Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Ride #15: Bouncy

Recipe for Bounce:

Take one fit horse who is used to being ridden five times a week.
Add, hock injections
Mix in a cold front with 10” inches of snow
Fold in temps in the 60’s
Sprinkle with a new set up in the arena where the jumps are stacked against the wall instead of smack dab in the middle
Dust lightly with the sounds of sliding ice and dripping water
Add a pinch of chicken scratch against the metal siding
Stir briskly and let stand in a stall for 10 days

The lesson was focused on keeping him focused and moving forward, since his tendency was to go up and down like a carousel horse. We worked on the lateral stuff and some canter. I got a couple of changes, but then we stopped. I was not being as effective in my aides as I should have been, mostly from being under the weather and not feeling great. Plus, his feet are long. We are on a six week cycle, but the last four days or so are tough and if I’m not riding well we end up tripping a lot.

After we worked on the canter work, Amanda had me doing an exercise where I picked up my bend, rode a ten meter circle, changed the bend and rode shoulder in across the arena, to another ten meter circle, and repeat. I could not get Ashke to move forward. I ended up asking for a dressage whip, which he shied violently away from when Amanda handed it to me, but it did make him move forward a bit more briskly. We tried it at the trot and I touched him once with the whip and suddenly we had a lot of go. He struggles to give me shoulder in if we aren’t on the rail. This was a great exercise to really emphasize that we can dressage all over the arena. 

That was about it for the lesson. When I walked Ashke into the barn and pulled his bridle, I always turn to hang it up, which is usually his opportunity to rub his face on my back. Tonight, ice slid off the roof at just that moment and suddenly he was across the aisle. He decided that was his opportunity to take a walk about down the barn aisle, until he reached his stall. I took him back and unsaddled. Gave him carrots and grain. 

Monday, February 11, 2019

Math, The Universe and Everything

When Tristan was in kindergarten, when you asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, his answer was always a scientist. He had dreams of grandeur involving fast cars and magical devices he would create that would make time travel possible, or space travel possible or things blow up in a messy fashion. There was no limit to the things he could do with science, because at its core is math and he had been raised to believe math is easy.

It started when he was eighteen months old. We were visiting a friend who is an educator and she said that math is made more difficult for kids because they are told over and over that math is hard. They internalize that fact and so when they start math in pre-school and kindergarten, they expect to struggle and since parents were also raised on the idea that math is hard, they expect their kids to struggle. It’s a self-fulfilling cycle. My friend started teaching Tristan that math was easy at eighteen months.

J: “Tristan, are you ready for a math problem?”
T: “Yes.”
J: “Ok, listen carefully, there is a parking lot with a 100 cars in it.” Tristan nods. “4o of them are blue, and twenty of them are yellow. The rest are red. Are you ready for your math question?”
T: “Yes.”
J: “What is your name?”
T: “Tristan!”
J: “Good job, See? Math is easy.”

We continued that process for years, right up until he started in first grade, and then the ground work we had laid came to fruition. Math was easy. I really loved the math process at the school he was attending. They had a page of math that they did every day. They completed the front page in class and the back page at home. The page had a counting and tallying problem, a graphing problem, an addition problem (which progressed in difficulty as they went up in grade), a word problem, a geometry problem and a money problem. One of every kind of math he might experience. They were easy for him. He excelled at math in first grade.

Crazy Horse Monument, Black Hills, SD

Can I tell you that the most influential person in your child’s life, after their parents, are their teachers. We ran into our first roadblock in second grade and although I have no proof, I believe Tristan’s issues stemmed from the fact that he had two moms. He was in a second grade class that operated in a very fucked up manner, excuse my French. The teacher had the kids arranged in five rows of five students. Every day she would call up a row to drop off their math homework, sometimes two rows. She never picked Tristan’s row. She would rotate the students every week and go through the same process. By the time I was fed up with the amount of homework he had in his backpack, Tristan had sixty pages of math he was supposed to be keeping organized and zeros on all the assignments. He got pretty tired of me asking if he had been called to turn in his work. By the time I figured out what she was doing, it took us over an hour after school to organize and turn in all of the paperwork. She said it must have been an oversight on her part that he was never called up. It had been more than two months. Shortly after that, he was sitting in our bed working on his homework and suddenly said to himself “you are so stupid.” I was flabbergasted because we knew he had never heard those kind of words from us. I was in the principle’s office the next morning and he was pulled from the class.

