Winter Eli and Work Pants

When I have been able to ride Eli, he has been tense and reactive. Although to be honest, it’s mostly from not being able to ride him very much due to, you guessed it, weather and work. This is typical Winter Eli.

Yesterday evening, Winter Eli was in full force. The drizzle wasn’t helping. Started off very fresh but okay. I even said “rideable.” Spoke too soon. Another horse came up the hill into the arena. Which he spooked at. He kept spooking. When I asked for a canter again, I am not sure how to describe the reaction I got, other than hopping and flailing. It wasn’t a canter, either way. Then, from a halt, he did a rear-y, leap-y move. I gave up. He had to still work, but I couldn’t even be a human longe line this time. At least not safely, I don’t think.

I went back down to the barn to get a longe line from my tack trunk, knowing full well Eli is not the best horse to put on a longe line, but he clearly need to let off some of this radioactive steam. As we were walking back up the hill to the arena, he spooked again, almost jumping on top of me. What spooked him? A horse landing off of a jump. He’s not always very bright.

not slow-witted, just … prone to panic attacks?

But by some miracle, Eli seems to have absorbed our brief and sporadic ground work in the round pen and was actually listening to my voice, instead of taking off on the line whilst kicking out and squealing. Huge trot, but he was not ignoring me. I was happily shocked. Then I asked for canter — there were many bucks and bursts of energy, but he did come back down to a walk after that. We did some walking and trotting on the line the other direction, and he was extremely polite about it.

Poor guy just had too much extra energy, and no small amount of stiffness, especially in his lumbar region. I got back on and finished with a mostly civilized right lead canter. Eli felt much less tense.

Even though it was, on its face, not the best ride we’ve had, I felt so proud of Eli last night. I thought for sure he’d take off and flatten out so fast that he’d slip and fall, as he has done at least twice before on the longe line. But he was listening to me. Bucking, yes, but he needed to. He wasn’t just panicking. I gave him an apple and many treats after that. He liked the Stud Muffins so much I bought the 90oz bag and have since subscribed to it on Amazon. Is it weird to be proud of a horse not freaking out on a longe line? Yes. I have used that as a tool with many other horses without incident. It’s nice to know maybe Eli can be counted in that group now.

We’ll be much happier in warmer weather, though.

As a completely non sequitur aside, I think I may have found the most comfortable work pants ever. Any of you with desk jobs, I am telling you, it’s like I am wearing pajama pants but they look like work pants. And they have pockets!

Being an Amazon addict, that is where I found them.

The Bamans yoga work pants, under $25, still look professional, and POCKETS. I could sleep in these. For reference, I wear a women’s US size 6 in pants, and based on the brand’s size chart, I got the large for a good fit — not too tight but still fitted. They are very stretchy, so there is definitely room to go down a size, but then I thought they’d look too much like yoga pants to wear to work. They hit right at my ankle bone, and I am 5’6″. I am going to need a grey pair next, I think.

 

Holiday Reading List

Not so strangely enough, I am an avid reader. However, I do SO MUCH reading at work that pleasure reading has been winnowed down to reading half a page in bed before passing out and losing my place.

But then I had SEVEN days off in a row! Don’t worry, I still haven’t finished anything I am reading right now and this list is only a small selection of what’s sitting in stacks on end tables that I pick through whenever I get a chance.

Tik Maynard, In the Middle are the Horsemen

If you ride horses and you haven’t started reading this one yet, you are missing out. The engaging narrative starts with how this guy’s journey into exploring all aspects of horsemanship got started and goes from there. I am still reading, so I can’t possibly provide you with spoilers, but so far it’s my top horse book of 2018.

James Comey, A Higher Loyalty

In some part due to my employment, I rarely if ever seek out politically-motivated nonfiction. I mean … I am surrounded by it. But this particular title piques my interest. I think the Comey firing that could have been scandal enough for a year, let alone a week, turned out to be merely a prelude to bigger and weirder and more confounding … actions … of the current White House. Comey’s writing is clear and it’s not so much about the current leader of the free world as it is about approaches to leadership and civic duty that work, versus those that don’t.

Clermont

On to my favorite type of fiction ever! Gothic. There are SO MANY titles I could recommend if you are at all interested in Gothic literature, particularly from the late eighteenth century through the Victorian Era. I have been wending my way through the “horrid” novels mentioned in a conversation between Isabella Thorpe and Catherine Morland in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. Which is also good. I am not much of a Jane Austen fan (team Brontรซ over here) but she satirizes Gothic fiction extremely well. Anyway, back to Clermont … it has all the classic elements of a Gothic tale: abandoned castle ruins, innocent young lady, curiously handsome, dark stranger …. yes, I know, it BEGS satirization. And I LOVE it. The writing is overwrought, as is often the case in Gothic fiction. I can’t get enough of it.

