Thursday, August 30, 2018


One of the great things about my trainer is she goes to fancy dressage clinics and comes home with new exercises for Ashke and I to struggle through try. She spent the past two days riding with George Williams (USDF) working on getting her I2 horse to be more relaxed and correct in his piaffe and passage work. One of the exercises she was doing, was one we attempted last night.

Let me preface my recap by saying, I probably should have cancelled my lesson last night because yesterday was spent dealing with vertigo and nausea. By 5 pm I was able to walk upright without falling into the wall and was no longer wanting to throw up, so I went. I was a little weak and tired for the lesson, however, Ashke was a doll and tried to make up for my lack.

We started with shoulder in and haunches in, then Amanda had us work on the exercise she had been working on in her clinic. We started in the walk. Half-pass to the left for five steps, then changing the bend while still moving forward until we were in a leg yield. Once the leg yield was established, we moved to a half-pass to the right, then changed the bend into a leg yield while still moving in that direction. Once we both had the idea, we tried it in the trot as well. It takes a lot of leg and seat to do correctly, which is always a great challenge for us, since it makes me be very quiet with my hands. The intent of the exercise is to get him to move laterally, changing bend and direction without tension in his neck and poll. It was a great exercise to get him supple through the base of the neck (no tension wrinkles) and to relax at the poll. His go to is to throw his head up and muscle through whatever we are trying, and this will help develop those muscles needed to move his shoulders and withers without getting hollow or giraffe like. Amanda and Laz were able to do it in two step increments in passage, but we are not there yet. It is a great exercise to add to my practice rides. And Ashke liked the challenge.

We did a walk break where I was really encouraging him to reach down in a stretchy walk. I'm beginning to wonder if the SI is being thrown out by tension in the base of his neck and shoulder. He spent so much time with the SI out that keeping it in long enough for his body to recognize the new normal is going to take a lot of attention. And the right hock pain may be contributing to that as well. We shall see what the next six months brings.

After our stretchy walk, we did some canter work on a circle, first with the spiral in and out, and then working on shoulder in to neutral on a fifteen meter circle. The second exercise will not be added to our practice because I could not honestly tell when I was doing it correctly unless Amanda told me so. We will continue to work on it in the lesson, until my "feel" has improved.

We finished up with double slalom practice sans poles, just working the pattern in my mind. And then the single slalom. Ashke really gets collected in the single slalom, since we only have about three strides between transitions. At that point, we were both done.

 We had a visitor that was watching our warm up from the corner of the arena. 

 She wasn't bothered by the horses, but took exception to my approaching her for some media.

 She was huge.

Pretty sure she was a Redtail, but couldn't confirm identification. 
Never got a good look at her underside.

Sunday, August 26, 2018


Do you all remember when Tracy came out and did the myofascial release on Ashke’s gelding scars? During that session, she acknowledged how unhappy and enraged and betrayed he was at the gelding. And then she told him that he could still act on the best parts of stallion behavior. 

I think he missed the “best parts” of that sentence and heard “You should act like a stallion”. 

I have been hearing stories about him rearing, striking, and putting his feet through the fence trying to get to the mare next to him. I have seen him acting like a dodo-head whenever he feels his “herd” is leaving him. As personable as he is, he doesn’t need to tangle with the fence. 

When we got back from our vacation, I rode on Saturday to get him warmed up and moving again. On Sunday, we did a lesson, where he felt amazing and we just kept saying “canter leg yields? No prob. Let’s do canter half-pass” until his SI fell out. I felt it and Amanda saw it. We tried another exercise and he locked up again, so we stopped and waited to talk to the chiro. On Monday night, he was full of himself and there was no one else at the barn, so I groomed him and hand walked him to get grass. He was moving just fine. Sometime between Monday night and Tuesday at noon, Ashke managed to hurt his neck. 

It was bad enough that he did not want the chiro to touch him and ended up running backwards down the aisle. She said his SI was out, but went right back in. The underside of his neck, however, was exceedingly sore. Not skeletal sore, but muscle sore. My guess is, he hung himself up in the fence between he and a mare. She used accupuncture on the muscle, but he was still swollen and a bit sore on Saturday, the next time he was worked. He felt a touch sore, but seemed to work out of it and I didn’t do a whole lot. Mostly we worked on some canter and a lot of lateral work.

