Thursday, September 15, 2011

Don't forget to put your wallet in the fridge

If you read this blog, you probably know that I raise chickens and sell the eggs.  Well, lately most of the people buying the eggs have been my husband's co-workers.  They'll ask him to bring a dozen or two dozen eggs to work with him so they don't have to go to a farmer's market or whatever to get healthy, tasty, cage-free eggs.  Unfortunately, hubby has a hard time remembering to get the eggs out of the fridge in the morning to bring them to work, so we came up with a system to help him remember. 

The night before he is supposed to take eggs in to work, we put his wallet in the fridge in front of the eggs.  He always grabs his wallet before he leaves, so it forces him to go to the fridge to get it.  Once he's at the fridge, he, of course, remembers to grab the eggs as well.  So in the evening, it's become a common thing for me to say, "Don't forget to put your wallet in the fridge."

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Musical Buckets

For the past year or so, our donkeys have consistently followed a very strange pattern when being fed. I don't know why they do this, but here is what happens.

When we are feeding the critters, we always follow the same routine. We feed the goats first to get them into the goat pen and out of the way. We feed Shadowfax next because when we first got him, Ziggy would NOT go into his stall to eat if Shadowfax wasn't locked in his stall first. Then we feed Ziggy. Then once the goats are in the goat pen and the horses are in their stalls, we feed the donkeys in the paddock.

We use three different colored over-the-fence buckets that all contain exactly the same feed in almost exactly the same amounts. (We don't measure that carefully so there might be some slight variation between buckets.) We feed the donkeys along the fence between the water trough and the gate. I place the purple bucket closest to the water trough, then the blue bucket half way between the trough and the gate, then the green bucket closest to the gate.

Tessla follows me to where I place the purple bucket, takes a mouthful from the purple bucket, then gets chased off by Marie and moves to the green bucket. Marie starts eating out of the purple bucket and Kanemura starts eating out of the blue bucket. Then, at some random point in time, Marie decides that she wants to eat out of the blue bucket. She walks over and chases Kanny off of the blue bucket, and he goes and eats out of the purple bucket which still has food in it. So Marie did not simply move because she ran out food. Eventually, Marie decides that the blue bucket isn't good enough and chases Tessla off of the green bucket, and Tessla goes and finishes off the blue bucket if there is any food left. Sometimes there is and sometimes there isn't.

They do this every night.

I have strange donkeys.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

C'est La Amour Le Pew

I have outdoor cats, and when you have cats that you feed outdoors, you frequently end up with possums that come and eat your cat food (as well as the occasional deer).  Tonight I was watching tv when I heard a clattering on the front porch.  The cats are quiet when they are eating their cat food, so a clattering means possums.  I don't like possums hanging around my house, so when I hear clattering on the porch, I grab my quarterstaff, open the door and chase the possums off.

Well tonight when I opened the door, instead of seeing a possum, I saw a skunk.  With his tail raised and pointed right at me.  I slammed the door.

I waited a moment then cracked the door and peeked out.  No skunk.  I carefully opened the door further and took a good look around.  My black cat, Bastet, came walking toward me with an innocent look on her face. But now I know better.  She's apparently been having assignations with Pepe Le Pew on my front porch.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Peek at Lysts on the Lake 2011

Here is a short video showing what I was so involved with that I didn't have time to post. I think you will agree that helping out with a modern competitive jousting tournament is more exciting than sitting in front of your computer and writing blog posts. Not that I don't enjoy writing blog posts, but come on --- It's real live jousting! With real live knights in shining armor! Riding real live horses!

Doesn't that look like fun?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Electric Needles

Sorry for the long hiatus. I got all caught up in preparations for Lysts on the Lake, then working as staff for Lysts, then recovering from Lysts, and then just sort of being out of the habit of writing. I'll try to do better in the future.

