Holiday Wrap Up

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. I know the ponies and I all did. I spend Christmas Eve up at my parents so I could wake up there Christmas morning. It was pretty low key that morning, just the three of us. Mom and Dad got me a new carry on suitcase which I desperately needed. I also got a set of these awesome fleece sheets and flamingo slippers. Plus the usual candy, Forge ornaments and lottery tickets in my stocking. Then we all got dressed and started getting ready for rest of the family to arrive. It's kinda funny, now that we're all getting older opening presents Christmas morning certainly takes a lot less time! Everyone cut back this year, and the girls didn't get as much as they used to. Some clothes, books for Lexy and some goofy doll for Kailee, and then gift cards for them both. I got my new pretty pink netbook! I love, love, love it! That was a big surprise. I really wasn't expecting that, but it was a joint gift from Aunt Sandy and Uncle Ralph and my parents. After we opened presents we had lunch and everyone just hung around for a while. That evening I did end up going to my grandparents with Dad. I figured it was better to get it out of the way with him than to have to go by myself later. Of course Aunt Karen and Uncle Randy were there with Matt. And my grandmother kept going on about Matt being deployed. She acted like he was in some war zone. He's deployed to Gulfport! Hotbed of terrorist activity down there I tell you. Luckily I didn't have to stay too long.

Saturday was a busy day. Got up early to go to the barn. Cleaned some stalls and worked with the younger kids. Then I rode Kaye in a lesson with Katie/Naughtie. Kaye was so good for me! We had a great lesson and even did a little bit of jumping. The best part was after my lesson though. Astrid was going to ride Kaye, so I was waiting for her to get her helmet and everything. Well I had to leave shortly to help Aunt Sandy get ready for her open house and I wanted to give Kaye a treat before I left. So I pulled off her bridle, gave her a couple treats. And then just to see if I could do it, I got on and rode her bridleless. We just walked at first. Then when she was good walking I asked for a trot. She just picked up a nice, easy trot. Bonnie came out then with Katie and Astrid. Then just to see if we could do it I asked her for a canter. We just cantered around the arena, she stayed right on the rail for me. Bonnie wanted me to try jumping her, and I will admit it took me a little bit to work up the nerve. But after a few minutes I popped her over a little crossbar. It was so much fun. Kaye was kind of unsure when I asked her to come off the rail, steering was a bit of an issue. To get her to the jump I was pulling on her mane with my right hand and pushing on her neck with my left. I think next time I will try putting an old stirrup leather or something around her neck to help steer.

After I left the barn I quickly headed home and got cleaned up so I could go help Aunt Sandy and Uncle Ralph get ready for their open house. So I helped get things ready down there, ran some errands for Aunt Sandy. And then it was a quick trip back home so I could get changed and pick Mom up to go back. Mom and I pretty much spent the entire party in the kitchen. We try to take care of getting the food ready so that Aunt Sandy can mingle and be hostess. Actually I only stayed for about 2 hours of the party before I had to go back to the barn. It was time to go pick up Buddy and little Cuddles. Like I said long, busy day.

Astrid was already at the barn when I got there. So we finished laying out extra hay for Kezia to feed in the morning, hooked up the trailer and we were on our way. Bonnie drove until we reached the first rest stop on the turnpike and then I got to drive the rest of the way. And such a nice drive it was. Especially we I realized that Bonnie, Astrid and the dog were all snoring away. Thanks guys for keeping me company! We drove till about 4 and then we pulled into the Sheetz in Fredrick and slept in the truck for a couple hours. Well Bonnie and Astrid slept, I listened to my iPod and dozed for a bit. Finally at about 6:30 we got up, got food and coffee and drove the last half hour to Sandy's. We got Buddy and Cuddles loaded on the trailer pretty easily and we headed back home. Luckily for me Bonnie drove home, and I did manage to fall asleep for about an hour before Mom called and woke me up. Once we got home, we got the ponies settled in their stalls, fed everyone and I got to go home. Only I didn't go to sleep like I wanted to. Blair called and we headed out to the Waterfront to see New Moon. So obviously by the time I did finally get home I crashed!

