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Monday, May 31, 2010

Ryan Yap Lesson #1

So I had my "first" in a long time Ryan Yap lesson on Fire on Friday. It went better than I would have expected for an over weight Oreo of a horse being pushed for an entire hour with no break.

To begin with, Ryan had me identify to him our big weak points, which currently are the all encompassing fact that Fire wants to be lazy and not correctly engage his hind end which makes him not then correctly come through the back and to the bridle. This of course, messes up the universe as we know it. There were other little things that I mentioned to Ryan, but we both knew that everything stems from the fact that fattie pants horse doesn't want to activate his HUGE rump and get movin'.

So, we begun our work. Ryan worked my brain by asking me to do quick trot walk transistors into 10m circles in renveres. The first time I did it I took a bit to think about the bend and what had to be compromised of all those cues to ask for all of those things because they seemed so counter intuitive. To ask for a ten meter circle right, and a walk transition, and then at the same time begin renvere left which causes the body to bend left on that right circle is just well... hard. I was so proud of my black and white little cow though, he didn't break down or even stiffen up! He took my cues and went with the flow of the training like a little dressage trooper. We moved through other training exercises, like leg yields on and off the wall in zip zags which I also thought would blow the little man's mind (and didn't.)

I guess all in all I was super proud of the performance that Fire gave, aside from the one mini tantrum that happened at minute 45 that lasted a short 1/2 circle burst before settling down again. I think I learned a lot from Ryan in the lesson about correct riding and how to move things forward in our training, but I also learned that Fire is growing up and that he can handle a lot more and that I don't need to baby him as much as I have been. I've seen so many horses get pushed thorugh training so quickly and watched them hate it and break down that I would hate myself if I did that to a horse that I would rather go too slow than too fast, but I don't want to bore Fire or make things mundane. Obviously he's strong enough and ready for the next few steps in his training. And I've got a great trainer that will help us get there.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Just when you think it's all going to hell...

Have you ever had a ride where you get on thinking you're going to "just do XY & Z and then be done" only to get into a royal mess of a situation? That was how my day started today. I didn't even put boots on him today because I thought to myself "oh, I'm not working any lateral work today, it's going to be an easy 1,2,3 kind of day today!" Ha. Then I got on.

We started with the classic locked jaw head in the air. This didn't phase me much because this is a new thing that is becoming a bit common that I've found I can work through... on a normal day. I tried my normal things and I got a bit of give, not what I would have wanted, but for a 4 year old, it was enough and I was happy. Then I began working our trot trying to just work him straight, since he has been really swinging his rear to the inside track. This is where all hell broke lose. Just the idea here of a mini- renvere almost sent us through the wall of the arena. Just me asking sent us into a fun little "fit" of bucking and rearing (thanks to Julie for the suggestion, it was obviously met with great contention!!!) and he continued to take out the wall for a good 15 minutes and tried everything to suck back, canter get free and away... anything but slightly bring his shoulders off of the track, not bend his neck and trot forward and correctly with his hind end. OOHHHH did I get the middle hoof on this one!! Not what I had planned for the day.

I had an ah-ha moment though, kind of on accident. It really was in thought to save myself from ending up a permanent fixture of the arena wall. To save my leg and life I decided to ask for the movement off the wall on the second track so he then physically couldn't kick the wall and couldn't push me into the boards. Then, like magic... he began to bend to the direction I wanted his body to bend, giving me his shoulder like I wanted and straightening out like I had asked. It was like this amazing break through. After that little moment the rest of the ride was a breeze. We had great 1/4 line shoulder-ins without locking or diving or drifting, our canter departs were straight and not leaning and he was really listening to where I wanted his shoulders or his haunches and was no longer feeling frustrated in my hands and tight in his back. We ended with an amazing four set of simple changes through the walk with 20m circles. They were absolutely "it" to ride. You know the "it" I'm talking about. They were up and under and right when I asked and perfect and straight and just everything they should have been and more. Its those moments, those moments that last a whole two minutes of wonderful bliss that make the previous 45 minutes of hell worth it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The start of summer

When summer starts it's always slow with a warmblood. I went to get on Fire after not riding for a few days and I felt like I was getting on someones 15 year old trail horse. He didn't want to do ANYTHING for me and asking him to canter a 30 meter circle was like asking him to do Grand Prix. At one point I felt like I was carrying his entire weight up and under his body with my calves. It really makes me wonder about the horses that do go Grand Prix throughout the year and the shape that they must be in. Seeing as Fire's current shape is "round" thanks to the copious amounts of green grass he is afforded daily and the lessening amount of time i'm able to work him while having to study for the Illinois Bar... I see this as an uphill battle.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Tasting... yum...

