Thursday, March 31, 2011

Plastic Pony Photos

After homework I took some models outside to take pictures because the light was just right and I had nothing better to do. I'm starting to put the pictures up in a larger format so you can see them more easily without having to click.

The first horse is the WEG Driving Stablemate. He's new and I think--and hope--he may be LSQ. Still it's unlikely he will ever show.
His name is Benjamin or Ben for short. Sara and Zoe, who may or may not read this post, know of my LOST obsession so this makes sense. Possibly.
Next up is GG Valentine. I wanted her for a while and my dad eventually bought her for me. (Thanks again!) I call her Victoria because of the real GG Valentine's great success.
And her son, Heartbreaker. He obviously came with Valentine.  His name with me is Abu, or "Nobility." Because the real foal Heartbreaker comes from Hunter breeding nobility. He's shown here with his momma.
My last Original Finish model for today, Headley Britannia. She was already in this post but the photos weren't great and I've been wanting to get new ones. This mare is known to me as Iphigenia, just because I like the story about the daughter of Agamemnon. It's sad, but it's one of my favorites.
The last horse we have for today is the one I customized for the Stablemate Swap on Blab. He's my first finished one and with him I learned many lessons (mostly about protecting the horse from snowflakes under sealer). Nothing special in the least. I think his coloring is about two times less rich and two times more grainy in person, but you get the general idea. I'm only posting him because I highly doubt that the person he's for reads this blog.

That's all for today. Enjoy the photos!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Crazy Cat Lady

Somehow I have a feeling that when I'm a grandmother, I'm going to have about fifty cats, all from the shelter, and my grandchildren will all be terrified to enter the house for fear of stepping on a cat.

I already have four cats, and strangely enough I want more. This could be a very dangerous affliction (not least due to the nature of the model horses I collect). After I finished most of my homework I went to the local animal shelter web page on a whim and searched cats for adoption. Oh my goodness... it's worse than going on MH$P. EVERY single cat I see, I want to adopt. Is there a treatment for this?

...oh wait. Yes--cleaning litter boxes. The strain I picked up is immune, it seems.

Since I'm definitely not going to be getting any more cats any time soon (mother has made this very clear), I'll just post some pictures of the cats I own and know. They're pretty bad photos but they're of cats so they're good enough.




Veronica sleeping on laundry

Myler, the barn cat

One last and very important thing: If you are looking for a pet, try the shelter first! There are hundreds of animals there and they all want homes; if they don't get one, they may be put down. Animals from breeders are fine but shelter should always take priority (in my opinion).

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Silence On The Phone

Or blog, or whatever. Anyway, sorry about the week long absence. I've been planning blog posts, mainly extolling Jones's awesomeness, since we got back--but I never quite managed to post. I've had four lessons since I last posted and Jones has been very good in three of them. Today he was very lazy and most of the time was spent making him actually canter when I asked him to, and then not trotting before the fence. When he did one perfectly we stopped so it would be on a good note.

Since one of those lessons was on a Saturday and that means that I got a lot of pictures, here are a few.

Jones first.

Getting pictures of Jones in his paddock is pretty hard because he always walks over to me to have his face rubbed. And even if he didn't, it's small enough that a good picture is hard to get. But I like these two of him.

And now for the other horses. These may not be totally in focus, sadly--I'm still working out how to keep the camera still with the heavy lens on the end.


Chad (Ochocinco)
 Chad was being very friendly this Saturday, and let me get some nice pictures of him.

And last of all--I couldn't stay away from the flowers. They were very vividly colored and fun to photograph, although again I think some could be in better focus.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Tree Hugging

I ran into a tree yesterday.

It wasn't a big, dramatic thing, but the end result was that it looked like I was hugging the tree from the side, while desperately trying to keep my feet under me and not fall over. And of course, the camera was present so we have visual records. Not that I mind: it was very amusing. The really funny thing was that I realized afterward that if I had not run into the tree, I would probably have made another turn and skied off a cliff.

Yesterday was also remarkable because of the high winds toward the end of the day. We decided to take one last run on the Thunder chair and then realized halfway up that that might not have been the best idea after all. The wind was blowing so hard that snow from the Egg-Carton run below the chair was blasted up in our faces, and the chair was slowed down to prevent the cables from bouncing off the set track. Then it was stopped while we were in the middle of a very exposed area, with wind blasting snow all over the place. My face was crusted with ice and snow when we got off. When we did get off, it was very hard to ski because the ground looked like a lovely seething ocean of blown snow--har har. As I told my dad, the wind wasn't just blustering; it was throwing a full-blown fit (haha).

