Tuesday, February 24, 2015

In which we prep for endurance season by stuffing our heads (and mouths)

One of the lovely things about the Green Bean movement is an upsurge of
interest in Endurance 101 clinics.

A good excuse to stay indoors in February:  learning!

Doctor Susan Garlinghouse led a two-day course of instruction last weekend at Griffinwood Stable in Olympia, WA.

Dr G talks a *lot* with her hands.
Here's one of the only pictures we took of her when
she doesn't appear to be Warding Off Attack Owls.

Unlike most of my more-informal Q-and-A clinics (which usually take place in the shade of somebody's rig the day before a ride), Dr G's sessions include Powerpoints and lots and lots of research, punctuated by hilarious stories and sharply pointed anecdotes of Things Gone Horribly Wrong.

Rapt audience: Brains On Fire
 We followed the brain workout with lots of Real-World Practice.

Mary K talks about crew bags and what she puts in them

Including a Practice Vet Check

Maria and Eve learn proper trot-out technique in a no-pressure environment

 and a Practice Ride!

A 3.5 mile loop, followed by a vetcheck and 20 minute hold,
and then a repeat of the 3.5 mile loop.

Some experienced riders escorted Green Bean horses and riders through the process.

Heading out: a nice quiet start line

Since we weren't keeping track of finish times and weren't giving "placings,"
we opted for a staggered start to keep the excitement down

Val and Sage returned quietly at the end of the loop, just as Dr. G taught!

Some riders borrowed horses so they could see the trail.

Eileen wanted to try riding a gaited horse, so Amy loaned out the beautiful Kate.
Bobbi's horse stayed home, so she took Duracell the stick pony out for a loop.
 Those of us without horses at the event practiced new roles and skills.

Santa Jim was the "ride manager" for the event, with me as assistant

Duana wanted to learn the use of her brand-new bright orange stethoscope.
Turns out that Rosemary isn't dead, but her heart isn't very loud.

Dr. G gave a tutorial on parts of the steth

Janice and Anne-Marie figure out how this pulsing thing works

Fashion is never an obstacle:  Patty got to be the timer for our event.

Endurance peeps are good at eating, and the food was plentiful!
HINT: Dr. G is a complete sucker for good eats.
If you want to lure her to your event, you might mention food.

It's rare to see Gretta out of the saddle, but she was an outstanding
helper-monkey on the ground all weekend!

When all the riders were back in camp, Duracell demonstrated the Best Condition exam.

Dr. G talked about the reasoning behind each part of the BC exam.

Duracell was deemed very sound.  The rider in the purple shirt, slightly less so.

Santa Jim launched his new business venture:

Selling stuff we all need

Closeup of the store.  His inventory includes copies of Endurance 101 and some
of Monica's Understory Shirts, as well as tiny flashlights that will wrap around
your tack, solar chargers for your phone, and brightly-colored stethoscopes.
 Stay tuned for news about Jim's wares available online.  We're still trying to figure out a name...any ideas?

At the end of the weekend, the riders were given completion awards.

A Useful Completion Award:
a tiny wrap-around flashlight with a custom logo applied.

On the way out the gate, one of the new riders told event organizer Anne-Marie that she "thought she could probably do this thing!"

Sweet words.  Sweet words indeed.

So, readers:  who wants a clinic?

Dr G and Anne-Marie and I are all on the AERC Education Committee, and we're determined to get new riders the information they want and need.  Send me a note or leave a comment.  We are paying attention!

And that is, of course, Good.

Monday, February 16, 2015

In which we enjoy the sunny weather and ignore the calendar

This is a skill that my kids still haven't mastered:
looking out the window instead of looking at the calendar.

Sunshine?  In February?

The horses don't bother checking the calendar: they are already ramping up for springtime!

Blurry, but still obviously Swamp Tulips.  EARLY this year!

The major equine spring celebration is called "Let's Be Bad Day."  

Fiddle celebrated that on Friday.  Sorry, no photos.  

Actually, I'm not a bit sorry.  

She was awful.  

Balking in the arena--balking!  I thought we'd given that up years ago, but on Let's Be Bad Day, all knuckleheaded behavior is green light.

