Wednesday, December 30, 2015

WW: Saiph's Art

In August of 2014, Saiph (at my request) created a tribal style tattoo of Ashke. I have been waiting to have the right tattoo artist show up to get it tattoo'd on my body. My co-worker is working on a sleeve on her right arm and the level of art in that tattoo impressed the hell out of me. Her husband's tattoo was just as fine. So, I made an appointment for tonight.

The tattoo Saiph drew.
(I absolutely love this!!!)

Her art and my boy permanently applied to my body.
(I can't wait to show Ashke)

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Goal Review 2015

 I set some fairly attainable goals last year, in January. Here is the review and my thoughts.

1. Ride 4 or 5 times a week -- Mostly 

I did this for 3/4 of the year and then my riding got derailed by T's run schedule and life. Then the holidays happened, and Bronco games and more life. Ashke has had a two month lay off which I intend to remedy next week. We have plans for next year and it's going to take 4 to 5 days a week of consistent riding to be able to do them.
2. Four Season Riding -- Success!!

 Winter is the only really hard season

This, I think, will always be a thing. We have what we need for riding in any kind of weather and the aptitude to haul out when it's below freezing. Ashke loves riding out in all kinds of weather and seems to do well in all types of conditions. Clipping him early this year has made a huge difference in his sweat factor and seems to make him much more comfortable.

3. Ride 500 trail miles -- So damn close!!

15 miles has become our standard length of ride

I came so close to making this goal. K and I were trying to figure out how to make it happen, but there just was not enough weekends to accomplish it with all of the other things we had planned. I think I am 30 miles short of 500. Still we had some great rides and found some new trails. I can't wait to keep exploring.

4. Work on my Working Equitation  -- Success!!!

 Speed round

I practiced. We built obstacles. I did a clinic and a show. Resounding success.

5. Spend more time camping -- Fail

 How we roll

We went a couple of times, but the heater in the pop-up stopped working and that was problematic. Any time there is fail with something that involves gas, I'm hesitant about going forward without having it checked. That is in the works for the first quarter of this year.

Overall, I did okay. I just wish I had 40 more miles. . . . 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


Woke up this morning to six inches of snow, blowing snow, crappy roads and no school. J and I ventured forth to bring home bacon.  I dropped her off at the park n ride and headed west.

  Driving the Big Sully to work.
Very slow going.

Not many people made the journey.

This is what it looks like to be the only person at work.

It's supposed to keep snowing until 5 pm. Heading home about 3, I think. Wish me luck.

Sunday, December 13, 2015


I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Mostly because the month of December is almost half over and then life will get back to normal. Not that it hasn't been fun, but I feel like we've taken a four month lay off and I'm ready for it to be all riding all the time. I'm hoping to be able to ride twice this week and then we will be tied up in holiday plans until the 29th. K and I are hoping to get our first ride of the year on the 1st, but if not then definitely on the 2nd. I'm hoping the weather will be good enough for us to continue getting out on trail, but if the predictions of El Nino are correct, we may be facing a series of storms every couple of days all winter.

Thankfully, I have an indoor my horse seems to really like. I'm going to move out some of my WE things the week after Xmas, so I have stuff to work on if I want. Everyone at the barn has been very nice and Ashke is already a barn favorite.

On Saturday, T ran his first off-season 5k in 21 degree weather, with snow falling. Then J and I ran a ton of errands, tying up the last bits of holiday cheer we needed to do. I needed to get my hair cut, but was told I would have to come back at 2, so J and I headed to the barn. I was in levis and tennis shoes, but we went anyway.

Ashke whinnied when he heard us come in. He was a mess, so I did an intense grooming on him and J attended to his mane. Then we moved from the tie post to the grooming stalls, so I could work on his front feet. I've been shaping them every Saturday since my last trim. I am using the Radial Rasp (as suggested by Saiph and she was right). I used the edge of my tack box to hold his outstretched hoof so I could shape the hoof from the top, which I was struggling to do prior to this week. (I have it on good authority that there is going to be a farrier stand that Saiph recommended under the tree in a couple of weeks.) I thought his feet looked really good by the time I was done and the hoof wall has not pulled away from the sole like it has in prior cycles. I'm really hoping Kris tells me I am doing things the right way when she comes out on the 23rd. After I finished his feet, I saddled him up and headed to the arena.

