Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Bathroom Saga

We have a bathroom that is in pretty bad shape. We have been living in our condo for almost 20 years and while we have added paint several times and replaced the flooring on all three floors, big renovation projects have not happened yet. We have two big ones planned. The first is the bathroom off Ts room. The second is our walk out basement. There has been a slow water leak in the room for the past twenty years and the floor has rotted out. The entire bathroom needs to be overhauled.

You can see the water damage on the left next to the tub. 
The baseboards in the house are all cardboard, so there’s little pieces of brown cardboard all over. 
And whoever decided to paint the wall green really should be shot.
It’s even better in real life.

We are replacing the tub with a shower and glass door. This will require tearing out the tub (to fix the floor) and the walls (which may also be compromised). That means that my 18 year old young man who only wears monochrome clothing and spends more time doing his hair in the morning than I take all week, gets to pick the details for the bathroom. 

This is the tile he choose for the shower, thinking water over rock would be cool.
We are applying some pressure to get him to look at something else, since keeping this clean would be a bitch.
Although, I think it is beautiful tile and could be used as an accent wall.

And I’m not sure it really goes with the black time he choose for the floor.
Not to mention my handy woman who is doing the remodel is not happy about the edges on the tile he selected.
I’m afraid we would lose so much tile sq footage from having to make the edges straight, that the discount price would no longer apply.

We went to Home Depot tonight and looked at vanities. We need one without a top, so we can have a custom top made for the space.
The cabinet is 30”, the space is 60” and there is a toilet too close to the vanity to be able to install a six foot vanity.
So we will buy a 60” slab of something to top this cabinet.
T liked this model better than the one with two bigger drawers. I’m hoping his plethora of hair products will find homes in them.

He also picked out this set of lights to replace the ugly round bulbs we currently have in there.
They look like glass and I think they will go well with the rest.

This is the tile we are encouraging, that he likes.
Much easier to install and maintain. Plus, it will help lighten the room and not make it appear to be a black hole.
And we are going to look at this piece as a possible tile for the floor. It will either be this one or the one in the top photo.
He really likes the aesthetics of black, white and grey. We will have to look at this particular tile to see if the color is as nice as it looks.
It is turning into a monochrome look, for sure.

I love that my son has been both flexible and consistent in his understanding of the aesthetics of the tile we are looking at, while being flexible about the rock wall.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Dinner: Flank Steak and Roasted Veggies

This was a combination of yellow squash, zucchini, mushrooms, fingerling potatoes, Brussel Sprouts, asparagus, and pearl onions.
I drizzled the veggies with olive oil and mixed in some minced garlic, spread it on the tray and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.
About 40 minutes in the oven at 350.

Flank steak with Montreal Steak Seasoning from Costco
Cooked rare under the broiler
Also a little bit of heaven

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Ride #9: Aggravation

I met Flambe at the barn to ride on Sunday morning. She was on limited time, so I didn’t set up the Pixem. I went through the manual last time I tried to use the Pixem and didn’t find anything in the manual that told me what I was doing wrong. I will have to get to the barn early one day so I can play with the camera and beacons until I figure it out. It may also work better outside in the outdoor arena. I will try it out there the next time I am convinced the footing is good.

Kat was really up when Flambe mounted, which was a little scary to me. Kat is a Friesian with a touch of Arabian, and although she was standing well at the mounting block, she was very tense and up when they moved away. It took a little bit of riding for her to settle. During that time, Ashke was soft and listening, moving near and away from Kat without any tension. He felt good through his body and ready to work.

Then a couple of new to us horses came into the arena and Ashke got very tense. His body radiated tension, he wouldn’t relax or stretch down like he had been just a couple of moments before. He also wouldn’t trot forward, becoming more and more “up” in his movement, chomping on his bit and tossing his head behind vertical. He was pissed that there were other horses there. I tried all of my fall back exercises: trot serpentines with transitions off my seat (he fought me and tried to give me a canter each time I asked for an upward transition), leg yields and half passes, both of which were more sideways than forward and neither of which included any time of relaxation. I finally put him into a canter, which involved at least three attempts to bolt, but did seem to help with some of the tension.