Today, he was pretty sore to start, but warmed up out of it again. Amanda watched him very carefully while we rode. We did a lot of lateral work at the trot and then again at the canter. He even gave me an unasked for flying change. (Both Amanda and I are very excited about putting changes on him this winter). Again, Amanda was careful with the exercises she was having us do, to ensure we weren’t stressing his chest. We worked on every corner being a square corner, spiral circles at the canter, riding one handed in the canter-walk serpentine, and lots of lateral work. It was very exacting work on my part, (although it was awesome to hear Amanda’s mom say “her elbows have gotten so quiet and he is doing so much better.”)  I had sweat dripping off my chin onto the saddle by the time we were done.

He got rinsed and rubbed with Sore No More. Tomorrow, I will do a road ride with Manuel and Mexicano and just let him move easily without asking much. Wednesday, another lesson then an appointment with the chiro on Thursday and hock injections on Friday. After that, he should be ready for our last two shows.

Out with the Arab-Friesian cross mare, Kat

And we were worried about how we would catch them

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Photo shoot: Clever Lark Photography

About a month ago, we did a black background photo shoot with Ashke.
One of my friends at the barn set it up in exchange for a reining bit I had given her.
I definitely got the better end of that deal.

You can see how much muscle he’s developed at the base of his neck and across his withers.

He was very flirtatious with the photographer.

It was an overcast day, which is beneficial, since there are no sharp shadows.
The natural light and the camera create the black background.

I should have gotten some hoof black and darkened his hooves but I didn’t even think of it.

This is the best head shot of the group.
I love his eye and his expression here.

The photographer did a great job of photoshopping me out of the picture here.
I was offering a treat from the far side of him and he was bowing.

This was an amazing photo shoot. You can see the reason why the breeders considered him for their breeding program and the qualify of his lineage. I am awestruck at the muscle he has developed. And his face and eye are magnificent. I am a bit biased, I know, but you have to admit he is spectacular.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Vacation: Los Vegas

Thursday morning, we ate breakfast at Lee’s Hoagie Shop, and it was very good. The service was excellent and the food was very tasty, with fresh squeezed OJ that was yummy. Then we packed up and drove to Vegas for the evening. I had scored a room at the Excalibur, which has the Big Apple Roller Coaster across the street. I was also looking forward to finding a great seafood buffet for dinner, cuz Vegas.

The New York, New York Casino, with the Big Apple Coaster.
Most of the casinos are now connected with this fancy walk ways, so people aren’t crossing at the street lights.

The Statue of Liberty wearing a basketball jersey in front of the Casine (don’t ask, I don’t know)

The top of Excalibur from street level. We had a room in the tower on the right.

I have no words

Third Hard Rock Cafe and no souvenirs on this trip.
I was very sad.

PBR has a Rock Bar and Grill
Shouldn’t this be a country Bar?

Vegas is fun, from a visual standpoint.
We didn’t gamble

Paris Casino
The inside had a painted sky for a ceiling. It was pretty cool.

So the roller coaster was kick ass, even if we didn’t get to ride it as much as we wanted to. J wanted to catch a show that was a half mile away so we walked down to the Paris to get tickets. Then, because we were in general seating, and it was too far to go back, we waited there for the show to start. The coaster is certainly worth the money to do, and if you get the unlimited pass for $26 you don’t have to wait in line. We were all about the not waiting in line. My only issue is that the coaster is pretty jerky and after our second in a row ride, I had a pretty good headache. We did find the buffet in Excalibur, but it wasn’t as fancy as I had hoped, since it was Thursday night. That was a bit of a disappointment. We crashed after walking back from the Anthony Cools show. He is a hypnotist and if you want to watch people fucking a chair, go to his show. Tristan seemed to enjoy it and absolutely laughed his head off. I could have done without watching the older woman (think my mother’s age) deep throating an imaginary dick. If you enjoy 18 year old boy humor combined with graffic sexual humor, go see him. It was entertaining.

We overslept the next morning and got a late start. We grabbed breakfast from the casino floor and got on the road just about 10 am. We lost an hour and arrived home at about 10:20 pm, stopping only to pee, grab food for lunch and to put gas in the car.

Views from the car

Utah has the most vibrant colors in their landscape

Stunning to say the least

How Tristan spent most of the ride.
Yes he is buckled in.
No, he didn’t drive. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Vacation: Universal Studios

Wednesday, we opted to leave the hotel we had paid for and check into a new hotel close to the Universal Studios lot. We couldn’t handle the room any more and I wasn’t looking forward to the hour long drive back across the busiest part of LA after spending all day at the park. Tristan asked if we could eat at Portos again, so we went back. Portos is a huge bakery, that also offers breakfast sandwiches and lunch options. Tristan had really enjoyed the salad he had tried the first day, but we were there too early for lunch options, so he tried an egg and ham crossiant. I had potato balls and real lentils.

