Friday, July 25, 2008

Riding lessons two, three and four.

I promised myself I wouldn't blog until I sorted and sent the photos from the reunion in Toronto. Well, it appears that all went smoothly, finally, so I figured I'd better post about my lessons or I would lose it all together.

Lesson two was on a mare named Gina. It went well, but something was off. I just didn't feel right in the saddle. I'm not sure if it was simply muscle tone or lack of skill or something else. Gina is so different from Calico, she needs a lot of encouragement to keep going (i.e., lots of leg), so I was pretty tired 40 min in and my inner thighs were jelly. She was pretty good with the pole work we were doing, although she liked to duck her head when cantering poles and since I tend to ride with longer reigns than I should, or rather than my instructor likes, it was a challenge for me to correct this. I managed though, and ended up with several good rounds cantering over 6 poles in a row.

Lesson three, I was back on Calico and really noticed an improvement. We did some pole work, as before, but also a lot of leg yielding. I swear, I am so glad I didn't come see a class before I joined because I am sure I would have thought I was not good enough for it, but I'm doing just fine! Of course, much of the credit goes to the horses who are quite well-trained. Still, even a well trained horse won't do what you want if your cues aren't right. I don't remember doing much lateral work in my previous horse life, but I must have retained something because we were doing some of the nicest leg-yields in the class (again, thank you Calico!). Also, even though Calico is fast, I wasn't behind the motion as often as the first time I rode her. I am starting to get used to cantering again, which is something I need to work on with Cherokee. One of the ladies in the class mentioned that she was often out of breath when cantering and her son (who is a fitness freak, apparently) told her to remember to breath deeply. I thought about this in the couple days between lessons and realized I do it a lot, not just during the canter. I think I am still a little nervous at doing things that I think are advanced (for me) that I forget to breath.

Lesson Four. This was a make-up lesson since the fourth of August is a holiday and I paid for four lessons. I was back on Gina and there were only three of us for the lesson that day. I have to say, I never realized how much difference a saddle makes. Gina's saddle sucks, even more than Calico's synthetic Wintec. It just doesn't fit me, or her, all that well. Reminds me of clothing and how different you feel in something that fits like it was made for you versus the mass market brand. Anyway, regardless of all that, it was a great lesson. I admit, my legs still hadn't quite recovered from Monday's lesson, so half-way through they were screaming for mercy! No such luck. We worked on more lateral work, especially side-passes. I actually think we (Gina and me) did the best. Again, I'm sure I have Gina to thank for that, but a little goes to me because without the right cues she wouldn't have done a thing. We also did small circles at the canter, which was difficult because Gina kept wanting to break into a trot, no matter what I did. Gina requires a lot more leg than Calico, as I may have mentioned, so my legs were thoroughly exhausted by the end. It was intense and exhausting, but thrilling at the same time. I also have a nice blister/scrape from my boots, just behind the knee, which I'm sure will feel great in the lesson tomorrow :-\

I have to say, I am loving what this is doing to my body. Already I see a difference, especially in the last two weeks. How great is it that I can get back in shape while doing something I love?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Gilled Pork and Vegetable Lettuce Wraps

This was somewhat inspired by a restaurant in Toronto, Spice Route. The girls and I had dinner there last Saturday. I have to say, this place is beautiful, stunning really. The food; however, left us underwhelmed. Everything was ok, but nothing was great. Certainly not what you would expect from the place. The menu was misleading, the food itself just good to mediocre and not always well-balanced flavours. The service was quite good for the most part although even then, when we really needed the waiter's attention, it took some time.

So why use any of that as inspiration? Well, they had some good concepts. And it is really just a take on something I do anyway. Meet the lettuce wrap. Now, I have never done lettuce wraps, but I figure you are mostly just replacing rice paper wraps with lettuce and filling it with whatever you like as per spring rolls.

