Thursday, January 31, 2013


Recently I’ve paid more mind to my mood on a daily basis. How I react to things around me – everything around me. I’m not sitting around writing down each way I react, but I make a mental tally of it and move on. Being female means I’m cursed with hormonal fluctuations that can be evil. Certain times of these fluctuations cause my instant internal reactions to be outrageous. I’m really good about catching them and realizing that my reaction is ridiculous. Once I catch it I can do my best to subdue it, or at least say and act the opposite of what my idiotic raging mind is saying in its times of ill-logic. 

Overall though, I’ve been incredibly happy of late. Part of it is from diligence with self-awareness of how I react to things, and being able to predict how my reactions may be taken by others, but a big part of it is surrounding myself with positive influences. I’m at my best when I’m surrounded by positivity in those I look up to. I really fall into my element. Certainly other and myself tend to have bad moments, but being surrounded by such a network of good energy (for lack of a better term) makes pushing past things that much easier. I feel really lucky to be surrounded by such supporting friends who are all so motivated to do their best every day in everything they’re doing. This is a really good place to be.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Skijoring fun

I could tell this in words, but why? I have so many photos and videos!

I pulled Ari for a bit, and now Jeanna is up.
Looking back at my sledder to be certain all is well in the beginning as that was the trickiest part.
Don't know what I'm doing with my hands here.
Jeanna yelling, "FENCE, FENCE, FENCE, FENCE!"
End of a successful run with Jeanna!
Breakin' for a moment. Happiest dog ever.
My barn owner is cooler than yours! GO, D!
Look at that snow spray! This is also where Ari said I had Q doing some beautiful lateral movement at the canter.
Ever the graceful stop...
Ari riding now, my first time ever skijoring!
I was whippin' around back and forth behind Q, SO MUCH FUN.
Neeerrrrrrmmmmmmm - that was the sound effect I was making for myself. Don't judge me.
Gooberbrains playing. They're a year apart and the absolute best of friends.
Partners in crime. Ari on Q, me on my skis. Dangerous combination!
Awkward knees, hahahaha
The take-off was rough. My triceps are sore today!
*cue more jet engine sound effects*
Comin' to a halt. *cue tire screeching sound effects*
Ari working Q post skijoring.
Kudos to anyone who noticed Kenai in the second video chillin' in the middle of our circle. He was a happy snow dog!
Observe the wolf in his natural environment...erm, Kenai going back to his roots.
Oh-so attractive. I love him!
Q's pretty rear hoofprint in the snow!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Film Friday: Kenai and Q

Oh, you didn't think they were in a video together did you?  Too bad, so sad. They aren't. He does share her grain on occasion. And she did run him over once. And he barks at her a lot (and is scolded). And she does give him the stank eye a lot...

Okay, okay, okay, the videos! They're all from my phone and are of varying quality.

First, Kenai pulling Maddy at the resort. Two happy beings.

Second, Q the night I was supposed to soak her feet. Yeah, remember that soaking thing? That never happened. She was a psycho so we did other work instead. Then the weather became arctic and it seemed wise to not stand around in it waiting for the White Lightning to work. And because I have few videos of her trotting like a mad horse, here's one.

And finally, Kenai in our surprise snow the other day. They said we'd get 1-3 inches over night...woke up to 7 inches! This was taken after I got home from work.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Love those long weekends

Four-day weekend this past weekend. Glorious!

I worked a double shift on the mountain for three days and took yesterday to play with the horses and recoop a bit before heading back into the "real" world.

The snow has been lacking as of late, temperatures soared into the 60s last weekend and it rained a lot early last week, which really put a damper on the whole snow situation. My mountain had hoped to open the long beginner slope from the top, but unfortunately we had to resuscitate the slopes and patch the bare spots from the warm weather. Temperatures are arctic now though, so lots of snow making is going on and more snow is expected later this week.

And while the snow isn't awesome right now, the views are spectacular. The first weekish I worked we got dumped on and visibility was crap. I much prefer that powder to the views, that's a no-brainer, but if I can't have that flippin' incredible snow I'll settle with the views. I love Canaan Valley. Nothing beats the sun cresting the mountains to peak into the Valley early morning. It graces the windmills on the adjacent ridgeline  and then slowly makes its presence known in the Valley, turning everything a beautiful orange-red morning glow for a short time. I'll have to get my better camera on the mountain sometime to better capture this.

