Monday, December 17, 2012

Angels

The holidays are almost upon us.  I have three nieces and two nephews, all in the same family.  About 5 years ago, I stopped buying Christmas presents for them.   I was disillusioned and disappointed with the "gimme, gimme" attitude that they had; they had lost the meaning of Christmas, in my mind.   Instead, I starting sponsoring an animal on their behalf.  Each year I pick out a needy cat, dog or horse at a shelter or rescue and with the help of staff, get a picture and the story of how the dog/cat/horse ended up at the shelter.  Sometimes these animals are strays, sometimes their human has passed away, sometimes they have been taken from a bad situation.   I print and frame the picture and story, wrap it up and give it to my nieces and nephews.  Delightfully, they actually get quite excited to learn who "they" have helped and after checking it out, the framed picture and story is placed on the bookcase for future reference.  This year the sponsorship will go towards helping some rescued dogs that have medical issues.

There is no doubt in my mind that this simple gift has made a difference on how my nieces and nephews view other living beings and perhaps makes them think about how their actions can affect others.  Each one of them has an affinity to animals and my hope is that they will pay it forward.

In addition to supporting my local shelter, here are some of my favourite animal donation sites. 

Circle of Hope Canine Rescue - This rescue group deals with the horrific over-crowding/high kill situations in rural Tennessee.  And, just when you can't get any worse, it does. Yet, this group continues to work through it.   Personally, I don't know how they keep going;  these dedicated people must be angels.  They have also opened a New England branch. 

Hopeful Hearts takes in and re-homes palliative care and senior dogs from Ontario, Nunavut, Quebec and occasionally the U.S. that are high risk at shelters because they are not considered "adoptable". 

RR Refuge is a sanctuary for horses, located in Ontario.  Some of these horses are loving retired, others come from sad and bad situations.  RR Refuge provides them with a peaceful environment where they can just be horses. 

The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition works towards ending horse slaughter in Canada and having laws changed to protect horses, whether they are domestic or wild.  They have an adopter rebate program and an euthanasia assistance program, where qualified applicants are eligible to receive $150 toward the cost of euthanasia performed by a vet; a much kinder solution than sending a horse to slaughter, in my mind. 

Sophie's Dog Adoption - Quebec is home to Canada's largest number of puppy mills because of poor legislation and law enforcement of commercial dog breeding operations.  Puppy mills in this province ship puppies across Canada.  In addition, Quebec shelters have a very high kill rate.  Sophie is a force to be reckoned with!  She continues to fight "city hall" and the Quebec provincial government to get laws changed and she protects those dogs in dire need.

Project Coyote - Coyotes play a very important part in keeping nature in balance.  In the U.S. it's estimated that 500,000 coyotes are killed each year by ranchers, trappers and government-funded programs.  These animals die grisly deaths - neck snares, traps, aerial shooting, hounding and canned kills, to name a few.   Project Coyote's mission is to work towards co-existence, through education, consultation and community outreach programs.

The Animal Alliance of Canada's focus is to protect all animals and promote a strong relationship between humans, animals and the environment.  This means that provincial and federal laws need to change and this group tirelessly works at achieving that goal.

I am grateful for those who take on these tremendous challenges.  Every single day they work in the trenches, trying to make it better for those that cannot speak.   They work towards making the world a softer, kinder place.  At this time of year in particular, it's nice to remember that there are angels amongst us.  :-)

Have a great week, everyone!




Friday, December 7, 2012

Going Straight

I have just completed 4 regular group lessons.  It's been 5 months since I was in regular lessons.  I admit that initially I was nervous!  Yes, I have had some private lessons over the last couple of months, but for some reason I was a bit shy about riding in front of my two classmates, particularly nervous classmate.  I worried about how my performance would be judged by these two riders.  Had I improved over the last few months?  Could they see how Gem has improved since his boot camp?  Am I doing the hard work LA put into Gem's boot camp justice?  And, to be honest, I was also a little apprehensive about loping.  I hadn't really done any loping for months!  Yikes! 

I still need to work on his flexibility, but heck I need to work on mine, too!  What I really need to work back up is my endurance - after 5 months of no regular lessons, it sucks!  :-)   Our transitions have been pretty smooth; walk, jog, posting trot, changing diagonal.  I know that we are doing well by the look on nervous classmate's face (pinched) and her lack of eye contact with me.  :-)   LA's encouraging comments have been a bonus.   Posting trot over poles last week?  No problemo!  LA said that Gem and I got a "gold star" for our efforts.  Loping?..... It wasn't perfect, but it felt sooooo much better than pre-boot camp! 

You know what has been one of the biggest challenges for me?  Walking a straight line....and I don't mean after I've had a couple of vodka sodas!  :-)   Now some of you out there might think that walking a straight line isn't really that difficult.  Well, I beg to differ.  When you and your trusty steed are moseying along the perimeter of a field, you think you are walking a straight line.  In fact, the path in front of you looks straight, so you must be walking straight, right?  It isn't until you are in a confined area, picking a letter on the wall to walk towards that you realize that you aren't walking a straight line.   You sway, you drift, you sway, you drift a bit more.  You want to start nudging the bit a little or use your legs to keep your horse straight.....

LA wants me to walk a straight line with my hands and legs in neutral!   This exercise is to build trust and promote communication;  Gem has to learn to wait for me to make the decisions.  He is not allowed to decide where we are going because that's my job.  So, unless I tell him otherwise, he should walk straight ahead until I tell him to stop.  I guess this is how cowboys were able to sleep in the saddle while their horses continued moving forward - point and go.  :-)

Little drifts are not bad as long as he comes back to "centre" and ends up at the designated spot or letter.  A BIG mistake is when he drifts way off course, in affect making the decision on where the two of us are going.   When he makes a BIG mistake, I have to correct by turning him in a small circle a couple of times in the opposite direction of where he was going and start again. 

It is really hard for me to let him make a BIG mistake.   I have a tendency to micro-manage Gem; I fiddle with the reins or my legs to keep him straight.  I start to see him drift and I immediately want to correct it by putting my leg on.   It takes everything out of me to be in neutral and not correct!  It feels like when you are talking to a complete stranger and they have a piece of lint on their sweater and you have this uncontrollable urge to reach out and just pick it off! 

We have been practicing and I am happy to report that our straight lines are much, much better.  In fact, more often than not, Gem will walk to the designated letter and continue walking until his forehead is touching the wall.  :-)  During this week's lesson, he was a little bit of a brat.  However, when it came to walking or jogging a straight line from one end of the arena to the other, he was great.   In fact, it was probably the best example to-date of our straightness.  What an easy way to build confidence and promote communication. Next:  Incorporating nice sharp neck-reining turns with walking straight lines.  :-)

 Enjoy your horses and have a great weekend, everybody!