 Working on inside bend.

So relaxed and interested in what is going on.

Four years since I got him at my Holiday Party, which happened on Saturday night.
He's just gotten better and better.

I rode for about 30 minutes. J took two videos of our canter. I think he looks relaxed and he wasn't fighting with my at all. We stayed relaxed and comfortable.

On the right lead.

To the left

Cantering to the left has always been the trigger to fight, since it is much harder for Ashke's right hip. He got ragged a couple of times on the turns on the end, but I was able to balance him and keep the canter going. We counter bend just a hair, which makes it much easier for him to make it around the corners on the correct lead. I really think he's gotten stronger from the cantering we've done on trail. I was very pleased with our ride. Quickly, we put him up with a handful of nicker makers and headed out to get my hair cut. Then we went to my company's Holiday party were much fun was had by all.

Sunday, I left the house about nine and went out to mess with him. I decided to forego riding and instead wanted to work with him from the ground. I need to figure out how to teach him to stand square,  which he does most of the time but didn't do when we were at the show. Any of the times he halted. After ineffectively working on that, I pulled out my come along rope and started working on desensitizing him to the rope around his legs.

I looped the rope through the bottom loop of his halter, so I could control his direction with the lead rope still attached to the ring of his halter. I spent time throwing the rope down past his body, on both sides, over his back, over his neck, over the crown of his head, and around his legs. He was allowed to move his feet whenever he needed to, but once he stopped moving he was rewarded with a "good boy", a rub on his forehead and a nicker maker (these are kind of like crank). I had him move in a circle dragging the rope on one side, then a circle dragging the rope on the other side. then straight forward with the rope on either side. I let the rope tangle and move however it needed to, controlling where Ashke could move until he stopped spooking and turned to me to stop. Then I worked on wrapping the rope around his front legs and applying pressure. The left front was fine, but the front right sent him into a frantic trot around me. I kept the rope up by his elbow and talked calmly to him until he calmed down and stopped. Then took the time to love on  him and feed him crank before starting again. 

By the end of our 45 minutes, he had calmed considerably. I did try to drive him from behind, but need to get the surcingle in order to really make that work. A couple more sessions and perhaps I won't have to worry about him panicking and pulling away if the rope is behind a front leg. 

I cleaned up his stall, added a hanging treat for him to amuse himself with, gave him an extra feed and then headed for home. I will be very happy when our schedule is back to normal and we can get to work on improving our dressage and EOH scores.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


At least I am hoping this is it for a while.

So, to back up, we were at a temp barn for a month, and I have never been so thankful to move my horse in my entire life. I am so glad I knew I was moving, because otherwise I would have been scrambling to find Ashke a place to live.

One of the issues with boarding at a barn that is a private facility, not a commercial endeavor, is that the boarders cater to the owner, not the barn being set up to support the boarders. What do I mean? In a commercial facility, if I wanted extra shavings or my stall stripped or a feed change, I would communicate that to the BM and it would get taken care of. In a private facility that has boarders but is structured around the BO, that isn't always the case.