Coupled with that beautiful rising sun are is the fresh corduroy that comes with first run of the day as we sweep the mountain to prep it for opening. First runs and last runs, baby, one of the biggest perks to patrol. I watched the sun rise and set on the mountain three days in a row this weekend. I made first tracks with the rising golden sun and last tracks by only the light of my headlamp on trails closed to night-skiing.

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The holiday weekend was a busy one for the resort. Saturday the neighboring ski resort blew a transformer and was without power all day, and thus, not open. Our mountain honored their tickets, and as a result was  busier than I've seen it in YEARS. As a patroller out there watching for the safety of folks I was on edge all day. The slopes were icy as all get out. The first few runs of the day were fine, but after that, fo'geta'bou'it.

We had an insane number of calls Saturday. While a little stressful, its good to be on your toes. I find I really enjoy the challenge. More and more, so many things in my life, I enjoy the challenge. I enjoy the discomfort. I enjoy having to push myself to be better. Patrol excels at pushing me out of my comfort zone. I love it.

I also love the people on our patrol. They're really wonderful individuals and many are liked-minded to me. It is beyond fun spending long days with them and working through problems and finding fun. Mostly its really enjoyable to spend time with people who are so driven to get up and move and do things. Everyone is so eager to get out and get the work done. I really can't say enough positive things about these folks.

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Evenings in the Valley are either spent passed out at a very early hour after a long day on the mountain or you muster up the strength to get out and get some good food and beer and listen to some awesome live music - oh, and dance your butt off to said music. I did a little of both this weekend. The first night I passed out. the second night I headed to the Purple Fiddle to see Dangermuffin, and the third night I indulged with a friend and some goooooooddd brews. Seriously, life is WAY too short to drink cheap beer.

And another fun evening activity? Cards Against Humanity. Its Apples to Apples for people with crazy minds. Seriously one of the most hilarious games I've ever played. We played a LOT of CAH this weekend.

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Monday dawned cold with the promise of even colder temps as the day wore on. But clouds were scarce and the sun made it seem not so cold. I headed home from the Valley mid-morning to laze around my house for a bit before contemplating barn time. I reveled in my new warm slippers that arrived just in time for the colder weather - which led to even more lazing around the house. It was just so warm and comfy inside by the fire!

A patrol friend and I headed out to the barn around 1p; I wanted to play with my horses and he wanted a second riding lesson. The horses were in the front field for the first time in WEEKS. I brought both mine in in short order. 

While there is MUCH room for improvement, I am thrilled with their ground manners and skillsets. Coming across the barnyard I had both in hand and could start jogging and both would follow suit. I can stop without warning and both skid to a halt at my shoulder. Its a simple exercise, but it absolutely thrills me.

I tacked Q up and threw the new green pad and bareback pad on Griffin with a side-pull halter. We headed over to the new outdoor riding pen to see about working in there. As I walked into the pen Q was spooked by a trashbag on the fence. I tied Griffin and proceeded to get the bag and Q and head to the center of the pen to work her through the issue.

Wind was gusting 25-30 mph throughout the day which made that bag all the more scary. Q flitted around me as I held the bag and I followed her waiting for her to realize that the noise monster wouldn't kill her. Robb thought I was psycho for "torturing" my horse so I explained to him what I was doing as I did it. I made a point of explaining how while yes, she was startled by it she'd figure out that when she stopped the bag would "go away" in a manner and not eat her. Additionally, I pointed out to him that even though she seemed scared witless, she made a very distinct point of NEVER getting in my space while we worked through the issue. She always lept around and away from me, never through me. Within minutes she'd calmed and I could let the bag flap all over her body, legs, and head. She's not bomb-proof to it yet, but she calmed down a considerable amount. 

