Monthly Archives: March 2007

Adventure for Guinevere

My friend Kalisa keeps her horses at a really terrific barn. Well, supposedly it’s terrific. Kalisa raves non-stop about it, and although I haven’t been there, I trust her opinion. I have chatted on the phone with the barn manager, and she’s awesome — and very interested in clicker training to boot.

Well, I found out that the board rate at this barn is extremely reasonable, and they have two openings in April. So I’ve decided to move Guin there next week. Moving her will be, I hope, a win-win for everyone. I’m not afraid to ride her, and Kalisa (and her daughter Kyra and the trainer, Monica) will be there for me to go trail riding with on a regular basis. And this will give Kyra a green horse to play with as she develops her training skills.

Man, I wish I had an extra grand a month. I’d put the whole crew there! It will be wonderful to have facilities like an indoor arena and trails again.

I’m really looking forward to this. I need to order hay tomorrow that, hopefully, will be delivered before she arrives. Monica is arranging for the barn owner to transport Guin early in the week, after Guin and the other horses get their annual vaccinations. I need to go out and dig out my tack and clean it, and scrounge up grooming supplies to take with me. I’d love to give her a bath before she goes over, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. At least I can use a shedding blade on her and try to get rid of some of that hair! I wish I had a working set of clippers, but mine died. Ugh.

Tomorrow Jay and I are tackling the fence. We’re going to hit the fence store when it opens tomorrow morning, and we’re not quitting until that fence keeps Rowan where she’s supposed to be!!! (Famous last words. Sigh. Really, she has turned into a nightmare.)

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Progress report

I’m still Sparking on SparkPeople. As of last Sunday I was officially down 15 lbs. Up until this week, I had been doing really, really good with my eating. This week hasn’t been horrible, except in comparison to the super-clean eating I did earlier this month. Still, I need to get a grip before I start backsliding.

The hardest thing for me is exercising. I really, really, really wish I had a treadmill at the house. I just can’t make myself get dressed, drive 20 minutes to the gym, do half an hour on the treadmill, and then come home. That’s like an hour and a half out of my day for half an hour on the treadmill. Going down to work out with Jenny isn’t so hard, because I’m there for an hour and a half (and I’m lifting weights, which I love).

Oh, speaking of weights… last week Jenny asked me, “Have you ever done any power lifting?” This cracked me up, because that makes her the third trainer to ask me that. No, I haven’t, but I’m definitely built for it. Jenny says I not only have the muscle mass, but I’m also very, very strong. She adores working me out because she can push me really hard and I neither quit nor whine. I love the hard stuff. Heavy weight doesn’t challenge me particularly, so she’s adding balance moves to the mix. My balance is horrible, so this is super good for me.

I’m signed up for a three-month package of personal training. I’d like to sign up for one more three-month package, and then after that use the money for a couple of months of Pilates for Equestrians (taught in a private studio in Redmond), and then after that, put the money toward riding lessons with Craig Stevens. It’ all costs about the same per month, and I’m not trying to overlap anything. I’d just like to have that chunk of money each month to do something that makes me fitter and that I really enjoy.

In other news, we went to Portland last weekend and Jay got to meet the Newfie breeder. She’s really, really picky about her puppy owners, and to be honest, I don’t know if we made the cut — I didn’t get just super positive vibes. Well, that would be okay. If we get a Newfie puppy, it will be a long, long time before we get another curly pup, and that’s where my heart lies. At the same time, I miss the cuddles that Rain used to give — neither curlies nor Pyrs are especially affectionate dogs.

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Fence? What fence?

We don’t have a fence on the property that can contain Miss Rowan at this point. I have thee- and four-strand hot-wire tape. Something isn’t working, so it isn’t hot, and Rowan knows it. So she just crosses from pasture to pasture as she wishes. Most of the time she doesn’t even mess up the fence! It absolutely confounds the other horses, who just can’t understand why she gets to be somewhere they’re not.

