Photo by Margaret Chant and edited by Jessica Metropulos

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Truck of My Dreams

Just for fun and off the topic of horses somewhat.

I've been sort of half-shopping for a truck for a couple of years now, but not until this summer did the push really start to get to me. (well, actually, all through the winter I lamented that I needed 4WD, but really...) I have a trailer already, (is that like getting your cart before your horse?) and I hate having to ask people to transport my horses everywhere, especially on longer trips.  I've been searching casually for a truck on craigslist and a couple other sites since April, and have gone so far as to call on a couple of ads, but not much has come of the search. 

I had gotten pretty much fed up with sifting through pages of ads, and was ready to start giving my specifications to dealer owners to see if they could find what I needed...I didn't think it was that complicated--2003 or newer Dodge Ram with a Cummins diesel motor, (prefer a one-ton but 3/4 was fine) in good mechanical working condition under $20,000.  I had some other specifications too, but they weren't the set-in-stone kind; I'd prefer a long box and crew cab, but wouldn't turn down a working short box in the right range. I wanted an automatic, but could learn to love a manual,  I would love to get something with a goose-neck ball already installed, but obviously was set to put one in if it didn't have one. I liked blue, silver, or white for color, but would take anything functional. You know, that sort of thing.

That is until Monday night.  It was pretty late, probably about midnight or a little later, and I was getting ready to tuck in for the night. But for whatever the reason (I, personally, am a believer in the Law of Attraction to some extent...) I got the itch to check craigslist for the first time in several weeks.

And there it was.  I knew it was the truck for me without even opening the ad (it was that "that's it!" feeling).   But when I did, my jaw hit the floor.  2003 Dark blue Dodge Ram 3500 Cummins Dually (BEAST!).  Crew Cab, long box, gooseneck ball already installed, and totally set up to tow. A truck that, mileage and condition included, blue-books for $17,000 for sale for $12,000.  The small used-car dealership had just bought it as a re-posess from Chrysler financial, and they weren't even finished prepping it to sell.

I went Tuesday morning to take it for a test-drive, and Wednesday,  I was back with a check.  Though the truck has high miles, everything about it is mechanically perfect. I'm still getting used to all the POWER in that thing, but I love it.  I've named her "Kat"... the acronym stands for Kick-Ass Truck, and it's a very fitting name--she doesn't roar, she purrrrrrrrs!  The photo above was taken just after test-driving on Tuesday,  and deciding that she was indeed my truck. 

I didn't waste any time getting Kat home and putting her to work. My trailer has been sitting in the same spot for 5 years (actually belongs to Richard,  my barn owner, and his truck doesn't have a gooseneck ball in it right now) and so we hitched up and pulled the trailer out to give it some TLC.  Spectacularly, the trailer is in great working condition, though it will need some more extensive work before I take it anything farther than locally.  I spent the majority of the afternoon yesterday pressure-washing the heck out of it, and it looks better, anyway. The photos at left shows the rig all hitched up--the top was taken pre-wash. The photo below is a fun one, taken by my friend Sherri, who generously let me use her pressure washer to get the project started.  It was definitely a  satisfying and productive afternoon, even if we did all get a little bit wet!

This afternoon was my first time hauling the rig with horses in it. My friend, mentor, and instructor, Kristi Smith, is here for the weekend to teach workshops and lessons, and instead of my usual afternoon spent riding my horses into town, I got to haul them myself. Thank heavens both of my horses are good travelers, because Franny was a little bit nervous, hauling my very own rig for the first time! (Interesting how driving someone else's doesn't phase me!) But all is well, and it's fun to have a little base to call "home" at the event :)

Friday, July 23, 2010

We're Featured on Linda's Blog!

Linda wrote a blog featuring the lesson she gave Crest and me!  Too cool, and a VERY informative read :)  Check it out!


Would love to hear what people thought! :)


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ohio Recap Pt 2: While We Wait for the Arena...

This month is proving to be a busy month for facility maintenance and upgrade at the barn. We're in the process of re-fencing a permanent dry lot for equines, as well as taking out a couple of old lines, and while we're doing that, we're (FINALLY) putting in a fenced outdoor ring.  There's a flat spot at the bottom of my playground that I've always used as my "Arena", but it proves difficult for things like Follow-the-Rail, and corner-to-corner, which actually require rails and corners! So I'm thrilled that we're actually adding those elements! More to come on the Heart and Desire Horsemanship Blog as construction begins and progresses!

