Monthly Archives: January 2008

Driving into the sunset

My drive out to the barn this past Wednesday was wonderful because the sky was clear and I could really tell that the sun is setting later than it did one month ago.  Yes, I do understand that the sun isn’t really doing anything — the sun stays still and the earth lurches around in an ovoid pattern but we’re too tiny to really be able to understand that in a day-to-day sort of way.  So the sun comes up and the sun stays up later, all with the intent to make us happy. And in late January, driving west, it was doing a nice job of making me happy.  That’s what I love in the winter — those first sunsets that you notice 30 days past the winter solstice. 

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Old Pictures

I started going through some old pictures this weekend. We tend to keep our pictures in boxes here at our house and some are labeled and some are not, so while dragging out the pictures is fun at the time, figuring out what the heck to do with them can be a chore later. I found an old photo of my dad as a child driving a goat cart, and that was pretty neat. I’m sure it’s completely posed and that he did not actually drive the goat cart, but it’s the kind of thing people used to do; plop their kids in goat carts, tell them to pick up the reins, and then whip out the Brownie and take a picture. Sort of like sitting the kid on a pony and sticking a cowboy hat on the kid’s head and taking a picture in the 40s and 50s. I like those pictures too.

Wish I had a picture of the first horse that I rode at the Crazy C Riding Stable in Mason, Michigan. Wouldn’t that be neat? I bet other people (I extend the invitation to our brothers despite the name of the blog) have pictures of when they were kids (even if being kid was, like, three years ago), seated on their first horse. The memories are good. Post ’em if you got ’em.

I thought some of my pictures were going to make me sad, like the pictures of my late father in his childhood, but they don’t. They make me feel human. So I’ve tucked a few them here and there, in amongst the book shelves, only visible from certain angles. A happy surprise to see loved vistas, pets, and people from the past: Oh look! There’s the beach! There’s the old back yard! And there’s that picture of a good face, right were I can see it any time I want. That’s the best one.

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Doing the Same Thing at the Same Time is Often Enough (Movies)

Quite recently, a friend and I went to the movies together except that we went to different theatres. The movie was Sweeny Todd (no need to link; you can find it easily enough) and we got our wires crossed because more than one movie house in town has the same name in the title (The Classy Campus-View, the Classy Homestyle, The Classy Downtowner — no disrespect intended; it’s my favorite locally-owned movie chain and long may it run) and she went to one and I went to another. It’s kinda neat, really — we were both watching the same move at the same time but just in different theatres. It was a nice feeling of linking, especially when I found out afterwards that that she was at the Classy Downtowner while I was at the Classy Campus-View. And we still have lots more dish to do over the film. To that end, I checked out a video version of the Broadway original, and after I watch it we can compare musical theatre/folklore/theatre history observations with one another.

It’s also nice to know that I’ll soon be seeing the same movie, There Will be Blood (again, you can find it), that popped up in a discussion the other day. Indeed, it gives me a frisson of happiness to know that the style of Daniel Day-Lewis is a possible topic of conversation at some future time, and that the topic will be a movie. Movies. They’re just the best, aren’t they? We learn how to behave from them (the Godfather phenom has informed the behavior of the original family in Sicily according to an author friend of mine) and in return, the movies take their queues from us. They are a mirror, the way the horse mirrors his rider and the rider mirrors her horse.

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Harvey Pekar’s book on the SDS

Nope, not a dang thing to do with horses and not much to do with barn culture as I have experienced it and I don’t hink horses have much to do with the SDS either unless there were some mounted police in Chicago in ’68. But I’m a Pekar fan. So don’t steal this book because stealing it won’t help the writer and the artists, but do read it and buy it (or the other way round).

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A brief and good lesson

Today we worked on how I hold my body when going to the right. I tend to collapse in and drop my right shoulder, and this became very obvious to Leah one day when I wore a sweater with a strong horizontal band across the upper back/yoke. Since then, I try to wear something similar so that Leah can more quickly spot what I’m doing. I do drop that right shoulder a lot (see post on “And all this time I thought it was the bra” or however I titled it) and of course I can’t tell that I’m doing it since I do it. So I’m trying to push Mo back outside to the wall with my inside leg, but *dropping* my inside shoulder at the same time which sends him a mixed message since dropping my (inside) shoulder is going to make him fall in to the inside. So today Leah had me place my left elbow at my hip (not cram it in there and hold it tight which is my instinct — Get a Bigger Hammer! Hang on Harder! Push More! — but just place it there). As soon as I did that, I quit dropping my right shoulder and voila! as they say, Mo could do what I wanted him to do. Neat, huh?

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Carriage Driving

Dr. Ellen Schmidt of Scotland e-mailed me to tell me about her site: http://www.discover-horse-carriage-driving.com and it is just loaded with neat pictures and information!  I think what I like best (well, best so far: I’ve hardly had time to scratch the surface) is the picture of the jolly pair of cute little Fjord horses pulling the cart in Germany. Check out Dr. Schmidt’s Wild Troika Games page for a neat picture and an explanation of how the troika works. My own barn was sponsoring some lessons back in the fall courtesy of Bob (Bob works there) and Cookie the Awesome Pony.  Since hands (the human ones) are so important in riding, I imagine that those same hands have a lot to do with carriage driving.  Can you feel the horse’s mouth from all the way back there in the seat of the cart?  I’d like to know more about that!

 

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MPH

I got recruited to play Oregon Trail on FaceBook (I gotta quit hunting or I’ll use up all of the group’s ammo – I got a buffalo but that was beginner’s luck) and I’ve been thinking about how the land looks for people who need to go on a trip but who do not have a Rand-McNally Road Atlas, GPS, or an overall conception of how the earth looks from space. Then I unearthed my 1996 souvenir copy of the English translation of the Medieval Mappa Mundi. This classic  T and O map of the world, ringed about with angels and God and Jesus, makes me think of how people look at the world and at their own piece of landscape, and what our enlightened view should do for our brains  vis a vis us and the world – but often does not. So anyway, how far can horses travel in a day?  I’m sure it depends on the ground and on the day, but if one was estimating how far it would take to get from Specific Point A to Specific Point B, how would one do such a thing?  For example; assuming that one could work with the pre-industrial landscape of Central Ohio, how long did it take to get from Unionville Center, Ohio to Lithopolis, Ohio? It’s about 44 miles and in our current age, this is considered a doable daily commute.  But what about Back When? The proposed terrain is flat, the old routes and highways are probably the same ones that existed 150 years ago in the era of farms, the rivers and streams haven’t moved all that much, and in the late spring, as long as one wasn’t in a hurry, it might even have been a pleasant trip and would have given one time to think about life and such as one sauntered along. Is there a formula or a figure for MPH for horses?

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