The tasting started at two and boy... by then was I starving. I hadn't eaten anything all day in preparation for all of the food we were about to eat, to my detriment! Joe and I sat down at the nice linen table that Christina set up for us and I pulled out my "wedding binder" so I could keep track of the food and what we ate and what we liked. I find that if I don't' stay organized I forget things. Christina promptly poked fun at me, but hey, it works for me. So then... onto the food. Which of course, I took photos of:

First up: the Chicken Roulade

This was the first thing we decided to eat. It was beautifully presented and had a lot of color to it, so I liked it. It consisted of Chicken breast wrapped in panko bread crumbs with sun-dried tomatoes, spinach and brie cheese. I admit that I didn't tell Joe about the cheese because I knew he didn't like it... my little secret. There was wild rice with some tomatoes in it and then a mixed fresh veggie. Oh... and some crazy sauce that was good. All in all we liked this one. The breadcrumbs were nice and crunchy. As predicted, Joe noticed that there was something in the chicken that he couldn't put his finger on that he didn't like, which I of course loved. And the rice was a winner. So this one was a good mix-- presented well, tasted good, just possibly needed a little tweaking.

Next up: Roast Chicken

I'm just going to say it... we hated this one. It looks pretty yes. It was very bright and pretty. It was roast chicken and it was squishy. The actual chicken was tasty, but with the skin on there was too much fat included. The sauce was the killer: saffron sauce. Too much saffron for the two of us really. And the orzo that was too bland. For us, the flavors just weren't meshing and this one just lost to the other food. So we moved onto something tastier...

The final plate: Pork Chop

This was presented very nicely. Though you can't smell it, it came out very nicely smelling wonderfully. The meal was a 10oz Center Cut Pork Chop served with cranberry and apple compote with whipped potatoes, green beans and a veal demi-glaze. So of course, instantly I didn't want the veal demi-glaze and was slightly put off because Christina told me it was going to be a red wine demi-glaze. I REALLY wanted to not eat it because of what it was, but I didn't want to be that high maintenance, so I did. But if we choose this, the veal glaze will be nixed. The pork was properly cooked and moist and the bone was easily navigated. The apple compote made for a nice surprise on top, the sweetness mingled nicely, though Joe commented that he didn't like the cranberries making it a bit tart. The mashed potatoes were just that, and I would guess we would change over to ones with mashed with skins included, but stay with mashed and not rice for this one, but very good. The veggies on this one was just green beans, which were very fresh and might be a good sole option as well.

All in all, we both loved the food and think that its a great option. The price point seems to be one that we can work with well and I find the venue to be one that is rare that no one really ever uses. They only do about two weddings a year and never advertise that they do weddings. Just speaking of food, this one is a very good option and would do very well with guests.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Dunham Woods

Going here today for a tasting. I'm super excited! I'll bring along my camera and notebook and take some notes as to what we think about the food. This is the first time that Joe is going to this venue and I really really really hope that he likes it. I've been there a few times and I know that I like it and their organizer, Christina is a wonderful person who has already been more than helpful.
Its really a beautiful place! More photos to come, and hopefully some good return info on the food! I'll be so excited if I can secure an awesome venue this early. I feel like it'll make me feel a lot better knowing that I have to stop planning for a lot time while I'm studying for the stinky bar.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

What I do on a Saturday night: Boot Breakin'

First and foremost, I don't look at all as glamorous as the girl in the above photo but find myself too lazy to take a picture of what I actually look like sitting here, breaking in my boots. What the girl above and I do have in common? We both are sitting on couches in tall black boots, and we both have great ravenesque locks.

I have a pair of boots that I love. They are really nice Konig boots with a whale bone up the back. I got them when I started riding seriously, and my legs were a bit smaller than what they are currently. So, since I'm getting more serious now and will be showing, I'd like to show in my great and wonderful boots, that don't fit. So I brought them to the wonderful Otto of Otto's Shoe repair in Dundee. If you're a rider in the NW Illinois area and you ever need a boot repaired, dressage or otherwise, Otto is your man. He's downtown Dundee and though he's not a man of many words, he does a wonderful job and will give you your boots back shined up and looking great. Its just him so he can take a while to get things back to you, but the quality is much worth it.

So now here I sit... with the boots on trying to re-break them in. Since its been years since I've had them on they've gotten very stiff and they need to loosen up before they attempt to see the side of a horse. Oh, and I still can't zip them all the way either... but that's just a minor thing. Give me a bit of time, a bit more exercise, and I'm sure that won't be much of an issue.

Off to watch some more worthless TV and sit on the couch in riding clothes... with no horse. NOw who is all dressed up with no where to go???