Monday I ended up sleeping in till like 1. It was so nice! Been forever since I've been able to do that. Afterwards I picked up Blair and we head out to Monaca for an afternoon of movie theater roulette. Ended up seeing It's Complicated. Oh my god it was hysterical. Everyone needs to go out and see it. So good, I was laughing so hard I was in tears at some points. We stopped on the way home and picked up some D&G pizza and then watched The Hangover at Blair's house. Again hysterically funny. Plus Bradley Cooper is just YUMMY!

Tuesday night I got to introduce Blair to Wooley Bully's. We met the family down there and shared some pizza. Blair got to try all the good ones, Italian Stallion, Spinach and Feta, and then we both got to try the Mexican. Have to say, I'm not really a fan of the Mexican pizza. Much too spicy for me. Then tonight, Jeff and Dana invited me to join them at the Cheesecake Factory for dinner. After that I had to make it an early night as I still had to finish packing for my trip. And my flight is leaving at the asscrack of dawn. Already I miss my Blair. These trips are just much too short. But I'm leaving in the morning for Texas, so that will be a good time.


Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

From X, Kaye, Bugs, Miss, Naughtie and myself, wishing you all a very merry Christmas! We hope you all have a day filled with family, friends and the true meaning of Christmas.

Happy Holidays!


Dear Santa

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dear Santa Claus,

Mom says that I have to be a good boy so that you'll bring me all the presents I want. I really did try to be good this year, and I didn't buck Mom off at all. I really did try not to get too dirty for her either. So I really was good, and you should bring me all the treats on my list.

Thank you Santa!



Something I've been thinking about a lot lately are the goals I have, both long-term(2010 as a whole) and the more immediate ones.

2010 goals:

  • Successfully compete at Beginner Novice with Naughtie
  • Work to overcome my own fears and confidence issues ( I know this will be something I struggle with my entire life, but if I can honestly make progress I will be happy)
  • Get X out to a schooling show
  • Consistently be able to jump 3' courses
  • Move up to Novice by the end of the year
  • Become solid at First Level with Kaye
  • Work with Twinkie both on the flat and over fences
January/February Goals:
  • Work on my laterals, especially off my left leg
  • Start jumping again
  • Work to get Kaye cadenced at the canter
  • Work with Naughtie to get her supple through the back and to lighten her sides
I really think they are all within my reach this year. If I work hard, I can definitely achieve what I want to. It's just a matter of putting the work in.


So this is Christmas, and what have you done? Another year older, a new one just begun...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas is in four days!! I am so not ready!!! But only two more days of work (yay!) And Blair will be home in two days!!!!!! Can't wait!!!!

Anyway, made it out to the barn Friday after work. Bonnie was just heading up to the house, but Taryn was out in the ring on Bugsy, along wiht Katie on Naughtie and Astrid was on Kaye. But Astrid had said I could have Kaye and she'd get on Fanny bareback. So I quickly changed into riding clothes and put my saddle on Kaye and we headed out to the arena. Taryn was actually pretty much finished with Bugs, so she headed inside soon after I got there, but Katie stayed out and was still working Naughtie some. Kaye gave me a really good ride, she was on the bit and working up in a pretty decent frame without even trying. I was pretty pleased with that. We worked on some laterals, leg yields and shoulder ins. Plus we did the shoulder in, 10 meter circle, haunches in exercise a few times. Then I asked her for some canter work. I have to say, I really regret teaching her to do flying changes. I was trying to do the three loop serpentine of the arena with the middle loop at a counter canter. Well she kept trying to change on me. I was really getting mad at her!! Other than that we had a really good ride though.

Saturday morning I was looking forward to getting out to the barn to ride. But when I woke up I was in a winter wonderland! It snowed overnight. Goody. Roads were terrible in New Brighton, I didn't even try to get anywhere. It was almost 2:00 by the time the got my roads cleared. By that time I didn't think there was any point to me going out to the barn. I figured Bonnie would be heading up to the house soon. Plus it wouldn't give me much time before I'd have to come home and get ready for the holiday party. So I just stayed home until I went to Astrid's at 6:00 for the party.

We had a pretty good time. Everyone was there except for Taryn. She was worried about the roads since her car doesn't handle the snow too well. But there was lots of good food and the kids all had fun with the gift exchange. And then we sat down to watch the cheesy Zac Efron horse movie. Great movie to mock. But Astrid's DVD player isn't working right and so we got about halfway into the movie and then it froze. We didn't even get to the good mocking parts. Well Astrid wanted to try again. And the remote for the DVD player doesn't work, so you couldn't fast forward to the part it had stopped at. So we watched the whole first half again. And then it stopped at the same part. By that time it was after 9:00 and I was ready to head home. It was still snowing a little bit and I wanted to get home before the roads got too bad. So everyone pretty much headed out at that time.

