Thursday, July 31, 2014

Lucy Talk

Lucy is a sweet, affectionate mare; she is also an opinionated princess.

--Hurry up and put my fly sheet on. A fly landed on me and I'm sure it's going to suck out all of my blood. Hurry up!

--Outta my way, Pistol! She's got cookies and they are mine. All mine, I tell ya.

--Don't touch the top of my tail; I'm sensitive there.

--And don't touch my ears either. Okay, that soft brush is okay but that's it.

--Excuse me! You went in the tack room and didn't bring out cookies for me? I'm going to paw until you bring me one. Ouch! You were supposed to bring me cookies, not smack my belly. Sheesh.

And while I'm riding:

--ooooh, canter on the long side. EXTEND! Yee hah!

--That's enough. I think I'll trot now.

--Counter canter? Nah, let's do a flying change instead.

--Why are you laughing? Flying changes are more fun, right? Isn't that what you secretly wanted?

--Okay, okay. Counter canter.

--Wait! Look over there! He's feeding the other horses! I'm going to miss out! I know you said he's just mucking but I'm SURE he is feeding. I'm going to die of starvation! Are we done yet?

Never a dull moment with Lucy.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

No Diving

On the road back home from Shaver Lake, Camille and I headed up the two lane highway out of the one-stop-sign town of Ione.  A few miles outside of the town, I pointed out my favorite road sign to Camille.  She read it, burst out laughing, and begged me to pull over so she could take a picture.  I watched her run back to the bridge, flip flops slapping the hot asphalt, take her pictures, then jog back to the car, diving into the air conditioned coolness -- it was 103F outside.

Brett had his appointment with the orthopedic surgeon today.  His knee replacement is scheduled for September 2nd.

Thank you to everyone who offered to send us rain.  I wish!  The fire season usually starts in August and is at its worst in September.  We've already had more fires this year than normal -- and we haven't even hit the bad months yet.  So, yes, rain would be most welcome!  We've had beautiful cloudy skies, stunning sunrises and sunsets, but no rain.  And we probably won't get rain until November... which is a long way off.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Shaver Lake

Every year since Camille was a baby, 20 years ago, my parents have rented a cabin at Shaver Lake in the Sierras for a week.  My parents would spend the first part of the week enjoying the lake with their friends and the second half of the week with family.  With a few exceptions, they rented the same cabin every year.  My kids, Kyle and Camille, thought that the cabin belonged to Grandma and Grandpa for many years.  In the early years, my mother did the lion's share of the cooking while my sister and I tried to keep all the kids under control.  My brother did not join us in the early years.  Gradually, as the cousins got bigger and my mother got older, the cooking shifted to my sister and I.  We split dinner duty with one of us making dinner and the other making appetizers.  The kids were responsible for doing the dishes.  But, mostly, it was about the kids playing and swimming and eating and collapsing exhausted in their sleeping bags at night; watching the bats fly and the stars wink above the pines until finally they fell silent and slept.

As my mom's lung condition progressed, she wasn't able to tolerate the altitude.  She brought oxygen for a few years and then that wasn't enough.  So, we stopped going to Shaver Lake and they rented places at the beach and then in the gold country.  It was great to be together, of course, but we all missed "our" cabin at Shaver Lake.

This past week we went back.  My dad and my sister, with her daughter Kristin, drove up Tuesday.  Over the next few days we all arrived; even my brother with his daughter, Taylor.  My sister's kids and mine are all in their 20s now.  My brother's daughter is eleven.  There were five cousins (one couldn't make it) to swim, hike, paddle board, jump into the water from boulders, and watch the stars at night.  It was a good trip.  And my mom was there in spirit.
Kristin and Camille on a paddle board

Nephew, Justin, in a kayak

They found a teepee on the shore

...and they all crowded inside

Camille getting ready to jump

Kyle in the air, Justin on the rock behind him

The cousins: Justin, Kristin, Taylor, Kyle and Camille

Camille jumping with my sister's husband climbing up behind.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sand Fire Update

Some of you have heard about the Sand fire which is burning very close to us.  Fortunately, the fire is now 50% contained and we are not in any danger.  It was not a comfortable feeling for me to be away from home while ash and blackened leaves were raining down on our property.  Brett, thank goodness, was home and had things well under control.

