Tuesday, April 24, 2007

On the Road Again

I'm in Santa Clara, at the MySQL Conference, working our booth, helping to provide an O'Reilly presence at the show.

Actually, now I'm back in my room, nursing sore feet and and an aching knee, and really enjoying watching my screen-saver rotate through my pictures. I see images of Lena, shots of Katie and Steve and Adrienne, and even some of the Mustang (Wanda, if you forgot) and Gus (the truck, of course).

It makes me realize exactly what's precious and important to me, and that's pretty cool.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Our neighbor Chris has a really sweet yellow lab named Christy. She sometimes slips her electronic fence and comes to visit and today we're dog-sitting because Chris is in the City.

So far, Christy has worn both Adrienne and Katie out, learned how to play tug-of-war, tumbled down the stairs, and tried some steak.

She's a big bundle of energy and a lot of fun. All in all, a great dog to borrow.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Cool Dressage Video

I admit it, I have never really seen Dressage in action. I had seen still shots of Katie D. and Fenway working and heard the passion in her voice when she talked about the way Fenway could move, but mostly the skill and beauty of the sport eluded me.

I also admit to a certain amount of bias based on our earlier experiences at the Dressage-focused barn.

Then my daughter Katie sent me this video.


This horse is not only graceful and athletic, she is having fun - as is her rider.

Katie D. is working really hard to get Fenway healthy and also thinking about another horse. I confess to not really understanding the competitive drive she felt, but watching this video, I start to see. I know the joy I feel when Lena and I manage to not only communicate with one another, but actually do something we both enjoy. I see now what Katie misses about riding Fenway, about competing, about working with that level of precision with your friend the horse.

I wish for Fenway to be healthy and happy, and I wish for Katie to find that joy in riding again.

I have a lot of joy riding Lena, though not much precision. :-) My daughter wants to know if Lena could learn some of those moves. I'm sure she could, I'm even sure she would enjoy learning them. I'm just not sure we're the ones to teach them to her - we'd need a lot more training ourselves, first!

Horse Body Work - Lessons

I started an equine massage and acupressure class this semester at the JC, taught by Diana Thompson a local celebrity in the horse community.

You know by now I'm a little obsessive about learning more about horses and being a horse owner, so this would be an obvious next step for me in my weird and wild horse education.

I really like the theories behind Eastern medicine, in particular the ideas behind Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Maintaining a balance in mind and spirit to optimize your health makes a lot of sense for humans, and as kooky as it may sound, for horses, too.

The first thing I am working on with Lena are the five calming points, for obvious reasons. I actually think they make a difference, though we're still getting her used to relaxing into that calmer space.

The flow of energy through the body, indeed through the universe, seems like an interesting way to look at a horse. And at my own body, which for all its comparative smallness, isn't that different.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Horse Lessons

I learned two things today: one, my horse notices me and my actions, and two, you can tell when a horse is proud of itself.

Okay, so the first one I re-learned with a twist today.

Katie was riding and Lena was acting up a little, not relaxing into the arena work and giving Katie a little trouble. I was standing up and taking pictures at first, then just watching, arms crossed over my chest, as Lena and Katie rode around the arena. Lena kept looking over at me, often while fighting Katie for the bit or doing some other Lena-dance.

So I sat down, leaned back, and stopped watching.

Lena's head went down and she started behaving better almost immediately. "Huh," I said, and stood up again. Up went the head, faster went the feet. "Huh," I said again, and sat down, this time for good, letting Katie finish her turn in the saddle without me watching, hovering, making suggestions on hand position, or even taking pictures.

Then I rode for a little while, concentrating on my position and soft hands, before we took her out on the road to the orchard and bike trail where we encountered lesson number two of the day.

We got through the orchard fine, though she really doesn't like the dogs barking at her, and went out the bike trail quite a ways. I had been out there before with her and gotten her across - leading, not riding - one bridge that isn't only loud for hooves to stomp on, but it vibrates for some reason. We got her across that bridge, then wandered down an unpaved section until we came to a much longer, though less vibrating, bridge. I led her here, too, with Katie encouraging her from the saddle, and we went about half-way across before we turned around to go back to the barn.

When we got off the bridge and Katie and I were lavishing praise on Lena, I looked up into those big brown eyes and darned if that horse didn't look proud of herself! She even relaxed a little more and settled into our trip back, much less nervous in the orchard and on the road and strutting along like she knew she'd done a great job. Which she did.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Trailer has a name!

I forgot! Despite Katie's assertions that the trailer doesn't need a name, Steve named her. Cecelia.

Gus and Cecelia do a fine job of hauling the Spotty Horse.

And, yes, I get the Simon and Garfunkle song stuck in my head on a regular basis.

Easter Sunday Trail Ride

We took Lena out to the same place we went the first time - mainly because it's an easy enough walk for the person not riding, which was good for the gimpy one in the group.

She was not, however, as well behaved as she has been previously. There was much dancing and prancing and trying to turn around and go back the other way.

On our way out, we ran into Diana Thompson, the instructor of the Equine Massage and Accupressure class I'm taking this semester at the JC. She even did a little accupressure on the dancing horse, which did help somewhat, but it's hard for an only horse some days. And today, it was really hard. There were two other groups of two riders and horses each, and Lena seemed to think that perhaps she was missing out on something.

At one point we had to have a discussion about how scary a log is. She went over and sniffed it, it moved, she spooked. So I went over and wiggled the log for her benefit. As you can see, she was not necessarily impressed.

It was not the smoothest ride ever for either Steve or me - and Adrienne came along as the photographer and assistant hiker - but by the end, Lena did manage to calm down a little. A little.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

More pictures from the beach

Just because she was so good and so cute!

This is Katie trying to convince her to get closer to the water:

And this is me attempting it:

My knee better not get in the way of our next adventure, that's all I have to say.

People injuries

The other day, Lena got my foot really good. It's still black and blue. Dancing with horses means you always have two left feet and it's best to stay out of their way because they have four.

Then this morning, I managed to sprain my knee in a most unglorious way - I slipped getting into the tub. My left foot slid, my right ankle caught the edge of the tub and what appears to have given is a ligament on the inside of my right knee.

So not only do I feel like a dork, it's not even a particularly good story!

It does hurt a lot, though, and of course my real concern is whether or not it will affect my riding. I don't have to mount with my right leg, so that's good. It only really hurts with lateral pressure, so if I don't move it side to side, I should be okay.

I'm not a particularly good patient in any case - ask Steve and Katie - but if this interferes with my Lena time, I am going to be one grumpy buckaroo.