30 Things

I am jumping someone else’s train today — May as Well Event and The $900 facebook pony both posted 30 things we didn’t know about them, and I really like learning random shit about people. At first I wasn’t sure that I could come up with 30 things, especially non-horsey things as Amanda did, because I like that version of it. And after reading The Everything Pony’s 30 things I think it’s interesting that many of us have much more in common than just horses.

1. I took tap & ballet as a kid. I sucked at it, so I quit. I could not do the turning without getting dizzy because I could not coordinate that whole “look at a focus point far away and don’t turn your head until you have to” thing. I am pretty sure I fell down a lot.

2. I took piano lessons as a kid. I sucked less at that, but didn’t practice and stopped going. Although not once did I fall off the bench!

This stuck.

3. I started riding lessons at 9. I sucked at this, too. I fell off a lot. This demonstrates I am not a quitter if I suck at something but love it.

4. What can you do with a BA in English? Go to grad school and graduate. Twice. Drop out of law school. Maybe get a decent job with okay benefits.

5. I worked at HEB. Went through the 2 weeks of training. I thought I’d just be bagging groceries but they put me on the 10-items-or-less line on a holiday weekend and one guy who didn’t speak English very well came through with a ton of exotic produce. I finished working my shift and never went back. Except to shop. Also … would it not be 10-items-or-fewer?

6. I have broken toes, my right elbow, and my left wrist. I have no idea why I haven’t broken more things. See 1. & 3. above.

7. I have waded in Lake Superior long enough to get a leech stuck on the bottom of my foot.

8. We had a beach condo in Port Aransas growing up and my mom always pointed out the different birds. I got really into this and still look for birds of any type everywhere I go. When I see one I haven’t seen before I thumb through a Peterson guide until I find it. I should probably start one of those birders’ “life lists.” Being in Texas, I see some birds that I take for granted, but apparently it is a very big deal to many birders to see a roadrunner. (Tangentially — can you imagine how terrifying and powerful birds would be if they were people-sized? But they are cute and fascinating because they are small. How wonderful this is.)

9. I love far West Texas. Well, not the gigantic, fast, terrifying scorpions there but everything else. I love Marfa. I love going to Star Parties at the McDonald Observatory. I have not seen the Marfa lights, though. Not for lack of trying.

DO NOT touch the works in concrete.

10. I can get a little obsessive about “occult” stuff like cryptozoology and paranormal crap. I used to watch that type of show on tv a lot. Both the fictional and the reality/educational versions. Films, too. The entertainment value wears off after a while for some of it, but I think cryptozoology is actually a really cool way into learning about other cultures. I think of it as a facet of cultural anthropology. Think about what The Hound of the Baskervilles reveals about 19th century Britain. See?

11. You may have already gotten a sense of this, but I am a bit of an amateur naturalist.

12. Remember how I said I love far West Texas? I maybe haven’t been to Big Bend yet. Oops.

13. I am obsessed with the Victorian Era. Also the Age of Enlightenment, but not quite to the same degree.

14. I am obsessed with Gothic literature from the 18th and 19th centuries.

15. I took so much Russian history and art history in college that I could have double majored but there was extra paperwork and having to get permission and other bureaucratic shit that I didn’t bother. I don’t need a piece of paper to confirm my interests.

The Monk was actually pretty ridiculous.

16. My favorite books are Frankenstein, Anna Karenina, The Master and Margarita, and Jane Eyre. And really any Gothic fiction. I’ll read it eventually. Working through Northanger Abbey‘s “horrid” novels right now. But Frankenstein will never not be genius. Much of what media I do enjoy relies heavily on Frankenstein, whether deliberately or inadvertently. I could say that last part about Faust, too. There’s some overlap in there. And while I am talking books, if you want to read Russian literature in translation, look for the pair of translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.

17. I firmly believe you can never read “Ode on a Grecian Urn” too many times.

18. My favorite movies in color are Bladerunner, The Secret of NIMH, and Amadeus. Out of Africa is really good, too.

19. My favorite movies in b&w are The Hound of the Baskervilles, Laura, and The Thing from Another World.

20. I love absurdist humor. I think Will Ferrell is a genius. I also love whatever it is that David Lynch does.

21. “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”

22. I am in an online quiz league and I love taking online quizzes. Maybe not math ones.

23. My side-hustle is horse-related, but I mention it because I do love to share my knowledge with those who find interest in similar things who are willing to share their knowledge. Sometimes teaching is a great way to learn.

