The comment was made yesterday that one of the horses at the barn, a former racehorse, was about as off-the-track as you could get. The big guy in question, Ghost, is a beautiful dapple-gray fellow. I just love dapples. They’re so . . . dappley. I don’t know how much scratch Ghost earned or where he raced but I do know that he is long and lean. Leah said that they rode him out in the bottom near the river the other night and he was confused since he’s not used to having grass underfoot. Awwww!
Meanwhile, the third of the big three approacheth, the Belmont. I was doing a little research for anyone interested in Belmont stakes betting because I’m a fool for research and because I like knowing the history of stuff in popular culture. Belmont is the name of the guy who started the thing in 1866. That’s one year after the end of the Civil War. Gosh but that’s a long time ago in American History, you know? Stuff gets venerable pretty fast around here! The race is older than the Kentucky Derby and it’s longer, so the horse has got to have some endurance. The race track is in Elmont, New York. (I thought for sure that was a typo). Anther source says that the first one wasn’t in New York and had nothing to do with Mr. Belmont — but it was still a Belmont. Somehow. No, I cannot explain. That was before the Civil War, which puts a different stamp on things to my mind.
Today in the group lesson, Leah told me that she wanted me to get sore muscles in my upper abdomen. This is, for me, a little like the posting without stirrups conundrum — what on earth muscles am I working? How on earth do I do that?
So far, all I’ve figured out is how to tense up are my stomach muscles (Like this! Errrrrrrmmmmmmoooo! See?) but I think there’s more to it than that.
What do you call the muscles above your waist but below your rib cage?
Father forgive me; it’s been two weeks since my last lesson. Anguish! But it was for a good cause; I was out of town, working again, earning $. Similar gig to the one in Colorado in March, but this time in Carlsbad, California. No riding stable at the end of the ordeal, however. Bummer. Went swimming in the hotel pool on my last night and noticed my swimsuit bottoms were bigger than they use to be. Must be doing something right!
So tonight I rode a big tall gal, just as big as Gabby, but with a more Valium personality. Gryffin (Griffin? not sure on spelling but what a great name for a horse!) is 24 and very dressage-wise. I was offered the chance to ride her or to ride Mo tonight for my first ride in two weeks and I felt pretty confident, so I tried the new horse. She was awesome! We even cantered — which was a little scary but it worked. Boy, are my arms tired. Riding (and grooming and tacking) a 16 hand horse is lots more work than doing same with a smaller fellow.
I don’t have any idea why I wasn’t in a panic about riding her. I guess she’s steadier and not so flighty, plus I’m getting better at horses in general.
It was so good to ride. I missed it so much.
OMG! The utter cuteness of I Can Has Cheezburger? has ruined my life — in a good way.
Never saw it before. Never saw the use for it. Heck, never knew it existed. But they do, especially if they’re been hunting a stinging or biting insect and the score is Sam the Cat: 0, Stinging/Biting Insect: 1.
Sammy was batting away at something that flew yesterday. He was dancing around on his back legs and very wild of eye when suddenly the game ceased and the cat stared at his right paw, utterly dumbfounded. He licked his paw furiously to make the hurt go away and once inside, ran from room to room trying to escape the pain. It got sort of scary when he hid in a corner and panted with his tongue hanging out, so we called the vet. The vet said not to worry unless his face swelled up (and since Sam was pawing at his own nose we wondered if that was next), and to give him 15 mg. of Benedryl.
Fortunately, we had some on hand and after the usual cat-and-pill frolic that all cat owners know and love so well, we crammed 1/2 of the antihistamine down his throat. In about 20 minutes, Sammy had found a new hiding place and was dozing.
This morning he came tearing back inside, licking his paw and running back and forth. We think it was PTSD because the behavior soon ceased. Sammy, the Cat Who Didn’t Learn a Thing.
When I get back from the West Coast, we’re building a cat enclosure. I can’t stand keeping them inside but they need to be kept safe.