Anyway... A while back my butt was healed enough that I was able to start doing sit ups again. I had to do them on the thickest softest carpet in the house, and I couldn't do many of them because it still hurt. And, of course, I was horribly out of shape. Over the past year, I'd gained almost 20 pounds and lost most of my muscle tone and flexibility. It seems like just laying on the couch reading and watching tv all day leads to flabbiness and obesity. I had begun to really hate my body. I've been physically active all of my life and I had been one of those few women who were actually quite happy with their bodies, until this accident happened. So, as soon as it wasn't actually painful to exercise, I started doing sit ups again. I'd tried walking on the treadmill, but that was actually quite uncomfortable. (I now know why it hurt, but didn't understand at the time.) So I just stuck to doing sit ups.

When I first started doing the sit ups, my tailbone was still so sensitive that I sort of did them off center. I was basically putting almost all my weight on my left hip so that there wasn't as much pressure on my tailbone. Naturally, this led to my sit ups being somewhat lopsided. I didn't care. I was exercising again. And it was helping me to feel better about myself even if I really wasn't doing that much. However, as my tailbone became less sensitive, I tried to start doing more balanced sit ups and I noticed that something was seriously wrong.

When I actually distributed my weight evenly between both hips, and did a sit up, as I was in the sitting up position, my right knee was NOTICEABLY higher than my left knee. At first I thought that because I was in the habit of sitting on my left hip, that I was simply not actually distributing my weight evenly. But after several attempts to redistribute my weight evenly so as to even my knees out, I realized that I was actually sitting evenly on both hips, and there was simply something wrong with my right hip that was forcing my right knee up higher. I sort of freaked a little. I wondered if I had actually broken my hip in some way, and that it had healed all wrong and now I was going to have the live the rest of my life with a mangled hip. I kept trying to re-assure myself that there was no way, no matter how good I am at ignoring pain, that I could have been walking around all this time with a broken hip. But I also kept remembering how much trouble I did have walking at first, and how my right leg at times simply refused to do what I told it to.

My husband and DA did their best to re-assure me and I set up a doctor's appointment as soon as possible. My doctor examined me and agreed that there was definitely something wrong with my hip, but that he wasn't sure exactly what it was. He wanted to do an MRI, but we only have catastrophic insurance with a $3000 deductible, so we really couldn't afford that. So we did a series of simple x-rays which reassured me that nothing other than my tailbone was broken. The problem was obviously in the muscles. My doctor then sent me to a specialist/physical therapist to try and figure out exactly what was wrong with my muscles. Turns out that my muscles had been so traumatized by the fall that they basically knotted up and then became so inflamed (swollen) that they couldn't unknot. The muscles in my right buttock and thigh had been continuously flexed for over a year. And what happens when you repeatedly (continuously) flex a muscle? It gets bigger. I now have one ginormous butt muscle.

Even the physical therapist wasn't quite sure what to do to try and fix things. He asked me to do some stretches and things, but I still had enough left over flexibility that the stretches didn't have the least effect on loosening up my poor butt. He decided to try poking it with electric needles. He wasn't sure that would work because the electric needles are actually used to cause the muscles to contract, but he thought that if we made the muscles contract even more, then, when we turned the electric needles off, the muscles might actually relax.

He didn't use the electric needles during my first visit, he just did some heat treatments and sent me home. He wanted to do some research and think about things before actually trying the electric needles. On my second visit, he first had me do some exercises that dealt with balance and theoretically worked the affected muscles in some beneficial way. Then he took me behind a privacy curtain and had me lay face down on a table. He then proceeded to stick a bunch of acupuncture type needles into various places on both buttocks. Though he did place more in my right buttock than my left. The needles were hooked to an electric current somehow. I really couldn't see much from my position. And he turned the electricity on. He adjusted the current by asking me when it was just on the edge of painful. Then he left the electric needles to do their thing for about 10 minutes.

After it was over, my butt was pretty sore for the rest of that day and somewhat sore the next, but on the third day, it actually seemed like it had helped. Of course, ever since I found out that the problem was overly tense butt muscles, I'd been trying to consciously relax my butt and that may have been helping as well. Because of my dance, meditation and martial arts background, I am actually pretty good at making my muscles relax on demand. However, I'd never really focused on my butt muscles before.