The eyes on this child.

In seventh grade, he had a math teacher that he did not mesh with. Part of the issue was her very strong accent, which he struggled to understand, and partly it was her attitude toward the students in her class. This generation understands respect and cooperation, but they will not tolerate being bullied, especially by people in positions of authority. This woman used derogatory language, passive aggressive approaches and dismissive, disrespectful attitude. Tristan had a real problem with her approach.  He was not the only one. There were a group of students that did not do well in her class, all of which were considered “advanced” math students, so that group was pulled out and put in a study hall where they did their math as a self-directed, self-taught math class. Basically, math was an independent study in seventh grade. They had each other to help, and the math program was an online study program, so I got access to the website and taught Tristan myself. It went okay, however, I was not cut out to really be a teacher and never had the desire to homeschool, plus math is not my strong suit. But we got him through with solid A’s, which landed him in the Honors class in eighth grade.

In eight grade it did not bode well when I told the teacher he had been in basically an independent study the prior year, and she responded by saying that was great since she was pretty hands off in her teaching style. This was an Honors Math class, which was a Freshman level Algebra class for HS credit, and it did not mesh well with him. He did okay until the final exam, but he really didn’t excel the way he had earlier in his math process. It think that due to his earlier experiences with math specifically, he was finding the self-taught path difficult to manage, especially as the math got harder. It was his first C in any class up to that point.

But then he met Ms Stewart. She was his geometry teacher and under her tutelage he excelled. He loved geometry and his confidence began to rebound. He knew math was easy and once again he was finding it so. She was an amazing woman and one of the main reasons he finished HS. Freshman year was awesome in the math department, and his desire to be a scientist soared. She taught exactly the way he learned and he seems to have a knack for geometry, remembering the formulas and intuitively understanding the math. Life was good again. 

Then, in his sophomore year, he took Algebra II Honors with a teacher who had a flipped classroom. This meant that the students were given a study guide they were supposed to follow, with test dates and homework assignments. They were to watch math videos at home and learn the math, then come into class to do the homework. The teacher than went from student to student and spent two or three minutes a class helping them with any problem they might have. It was an unmitigated cluster fuck of a classroom, with no shared classroom teaching experience, since Tristan was trying to stick to the schedule he had been given. He started going to Ms Stewart’s classroom at the end of school and getting her help to understand the math. He worked hard, but it never really sank in and he barely passed the class. His understanding and comprehension of Algebra was damaged, as was his self-confidence. 

The following year, he took the most difficult math class on the school schedule and excelled. Trig and Pre-Calc was a cinch, since he was back in Ms Stewarts class and he passed a much harder math class with high A’s. I tell you, a teacher can make or break a student. 

In his senior year of High School, he decided to become an Aerospace Systems Engineering Technology major and build rockets for Space X. Guess what that requires? You got it - Algebra. It is a Core Math class that all students have to pass. Guess who struggled with it his first semester?

College Algebra. Not for the faint of heart.

Let’s just say, it would have been better for all of us if he had withdrawn from class before the last drop date. We missed it by one day. At the point that he tried to drop, he had a 30% in the class and had zero hope of passing. We determined that there was no way at that point he could bring his grade up and so he stopped going to class. We reenrolled him in the same class this semester and I promised to help him figure out the math. One way or another. Have I mentioned that I struggled with Algebra for Business (a watered down version) when I was in school? I am determined to figure it out and drag him screaming through this class.