Currently, the fire has burned close to 4,000 acres taking ten homes and an additional seven out-buildings.  There are 1,900 firefighters, 196 fire engines, 6 planes, 8 helicopters, 30 dozers and 50 water trucks fighting this fire.  Yep, they have a ton of resources on this fire.  It is called the Sand fire because it started on Sand Ridge Road, by a vehicle driving across the very dry vegetation.  Darn drought.

There are still 500 structures threatened and a number of communities evacuated.

Thank you to those of you who knew of the situation and offered us a place to put our animals should we need to evacuate.  It provided HUGE peace of mind.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Hindsight is 20/20

This morning before I headed off to Shaver Lake with Camille for a few days with my family, Brett and I went to PEC to take lessons with Sandy. My lesson with Lucy went well and I was especially pleased with our canter transitions. We tried some counter canter at the end but Lucy got worried and started offering changes instead. So, I will work more with her at home on that.

About ten minutes before my lesson ended, Brett came into the covered arena to warm up Mufasa. Remember that the last time Brett took a lesson on Mufasa, he bucked in response to Brett tapping him with the whip to get a prompt response. Brett is used to Flash who was not a sensitive horse -- you have to be strong with him to get his attention. Mufasa, in contrast, is very sensitive. Brett said he touched Mufasa more firmly than was necessary -- it was a Flash level correction. Flash would have blinked, sighed, and moved out a tad faster. Mufasa did a "what the hell?!" reaction - the buck. So, today when Brett led Mufasa into the arena and walked toward the mounting block, Mufasa had his head high and the whites of his eyes showing. Brett talked to him and Mufasa approached the mounting block, but he was skittish. Sandy walked over to help and Mufasa's fear of strangers kicked in. He went into reverse at warp speed with Brett running to stay with him, talking and trying to calm Mufasa down.

Mufasa stopped, Brett explained to Sandy that Mufasa is afraid of people he doesn't know, and said he thought it would be better if he worked on mounting alone. Mufasa reluctantly walked up to the mounting block, but he clearly wasn't happy. Something was worrying him -- worried about being in the arena where he was firmly tapped, worried about the position of the mounting block, worried about the wet sand... who knows what the issue was exactly, but there was an issue.

Brett was anxious to get on and get warmed up so he put a foot in the stirrup and swung his leg over. Before he could get that foot in the stirrup, Mufasa was off and running. Brett couldn't find the stirrup, which flopped up and smacked Mufasa. Mufasa didn't buck, but he hopped three or four times and Brett, who was already unbalanced, hit the dirt. Mufasa started to bolt off but then slid to a stop, turned, and looked at Brett. Lucy threw her head up and hopped forward but stopped when I asked her to. I jumped off, handed my reins to Sandy, and caught Mufasa who was clearly convinced he was going to be beaten for dumping Brett. Poor Mufasa, somebody was very rough with him in the past. Brett didn't break anything but he was very sore and scraped up.

Sandy lunged Mufasa until he relaxed (and admired his trot), and then got on and worked with him. Mufasa started to figure things out and was a good boy, trying hard to get it right. I wish we could afford to have Sandy train him full time for a month or two but there just isn't any money -- and a list of projects at home a mile long.

Brett said that, in hindsight, he should have taken more time with Mufasa, making sure he was relaxed before trying to mount. Of course, hindsight is always 20/20. Between the big spook a few weeks ago at home where Brett came off and today, Brett isn't really thrilled with the idea of riding. At 65, bones break more easily and things hurt for a long time. I can't say I blame him, although I hope when he heals that he tries again. They were making such great progress together and Mufasa trusts Brett -- which is a huge accomplishment.

We loaded the horses into the trailer and Brett headed home. I drove to the airport, picked up Camille, and headed to Shaver Lake. I checked in with Brett before turning out the light -- he and Kersey were watching "The Blob" on TV. He's going to hurt even more tomorrow -- and has all the chores to do on his own. I feel badly about not being there.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mixing it Up

I'm a big believer in variety.  I don't like drilling the same thing day after day and I don't think horses enjoy it either.  With Lucy, it is a bit more challenging than it was with Winston and Jackson who I could take out on trail rides.  Lucy still jumps out of her skin when my helmet brushes against the pine boughs hanging low on the property.