Anyway, over the next few weeks, my butt did seem to feel better. I could sit for longer periods of time before it became too painful. And in general, my body was beginning to feel better. I added push ups and squats to my exercise routine and I can now walk on the treadmill even though I still have to be careful with that, and if I feel my butt muscles tensing up, I stop. My body is finally beginning to trim down a little, although I am still pretty unhappy whenever I look in a mirror. But I will keep exercising and sooner or later, I'll get a healthy body back. However, my right buttock will probably always be bigger than my left. (And yes, having uneven buttocks definitely affects my riding. More about that in the next post.)

I really should go back and get another treatment with the electric needles. I'm sure it would help. I just have to make the time.

And next time I get injured, I'm going to a doctor right away. I promise.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

How Do You Rate Your Pain?

Yeah, I've been getting that question a lot as I've been seeing doctors and physical therapists who are still trying to fix me from my fall. It's not an easy question to answer.

Make sure you go to the XKCD site so you can read the mouse-over text. (Drag your mouse over the comic and a little rectangle with text should show up. If it doesn't show up at first, drag your mouse way off to the side then bring it back over the comic and stop.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Three Horses Die During England's Grand National 2011

All sports are dangerous to some extent. Equestrian sports are more dangerous than most, both to the rider and to the horse. Occasionally, riders and horses die. This is sad, but true. But consider, the rider chooses to compete. The horse has no choice in the matter. It is up to the riders and others involved in the sport to make it as safe as possible for the horses while still maintaining the spirit of the event. Of course, the only way to completely prevent the death of horses in equestrian events is to completely stop equestrian events. That seems a bit extreme. However, when an event has proven to be excessively dangerous to horses, it needs to be changed or stopped.

Over the past 11 years, 33 horses have died competing in England's Grand National which is held at Aintree Race Course, one of the most famously brutal racing tracks in the world. Surprisingly, there has been only one recorded human fatality in the event's history (Joe Wynne in 1862), though that may change if jockey Peter Toole, who was critically injured this year, fails to recover. The final race, John Smith's Grand National Chase, is four and a half miles long and the horses are supposed to jump all but two of Aintree's 16 steeplechase jumps twice, making for 30 jumps total. (Aintree Course guide) During this year's Grand National, which ran from April 7 – 9, 2011, three horses died. Two of the three died in the final race.

Below is a list of the horses that have died during or because of injuries sustained during the three days of the Grand National each of the past 11 years:

2000 – Strong Promise, Rossell Island, Architect, Lake Kariba and Toni's Tip
2001 – Outback Way
2002 – Last Fling, Manx Magic, Desert Mountain and Anubis Quercus
2003 – Goguenard and Coolnagorna
2004 – no deaths
2005 – Lilium de Cotte
2006 – Terivic and Tyneandthyneagain
2007 – Lord Rodney, Into the Shadows and Graphic Approach
2008 – Time to Sell, The High Grass and McKelvey
2009 – Hear the Echo, Exotic Dancer, Mel In Blue, Moscow Catch and Lilla Sophia
2010 – Pagan Starprincess, Prudent Honour, Plaisir D'Estraval and Schindlers Hunt
2011 – Ornais, Dooneys Gate and Inventor

That's an average of 3 fatalities a year. With only one year with no fatalities. That certainly seems like the event is excessively dangerous to horses.

Generally, fewer than half of those who compete in the John Smith's Grand National even make it to the finish line. The record for the most horses to finish the race was 23 in 1984. In 1929, only 2 horses were able to complete the course. In this year's race, out of 40 horses who started the event, 19 completed it. Ten horses fell, of which two died, two more were tripped by fallen horses, four unseated their riders and five were pulled up for various reasons. The fact that consistently less than half the horses who start the race even finish it, is yet another reason to re-examine the way this particular race is run.