Monday, November 26, 2012

Trail Mix

I hope my U.S. blogger friends enjoyed a lovely Thanksgiving!

Well, Gem and I are back in weekly lessons.  So far, so good!  I think we both needed a break from the running around in circles routine.   I feel so much better about my riding!  I think this year is going to be our year.  :-)

The weird weather of late has made the terrain for our trail rides interesting....lots of mud one day and completely dry the next.   High winds have ripped all remaining leaves from the trees, changing how everything looks.  Some large branches and a tree have fallen in the forest, forcing a change in the route we normally would take.  Gem and I now regularly lead the trail rides.  His strides are so much larger than the other horses, I would always be adjusting his speed and in spite of that, he would end up with his nose where it shouldn't be.  :-)  It's more relaxed with him leading.

The Sunday before last was a gorgeous day.   A few others joined DH's Mom and I out on the trails.  It was muddy!  I will say that my anxiety level raised a bit when I saw just how muddy it was in places.  But, I took deep breaths and focused on where we were going.  Gem was great.  I am not going to say that he didn't try to go into the shrubs to avoid the mud, but I did gently restrict him from going too wide around the mud. :-)  He and I have got to learn to deal with the dreaded mud, right?

DH's Mom and I were leading the group, with DH in front of Gem and the others quite a ways back, gabbing.  Gem, DH and I saw the mature buck at the same time - if my ears could have stood forward and erect, they would have!  :-)  The buck bounded across the trail in front of us.   As he did, DH and Gem did a little tuck of their butts and stopped; equivalent to a little teensy tiny sliding stop kind of motion, I'd say.   DH's Mom, who did not see the buck, turned around and asked me what DH slipped on!   The buck stood a little ways away from us, watching.  He was so well camouflaged, that only one of the others in our group could see him!  I was very thankful that neither DH, Gem or I freaked out.  :-)

That same ride, we met up with a few of the young ladies on their horses playing tag in the field.  Gem and I were leading and coming up to the opening of another field when all of a sudden I heard thundering hooves coming up from behind me.  One of the young ladies horses appeared to my right about 30 feet away at a gallop and jumped over a crumpled portion of the rock wall to join the herd at the feeding station.  I could feel Gem start to power up.  You know what I did??  I actually sat back in my seat, created a slight tension on the reins and told him "easy".  I then turned him towards the wall bordering the golf course, did a 1/2 circle and walked back to my group.  I was so pleased with myself!!  Apparently, one of the young ladies was riding bareback and decided she had had enough; she dismounted, pulled the headstall off and then smacked her horse's butt with one of the reins to get her to move.  WTH?!  Geez.  Apparently, Gem wasn't the only horse that reacted to the crazy galloping.  DH's Mom explained to me later that when a horse takes off like that, other horses interpret it as danger and that they should run, too.  I am glad that Gem didn't.  :-)


Gem eating my helmet after our ride.
Yesterday was windy and bitter cold. I wore my winter jacket and tights for the first time.  We decided to go through the "swamp" for something different because it appeared frozen.  Well a lot of it was, but there were big patches that had frozen mud on top, but mush underneath. Gulp.  Again, I took deep breaths...and, at DH's Mom's suggestion, I hummed....a lot!  Gem led us, cracking through ice and sinking up over his hooves.  I tried hard to concentrate on what trail we would take next and not the sucking noises as hooves were pulled out of the black goo.  While the other horses were having issues with the ice and mud and had to be kept calm, Gem was pretty darn good!   And, frankly, so was I!  In fact, we stopped to give the others a chance to get it together and he stood in mud eating some remnant leaves off of trees!  Yay!  DH's Mom congratulated Gem on being the only horse that remained fairly calm during this episode and me for not screaming like a girl.  :-)  A little further on the trails, Gem stopped, ears forward.  Two Bambi deer bounded out of the bushes in front of us, white tails flashing.   Gem watched them for a few seconds as they made their way deeper into the bush and then he walked on.  No fuss.  Whew!

These experiences over the last couple of weeks have helped me realize how trustworthy Gem is.   Instead of approaching trail riding as an accident waiting to happen, I have started to relax.   Each time he reacts in a sane way to a "different" situation, my confidence grows in him....and in me.  I like it!!  My goal of loping in the small field and perhaps going out on my own is within reach....I can feel it!  :-)

 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Twelve!

 Hope my blogger friends on the east coast have not been impacted too much by Sandy and that everyone is safe!

                                             * * * * *

I can't believe how time has flown.  My beautiful boy turned 12 on October 17th.   We have been partners for over 3 years now.  This past weekend, I hosted his annual birthday trail ride.  Seven brave souls rode in some rather nasty weather (Sandy was just starting to make her presence known to us).  It was cold and raining, with high winds at times, but the weather did not dampen our spirits.  I did wear my Confidence Vest over my 3 layers of clothing, topped by my waterproof windbreaker.  I looked like the Michelin Man.  :-)    I love my windbreaker....it has two pull tabs.  Once you zip it up you can unzip it from the bottom, allowing the bottom of the jacket to spread out around you so that when you are sitting the jacket doesn't end up all bunched up around your midriff.  


Adjusting my reins.  Doesn't the birthday boy look great?!

 The horses have lost their shiny sleek summer coats.  Gem's velvety winter coat is coming in nicely.  At this point though, it doesn't seem as fuzzy as last year and I wonder, based on our drought conditions this past summer, if that is a sign that our winter is going to be mild.

We mostly just poked along, gabbing.  There was the occasional trot through some of the wider paths in the old orchard.  Now that I am not micro-managing Gem (as much!) out on the trails and learning to let him do his job, he is more relaxed and is enjoying the trails more.   I have had time to really observe Gem and have found out some cool stuff about my boy.

  • I have found out that he actually like to be up front, leading if he can.  This does not surprise me.  When he has been tried out with the herd, he becomes quite dominate.  He likes to be the leader.....and perhaps have a job?  He's OK if someone is in front of him, although I do have to keep him in check from pushing them and walking right up their butt.  The only horse that he is really comfortable with having in front of him is DH, who is the boss of him when they are turned out together.