I’m going to have to rethink my approach with Ashke. When this type of behavior has manifested in the past, I have yelled at him to knock it off. Sometimes I will also slap the side of his neck with my open hand. This has served to startle him out of his comfort zone and usually he gets better afterwards. He doesn’t like being in trouble. Yesterday, however, my process of kind of bullying him into behaving didn’t work and just made him more tense. So yelling at him to knock it off is now off the table since it made him more reactionary. Instead, I worked on descalation and trying to find relaxation. At one point we had stopped and were concentrating on standing still and Amanda’s mom commented that he was acting like a stallion who is feeling challenged by the other horses in the arena. She said that Laz can react the same way. It makes sense and felt very similar to how he reacts in the warm up ring at shows, so it’s at least some practice for me to figure out some coping mechanisms. We are going to have to have a talk about his manners if he is going to think of himself that way. I’m going to have to change from the “telling a gelding” and adapt into “ask a stallion”. 

He got focused and relaxed once the arena was empty and we got some nice canter transitions. Prior to that is was mostly trotting with changes of direction and bend all over the arena trying to find some relaxation. Sometimes it just doesn’t work the way you want it to. We worked on a lot of lateral work and some serpentines with transitions, but mostly he was sucked back and going up and down instead of forward. We did play with some half steps of really collected trot before working on our changes.

I am working on mixing up the changes with asking for a walk transition. I am using my voice for the cue. His upward transition is usually very obedient and the downward is less and less on the forehand, because he is stepping into it rather than falling into it. In the video below, we do changes down the arena, then do walk transitions back up the arena, so that he figures out he has to listen to me in order to get it right. I am beginning to slow the process down in my head and figure out the little things that I need to do to help him set up for the flying change a little better. Two months into this process and I am feeling pretty happy with our progress, even when we have days that are less than optimal.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

8th Ride

Ashke greeted me with a whinny and a head tossing demand for carrots. I obliged, then walked over to the show barn to use the bathroom. Jiggers (short for jigsaw puzzle, which is what her face reminded her owner of) stopped me and requested that I throw her frisbee for her, which I did several times. The arena was freshly drug and looked so very inviting that I was excited to get out on it. The one friendly barn cat stopped me and demanded pets, which she got, then I finally made my way back to Ashke. I got him out and groomed him, giving him the once over looking for issues, but there were none. I have been treating the left hind that has the scar tissue and thickness from his injury in 2016 with Surpass and it has taken the thickness down a lot. I will keep using it until all of the residual inflammation is gone. Saddled and bridled, then I pulled him into the indoor and we started our ride.

Shoulder in was okay, although it took a bit to get him moving forward with proper bend. I don’t know why this is a struggle right now, unless it is an early indicator that we need to get his hocks done again. We worked on them up and down the arena until I finally got two attempts in a row in each direction and we moved on to some lateral work.

We did leg yields at the trot across the arena in both directions from centerline. He was really good at keeping his body straight with just his shoulders leading by a hair. Then we did trot half pass from centerline to the rail. He was very good at that exercise. So then I did leg yield from the rail to centerline, straightened for two steps and then half passed back to the rail. We did that in both directions and he was so good.

The lateral movement gave way to trot serpentines with walk transitions. I concentrated on remaining soft and releasing a breath as I asked with my legs for a downward transition. He was soft in response and felt balanced and calm in the transitions. We moved from the trot to the canter, still working the serpentines with walk transitions. He listened very well and I am using me voice to help clarify what I want him to do while we are figuring out the changes. 

Next, we did a set of six flying changes, which were clean and crisp, although he did give me one a little early, going up and down the arena. I had been adding plenty of walk breaks in between the sets of exercises and Ashke was reaching and stretching well during the breaks. I decided to do a new exercise with walk transitions, We started with a 10 m canter circle starting at centerline, came back to centerline and did our transition, walked a couple of steps, then picked up the other lead. Another 10m circle and repeat. With walk transitions we got five circles the length of the arena. Then we did the exercise with flying changes. It was a mixed bag. We got the changes but they weren’t as smooth as I had hoped for. It’s hard to say if I was tired or if he was tired. We walked the length of the arena and did a set with the walk changes. Then tried the flying changes one more time. I think I was struggling to control my body. My legs were feeling tired. We finished up with some walk transitions and walked a loop to help him stretch.