Admittedly, some changes have been made to try and make the Grand National safer. The drops on the landing side of some jumps have been reduced. However, even though the brook at the infamous Becher's Brook fence was filled in, it is still a 4' 10” jump from the front with a 6' 9” drop on the back. In 2009, a bypass area was created around certain jumps, including the infamous Becher's Brook. Two of these bypass areas had to be used this year in order to avoid running over the dead horses still lying beside the jumps after the first circuit of the track.

Strangely, veteran trainer, Ginger McCain, who won the Grand National race three times with horse Red Rum, blames the safety improvements for causing the deaths of the horses. "It’s getting quicker and it’s speed that does it… They’ve taken the drops out for the do-gooders and it has encouraged the horses to go quicker. It is speed that kills." Considering the winner of the race, Jason Maguire riding Ballabriggs, was given a five day ban for excessive use of his whip, I don't think it's the do-gooders who are making the horses go quicker. (Maguire has been banned for excessive whip use before, and at least one ban was recently overturned in order to allow him to race.)

Also, if you actually look at the race times over the past 11 years and more, the race times have NOT consistently gone down. Although this years winning time of 9min 1.2sec is the second fastest recorded time following the record set in 1990 of 8min 47.8sec(According to most articles, that is. It looks to me like it's the third fastest time, since Rough Quest finished in 9min 0.8sec in 1996. Anyway...), winning times over the past years have varied upwards and downwards with no consistent pattern. And if you look at winning time vs number of fatalities, there is no correlation between speed of the race and number of deaths. In the past 11 years, the only year (2004) with no deaths had a winning time of 9min 20.3sec and the year(2009) with the most horse deaths (5) had a winning time of 9min 32.9sec. The changes made to the course have not made it noticeably faster. Unfortunately, they do not seem to have made it any safer either.

The race is simply too grueling. Even horses that don't die from falls, sometimes collapse from being pushed too hard. After winning this years race, Ballabriggs was considered too exhausted to enter the winner's circle and had to be given oxygen to help him recover. In fact, three out of the first four horses to finish had to be immediately treated for exhaustion and were unable to appear in the winner's enclosure. Fortunately, they all seem to have recovered. Unlike other horses which have died of heart attacks during or immediately after the races. Somehow, I don't think those horses have willingly run themselves to death.

However, some participants claim to believe that the horses enjoy the race. Donald McCain, son of Ginger McCain, and trainer of Ballabriggs, is quoted as saying,”If it [the horse] does not want to jump at Aintree, he won't jump.” According to that logic, ill-trained, ill-tempered, nonathletic horses who refuse jumps or dump their rider, are simply expressing their belief that equestrian sports are inherently too dangerous for them to participate in. And well-trained, willing, athletic horses who behave properly, apparently understand the danger and have consented to risk their lives in the name of spectacle. I find that type of “logic” hard to believe.

Horses, although extraordinary animals, are not capable of understanding the danger of certain equestrian sports and cannot choose for themselves whether that danger is acceptable. It is up to those of us who truly care for the well-being of horses to mitigate the risks of racing and other horse sports. Admittedly, there is no way to remove all risk from equestrian sports, but when an event such as the Grand National has proven to be excessively dangerous for horses, something needs to be done.

The question is... what is excessively dangerous? Well, for comparison, the Omak Stampede and World Famous Suicide Race, which openly claims to be the most dangerous horse race in the world, had 15 officially recorded horse fatalities during the actual race between 1984 and 2006. Unfortunately, there is no official record of how many horses died or had to be put down after the race because of injuries sustained during the race. Unofficially, it is reported that apx 21 horses have died because of the race during the past 26 years. Even using the higher unofficial count, that's less than one horse fatality per year, compared to the Grand National's 33 horse fatalities in the past 11 years which averages out to 3 horse fatalities per year. I am not saying that I approve of the Omak Suicide Race, I very definitely do not. But compared to England's Grand National, it appears to be less dangerous for the horses forced to compete.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Omak Suicide Race. It is a race consisting of a galloping start leading quickly to a plunge down a 62 degree dirt slope that's 225 feet long and narrows as it goes down. The slope drops into a 100 yard wide river that the horse must swim across and then climb up a more gradual incline to a 500 yard sprint to the finish line. This race is run by the same horse three days in a row. The first two runs are done in the dark of night. It is considered by many to be an appalling abuse of horses simply for commercial gain. It is NOT as some people have claimed, a traditional rite of passage for Native American tribesmen. It was created by a local businessman purely as a financial endeavor. Local tribes agreed to participate in order to receive part of the profits. The United States Humane Society published a video denouncing the race in 2006.