Luckily by Sunday morning it had stopped snowing and the roads were fine so I was able to make it out to the barn. Bonnie and I worked on some stalls and then Taryn came out. So she and I had a dressage lesson on Bugs and Kaye. Worked on some leg yeilds first and then moved on to half-passes. Which both of us pretty much sucked at. Bonnie had us do this half-pass exercise. We only used half the arena, so the quarterline was out centerline. We turned down the centerline and half-passed left to the rail and then half-pass right to the other rail, then half-pass left back to the other rail and then half-pass right to the centerline. It was so hard! Neither of us did it real great, but it's something to work on. We gave the horses a break then and let them stretch for a few minutes. Then we did some canter work. First Bonnie had us do simple changes through the walk both ways. And then the counter-canter serpentine. Kaye was wanting to change her leads, but I was able to keep her from doing it. So that was an improvement. Then Bonnie had us canter a 20 meter circle on the correct lead, halt at the gate, counter-canter a 20 meter circle, halt at the gate and then canter another circle on the correct lead. Kaye is so used to doing things for the little kids that when I asked for the counter-canter she just ignored me and picked up the correct lead. It was like she was saying "Jen that's wrong, but don't worry I'll fix it for you" So I brought her back to a stop and asked for the counter-canter again. That time she picked it up. Good lesson, lots of new things to work on. I'm really having a lot of fun trying out some new dressage things with Kaye this winter. And I think she's actually enjoying herself too. As much as she likes the kids, I think she gets a little bored. And so she likes learning some more advanced things, even if it is dressage.

The new Winter/Spring USEA Omnibus is out. And so I started thinking about eventing this summer. I really wnat to get out as much as I can possibly afford. And I talked to Bonnie about horses to event. Don't get me wrong, I love my horse dearly and I'd love to be able to event him. And someday I will hopefully. But right now, he's still green over fences and he tends to get very exurberant. And that scares me a little bit. He really needs Bonnie to take him out a few times to get some experience. But I can't afford to pay for that and still be able to event myself. So X will not be my event horse this year. Now, Kaye, again I love her dearly. I'm having so much fun doing upper level dressage with her. And I love to jump her at home and in stadium. I just really don't feel like another wild cross country ride liek we had at Erie. So she's out. So then I thought what about Naughtie? It weird because I feel just as comfortable jumping her as I do Kaye and Miss. And I know Naughtie is pretty calm, so I think she'll be a good, solid horse for me to event. So I talked to Bonnie about it and she thought it sounded good, so Naughtie and I will be headed out this summer. I'd like, if I can afford it, to do about 1 HT a month. Lost Hounds in June, South Farm the beginning of July, possibly Gemwood the end of July, EHSC in August and then South Farm in September. I'd like to start in May at Greater Dayton but I'm not too fond of the officials there and I don't think I'd get a fair shot, so it's not really worth spending the money. So hopefully it will work out. If I get the new job I applied for I should be able to event with the pay increase. So fingers crossed.


I don't want a lot for Christmas, there is just one thing I need...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Well the holidays are fast approaching and like every other year, I'm frantically trying to get ready. Case in point I just took my Christmas photos last weekend. Friday night I stopped at the barn and spent an hour groom the pony, I put his sheet and jammies on him, cleaned his stall so he'd stay nice and clean for Saturday. I headed out to the barn in the morning with my Nikon camera and appropriately dressed in red for our pictures. Helped out with the kids in the morning and then in the afternoon Katie and I headed outside to take the pictures. Stupid, goofball pony decided he had to act like an idiot outside. He was dancing around and managed to slip in some mud and went down on his side. He was covered in mud. I was so pissed at him. So X went back in his stall and I brought Kaye out. Ended up taking her up on the driveway by the pine trees and we got some really cute pictures.