I try to work on something different every day and I let Lucy tell me what she is in the mood for.  If the weather is cool and she's got happy feet, we do interval training: laps of trot and canter to build her fitness.  Once a week, I focus on lateral work - leg yield, shoulder-fore and haunches-in.  On days that she is very focused, we work on half steps at trot and canter.  Today she was sluggish (I'm quite certain she is coming into heat) so we did some canter early on to wake her up and then lots and lots of transitions -- changing gaits at every other letter as we went around and mixing it up to keep her on her toes.

Last Sunday morning we were both tired and the humidity was making us lethargic so we did our warm up and then left the dressage court.  We wandered through the trees on both sides of the court, through the dry stream bed, past the scary pile of pine boughs and under the low branches that made her jump.

We walked past the oak pasture, over the bridge, alongside the chicken run and down the driveway.  She was good as gold, even when we rode back up along the side of the house by the wood shed.  She did not like the wood shed.  Evil.  Definitely evil.  She didn't want to, but she walked behind it for me and stood quivering on the other side.  I told her she was a very brave mare as we turned and walked back to the barn.

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Little Fall of Rain

It's been a heavy-hearted few days for me. First there was the passenger plane shot down and all those innocent people killed. It haunts me.

Then Saturday, as Brett and I drove to our favorite local winery for lunch and wine, I learned that a friend and neighbor when we were living at Aspen Meadows had lost her long battle with cancer. She had been fighting the cancer long before we sold our home and moved up here. Brett and I sat with our wine on the terrace of the winery, overlooking the pine studded Sierras, and talked about Rebecca. She was a live wire and a spit fire; gracious hostess and warm friend; she liked bawdy stories and shocking people (I was an easy target); she was affirming and generous with her time and attention; she was fit; she was a writer; she gave of herself to her friends, family and community. I admired her greatly and it is hard to believe all that energy and laughter is gone.

Sunday, Brett and I went to church before going down to Sacramento to see a play. We are intermittent church goers -- we are both very spiritual but find God in our Sunday trail rides through the mountains as much as in our church community. My friend, Kitty, slid into the pew next to us. I asked how she was doing -- her husband had been put on hospice last time I saw her. She told me he died last week; that she was floating; existing in a space that didn't feel real.  I hugged her hard.

I've decided that I don't like getting older. Losing people I love is hard; watching friends and family lose loved ones is hard too. Getting old sucks.

When Brett and I emerged from the Sunday afternoon matinee, it was raining in Sacramento. We drove home with the windshield wipers slapping, up into the foothills where we were sure it would be raining even harder.

We were wrong, by the time we reached home there were a few scattered drops but not enough to warrant the wipers, and not enough to wet the road. There were just a few soft splats on the dusty ground and on Pistol's rump.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Pass Me a Beer

The other evening Brett and I sat on the front porch with a cold one.  It was hot and humid and I was wiped out from a long, exhausting week at work.  I gave Kersey a taste of my beer.  She slurped it down, walked away a few steps, plunked down on the porch with her head smacking the wood, and started doing a squirmy back roll with a massive grin on her face.

Then she got up and went over to Brett for a sample of his beer.  She liked my beer better but Brett's belly rubs put her over the edge; eyes closed in belly bliss.

One palm full of beer is all she got.  Apparently, she's a lightweight.  And a very entertaining dog.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


This morning, Lucy was in an affectionate mood.  I lay the side of my face against hers -- my cheek to her forehead -- and we stood that way a long time.  When I tacked her up, she opened her mouth for the bit and when I mounted, she stood quietly while we drank in the morning.  It was a particularly gorgeous morning with golden light under the cloudy sky.

