Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Summer Slam

This is summer..it’s July in Montana . Its beautiful , sunny, warm. Summers in Montana are the best.. filled with fun, lots of time on the horses, easy times of sitting on the back porch with a cold drink, gardening, hiking, biking, BBQ’s with family and friends, days at the lake , and so on.

……and what am I doing? I am sitting in a hotel in downtown Seattle, slogging through yet another week meetings. So far this is my second week, back to back , with travel .  I am told there is alot more travelt o come but the client has a limited budget so I am hoping that doesn't come to total frution.

It's an 18 month contract.. that is assuming the contract gets signed sealed and delivered this week as scheduled.. (barring any legal issues that always seem to hold these things up ) Seattle is only a short flight from home which is a nice change. But there is a major down side  too right now. The one week vacation I had been looking forward to got pulled out from under me faster than I could blink an eye at.. For 6 months I had been planning to take a trip to Southern Oregon , do the wine tasting thing, check out the area for a possible future go-to-live location, (shhh) and just get away for a few days to see something new.

This job beings relatively new to me makes me low on the totem pole. I kind of have to tow the line and build up seniority, and just deal with what comes at me and work towards building up some vacation time. I used to have all kinds of vacation time (that’s what happens when you spend 10 years at a job) and could pretty much take days off when I wanted to at my old employer. Unfortunately, that was about the only good thing about that old employer.

I have no regrets. just feeling cranky because I feel like a kid that got cheated out of Christmas, or in my case, an adult that lives in a crappy cold climate and got cheated out of the only three months of good weather.

On the upside, I am racking up skymiles and hotel reward points at a pretty good rate. Just 20,000 more points and I can get a hotel room free for couple nights!

I have kinda turned into a points monger. I have reward programs with three hotel chains.. and I won’t stay anywhere but there if I can help it when I travel.  I am limiting myself to those 3 and only those 3 programs .. Believe me , it’s easy to go hog wild on rewards programs…there are so many!!!

Travel and earning points is one thing but the best part? You don’t have to travel to earn points.

WHO knew??

There are these rewards site mall portal thingy’s that you can shop through to get points for your purchases..It’s stuff I order anyways and now, I get something additional in return for money spent.. I was totally oblivious to this whole other shopping web world out there! Places like Vitacost, Sephora, Target… the sky is the limit on the amount of vendors out there.. even certain restauratns..

Our household has a new rule..

If you are going to buy something online, check the rewards mall portals FIRST and see if it’s available for points..

So those are the perks and some of the low points of the job, travel and being in the techology consulting world..
On the Home Front
 I have done a little riding here and there.  We have done a few short trail rides and arena stuff. Mostly,working on the same old stuff but I think Maggie is making some mental break throughs. Atleast it feels like there are glimmers of getting her mind to slow down and thereby the feet slow down too. Then again, I have thought that before..I wish I knew a good cart horse trainer. She would be perfect and so cute in harness.. Anyone got any suggestions or know of anyone looking for a cute cart horse prospect?

I have Maggie advertised for sale. I  am looking for a new home for her if the right one comes along.. Feel free to pass the word or contact me via email or message me on facebook if you know of anyone. She isn't a good trail horse for a beginner or timid rider.

Other than that,I have just been living vicariously through all of you, reading blogs and getting my fix that way.

Rebel seems to be doing better with the increased calorie count. He isn't galloping across the pasture like a 5 year old or anything but he does seem to be more energized and the MSM seems to be helping his arthritis. He gets pretty much unlimited access to pasture , whilee we have it atleast but things are drying up quickly.We are still gradually working on increasing the fat content.. As we all know, it takes a while to get the horses system utilizing fats  and I am still phasing it in for him. We are almost up to a 1 cup of oil per day. All  in all I think we are moving in the right direction with him.

There has been some other non -horse related recreation on the weekends.

We did a family raft float down the Swan River around the 4th .. No whitewater or anything.. just a couple hours of floating down an easy river..This past weekend we hiked Saturday with the dogs on Lion Mountain and on Sunday we took them to the lake because I needed to get a swimming fix.. Xena decided she needed to save T and I everytime we got too far out and would come after us to get us to come back in. I had no idea she would go in and swim. She doesn’t even like it when the yard sprinklers are going but apparently when mom and dad are in danger, her German Shepherd har wried tendencies to protect kick in strong. It was kind of cute but I realized she wasn’t out there swimming to have fun , like a lab would.. she was really scared that something bad was happening to us.. so we didn’t end up swimming a whole lot.. in the process of her “rescuing” me, she clawed the hell out of my leg… nonetheless, she has turned into such a sweet dog.. and it seems that every time we expose her to something new she surprises us just a little more with some other part of her personality we had not seen before. I am glad every day that we have her.

So, for yet another week I will trade the peaceful sounds of horses whinnying and birds chirping for horse, sirens, and traffic…

One of these days maybe it will all be worth it when I get myself an all-expenses paid trip to Portugal using those points and rewards .. just maybe!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Jumps goin up!

I have had a couple more riding lessons since I last blogged about it. I am now jumping a 7 fence course .Typically hunter classes are anywhere from 8-12 fences in a show.  I have graduated on up from crossrails to verticals as well. Yesterday , I jumped an Oxer,  which is a jump with two rails and is usually as tall as it is wide. I think the oxer I jumped was 2 feet. One of the jumps was actually 2'3. That is the highest I have jumped in like... forever... . I thought it would be a lot more intimidating to get over a two foot fence but I find myself wanting more! Jazzy , the lesson mare I am riding now , is a smaller, short strided Quarter horse. She is super sweet and a great confidence builder.  She is ,however, like riding a 2x4 because no one ever taught her much in the way of lateral flexion or bending. Riding corners is a lot like riding  a .. well.. 2x4... ..Her favorite trick is to add an extra half step right before the jump and then, pop over the jump.. I am relearning how to count strides in a line , between fences , and then trying make sure I hit the right stride count, which sounds easy enough but when your in the middle of getting through a course, things are happening quickly..

