Head Trauma: Not Fun, But Doing Better

 Posted by on 14 February 2015 at 10:30 am  Horses, Medicine, Personal, Sports
Feb 142015
 

I’m sorry to report that my horse Phantom and I parted ways on Thursday afternoon, shortly after a ditch during cross-country schooling. She was scared and jumped it big. Immediately thereafter, I went left and she went right. I ended up unconscious on the ground, and she ran back to the trailer to her buddy Lila. (Poor Phanny didn’t mean to unseat me; she doesn’t have any meanness or screw-you in her, just fear.)

I woke up quickly, but I was pretty woozy for the rest of Thursday. (I got a CT scan that evening, and hooray, no bleeding!) So I just have a concussion. Basically, I got my bell rung, harder than I’d like. I wasn’t injured other than that, except that I bit my tongue. I was, of course, wearing a protective helmet and vest.

So now I need to take life gently for a few days. That’s not easy for me, but I’m going to work at it. I’m really eager to get on both horses again, although it was a real treat to watch Eric Horgan ride Phantom on Friday.

Anyway, the really good news is that I’ve made such good progress since that first night — to the point that I’m feeling pretty normal now. So I’m game to go ahead with Sunday’s broadcast of Philosophy in Action Radio. We’ve got some great questions on tap, and the first one is even relevant to my recent experience!

Skinny Jeans

 Posted by on 23 December 2014 at 2:00 pm  Personal
Dec 232014
 

Yesterday, I bought two pairs of skinny jeans. Appalled by the thought that I’ve become a hipster, I consoled myself with “Well, at least I bought them at Wal-mart.” But then I realized that that means that I bought them ironically, which makes me even more of a hipster. *le sigh*

Las Cruces Horse Trial

 Posted by on 13 December 2014 at 10:00 am  Animals, Horses, Personal, Sports
Dec 132014
 

Back in November, Lila and I left the sub-freezing (and by that, I mean -12°F) weather of Colorado for a few days in warm Las Cruces, New Mexico for a horse trial.

Here’s our dressage round:

Here’s our stadium jumping round:

Lila was great in cross-country too — bold and forward. I was particularly pleased with how we jumped the ditch: I stayed up, and so Lila jumped it without a second glance. Alas, I don’t have any video because the USEF has banned helmet cameras due to safety concerns. (Hopefully, that will be temporary.)

We ended up in 5th place… which isn’t bad. If we’d just not had that unlucky rail down in stadium, we would have won. Them’s the breaks!

Adios, Premise Checkers!

 Posted by on 11 December 2014 at 2:00 pm  Objectivist Movement, Personal, WTFuffles
Dec 112014
 

After being dormant for some time, the ridiculous website and Facebook page of “Checking Premises” has been removed. I can’t say that I’m surprised. I’m certainly not unhappy. The bad news is that the dogmatic wing of the Objectivist movement persists, and after the encouragement / tolerance it received from official quarters in recent years, I don’t think it’ll be dying the ignominious death it deserves any time soon. Still, at least it seems quieter these days.

In any case… whatever. Over the past few years, I’ve realized that the various problems in the Objectivist movement are really just very human problems, and I’ve seen them replicated in countless other communities, ideological and otherwise. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to do my own thing, knowing that I’m making countless people’s lives better in the process. That makes me happy!

Just one last thing, because it’s just so awesome:

An Exciting Hack

 Posted by on 6 December 2014 at 1:00 pm  Animals, Horses, Personal, Sports
Dec 062014
 

Earlier this week, Phantom was a bit of a handful on our hack along some neighborhood roads to get to the arena. Here’s our conversation:

Phantom: The sun is setting. I’m worried.

Me: We’re all chill, nothing to worry about here. We’re just on a nice quiet hack.

Phantom: I’m still worried. My buddy Lila is missing me. I miss her.

Me: It’s okay, lovebug. Lila will be okay, and you’ll see her again soon.

Phantom: OMG, THERE’S A MAN FOLLOWING US BACK THERE.

Me: It’s alright, he’s just going for a walk, like us.

Phantom: I DON’T BELIEVE YOU. I NEED TO LOOK AT HIM. HE’S STALKING US.

Me: No, let’s just keep walking, love.

Phantom: NO NO NO NO. HE WANTS TO MAKE ME INTO A LAMP. I JUST CAN’T HANDLE THIS. AHHHHH!!!

Me: Oh sh*t…

The More Cats Change…

 Posted by on 24 November 2014 at 2:00 pm  Animals, Cats, Personal
Nov 242014
 

Introducing Helga!