The Omak Suicide Race is a fairly small and relatively unknown event compared to England's Grand National, but it has been widely denounced in the US and in other countries. The final race of the Grand National is one of the biggest and most popular races in the world. It is major national event in England. This year's live televised broadcast of the final race was seen by 8.8 million viewers on BBC 1 during the 15 minutes between 4:15 and 4:30pm alone. The estimated worldwide audience for footage of the John Smith's Grand National Chase is apx 600 million people in 140 countries. How can something that is so well-known and widely watched be allowed to continue to be so excessively dangerous to horses? Yes, there has been and continues to be some public outcry against the deaths of horses for public entertainment. But very little has actually been done. And what little has been done, has not improved the survival rate of the horses made to compete.

I would not have been surprised to have discovered such a brutal race being celebrated in a third world country where animal welfare is not much of a concern. But frankly I was shocked to discover that such a deadly race is not only allowed to continue, but is celebrated as part of the national culture of England.

Links for information about England's Grand National: (Warning: Graphic pictures) (Warning: Graphic pictures) (Warning: Graphic pictures) (Warning: Graphic picture)

Aintree course guide:

1967 video:

2011 video:

Links for information about the Omak Suicide Race:

Humane Society video about the Omak Suicide Race:

Another blogger comparing England's Grand National to the Omak Suicide Race

Friday, April 1, 2011

I've Decided to Joust

Jousting just looks like so much fun that I've decided instead of just helping out with the Lysts on the Lake: Lone Star Open Joust, that I want to actually compete as a jouster.


Yeah, right, this is an April Fool's joke. There is no way that I will be jousting at the tournament. There is no way that I will ever joust, period. There is however an actual competitive jousting tournament being held in Austin, TX from April 29 - May 1, 2011. My good friend SH is producing it, and my husband will be competing in it. It promises to be one of the largest, if not the largest competitive joust in the US. At least as far as number of jousters goes. To find out more about the Lysts on the Lake, just click on the link.

My friend SH on his trusty steed Lucky(on left) tilting against another friend at a previous tournament

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Roadside assistance for those hauling horses

Another blogger I read mentioned how useful she has found US RIDER. A roadside assistance service for people who haul horses. I've never tried it myself since we don't have a truck capable of hauling a horse trailer, but it seems like a useful service. So I thought that I would mention it in my blog in case someone else might find it useful.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Some Fireworks During a Lunge Session with Shadowfax

I've been lunging Shadowfax semi-regularly in preparation to starting to ride him again. I haven't been writing about our lunge sessions, because a lunge session that goes well is pretty boring. And he's been doing pretty well. Not perfect, but he generally listens and does what I say even though I may have to repeat myself several times. However...he was rather different today. I don't know what the problem was, or if he was just in a hyper mood or what. But today's lunge session had some fireworks.

I suppose I had a little warning of what was to come when Shadowfax didn't stand perfectly still while I was picking out his feet. He normally doesn't move a muscle, but today, he was wriggling around a little, not bad, but compared to how still he is normally, it was noticeable. But I didn't really think much of it at the time. Once I started lunging, things seemed to go normally at first. But then he kept speeding up. He broke into trot before I asked him too, and even though he slowed back down when I kept saying "Sloooowwweeerrr, sllooowwweerrr", he was just wanting to go faster. We went counter-clockwise first, as usual, and even though there were a couple of exciting moments when he kicked up his heels and tried to go faster, he mostly behaved.