Gem and I leading the others to the next field.
  • He is quite content walking, which he does with purpose.  I swear he could walk forever, which is characteristic of his breed.  He never seems to tire.  Sometimes we end up ahead of everyone else because his strides are so much bigger.  :-)   
  • He really likes to look around.  With having a tight grip on the reins all the time in the past, I guess he really didn't have a chance to see what was going.  Now he takes an interest in his surroundings and I like seeing his ears perk up.   He does not spook when a chipmunk or squirrel run in front of him.   Wild turkeys?  Doesn't bat an eye.   I think he likes the forest.  I find it fascinating how acute his hearing and sight are.  He heard a horse from the herd in the forest minutes before we actually came upon him.  I am not sure why, but he particularly likes watching the golfers play through or drive around on their carts on the course next to LA's property.   
In the forest, golf course on the left and DH in front of us.
  • He's getting way better in mud!  In fact, I am the one that has to learn to calm down.  :-)  DH's Mom has reminded me to hum when she sees me start to tense up.
At one point during the trail ride, my friends decided to lope across a field.  I knew this was eventually going to happen (hence the Confidence Vest) and my anxiety shot up through the roof.  Every time I have fallen off, it's been out on the trails at a lope.  I held back.  One of the young ladies asked if I needed her to stay with me  (God bless her!)...yes, please!  
Gem started to get a bit antsy obviously, seeing everyone take off in front of him.  I did my best to calm him and get my heart rate down.  :-)  In retrospect, what I should have done was walk him in small circles to get his brain back instead of trying to make him wait.  The young lady's horse got just a bit too familiar with Gem and he bucked.  It was a straight up and down buck.  Luckily, I had my free hand positioned palm down on the horn instead of gripping it.  LA told me about this little trick.  With your palm on top of the horn, you simply push down on the horn to help keep your balance in the saddle.  If you position your hand around the horn and grip it, your arm will follow the movement of the saddle and you can actually be pulled out of it.  Her trick worked; my butt wasn't far from the seat during the buck and my feet did not leave the stirrups.  :-)

After our trail ride, we retired to the lounge in the arena.  A couple of other riders, who had opted not go out on the trails because of the rain, joined us along with LA and her mother.  We all chowed down on awesome chili, bread, chips, cookies and cake, with beer and soft drinks to wash it all down.  Gem got special homemade sweet feed treats.  :-)   I had everyone who actually went out on the trails put their names against a number (1 to 10) on the whiteboard.  I had a bag of horse treats in my car that I had written a number on prior to coming to the barn and whoever matched that number got the bag.  It just so happened that it was DH's Mom who won!   It was a great afternoon.  

I needed a hot bath when I got home to warm me up.  After that, I threw a blanket in the dryer on high heat for 5 minutes and then wrapped myself in its warmth as I stretched out on the couch and settled in for an episode of Murdoch Mysteries.  What a great way to end the day.   :-)   Thanks for having a birthday, Gem! 


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Moment of Truth...continued

 Part 1

Gem and I stood in the middle of the arena and watched Jean get ready.  She put on my Confidence Vest ,(I am lending it to her for now) took lots of deep breaths and led Stu over to the mounting block.  He stood quietly while she fiddled and fussed with the position of the mounting block.  I knew she was stalling.  She stood on the mounting block for a bit, finally put her leg in the stirrup and swung her leg over.  Stu just stood there.  Yay! 

Deep breaths....



Up and over!




Touch down!

Jean took a moment to breathe and then asked him to walk on.  Stu flinched just a smidge when  she squeezed her legs, but he walked off nicely.  The anxiety that Jean was feeling was obvious, but I give Stu credit for not freaking out because of it.  They walked for about 10 minutes and then called it a day.  Not bad for the first time going solo!






 Jean won't ride alone (that's a good thing!), so she has been coordinating with other boarders or her husband comes with her to watch.  Her and I have coordinated to meet a couple of times.  Her usual routine is to lunge Stu at a walk, moving up to fast trot and canter until she feels he's tired.  

Now, I can understand the philosophy of using lunging as a training aid or to get out some of the P & V in some horses.  :-)  I don't know much about lunging, but I wonder if Stu needs much lunging.  He doesn't not have P & V and he understands his verbal commands beautifully.  He's pretty docile, really.  Yes he is spooky under saddle, but he's new at it.  I suspect that because lunging is an area where Jean is in control, it gives her confidence, so she does it for as long as she can. The Trainer believes in lunging before every single ride to set the tone.  LA thinks that lunging should only be used as a training aid for green horses learning ground manners. Lunging seems to be a very personal thing. 

Jean has been on Stu a number of times now and each time I see her, she's a little more confident.  When she was on him last Sunday, she asked for a trot.  Stu did a little bolt and scurry, but eventually got into a funky trot.  Jean didn't keep it up for long.  Frankly, I think she sort of scared herself when she realized how BIG the trot was.  :-) 

Jean is obviously exhilarated and happy about riding her boy.  The comments from others at the barn have been positive and she is definitely on a high. It is so exciting seeing someone recognize their dream and I am pleased for her.   I have broached the topic of getting back into lessons.  She does not see lessons in her future any time soon.  She believes that now that Stu has completed 60 days and she can sit on him, lessons are not a requirement because it's just a matter of her working him.   I do disagree with her on this, but she has to figure this out for herself; no one will be able to tell her otherwise at this point.  Jean hopes to ride Stu four times a week; three evenings and Sunday afternoons.  I admire her commitment and watching her relationship grow with Stu will be fun and educational.   Maybe next summer we will be hitting the trails together!!



Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Moment of Truth

I had my private lesson last Friday.  Even though there was a light rain, we had the lesson outside.  As we walked through the gate leading to the open fields, LA asked me which fields gave me the most anxiety when out for trail rides.  My response was the big open ones - too much space!  "OK, that's where we will have our lesson.", was her response.  Gulp.

To say that my heart wasn't pounding would be lying.  But, LA reassured me that Gem knew what he was doing and that I was going to have to learn how to trust him.  Deep breaths were my friend and I walked and trotted circles around LA, working up from small to quite large.  Her dog was running in and out of the brush and trees, which sometimes took Gem's attention away from me but LA reminded me how to get him to refocus.  I explained to LA that my ultimate goal was to be able to go out on the trails by myself.  It was at that point, while trotting a circle around LA, that Gem tripped over a mound of grass and went down to his knees and dusting the ground with his face.  The reins slid through my fingers, but I didn't loose them completely.  Gem righted himself.  Instead of focusing on the "almost fell" aspect, LA explained I didn't help Gem in any way.  I should have provided some tension on the reins as he started to tumble to help him keep his balance and help right him.  Now I know.


