Friday, August 7, 2020


 So, Ashke is now training canter half-pass, three tempis, canter pirouette and medium trot. He loves the "tricks" and even when we start out awkwardly, once he gets it he tries really hard to get better. Since we were getting pretty solid on the three tempis, I asked Amanda to start our lesson on Thursday night with an assessment of where he was. I wanted to know if he was close enough that we could start training two tempis or if we needed to continue working on polishing the three tempis.

It was a marvel to watch Amanda ride him. She is so elegant and kind rider, but she knows what he can do, so he's not allowed to get away with a lot of the things he "talks" me out of or into. He figured it out pretty quick that he's not to throw his head up when he starts his canter transition and he's not allowed to bury his head in her hands on the downward transitions. I know, so mean to expect him to carry himself. Funny how much better he was with me afterwards, and more willing to abide by the expectations.

I didn't get a lot of video, but doesn't he look gorgeous
So, Amanda says his recovery between changes is a stride and a half, so not good enough for twos yet, but getting there. We spent the rest of the lesson working on transitions, half-pass at the canter while remaining on the bit (so mean) and our medium trot. My legs really hurt today. Slowing his medium trot to a collected trot using my seat and legs only almost killed me.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Five Times in A Row

This weekend was the first time since March of last year that I rode five days in a week, and five days in a row. Wednesday was a short ride of only about ten minutes due to the sudden storm that blew in while I was riding with a friend in the outdoor arena. We went from pretty warm but overcast to so much dust we could barely see the barn in about 30 seconds. Ashke and I had just started our canter work and as we turned our circle toward the barn we were met with a chest high tumbleweed that hadn't been there two seconds before. Ashke did a bizarre movement that seemed to be a jump, shy, stop thing as it hit his chest, which was so awkwardly funny that I burst out laughing until I heard my friend say something behind me. I turned around and she was stock still on her 16.3h Friesian. I could tell she wasn't comfortable and starting to panic a little at the conditions. I swung down off Ashke and walked over to grab the horse, who in his defense did not move a single muscle despite the weather conditions, which had added lightning to the mix. He stood stock still until his rider was on the ground. I never worry about Ashke, since I know that I can ride anything he is going to do, because I also know he would never try to hurt me. I don't have that confidence in other horses, but this time, the big guy stepped up and took care of his mom.

I rode Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It was very good, even though that was basically the only thing I did on the weekend. The rest of the time was spent doing nothing: I mean, I read, watched some TV, cooked, did dishes, watered the lawn, picked veggies. But no projects. I'm feeling tired, which I think is stemming from depression. I spend a lot of time alone. I'm not lonely, per say, but I am alone. This feeling is pretty familiar, since it is how I have been feeling for years and years now, however, even when I was feeling alone with my ex, there was another person to talk to about meals, or house cleaning, or grocery shopping. Some interaction. I was expecting an end to that feeling sometime this year, but Covid has other plans.

Anyway. it was a quiet weekend, with only riding as my source of excitement.

One of the things we have been working on is changes where Ashke keeps his body straight through the change. He's gotten so much better and is no longer swinging around a corner and throwing his body into the change without waiting for me to ask. Now, he waits and tries to give it to me when asked instead of improvising. Along that goal, we routinely work on tempi changes, which were exceedingly challenging when we first started, but have now slowed down enough mentally that I am able to count strides. When I sit up, look up, and swing with the motion, they are pretty cool.

Not too shabby.

Sunday, we were practicing and when we got to the far end of the arena, he suddenly started throwing changes everywhere. I brought him to a halt and conversationally asked him WTF, dude? Amanda's mom, who had been watching us, started laughing and explained that Laz was coming around the corner toward us and Ashke was reacting to him. They really act like rival stallions in the barn and neither of them really like the other. Ashke is the only other gelding in the barn working on the kind of things that Laz routinely does (he is a FEI Grand Prix horse). 