But when we switched sides and went clockwise, things got rough. He just kept speeding up and starting to run. I could slow him down, but it took some work and he would shake his head and object. So finally after the third time he bucked and went into a gallop, I decided that if he wanted to run, then by damn, he was going to run. So I yelled, "RUN!" and just held him in the circle as he ran full out. And he ran. Boy, did he run. For a big boy, he can be fast when he feels like it. And he kept running. And running. My arms were shaking from holding him in the circle. However, when he finally started to slow down, I waved the whip at his rear and yelled, "RUN" and kept him running. He slowed to trot and I waved that whip and yelled, "RUN" and made him keep running. He tried to slow several times and I just kept yelling and waving the whip and made him keep going. If he was going to challenge me by bucking and running, then I was going to make him regret it by making him run until he never wanted to run while lunging again. Eventually, when he was looking truly tired and he slowed to a trot again, instead of forcing him to run flat out, I asked for a canter and got a decent canter. I cantered him around the circle a few times and then asked for a trot. He IMMEDIATELY dropped into a trot. I made him trot several more circles, then asked for a walk. He immediately slowed to a walk. I walked him around a couple of times, then said "Ho" and he stopped.

I walked up to him and patted him and talked to him as I switched the lunge line to the other side of his bridle. He was sweaty and tired, but wasn't even close to being in any distress. I started him going counter-clockwise again and this time... he listened to me. He really, really listened. He had one ear facing forward and the other facing me the entire time. I walked, trotted, walked, trotted, cantered, trotted, walked. And he did everything exactly when I asked. I ended the session by just walking him for what seemed a really long time. It probably felt even longer to him. He was so tired that he wasn't picking his feet up as high as he ought and tripped over uneven ground a couple of times. As soon as I felt that he had walked enough to cool down slowly from this rather intense session, I asked for a stop and got it.

I led him over to the trailer to untack. Most of his sweat had dried and he felt cool. So I gave him a nice grooming/rubdown and gave him a few carrot sticks. I tried to do some carrot stretches with him, but he really doesn't know how to do them properly (that's something I need to teach him). He kept trying to bow instead of doing the stretches, so I asked him to bow a few times and rewarded him for doing so. I unhaltered him and let him go, but he started following me back to gate, so I worked a little on having him stop when I stopped as we walked towards the gate. That trick he knows pretty well, but it's something we've always worked on with him haltered. However, he did great even though he was at liberty. Paying as much attention to my body's movement as he did to my verbal command. At the gate, I gave him another carrot stick and told him he was good boy. Which he is, even if there were some fireworks during the lunge session.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Singing Chickens

Right after one of my hens lays an egg, she stands around and sings about it. Frequently, other hens will join in and there will be a whole chorus of singing chickens. It's very loud.

Why do they do that? It seems like it would be the reverse of a survival tactic. Sort of like announcing to all the predators nearby that here is a nice fresh egg, come and get it. Oh, and by the way, there's a loud and none too bright hen available for eating as well.

So... can anyone come up with any ideas why it would be a good idea for hens to loudly announce their success every time they lay an egg?


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Riding Red in a Jousting Saddle

This past Sunday, there was another jousting practice at DASH's arena. DA was kind enough to trailer Ziggy over so that Foxfire could could get some work in on him. (We really need to get a truck of our own.) I went along to watch and be social. However, I ended up helping train SH's new jousting horse, Tinkerbell, by standing at the end of the jousting lane and giving her baby carrots when she would come to me and stop instead of continuing to run around the arena. Tinkerbell is a huge Frisian/Percheron cross, and I have to admit, it was a little scary to see her coming at me. But she always stopped, or at least slowed down enough so that all I had to do was take one step to the side and she would end up beside me instead of in front of me. She was trying to stop, she just mis-judged her distance a little.