Lucy was stretchy, bendy and obedient; forward without rushing; in front of my leg and prompt in our transitions.  We played with lateral work and then our three canters.  Her working canter was wonderful, her extended canter felt like flying -- we winged our way down the long side; Lucy reaching and stretching, digging in and pushing -- but with one ear on me "you okay up there?"  And I was very okay, feeling like a million bucks with a grin from here to France on my face.

We worked in extended canter on the long sides, working canter on the short sides and in 15m circles, and in collected canter on 20m circles -- she was gold.  Hmmm, I thought.  I wonder....  we tried a flying change.
Mind you, Sandy told me that she had been told Lucy could do them but Sandy never really worked on them with Lucy.  There was that whole rushing issue and Lucy doesn't have the best x-rays for her joints so Sandy didn't want to push it.

I didn't push it either.  I just asked.  Once.  And she did it!  Not clean -- but still.  My very first flying change that I asked for.  I don't count the ones that happened on Auke -- he was just being a silly youngster, changing at will for the fun of it.

It was an excellent way to start the day.  Right, Kersey?  She loves spending time on the front porch.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Share and Share Alike

A few weeks ago I was contacted by an author of equestrian romance novels. She said she had a new book that was due to be released in the middle of July. Would I be willing to read the book and put a review on my blog?

The first thing I did was google her name, Hannah Hooton. She was legit, with a number of books listed on Amazon. The books had good ratings. I'm pretty busy but I was intrigued so I said yes. Hannah is located in the UK but she managed to send me an advance copy of the manuscript (I think it is out now). The wonders of the internet! It only took us three tries to get the book to me -- because I had to figure out how to receive it.

I started reading the book, Share and Share Alike, a few weeks ago. I read the first chapter and stopped. I didn't care for the main character who seemed overly concerned with the state of her nail polish and the curve of men's rear ends.

A week or so after that, feeling guilty, I read through to chapter six. The book still didn't grab me and part of the problem was the jargon. British slang is different than American and I didn't understand most of it. The heroine kept calling one of the men a "toff" which was clearly derogatory but I couldn't figure it out past that. I put the book down again.

Yesterday, with nothing better to do on a hot afternoon I took it with me out on the front porch and read, with Kersey at my feet. Just short of the half-way point the book grabbed me and pulled me in. It is a horse racing focused book and I know very little about that discipline -- especially about steeple chasing, which was the sport in this book. But, the characters were well drawn and I could picture all of them. I had very strong opinions about who I liked and who I didn't. There was a mystery, a who-dunnit, component to the book and I kept changing my mind on the culprit. In the end, I was wrong (but on the right track).

In summary, I'd give the book three stars. I did have trouble with the British jargon, and the names (I couldn't keep all the strange, to me, names straight). I'm a pretty tough customer when it comes to books -- I was a literature major so my four or five star bar is pretty high. However, it was a good story and it did eventually pull me in to the point where I didn't want to do much of anything else until the mystery was solved. I found the mystery more compelling than the romance -- but maybe I've just read too many beach romances in my life. That part of the book was very predictable.

So, if you are looking for a fast read to take on vacation -- to read on the plane or on the beach -- this one works.

The book is available on Amazon or through Hannah's website.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Trail Ride

This morning, Brett and I loaded Mufasa and Pistol into the trailer and drove 20 minutes up the road to Sly Park Dam. There is an equestrian staging area just past the lake and we had been there before with our neighbor. However, when we went with our neighbor, we crossed over the road and rode on the fire roads away from the lake. Our neighbor told us that the trail by the lake was difficult, with many switchbacks. We were curious and the equestrian trail looked like it hugged the lake shoreline. It sounded pretty so we decided to give it a try.

The trail left from the parking lot and dropped down towards the lake. The trail was single track and marked equestrian only. A separate trail ran parallel, next to the water, for hikers and mountain bikes.

As we neared the lake, we passed by a parking lot for the hiking trail. Mufasa, who was leading, stopped and stared at a colorful crowd of 15 people congregating near the trailhead. He wasn't at all sure he wanted to continue so Pistol, who isn't fazed by much, and I passed and led the way past the parking lot and then onto the lake trail.