Things expected of Ashke:
  • No shavings in the stall. Horse must learn to pee outside, even though his dislike of pee scald was almost pathological. When horse refuses to pee outside, sand is added to stall to soak up pee, and shavings put down on the mud outside to encourage him to seek out that spot. 
  • No shavings in the stall. Horse must learn to sleep standing up or on rock hard, cold ground. This did not sit well with my comfort seeking animal, who prefers a deep bed and long, deep sleeps. His left leg began to show signs of discomfort by the end of the month due to not being able to rest it while laying down.
  • Three flakes of hay a day. I could not pay for more feed through the barn. I was told to feed extra grain (Envision was recommended) since that is so much better for your horse than forage. I had to purchase hay to place into a slow feeder bag in order to supplement. A couple of days after we moved in we learned that the barn had lost three horses in the past couple of months to colic. Cue panic. I fed an extra bale of hay a week while we were there. 
  • Not only that, but their alfalfa was horrible. I'm guessing she bought the first cutting because it was stemmy and full of weeds. Ashke wouldn't eat it. Instead he would pull it out of the feed bin and toss it on the floor to pee on. We switched him to the grass and ended up putting it in the slow feed bag. The BO was pissed off at Ashke and I'm sure if we weren't already planning on leaving, would have asked us to move out.
  • We paid for trailer parking. Told BO we hauled out most weekends. Went to haul out the first weekend and were told it was too muddy to get the trailer out and the road to the back of the property was closed. Insisted that we had to haul to get his feet done. BO thought it perfectly reasonable to tell me we couldn't get our trailer. I'm not sure why, except that her husband had this strange paranoia about driving through the mud on their property. We insisted and eventually was able to pull our trailer out, which going forward we parked in the front and not in the mud.
  • The reason I moved to the barn originally was because of the indoor. However, once I was there I was told that it really wasn't useable during the winter. Why? Well, first they didn't water it since it was cold, which made it really dusty. So you could ride, just not fast and not for very long. Second, sheep.
 Five ewes and one ram housed in pens in the indoor when the weather was cold enough to freeze their water supply.

Do you know it is not really possible to do anything other than stand at the other end of the arena and snort when there are sheep in there with you? The world according to Ashke stipulates that no work need be done when there are sheep. Just knowing they exist is enough. And then, as if that was not enough, there was this:

Posted a week before I moved out.

Number one is pretty standard as is number three and four. No complaints there. However, I do not need someone telling me when I can or can not turn my horse out. They don't offer turn out so the horse is either stuck in the stall or ridden in the indoor. With the sheep. They posted closed signs on the arenas and round pen. I have never experienced that before. I think it has more to do with the arena and round pen footing than it does with it being a safety thing. It goes back to the mud issue from using the trailer. Especially when you consider number five. Seriously?!! Avoid walking around the barn when muddy or wet conditions are present. I didn't ask if they meant outside or inside, since I only had five days to go until I moved when this was posted.

The move took five minutes. Literally. I think Ashke was surprised at how short the ride was. Before we moved him, J and I went to Agfinity to buy shavings (10 bales) so we had plenty to bed his stall when we got there. I dumped two bales into his stall and then we let him wander around in the indoor for fifteen minutes before introducing him to his stall mates.

He has a mare on one side and a pushy gelding on the other. The stall is pretty good sized but the run is about the same size, so on the small side. It doesn't matter though, since he gets turn out with other horses for two hours a day. And when he is inside he looks onto the indoor arena, which gives him plenty of stuff to look. Kind of like arena TV. 

 Just stepped off the trailer.

So cheerful and well lit.

 In turn out the first day with Rocko.

 One of the smaller turn outs. Testing Ashke's personality and behavior on a small scale.

This was the morning after our move in. 

Enjoying his first mash in his new stall.

I went out last night to ride for the first time in the arena. I had no real expectations. My goal was to be relaxed at the walk and trot. I didn't think I would even try a canter, since he reacted so negatively to doing so at SQA. Ashke was a little spooky when I was getting him ready but he settled pretty quickly once I was on him. He stretched down and really stepped out at the walk and was able to relax at the trot. We took a lot of breaks, during which I reconnected with a woman I knew at Christiansens. There were other women riding and Ashke felt very relaxed with the other horses in the arena.

Very well lit arena. Lots of happy horses and riders.

Ashke enjoying his after ride snack while watching TV.