 Posted by on 29 October 2014 at 2:00 pm  Horses, Personal
Oct 292014
 

Last week, I flew to Cincinnati to buy this behemoth known as a “toterhome” — it’s a big, big truck with living quarters attached to the cab, plus a bed in the back long enough to attach a gooseneck trailer. Her name is “Helga.”

Toterhomes are mostly used by people who race cars, but I’ve seen a few at most horse trials too. Basically, I’ll use this to haul Martha Deeds’ big four-horse trailer when we’re competing in horse trials far from home, as well as for our month-plus trip to Aiken, South Carolina. (In Aiken, I’ll live in it.) It’ll give us more living space and more amenities than Mart’s trailer alone, including a kitchen and bathroom. Also, Paul and I will be able to go on treks with it, with or without the horses. I’m even using it for this weekend’s clinic with Eric Horgan, as the horses and I will be staying at Mart’s.

It’s quite something to drive, but I managed over 1200 miles in a day and half for the trek home — including through some city streets and gnarly construction.

Now I just need to buy myself an “I love fossil fuels” t-shirt!

Oct 182014
 

Here’s the video from my helmet cam of Lila’s cross-country round at the Greenwood Farm Horse Trial in Texas. (That was last Sunday.) In sum, Lila jumped wonderfully boldly from a gallop for so much of the course — until disaster struck! — and then we recovered to complete the course nicely.

Here’s the video, but you might want to read the description below it for context before watching.

The bold jumping that Lila gave me throughout this course is exactly what I’ve been struggling to get from her for some months. Her hock injections, plus some changes in how I rode her, made a huge difference.

In particular, I was so proud of her (and me!) for how we jumped the trakehner. Trakehners are logs set over ditches, and this was a max height log (2’11″) over a deep ditch. Lila isn’t great with ditches, and I’ve always been freaked out just by the thought of these fences. We’ve not ever schooled over them, although we jumped a log with a half-ditch under it in the horse trial at Santa Fe. (We didn’t do that very well, however.)

Over this trakehner — which you’ll see right after the white fence — I cantered her into it with plenty of gusto and determination, and I kept my eyes above the horizon. She jumped it without the slightest hesitation, and you can hear just how pleased I was by that.

Not too long after that, we had our minor disaster at the log fence headed into a gully. I was quite tired heading up the hill into the pasture. (My stirrups were a hole shorter than they’d ever been, which was good, but extra-tiring.) So I didn’t sit her down in the way that I should have in the few strides before the fence, and I probably didn’t give her any leg. I was just a passenger, and that’s never good.

So as you can see on the video, she stopped suddenly in the stride before the fence, and I was thrown forward, hard. I ended up in front of the saddle, arms wrapped around her neck, with my face looking close-up at her ears. I really really didn’t want to fall off, so I shimmied backwards when she raised her head and neck. That took just a second or two.

As soon as I sat up — still in front of the saddle — Lila decided that she’d had enough. She began cantering back up the hill, and I started getting pretty scared as she went faster and faster. I realized that I could have a pretty bad fall unless I stopped her pronto, so I put on whatever brakes I could, stopped her with some difficulty, and then wiggled myself back into the saddle. You can hear the panic in my voice during that segment. Yes, that is funny! Laugh away!

Then we jumped the fence properly, and we finished the course just fine. (Well, the ditch to the brush was a bit rough, but we got through it.) The only casualty was my glasses, which I never did find.

Despite that bit of craziness, I’m soooo proud of Lila for jumping so well. Obviously, I need to work on my balance and endurance in my cross-country two-point, and that will get done in the next few months. (It’s already underway!)

We ended up in last place, but that’s fine. Lila showed me a whole new level of potential on this very difficult course — the most difficult novice course we’ve ever done — and that pleases me greatly.

Dead Orchid Haiku

 Posted by on 14 October 2014 at 2:00 pm  Funny, Personal
Oct 142014
 

Innocent orchid
Gift from a crazy woman
Sorry not sorry

Schooling Lila over Training Level Questions

 Posted by on 30 August 2014 at 10:00 am  Horses, Personal, Sports
Aug 302014
 

Here’s some video from late July — when Martha Deeds, Jill Garzarelli, and I schooled cross-country at the Colorado Horse Park. This was Lila’s first time over training-level fences. We had a few refusals (e.g. at the corner), but she was really great overall. Who would have predicted that my lazy, opinionated, on-the-forehand draft-cross would be such a capable eventer?!? She’s my girl!

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