24. I can’t really sit in movie theaters anymore without having a panic attack. This doesn’t bother me much, because of HD and a fully-stocked bar at my house.

25. I am not religious. While we are in the whole “protected class” area, my sexual orientation is no means no and my gender identity is horse chick.

26. I have lived in Central Texas my entire life and have no plans ever to leave.

27. Bananas taste like a swamp smells to me. I have no idea why this is, but it doesn’t matter. I hate them.

28. Employer-sponsored health insurance has a little too much influence over my life choices right now, but maybe eventually it won’t. Pre-existing conditions don’t have to be political.

29. Chronic laziness in people drives me insane to the point of rage.

30. I do not go camping.

Three Words Blog Hop

Nadia posted the three words she would use to describe Macy, and I found myself relating quite a bit to some of her description of Macy–I could use similar words to describe Eli, but of course not quite the same words and not quite the same reasons.

Agile

Eli is not simply athletic. I put him in some awfully awkward spots and he gets out of them in good form. I can’t ask more than that. And then of course there are his embellishments …

Intense

I would not consider Eli to be a horse for everyone. He can try my patience sometimes with his quirks and reactiveness. If he is having emotions, everyone knows it. The funny thing, though, is that this intensity is reserved for humans. Around other horses, he really just wants to play bitey-face and if a horse squeals and strikes out at him because of that, he walks away without a word.

Devoted

This is a very silly and tricky word to use to describe a horse. I don’t think he is devoted to me, particularly (my presence just offends him the least because I am a cookie vending machine), but I do think he is devoted to doing well under saddle if we are going to be doing that. Everything I ask, he does. Sometimes he does a little extra, but I don’t think of that as an issue. I think we are finally doing what he really wants to do and he tries really, really hard to understand his job. Maybe dedicated would be a better word, but it doesn’t have the same emotional gravity with which Eli approaches his work. I think many thoroughbreds could be described this way.

I tried to get some video last night but the Polaroid Cube is just not good for night videos. Then it ran out of room and didn’t catch the last part of our ride. That’s my fault, though, since I hadn’t deleted like three other videos–it does have a good bit of space for video storage. I couldn’t ride my way out of a paper cup last night, anyway, so it’s just as well.

Horse Books

Amanda started a hop about horse books and what we have in our personal libraries. I realize that this isn’t about horse fiction or poetry, or coffee table books, but I am including those anyway, mainly to demonstrate the slightly outdated and somewhat eclectic nature of my equestrian book collection. Although I am a librarian, my personal book collection is completely disorganized.

First, my recent favorite … who else shelves the Klimkes in between Faulkner and Jean Valentine? I love raised poles/tiny jumps and work over them frequently with Eli. I find at the walk to be the most challenging because Eli doesn’t so much walk as he does mosey, so he has to pay attention and march with the cavalletti.

Next is this little group. I use the Linda Allen one A LOT for ideas. Also, The Ultimate Horse Book … where do I start? This was exactly the type of book I spent hours poring over as a tween and teen. And it has some quirky gems that when I see them now, I’m like, did y’all just make this up?

Anyone familiar with this breed? Don’t worry, the book also has practical information, too. Such as recognizable breeds (apologies to any Furioso devotees out there) and illustrations of gaits.

I studied gaits pretty thoroughly in book form, less thoroughly in real life until I had my first horse. It’s immensely helpful to me to see the footfalls drawn out explicitly so I have a mental image to go along with what I can (or can’t) feel under saddle.

Another coffee table book? I am not sorry. This one is gorgeous.

I have required horse person fiction shelved with … other stuff.

Not to worry, though. More reference volumes, coffee table books, and classics are in my collection. You can see the riding books slant toward the hunter/jumper end of things, with bits and pieces of dressage stuff. I also have early editions of a lot of the reference/care books. Newer ones are available, so my collection might not have the most recent knowledge or best information, but what an interesting time capsule, complete with advice on ear-twitching foals … ew. But the George Morris and the Anne Kursinski are crucial for h/j types.

Speaking of crucial, more Morris and some Steinkraus grace my pile of what I’m reading right now. Or trying to read. And not fall asleep dreaming of puffins and sled dogs (I haven’t gotten very deep into the Shackleton yet so it’s quite pleasant so far).