I also got up on Red and rode around the arena a little at a walk. Red was wearing his jousting saddle which I had never ridden in before and I hope to never ride in again. The saddle seams are in exactly the wrong place for me and really dug into my inner thighs. Ouch. Also, the stirrup leathers which were sized for SG were way too long for me, so I had to ride without stirrups. Not really a big deal, since all I was going to do was walk. But it was really nice for JJ (and SG who is actually the one who rides Red for jousting) to let me ride him, so I shouldn't complain. I'm not sure exactly how long I rode. Maybe 20 minutes? The saddle was hurting my thighs and, I have to admit, it really is rather boring to just walk around an arena. But I need to get more time in the saddle at a walk before I'll be able to do anything else. Sadly, my tailbone still hurts when I put pressure on it, so I'm a little leery of trying to trot yet, even on as sweet a horse as Red.

Ah well, one step at a time.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Shadowfax Playing

A while back, my husband managed to get some pictures of Shadowfax running around the pasture and playing. This is quite an accomplishment, because usually, as soon as the critters hear us open the door to come outside and take a picture, they stop whatever cute thing they are doing and turn and look at us. It is very frustrating. I just want to yell,"Ignore the human and keep playing!"

Anyway, my husband's camera is pretty fancy, and if you hold down the button, it will take a picture every 1/4 of a second. The following seven pics were all taken only 1/4 of a second apart.

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Superhorse! (Maybe I should have named him Pegasus.)

Yup. My horse can do a complete 180 in a little over half a second. That's how he threw me. He didn't buck. He just sort of ducked his head and did a 180 so fast it sling-shotted me off his back.

Here are a couple of more pics of him showing off his athleticism.

And another sequence of pics shot 1/4 of a second apart.

Not something you really want to see up close.

Don't worry, for that last shot, the photographer, Foxfire, was actually about 20 feet away and on the other side of a fence. Shadowfax was not trying to kick him, he was just playing.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Back in the Saddle

After over a year of recovering from being thrown from my horse and breaking my tailbone, dislocating about half my ribs and messing up some muscles in my right leg, I have finally healed enough to get back in the saddle. My criterion for being physically ready was that I could finally do sit-ups with only mild discomfort (On a thickly carpeted floor). I figured if my tailbone and ribs can handle sit-ups, then they can handle sitting a horse at a walk. Not a trot, not yet, but a walk should be okay.

Anyway, JJ, being the good and knowledgeable friend that she is, figured out that though I was physically ready to get back in the saddle, I wasn't quite comfortable getting back on Shadowfax yet. He only mis-behaved the one time, but he is still somewhat inexperienced and thus, unpredictable. And he is the horse that hurt me. So, she invited me down to ride Red, her very experienced (and very short) older horse. So, on Saturday, Foxfire and I went down to her house. JJ rode her younger and taller horse, Saga, while I rode Red and Foxfire walked alongside us.

We went for a nice short ride along some trails through the woods near her house. (I am so jealous that she has such a great place to go trail riding right next to her home.) I was surprisingly un-nervous. Though I suppose since Red is the only horse that I've been on that HAS NOT mis-behaved in some way, it's not surprising that I would be the least nervous about getting on him. (Cash spooked and teleported sideways, Sonata crow-hopped and bolted, Ziggy reared and Saga bucked. Even the professional lesson horse that I rode spooked and bolted with me. I actually managed to stay on all those horses. But my dream horse, Shadowfax, managed to throw me.)

The trail ride was fabulous. It only took me a minute to remember how to move my body with Red's walk. And the woods were very pretty and peaceful. It wasn't until near the end of the ride that my tailbone started to get sore. The last fifty yards or so were a bit painful. But overall, it was a really good experience.

Now, I just need to ride Red or one of the other more experienced horses for a bit to continue to build my confidence. And ask my husband to ride Shadowfax a few times to get him used to being ridden again. And then I'll finally -- hopefully -- be ready to get back on my own horse.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Mark Kanemura and Lady Gaga -- Born This Way

A couple of years ago, while watching So You Think You Can Dance season 4, I absolutely fell in love with one of the dancers. His name was Mark Kanemura and he was the most gloriously weird dancer I had ever seen.

