields got big and flashy. We also worked on leg yield to small circle to straight to leg yield, in order to emphasize the outside rein.

It was a good lesson. If I can afford it, I might switch to lessons every week. I feel like we're making great progress, but I definitely can use the eyes on the ground.

Today I am doing laundry and mowing in preparation for my week-long trip, first to Texas to visit Wolfgang, Suzanne, and Ted, and then to Nebraska to visit family and friends. Texas promises sunshine and warm temps: hooray! Nebraska could be cold or warm this time of year.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Just call her Bubbles

Today we had sunshine with temps in the low seventies, so Willow had a bath. I swear she was just as happy to be bathed as I was to bathe her. She was stinky. There's nothing like rinsing off five months of winter blech. Willow was sassy when I took her out to dry off and graze! She kept shaking her head and pawing like she was thinking about taking off. Spring fever.

Here's some video from Friday's ride. Willow's still not loose as a goose, but she's somewhat looser than a Mack truck, so I'll count that as progress. When I ride by myself I'm still trying to find the sweet spot that's forward without rushing. In this ride she could have been more forward in trot. And she's still bracing in the canter, but I can see flashes where she gives for a few strides. Our next lesson is Saturday.

So, I mentioned that episode 6 of Dollhouse was much improved. Well, episode 7 was pretty bad again. I haven't watched episode 8 yet. It's only my undying love for Joss Whedon that makes me stick with this show.

Last Tuesday I saw The (English) Beat at the WOW Hall. My friend invited me; she's a connoisseur of 80s music. I recommend the show if you ever get the chance to go. It's fun, danceable ska. And Dave Wakeling is still a cutie.