Monday, July 20, 2020


I took Thursday off to help T with his new motorcycle. He purchased it the end of May with my help and it was delivered a couple of days later. The first day it was dropped off, he drove it from the trailer to the front of the garage, over balanced and dropped it. This is pretty common for motorcycles and something that happens. He was pretty bummed because it bent the handlebar. Not enough to make it hard to ride, but enough to be annoying. Then he started riding it - mostly in the neighborhood and then further out just to get used to the bike. A couple of weeks ago, I threw the dogs in the truck and followed him to a rec center that had a big parking lot because he wanted to learn to rev-match when downshifting. We got to the parking lot and he waved me over. He said the handlebar felt "loose" and he was afraid it was going to break. He drove straight home, pulled the bike into the garage and two minutes later the handlebar broke. We think, in retrospect, that it had been damaged in an earlier fall, which is what caused it to bend when it tipped over in our driveway. They aren't supposed to do that from tipping over slowly from a stand still. The faring did have marks on it showing it had been dropped in the past.

 It's Yamaha R6

Anyway, we were very thankful that he was safely home when it happened. He ordered the part online, had it shipped to a nearby dealership and then had to wait a week to get it into the shop. Thursday was the day and so we headed to the Uhaul dealership to rent a motorcycle trailer bright and early. Then we had to stop and pick up rachet straps to attach the bike to the trailer. It was a little scary to load the bike minus the handlebar, but we managed, got it strapped down incorrectly and headed to the dealership. The bike fell in the trailer about the time we hit the highway and T fumed the entire way to the dealership. Luckily for me, the bike wasn't damaged and we learned a valuable lesson in tying down a bike.We unloaded, dropped the trailer back off at Uhaul, grabbed food and then went back down to get the bike. T was exceedingly pleased that "Shark" was back in one piece and rideable. He did a good job navigating some pretty hairy traffic and not great roads. His confidence is growing, he drives very defensively, doesn't take it out during rush hour and has demonstrated his growing ability to handle the bike. I feel like he is as careful as he can be on a motorcycle in Denver.

I did a half lesson after that adventure, which I detailed in my last post.

Friday, I stayed home and canned. I bought a bushel of green beans (30 lbs for $30) and spent Friday cutting beans, stuffing jars and running them through the pressure canner.

 It's a lot of green beans.

 I know why people don't can very much any more. This is one of the most labor intensive things I've ever done.

50 jars of canned green beans.
Just call me the Lesbian Prepper

Saturday morning, I went to Circle Star Arena and helped with the schooling show they had. I was masked and socially distanced the entire time. I was the gate/paddock steward and there were only 11 rides for the day. The only bad thing was the temps. It was over 90 by 10 am and a high of 97. I kept dunking my mask and hat into the cooler of ice, which helped for the length of an EOH ride. The final EOH ride happened at about 1 pm. I said my goodbyes and headed for the barn where I said hi to Ashke, stuffed his face with carrots and then headed home.

It was just too hot to ride.

I spent the rest of the day making my world famous Sweet and Spicy Sauce and jarring 20 of them for the year. I did it a little different this time (third time is the charm) and ran everything through the blender prior to cooking. I like the flavor and texture of this most current batch. And I have 26 pints of it on my shelf. 

So much happiness in little jars

I woke up thinking I would ride on Sunday, but when I got to the barn I remembered that the hay was being delivered. So, I emptied our hay area, raked all of the moldy and bad hay out from under the pallets, rearranged the pallets so that there was room for the new hay, and hauled out all of the nasty stuff. Then I went to lunch. By the time we had eaten lunch, the hay had arrived, so we got it unloaded and stacked in the area. All of that while wearing a mask. Mine had the added benefit of screening out the hay dust and mold, making the abuse my lungs were taking a bit less than it could have been. I would never have thought to put on a face covering, under normal circumstances. 

Organized and neat.
There were no baby bunnies in the nest I destroyed under one of the pallets.
It was way too hot and I was pretty darn miserable, so Ashke got turned out with Kat to play.

Random moments
 You would think the one with all the fur would be too hot to lay in the sun.

 I can't tell if Boo thinks she's a dog, or if she just believes that all things belong to her.