I had to borrow a dressage whip.  I *never* need a whip with her.  Sigh.  She was really horrible.

I was able to get her moving forward again before the lesson ended, and then I took her home and gave her the Annual Terrible Clip Job.

Many local horses are shedding, but not Fee:"It's still winter in Canada!"
The haircut is not pretty, but it is functional.
The Dragon would like to remind the world that her barber went to Library School, not Beauty School.


When the Usual Suspects met up on Sunday morning in the sunshine, I was ready for the worst.

Springtime = Knucklehead Weather
I dug out my crop (buried in the tack box at home, I wasn't even sure I still owned one!) hooked it to the saddle, and got ready for Rotten Dragon.


She was fine.

A bit knuckleheaded at the very start of the ride, when the whole group headed out.  So, about a mile into it, I turned her away from the herd and we trotted !!alone!! back to the trailhead.

She caved, we moved forward, she was perfectly fine the rest of the day.  She even flirted with the trail crews we met.

"I'm pretty sure that guy will give me a cookie."
(He did.  I carry extras so people we meet can give the Dragon a treat.)

Not everybody was good, though.

Hana and Griffin were busily celebrating Let's Be Bad Day.  Casanova and Ariana celebrated a bit, but they got over it pretty fast.

Sunshine makes us all smile...but I think Griffin
is still considering badness in this photo...

Flower and Fee claimed to be ready for summer.  No more badness for them!


Unconvinced, I took my Dragon out solo today for a nice long double-loop.

I brought the whip again, clipped to the saddle.
It stayed clipped there the whole time.

I dropped her bit after about twenty minutes.  Not a problem.
Fiddle was convinced that we would eventually catch up with Lori and Mel, who had left the trailhead 10 minutes before us, but finally gave it up and enjoyed the day without them..

You see a clearcut.  I see acres and acres of mounting blocks.
 Lori and Mel must have taken a different track, because we never did see them again.

In fact, we didn't see anybody else out there until we were almost back at the trailer.

It was just the Dragon and me

and the sunshine and the blue sky.

Our track.  About 16 miles in about 2.5hours, in beautiful sunshine!
(I forgot to turn off the timer when I got back to the trailer)

Who needs Let's Be Bad Day?

We had Let's Be Happy Day, instead.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

In which we tear stuff down and the rainy weather doesn't help us much

Here's the overhead photo of Haiku Farm, taken before we moved in.

I added these captions in 2009.  Oh, such plans!

Here's the overhead photo from 2014

Captions show the changes we've made since moving here

A farm is always a work in progress, and Haiku Farm is no exception.  In the nearly !!six!! years we have been here, we've gradually torn out some ratty outbuildings and gradually built up more useful stuff, like the barn, and the garden.

The latest demolition wasn't something I would've chosen to do in February.  We weren't given a choice, really:

Too much gravity.

This shed's roof caved in before Christmas.  The insurance people told us that not only did they not intend to cover the collapse, they wanted proof that we had repaired or demolished the building ourselves...or they would cancel the homeowner's insurance on the entire property.

>>many paragraphs of unfriendly words deleted<<

>>I'm still thinking unfriendly words, though<<

Jim and his Sawzall.  It's a beautiful thing.
We did what we always do in times of distress:

Jim and Jason with saws and ropes...and rain

 We called upon our friends for help.

And because our friends are wonderful people

The wall comes tumbling down

 they showed up

Take a chunk of wall, and throw it on the dump-trailer!

in the pouring rain, in February

Wall #1 gone, we begin cutting apart Wall #2

and helped us tear down the shed.

The Usual Suspects, wet and filthy, but triumphant

Photo for comparison:  the Usual Suspects
at the PNER Convention last weekend

 Just when we were really feeling wet and sorry for ourselves, the neighbors showed up!

We met these boys the first day we moved here. They have grown taller and
more handsome since then, but they are still just as lovely

 And they finished the job!

The boys pulled down the white interior wall that was covering up an
old exterior wall--the collapsed part of the shed was added
to the original building by the farm's prior owners

 And then

Homemade veggie chili!

We ate.

That's how we do things here.

It's not always fun.  It's not always warm and dry.

But (with help from our friends and neighbors) it's Good.