Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Combinations

Zeus has been jumping beautifully as of late.

He hasn't jumped over anything terribly high - mostly crossrails and low vertical fences - but he shows real promise and appears to see the jump ahead of him and almost get a lightness to his step, as he looks forward to sailing through the air. He likes to be challenged, and bores easily when he gets the hang of something.

So today began the first challenge. A combination fence. What that consists of, is two or more fences, a certain number of canter strides apart. Logic (or self preservation) dictates that you begin with a nice, large gap between the two jumps, giving the horse lots of time to see and prepare for the second jump.

Our ring is large, but considering the large stride Zeus has, I knew I had somewhat limited space. I ended up constructing an inviting 4 stride combination - two jumps with four strides in between them.

After a decent warm-up, we approached the combination. He saw the first fence, happily hopped over it, and the four strides in between were a bit like riding a drunken sailor. We weaved, we wobbled, bobbled and finally straightened out as Zeus realized, "Hey! There's another jump right in front of us!" He jumped it cleanly, a bit baffled as to how that second jump appeared before his eyes.

During the second and third sessions, he clearly got the hang of it and jumped beautifully.


A second view:


Next step: bringing the jumps closer together. A three stride combination is next, since he mastered this so quickly. And perhaps, higher jumps not long after that!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Cookie Monster

One of my favorite things about Fall coming our way is baking. This summer, it's been so hot I don't even want to bother turning on my oven. What for? Matt has spent a good part of this summer grilling - special shout out to my Mom and Dad for giving us their old grill! Because of that, I haven't had to roast myself in the kitchen.

One of our favorite recipes are molasses oatmeal cookies. They are sweet, moist and just absolutely delish. I usually have one or two with my morning coffee....why not? There's oatmeal in it, and that counts for a breakfast item.

Matt loves these cookies. I mean, lives for these cookies. He noticed them disappearing a little faster than normal. First he looked at my backside to see if they had taken up residence there, and then he looked at me quizzically, wondering where his beloved cookies were going.

Well.

I have found another male who loves them just as much as Matt.


Yes, Zeus absolutely smiles with delight over his mom's homemade cookies! I should have these on hand at his first show in a few weeks.

Just in case you thought that was a one time thing....oh no. Zeus really loves these cookies.

Take 2:


That tongue and that smile. I love it. I love it so much I put a video on here and I don't have a lick of makeup on.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Bridgewater Fair, 2010

Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny day. Matt and I decided to make the most of it, so we headed down to Southbury to visit my parents, and smack between our house and theirs is one of my favorite events of the year - the Bridgewater Country Fair.

Visions of pig races, border collie demonstrations and antique tractor pulls filled my head. It was Matt's first real "country" fair - and there really is nothing like it.

My favorite part was, of course, the animals. But you wouldn't be surprised by that at all, would you?

I can't remember the elephant's name to save my life, I think it was Callie though. Anyway, we learned a little bit about her, and loved the fact that the handlers fed her marshmallows to keep her happy. She would poke them with her trunk as if to say, "Hey, toss me another one please!"

I know a few people that wouldn't mind just being tossed a few marshmallows.
Then there was a camel, who didn't seem impressed in the least that we were interested in meeting him.
The goats and sheep, however, if you had food - you were their best friend.
Once we left the more exotic animals, we headed over past the antique tractor pull. These tractors are the pride and joy of the farmers who own them, and they use giant concrete blocks to determine the winner - who can pull the most with their set of (very large) wheels.
Next up was the Pony Pull, which Matt was most interested in. These ponies live to pull stuff - they get all amped up, prancing their way to the concrete blocks they pull. These little guys are small but mighty! Here's the winning team, pulling, I believe around 5,000 pounds.
But most of all, I think what struck me is the fact that things from the past - animals, old tractors, and sentiments of a bygone era - were things that drew the community together, as it does year after year.

This photo, I think really represents how times have not changed.
A boy and his cow, resting after a busy show day. Total contentment amidst the hustle and bustle of the fair.

I also have to admit something: I love sheep. I couldn't help but come home with a flock of my own.
Yes, life size sheep! Aren't they marvelous? You should have seen us trying to squeeze these suckers into the Altima.

Just kidding!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Landscapers

I bet I have a better looking lawn mower than you do.