Rellenitos. Sweet plantain stuffed with black bean purée. Almost good enough to become vegetarian for.
The potato balls were stuffed with ground beef and peppers, and rolled in bread crumbs. I want to try making those at home.

So, obviously, the most significant part of the Universal Studios lot is the Hogwarts area, complete with Zonkos, Honeydukes, Ollivanders and the castle itself. We were looking forward to immersing ourselves in the wonder that is Harry Potter. But Universal also has the Jurassic Park series, the Mummy series, Transformers and the Simpsons. There is also a Walking Dead experience and a Studio Tour of the back lots of the sets. The cost for entry into the park was about the same as Disney, but to add an express pass for the rides was over a hundred dollars more. After spending 20 minutes standing in line that didn’t move for The Flight of the Hippogriff, Tristan and I opted to purchase the express pass for ourselves. That made the day so much better. J was even able to use one of them for the Studio Tour, one of the only things she could do, while I waited for her and Tristan to return. 

Universal Studios was hot, even though the temp was only 84 degrees according to my weather map. It felt much hotter. Disney does a much better job of keeping the streets wide, with lots of trees, some grass, and plenty of open water. Most of Disney’s rides also have an enclosed portion with things to read and look at while waiting. Also, the lines at Disney were sometimes an hour long, but there are lots of other options that were much shorter if you didn’t want to wait. US didn’t have those options and the shortest line was almost an hour long. 

There was a huge mall outside of the park for shopping and food.

Tristan went from man bun to loose hair over and over again.
He did use plenty of sunscreen after the first day, however.

Hogwarts and the village below it were pretty spectacular.
There were wands that you could buy for $50 a piece that interacted with certain set spots in the village.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Vacation: Disney

Tuesday was spent at Disney. Tristan was absolutely convinced that Disney was for little kids and that he was going to be bored out of his mind. It was awesome to have him say “that was so much more fun than I expected. I had so much fun.”

Sporting the man bun at breakfast. He liked it because it put so much volume in his hair when he took the rubber band out.
Breakfast was at Portos. If you are ever in Anaheim, check it out.

On the tram heading for the park.\
He was not expecting me to take the picture.

If you ever go to Disney, you must get the fast pass and use the Disney app. I was able to check in with the fast pass from wherever we were in the park without having to go to the ride, first. There is no other way to do the park. I checked Tristan and I into the Star Wars Tour as soon as we were in the park. The App gave us a ride time of 4:45 for the ride and it was 11 in the morning. It told me I had to wait an hour and a half to set my next fast pass, so in the meantime we wandered into Frontier land. We walked through Tarzan’s treehouse, then found ourselves at the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. There was no line, so Tristan and I jumped on it. The line moved quickly and we got to ride the best roller coaster in the park, according to Tristan.

In the line for lunch, which was ok.

After lunch, we did the jungle cruise, which was entertaining, but mostly because the woman acting as the guide for the cruise was pretty punny. 

After the cruise, we did the Columbia, which is a British Man O’ War.
To Tristan, it looked like a pirate ship, so pirate ship it was,

Watching him go from man bun to floof was pretty entertaining.

Tom Sawyer’s Island.

Floating around the island made me a little nostalgic to read the book Tom Sawyer again.

Watching the performers who were singing and dancing to bad drinking songs.

Can we talk about how no native tribe living on the banks of the Mississippi lived in tipis?
Tipis were Plains Indians homes and would not have been found with birch canoes.
Which should have been dugouts. 
Can you tell this really bugged me?

Waiting to disembark

Waiting in line for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.
This is still my favorite ride at Disney. It was a huge hit when I was very young and remains so today.
It was also one of the rides J could join us on.

We did the Indiana Jones ride after that, which was pretty fun, although kind of short for a Disney. It is a Jeep simulation, so kind of jerky, but since I saw the original Indiana Jones movie 80 times in the theater ($1 movie night for more than 8 months my senior year in HS) I am a bit of a fan.

After Pirates, Tristan and I went to ride Splash Mountain. Splash Mountain had over an hour wait time for most of the day, but I snagged him and we went on it when the line was unexpectedly short. We spent part of our time waiting in line talking about owning a frigate, and being pirates on the open seas. We also talked about girls and life and all the things. I really love spending time with my guy. And the ride was as good as I told him it would be.