The pork was grilled simply with crushed chilies, kosher salt and pepper. I made a peanut sauce, which tends to vary depending on what I feel like. Today, I used: organic peanut butter, sesame oil, splash of tamari, minced lemongrass, garlic (microplaned), lime juice and zest, cayenne pepper, chili flakes, rice vinegar, bit'o cumin and I think that's it. Veggies were just julienned carrots and red pepper. I really should have had rice or rice vermicelli too, but it was too hot to heat anything indoors. A very nice summer meal IMO.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Just one of those days...x 2

Yesterday I was determined to get some groceries done after work since I had discovered that morning that there was no coffee and really nothing to make for dinner. So, after walking Hazel for an hour and a half, I dragged my butt to the car and drove to the store. Once I got there, I realized my wallet was in my dog-walking purse. Grrrr! I drove home, got my wallet and did the groceries. Sigh of relief.

Once home, I fired up the barbeque, seasoned the pork chops I had just purchased and went back out to cook some dinner. Keep in mind it was 8:30 and I hadn't eaten a thing. I open up the lid of the grill and...nothing. No flame, barely warm. F*@#, no propane. Double Grrrrr. Fortunately, I had just purchased a frozen pizza in case of emergency. Fine.

At least I had coffee! I was smart enough to program the coffee maker to go off at 6am. It was my first day having to do the am walk since starting my job, so I needed the extra incentive to get out of bed early. Somehow, I forgot to set the alarm, so I slept in a little. Oh well, at least the coffee would be waiting for me, right? No, it was set for 6 PM. Seriously, how dumb can I be? Ok, coffee on. Brush teeth, etc. Pour coffee, put in milk...curdled. No, I am not making this up. There was one scant cup left and, thankfully, some cream left over from making ice cream. Ahh, luxury coffee!

Needless to say, I have not sorted photos, sent emails or much else. On the plus side, tonight I went to my sister's. She fed me good food, I played with my nieces and they tuckered Hazel out. Definitly helped balance out the last two days.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

So much to blog about, so little time.

I have a lot to catch up on, but I've just picked Hazel up from the kennel and although I can tell she had a good time, it appears she also hadn't been let out to do her thing for awhile, so I have to take her out often. Also, I haven't eaten yet and promised myself I would deal with some outstanding household stuff. So, hopefully by tomorrow I can post about the TO trip, sort the photos and get permissions to post and post about my second riding lesson. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Whole grilled Arctic Char and spinach salad

Not much to say and no pics. Everything was super fresh and delicious. I have started my co-workers thinking about the fish they buy and what practices they want to support. I think at least one of them will be printing out my pocket guide!

First Lesson

I had my first lesson on Monday. Whew, it was HARD! I enjoyed it, but haven't worked so hard in a long time. I didn't expect it to be so intense for the whole hour, I am used to slowing the pace down whenever I'm tired or feel like I'm not "getting it". Well, it's more difficult in a lesson. Overall though, I think I will like it just fine. The only negatives are that I couldn't hear the instructors comments/directions all the time and that I wasn't able to get an idea of what to expect before hand. Oh well.

My mount was a little paint mare who was really very kind to me. SO much more get up and go than I am used to, super easy transitions (heck, it impresses me if a horse will do them period, lol). She also did a flying change all on her own. I had just asked for a canter, she took the wrong lead and I was about to correct it and voila! she just switched. I was so excited, it was silly. She was also quite sensitive which was a challenge for my inconsistent contact. But I survived and am looking forward to next week.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

"Brian, what are you doing tied to Meg's pole?"

A quote from family guy, had to just record it somewhere.


We spent Saturday and Sunday at the cottage and it was fantastic! We did some work that C & G have been unable to do (vacuuming, mowing etc), but mostly swam, snorkeled and relaxed. We really needed a weekend like this. I haven't felt so good in ages.

Well, I did feel good, until I saw my husband getting the brick oven/grill ready for cooking our dinner, that is.

Hazel aka "the littlest hobo". She has no idea we are watching in this picture, she is just exploring on her own. I swear this dog is so independent, as long as she's outside, she will occupy herself.

Some kind of mushroom. Of the belladonna family, we think.

A little snake friend. There was a skink running around too, but it was too fast to get a picture. Both were gorgeous and made my day.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Sun-dried tomato pesto pizza

Homemade dough (of course) topped with this lovely pesto made from sun-dried tomatoes. Pizza was also topped with mushrooms, yellow pepper, arugula and TONS of feta. Super yummy.