I have helped him review the math he has been taught so far. We have worked through most of Chapter One. It’s been hard finding the time to go over it because schedules have been really upside down, but so far he has scored a 90% and a 100% on his two quizzes. He had another quiz yesterday and so the night before we needed to review. He was working until almost eleven and I have to be up at 5:30. It didn’t work out to review on Friday (his other day off) because we were both fried and brain dead at the end of the trip to Vail. I went to sleep on the couch about 8 pm, woke up when he got home and helped him review for almost two hours. By that time we were both tired and making stupid mistakes with the math, so it was time to be done. I was not confident that we had reviewed enough for him to be solid in his understanding, but I have come to the conclusion that he KNOWS how to do the math. He knows. The biggest issue is that he does it in his head, or he skips steps, or sometimes he really is genuinely confused by a process, but once shown he has it down. I hoped for the best, knowing we really didn’t have time to do any more.

He texted me from class right after the test.

Answer me 

(I was trying to work and he is impatient, to say the least) I asked him what was happening.

All of the questions on the quiz
From the same homework 
We did last night

Literally, three of the four questions were problems we had worked the night before. Exactly the same problems. He got three of the four questions right. The fourth threw him but I haven’t had a chance for him to show me how he solved it, so I don’t know how he did on that one. But the other three he aced. Sometimes the universe takes a hand. The questions we worked that were on the test were not assigned homework, but problems I had picked at random for him to practice on. He was so stoked, he was beside himself. It made the lack of sleep, the vertigo and the math all worth it.

I vow that by the end of this semester he will believe in his ability to do math again.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Little by Little

Little by little the bathroom is coming together. The tile looks very good in the room. It was a good match.

Tristan even said he likes it so much more than he would have liked the rock walls.

We picked a pewter grout and it works really well with both tile colors 
It’s a great match for the grey in the white tile and offsets the black tile, especially on the floor, really well.

Highly polished and still a bit dirty.

We got the wall painted behind the toilet, and the toilet put in.
Tristan is happy to have his own toilet again.

The contractor that is cutting the granite countertop said it should be ready by the end of this coming week. I’m hopeful that everything will be complete by Sunday. It will have a square sink and chrome faucet.

This would be the reason for the chrome faucet.
That is a rain shower combination shower head we installed.
It has five settings, one of which includes the rain option.

This took a lot longer than expected but it looks pretty awesome. 
We are waiting for the silicone to set and the handles to be installed. 

We still have the mirror to be removed, the dry wall fixed, paint, install floorboards, finish pony wall with dry wall and paint, add support rail for the counter, frame out the bedroom door and hang the new barn door. It’s getting there bit by bit. I probably won’t do an update again until the final reveal, but I guess it really depends on how long before the countertop and sink are put in. Once the shower is functional, Tristan will have the use of his bathroom again. So very close.


The ride that wasn’t.

I hate this time of year. I am struggling with some inner ear issues and the weather is not cooperating at all. I just have to take a deep breath and recognize that although I have things that are fun and exciting to do, giving him an extra day or two off is not going to mess up our progress. This time of winter is always hard. Always. It’s cold. It’s damp. Body parts hurt. It’s hard to find the motivation. I just need to take a deep breath and understand that this too will pass.

The water bucket contraption worked like a charm.
The doors were opened at 9 am and there wasn’t any ice at all in the bucket.

Warm mash for my homie.

He wants you to know he hates mash.
He gets it everywhere.

I am pounding the decongestant and taking it easy the rest of the day. I hope to be back in the saddle tomorrow.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Spookville: Ride 14

Do you know what you get when you take a horse in high level training, being ridden four or five days a week, put them on stall rest for a week, have temps drop into the sub categories, and dump 8 “ of snow? Spookville central.

I wasn’t able to ride on Friday, because I took Tristan to Vail to ski. It was a great ski day and he really wanted to try his new helmet. He was working Saturday and Sunday, and Jenn couldn’t take Friday off, so I did.

Mountains driving I-70 toward Vail, just as the sun comes up.

Mountains driving I-70 on our way home.