The trail was narrow and very steep -- it wound up and down amongst the redwoods and Ponderosa pines, over roots and past neat piles of stacked wood. The trail was nicely clear of fallen logs and branches. Mufasa looked sideways at the first pile of logs, but was fine after that.
I took this picture from the truck window as we went over the dam.  Our trail followed the lake to the right in this picture.
We rode part-way around the lake and then turned and headed back. The entire route is 9 miles -- a difficult 9 miles. The trail was beautiful, but it is not a fast trail. We only rode a few miles.  It was enough.  The horses had to pick their way down steep inclines and then climb back up, dodging trees and roots along the way.

Mufasa led on the way back. Pistol had walked slowly and carefully on the way out, picking her way along the trail. On the way back, they powered up and down the hills. Pistol only worried once, when a speed boat on the lake gunned its motor.

As we turned away from the lake and climbed back up the mountain, away from the hiker's parking lot towards the equestrian staging area, Pistol ran out of steam. I was glad we turned around when we did, although our ride was under an hour. Pistol needed to take quite a few rest breaks on the last, long uphill. But she made it.
"Honey, you owe me a lot of cookies.  That was hard."

Back home, I hosed her off and put her back in the pasture with Lucy -- who was cantering in mad circles. Lucy was not happy with me at all. First, I took Pistol instead of her (the nerve!) and then I loaded up her pasture mate and BFF and left Lucy,, for about two hours.

Mufasa took one look at the wash stall in the barn and said "no way." Brett worked with him for quite awhile and Mufasa finally took a few tentative steps into the scary space. His trust of Brett and his love of carrots eventually overcame his claustrophobia.

It was a pleasant 76F up at Sly Park when we started out on our ride at 9:30 this morning. It was in the 80s when we got back to the trailer, and it was over 90 back at home. Tomorrow is supposed to hit 100+. Yech.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Professor Lucy

I've never had a schoolmaster before.  I've only been able to afford young horses with little to no dressage training.  Of course, I didn't realize Lucy was a schoolmaster when I bought her.  I thought she was another project with all that rushing around and head tossing.
April -- First lesson/ride on Lucy
I was wrong.  She has taught me so much.

I've learned to keep my leg consistently against her side.
June - notice the air between my lower leg and her side.

This week -- look ma, no air!
I've learned to sit straight and tall; no slumping.
April -- I'm tipped forward, not very stable
June - still tipped a bit forward, but more secure
The straighter and taller I sit, the better Lucy goes.
Straight, reaching tall, and balanced.  Woot woot!
The quieter and lighter I am with my seat, the better Lucy goes.

And when I get it right, she does amazing things.

I've been riding her, on average, four times a week.  She's learned to relax as I've learned how to be more balanced.  This morning she rewarded me with what I call a "Dawn hug."  Kate's mare, Dawn, will rest her head on Kate's shoulders in a sort of hug.  This morning I got two of them from Lucy.  I must be an okay student in her books.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Random Five Friday

1. Kersey is back to her happy dog normal self. No more laying on the grass or the porch, looking at us with sad eyes. She is busy, busy chasing squirrels and Passage; following us around and running to the garage to greet me when I get home from work.

2. Brett picked up Sedona's ashes from the vet clinic the other day. We are going to bury them under her favorite squirrel hunting tree -- some time when Camille and Kyle are up visiting.

3. My garden is blooming and growing. Except for the lilies. I must have planted 25 lily plants and I only have three left. Some critter has been shearing them off at the base and leaving them there -- maybe eating the bulb? I found two more stalks laying across the alyssum this evening. I put them in a vase; hopefully the buds will open. I'll have to replace the lilies with something else next fall which is a royal bummer. My mom loved lilies and I so wanted them to thrive in her garden.  Like the dahlias -- I have very happy dahlias.

4. The chickens are also growing and we are counting the days until we get eggs. The two roosters, Calvin and Lord Byron, get along well. They seem to be docile. I am particularly taken with Lord Byron who's black feathers fall gracefully from his tail and glow blue in the sunlight.

