Sunday, March 6, 2016

Catching Up

Apologies for the silence over here the past couple weeks. I have been extremely busy with my daughter and her winter guard team. 

We traveled to Norfolk, VA 2 weeks ago. 

On Thursday evening before we left, Razz and I enjoyed a power ride into the Croatan. It was just the two of us. As soon as we crossed the bridge into the bean field I asked for a nice forward trot, to which Razz responded with a sluggish "i don't wanna". Just so happened I was carrying my favorite crop (which I almost never use on him) and with an encouraging smack on the rump we were off. 

And it was on...

The entire way over to the forest I kept my boy in the nice, forward trot I was looking for. We paused to catch our breath for a moment before crossing the busy road and heading into the woods. Once in, I asked for a canter and lost my left rein in the transition. That's weird, I never do that. Seriously never. It was no big deal. Razz stayed on the trail as I collected my slack. We made our way through the thick growth and a couple areas of standing water before coming into the open clearing from which all other trails lead off. Most of the way through here we walked, giving Razz a much needed cool down and allowing me to absorb all that surrounded us. These woods have really etched out a spot in my heart. 

We were fast approaching the epic water crossing that serves as gatekeeper to the back country. I found a ditch to jump and hopped over it, back and forth, six times, enough that Razz was pinning his ears and cow kicking before take off. I decided to try to get him to cross the water. We had never crossed it by ourselves before. And I didn't want him to successfully refuse after all the progress we've made converting city horse into country packer.

I've posted a video of the water crossing here, it is a low lying 4 wheeler path that has collected all the rainwater we get. It's not connected to any other source, and in the heat of the summer it doesn't exist. Razz knew it was ahead of us even though we couldn't yet see it. His stride shortened and I could tell he wasn't digging the idea. Good thing I carried my crop. A few tight circles going in, and and couple smacks half way thru the puddle, and we did it!! I was so proud of the boy. It was hardly any struggle at all to get him across. The tight circles are an old cowboy trick I learned at the TN ranch so many years ago. Its a mind game, the horse eventually figuring out it's much easier to go forward than continue to make tight circles. 

Once across the water I rode a trail that follows alongside the railroad tracks for a mile or more, its just inside the woods and straight as an arrow. Ahead in the distance a feral cat was also using this trail. We trotted to catch up with it. I got some seriously amazing collected, sitting trot out of him & life was perfect in that moment.

I then decided to ask for a balls to the wall gallop. The trail was clean and straight, and my horse was willing. The feral cat shot left into a thicket when it saw how quickly we were gaining ground. It was hard to get Razz to stop when I finally asked. Going back to the barn at a walk was difficult also. Pony was waaay sweatier than I ever intended him to be. And still loaded with energy. Re-crossing the water was no big deal. He trotted out of the deepest part and inadvertently washed my boots off. What a wonderful ride we had that day. 

Then we left for Norfolk on a stormy Friday. I snapped this shot of the ocean just before we loaded.

The trip went well. Both varsity and jv traveled and we took an activity bus. WGI is the circuit we follow. They have copyright rules which prevent a lot of media from being taken. We do get to video our own teams' performances but those aren't shared online either. Not until end of the season. 

Got home late Sunday night, back to work Monday morning. Pretty much shitty weather all week, meaning no barn time. And back on the road Thursday.

This time only varsity traveled. 12 girls, 4 adults, 2 rented suvs. Destination Princeton, NJ. We kept a full schedule. I did get a quick hour in the art museum. The ancient stuff is in the basement and that's where I spent my time. 

First thing you see coming down the steps are a pair of Chinese temple guardians which were super intriguing. Pictured below is a close up of one. In the background is a 2,000 year old earthenware horse. This is the largest Han dynasty example of a horse. It is just under 5 feet tall. I stared at it from all angles for a good ten minutes. Never took a pic, wtf?? It had a couple repairs but was still amazing.

A few more of my favorites:

Tlingit (Alaska Native) Female Moon Mask

Roman Figural Head, only a couple inches tall

beautifully detailed 4 ft tall Guanyin (Buddha's female counterpart)

I ended up purchasing a book of the entire collection since I only visited one floor. The campus was lovely, as was the small town accompanying the campus. I even came home with a Princeton Equestrian tshirt.

Go Tigers!!
We got back late Monday evening. Tuesday right back to work. At this point I've been going for 15 days straight without any down time. Wednesday after work I got my left inside arm tattooed. I had rescheduled this appointment twice before and finally got it done. My artist free handed a venus flytrap and bug in between two existing tattoos. The idea was a mandala in the background but neither of us liked the way it turned out so we will cover the background with more flowers instead. When finished you won't even know that mandala was ever there.

yes, i forever have a bug in my armpit now
Saturday morning I got up and spent more hours with my daughter's guard team even though we aren't travelling this weekend. Instead I was making prototype pieces for a prop adjustment we had to deal with after our last competition. Finally, finally, shortly after lunch, I made it to the barn. Ended up repeating my entire grooming ritual twice. Talk about shedding. 

Once tacked, a friend and I took off to the sand pits. We jumped lots of stuff. And came across a neighbor's paddock whose ponies were actually turned out for once. I've ridden past here many times but the ponies are always in a different turn out right beside thier barn. Not today.

It didn't take long for the bucking and farting to ensue.

The weather report looks good for the next week or so, and I have two weekends at home before we go right back to New Jersey (this time Monmouth College). The days are getting a little longer too. Fingers crossed for lots of good riding.


  1. Having spent the last 2 yrs of field research at work in Brunswick/Columbus County swamps, I know EXACTLY how wet it's been. My freaking fish are in the woods, I don't have sampling gear for that! Sounds like a great ride though -- we really need to go back there someday. Must have horse functional in all four legs, etc first though, sigh.

    1. Yeah rain has been incredible, El Nino on the east coast, at least the extended forecast has minimal rain predicted, time to take full advantage!

  2. Love the new ink! Your horse has the happiest ears :)

    1. Thanks!! Will look much better in about 2 weeks :)