This afternoon my dad tried to ski Corbet's again. Before he had to make the turn into the main body of the run, he was was acting as though it were nothing.... Isabel went first with no problems, and then he went in and did just what I was afraid of doing two days ago. He had a ski caught above the turn-notch and one loose below, and tried to turn quickly. Instead of achieving the desired result, he hit the west wall, flipped over, and was sent flying head-first down the chute for about thirty feet. One ski remained at the top so he had to climb up the fifty-degree slope and get it before meeting me and my mom at the bottom. As the saying goes: pride goeth before a fall--or a wall, for that matter.


**No one was hurt in the making of this post or its contents.**

Friday, March 18, 2011

Corbet's Couloir

I skied Corbet's! Known as "America's scariest ski slope," Corbet's usually involves a 10-30 foot drop onto a very steep slope. This year it didn't--there's a place to side-slip into a channel below the cornice and make a turn into it. No jump this time.

Nonetheless, it's a very scary run. It's rated as a double-black diamond run, which means Expert Only, and in Jackson Hole they really mean it. At, say, Aspen a double-black might not be as hard, but then Jackson has terrain like no other ski area in the world. But to get back to the point, somehow I managed to ski down this monster of a run.

It all started when my sister decided that because there is no jump, she wanted to ski Corbet's this year. I thought this was utter nonsense, because I didn't expect to ski it until I was thirty at least. Still, I agreed to do it after a dump of powder in the morning. When we went down to the couloir I was told that instead of doing it tomorrow we were in fact doing the couloir at that very moment. Isabel went down first and was in and out very quickly. Afterward I think her head grew several sizes, but pride goeth before a fall: when we were all down and skiing to the Expert Chutes she wiped out on a flat section.

I took a lot longer than she did, as she continues to remind me. In my defense my skies are longer and it wasn't terribly surprising that they got caught once or twice. Just before I got into the chute to make a turn, my top ski got caught above the notch made by the turn while the bottom one was below the notch, hanging loose. Every time I tried to unstick the top one it felt like the bottom one was going to pull me down and, because the top would still be stuck, flip me over. The whole time I was struggling there were a bunch of other people standing at the top watching me, and I was making comments that were about has humorous as I could manage in that situation. I don't think anyone laughed, but it made me feel ever so slightly better. Eventually I somehow got through it and shot off around the turn--shaking like an aspen leaf. After the first two turns in Corbet's, though, anyone is home free. So it was a lot of fun in the end.

Then after that we skied another double-black, the first Expert Chute. It was very easy after Corbet's--the same way eating a cookie is a lot easier after chewing on a rock.

Today we also skied The Crags, which is accessed by taking the Sublette lift, traversing on the Cirque for ages, removing your skies, hiking to the top of the Headwall for ten minutes, replacing your skies and traversing for five more minutes, then walking for another five minutes before cutting down onto the actual run. It has snowed a lot lately so there was a lot of powder, but it warmed up today and it felt like cutting through knee-deep cement for a long way.

So even though we only went on three lifts--the tram twice and Sublette once-- this was definitely a full day.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Snow... and more snow... and rain.

We're skiing this spring break and I am SO happy that we are. Yesterday the snow was pretty good... not as good as it was in the middle of the winter, but good. The groomers were in their usual state of annoying scraped-off-ness and the base turned into slush by the end of the day--so we stayed high and in the trees. There were a few patches of powder deep in the woods as well.

Today was a totally different story. It snowed all last night on the mountain and a bit in the valley, and it kept on snowing all through the day. There was rain at the house but we're in the valley so that was no surprise. What was a surprise is that the entire mountain had been covered in four inches of new snow, and more was falling by the bucketload! It was still warm and slushy at the bottom but staying high worked out very well, because there was so much new snow. Powder that had been cut around noon was un-cut again by about 3 PM. The only thing that was really a nuisance was the wind, and perhaps non-waterproof ski gear. At the top of the mountain visibility was amazingly poor but the skiing was wonderful.

My dad is hustling me to bed under the battlecry of "Are you going to show some good judgement, now?" so I suppose I should probably go.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Big Bend and Jones

This past week I was in Big Bend on a school trip where I took lots of pictures. But I haven't uploaded them yet, so you'll have to wait. In the mean time, I have pictures from riding on Saturday. Jones was absolutely fantastic, continuing on from the show last week. I was so pleased with him. He moved out very well for me and got most of his spots. The only ones he missed were due to rider error (oops). Both Debbie and I were very happy.

He may not be the fanciest jumper, best mover, or most perfectly conformed horse--but he knows how to get the job done. He is fourteen or fifteen, so he's been doing it a long time. I can only hope to ride more horses like him in the future.

As for my eq, it has improved. Saturday was a bit interesting, because I have a nasty sunburn on the inside of my calves and that is not exactly helpful for keeping the lower leg in place. Still, I think it stayed pretty secure throughout. It was just the trot afterward that killed. Anyway... it was a really really good lesson.