 Anyway, most of the things that Linda had initially suggested for exercises while riding Crest are exercises (partial disengagement!) that are better set up for success, especially with a more impulsive horse, if they're done on a rail.  What needs to be done is this:  First, starting out, we need to establish some walk/trot/walk transitions.  In the downward transitions, I'll use partial disengagement  to "push" Crest down into the walk from trot, starting in his ribs and inside hind leg. I'll hold that until he can easily flow and relax in the walk, and he stretches his neck down. (See photo--though it looks like he's about to bash his head on the panel, I promise he was just stretching!)

Once those are smooth,  I need to ask Crest up into a canter, using proper fluidity and core strength, cantering in my body (as opposed to the  semi-fetal, fear-based squeeze and scream that I used to do, that usually results in Crest trotting like a dressage horse on steroids, and me about falling off). Once in canter, I'll allow a couple of strides at most,  and use the same partial disengagment concept to bring him down to walk again. Rinse and repeat.

However, as I mentioned before, all this requires a rail of sorts. So whilst we wait for our arena, Crest and I have been preparing to ride by playing with partial disengagement online. I must confess, I felt like a total fool the other night when I had this realization. Parelli is so much about preparing online for what you want to do in the saddle, and yet I had not connected the dots from the ground exercise of partial disengagement to the saddle. I had taught both of my horses partial disengagement online months ago, as a means to encourage longitudinal flexion online. But I had not used it as a means to encourage relaxed transitions!  So, that's what we're playing with now.  Crest learned very quickly what I was searching for,  and currently (as of 7/7/10, last I played with him), he's doing beautiful trot/walk transitions, beautiful (SMOOTH) canter/trot transitions, and is starting to find some rhythm in his canter/walk transitions, all on about 18 feet of the 22' line. 

So that's where we're at for now.  The journey SINCE the lesson has been so fulfilling in and of itself, I just am loving this process :)

So savvy on, and keep your eyes peeled for another addition to the "Ohio Recap" series, as I come to understand and dissect Crest's tendencies as a learner!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Ohio Recap Pt 1: Processing, etc

I know my followers are going to kill me for this post. It's going to be a far cry from the "I can't wait for what Fran blogs about after that lesson!" post that a lot of people mentioned to me at the Ohio Celebration!

This week has been a far cry from break-through week. I've learned since being at the Parelli Center, that more often than not, "seeds" of knowledge are planted in your head, and you've just got to trust that they'll come about and grow when the time is right. I knew this lesson wouldn't be an exception to that, so instead of going out and immediately trying everything that Linda had us playing with, I've opted to take a slower approach, and allow the information to sink in as I go S-L-O-W-L-Y with Cresty.

The main things we HAVE played with have been finding responsibility and asking questions with the Patterns. That's something that I was confident enough in to begin with that I feel like I can support him through it. For those that weren't in OH, basically Linda commented that Crest wasn't asking many questions online, and that I was greatly over-using my stick to micromanage him though the motions, but he wasn't really thinking about the pattern. Using the figure 8 pattern, Linda had me interrupting Crest's pattern of continuing to circle, and then send him through the cones, and tag the center of the pattern...that way if he didn't put effort into it, he'd get tagged.

That's going well, today will be magic session #4, and I'm sure, just like with everything else, that we will begin seeing some understanding. Our previous 3 sessions have provided some small changes (the first session being the one some of you saw in OH), I'm having to interrupt him coming around the cones a lot lighter and less often, and he knows what he's supposed to do when I do, so I HARDLY have to bring my energy up and he goes through the cones. I call it success :)                                    

Other than that, I've not been on Crest's back since the lesson. Mentally, for me to go that introverted MYSELF, for HIM, was very trying, and I'm just allowing the experience to process and sort itself out before I dare go and play with what we learned there. Hopefully as things sort out a bit, and I understand more for myself what I'll need to do to help his many layers become confident, I'll have a more thoughts on the experience for you. For now, all I can say is that slow and right definitely beats fast and wrong, and I'm looking forward to what the future holds, but I need to think before I act.

So for now, keep it natural.  Stay tuned for a Part 2, and who knows how many more!  Stay savvy!