So Sunday Mom and I made plans to go out and do some of our Christmas shopping. The plan was to go up to Mom's about 8:00, we'd get Dad up and then head out like 8:30 or 9:00. Well I went to leave at 8:00 and everything was a sheet of ice! No way was I driving on that. Called Mom to let her know, and I headed back upstairs to cuddle with Squalor for a while. Finally about 9:30 I heard the salt trucks go by and I decided to try getting up to Mom and Dad's. I managed to get up there and I only slid once, but no way was I ready to try and get to Cranberry. So I just chilled there and watched some tv for a while. Finally about 1:00 Mom and I headed out. We actually did manage to get a lot of shopping done. I got both of the girls done, something for Dad and part of Uncle Ralph's present. Mom got some stuff for the girls, plus somethings for Dad, and I few things for me. All in all pretty productive shopping day. But man was I tired after just a couple hours of shopping! Way more than I would have been had I spent the whole day mucking stalls at the barn. Well, now I'll I have to do is pick up a couple of gift cards for Todd and Kris and Uncle Bill and Aunt Debbie, pick up the rest of Dad's gift and Uncle Ralph's. And then figure out what to get my Mom and Aunt Sandy. Always the hard ones!


The End of an Era

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

So I made an offer on the house last week. Spent two hours over at Northwood's offices Wednesday night filling out the gazillion forms that it involved. Seller was supposed to give us an answer on Thursday. I'm on edge all day waiting to hear, finally Lynn calls me at like 8:00. Apparently the seller (who like almost 60) was working as an extra on the new Denzel Washington movie in Pittsburgh all day and wasn't able to give her an answer. So it's another day of playing the waiting game. Finally Lynn calls Friday evening. Of course it's bad news. Apparently, he was contacted by one of the people who couldn't get financing two months ago. They are still interested in buying the house. And so he's going to give them another month or so to come up with the money. He basically told Lynn that he didn't want to pay her commission so he wouldn't even consider any offers she brought him. Well thanks Asshole!

So I was supposed to do something with Mattykins Friday night, but honestly by that time I didn't really feel like going out at all. So I went up to Mom's and we watched some TV for a while. Saturday morning I was out to the barn early. Took a lesson on Naughtie before the kids all rode. Bonnie had me tack her up with the draw reins and I rode in my little spurs. She was pretty good, Taryn had been riding her a bit and you could tell. She wasn't quite as stiff bending and her sides were better. Then Rachel and I took lunge lessons on X. It was a short day at the barn, I had to get out early so I could make it home in time to get ready to go to Pegasus. It was the last weekend for the downtown location and so Mattykins and I had made plans to go.

Luckily we stayed away from any and all deer on the way into the city. Joni and her friend Jamie ended up going with us and we met Crystal and her boyfriend Antonio there. It was a good time. We found out Pegasus wasn't completely closing, just the downtown location. Thursday and Friday nights at the Eagle will be 18 and over Pegasus nights. But it just won't be the same. We danced the night away and closed down the place at 2:00. It was fun to be there again and see some of the regulars from before. Plus a lot of new, different people. And it was just a lot of fun to go dancing again. It's been so long since I've been able to do that, I really missed it.

Sunday morning I slept in a little bit and then headed out to the barn. Bonnie and I got some stalls done and then I tacked up Kaye for a dressage lesson. I had a really good ride, worked on my laterals. I'm finally really getting the hang of the half-pass. We worked some more on doing a shoulder in to a small circle and then haunches in. I still have some trouble with the haunches in. For some reason I just can't get the correct feel for it. But I'm getting better. I had to laugh though, next summer I'll be the only beginner novice rider warming up for dressage with upper level movements!


There is no secret so close as that between a rider and his horse -Robert Smith Surtees

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thanksgiving weekend was nice, very relaxing which is something that I don’t get all that often. Tom and Maryann had gone to New York so I was feeding his ponies Wednesday evening through Friday evening. They are super easy to care for of course. Thanksgiving itself really ended up being a lazy day. I got up and fed at Tom’s in the morning and then I came home, put the PJ’s back on and crawled in bed with Squalor. It was great. Squalie-cat loved it as well. As soon as a laid down again he was immediately on my shoulder, almost like he was trying to keep me in bed. Anyway I ended up not getting up again until it was time to get ready to go to Aunt Sandy’s.