He got more Surpass on his leg, a healthy feed of Purina Senior, plus two pounds of carrots. After I had put him away, I grabbed my bridle and headed for the wash rack. When I opened the door to the indoor, Candy was lunging Macho there. Macho is her Western Pleasure stallion that she had gelded last summer in order to be able to take him to more shows. He has the head described in The Black Stallion. It is very nice. He stopped and waited for me to greet him, then gave his mom a look like “see, she did want to admire me”. I scratched his cheeks and his jaw line, commenting for about the one hundredth time how much I love his head. He passes his head onto his offspring, as well as his temperament, and I really like how they move. He’s not small and not built downhill for a QH. Really nice horse. Candy does a great job.

I rinsed off the bridle, scooped up the apples Ashke left in the arena and then cleaned the bridle and tucked everything away. It was a great ride and I look forward to our ride on Sunday.

NWSS 32nd Edition

Yesterday was the 32nd year in a row that I have gone to Stockshow. The National Western Stock Show grew out of the great cattle drives in the fall. Cattle ranchers from Kansas, Nebraska, the Dakotas, Texas, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico would sort their herds in the fall, gather up the cattle that they wanted to sell, and drive them slowly (so they wouldn’t lose weight) to the cattle sales in Kansas City and Denver. At the cattle sales, buyers from back east would bid on the cattle, then load them into cattle cars and ship them by rail back to the Eastern markets. As great swathes of Open Range  was bought up by ranchers, who fenced in the great prairies with barbed wire, the great cattle drives slowly dwindled. As did the men and some women who made their living working cattle from the back of their horse. As an aside, if you want to read a great book about a good man with a horse, told during the era when cattle and horses and open plains made up a lifestyle, look for Monte Walsh, by Jack Schaffer. It’s now on Amazon in the Kindle store and is one of my favorite books of all time. The Stockshow grew out of that tradition.

Now, instead of the cattle being brought in by ranchers in huge herds, a lot of the animals brought to the Stockshow are part of the 4-H program, and FFA programs still being offered in these states. Kids raise cattle, pigs, sheep, llamas, and goats as part of the 4-H program, bring them to stock show and show them in what amounts to a halter class for the animals. Then the animals are auctioned off. One of the stories they shared this year was of a kid who lost her father and because of that, her mother, herself and two sibs were homeless. They were taken in by a neighbor and given a RV to live in. The girl was given a yearling calf that she worked with through the 4-H program. They got the steer to the auction where he sold for 140k. That money helped get her family back on it’s feet and into a home of their own. I was a 4-H kid, learning horsemanship and cooking. The lessons I learned then have stayed with me throughout my life.

This year, like last, I went with a group of women from the barn. Last year it was G and I and myself. This year we brought Flambé and JL, Navaar’s owner. We met in a heavy snowstorm at the park n ride in Thornton, and I drove us down. I took back roads and was about to pull into my normal parking lot, when G and I protested. We ended up driving around and parking in a remote lot with a shuttle, which picked up at the Event Center and took us directly there. They were right. It was a much better option when we were leaving at 9:30 at night. We parked in the snow and slogged through muddy water and slush to await our chariot. 

We started in the Event Center with a list of the food we planned to consume throughout the day. How can a day go wrong when it starts out that way? Popcorn and BBQ and Corn Dogs were on the list. There were some impromptu additions as we walked through the booths looking at things. I was in search of a scarf to round out the outfit I am putting together for the May show. It was the final piece I needed, although I am still thinking about getting black spur straps so they don’t clash with my boots. Anyway, we headed out to examine all of the things for sale at the show.

Thunder, the Bronco’s mascot and distant cousin of Ashke.

I can not begin to tell you how incredibly fun it was. I think we laughed for seven straight hours. They are witty and hilarious and get my sense of humor. It was a day filled with great company, good food and a lot of joy. Flambé was amazed at the number of items the food vendors were willing to dip into batter and drop into the deep fryer. We saw deep-fried Oreos, red-velvet oreos, snickers, mars bars, twinkies, donuts, funnel cake to name a few. At one point Flambé asked if we were in Texas, because of the number of fried foods. We said no, because in Texas there would have been friend butter.

She looked at me very skeptically. Really? Deep fried butter? Wouldn’t the butter melt and get all over?