To make a point I grabbed Griffin and showed Robb how different the two horses' personalities were. Griffin's eyes got a little big and he backed up a step or two, but within 30 seconds or less he was standing there all, "No big deal" about it. I was even able to release the bag to blow against his chest and flap against his legs while he stood stock still, nearly asleep. I love this little horse!!

Robb's lesson went well. He learned a lot and put a lot together. He went from working in the round pen to working in the barnyard. My level of trust in his abilities went from near nothing to sky-high (as long as he was in the contained barnyard area). He fixed his riding position to be more than acceptable for someone who has only ridden a horse twice, kept his hands low and out of her mouth, was deliberate but not harsh with his cues to Q, walked and trotted Q at his own discretion,  was able to sit her trot some, and even managed to get her to trot over poles. After about an hour she started to get tired of his less than perfect abilities though and learned to avoid listening to him. After three or four failed attempts to get her to go back over the poles (now arranged with an itty bitty cross  rail) I got back on my girl to "reset" her. 

I'd forgotten the last time we went over a jump (just walking) she spooked for some inane reason, broke the wood, and spooked because the "monster" got her. I walked her over and around the mess she made from that experience and she was no longer afraid of it at the time, but the experience really stuck with her it seems. It took a lot of patience and little steps, but with a trained first responder at my beck and call if I got hucked I pursued through her issues yesterday. 

She was doing her best to avoid going near the poles at first by backing up VIOLENTLY and spinning in an attempt to bolt. I one-rein stopped her for her first two attempts at this. She then down-graded to only backing and spinning, sans bolt. So we backed and spun and I kept her spinning in a tight circle for longer than she planned. She then opted out of all of her shenanigans and decided she'd walk toward the poles when asked. She was hesitant, but we took it a step at a time with praise and within minutes she was walking and trotting over everything like a champ. 

With someone who could deliver first aid if I needed it I decided to continue the exercise further since the ground wasn't very slick (a positive thing about the arctic), and had Robb bring over the medium sized jump and put it over the crossrail at the end of the trot poles. I weaved Q in and around all of these obstacles several times and then asked her to trot slowly through them. A little hesitancy, but no issues! She and I then proceeded to trot at increasing speeds through the little line several times to solidify that it wasn't a monster and wouldn't eat her. With each pass through I praised her for being a good, brave girl. She didn't even rush over it like she'd been doing months ago when we were last jumping. GOOD GIRL, Q.

Post-ride I backed up both horses' toes some more (no photos, sorry). Q just needed a little more work, and Griffin needed a lot. I'm trying to stick with a 2 week schedule on his feet for awhile. I really need to get his toes back, heels down, and get rid of the minimal flaring that has cropped up. Both horses are very happy with their feet, but both have some room for improvement. The new outdoor pen is currently gravel (pea gravel and sand to arrive in the near future) and both horses were trotting SOUNDLY on this gravel. This is how I know their feet (especially Q's) are in a wonderful place. I'm so thrilled with them (and myself for learning and taking good care of their feet).

Quite the full weekend of things I love. Its pretty safe to say I'm loving life right now. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I'm in a Dreamhorse ad...

Go figure.

Sort of funny to me.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What's in your saddle bag?

I brought my cantle bag home to run through its contents and make certain everything was in order/see if I needed to add anything/see if I needed to throw anything out. Lessons from my backcountry pack course in June taught me to put everything in ziplock bags since horse sweat will destroy nigh near everything in existence. I pulled everything out of their respective bags and found things in working order and only had to throw out a few tiny things.

The following is in my cantle bag (this does not include the water bottles I usually have on there):

  1. Poncho
  2. Horse treats
  3. Vet wrap and athletic tape
  4. Scissor/multitool
  5. 12 feet of paracord
  6. Flashlight
  7. Dog leash
  8. Girly products
  9. Renegade boot parts
  10. Bug spray/sunscreen
  11. Bee sting relief
  12. Cravats (for slinging/swathing injuries of the human or equine kind)
  13. A lighter
  14. Matches in a waterproof casing
  15. Various granola bars/fruit leather
  16. Toilet paper
  17. Sunscreen
  18. Gloves
  19. Hoofpick

I'm surprised I fit all of that into that bag...with room to spare! A lot of the items have multi uses for humans and equines alike. That was a key lesson during my pack course: Try to pack things that can be used multiple ways/many times. (The challenge still stands on how to use a full keg that will trend toward empty in a day or two in more than one way... Yes, I learned how to pack a keg into the backcountry ,and its totally a practical thing to know! ...okay, it isn't. But its FUN.)