5. Working woman weeknight dinner tonight (sorry no pictures): I browned some seasoned hamburger from the butcher with a few chopped onions. Not too many - Brett doesn't like onions so I put in just enough to give some umph to the flavor but not enough to be obvious. I added a couple cloves of minced garlic, then a bowl of sweet cherry tomatoes, some thyme from the garden, salt and pepper. I let it simmer and soften while I cooked the pasta. At the end, I added fresh basil and oregano to the sauce before putting it on top of the linguine I had piled on our plates. A sprinkling of parmesan cheese (or in Brett's case, a mountain of parmesan cheese) and dinner was served. Superb. I will do this again.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Three Canters

I told Brett that I wanted to ride this morning so at 5:25 he announced it was time to get up. While he got up and got dressed, I battled sleep which was trying hard to be the better option. I heard the back door open and Brett's steps on the porch, with Kerseys tap-tap-tapping toes following him. Guilt won over and I staggered out of bed. Unlike Brett, who pops out of sleep fully alert, I am groggy and my brain is like cotton in the morning.

The early morning air was cool when I opened the back door so I grabbed my grey hooded sweatshirt from its hook and slipped it on. I knew once I started grooming Lucy, I would warm up but until then I needed its warmth.

Lucy met me at the pasture gate and, at the tie rail, she twitched her lips in pleasure when I rubbed her neck with the soft rubber curry. When it was time to put on her bridle, she dropped her head and took the bit. A first. None of the usual lifting her head and locking her teeth; just a soft acceptance.

I am so pleased that I tried this bit with Lucy. She was soft and accepting of the contact. She did everything I requested with the lightest of aids. In leg yield, we started moving sideways as soon as we turned down center line and she reached waaaaay under, crossing her legs. We were back to the rail before E. We tried haunches-in at trot and nailed it with minimum effort. Her trot was nicely forward with an element of floatiness that is hard to describe.

And then we cantered. Three canters, clearly defined: working, collected and extended. The extended canter wasn't just a tad bigger than working; no, she reached with her long legs and we flew down the rail. Then back to working before the corner and onto a circle halfway down the short side. I sat tall, kept my leg on and gave small half halts with my ring finger. She sat back, slowed and lifted. We went half-way around the circle, and then went forward, back into working canter. Both directions.

I praised her -- well, I had been saying "Good, Lucy" and "Wow, Lucy" and "That's it. That's what I want." all during the ride. But I put her on the buckle and told her she was awesome while we walked back to the barn.

We walked around the back of the barn to see how Brett was doing with Mufasa. Brett is pretty much over the soreness from his fall and said he was going to ride this morning, but keep it at a walk. The first ride after a fall is always a bit stressful. I could see them trotting in a circle and then they picked up a lovely canter. I guess Brett worked through his nerves with no problem.

I'm very glad that sleep didn't win the battle this morning. I would have missed a wonderful ride on my sweet Lucy.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Bits and Pieces

When Lucy came to Sandy's barn with her previous owner, Lucy was fussy in the contact.  Sandy tried her in a happy mouth bit (plastic, not metal) and told me that Lucy went much better.  When I bought Lucy, her bridle and happy mouth bit came with her.

I've noticed that she doesn't like to take the bit when I put the bridle on before we ride.  I rode Jackson, and Auke before him, in a KK Ultra bit and they both loved it; opening their mouths for the bit and even diving forward into the bridle at times in their eagerness to get the bridle on and get to work.  Winston had a huge tongue and so I used a tongue relief bit with him.

You know where this is going.  I decided to try the KK with Lucy to see if she liked it better.  Sunday morning I rode her with the bit.  She chomped on it like mad and fussed in our warm up.  But, she was in heat and she was fussing at everything in sight.  She did settle down and work quietly, no more furious chomping or head tossing.

This morning, I rode her early before work.  She stood quietly at the tie rail -- no heat induced scooting and pooping and fussing.  She took the bit -- not eagerly, but not reluctantly either.

She felt like gold riding.  Our leg yields were effortless.  Our conversation seemed more ... precise.

The happy mouth feels like talking to Lucy through a towel.  She can hear me but it isn't crystal clear.  This morning I asked and she gave.  I'm sure that if I rode as well as Sandy, I could communicate through the marble mouth feel of the rigid plastic bit.  Or maybe I just lucked out and found a bit that Lucy really likes.