The New Annotated Frankenstein

Here’s one I got for Christmas. Could not be a more spot-on gift. Frankenstein IS my favorite book. It provides endless literary facets to explore. I’ve read it, both the 1818 (which is the currently in-vogue version with scholars and my preference) and the 1831 revision, many times. I have read all kinds of derivative works on it. I have studied with glee Byron’s “ghost story challenge” that spawned the novel. As epistolary novels go, it is one of the topmost influential examples in the English language. I cannot wait to pore over this book during my four-day weekend!

Did you get to do any reading over the holidays? Horse books? Great fiction? Anything for political or news junkies?

Thankful for …

Food. And a lot of it! Not going to lie, I over-ate for the entire long weekend. I have no regrets.

But mostly I am thankful that this turkey did not seem to do additional damage after his unplanned escape from the round pen. I am sure he will find more creative ways to ding himself, but maybe not for a few weeks? Maybe?

 

Lock Out

On Friday, it was barn vaccination day, so the horses were not ridden. I took Eli on a hand walk. I don’t think he minded just grooming and grazing. On Saturday, all of the horses had a bit of that post-vaccination malaise. I walked Eli under saddle and trotted a few steps to see how he felt after his chiropractic adjustment that morning. Maybe right after vaccination wasn’t an ideal time to test that out, but he felt good to me.

On Sunday, I joined the Sunday group lesson for the first part of it, before I had to duck out and get somewhere else on time. (I asked the trainer in advance that this would be okay. I do not recommend attending a lesson and then just quitting in the middle unannounced!). It’s a fun group to ride in. The horses all seemed recovered from the vaccinations and Eli had plenty of extra energy. My right hamstring seems to be a bit sore, I suspect from holding a prolonged 2-point. So I guess I better practice in the 2-point a bit more on the flat …

After I left the barn, I stopped to get gas with plenty of time to get to my next destination on time. One of the things I automatically do while pumping gas (without getting into the feminist optics of this right now) is to open my driver side door and then relock the car, with my driver side door open — my gas cap is also on the driver side. However, a trash can by the gas pump had some bees flying around it and without thinking I partially shut my driver side door so that a bee wouldn’t fly in my car. I shut it a little too far and it locked. EVERYTHING was in my car — keys, phone, etc …

My first brain went to, Oh I’ll just make a collect call on a pay phone … obviously my second brain overruled that idiocy. That was a great idea in 1998, but not today. I have roadside assistance through my auto insurance that offers no out-of-pocket lock out service, so I knew I could do that … as soon as I could get to a smartphone that I could hang on to for a while to request assistance. I went into the gas station store and asked if I could borrow a phone. Luckily, the guy was understaning and I called in reinforcements (hi, Mom!) to bring me a smartphone so I could look up what number to call and then receive texts confirming my location and that someone was coming.

Which was interesting. I got a confirmation text at 12:30pm saying that help would get to me by 1:00pm. Annoying, but probably the best service I could get on a Sunday. I could check the status of the claim on the phone via a link in the text message …

Please note the times …

Again, I wasn’t stuck in a wormhole, so I thought this was pretty effed up.

FINALLY, after the insurance contacted me after I replied “N”, no one has come to help me, a Pop-A-Lock guy from a nearby neighborhood was able to get to me in like 15 minutes. Why they didn’t send that guy initally, I don’t know. I forgot to screenshot the map of the first service request, and they were trying to send a guy who was 30 miles away – basically almost 2 counties over. WTF. The entire experience was a little too automated for me: my insurance contracts with a roadside assistance service provider, who then contracts with local businesses. I would have just called Pop-A-Lock myself, but as I said before, if I go through my insurance’s roadside assistance there is no out-of-pocket. (Incidentally, something very similar happened with this same roadside assitance when I had a flat tire a while ago. I may draft an angry letter soon …)

Ultimately I was late to where I was supposed to be, but the day wasn’t a total wash from the delay, and I still got to see kiddos dressing up ponies for Halloween.

I promise to return to more horsey content tomorrow.

Can’t Stop Scrolling

Admittedly, I am an Instagram addict. I find all kinds of worthwhile things via Instagram. Some of what’s caught my eye this week …

 

An all navy Palo Alto long sleeve top? Um. Yes. This post even makes me want to wear white breeches just for fun. Weird.

I avidly follow Scott Brash. He even posts endearingly cute barn videos of his horses playing with muck rakes and such. But I have a conundrum … I like Scott Brash but I dislike clowns and he just used the clown emoji so now I’m conflicted.

I haven’t googled the hashtag and I have no idea why this picture exists but I think my life is markedly better for it. And I know I have said this before, but Leonardo DiCaprio is literally trying to save the world. His foundation’s Instagram is pretty badass, too.

It’s weird to me, how much I enjoy Elon Musk’s Instagram posts. He comes off as a regular guy who is just really into his job. His job being the future.

Holy beaded belt.

And last, if you haven’t ordered from breeches.com yet, you get 15% off your first order with coupon code SAS15P!

Weekend Project: Cleaning out the Storage

The weekend kicked off with Italian food at a local chain, Mandola’s. I hadn’t realized it was a similar set up to La Madeleine, where you wait in line to order and get a number. The restaurant was very family-oriented, too. I can recommend the food, but not the atmosphere if you prefer a more adult-friendly environment. The gelato was worth the effort, though.