Other ideas suggestions for things to have along for lengthy rides in the middle of nowhere?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Warm Winter Weather

Which was coincidentally placed perfectly on a weekend leads to wonderous riding! Griffin even volunteered to leave his girlfriend to come play with us!

Griffin's girlfrann, Mocha, working in our brand new outdoor round pen.
A quick-learner, relaxing and not moving her feet when provided the opportunity.

I ponied Griffin on Saturday with Q and I on an 8 mile ride. Both horses were eager beavers the whole damn way. Griffin started it though. Oh, he totally started it. And then Q decided she couldn't be left out of the fun and to hell with her little counter-part, she was boss and was faster and had to try to be in front at all times.

While I swore up and down to myself that we would do no cantering while we went out on this first ponying jaunt because that would be crazy...well, we cantered. Not a lot. And I didn't love it or let it last for long, but those damn eager beavers just rushed into it! Q was chomping on the bit the whole. damn. ride. I have NEVER seen her SO peppy. We could have done 30 miles easily with her attitude Saturday! Griffin kept stride for everything. And no, he would have hated 30 miles, haha.

Surprisingly on a semi-loose rein; this was at the final ½-mile of the ride
Griffin was done-done-done
Exhausted little champ post-ride
Miss Zoomy Kahbloomy herself post-ride (Please excuse all random farm equipment randomly placed out of snow-harm
in all photos above and here.)

Griffin was a total champ the whole time. The final two cool-down miles he really started to drag. Bless his little heart, when we got into the woods to weave around the Frankenstorm damage to head down to the barn, I watched over my shoulder as he let branches smack him full in the face without dodging them because he was so tired. He just closed his eyes and took it like a man. Sweet, sweet boy. I did my best to weave us around the worst of it, but its pretty hairy in the woods still. I've got a lot of trail clearing work to do sadly.

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Today I went on another 10 mile ride on Q. We took it a lot easier than the day prior. She was still spazzy over some silly things, but overall she had her head screwed on pretty well. In hindsight, she was very well behaved all things considered. We walked a lot, trotted a lot, and cantered a little. She was on a loose rein the entire ride. A big change from the day prior. Good pony!

She would get all ears-pricked-full-on-caution-alert at so many random things though. She didn't spook at TOO many things, but she'd get freaked over things. I started sing-songy narrating everything that she was bothered by: "Bridge. Cardboard. Mailbox. Aquarium. Flag. Dark spot on ground. Rock. Log. Branch. Leaf. Barn that's always been there." It went on and on. I was amused with myself. I'm sure if she'd had a hand she would have bopped me one. But fer realz, brah, totez awesome ride. (There you go, California (&& Mandy!), that sentence was for you.)

Q loves her post-ride grain

A great weekend in the unseasonably warm weather. Back to cold this week (yay!). I work 36 hours in my 'real' job and 39 hours on the mountain this week. Fortunately, Monday is a Federal holiday and I don't work the resort, so I will have one day off before heading back into the office for another 35 hours of work. I worked 14 days straight last two weeks. Okay, so not quite because I ended up getting sick from running myself into the ground from working 134 hours in a two week period. Excessive? Eh, probably. Fun? Oh, hell yes.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

I haz pretty mare

I was GOING to get photos of GRIFFIN, too, but nooo, GRIFFIN has a new girlfrann and refused to follow me in for once. Go figure. Psh, women! Can't blame him though, she IS cute. Little foundation bred QH mare named Mocha; she's got fire and spice (and some sweetness) to her like a little Brazilian lady (don't ask, its just how we've decided she is after she was introduced to the herd a few weeks back).

At any rate, here are some winter glamor shots of Miss Q, or as my friends around here call her, Q Baby.

I love the coloring in her muzzle
Note the discoloration left from the heat/friction/?? this summer on her wither