I grinned and said, “On your hands, and your chin, and your cheeks, and dripping down your chest . . . . . Kind of like really good sex.”

Everyone howled.

We looked at a lot of jewelry, clothing, boots, hats, and jackets. By about 3:30, I was getting a bit hungry and so we stopped at my favorite grill and picked up food.

BBQ pork with mashed potatoes, corn and baked beans.
The roll was on the side (I didn’t eat it).

Hunger satisfied, we headed out to examine more stuff. We found a fudge seller and spent several minutes picking out and paying for fudge. I took a pretty good chunk of it home for T and J. Then we walked around the corner toward the horse trailers and in the place where one of our local dealers has been for years, was a Candy Maze instead. There were huge bins of misc candy and it was only 99 cents a pound. The kind of candy I was able to find when I was a kid, but isn’t in normal stores any more. I got Bit-o-Honey, Zotz, Smarties, Carmel Apple Pops, Charm Sweet & Sour pops, Tootsie Rolls and taffy from the bins, added a bag of Sugar Babies and an Abba-Zabba bar and walked out a happy camper. 

Picture of how I want to tie the scarf. For memory enhancement later.

I went to lead us downstairs to the Stadium Arena, when G said she wanted to finish the floor we were on, so we walked over to Steamboat Ranch. It was there that I found the scarf I didn’t realize I was missing. 

I forgot to get a pic of it in the packaging. You can’t really tell, but the knot is correct.

It is super soft, silk I think, and it goes with the shirt, vest and boots I will be wearing to show in. I am so happy that I am putting together an outfit that not only I like, but that I feel comfortable in. I loved the jacket that my mom made, but have never really felt comfortable in that style of clothes. I think this brings me back to my roots and puts me in a style that makes me feel me, that takes me back to my childhood and the first shows I ever went to. (I did have a powder blue show suit when I was sixteen that also worked as a disco outfit. I was so hip.) Flambé got a Kerrits jacket that was 30% off (don’t you love deals like that?) 

After we left that vendor, I led them down the stairs to the Stadium Arena. The Semen Sales people weren’t there (cracks me up) but there are always interesting vendors in that section. We were about to leave the Stadium Arena when I saw it . . . A bag with lots of gear loops and pockets. I squeee’d in joy and rushed over. The guy behind the counter wasn’t satisfied with just selling me a bag, he wanted to show us all the bells and whistles. The brand is Dajo (Dave and Jo. Married couple that created the line) and they were freaking cool. I ended up buying the medium one (they had three different sizes) because the small one was not big enough of all of my stuff, especially my iPad and the large one was too big for daily use. It would have been great for a day pack, but a bit much for my “purse”.

I really should have taken a picture at either of their booths. We visited both.

Pic from the Dajo Adventure Gear website.

Front sling harness
It’s actually a tripoint sling, if you like that style

You can also bundle everything up in the pouch in the back and carry it by the little loop.
Nice option that I will never use.

Tripoint attachment in the front. Keeps the bag comfortable and doesn’t add weight to your shoulders.

G also got one for herself in the same size, only in royal blue. I was tickled because I collect bags the way other people collect shoes.

We left the Stadium arena and walked across the walkway to the Coliseum, passing food trucks we were too full to visit. When we walked into the Coliseum, G exclaimed “there are more shops over here”. I guess in the nine years she’s been going they’ve never made it to the Coliseum. We walked the circle of vendors, and stopped to purchase Colorado themed stickers for the cars. I got a Tinkerbell and a Death Star to go on my car. Thanks Flambé for getting them for us.

We were getting tired, so we walked back over to the Event Center and found our seats, after picking up a bag of popcorn on the way. It felt good to sit down for a while. It was easy to continue our conversations and sharing of stories while waiting for the Gambler’s Choice to start. Just as it was about to start, we made our way to the food vendor and purchased corn dogs, which might have been the best corn dogs I’ve ever eaten. Nothing like fair food.

Andalusian stallion presenting the colors.
The Anthem was a hard rock guitar rendition.
I thought that was a bit strange for the venue, but what do I know.

Action shots are blurry

We were in the stands really close to this jump. 
If you look close, this woman is competing without stirrups or a bit in her horse’s mouth.
I guess she damaged her ankles, had surgery on them, but can’t put any pressure in the stirrup.
Still jumping. Equestrians are crazy.