Wanna bet?
It has been so dry this summer. Absolutely no rain equals no grass growing, which equates to unhappy horses with no grass in their field to graze on.

But I had a solution! And (music to Matt's ears), it was free!

The horses have occasionally been grazing on our lawn, just to get some decent grass intake, have a change of scenery, and as a side bonus, the lawn didn't need much mowing this summer.

One day, Matt decided to partake in the fun.
But, he didn't like the bugs and gnats buzzing around. Yet another solution, his beekeeper hat! Yes, folks, he really has one. It's from a Halloween costume, but it is a genuine beekeeper hat. And as you can see, he and Zeus are styling.
Zeus didn't get the chance to free graze. Well, he did, but he lost his freedom privileges in about 2 minutes, when he tried to explore a little too much. Yes, I think we have an Eventer on our hands, he is willing to walk up to or through anything just due to mere curiosity!

Even Mojo joined in on the fun. Heaven forbid he miss out on a family picnic.
Dining Al Fresco is where it's at!

Thumbs Up

I have to apologize for being absent so much this summer. I do wonder if that will be the norm every summer, with things getting so crazy that I need to schedule in time on my planner to get to blogging. I like blogging, I love writing, so why is it so hard to get an entry out?

I think I must do A Day In The Life one day, in pictures, so you can have a daily account of what a day here is like. Then you'll all be running to your wine cellars, I think. Either that or your pillow, because it's exhausting!

I am going to make a concerted effort to get on here more often again. Although I just accepted a new gig (more on that later), so my time is even tougher to come by - or will be! But that's ok.

Just as a little welcome back present, I give you....Whimsy on video.

Whimsy has an extra toe on her right front paw - it's part of her charm. She was also abandoned at about 3 days old, when I took care of her and became her "mother." When I lay down, she reverts back to her kittenhood and decides to - you guessed it (or maybe you didn't!) - suck her "thumb." Yes, she nurses on her extra toe, just like a little child sucks on their thumb.



I apologize for the lighting on the video, but what I find hilarious is the sound you hear at 20 seconds - the "thunk!" Whims is so enraptured by her thumb, me being on the bed with her, life is so good, that she has to rub on me, only she clocks the camera with her head. You can also hear her actually nursing which is always occurring whenever I'm on the phone as well - for whatever reason, she loves to nurse next to me when I'm on the phone. Weird kitty.

You can also hear her purring like a maniac the whole time if you turn your volume up. I keep laughing....so I'm going to post this. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Happy Trails

Today was a big day - it was the very first trail ride for Zeus!

That's right - our unpredictable, fiery youngster out and about, without the confines of fencing or the safety of the field, and on the road, no less.

And I have to say - I am so very proud of him.

Trails are tons of fun, when on a safe, dependable horse. They can also be terrifying if you're on a spooky or troubled horse, because the elements of the unknown run rampant on trail. Sometimes you come across a deer or squirrel that darts out in front of you, or cars on the road who think horses are just like bicycles so you can whiz past them. One house on our way to the trail barks at us - or, an over confident Jack Russell comes racing out of the backyard, barking and howling, much to the surprise of the horses.

However, with time and experience, a horse can be the most fun way to travel - a few moments of Zen, where it's just you, your horse, and Mother Nature.

Matt and I ventured out this morning. Matt was on Siggy, who has proven to be a rock solid trail mount - safe, dependable, and perfectly happy to amble along at his leisure. I was on The Giant Zeus - who was wired and ready for action.

I said before our ride that "I think Zeus will surprise us." So far, he's shown to be very brave under saddle. He proved me correct today - he led, the entire way. All of his senses were on high alert, but he was very confident to walk ahead of Siggy, despite the Unknown that lay before us.

On our way home, the scariest part of the trail happened to be at the end of a driveway, where two little kids, still in their pajamas, were hopping around waiting to "See the horsies!" They weren't clearly visible at first, so all Zeus could see were Spider Man and Sponge Bob aliens running little circles up ahead of him, lurking behind some trees. Even so, he looked, but remained steady.

Today was a great day. Next weekend, we hope to venture out again, and go just a bit further every time - and eventually, venture out on our own. Big strides like this - big, positive surges ahead in his progress - are so worthwhile and rewarding. That's my boy!