Now, it's off to the cottage. yipee!

Friday, July 4, 2008

No more wild salmon

Sasha sent me this...

from washington gov't website:
Hybridization - The risk of escaped Atlantic salmon hybridizing with native salmonids is low. Research has demonstrated it is very difficult, even under optimal laboratory conditions, to cross-breed between Pacific and Atlantic salmon and produce viable offspring. Should this rare event occur in the wild, the offspring would be functionally sterile and incapable of reproduction.

but, if farmed pacific salmon escapes in the pacific (or atlantic in atlantic)

This is a very interesting article. Sorry, I don't know how to make it link. I'll have to figure that out another time.

Not exactly free willy.

On the way to work this morning I heard about 30,000 or so atlantic salmon that escaped from their open water pens in BC. I guess I can scratch pacific salmon off my list of "best choices" now.

The guy on the radio says atlantic and pacific can't cross-breed. I wonder if that is true.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Train the Trainer

I forgot to mention, I am starting lessons again on Monday. I checked this place out close to 2 months ago, it met spec and then some. I am SO happy to be starting lessons. I can't imagine what it will be like to 1) have a horse that does what you ask, 2) have someone critique your riding. It'll be bliss. I will probably show up an hour early like a little girl, lol. Do you think they will all laugh at my new boots, hat and jodhpurs? Probably, but I don't care :) Mwhahaha.

Canada Day in the Country.

I must have been the only person heading OUT of town yesterday. I had the day off work, so I took the opportunity to go to the farm and work with Cherokee. My brother-in law, his wife and kids were visiting from TO so I was unable to ride on the weekend (the weekend was a blast though, enjoyed it entirely!)

It was a good day, not quite as hot as last week and, best of all, I had a newly mowed hay field to ride in. This is a big deal since little dude is barefoot and a little sensitive on gravel and the only place I've had to ride are the trails through the sugar bush. Great trails, but not great for really working on things. Plus, I felt I had donated enough blood to flies and mosquitos for one month. So, I got to pay attention to my form, dude's form, and work in eights, circles etc. Very useful. I didn't realize before that riding straight was an issue with him since on trails there isn't much choice. More to work on :-/

I wish I could upgrade this guy. Not that he's got it bad at all, but there are quite a few issues that I am just not able to deal with. I've tried, and I'm learning all the time, but working with him at most once a week is just not enough. Sigh. It's a shame because he really could be quite a nice little pleasure horse. Instead his owner is afraid to ride him and I'm the only other person making him think/work etc.

Last night Sasha was a bit exasperated with all my worrying and finally blurted out that he didn't understand why I felt so bad about all these animals that are not mine, nor my responsibility. It's just not about that, you know? It's about the animal. He knows that, he just hates to see me get all worked up about things I can't change.

Plus side? I know at very least little dude has a forever home as a pasture pet. He has plenty to eat, semi-decent pasture (supplemented with hay). I know he will never end up anywhere that would treat him badly or anything. The worst "crime" here is being under-used and hence not very marketable, which would be bad, except that he will never be sold.

Oh, and the standing-for-mounting is going much better. Not perfect, but much better. For the record, smack to the chest worked WAY better than all the longeing in the world. Still, it is very hard to do even basic stuff with no arena of any kind, no round pen or indeed anywhere "safe" to work. Just big wide open farm and lots of cows :)

Enjoy the pics of lil dude after a good workout and shower.

With Hazel, who had an even better workout since she ran beside us the whole time. I W-T about 97% of the time, but that translates to a lot of running for a dog! Hazel still thinks Cherokee is just a big dog. The horse doesn't know what to think, but I can say Hazel has been the best trainer when it comes to de-spooking this crazy horse.

After cool-out, a shower and some "luxury grazing" (i.e., grazing on lawn that isn't pasture for anyone), set free to roll away. He often rolls while I'm still holding him, but he gets distracted by new patches of grass easily! I've noticed he prefers rolling on hills. What's up with that??

Doesn't this just look satisfying?


And now for more food!