So, this event is the Gambler’s Choice. The jumps all have assigned values based on their difficulty.
You have one minute to accumulate as many points as you can. All of the jumps are in the 4’ range.
At the end of the minute, the rider has the option of jumping the joker fence, which carries a point value of 200.
The fence is 5’3” tall and if you knock it down, you lose 200 points off your score.
All of the riders tried and only a couple of them took down the top rail.

Some horses were more exuberant

Some of the horses got buried at the base of the jump, but leapt like gazelles.
If you took a rail down that jump was not able to be jumped again.
You could jump each jump twice, but that was it.

Joker fence. I don’t know how the rider managed to stay on.

Some horses opted to run into the fence rather than going over.
The next step the horse knocked the entire thing down.

Rider assessing the joker fence before making the attempt.

Some of the horse and rider combinations were awesome.
Some of them you wanted to beat the rider for the way they rode.

This was the horse that won the event.

Same horse jumping the Joker fence

All that was left at that point was to pick up our things, make our way to the shuttle and get back to the car. It was such a fun outing and the company was so awesome. I think we are going to make it an annual thing. 

Friday, January 18, 2019

Ride #7 with Lesson

So, when we last left our intrepid heroes, Ashke was head bobbing lame at the trot. Unable to horse at all, and pissed as shit at me. I spent a lot of time between Monday night and Wednesday night thinking about the issue. There was no true swelling that I could find in legs or chest. There was a spot that was sore to the touch on Monday, right where the girth and his front left leg connected, which he wanted rubbed. I wondered if it was his hocks (which we will have done in February - I talked to Amanda about scheduling his at the same time she gets Laz done) beginning to bother him. I talked to Chris and Saiph about all of the above possibilities. Then it hit me: I had made an equipment change between Saturday and Sunday.


See, I’ve been riding him in a Reinsman fleece lined western cinch and although it has worked just fine, I have been thinking about purchasing a TSF western girth for the long haul (the Reinsman is nylon over fleece and I wanted something 1) in brown to be matchy-matchy and 2) something with leather to make it easier to keep clean in the long run). Having been using a TSF girth for the Alta for almost four years and knowing how much he liked the girth, it seemed like a no brainer to order one for the western saddle. It was delivered on Saturday and I tried it for the first time on Sunday. With two rides under our belt in the new cinch, and both of those rides resulted in the bad behavior and subsequent lameness, it seemed like a viable theory.

When I got to the barn he greeted me with a bellowing whinny and was very happy to have carrots shoved in his face. I pulled him out and stripped off the blanket, then threw him on the lunge line. I think this was the first time I have lunged him in over a year. It’s just not something either of us really enjoys. He walked a couple of steps, which looked fine, then pushed forward into a nice, even trot. Rain’s rider had stopped to watch and said “he looks good there”.  He did look normal for him. We reversed direction and he was solid and rhythmic in the other direction as well. 

I took him in and groomed, then saddled him with the Reinsman cinch. I wasn’t even going to try the TSF girth again. Twice was enough. When I swung on and we moved off from the mounting block, he was forward and eager, moving into a trot with no urging, and I gave a huge sigh of relief that he wasn’t demonstrating any of his previous behavior. There was a touch of attitude (PTSD) when we went the other way, but I calmed him and told him it was okay, and sure enough, I could feel his whole body relax into the trot when there was no pain. 

I apologized to him for being such a stupid human. He thanked me for figuring it out and changing back to the option that didn’t hurt. I’m not sure why that cinch was such an issue, but it definitely was the culprit. It will go back to TSF today. 

We started with shoulder in and then haunches in, doing our stretches. We did some leg yields where we really worked on keeping him straight. The exercise was to leg yield for three or four steps, then move forward straight for the same number of strides, then leg yield again. We did that in both directions until he was moving in the direction I asked, whether straight forward or sideways, at the slightest touch of leg and shift of weight. 