The New Yorker ran a piece in the Talk of the Town section about what is perhaps the last horse to be ridden on the bridle path in Central Park. You can read what Mr. Angell, himself a perfect New Yorker, has to say here. As a side note, I’m very glad that the New Yorker started giving by-lines in the Talk of the Town section. Actually, I think they started doing it several years ago so I’m probably behind in conveying my approval of this editorial decision. Anywho, you can see who has written what and that’s cool.
On my first ever trip to NYC, I found the Claremont. I knew folks who lived close by, either on West 89th where the stable was, or West 88th. I think they lived (live?) on West 88th so I must have taken a turn up a block to get wherever I was going. It was night, I might have been in search of a drug store to buy Tylenol, and it was November of 1994, Thanksgiving time. The city was full of wonders to one had never seen it before. I didn’t tell anyone where I worked at the time about the trip because I didn’t want to listen to a chorus of “Be careful! They will shoot you and/or steal your money!” The people I worked with worried a great deal about the world and its evil tendrils that surely wound their way towards us.
I walked on my errand, entranced by the look of the brownstone buildings, tall and packed in shoulder to shoulder like boxes full of old-fashioned toy soldiers. Then I smelled the hay. Hay. I smelled hay and horses. In the middle of New York City, I smelled horses and smelled hay and saw hay on the sidewalk.
The main door of the stable was open and there was a class in progress. Children sat high on the back of their horses, arms outstretched, learning to balance. They wore helmets. There must have been four or five of them; I have the impression in my memory of at least two rows of animals. The lights were all in the riding ring and I wondered if they stabled the animals above or below, leading them to the ring via ramps. The lights were on in the ring (of course) and all the children raised and lowered their arms in unison. The horses were so calm. I didn’t understand how what I saw could exist, but I didn’t need to understand. The city was full of amazing incongruity. I’m so glad I stumbled upon this one on my own.
And then I come home from a wonderful lesson and I am filled with love, a love that pushes out silly things like concern over money or worries over retirement (I’m never retiring anyway so Ha ha ha!!! I find myself thinking about retirement and money almost all the time these days because I’m doing some work for an insurance client so the language is rarely far from the top of my brain).
My lower leg position is so much better. I think what really made the difference was a lesson I had last month wherein the instructor kept physically placing my leg in the right spot, over and over again: “Here. You want to put your leg here. This is where your leg goes. Not there; here.” And all of this was on Stalker, not Mr. Mopey Mephistopheles.
Another area inwhich I’m experiencing improvement is balance. Wow. Like, who knew I need to improve my balance other than anyone watching me? This seems to have gotten better all of a sudden after Leah asked me to change the diagonal in the air (stand stand) rather than while seated (sit sit). At first, I kept falling backwards which was a Big Clue that I had my leg too far forward. I’m still falling back on my butt but goodness me — I can feel the balance coming along! God, I LOVE riding!!
I can’t find the clicker, the cats are overweight, and it costs a lot of money to lease a horse and to take lessons. Sometimes I feel so guilty about the $ that I nearly can’t hardly stand it and I have conversations with myself about giving it up because of the cost. We could have, like, a savings account if it weren’t for my horse pleasures. My husband never says this and I’m not sure he even thinks this — but if I weren’t spending $ on horses, then we could afford business class tickets to Europe or wild-caught salmon 3 nights a week or maybe even give money in support of world peace. Yes, I could give it up because of the cost — and then go right back into a funk.
I just started clicker training with one of our cats and I’m optimistic. We’re at the very basic step at the moment – the cat (when hungry) is given a treat and a “click” at the same time. And this morning, I had an opportunity to test.
Both cats, Sophie and Sam, run outside for a few minutes in the morning and the young male wants to wander farther away than the female and stay out longer. Sophie is nervous and while always eager to run out the front door (not the back; the front, please), she is equally eager to return home. Sam, however, likes to loll about on the neighbor’s porch and stay out of viewing range. So after two sessions with the clicker over two days, I decided to try it. I went outside and clicked about three times. Out of nowhere, voila! Cat! So guess who got a treat?