Eli standing there all pathetic while awesome forelock horse is like, where is my person?

I also had a good lesson on Saturday morning (dare I say I am finally getting the hang of the hunter ride?). And I rode another horse for a working student who is out of town. He has quite the personality under saddle, and I think he should totally donate some of his forelock to Eli.

This is after removal of a dozen or so boxes

But on to the focus of the weekend: cleaning out the storage unit. De-stuffing. I have more kitchen stuff than I know what to do with in storage, although a lot of it will replace some older kitchen stuff and that stuff will be given to another family member or Goodwill. I also have a ton of office stuff and horse stuff that I will have to go through. My plan with the horse stuff is to take it to the barn and let the trainers and boarders pick through it, sell whatever’s left over, and keep a few items tucked away at my house somewhere. I also might try to sell my old Bruno Delgrange saddle in AS-IS condition for next to nothing, as I doubt I will ever get around to replacing the seat and panels. The tree is sound, at least.

I know I have a ton of strap goods in storage, some saddle pads … petal bell boots, a few blankets … halters with nameplates I might keep, lead ropes, tack hooks, stretchy cross-ties … I also found some 1″ POW spurs that I can’t imagine I’d ever need for Eli. I won some Millbrook spur covers in an IG contest though! Had to call in reinforcements (I.e., Amanda) trying to figure out how to get them on …

In storage, I have an actual stereo with actual speakers, too, and I have no idea what to do with that, other than give it away. Do people even have stereo systems any more?

Missed It Monday

I had plans to ride Eli last night … until a dump truck spilled its load across I-35 … right at the exit I take to get to the barn …

While this is beyond my control, it does not alleviate the guilt I feel when I can’t get out to see Eli, whether to ride or not. I get sucked into the rabbit hole of anthropomorphism, literally worrying that Eli will worry that I won’t come back. He nickers loudly at me every time I walk in the barn in the evenings, fully expecting me to pull him out of his stall as soon as he sees me. Which I usually do. And so I think he must feel disappointed if I don’t show up … which is actually really vain and idiotic, but I am human and humans are vain and idiotic.

Probably enjoyed his day off

I also have this same experience with Conrad, as I leave for work every day.

How do I explain he gets his favorite treats because I pay for them?

All I can do is reassure them both I am going to keep showing up! Perhaps they understand.

High Winds

Eli schooled lightly but very well over fences on Friday evening. As it turned out, it was a good thing I jumped him then, because Saturday, while sunny and bright, was too windy to jump anything. I had trouble just trying to trot. We had sustained winds out of the north at 25-30mph with gusts to 50mph and greater. Eli and I wound up just strolling around in the wildflowers at a walk. He never seems to mind wind, although on Saturday he did have a bit of a snorting fit when we first started walking around, but with that much wind and dust and dry air I can hardly blame him for it.

portrait from patentlybay on Vimeo.

Sunday was a much nicer day and I spent the day working outside until 5 or so, then drove out to get Eli some grazing time.

The weekend was not a total waste — a good friend was in town on business and we went to Lamberts Sunday night. If you ever visit Austin, I definitely recommend checking out Lamberts–as long as you like meat. Don’t bother going if you don’t eat meat, though. I don’t think there would much on the menu for you.

And that’s just the bar menu, where this friend and I prefer to eat while there. There is a lot more meat on the full menu.

Hopefully this evening will be less windy and I can have a decent flat work session on Eli!

Eating Habits

This is a check in for me, and my horse, and actually my dog, too! So a little while back, I decided I needed to stop eating so much crap. Right around the same time, Eli decided to change his diet, too. And of course Conrad’s appetite has improved since he had his teeth cleaned.

20180308_1528462089966990.jpg

First, me: I haven’t had a doughnut recently, I am no longer eating a metric tonne of peanut M&Ms daily, and I am consuming worthwhile calories at breakfast instead of granola-bar-type products that are just basically a bunch of sugar anyway. Two thumbs up to Soylent’s Cacao and Chai flavors. I have always struggled with eating solid food in the mornings, and these are a nice alternative. I am still drinking a gallon of coffee. That will never, ever change. My clothes all still fit, so I guess I am on the right track. Although, I probably did not need to eat grilled cheese for lunch twice this week.

Eli: He’s eating normally again. I think I did due diligence here to rule out any teeth issues. He likes the barn grain now, apparently. He can have it! My wallet likes it, too. He is also eating a lot of hay. I think he might even be putting on a little more weight. I was worried he would drop weight but it doesn’t look that way at all right now.

Conrad: After Conrad had his teeth cleaned and two more incisors extracted, he has been eating really, really well. He wasn’t eating poorly before, just slowly and with less enthusiasm than what he is showing now. He is gobbling his breakfast and loves chewing up a little Milkbone after. I think next year for his dental, I might consider asking the vet about cleaning twice a year instead of just once a year.

So, that’s about it. Maybe in another month or so my pants won’t feel quite so snug, ha!