Oh, yes, and as a side note. This spring break I'll be working on what will be my first finished custom. It's part of the "Think Green" Spring Stablemate Swap. It won't be green, and that's all I'll say. There won't be any updates on it until it's finished, to keep it a surprise.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

"You're not in Kansas any more..."

That's my favorite quote from James Cameron's movie Avatar, probably because the person who says it looks just like my awesome 7th grade science teacher (but much meaner). It also happens to be the way I felt this morning at the show. Last year, Jones and I won Year-End Champions in Open Hunter--but that was on the schooling circuit. This year we're showing the next level up, and competition is about equivalent to what you get on the A show circuit, so I've been told. It may be a little less competitive, but apparently it's close. Though we may have dominated last year at schooling shows, albeit due to sparse competition, this year is not going to be the same. We're not in schooling shows any more.
That said--Jones was wonderful. Wonderful! Our first round, the warm-up, was... a warm-up. I didn't get Jones moving off to the first fence, and that is what always gets us. Granted I didn't have my spurs on, but that's not a very good excuse. We added in every single line and didn't use the corners well in the very, very small arena. But since it was just practice, it didn't really matter. I popped my spurs on before the second round and Jones cooperated. The only issue was that he got going too fast toward the end and I didn't shift gears fast enough so we ended up overshooting a line a bit. The last round, though... that was perfect. Okay, not perfect, there are a bunch of nit-picky issues like needing to get him to counter-bend better and letting my leg slip a little, but it was really really good. Kim said it was the best show round we've done together. We placed fourth for both Hunter rounds in a very crowded Youth/Non-Pro class, not a terribly easy feat. I have every reason to boast about how good Jones was.
As you can see, it rained. At least, in the morning it did. There was thunder, lightning, and water--the whole nine yards. But then it passed and the skies cleared. Unfortunately it stayed cold and windy, but it was bearable with the sun and a bunch of horses around.

In response to a question from the maternal unit, yes, I do intentionally crop out the riders sometimes in pictures of horses. In fact I do this often because I'm NOT taking a picture of the rider, I'm taking a picture of the horse! So if someone's face looks strange it's not ruining the picture.

I would put pictures of me riding, but I don't want to spend the time to blur out my face. Too lazy tonight for that.

Prepare for a week of silence after tonight. I'll be on a school trip to Big Bend, having fun hiking and laughing at girls who bring and wear mascara--and promptly sweat it off down their faces. It should be fun, plus the scenery should be great. Not to mention the geology, which is why we're going in the first place...

Night, all! Send love to my handsome Jones (pictured below in the rather unflattering photo).  And those who dare say a word against him (father!)... he will require an extra carrot to soothe his grief. And perhaps a silk handkerchief to wipe away his tears.
Sorry, I'm a little hyper.

Friday, March 4, 2011

It's Late. VERY Late.

And I've just finished packing for a trip AND preparing for the show tomorrow. This will be quick, because I need some sleep!

We didn't ride today, which was all for the best. Jones is shedding like you would not believe--even the slightest touch gets a big clump of fuzz off. Debbie shaved his ears and whiskers today, so he no longer looks quite as fluffy. Plus, we can see his gorgeous face now. Jones also got a long shampooing, which he did not enjoy but tolerated reasonably well. It's his first real bath of the year, if anyone cared to know--the past few times I've just sponged his saddle area.

I'm reasonably optimistic for tomorrow. It would appear that Jones's bath, as well as not being ridden, has given him plenty of energy which he will hopefully use tomorrow at the first fence. If his nearly trotting back to his stall is any indication, we should be fine.

Hopefully I can convince my dad to take pictures tomorrow, and hopefully I'll have time to post them. Just wait and see what happens.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Better Position/Stronger Leg

Though I've recently decided to stop taking perfect position so seriously (and thus improved my riding), it's still important. Lately, I've been working on keeping my shoulders back, body straight and, most of all, leg still. Jones requires a strong leg, and keeping my leg still requires a strong leg. I no longer have a strong leg.

Two years ago, I left my old barn and came to where I am now. The only reason I've glanced over my shoulder is that I hardly ever trot without stirrups these days, whereas I used to every time I rode.

Lately, my leg is what I've worked on most, alongside keeping  my body slow over fences and allowing Jones to close my hip angle. It has been going pretty well so far. I've been tieing my stirrups loosely to my girth as a guide, and so far it's been helping. By Saturday, I think Jones and I will be ready to show.

As always, Jones has needed work on his upward transitions and keeping up a constant pace to the first and second fences in a course. If we can do good transitions and keep moving at the start, the rest of the courses on Saturday should go smoothly.

Ah yes. Saturday is the first show of the season. It's the more prestigious circuit around here and I'm hoping to do okay in my eyes, even if we don't place. According to Debbie we'll be competing in Youth/Non-Pro and we'll be in a square arena. It should be interesting.

I'll have updates tomorrow after show prep and a show report on Saturday.