Then that moment came.  The one that these exercises had been leading up to.   I have to say it came sooner than I expected.  LA asked me walk Gem across the field to one of the openings to the old orchard.  Then I was to turn around and half way back I was to trot to LA.  What?!  Holy crap.  But I did it.  Then she asked me to walk to the tree in middle of the field and come back, trotting the last little bit.  And I did.  We ended the lesson there, with me exhilarated. 


                                                   *   *   *   *   *


Well, this past weekend marked the conclusion of Stu's 60 days of training.  Saying that Jean was excited is an understatement! 

Stu's Trainer is a petite well-muscled young lady who teaches jumping at LA's facility on occasion, but is also employed at one of the show hunter/jumper barns locally.  She is not shy of tall horses!  :-)  What she wasn't prepared for was Stu's width and eventually it took it's toll on her hips.  She had to take a week off of riding him to rest, which delayed the conclusion of the training. 

The goal of this training was to get Stu comfortable with rider on his back at a walk and trot and start working on canter if things went well.  The Trainer rode him 5 days a week, with the time of day of the session varying.  Sometimes he was ridden in the arena, sometimes outside in the front paddock..  Sometimes the sessions lasted 45 minutes, sometimes only 20 as a reward for good behaviour.  
Jean was invited to see how Stu was progressing after his first 30 days and she invited me to join her.  :-)    I think both Jean and I held our breath as The Trainer swung herself up on him.  He did have a nervous look about him.  There were a couple of other riders in the arena and The Trainer encouraged to them not to be shy and to treat her and Stu as any other rider in the arena.  It was apparent that Stu was not comfortable with the activity but he did his best.  His balance was off.  Learning to walk and trot while having a rider on you is hard!   After she worked with him at a walk, she moved up to a trot.  When she initially asked, he was very skittish.  But when he did get into a rhythm, he looked amazing!  His trot is so beautiful - legs high, back slightly rounded.   The Trainer sure knows how to sit in the saddle.  Stu's jumpiness, even though it's only a step or two, is big.  I don't think her butt left the saddle once.

Considering that a month previous, Jean was eating dirt because he was scared of her sitting on him, Jean was very pumped to see his progress.  The Trainer asked Jean if she could arrange for another experienced rider from the hunter barn to take Stu for a spin to provide her with feedback to determine if there was a particular area that she should focus on.  Jean agreed.  Then, a  couple of weeks ago, Jean called me very upset.  Apparently, The Trainer's friend had been unable to get to LA's place, so she asked a couple of the young ladies at the barn to ride Stu and provide feedback.  Both of these young ladies are in their late teens; one has only been riding a for year but rides almost every day and has become a competent rider, the other has been riding for years and competes in games and jumping.  Jean was devastated that two other barn mates got to ride Stu before her.  In addition, having two barn mates ride your horse opens up the door for negative comments or gossip. :-(  I admit that I was upset for her.  She decided to just let it go. 

The Trainer and Jean met up last weekend.  I happened to be practicing my neck reining (sigh) at the same time The Trainer and Stu were in the arena.  Gem pinned his ears a couple of times at the big brown horse as we jogged by and Stu had a "deer in the headlights" look about him when looking at Gem.  But, after our practice, we stood with The Trainer and Stu and everyone was fine. Even with the improvement in response times to cues, Stu is still skittish when asked for transitions and he is still apprehensive when working around other horses. He does not like to be asked to lope, but when he does lope it's quite graceful.  The Trainer told Jean that it could take some time and a lot of patience for Stu to build his confidence up and loose his skittishness.  Or, there is the possibility that he might not loose it at all and she will have to comes to terms with that.



This past Saturday, after The Trainer completed her last session with him, Jean rode Stu at walk, with The Trainer holding the bridle.  The Trainer went over where Stu's buttons were and the tension on the reins, etc. etc.  It was very exciting.  However, Sunday was the really BIG day for Jean because she was going to be doing it on her own.   She tacked Stu up and led him to the arena.  Jean's colour was high and I could tell that she was nervous but eager to get the adventure started. She lunged him for, what seemed like, forever....delaying the inevitable.  But, the time had come.

To be continued....


Monday, October 1, 2012

Safety Net

As I mentioned previously, my life sort of got in the way of my regular riding routine and I haven't been out as often as I like to see Gem.  "Normal" is right around the corner, though!   The times that I have been out recently have included practicing for about 20-30 minutes before hitting the trails.  Learning to neck rein is harder than I thought.  In the arena, I sort of get it.   The reins are in one hand, which I position low and in the middle, with the ends of both reins draped over the right side.   I work at keeping the reins even and loose on the bit and my hands light.  Our turns are getting much better.  I am learning to put my hand back in the neutral position right after I ask and I am working hard at using short cues with my reins to ask him to make a big turn - ask, neutral, ask, neutral - instead of dragging his head around like you see in the old cowboy movies.  :-)  I still have some issues with micro-managing Gem with my legs, but once I realize that I'm doing it, I work at keeping my legs in neutral.  It's easier to concentrate on what needs to be done when you are in the arena and there aren't many distractions.


However, out on the trails, I still sometimes feel a little nervous, that I am somehow not quite in control.  It's no where near what it used to be, but recently everything seems to be a distraction to me; the birds, the bushes, the weather. Perhaps there is some residual nervousness as a result of my fall the end of July that currently affects the lightness of my hand and keeping my legs relaxed.  It's hard to concentrate on neck reining; I experience moments of awkwardness when trying to use one hand.  I feel sort of unbalanced; I don't know what to do with my left hand!  And, over time, the hand holding the reins creeps over from the middle of Gem's neck and starts to straighten out beside my waist, tightening the left rein against his neck and leaving the right rein really loose.  Urgh!!   Will I ever get this?   Once again, Gem is smarter than me and I am playing catch up.

DH's Mom is a good coach when we are out on the trails, but out there I feel a bit over-whelmed with all the nuances of learning to neck rein.  The positives with neck reining is that I am not hanging on the reins; I am not pulling (as much!) on Gem's face.   That's makes Gem happy.  :-)  Our conversations during these rides usually come back to how I am handling Gem.  Her approach to these conversations are from a confident rider perspective and I appreciate her feedback because she's been there, done that and can offer some great advice.  I know it will come;  one day I will get on Gem and everything will just click.  There have been a couple of times, when she has seen me struggling with my confidence or lack of skill, that she has asked if I ever considered getting a different horse.  Nope, it has never entered my mind.  Yes, there have been challenges with Gem (and I am sure he thinks the same about me!!), but he also has quite a patience level when it comes to putting up with all of my inadequacies.  I am glad that he is brave when I'm not.  He has never lost it with me, as I have seen other horses do.