Does Ariel count because it was the name of Sylvia Plath’s horse?

Back to reference. This is a well-worn tome that I arduously studied as a youth. I am sort of a sucker for information presented in encyclopedic format complete with color illustrations — I have similar books on birds and rocks and dogs. There lives within my brain a tiny little Victorian-era naturalist that I must sate on the reg.

I mentioned bits and pieces of dressage … really, just this book and the Klimkes stand out to me. This post also reminded me to order the Xenophon, speaking of classical horsemanship. So that will be added to my pile of nightstand books.

Got say it: you may as well skip the Billy Collins. I have no memory of even reading it, it stood out so little to me. The Monk is a really goofy, fun Gothic romp, though.

I have the 2001 edition of this title and I think a 2007 edition is available, and I am sure even more recent information is available, but this book emphasizes the importance of forage in the equine diet, and I highlighted lots of stuff in it.

More hay, everybody. More hay. But do you see the line just above where I highlighted? Yeah, no, we can and should actually give water after exercise. Unless it’s really hard exercise, then I think it’s more of a tailored plan among rider, owner, and veterinarian to provide water safely in smaller amounts after crazy difficult workouts like upper level xc. That could be what the author was getting at, but the lack of clarification could be cause for continued confusion over whether to offer water to horses after exercise — for a very, very long time we were all told not to, in many cases by otherwise knowledgeable horse people we looked to as mentors and teachers. Like I said, time capsule. Eli gets to drink water out of one of those little 8-qt. buckets before and after exercise.

The book also presents data in easy-to-understand charts and other illustrations. This might actually be the most-used book of my collection, so I should probably seek out a more recent edition or any other new books on equine nutrition.

So my collection of equestrian books is pretty all-over-the-place, both in topic, tone, and physical location on my book shelves.

Dream Horse

A while back, Olivia posed the question, “what is your perfect horse?” I thought about this a lot and kept coming to the same conclusion.

My desires are simple — I like thoroughbreds that can jump well. I prefer a gelding, and something in the brown category, probably 16hh, and something with genuine streak of wanting to try. I thought about what if money were no object and I could import or breed something with tons of scope and an amateur-friendly attitude. What if I could get one that doesn’t colic and never goes lame. Or if I could have a young one with proven success in competition and we could go over to Europe and blah blah blah.

That’s a lot of ifs, and I hate flying … don’t think I am not drooling over Diarado progeny at this point, but I also recognize dreaming within my limits is ultimately much more satisfying because I can live those dreams.

Derbies are not off the table.

My severely-biased reality is this: I have my dream horse. For a little while, after I sold a very successful adult/children’s jumper, I lost some interest in riding and all interest in competition. I was simply happy to hack around on whatever sale horses needed some exercise and my interest in jumping waned. I didn’t feel like I would have a budget to accommodate horse ownership any time soon. I didn’t want to quit riding, but I didn’t want to go anywhere with it, either. And then I rode Eli, just one idiosyncratic TB in a string of sales horses. He carried a lot of baggage, reacted melodramatically to just about everything, and sometimes became difficult to handle even for the simplest tasks (like picking out his hind feet …). Even so, we clicked. He reignited my interest in really riding, jumping, I even started to think about horse shows again. I still remained in riding limbo for a long time, but Eli stuck around long enough for me to informally half-lease him. Then, in my opinion, circumstances became such that he needed an owner. I am that owner.

Safety orange is the new black. But wait! The barn owner called them “tan.” I’m going with it.

He fits my simple dreams of a bay thoroughbred gelding with a nice jump and decent gaits. I am grateful for the opportunity to own him, and I look forward to whatever adventures we end up chasing down the road. What more could I ask for?

Rocking E Cowgirl 10 Questions Blog Hop

Rocking E Cowgirl is keeping it interesting with these 10 questions!

What is your earliest, clearest horse memory?
Visiting the Budweiser Clydesdales when I was 4. I tried to run up to one. My mom had to grab me and pick me up so I could pet them, while pushing my brother around in a stroller. I have never not been obsessed with horses, and I think those Clydesdales cemented my coat color preference in horses right away–blood bay with some chrome.

Describe the perfect summer day.
One with access to cold beer and air conditioning.