Dinner was small this year. Todd, Kris and the girls were at her family’s for dinner and Daddy had to work. But the food was delicious as always. And then Sheri and Joe stopped by after dinner. I did have to get up and leave to go feed at Tom’s. But I had filled water and laid out hay in the morning so I only had to dump grain in the stalls and bring the ponies inside. Didn’t take very long at all. Then when I got back to Aunt Sandy’s Todd and crew had arrived. And Todd had found a job for me to apply for. It’s at Heritage Valley, it’s an HR Consultant job. The primary location is at the HR Offices in Moon Twp, but some travel would be required to the two hospitals. And the best part is that it would be a pretty significant pay increase. Even just the starting rate is about $7 an hour more than I make now. And hopefully with my experience I would start somewhere in the middle. The mid point of the salary range is about double what I make now. Plus it would almost be like even more of a raise since I wouldn’t be spending $92 a month to park, and I wouldn’t be spending as much in gas. Moon Twp is a lot closer than Oakland, plus not nearly as much of a hassle to get there. Aunt Sandy of course is helping me out and got Dr. Yakish to give me a reference. And she talked to the COO of the hospital to put in a good word for me. And Aunt Sandy knows the CEO of the hospital. So fingers crossed. I’m hoping Aunt Sandy’s help will at least get me the interview and then I just need to dazzle them and get the job.

Friday morning I had to feed both at Tom’s and Bonnie’s. Got all the ponies fed and then started cleaning some stalls while I waited for Bonnie, Astrid and Ethan. We got a lot done that day. I picked horsechild’s stall and then the kids and I cleaned the four stallions. Buster and Mystic weren’t too bad. And Ethan and Astrid had cleaned M-N-M on Wednesday, so he only needed picked out. Spot of course, was the worst. It took all afternoon to dig it out and clean it. But it was nice to get that side cleaned. Now we just need to get some of the empty stalls over there cleaned out so the outside horses can come in. Before we left Astrid and I took turns lunging on X. He’s such a good boy on the lunge line. Astrid though, I couldn’t believe that she shortened the stirrups on my saddle to ride. She’s taller than me, if anything she should have to lengthen them! Feed Tom’s horses on my way home and then I quickly got cleaned up and over to Aunt Sandy’s for leftovers. Watched the Pitt-WVU game, which was enough to drive me to drink. Don’t really want to talk about it.

Saturday I slept in a bit and didn’t make it to the barn until later. Rode on the lunge first with Astrid on Naughtie. Astrid’s trying, I know she is, but she has that horse so dead sided. And not bending at all. I would end up pounding my inside leg on her just to get her to move over, only she would just speed up. She has no concept now of independent leg. So that means she’s going to be getting lots of lessons with spurs and draw reins. I did have to laugh because once I put Astrid on her, she didn’t dare cut her circle short. Not because Astrid was keeping her out, but because she knew she wasn’t allowed to do that with me. Then I rode X with the group. Rachel rode Airy, Astrid on Kaye and Katie on Naughtie. We did the cavaletti’s with them, but bowed out of the jumping. Now quite ready to jump my own beastie yet, he tends to get a little too exuberant over fences, especially when he hasn’t jumped in a while. After the kids finished jumping I did some canter work with him. He started out being a jerk. But we did the exercise where we canter a circle, stop at the wall, turn on the haunches and canter the other direction. Rinse and repeat. After we did that a few times he was cantering very nicely.

Sunday of course I was back out at the barn. Bonnie and I got a lot done. Twinkie, X, Bugs, Cuddles, Miss and Kaye’s stalls all got cleaned. Heather brought Ari and Elaina out, along with their friends, another Elaina and Jenna. The kids all rode Fanny and then Ari and Jenna went to go interview Lisa Culver for their Girl Scout project. After they finished there, Heather dropped the two of them off to help clean stalls. It was nice to have their help with things like getting sawdust and whatnot. Anyway Bonnie and I were just starting to feed when Taryn and her Mom showed up. So Bonnie finished feeding and Taryn and I rode. Taryn got Bugs, who was not all that happy to have been ignored for a few days. And I rode Naughtie. I wanted to spend some time with her in draw reins and with spurs. She really needed the work on bending and lightening her sides. After we worked on the flat for a while I popped her over a few jumps. First cross-bar she just tried to stop at it. After that I really got after her going down to the fence. Of course though I ended up having to turn the fence intoa small oxer before she's even bother to jump it. Silly TBs have to make everything so difficult.