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


I spent the entire day today in the yard and here is a bit of the before and after.

My Dad was awesome and came over today and helped me with it all of it. I don't know what I would have done with out him. Well.. I guess I do, I would have wiating and it would have taken longer and Joe and I would have done it all in the span of a week or so.

Now my back is shot and I am tired... but the yard looks much better!! All that weeding and mulching and raking and cutting and sweeping... whew!!

Lamplight Equestiran Center re-does footing!

It hasn't been much of a secret that for many years now the footing at Lamplight Equestrian Center in Wayne, IL has left much to be desired. What use to be a warm up ring has gone back and forth from warm up to parking which has left the footing slippery at times, hard as a rock and considered dangerous to many.

This year LEC decided to begin to fix their footing and has re-done the "Grand Prix" arena. For those of you who are dressage riders, the Grand Prix area is usually the three rings that are in the same area of sand where there is grandstand seating on one side. This is by far where the worst footing was for showing currently in dressage shows.

Here is a link to a video of the renovations of the ring:

I myself am very glad that they have begun to fix some of the footing. I know many a rider that has scratched on days that it has started to rain because the footing becomes so dangerous and deep. To now know that Lamplight has fixed both the warm-up arena and the grand prix arena area is a great improvement for the facility. We all love when they add gazebos and nice little touches like the giant wet bar down by the boarding area, but this new footing was long over do and will make for a much more comfortable show season!

Great deal!

I've been on now for over 4 years. I've bought some really great items off of there, but currently have found their stuff to be kind of lacking. If you don't know what is, you should! It is the original "deal a day" site where there is one deal posted each day at midnight (central time) and that deal is posted for 24 hours, or until the companies stock is out, but you have no idea how many they have. Its great fun and I've had great success with my purchases from woot. They even have a wine section where you can get wonderful wines at a discount. There is great care taken, all white wines sent in the summer is sent with dry ice so that it doesn't spoil. Who else thinks of things like that?

Woot always has shipping of $5. No matter what you buy... the shipping is $5. I bought a pair of noise canceling headphones and they were tiny, and they shipping was still $5. However, Joe and I bought our electric mower off of woot, and the shipping only cost us $5.

My most recent purchase is today's woot, the Sony Pocket ereader. I couldn't pass it up. I have a full sized reader that I got about a year back that I really enjoy. Actually, I just bought a book two days ago and was looking at these pocket readers seeing that they were on sale on the Sony site for $149 and thinking that was a decent price for them. To be able to carry 500 books in your pocket or a medium purse, that is a great thing to have. Once I'm in court just sitting there waiting for things to be called, this thing is going to be a life saver. The price of $149 was too much for me to just jump on it in the store though... and I passed. I was surprised to see it pop up on woot last night at midnight though, for a great price of only $109! Now that is a deal I can jump on, so I did. I'm sure I'll find a deserving friend of family member that I can think of that is someone who enjoys reading and would like one of these. It really is a great price.

So, if you're reading this and it's still Tuesday... hop on over to and maybe they will still be there at their unbeatable price! There are plenty of great reviews and words of wisdom from people included on the site as well.

Happy reading!!

Monday, May 17, 2010

graduation day!

right lead... WRONG LEAD!

For a bit of a spell now Fire and I have been struggling with the right lead. Not the "correct" lead per-say... but the correct lead, to the right. We use to be able to get them both equally just fine, but now magically the right canter lead has gone AWOL and does not want to come back.

For those of you non-horse people, a canter lead, in short, is when a horse picks up the "running" gait and the can either pick up this gait with their right or left legs starting. This is called a lead and helps them in turning etc. but there are "right" and "left" leads then. Our right, is now wrong.

So to get back on the point... we're broken. Now that I've had the saddle fitted, I can sit in the saddle and sit with Fire much better. I'm seeing a difference and though I can feel that he sometimes get frustrated that he can't throw me off my game, I'm finding that I can correctly place his shoulder better and get him to correctly pick up that right lead like I want! Now that it has been a while with him favoring the left (just like people, horses and right and left "handed") he's become stronger on that other side. So now I'm trying to work him a lot more to the right. I spent my ENTIRE last ride doing transitions up and down and only to the right. It was exhausting, but I found that we were getting the correct lead correctly and quickly and cleanly, so I was happy with our progress.

But then what happened? I went left.

I decided we would just do a little bit of work left.

I asked for a bit of canter left... and he picked up the right lead. FML.

Oh to have a young horse.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Perhaps the most valuable bit of information I've learned is that you should never argue with an idiot. The people around you might now be able to tell the difference.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

all's well that ends well...

done and done.

now to just pass the IL bar.