Are you reading anything right now? Tell me about it!
The Castle of Wolfenbach by Eliza Parsons — one of the seven “horrid novels” listed in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. I love Gothic fiction. I am also trying to read a bunch of other stuff, but this book is short and holding my attention the most right now.

Do you follow a celebrity (horsey or non) that you’re embarrassed to say fascinates you? Tell me. NOW.
Dear James Comey,
Please write a book.
Thanks!

What is your single most biggest horsey dream or goal?
Really just to keep doing what I’m doing for as long as possible.

If you were at Starbucks right now, what would you order?
An almond croissant.

What is your biggest equine pet peeve?
Pet peeve that horses do: cribbing
Pet peeve that people do around horses: leaving halters hooked up to the cross ties–especially annoying if it’s a rope halter, which why are you crosstie-ing a horse in a rope halter?!?!?!

With everything going on politically and in the media, tell me, do you follow it religiously? Tune it out? Or something in between?
Obsessively following. Make no mistake … That awkwardly-scripted “cabinet meeting” yesterday? That is what fascism and despotism look like. This is worse than Watergate because a hostile foreign power is implicated. The First Amendment could not be more important than it is right now.  I recommend EVERYONE watch the film All the President’s Men. Or read the book.

If you had to show your horse to a song, what would you choose?
I’m just really into Duran Duran’s “Rio” right now so probably that, although I am not sure how much that would go with a hunter round?

What are you most looking forward to this summer?
Cold beer and air conditioning.

 

Favorite Exercises

Amanda posted yesterday about her favorite exercises both on the flat and over fences, and asked us the question: what are our favorites?

Flat

Hands down, I love working on the counter canter. Performing a correct counter canter does so much for the horse and rider — improves balance, strengthens the hind-end, heightens body awareness, and incorporates all the “natural” aids and being able to use them independently (meaning hand, seat, and leg, not necessarily a crop or spur).

I periodically work at counter canter on both leads, although not daily. When I do work on it, it’s not for very long–just long enough to make sure Eli’s hind end is working right and he’s listening AND I am telling him the right thing. Sometimes I forget to use my seat and he falls into a trot. I don’t have a problem with him swapping out during the counter canter, at least!

Over Fences

I have written about his one before: I love the tight oxer-to-oxer two-stride exercise, described in great detail in an article by Peter Pletcher, a Houston-area hunter/jumper trainer.

3’6″ peter grid 1 from patentlybay on Vimeo.

First off, it’s fun. Second, it’s simple. Third, it works.

Two oxers, 33′-34′ apart. Canter in and let the horse back himself off. I add a cross-rail in front sometimes, same distance–this makes it a little easier to get to the deeper distance you want coming into the first oxer. It is more of a challenge for me without the cross-rail, so I think doing it both with and without is a good way to help establish that elusive “feel” for it that we all chase after.

Can’t wait to read about everyone else’s favorites!

 

December’s 10 Questions

Thank you for providing a content-generation machine on a monthly basis, L.

Does your horse need shoes?
Unquestionably.

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What do you think of the barefoot vs shoes debate?
Debate away, debaters. My jumping horses will never not be shod.

Favorite season for riding?
Not winter.

How many shows do you think you’ve gone to?
I showed multiple times a year between the ages of 10 and 29, and have started showing again these past couple years. Enjoy that math because I’m not doing it.

Do you consider yourself a good rider?
I am competent on most days, and usually ride much better on horses I don’t own.

How experienced do you think someone needs to be to own a horse?
I don’t think experience is as important as being willing to learn and willing to allow a professional to help throughout ownership, including the buying process. How else do you get experience?

Have you ever gotten into a fight with your trainer?
Sure, with many of the trainers I have ridden with, although not often. You work closely with someone long enough in a difficult sport you might run into a snag here and there about something.

Describe your dream horse.
A healthy, sound one with a go button and good form over fences, Thoroughbred athleticism, and and a bomb-proof brain. Let me just go find $675,000 right quick …

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Does anyone in your family ride?
Currently just me, although my mom is also horse crazy. My aunt rode as a child, too. My Dad worked around horses as a teen but I am not sure how much he rode. My younger brother took lessons for a while, but it wasn’t for him.

If you could ride any horse in the world, which one would it be? why?
I may have a slight obsession with Kent Farrington’s Creedence right now. This answer changes almost monthly.