Mark's "Bohemian Rhapsody" solo during SYTYCD Vegas week season 4

After watching more of the season, it wasn't just his dancing that I loved. His stories about being the weird little kid that everyone picked on and his refusal to change who he was and is in order to "fit in" better touched my heart. Several of the show's choreographers saw the wonderful weirdness in Mark and celebrated it within their choreography.

Mark and Chelsie dancing to "Beautiful" choreographed by Mia Michaels

Mark(the ringmaster) and other SYTYCD dancers dancing to "The Dance" choreographed by Mia Michaels

Mark and Courtney dancing to "The Garden" choreographed by Sonya Tayeh

The Garden is still referred to as a benchmark for contemporary jazz dance.

Though "Bleeding Love" choreographed by Napoleon and Tabitha does not celebrate Mark's weirdness, it was an amazing routine and was nominated for a Grammy.

After SYTYCD, Mark was asked to dance with Lady Gaga for her MTV VMA performance of "Paparazzi". He then continued to dance with her during her "Monster Ball" tour and in several of her music videos and award show appearances. He took a break from touring with Lady Gaga to appear as an All Star in season 7 of SYTYCD, but is now returning to the Lady Gaga fold. In his blog Left of Center, He talks about his experiences as a non-standard sentient being and his admiration for Lady Gaga.

The thing i love about Gaga is that she is not just an artist, she is a leader. She is the "mother monster" to the "little monsters", she is the light for people that are in the dark, she is the voice for people who feel afraid to speak.
--Mark Kanemura

I may not be gay or lesbian, but in my own way, I am a "little monster", a freak, someone who doesn't fit in with normal society. And it gives me hope and makes me feel just a little better about myself to see people like Mark Kanemura and Lady Gaga succeeding in the world from which so many of us have been rejected. I can appreciate, but not quite embrace Lady Gaga's anthem "Born This Way" because I am not proud that I was born this way. I am still ashamed of who I am. But maybe someday...someday...

--Lady Gaga

For more information about Mark Kanemura, go to

For more information about Lady Gaga, go to

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Season of Freezin'

So far, we have successfully survived the season of freezin'. We have had over a week of below freezing temperatures. In fact we had three days in a row where the temperature never got above freezing. This is Texas. This is not supposed to happen here. But fortunately, the weather gurus gave us some warning, and having learned last year that freezing temperatures and pumphouse pipes don't play well together (see purple fingertips and running water), Foxfire and I rigged heatlamps in our pumphouse, left water running from several faucets and propped cabinet doors open to allow heat to get underneath the sinks. So far, we still have running water. Though there is more freezing weather predicted, so things could still go horribly awry.

Although we never lost running water indoors, the outside faucets did freeze in spite of being covered. So for several days, Foxfire and I had to refill the horse and goat troughs by lugging gallon jugs of water from the kitchen sink out to the troughs. It was beyond tedious. I was thrilled when the weather warmed up enough to thaw the outdoor faucets and we could fill the troughs without having to come indoors. It still took another couple of days for the water hoses to thaw, so we still had to carry water from the faucet to the troughs, but we could use buckets and didn't have nearly as far to walk so it was a vast improvement. I did a little happy dance when the hoses finally thawed. Of course, they are undoubtedly going to freeze again later this week. Sigh...

I am really tired of this freezing weather. (How do people in Montana cope???) This is Texas. Just a couple of years ago, we had 68 days of 100 degree and above temperatures. It was almost a record, but in some earlier year there had been 69 days. We regularly have temps in the 80's on Christmas. So what's with all this ice and snow? Yes, we actually had snow. Snow is nice when you're on a mountain in Colorado. But it's just wrong here in central Texas. Oh well. We've survived thus far. Hopefully, we'll survive the coming week as well.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Hello Latvia

In checking my stats, I notice that I have gotten 29 hits from Latvia this week. So... HELLO LATVIA!! hallo! sveiki!

I don't know how you found my site, or even if you can speak English (I certainly can't speak Latvian), but I hope you enjoyed your visit.