Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Snake in the Grass....or....Garage

My grandmother Nana (my mother's mother) had a phrase she used often to describe a sneaky person. I can hear her now (usually directed at my brother or me), "Youuuu snake in the grass!"

That was right up there with her other favorite, "Oh, for crying in the sink!"

On Memorial Day, there was a yelp from the basement. It was Matt, who said, "Mojo has caught the biggest mouse I've ever seen!"

Turns out it wasn't a mouse, it was a baby bunny that managed to squeeze between some winter horse blankets and was stunned, but ok. I picked him up and took him out to hop away and enjoy the rest of his life. You're welcome, bunny.

You'd think I would have taken some photos because he was so darn cute and cuddly and I half considered asking Matt if we could keep him.

Yesterday, I'm washing dishes and happen to see what I think might be a hose on our garage roof. And then the hose moved. Actually, it slithered.

This thing had to be approximately 5 to 6 feet long. This is a rat snake, a non-venomous (but yes, biting) snake that is native to our area, though not terribly often seen, from what I'm told.

And then being intrigued (or stupid) I wandered closer to get a better look. And it decided to look right back at me. Eeek!

Rat snakes are actually great reptiles to have around because they eat - you guessed it - rats, mice and other vermin we otherwise don't really want around. In summers past, we had another rat snake we called Slinky, who would sun himself on the rocks near the stream in the field. Slinky decided life wasn't worth living anymore and got himself hung up in my blueberry bush netting last fall, where he passed away (after several days of us hoping he'd free himself because he was HUGE and we weren't about to try and extricate him).

Evidently word got out that TMF was looking for a new resident snake, and thus, Sally Slithers moved into town. And has decided the garage roof is a lovely vantage/ tanning point. You're smarter than me if you can figure out how she got up there.

I'm fond of all animals, especially ones that have a purpose, but keep your distance, Sally Slithers. There's no room at the inn for a snake in the house.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Gentleman, the Gator, and the Bun in the Oven

All season, I've been lamenting the fact that I had to stop riding about 6 weeks ago due to my pregnancy. While looking at my tack, cleaning said tack, and watching others get to actually use their tack, I've been fortunate enough to have a breezy pregnancy that still allows me to teach and even do some XC schools with my more advanced students. I was determined to continue to further my own education out of the saddle during this down time, and was delighted when Boyd and Silva Martin made their return to Fitch's Corner for an annual clinic.

What I didn't expect was having the Man, the Myth, the Legend, Boyd himself, chauffeur me around the XC course!
Chatting with his students
If you're not immersed in the event world, who is Boyd Martin? Odds are very good that you'll see him riding in the Olympics this summer. He's making the rest of the world take notice, and you should too. Click here to get just a little caught up.

I packed along copious amounts of sunscreen, ice, and a notebook and pen to cover a portion of the clinic for Area I's Optimum Minutes, and off we went. While I'll be detailing more of the clinic itself in an upcoming newsletter for Area I, I was really interested and excited to see his coaching and how he would individualize the clinic experience for not only each horse and rider team's level of experience, but also down to the jump style of each horse and rider. They all came away with a positive, educational experience that pushed boundaries but didn't frighten horse or rider.
Sandy pilots her TB over some steps with Boyd looking on
As each rider successfully completed exercises on varying jumps, terrain, bending lines and changes in canter styles between fences, the spectators would trail along behind the horses to the next section on course. Boyd would say to me, "Get in the cart!" and zoom, off we would go to the next fence! Another spectator remarked to Matt that being pregnant is obviously a perk when attending a clinic with Boyd.
Monica navigates a spooky ditch on her cute Appy
I really enjoyed how he discussed, and then improved, the rideability between fences for the horses and riders. He stressed posture and the type of canter or gallop you need before and after each fence to jump cleanly and in rhythm with the horse.

As always, Fitch's Corner went above and beyond, giving riders an experience, not just a clinic. Considering the fact that they're hosting the 2012 Area I Championships this year, the riders had a chance to work with one of the best riders in the world, on one of the best courses on the East coast. And while I thought I would be green with envy, it was made just a bit easier to bear by being able to pepper Boyd with questions and have a candid conversation with him, every time we moved to a new area on course.

I did make sure to tell Boyd that next year, Matt will be wearing the baby and I'll be riding. Mark my words!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Disney Lurking at TMF

The Disney/ Pixar people must have been snooping around the farm here. There is just no other way to explain it.

Does anyone look familiar in this photo?

This is a shot from the Disney/ Pixar film Brave, which comes out June 22nd. I would make a terrible redhead, so that's definitely not me. I think you can deduce the other character, though.

Snoopy is famous!

He didn't tell me that he was in talks to star in an animated feature film, but Snoop clearly likes to keep a low profile.A few weeks ago I heard Matt yell from the living room, "Snoopy is in a movie!" but I'd missed it, and just saw a trailer this morning. I also yelled, "Snoopy is in a movie!" but I was the only one home. The secret's out, Snoop!

Honestly, the resemblance is uncanny. We'll see if Angus, the character in the film, actually has some Snoopy-esque characteristics...
...I bet he will!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Making Waves

 Say hello to Splish Splash!
Scoping out his new digs
Splash is a new horse here at TMF....he is a client's horse and has been quite the gentle giant. At 16.3 hands, he's a decent piece of beefcake. Splash is an event and hunt horse, and in his new life here he'll get to enjoy lots of hunter pacing and events, but of course!

We have been busy over the past few months expanding the barns so we could make room for him. That's another reason why you haven't heard from me! (In all honesty, Matt did most of the work and I am SO proud of his ingenuity and skills! Give him a high five the next time you see him.)

Topaz is delighted that there is yet another man on campus, just for her to admire. Splash isn't interested, he'd rather be one of the guys. While Snoopy is none too pleased about this new guy in town, there is one guy who has been a rock star.

Can I just wax poetic about our beloved Siggy for a moment?
"Are you talking about me?"
Not only has he carried many riders safely and stood quietly for children to groom him (because Topaz would rather eat the children than be groomed by them), but he is our resident babysitter and buddy for a newbie like Splash. On Splash's second day here, we put him out with Siggy while he got acquainted with everyone else over the fence. He and Sig greeted each other politely and have become fast friends, much to our delight.

In return, Sig's gotten extra carrots and is currently basking in his stardom. As everyone gets settled into the new herd dynamic, we take it one day at a time. So far, so good.

And in the meantime, Siggy will accept gifts and respond to his fan mail when he's done signing autographs in the barn.