DH's Mom has been riding her pregnant mare regularly over the last few months to keep Zippy in shape.  Zippy was her mount when we went out in the rain on Sunday afternoon.  The grass was a bit slippy, so we kept it to a walk.  It was a lovely soft rain, but we headed into the forest area for a bit of a reprieve from it.  I was leading because Zippy doesn't like Gem up her butt....who would, really...  The trail started to get a bit tight.  I could feel my heart starting to beat a little faster; I suffer a bit with claustrophobia.   I asked Gem to stop so I could assess the situation.  Suddenly, he started to back up, a little at first and then faster, right into the DH's Mom and Zippy!  They were forced backwards, into a large fallen branch and trees.  I could hear branches snapping, hooves pounding.  To add a bit more stress to the situation, I yelled "WHOA!  WHOA!, upsetting Zippy further.  I eventually got it together, sort of crouched over the saddle horn and spurred Gem forward.   Fortunately, he quickly walked up a few paces, allowing Zippy and DH's Mom to get themselves untangled from the branches and trees.  After I made sure that no one had been stabbed by a branch and DH's Mom and Zippy were OK, I had to take a moment to calm down.  Gem stood quietly as we all caught our breath.  We eventually got out of our tight situation and back out to the fields.

What could I have done differently?  Well, I honestly cannot remember what transpired to make Gem back up like that.  Was it me pulling on his face?   Maybe.  Perhaps I started tightening up on the reins, reverting back to two-hands when I realized that the path was getting too close and he translated that tension on the reins into "back up".  I absolutely should have focused more on moving him forward the moment I realized we were working towards a train wreck, rather than trying to look over my shoulder at DH's Mom and Zippy to see what was happening with them.  Perhaps I should have stopped yelling "WHOA!" after the first 5 times when it didn't work.  ;-)   

Trail riding has always appealed to me.  Grass, trees, wildlife.  It's the main reason I took up riding in the first place.  It seems that I finally have my confidence within a controlled environment (arena, paddock), but it is obvious that I need to continue building my confidence when out on the trails.  Yes, I fell recently and yes this recent forest incident was a bit scary - both have taken a little bitty chunk out of my confidence, I admit.  So, how do you get that confidence back?  Well, most people would say you have to get back out there and trail ride as much as you can.  OK, but how does that actually prepare you for potential train wrecks?  Or run away horses?  Or riding in amongst the herd?  Getting back out there builds your confidence up and desensitize you to the "white noise" around you and let you determine what needs to be focused on so that you can recognize a train wreck before it happens.

So, I have decided to shake it up a bit and move away from working with a safety net.  I have a private lesson booked on Friday.  I have requested that the lesson be out in the small "loping" field, a small round field surrounded by the forest on one side and shrubs and trees on the other.  While working, I will be exposed to uneven terrain, herd members grazing nearby, wildlife and the weather.  So will Gem.  :-)   No boards outlining where the track is or an enclosure to block noise, or lights to eliminate shadows or letters to help walk a straight line.  I need to build my confidence up where I lost it, out in the fields.  And Gem needs to know that I can be confident out in the fields.  And, you know what?  LA has agreed.  :-)


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Quickie



Sorry that I have been MIA!  My birthday month celebrations have kept me out a number of evenings - I may have to go through detox soon!  :-)  That, plus my kitchen reno, gearing up for the last fiscal quarter at work, furiously reading through a 300 page book for Book Club and preparing a statement on co-existing with coyotes for our community AGM have left me sort of exhausted!    

Here's a quick update.....  LA rides Gem once a week for me to keep him tuned up and she has reported back that he has been very good for her.  He continues to stand nicely for me at the mounting block and he continues to keep his mouth away from my clothing.  :-)  I haven't been out to the barn as often as I'd like, but I can tell you that I have been practicing my reining exercises when I do see him, to the extent that my shoulder was sore!  LOL!   Our practice is mostly at a walk, but I do jog Gem occasionally while doing my rectangles.   I can now feel the difference between a good turn and a not so good one.  I am trying very hard not to micro-manage Gem.  He is pretty much responding immediately to my corrections when he makes a "big" mistake and the number of times I actually have to correct him are reduced each time I ride him.   I was a bit over-whelmed the first few times we rode after his boot camp, but I realized this past weekend, I am getting more comfortable with keeping my legs neutral.  Neck reining still feels kinda weird, at this point, but not as weird as it did two weeks ago.  :-)

I have had a couple of great trail rides on Gem.   It is quite obvious that I am the one that has to relax more, not him!  :-)  Since his boot camp, I have come to realize that some of the small issues we have had in the past when out on the trail have probably been my fault.  Boy, he was on full alert this past weekend.   Head up, ears up.   Perhaps it's the change in weather or the high wind we have been experiencing.  He actually did a quick side step (that's about as big as his spook gets) when he disturbed a critter that took off in the bush - not sure what it was; could have been a wild turkey or deer.  He was sort of sigh/sniffing a lot, too, while we were out. Even though he was on high alert, he was still pretty relaxed on the trail.  Could it be because I wasn't constantly pulling on his face??   Yay, neck reining!  :-)  I am hoping to actually try trotting around a small field this coming weekend.  I haven't really trotted out on the trails since I bounced off Gem the end of July.  Send your positive thoughts my way that I don't get bounced again!!

Stu comes off of his 60-day training this week and my friend, Jean, couldn't be more excited.  I will give you a detailed update after the unveiling! 

Hope everyone is well!  I will be trying to get caught up with your lives soon.  Enjoy the rest of the week!!



Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Building on a Foundation

Over the last month, I got the occasional updates from LA on how Gem was doing with his training, but they were vague.  She didn't want to tell me too much about what she was working on and how Gem was responding.  She wanted me to really "see" the difference in Gem when I finally got on him.

However, barns being the way they are, there were a number of people who were more than happy to tell me how well Gem was doing.....or not.  :-)  I heard how Gem was awesome on one day when LA took him on a trail ride with the day campers.  Then I heard how he gave LA the business on the next trail ride because of mud (yes we had some rain, thank goodness!!).  He became reacquainted with neck reining fairly quickly and was even doing some slow spins.....could LA being getting him ready for a reining career??   Apparently, Gem regularly showed LA where they should be going instead of where LA wanted to go.  Then there was the time that LA was trying to convince Gem that he needed to lope on the correct lead and Gem resisted....to the point that he started to buck and almost unseated LA.  Whoops.