The atmosphere in this stable is so comfortable and he has settled in very quickly. The BM says that he has gone out with five or six different horses and has been great with all of them. She has no hesitation in putting him out with any of the horses on the property. He is sweet and kind to the workers, eats his hay (which he loves), and has felt more relaxed than he has since we left TMR. The energy here is warm and soothing. The BO is relaxed and willing to work with us. It is a comfortable place for him to be and he really seems to like it here. 

Best indoor ride we have had since we left TMR.

Thursday, December 3, 2015


One of the things J and I have tried to do with our son is to provide experiences that either expose him to new things or things that are fun. For example, the summer he was six (between K and 1st grade) I got us both passes to our local water park and we spent the summer riding rides, splashing in the pool and eating funnel cake before leaving for home. It was one of the most magical summers of my life and one I will remember forever. We've taken him to Disneyland, Disney World, Seaworld, numerous zoos, the Pacific Ocean, the Grande Canyon, the Little Bighorn Battlefield, Seattle, Boston, P-town, and the Black Hills. He's gone camping, gone fishing, hiked, biked, whale-watched, cave spelunked, rollerbladed and rock climbed. We've taken him to Rockies games, Nuggets games and Broncos games. We exposed him to everything we had the opportunity to expose him to.

We've also pushed him to expand his boundries and to this end we forced him to take a voice class last year. He said we were ruining his high school life, but Honeybadger-momma doesn't care. A couple of weeks into the class it was his favorite class in school. The voice class is a year of semi-private voice lessons with a very talented instructor. As part of the curriculum T was exposed to a bunch of different types of music. Imagine our surprise to find that his absolute favorite singer of all time was Andrea Bocelli. T loves opera, actually is able to sing with vibrato and sounds very operatic. And loves Bocelli.

Promotional video from YouTube
(Andrea Bocelli and Ariana Grande)

J suggested back in May that we should see about getting T to his concert. I was kind of hesitant, since I wasn't sure he would still be a fan six months later. There was a concert in Phoenix in December that was in the middle of the week. That was the only show close to us that we could really consider. In August, we revisited the concert idea. I asked T if he like Andrea Bocelli still and he said yes. He thought Andrea was the best male vocalist of all time and when I asked if he would want to see him in concert, he responded with a resounding yes. So J and I looked at the concert again.

And holy crap tickets are expensive. The prime seats were $750 each. The mid-arena seats were $300. The back upper deck balcony seats were $140. I asked J if she would want to go (trying to work out how we could drive down and back in three days) and she said we should fly while she stayed home with the dogs. With that set in place, I went on Southwest and searched for flights. I could get a round trip ticket for the same price as the concert tickets. I went ahead and secured the airline tickets and picked what looked like the best seats available in the price bracket we could afford. And then we waited.

At parent teacher conferences we let his teachers know he was going to be out for those two days. His voice teacher was almost beside herself looking forward to his excitement. I was originally going to take two days off, but then I needed to move barns, so I ended up taking Tuesday off as well. After moving Ashke (more on that tomorrow), we picked up T from school and brought him home. J and I had packed bags prior to leaving the house that morning and loaded them in the trunk of the car. When we got home J said she was going to take a shower. While she was in the shower I asked T to change his clothes so he could come with me. He asked where we were going and I said to K's house. He said no, he didn't want to change his clothes and he didn't want to come with me. I told him he needed to change his clothes so Mom could wash them. He stomped his way upstairs and changed, but was still bitching about going with me. I told him if he would come I would buy him sweetarts.

He agreed.

I am not above bribery.

Then he balked again and asked me what we were really going to do. I told him we were going shopping to find J a Xmas present at Best Buy. He wanted to get Krispy Kreme and I finally agreed knowing we weren't getting donuts but wanted him to come with me out of the house.

J and I managed to sneak all of his important electronics into my bag while he was walking the dogs, then kissed her goodbye and got in the car.

We headed for the airport. A quick stop for Sweetarts and back on the road to the airport. T fell asleep in the car on the way, then woke up as we got close. I kept waiting for him to ask why we were at the airport, but we got closer and closer and he didn't say anything. Finally, as we were driving up to the terminal, he got a bit belligerent and wanted to know who we were picking up at the airport. He wanted to know if it was Jay and when I laughed and said no, he called her and demanded to know if she was flying in. She said no and so he called Grammie.