Oh... and lose about 40lbs, but more about that later, its 2:30am. I'm just happy to be done.

Monday, May 10, 2010

I'm about the graduate...

I'm about to graduate and I have no job. You would think that would be the worst thing, but I've worked two full years for career services... for the university... and I have no job.

I graduated undergrad with a job as a dolphin trainer. I went to a school in the MIDDLE OF A CORNFIELD and I got a job as a DOLPHIN TRAINER before I crossed the stage. Now... I just want a friggin' job as a lawyer. There are a million lawyer jobs out there for every stupid dolphin trainer job and I don't have one.


Schleese Saddle Fitting

After waiting what seemed like forever, the Schleese saddle fitter Natalie finally made it out to the farm to see Fire and my two saddles. It was a wonderful experience and she was very friendly and actually early! Since Fire is young, she took extra time to get to know him and moved very slowly with her instruments as not to scare him while doing her measurements.

As she was going over his measurements she kept exclaiming what a "big boy" he was. I think she was saying it because he is pretty tall at 16'3'', but also quite round as well. Yes, Fire could use to lose a few pounds, but couldn't we all? I think he's stuck too because he's got a big huge white tummy too. It is an uphill battle for the boy! (yes, I know, I make excuses). Not that I haven't already posted photos of him, but for reference, here is a good photo below showing Fire's back and size:

So, he's got a short back and a large shoulder. The current saddle I'm using is a Schleese Wave. And because I am super lucky, the fitter told me that I picked the perfect saddle for him. That since he has a short back and the large shoulder, the Wave was a perfect choice. My other saddle, the Schleese CHB, is not a good choice because the panel on the saddle comes all the way down and it would block the horse's shoulder movement. Also, the gullets are not wide enough for Fire's back, and it would fit a horse that would be more of a TB style, or older style Warmblood.

So, after all of the measuring she explained that Fire happens to be "left" hooved. And that is why his mane falls to the left mostly and why it is his dominate lead in the canter. He is also more developed on that side of his back, though his back is very strong. Since he is young she was not worried, but then reflocked his saddle accordingly.

It was then time to get on and ride. I rode both ways all gaits. The fitter had me get off twice and adjusted the flocking in the saddle two times to make sure things were just right with the horse. I could tell an instant difference in the way that he rode and the way that I could sit in the saddle. I could feel the "schwing" in his back from the first few trot steps and it was great from the get go, no stiffness like usual. Very impressive!

Finally I hopped off and we read the "dust pattern" left from the saddle. I learned about how the hair should fall and how to look for rubbing and where things should be and where they shouldn't be. All in all it was a very informative hours time that was well worth the money and time. I can't wait now to schedule a lesson to see how much I can imporve just by being able to have a better connection with the horse's back.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Too Original?

I'm in search of wedding venues and if you know me, you know that I want to be original in everything that I do. That I wouldn't be caught dead doing a regular ol' hall at a hotel or anything like that. So I had the great idea to look into the theater (the Egyptian theater) that is in town and has been partially restored. Its really cute and very 1920's and has a lot of charm. I dunno though... it may be just a bit too much for me. And though I am a drama queen... I don't think if I ever saw myself getting married on stage. Above is two photos from events that they have had there. One was a prom that was held and another a dinner for the local commerce. It looks nice but there is something about it being up on the stage that just says play to me. The lights are always neat... but I just look at it and think that I should be seeing actors or something. Ehh... so maybe not on this one. But I thought I'd ad it because it was so different.

if you would like to know more about the theater (it is pretty cool) here is the website:

Monday, May 3, 2010

All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go

I absolutely do not understand the barn ladies that get dressed up to ride... I mean fully dressed to ride, to just stand there and groom their horse and let them eat grass. Someone please explain to me why one needs to wear fullseat breeches to pick hooves. I mean, I do understand why wearing proper footwear in the barn is important. I cringe when I see toes at the barn because my own feet have been stomped on one too many times to even want my piggies to be free within 50 yards of an animal that weighs more than me anymore. Thank.You.Very.Much. Moving on, back to the barn ladies... please explain to me though why not just proper shoes or short boots, but NOOOO... tall proper boots. What are you doing woman?! This just confuses me. I'd say the only thing that is missing is the helmet, but of the literally handful of times that I've seen the barn lady full dress offenders ride, it has been sans helmets. And if you're wondering, its been two. Now, I do not LIVE at the barn, but two? I don't know if I would own breeches at that point.

I know that there are worse things about barn ladies. I have heard stories that have made my jaw drop to the ground. This dress up to groom thing just gets at me though and I've never been able to get it. Why put on all of that stuff if you KNOW you're not getting on? Someone? Anyone?