We did Star Tours and then the Autotopia ride (Tristan and J - I really had to pee) ride, before making our way to the Small World ride. That ride has a lot of nostalgia for me, since I collected all 50 of the It’s a Small World dolls when I was a kid. It also gave Tristan the opportunity to break out in song whenever he felt like it for the rest of the trip. I had been working the Fast Pass app all day and that gave us the opportunity to go back and ride the Big Thunder Railroad a second time without waiting in line. Then we raced back across the park to catch our ride on Space Mountain. 

Ride picture from Space Mountain.
It was supposed to come across on my app, but never made it.

My souvenir and a Mandalorian pin I traded for at the park.
(Pin trading was a bust this year. I wasn’t excited about anything I found but the above pin.)

We left the park about 8 to get food and go back to the hotel. J was done and both Tristan and I had ridden all of the rides we could fit into one day. He said to me as we left that he had a great time, it was a lot more fun than he was expecting and that he would go back. 

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Vacation: Beach Time

We spent one night in Grand Junction, then visited Bryce on our way to St George, Utah. We ate breakfast on Saturday morning at the Black Bear Diner. They had the best fresh squeezed OJ either myself or Tristan has ever tasted. 

Welcome to Black Bear Diner
Food was pretty good but one plate was enough to feed a family of four.
Or one teenaged boy.

Tristan said it was like drinking out of heaven’s ass.
He makes me laugh so hard sometimes.

The drive was pretty uneventful. We pulled into Anaheim at about 3 pm, which was check in time. The motel I had found was called the Anaheim National Inn and was pretty damn disappointing. The WiFi didn’t work, the beds were uncomfortable, the bathroom fan ran every time you turned on the light and the floor was so disgusting that the bottoms of your feet were black after five minutes of walking barefoot. We had booked and paid for five nights but opted to move to a new hotel after four nights. Couldn’t handle the floor any more. Would not recommend.

Redondo Beach Pier
We ended up at a Joe’s Crab Shack on Redondo Beach for dinner on Saturday night.
Would have loved to have been there earlier when the baby bottle nose dolphin was playing next to the walk way.

Sunday was spent at Santa Monica beach, where I spent a lot of time when I was a kid. My grandmother enjoyed taking us there and I knew it would be a safe beach from both a water and an environment point of view. I was giggling like a little girl when we topped the sand and the water lay open before me. I haven’t been on that beach since 1997, and the time before that was the last summer I was in Los Angeles. That time, I had swam out into the water beyond the breakers and floated on the ocean, hearing Her song in my ears, as I dozed for a couple of hours. I was awakened by a wave breaking over my face, and had fought my way back to shore through exhaustion so deep I could barely move. In 1997, I had only spent a couple of hours in the surf before the sun had broiled J and we had left. 

This time, I spent most of the day playing in the surf with a boogie board and my son. He took to the ocean like he had been there forever. 

The Ocean from the Santa Monica pier.

Twenty feet away

That head in the middle of the pic is Tristan. He spent hours in the waves.

Nature environment. And oh boy, did he burn.

J spent most of her day at the little cabana.

Tristan and J were both too tired to walk back down the pier for dinner so we went to the Cheesecake Factory for lots of food. I did appetizers, Tristan had a salad and J had a pasta dish. We went back to the hotel and crashed early.

The second day was spent at Venice Beach, where the waves were big enough that the surfers were working the waves next to the breakwater. I actually managed to catch three waves correctly to boogie surf, riding them from way out to the shore. It left me grinning with delight and wanted to tell Saiph I had caught a couple correctly. Tristan only drank about a gallon of water. I watched him come up out of the water, wipe his face with his mouth open and then turn oceanward to catch a wave full in the face. I had to laugh.

Such a gorgeous day. The temps were about 80ish and the water was 70ish.
It was so incredible.

The left side of his face had no sunburn because of the way his hair fell across his face.

His hair is so long in the front that he started wearing a man bun,
And liking it.

Couldn’t stay out of the water

We changed into dry clothes in the car and headed down the boardwalk

All things are interactive with the phone.
And yes, he was this sunburned.

He used sunscreen on Monday. The burn is from Sunday when he wouldn’t put sunscreen on to save his life.

Our peacock.
Waiting to be seated at the Sidewalk Cafe. The food was plentiful and decent.
We were all pretty sun sick and sun tired.

That was our last day at the beach, but Tristan was already talking about moving to Southern California after he graduates from college.