Grammie knew what was happening, since we were staying with her. She prevaricated as best as she could, but that was about the time I was parking the car. T got out of the car and walked to the trunk where he saw the suitcases. His eyes went wide and he asked where we were going. I told him we were going to Phoenix and he said goodbye to Gma. He asked me when J was going to drive out (for Xmas) and I laughed. I told him we were only going for two days and would fly back on Thursday.

He asked why. I told him this was part of his xmas gift. He stared off into the distance for about five seconds, then turned to me and said "We are going to see Andrea Bocelli, aren't we?"

I had to laugh, but didn't answer. He pulled out his phone and looked it up, found the concert and knew. He was so excited.

The flight out was uneventful, as was our night at mom's. On Weds, we didn't have enough time to really do anything, so we hung out with Gma, had an early dinner (or late lunch) and then got ready for our concert.

We do clean up pretty good.

 Better lighting, at least.

We drove downtown in Mom's car, parking at a park n' ride 40 blocks from the event. My mapquest app drove me right past the PnR and we drove another eight blocks before I twigged to the mistake and turned around. The lot we parked in is used for a huge swap meet and we ended up parking in the very back, under a light. We were walking back to catch the lightrail when the train went past. It was 6:45 and the concert didn't start til 7:30, so I wasn't worried. I was a lot less worried at 7:10 when the trail finally showed up. It dumped us at Talking Stick Arena, where the Suns play, at 7:23 but we had two blocks to walk to the entrance. Security at the concert was intense but we were vetted through and sent upstairs at 7:32. Thankfully, the music didn't start until 7:45.

A quick shot prior to the concert starting, since we were told no photos of Andrea.
We abided by the rules, although the woman sitting next to me did not.

At 7:45 the concert started and for two hours we were transported by this man's voice. T held my hand the entire concert, except when we applauded. I was amazed at the music, most of which was opera and in Italian, and even more so by the soft singing T did on the songs he knew. On the second encore, Andrea performed Time to Say Goodbye, which is T's favorite and was icing on the cake. I was amazed by the singer and by my son. Such an incredible experience.

After the concert, we went to the Hard Rock Cafe next to the arena and got dinner. We were both really hungry. After we had eaten we headed back to the light rail. By this time it was almost 11:30, the streets were deserted and I was feeling somewhat vulnerable. I was alone with my son in Phoenix at a lightrail stop waiting for the train. Luckily, I had cast a circle around us before we had gotten out of the car, and no one bothered us. 

There was a fairly sketchy guy wandering up and down the lightrail stop talking to himself. I was keeping an eye on him and keeping myself between T and him. He stopped and took his sweatshirt off and laid his bag down on a concrete barrier. He then headed over to interact with a young woman who had just walked up. I was keeping an eye on them (ready to call the police if he got too close or touched her) and joking with T while we waited. As we were surreptitiously watching their interaction I noticed an older black man riding up on his bike. He stopped further down the stop and talked to the young man there, then came on toward us. 

As he drew up next to the other man's bag he had left laying there I heard him say,

"I'm going to be a thief."

Then he stopped and gave the blue bag a wickedly funny look, like he was contemplating picking it up. Then, very loudly, he shouted "No, Ricky! No!"

Then he pushed his bike forward toward the other end of the lightrail stop, leaving the blue bag where it lay.

T and I lost it. We were giggling and repeating the sequence of comments. It kept us entertained until we got home safely. I'm laughing just thinking about it. We did kind of take it further:

"I'm going to be a murderer . . .  No, Ricky! No!" 

Anyway, it was a wonderful three days with my boy. We flew back on Thursday and landed safely. I think he had an incredible time and seemed to really enjoy the concert.  J was happy to see us and said she had really missed us. The dogs and cats were all happy we were home. 

Tomorrow I go out to see my other boy.