He was on the lift as they opened and got to the back bowls to ski. He was having a great time, but he had a horrible headache that he could only relieve by tipping his head forward and pushing his helmet back. We left early because it hurt so badly he had the equivalent of a migraine. When we got home, I took the liner out of the new one, swapped it for the liner in his chrome helmet, and when he tried it on he was so happy. The new liner made the helmet too tight but he will be able to ski in it now.

The blue things gave it just enough thickness that it made the helmet too small.

That was Friday. Today, when I got to the barn, it was 18 degrees and felt colder than that. Ashke’s water was frozen over and looked like it had been broken once already. Ashke may have had a small drink, but it didn’t look like he had drank very much. I decided that I would go grocery shopping first and headed out. I thought about the water issue. Ashke is in an end stall and his door doesn’t close tight, although I plan to address that tomorrow with a bungee, and the door at the end of the barn isn’t tight. I decided to get one big bucket and another slightly smaller bucket and sandwich them together with shavings between them. I figured that the air temp at that end of the barn is cold enough that the buckets are freezing from the walls in (I was correct.)

Three hours in his stall with zero ice. The other buckets left hanging had a skim of ice on them over the same time period.

Then it was time to ride. The temps had risen enough that I was able to ride without gloves. Rachel was out to ride Laz. Both Laz and Ashke were in the same boat. Ashke had hocks injected and Laz had his stifles. Because of the weather and my son’s need to ski, neither of the horses had been out in a week. The indoor was a cacophony of sliding ice, running water, dripping moisture and banging sounds. Both Laz and Ashke were a startle-spook-startle mess. 

Wary wary noisy

I got a bunch of good walking, some solid trot and a little bit of canter. We had four changes at the end of the ride, which were amazing. I was able to keep Ashke focused on me and I basically ignored the rest of his reactions, figuring it was great practice for a show and expected him to do his work even with the noise. At the end of our ride, Ashke drank down almost two inches of water out of what amounts to a small muck bucket. That made me really happy I got the water situated this way.

He got a hot mash and I helped Manuel lock the horses in before heading home. I’m meeting Flambe tomorrow at 11 to ride.

Friday, February 8, 2019


My professional life was pretty weirded out by the ex employee who called today and said that although I had forgotten who she was, she had not forgotten what WE did to HER, and that someday she would get retribution. Mind you, I’ve never met the woman, never spoke to her in person, and she worked for us less than two months in 2016. Come to find out, these type of calls from this woman are commonplace amongst the managers of our facility, and that she has gone so far as to tell one of our managers she was going to kill, cook and eat him. WTF is wrong with people? I kind of felt like I should be eating lamb chops while listening to her. (Yes, it has been reported to the authorities. Yes, we have security at the plant. I guess she is a wily thing that knows how to spoof numbers and isn’t considered a big enough threat to actually track her down.) Saiph suggested that bath salts could be involved, which would explain a lot.

I managed to pick up a screw in my tire and when I came out of work, the front left tire was totally flat. I have to say that the experience of changing a tire in snow and 8 degrees was one I could have done without. Thankfully, I have stuff in the car that I could use as a mat to kneel on. The new parking brake system in the Subaru may be my only complaint about the car. It didn’t set the first several times I tried, although I didn’t realize that until I went to pull the tire off, pulled the car off the jack and had it roll backwards. Thankfully the axle caught on the inside edge of the tire, which kept it from crunching on the ground and allowed me the space to get the jack back under the lift point and rejack the car up. That really sucked. I’m also thinking I may have bent the jack, when the car rolled. Does anyone know of a floor jack that folds up and fits in the small pocket where my car jack resides?

It didn’t help that we were on a hill and the snow was not very cooperative.

I have the tire on and the lug nuts tightened, just have to wrestle the jack back down.
The good news is that it only took about twenty minutes and I had waterproof gloves in the car.

Brand new tire with a screw.

I had to go to Costco to get it fixed, so I did our shopping at the same time. When I got home the dogs had ripped a hole in the sheets and eaten a tube of toothpaste. Fun times.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019


Tristan’s third Ruroc helmet.

With the Shockwave sound system inside

He can’t wait to test it on the slopes.