Gem's boot camp was completed last Thursday.  I contacted LA at the beginning of last week to ask if I could get on him this past weekend.  Her response: "Let's start with a lesson on Friday and go from there."   I was nervous and excited.  He was great tacking up, very relaxed.   The first part of our "lesson" was LA riding Gem.   He stood calmly at the mounting block, waited for her to mount and waited for her to tell him to move off.  What?!!  Who is this horse and what have you done with mine?!!

She explained her training process while she worked him.  She walked Gem in squares, her legs in neutral, using a loose rein to steer.  If she didn't ask him to turn, he would just walk right to the wall, stop and then wait for her to tell him where to go. What the heck?!  She asked him to jog and once he started her legs went back to neutral and he was expected to keep jogging until she said otherwise.  And, he did.  After jogging, came loping.  LA loped him in large and small circles without using the reins (she rode with no hands).   I am sure my mouth was hanging open to my chest.   He looked beautiful, really light on his feet.  I am not going to say that he didn't resist on occasion, but LA got in his face immediately and convinced him otherwise.  

Now it was my turn.  Gulp.  LA explained that the lessons I have had in the past have built a foundation.   Now we are going to build on that by learning how to ride effectively and efficiently.  LA shortened the stirrups a little more than how I usually have them.  Gem stood while I mounted and waited for me to tell him to move off.   It felt really good to be on my beautiful boy.  LA showed me how to hold the reins with one hand and off we went.  

I had to remind myself not to keep my legs "on"!  It was hard...I think it became habit due to my initial of lack of confidence and then out of my perceived necessity to keep Gem moving....my legs are like steel traps!  :-)  I was on a loose rein and I managed to steer OK.  It will take some practice to keep my hand low.  We walked, we jogged and then it was time to lope.  Heels down, butt in the saddle, loose rein, neutral legs, looking where I had to go.  I did it!  It was amazing.  Small circles, large circles.  It was easy and light; no pulling or yanking.  My hands were so much softer than they usually are because of the loose rein.   And, after loping a few circles, I wasn't exhausted!   I rode him for about 15 minutes.  DH's Mom had come to watch and yelled her congratulations.  :-)

I had another lesson with LA on Monday and I found that exhausting.   The heat was not very kind; my face was as red as a lobster, I had sweat stinging my eyes, causing odd winking and blinking, and my hair seeped out of the sides of my helmet looking like tuffs of brillo pad.  I looked crazed!   And, on top of not looking my best, I had to actually learn stuff!!  Geez!  :-) 

Keep your hand in the center!
Keep you hand down!
Turn him to the right!...no, the other right!
Look where you are going!
Don't move your hand out further than your hip!
Don't yank!
No babysitting!

Neck reining really brought home how much I depend on two reins/hands for security and balance!  And, not using my legs as steel trap feels really weird.  But, the result of this approach has really changed Gem.  He seemed calmer and more attentive.   However,  LA is adamant that I can't let him get away with anything.  She says he way too smart and if I let one thing slip, he will take that as an invitation.  :-)  A fellow blogger over at Living The Dream also has a Canadian and had an interesting post about just that. 

Having Gem do 30 days of training with LA has been very positive.  I think he actually liked having the challenge.  We have left it where I will have another couple of private lessons with LA.  If he needs the odd tweaking, then she will ride him. 

So I have my homework cut out for me.  LA wants me to practice, practice, practice:
  • putting my legs back in neutral once I finish "asking"
  • neck reining on a loose rein
  • I am not to use any verbal cues 
  • walking in rectangles
  • I am to keep my hands soft and not yank or pull - I have to think of carrying egg yolks in my hand
  • if he doesn't  respond to a cue or tries to make decisions for me, I am either to turn him in a circle or back him up assertively, depending on what I am correcting
  • keeping my eyes up and looking where I want to be instead of looking at Gem's beautiful mane!!!  :-)
Have a great week!



Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Cheating

The last 6 months have been particularly rough on my physically.  The stress I was under taking care of my father's estate and managing my mother's needs over the last 6 months have had a negative impact, I'm sure, on the amount of time it has taken to heal from my various injuries.   Perhaps it is due to pain and my physical inadequacies over recent months, but I have really noticed how inconsistently Gem responds to my requests.  It seems that, more often than not, it takes a 3rd or 4th cue to get a response from him to trot or lope.  Correct bends around corners?  Maybe.  Listen to the rein of opposition?  Not always.  Moving off my leg?  Most times.  It's hit or miss (again) at the mounting block.  Could this be a direct result of not being able to ride him "well" over the last few months?  I don't know.  But, I do know that I don't want to have to ask 3 or 4 times for something. It's tiring!

I spoke to LA about putting Gem under 30 days training.  I see this all the time at our barn.  LA is kept quite busy through the fall and winter months, fine-tuning reining horses and getting them ready for competition.  LA kindly said that my confidence and riding skills have improved quite a bit, but she understood where I was coming from and she confirmed that she thought that Gem would benefit from 30 days of training.  He already knows what he has to do, he just needs a bit of a buff to bring back the shine and get rid of the dullness.  However, she told me that she was not going to invest the time in working with Gem if I wasn't willing to commit to some private lessons afterwards so that I could learn how to maintain what she has worked on.  I readily agreed.  Then, she told me that I had to approach this exercise as if Gem had been sent away for training.  What that means is that I can't see him AT ALL for at least two weeks.  Gulp.  After that time, she will assess whether or not I can come out and groom him only....no riding until after training is done.  Double gulp.  She offered the use of one of the school horses if I went through severe withdrawal.   I signed up.  Fortunately for me (Gem might disagree), LA's August was quiet-ish and she was able to start right away.  I have not been on Gem since August 1st. 

Shiny boy!
Interestingly, I have had mixed reactions to my decision.  Most are very supportive and encouraging, others look at this as another example of me being in over my head with Gem and others think that I am being lazy and cheating by having LA do all the work instead of working on him myself. 

Jean and I had already planned a trail ride for this past Sunday prior to Gem's boot camp commitment.  It would be her first time out on the trails since last fall, so rather than cancel, I asked LA for a lesson horse to ride.  She told me I could ride Sally.  It had been 11 days since I had been out to the barn (not that I am counting!), so I asked if I could see Gem.  LA said I could, but it would be "hi" only - that's it.  :-(    I was chatting with LA's mom outside of the barn when I first arrived while Jean went in to get the halters for the horses we were going to be riding.  According to Jean, when Gem heard my voice, he stuck his head over the stall door, looked at me and nickered.  When I finally did get to him, he pushed his face into my hands.  I gave him a little scratch. I didn't stay long.  It was hard walking away from him. 

