Wednesday, April 22, 2009

First lessons

I've had my first 2 riding encounters with my new instructor, and am now even more excited to be at the new farm.

Wednesday was a rainy rainy, but since the barn is 40-something miles from the lab, I figured I'd make my way out anyway. The weather cleared up beautifully, but there was a worrisome black storm cloud looming a few miles from the barn. I decided that since no one else was around, let alone tacking a horse, I'd go ahead and ride. (The indoor we have access to on M, T, W, and Sa is Small). Silly me forgot to check the other barn.. Christine was tacking up a very cool grey horse. She was kind enough to invite me into the indoor with her to ride. Since I was all tacked up at that point and it had started pouring, I accepted.

Addy was quite unhappy about the situation. She had never been in an indoor that *enclosed* before (the indoors in FL tend to be just covered, rather than actually indoors). Not to mention that the wind was making papers flutter on the wall (oh my!), the rain was pounding on the tinny roof, and a Big Gray Monster was being lunged (complete with whip popping noises) in the opposite corner. She sucked herself up into a little ball and did her best impression of a spring-loaded racehorse. Completely uncharacteristic for my pony, and not what I wanted Christine to see for her first ride. Oh well. I walked some circles, trying to keep her from exploding, and barely succeeding. When Christine was done lunging her horse, she climbed aboard him and then took control of the situation. Her coaching turned us from a bouncy ball of energy to a bent, almost supple, almost rhythmic pair in about 5 minutes. I was utterly amazed. Her biggest complaint was that I ride like I'm trying not to make any mistakes and "hurt" my pony. Which is spot on.

Yesterday was my first scheduled lesson with Christine, and it was too cool. Again, within minutes of Christine opening her mouth, my pony was a different animal. She bent better than ever, came properly through, and started tracking up under herself at the walk and trot. No work at all, except I actually had to Ride (ie: wrap my legs around her and ride her with my seat). I am completely confident that we have the right instructor to bring us as far as the pair of us can go. Yay!!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

New farm!

Addy has safely settled into her new home. Yay!

The views aren't *quite* as gorgeous, and we've lost the incredible trails.. but everything else is fantastic! Addy (the plump little dumpling) is now in boot camp. No more grass 24/7, 4 days a week of work. Poor pony. ;) She definitely tries to convince me she's being starved, but she's clearly enjoying the daily attention she receives from the barn staff and her rides. She's such a people-pony.

We now have access to 2 indoor arenas, 2 outdoors, a little loop of a trail, and (soon, hopefully) a track. Even better, the barn manager and head trainer are extremely competent and inspiring.. and the boarders are all very active. Woohoo! Heaven!

I've yet to schedule my first lesson with Christine, but am looking forward to it. She seems to be very exacting, which I like. I want someone who will help Addy and I reach our fullest potential. First we need to get into shape - but I don't think that will take terribly long.

She's not looking too bad for a pony who's been out of work for 6+ months, is she? I, on the other hand, could definitely use some help with my seat/legs/position...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Pony goals

With Addy's move actually in sight, I'm once again getting very excited about riding. I can now pick up Dressage Today without feeling depressed, and I daydream about sweat-drenched summer afternoons at the barn.

This will be a new beginning for us. Since we've both been out of work, correcting bad habits (hopefully) won't be too difficult. She's been out in a pasture using her body as she naturally should, not being forced into any unnatural way of going by an uncoordinated me.

I've been thinking a lot about my goals for the two of us. It's been over two years since we've been in training, and that's quite a long time. So first, we need to get fit. While she's trotting long easy curves on the track, I'll try not to interfere. I'm going to concentrate more on my own body, making sure I'm correct.

My long term goal is to be a balanced, effective rider with a balanced, happy horse. I'm hopeful that I've finally found the right trainer and facility in Maryland. It's taken a few years, and several tries, but I think we've got it this time. Time will tell.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Lime Green & Tangerine!

I'm totally, utterly, drawn to make this quilt. Nevermind the fact that I don't really know how to sew. And the fact that I don't have (and don't want) a sewing machine. My great grandma could make giant, gorgeous quilts by hand - why can't I? ;)

Monday afternoon, in between appointments for Addy, I stopped by Jo Ann's Fabrics and picked up some, well, fabric. (Go figure.) Who knows what possessed me, but I have jumped right into a [Top Secret] sewing project. I've found that I actually really like sewing.. In my usual style, I immediately had grand plans to sew shirts and skirts for myself. Since I find it so difficult to buy anything in my size, it seems like a great idea. Except, not. I think I'm going to have to think about it a little more. I need another hobby like I need another kitty.

Lately I've found monogamous knitting difficult. Perhaps it's all the changes in weather (warm days make me want to knit linen or bamboo tops.. chilly ones bring on visions of warm woolly sweaters)... perhaps it's also the influence of Ravelry. Either way, I have too many projects on the needles to keep track of.

Also in knitting news - I won a contest over at Cloverhill! My prize was a gift certificate to Three Irish Girls, and I have absolutely no idea how to spend it. There are way too many gorgeous choices! Thank you Jolene and the women at Three Irish Girls!

On a completely unrelated note, Ryan and I had late lunch at the Red Canoe today. (Killer blueberry muffins, I swear!) A couple brought their large, lovely greyhound to sit with them on the back porch. While there are definite downsides to having a dog at this point in our lives, I can't help missing having a grey around. They're such cool, soulful dogs.


Friday, April 3, 2009

Sheep & Wool!!

Life's been full of ups and downs lately.. Ryan just had his 3rd round of chemo, we had a fantastic trip to Florida, and I *still* haven't gotten Addy moved. (The last is a huge source of stress for me right now - I've had her new farm picked out for a month now, but just can't seem to get it all properly worked out.)

But good news is on the horizon! Sheep & Wool, Maryland's huge fiber fest, is in less than a month! I know that non-fiber types think I'm crazy for even considering attending this event. I wish I could drag them all along.. all the adorable lambs and alpacas are sure to convert them instantly. And then all the colors and textures will hit them....

Admittedly, my favorite part about Sheep & Wool is that my mom and sister are coming up for it, just like last year. That's actually the last time I saw my sister, a fact I can hardly believe. And it's been almost as long since I've seen Mom, so this visit is well past-due.

However, I'm also pretty excited about seeing a lot of indie yarns in person. I've had iffy luck this past year with buying yarn online.. often when it arrives, it's not quite the color I expected. (Though it is almost always gorgeous anyway.) So one of my first stops at Sheep & Wool will be to the Cloverhill booth, where Jolene has gathered yarn from many different indie dyers. (One stop shopping!) She'll be posting about these dyers on her blog as well as holding contests up until S&W. So check her blog out!

Last year I went to S&W with a project list and my budget in cash. This was extremely useful, since I was able to buy yarn for specific projects on my "to knit" list. The year before, I came home with several random skeins of gorgeous yarn that I had no plans for. Cowls are always nice, but I think I will get more for my money if I figure out what I "need" beforehand.

Today's Friday, Rita's is open for the season, and there's a native plant sale this weekend. Things are looking up.