We tried to work on canter-walk-canter serpentines, which then broiled over into “just go straight without trying to turn your body into a pretzel” conversation. I have been using the verbal cue of “hold” or saying not yet, when doing the prep work for a flying change, because home-boy doesn’t want to wait for my cue. We did a lot of riding up and down the long side of the arena, waiting for him to just move straight. I kept saying “we aren’t going to do a change if your body isn’t straight”. It wasn’t real fun, but I have to be very adamant that he listen and not just throw two tempos where ever the hell he thinks I might possibly need one. He also needs to figure out the difference in asking for bend and asking for a change. Any change in pressure from my inside leg and he is looking to give me a change. It was a hard piece of riding, but we finally got two really nice changes at the end of a long straight canter. And by straight, I mean not throwing his hips to the inside of the circle in a pronounced haunches in.

We took a bit of a break and then worked on transitions within the canter off my legs. We did medium canter to collected canter to the schooling canter that comes right before a canter pirouette. Amanda wants me to work on transitions in the canter to the walk through the schooling canter. It will help develop the canter we need to be fluid and smooth in the single and double slalom. His transitions off that schooling canter were soft and uphill, since he was so collected behind. It was a nice feel.

Another walk break and then we did the same thing with the trot. The long side of the arena was used for the medium trot and then I collected and slowed his trot all from my legs around the short sides. Amanda said we were getting half steps, and when we reached that point I was to ask for a walk. Once again, his transition was smooth and uphill. 

That was the final thing we worked on. I need to work on both the canter transitions within the gait and the same with the trot. My legs were shaking and felt weak when I got off, but I was pretty happy with our progress.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Pocket Panther and Her Dog

Little Black Kitten

Twelve years ago, our neighbors called me and asked if I knew how to sex a kitten (determine gender . . . Bad readers!) I said I thought I could and we went to their place to see this new addition. Come to find out, John had found the kitten crying in the bottom of an empty dumpster. (People suck.) He had climbed into the dumpster to rescue her, because it was a her, and they were planning on taking her to the shelter to find a home. She was solid black and didn’t have her eyes open yet. John handed her to J, and just like that, we had another cat to add to our household. At that point, we had four boxers, four cats (with her) and a seven year old.

We named her Istazi (Lakota for yellow eyes) and she has lived 90% of her life in our bedroom. She does sometimes venture to the main floor to beg a bite of breakfast (maybe twice a year) and on very rare occasion she will go as far as the walk out and mechanical room in the basement. But that is rarely. She has food and water on the sink in the bathroom, a scratching post with climbing features along the wall next to the window, and a fluffy sleep cushion under the bed. Every thing a little kitten needs.

She is a tiny thing, not more than three pounds, and about ten inches at the shoulder

Her favorite things are Lily, laying in the crook of my knee when I am sitting on the bed in the evening, teasing Lily, laying in the middle of the very large dog bed by herself, sunning in the window, scratching her post and playing the morning bathroom game.

Window panther

The bathroom game is her favorite, probably because she gets scratches from me and the total focus of Lily. I will get up to go to the bathroom first thing in the morning and she follows me into the room, with Lily trailing her. If Lily doesn’t show up, Stazi cries and meyats until Lily gets up and strolls into the bathroom. Stazi lays in the corner next to the tub and demands attention from both of us.

She was crying under the door for Lily. She has a definite name in cat for her dog.

Lily responds to her demand for attention and comes into the bathroom to check on her cat.

Lily, who has a strong prey drive, waits for the cat to move.
We have had to be adamant about her behavior around the kitten since we first brought her home.
She totally knows what’s allowed and what’s not. Sometimes she forgets, however, so we have to stay aware.

Yes, that was a tentative foot raised to poke the cat. I was watching and she barely touched her.
The cat responded by sitting up and whacking Lily across the muzzle.
Lily looked confused. 

This scenario plays out every morning. Sometimes, the kitten will climb on the edge of the tub and parade up and down behind the curtain. That is also fun. More frequently, however, is they play in the bedroom. She will call Lily up and then wander around, meyating and complaining that the dog is following her, while weaving between the dog’s legs and tail marking her chin. 

Lily is a devoted follower and if the cat is anywhere to be seen, Lily is totally and completely focused on the cat. Nothing else matters. They are pretty unique. And their relationship is pretty special. 

Skittle on the other hand, is terrified of the “Poke”. She refuses to make eye contact and will get off the bed if the little kitten gets on. There is no play between them and the little kitten rules her domain with an iron fist full of sharp pokey objects.