I found Sally in the forest with the other horses, enjoying the cool of the shade.  I had no issues putting the halter on her and she walked quietly behind my shoulder back to the barn.  Sally's in her early 20's, an ex-dressage horse now in semi-retirement, but is used in lessons fairly regularly.  She is a steady-eddy and a good teacher.  Strangely, my saddle fit her perfectly and I didn't have to use the risers at all.  Even though she, too, has high withers, she is rounder and the saddle fit her curves nicely.   Cleaning her feet made me laugh.  They actually fit in the palm of my hand and were so dainty compared to Gem's!  Occasionally, I would glance down the aisle and there was Gem, staring intently, his ears forward, watching.....  I felt guilty.   I felt like I was cheating on him with another.

Sally stood quietly when I mounted (nice!) and waited for me to ask her to move off.  All we did was walk around the easy trails.  Riding a quarter horse after riding Gem seemed weird at first; I was so close to the ground!  :-)  Tree branches hitting me in the face?  Not a problem!  LOL  What I appreciated about Sally was her responsiveness.  The slightest squeeze of my legs would increase the pace to a more purposeful walk.   Light pressure on one side would get her to move over instantly, but in a soft, subtle way.  Turning her in small circles using only my legs was a piece of cake.  Resistance to backing up out of a tight space in the forest?  Nope.  Being able to stand under a tree and chat without having to put up with impatient head bobbing was, well, lovely.  

When I got back to the barn and started untacking Sally, Gem watched my every move.  Was he jealous?  Perhaps, in his own way.  I felt a twinge of guilt for enjoying my ride.  However, this ride, although it was not extremely challenging from a trotting/loping or terrain perspective, validated that I do know how to cue and I am getting better at using my legs.  I realized that simple things that I experienced with Sally that make a ride so pleasant have been inconsistent with Gem.  I am glad that I rode Sally.  She made me feel better about my skills and she set the bar for what I want and deserve from Gem.  I am doing right by Gem and myself by having LA give him a brush up on his skills and attitude.  Now that I have had a taste of what it could be, I am excited and looking forward to the day I can get back on him.  Thank you, Sally.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Big Ben

Calm, Forward, Straight (who by the way is having a contest so check it out!) did a post on the Olympics and it started me thinking about Ian Millar and Big Ben.  The links below are of a documentary that Spruce Meadows did on Big Ben. What a team they were.  Both elegant, both approachable and both enjoying their work.  Their mutual respect and dare I say, affection, for each other is evident.  I found it interesting that Big Ben could perform with the crowds yelling and clapping, and not bat an eye.  Yet, put a garbage bag in front of him and he would spook.  :-)  

I have visited the statue of Big Ben and Ian Millar in Perth, Ontario many times.  Emotions bubble to the top when you see it; admiration, awe and pride.  Here's some pics from my last visit.















 Each video is about 7 minutes long.  Enjoy!

Part One
 

Part Two




Part Three


Part Four


Part Five


Part Six


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Hey, Dude.....and, Pa-toy-ing!

As I mentioned in my last post, DH's Mom and I went on a trail ride last Sunday morning.  We went out at 10:30 a.m. with the hope of beating the heat....no such luck.  Within 5 minutes, I had sweat dripping into my eyes.  Thank goodness for waterproof mascara!   For the next hour and a half, DH's Mom told me about her awesome dude ranch vacation.

The resort she went to is a family-run working ranch, which hosts 40 people each week.  The Ranch also offered other activities, including hiking, river rafting, fly fishing and mountain biking.  In addition to managing a resort and running cattle, the family runs a high-end reining training facility.  They know horses.  :-)  At the time DH's Mom registered with them, she had to fill out a questionnaire outlining her riding abilities.  


The facility was gorgeous, with small cabins around the main lodge, surrounded by the Canadian Rockies. The first evening was basically getting to know everyone.   Can you just imagine sitting out having a cocktail on this porch?  The next morning, her orientation included getting acquainted with her assigned horse and showing her skills to the wranglers to ensure that she was was matched with the right horse.  There were all levels of riders - some had never been near a horse before this!   After the skill levels were determined, groups were formed - beginners, some experience, experienced, etc.  Each group had, I believe, two wranglers  assigned to them.  A few of these wranglers were actually from Australia!  All of the horses wore special shoes, so that they could better grip the rocky terrain and avoid hoof damage.


DH's Mom was in the advanced group.  One of the wranglers assigned to her group of 4 is a vet student.   He is working towards being a large animal vet.  He grew up with horses. He told DH's Mom that he didn't "love" his horses.  His focus is on respect and ensuring that the horse understands what is required of him/her.  This is my understanding of what he was trying to get across:  "Love" was humanizing a horse and he believes that this is doing a disservice to the horse.  Horses don't "love" each other.  They respect and protect each other, but "love" is not something that is part of a herd environment.   When we start to apply our human emotions to a horse and expect it to be reciprocated, it's not a fair.  Horses are horses.  Guilty as charged!  I am not ashamed to admit that I love my horse to bits.  Absolutely, respect plays a big part in your relationship with your horse, but I also think showing affection makes us relaxed and in turn, makes the horse relaxed.   What do you think of the wrangler's comment??


He also said that horses that have a job to perform; whether it's jumping, dressage or trail riding.  It is our job to make sure they understand what is required and we shouldn't make excuses (humanizing) for them not performing their job.  They either do their job or they are made to do their job.  OK, I sort of get this.   Actually, DH's Mom follows this line of thinking and I have to say that DH has not suffered in the least with this approach.  He is solid and well adjusted.  I admit I have a hard time with the disciplining aspect of horse ownership and making Gem do what I ask.  I am inconsistent in this area.   In fact, DH's Mom and LA have told me on numerous times not to let Gem away with stuff and that I baby him. I don't know about you, but I make "human" excuses for Gem all the time when he gives me the business.  "He must be hot", "the flies must be bothering him", "he's tired"....  


DH's Mom rode every day for about 5 hours.  Each day was a different type of ride.  One day they rode along and in the river.  Another they rode up a mountain - the path was less than 3 feet wide in some parts!!  Yikes!!  One day they went through forests.  They would gallop through any terrain put in front of them.  DH's Mom said she had never ridden like that in her life (and she's as old as me!!).  She was pushed way beyond her comfort zone and had to completely trust the horse she was riding.  