Today was a beautiful warm day, and when I got home in the afternoon, I thought I’d let the horses out in the back pasture for a couple of hours. The deer had brought down some of the fence, so first I took the dogs for a run and tightened the fencelines. The horses weren’t at all pleased that the dogs went out and they didn’t. So they stood at the gate and shook it, and when that didn’t work, whinnied plaintively. (It was really quite cute.)

Well, apparently Rowan got tired of waiting. When I got back, she was out of the dry lot, grazing in an area between the dry lot and the first pasture. I let the other horses out, and they took off at a gallop for the back pasture. Rowan was quite annoyed that she wasn’t able to reach them, so I finally got to see her fence technique in action. She leans down to the next to last strand, lifts it with her nose, and then somehow jumps through without catching a single foot in the bottom strand (or without damaging the fence).

Tighten the lines, you say? Done that. Daily. It doesn’t even slow her down. She just stretches the tape.

Well, I left them in the field and went to Monroe to meet Jay for dinner. While there, we stopped at the Farm and Feed store and picked up various and sundry parts for the electric fence. We absolutely MUST get it hot on Saturday. Rowan has been very good about not wandering too far afield on these little foreys, but I just can’t count on that. When I woke up this morning, she was grazing in the front yard!!!

Oh, an extra little tidbit… When I called the horses in for dinner, Miss Princess actually cantered in! That’s amazing. She usually just race walks, even when the other horses are galloping around. She must be feeling really good. Her farrier had an assistant last week, and I asked him what breed he thought she might be. Without even knowing she was gaited, he guessed Tennessee Walker. Certainly makes sense!

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Training Rowan to tie, part deux

It’s been a while since the weather has been nice enough to do much with Rowan, but I got out for a few minutes today and gave her another tying lesson. She was pretty emotional from the moment I tied her. I used the Aussie tie ring, put the lead rope through just once, and moved to the other side of the fence. My plan at this point is to reinforce her for standing still, and not for just loosening the rope. I don’t want her to learn that she can tighten and then loosen the rope to “make” me treat her.

She really had a hard time standing still. She paced and turned a lot. However, she was good with the rope, untangling it from her face and immediately loosening it when it got taut. Just a couple of times did she truly try to pull back and get away. Those times, when she released, I offered her reinforcement. She was frustrated, and she did a bit of rearing. I didn’t worry about it for the most part — she has to work through the emotional stuff and figure out that being tied isn’t such a torturous thing. One time, however, she got the rope over her poll, and then reared and twisted, and if I hadn’t released the rope. she’d have gone over backwards. Fortunately, she came down forward and didn’t pull the rope completely out of the tie ring, so she never actually got loose.

That stunt scared her a bit, I think, because after that I got a lot of opportunities to treat her for standing still, and we were able to quit on a high note. I called Leslie afterwards, and she said I was doing it right, more or less. She suggested that I teach her that pressure on her poll is a cue to drop her head, so she won’t hurt herself in a panic if she gets the rope over her head.

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More on SparkPeople.com

I haven’t updated in a while, because I’ve been obsessed with SparkPeople. Have I mentioned I love it?? Each morning I start my day by reading my SparkPeople e-mail. The articles I read — and the points I get for doing so — get me motivated to eat right and work out. The activities for which you can earn SparkPoints really keep me on track throughout the day. I’ve got the site up from morning till night, checking off accomplishments and tracking food and exercise. It’s awesome! Again, I highly, highly recommend it.

In other good news, Jay finally said I could start working with a personal trainer again. Her name is Jenny, and she and I are a terrific match. She is a former body builder and so she’s not afraid of heavy weight. It feels so good to get back to lifting weights again. Cardio isn’t as much fun, but I’m tolerating it. I’m just not built for it! I ordered a Pilates video, and I’m planning to do that a few nights per week. Pilates is exactly what I need for riding and skiing.

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