 Maya snuggling her kitten.


Boo is laying across my chest in this video.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Half Lesson

My watch said it was 97 in the indoor arena today. Amanda looked like she was melting slowly into the sand and I had a river of sweat running down my sides. Ashke thought he would like to just stand and let us talk, instead of moving. We opted for a half lesson due to me being a wimp.

Amanda has me working on a new exercise. We trot shoulder-in and then I shift Ashke's hip to the inside step and straighten his body. Then back to shoulder in. It's difficult to keep the horse from wanting to move his shoulders out instead of stepping in, or swinging his hip in an overly exaggerated move. It takes a lot of work on my part to be subtle enough to have him step in without overswinging his hip or me losing control of his shoulder.

We worked on square corners in both directions, asking him to remember to be round and listen to my ask. He did better today, not trying to throw his butt to the inside, nor spinning to the inside. He stayed straight through his body.

Next we worked on changes in the serpentine and I really focused on keeping him straight before and after the change and resting my hands on the pommel during the changes. My interference with my hands is throwing off his timing. By anchoring my hands, I'm not fucking with him during the change. It's been very helpful and he is getting so much better. His change from right lead to left is still just a hair off, but Amanda and I can live with it. She's afraid that this might just be how he changes from right to left. It feels so much better, that I don't care that he is a half-step behind in his change in the back.

We finished up with half-pass at the canter, with a change to half circle and back.

Amanda thinks the hitch in that change just might be limited by his physical injuries.
I'm okay with it though.

And some random images from the past couple of days:

 Outside and the hawks be damned!

T wouldn't let her lay with him so she did the next best thing

 Weds walk-about
Skeptical horse isn't sure about the golfing happening in the field nextdoor.

 This is the look one gives the white and green bench!!

She is just flat out cool.

Monday, July 13, 2020


  Just as a cautionary tale, twelve squash plants may be a few to many. That is a single day's harvest. I am going to have to find a food pantry that will take home produce.

Pic from our ride on Saturday.


 So opinionated.

Part 2 of the facelift in my kitchen.
I am doing it in segments so as not to complete overwhelm myself.

In the evening, once the shade has covered the patio, I let Boo out to explore.
She really wants to play in the garden, but I really need Maya to protect her from the Cooper's Hawk living in the tree directly above the garden.

She loves being outside.

She also loves Maya, but sometimes she doesn't want to put her head in Maya's mouth.

 Drill Team practice

 Noosh, the largest animal in the group, with the slowest walk, is in the middle.
Ernie wasn't as happy to be in the group or on the very outside.

 Shuffled to put Ernie on the inside.
Kat, on the outside, has a huge walk, so she was happy.

Saturday, July 11, 2020


Thursday night I had a lesson. I had been warming up and practicing changes. Ashke has been very sticky in the change from right to left and so I asked Amanda for the dressage whip they had been using in the lesson prior to mine. She grinned, handed it to me and said, "keep it in your right hand and just give him a tap in time with the aid." I did it exactly as directed and Ashke tried to bolt, didn't change and threw his head straight up in the air.

He was pissed and very animated for the rest of the lesson, even though I handed the whip off to Amanda. She made the comment that his trot was very floaty. He was really pissed. Amanda had me anchor my hands to the pommel of my saddle as we went into the change, which actually made the change much better. I am getting in his way with my hands at some point in the process. She directed me to hold my hands still and let him figure out how to do the change without my opinion getting mixed up in things.

Today, I practiced one-handed (with my non-dominant hand). I have video that I will share below. We aren't nearly straight enough, he needs to lead just a little more with his shoulder in our half-pass, and he definitely needs to relax through the poll. However, all of that said, his changes felt so much better and everything you see was off my seat.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Wordless Wednesday (Almost)

We did a ride around the big field next to the barn (one big city block)
He seemed to enjoy the ride

This was about five minutes after a firework exploded into the air a couple hundred yards away from us. He spooked at the noise, spun to try and figure out where it was coming from, and then settled at a word from me. I sure do love this horse.


The skyline and setting sun leaving the barn.