Sometimes, lunch would be served out on the trail.  How cowboy is that?!  All the meals were homemade.  Cocktails were at 5:30 p.m., dinner was early evening and very relaxed - lots of talking and laughing.  Very civilized.  DH's Mom said she when she hit the pillow, she was asleep instantly!  She said it was the best sleep she had had in years.  :-)   

DH's Mom said that this vacation not only increased her confidence by pushing her riding comfort level, but this experience also pushed her in other areas.  She came to realize that it was time to make some personal changes.  You see, DH's Mom lost her husband 6 years ago to a brain tumour; he suffered for weeks.  This vacation highlighted that it was time to get out there, be an active participate in life and be with others.  She feels she is now ready to start dating......Giddy up!   :-)

                                                                      * * * * 


Gem and DH were relaxed and OK with just plodding along the trails while DH's Mom chattered away, telling me of her adventure.  As we started to head back,  I suggested that we trot across the small field we were in to the next field opening.  Off we went....Gem doing a lovely big trot.  We hadn't done this kind of activity in a while (back strain) and I was really into it, posting and thinking how amazing it felt.  Suddenly, I felt Gem power up and break into a uninvited lope.  In a flash, LA's comment you shouldn't post a trot when asking for a lope because you are off balance - you should always sit a trot before asking raced through my mind.  She was right...I came down, he came up and I bounced and lost my balance.  I tried to save myself but ended up in the dirt .  


It seems my butt hit first, then my left elbow and then the back of my head.  After I made sure I could wiggle my toes, DH's Mom helped me up.  As I was getting up I felt this excruciating pain shoot up my from my where my inner thigh meets my body.  I was having difficulty walking.  I explained to DH's Mom that it felt like a "pa-toy-ing!".  She immediately understood my description.... Pa-toy-ing = a pulled groin, probably a result of trying to right myself in the saddle.  I limped over to a rock, DH's Mom held Gem and I got back on him.  It hurt like crazy, but riding actually stretched it out a bit.  Getting down was another challenge, as was driving, as was getting out of my car.  I iced my crotch from the moment I got home.   Advil did an amazing job, as usual.  My Husband and I surveyed the damage the next morning:  obviously, I was stiff, I have a lovely black/purple bruise about the size of my hand on one cheek of my butt, numerous other bruises over my arms and legs and a particularly nice swollen one on my left elbow which I was delighted to show the guys at work.  :-)  I consider myself lucky that a) I didn't land on any pointy rocks, b) that I had a helmet on,  c) that my back was not re-injured, d) that my shoulder was not re-injured and e) I didn't actually get stepped on by Gem as I sort of fell in front of him.  So, all in all, not a bad fall.  :-)  

Monday, July 23, 2012

One Week to the Next

  • We have had a couple of grass fires in outlying areas that have taken days to get under control.  Although there have been promises of a reprieve from the 34C temperatures we have had for weeks now, the occasional grey clouds never amount to anything. Everything is crispy.  LA's mother, who has lived on the property since 1961, says she has never experienced weather like we have had recently. 

  • The beginning of June, I strained my back quite badly....badly enough that there were times I had to sleep in a chair because I couldn't get in or out of bed.  It was worth it, though.  :-) It was caused by a great riding lesson that included poles.  I was planning on taking the summer off from lessons (too hot!!), so I just stopped a little sooner.  About 3 weeks ago, I started riding again.  I needed assistance getting up, and I only lasted short periods of time, but it felt good to get back in the saddle.  I managed to get Gem up to a lope a couple of times and I was very pleased with myself.  Funny how quickly your confidence and endurance diminishes when you haven't ridden in a few weeks.....

  • Just over a week ago, LA convinced me to have Gem put out at night and brought into the cool barn during the day.  DH is still out there with him.  Now for those of you who have been reading this blog for a while, you might remember that Gem is a bit of an escape artist.  He is not afraid of the electric fence and has proven that a few times nowInitially, I wasn't fussy on it, but with the heat we have been experiencing I decided to give it a go.  It seems to be working out OK.  The downside is that when I see him to ride, he is full of beans and is anxious to get out of the stall.  Not a great combination when when you are trying to ease back into riding.  :-)

  • I bought my Australian stock saddle.  I put it together last week and tried it out on Friday.  Everything is quite stiff yet, so I won't be taking it out on the trails until it's broken in. I am having difficulty in getting the girth as tight as it should be.  It is sooo much lighter than my Western! I love the seat of it - the cantle is quite high and helps support your back and it's very comfortable.  The knee pads keep you in position.  It will take some time to get used to the leathers and I am definitely going to swap out the stirrups - I find them a bit small.  

  • DH's Mom just got back from a dude ranch adventure.  She went on her own.  She has ridden most of her life and this type of holiday has always been a dream of hers.  She was in the interior of British Columbia and said it was the best vacation she had ever been on.  She was there a week, along with 40 other people.  Every day there were trail challenges - riding up mountains, crossing rivers, stony paths, deep brush.  There was lots of galloping and she jumped a log....at a gallop....this was her first time jumping!  The place was a first class resort and very well managed.  The horses were terrific and the food amazing.  She made lots of friends.  She said that she learned soooo much from the rancher and the professionals that took them on the day excursions.  Some of her observations hit really close to home for me.....but I will share them in another post. 

  • Jean made the decision last week (I admit that I did push it a bit) to get a professional trainer involved with Stu.  It's a hard pill to swallow, but she has come to the realization that perhaps she needs help.  I am very pleased that she has made this decision.  She met with a trainer that LA recommended and they had their first session last Friday.

  • A few weeks ago, I sent an email to a local Hyundai dealership enquiring about the delivery wait for a red Veloster.  Dealers around here are only getting a few of these cars and they are sold practically before they arrive.  In my email, I said that I was interested in a base model, I wanted an automatic and I wanted it in red.  No one replied.  :-( On Saturday, My Husband and I were out shopping and he started talking about my need of a new car and he suggested we swing by the Hyundai dealer to look at the Elantra as an alternative.  As we were sitting in a floor model, I mentioned to the sales rep that what I was really interested in was the Veloster.  He said that he had one on the lot that was sold, but if I wanted to sit in it I could....yes, please!  He returned with the keys and as we were walking to the car, he said he was mistaken....this car was not sold; it was their 2013 model that had just arrived.  My heart skipped a beat.  As we walked closer, I saw that it was red.  My heart fluttered.  When I got in, I noticed it was an automatic....  I asked if this was the base model - yes it was.  My heart jumped.  So, I bought my car on the weekend!  No waiting, no fuss.  In fact, the car was so new to the lot that the price had to be verified. How weird that My Husband would suggest going to the dealership on Saturday and that the car had just been delivered and was exactly what I was looking for.  It was meant to be!!  
Have a great week!!