One of my old habits seems to have redeveloped as well, that which involves holding my breath for the entire course.. So as I am going around taking my jumps, it sounds a bit like this from my trainer..

"find the center, look up, support with leg, BREATHE, find the center, , look up, 1, 2, 3, 4, (counting strides for me ), Ride your corner, support with more leg....BREATHE!!!!!" ....and so on..

On Labor day weekend , there is a local show..My trainer wants me to try for it.. I was definitely not into it. A few days ago,  I found myself perusing the Dover catalog that came in the mail.... and happened to turn to the English show apparel pages and happened to  find a steal on a show jacket that was being clearance out...  so I ordered it.. just in case....(you never know , right?)

Well you can't have a jacket without a shirt and they happened to have some of those on sale too so I ordered one of those.. and  wouldn't you know it , that the show quality half chaps were also on sale ( I would love to have the tall boots again but not at those prices... I am not THAT serious about this jumping thing!) I can always use them for everyday riding  and besides, my second pari of half chaps are getting pretty torn up anyways..

So, maybe I have been bitten by the jumping bug.. it's hard not to be.. I am having an absolute blast!

Happy Fourth of July !!

As we all get caught up in the hustle bustle of the days celebrations, BBQ's, boating, parades, fireworks, etc it's good to remember just why we have the freedom to enjoy this day, take a moment to remember ...
July 4th, 1776

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Beat the Heat with Carrot Popsicles

Like a lot of folks in the west right now, it's hot. We are  in the high 90's for high in the days and it's not cooling off much at night, like it typically does in the rocky mountains. We don't have AC and we certainly don't have a barn with a misting system . The horses are sweating just standing around, even in the shade.
So in between hosing horses down in the afternoon at the worst of the heat, I whipped up some of these treats. It's an experiment so I am not sure how the horses will take to them.

For 5 popsicles (since we have 5 horses )
5 Red Solo Cups ( I know your breaking out in song) or green, whichever you choose
2 medium apples
1/4 cup Molasses unsulfured
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 cup of water (adjust as needed)
multiple carrots broken into bite size chunks

Mash up apples , molasses, water, sugar, salt in food processor until it's a chunky slurry. Not too watery.

Place a few chunks of carrots into each cup
Pour Slurry into cups , about half way
fill rest of cup with water

Place in freezer for as long as it takes to freeze mostly solid.

Go greet your furry friend with a nice cool treat in the afternoon heat!!

Enjoy the moment of doing something nice for your horse!


Monday, July 1, 2013

Columbia Mountain - Alpine Trail #7

Yesterday, temps were predicted to be in the 90's and climbing higher yet into the rest of the week. We wanted to get the horse out for a long ride, so we set out early to go take a ride up Columbia Mountain. It's elevation reaches over 7200 feet and it had been years since we had been on it.

My front windows give me an unending view of this mountain. It's a steep climb but offers some fantastic views.

Not only is the trail steep, but it is also technical, offering steep washed out sections, shale rock slides areas, narrow parts where part of the trail edge has sloughed away from spring run off , and large rocks that are more like stairs that you have to make your way down.

We took Maggie and Brego, "T's" Morgan/Barb gelding who is green and somewhat spooky. I wasn't thrilled with his choice of mounts for this ride but he did need the experience and Maggie needed some hills to blow off some snort after being stuck to arena riding for the last couple of weeks.

Looking down the trail into the water fall /creek crossing. This is so steeo that we got off and walked down. It is also  washed out and at the bottom is a big waterfall to left, drop off to right where water is going..

Brego and T coming down.. T is out of site behind the tree leading his horse. I have already come across and I am up on the opposite side of the trail looking back down.

Brego pauses for a moment before starting his decent..he looks over at Maggie and I as if to say "seriously?? I have to go down this? to get over there ???"
Coming across.. Brego is blurry because he was about the leap..this was a training "moment"

Taking a break to enjoy the view..at about 4500 feet

Brego and Maggie trying to locate their barn...

We climbed to about 5200 feet when we had 3 dirt bikers catch us. Brego was not fond of them but they were very polite and accommodating . We let them by but given how rattled Brego was , decided to turn around and head back. It was getting hot and the horses were pretty tired from the climbing. We met three more dirt bikers on the way back down and again, they were very friendly. By the time we met the last of these on the trail Brego was getting much better about them. It was a narrow trial and meeting dirt bikers on this kind of trail is dangerous at best. They are generally moving pretty quickly . They can't hear over the motors or their helmets so yelling at them doesn't work. If you happen to be coming around a corner ,  they cant see you in enough time.  The first group of riders was this situation and almost proved to cause Brego to jump off the trail but they did get their bikes shut down in just the nick of time. The others, we were able to hear them in enough time to get visible and wave them down.

Had we realized that dirt bikes were allowed on this trail, we would have chosen  a different riding location but all in all it turned out to be a good training opportunity.

The horses were tired so when we got home, they both got a nice hosing off and rub down with Vetrolin.

With the heat predicted, I don't know how much riding will ensue in the coming days.