Time will tell.  This was only ride two with the KK.

Lucy wore her fancy blue pad again this morning.  Its my favorite.  In answer to the question of where I got it:  I bought it from a vendor at a clinic and it is a Dutch brand.  UGG or something like that.  Um, no.  That's fleecy boots.  ...The name escapes me.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Hot, Humid and Hurting

Honestly, I don't know how you people who live in humid climates stand it. I feel like a whiney wimp, and maybe I am, but doing chores in 90F weather with 50% humidity is pure misery in my book.

I am accustomed to relative humidity in the range of 10%, you know... California "dry heat." I like evenings that cool off, not nights where the air hangs heavy, warm and damp until dawn.

Brett is hurting today -- the soreness is always worse the day after you come off. His neck hurts, and his arm, his back, and his hip. He can barely make it up the stairs to bed and doing chores was definitely not in the cards today. I figure this is good conditioning for me since I'll have solo chore duty when he has his knee replaced.

I wouldn't mind if it weren't so dang hot and humid! And buggy. eww and ugh. I'm ready for autumn. Heck, I'm even ready for winter. Summer is definitely my least favorite season.

Hot, Humid and Hurting

Honestly, I don't know how you people who live in humid climates stand it. I feel like a whiney wimp, and maybe I am, but doing chores in 90F weather with 50% humidity is pure misery in my book.

I am accustomed to relative humidity in the range of 10%, you know... California "dry heat." I like evenings that cool off, not nights where the air hangs heavy, warm and damp until dawn.

Brett is hurting today -- the soreness is always worse the day after you come off. His neck hurts, and his arm, his back, and his hip. He can barely make it up the stairs to bed and doing chores was definitely not in the cards today. I figure this is good conditioning for me since I'll have solo chore duty when he has his knee replaced.

I wouldn't mind if it weren't so dang hot and humid! And buggy. eww and ugh. I'm ready for autumn. Heck, I'm even ready for winter. Summer is definitely my least favorite season.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Brett Goes Bumpity-Bump

...and lands on his rump.

Yep, this morning he came off of Mufasa.  I was at the other end of the property riding Lucy in the dressage court.  She was in a sassy, opinionated mood (due to being in heat, no doubt) so when she nailed short strides in canter, I praised her and called it a morning.

We were back at the tie rail, stripping off tack when Brett rode up on Mufasa from the front of the barn.

"How was Mufasa?" I asked.

"I came off."

I looked at Brett dubiously.  He looked fine, Mufasa looked fine... then he got off.  He was very stiff and his backside was covered in dirt.

They had been riding for about 20 minutes and their warm-up had gone well.  Brett and Mufasa were trotting down the long-side when Mufasa shot sideways.  Unfortunately, Brett didn't go sideways -- he went down to the ground.  He lay on the ground for a few minutes, testing out his limbs which didn't appear to be broken, before getting up.

Mufasa was standing in the corner of the arena looking at Brett warily.  As Brett approached, Mufasa tensed up -- expecting to be punished.  Instead, Brett spoke to Mufasa softly telling him that he hadn't done anything wrong.  He's a horse.  He's bound to spook.  It's part of the genetic make-up.  Mufasa didn't run out of the arena, try to kick Brett or do anything naughty.

Despite his bleeding arm and sore rear-end and elbow, Brett got back on.  They went back to work on the trot and then did a little bit of canter work.  Mufasa was good, no more spooks, and they called it a morning.

Brett's pretty sore; he's been taking ibuprofen every four hours.  Tomorrow will probably be worse.  The good news is that there are no broken bones.  Brett hit his head after he landed (rump, hip, back, then head) but he was wearing a helmet so his marbles are intact.

Always, always wear a helmet.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Hot Weather Meals

We are in the midst of another heat wave with temperatures approaching triple digits and no relief until the end of next week when it dips down to 90.  I don't know about you, but I don't like cooking big meals when it is hot.

We've been living on fruit from the farmers market.

Rhubarb from the garden.


And grilled everything: salmon, burgers, chicken, clams and mussels.

I'm not a big fan of summer heat but I am a huge fan of summer food.