No Philosophy in Action Radio on Sunday

 Posted by on 17 April 2015 at 8:00 am  Cats, Dogs, Personal
Apr 172015
 

This Sunday morning, we’re putting doggie Mae to sleep for the aggression problems that I discussed here. At the same time, we’re also putting kitty Elliot to sleep too: his heart is definitely failing, and by keeping him alive, we risk him throwing a clot and thereby having a terribly painful end. My wonderful, wonderful vet is making a special trip out to our place on her day off to do this.

So Sunday will be a terribly day for me, and I couldn’t even think of broadcasting. I know that we’re making the right choice, but still, this is so hard.

Mae and Her Best Friend the Green Ball

 Posted by on 9 April 2015 at 10:00 am  Animals, Dogs, Personal
Apr 092015
 

The other day, I was trying to bring Mae inside, but she was obsessed with her best friend the big green ball. So I took the ball from her and threw it over the fence of the dog run… which she promptly leapt over. Then, a few moments later, I was surprised when she came back over that fence (from the low side!) with the green ball in her mouth.

Of course, we had to do a reenactment for video. She wasn’t quite as smooth or eager the second time around, but she did it!

On the Risks in Eventing

 Posted by on 1 March 2015 at 7:46 pm  Horses, Personal, Sports
Mar 012015
 

On Facebook, eventing legend Denny Emerson wrote:

One experiment that I’d try in an attempt to continue to have cross country be the heart of eventing, while at the same time trying to reduce the falls that create injuries and fatalities, would be to simply make the XC courses substantially longer, but also somewhat less technical.

That would start to weed out the horses that were good in dressage and show jumping, but were not real galloping stayers.

Instead, say, of a six minute course, make it 8-9 minutes, and so on. An 8 minute test would become 11-12 minutes, and so on. Riders would have to start to get very real about fitness, and they would start to select tough gallopers, the kind of horses the sport was originally invented to test.

I don’t think the modern pros would go for this, because it would dry up some of the money, which is what upper level eventing in 2015 is increasingly “about”.

My thoughts:

I like this proposal better than any that I’ve seen before, but I fear that it wouldn’t make a dent in the alarming rate of horse and rider injuries/deaths in eventing… because it’s not just the technical fences that are the problem. Three examples:

(1) When I was a cross-country judge this summer at the Colorado Horse Park, I was judging two easy, straightforward galloping fences. I was unhappy to see that none of the training-level riders — except the professionals — compressed/rounded the canter of their horses before the fence. Those people weren’t galloping too fast or anything, but the horses weren’t really alert to the upcoming fence, either mentally or physically, as they should have been.

As a result, I saw bad jump after bad jump… and then finally, I saw a rotational fall that could have paralyzed the rider. That rider didn’t do anything worse (or better) than the others: her horse just got into a bad spot, and he was so discombobulated that his front legs said “another step” and his back legs said “let’s go!” I thought the rider was dead or paralyzed as she lay on the ground. Thankfully (!!), she’d only broken some ribs.

(2) I was watching the last fence in prelim at a horse trial in Santa Fe this summer — again, a nice straightforward table — when a horse left out a full stride. (Literally, a full galloping stride.) Thankfully, he had enough scope to clear the fence, but holy cow, that was hella scary. As the rider pulls up, I hear her say very casually to her trainer, “Oh, I thought he was going to add a stride.” She didn’t seem to recognize just how dangerous that jump was, that she ought never ever have another one like it, and that it was her job as the rider to ensure that.

(3) Yesterday at Full Gallop in Aiken, a group of people were schooling over a baby fence to a training table under the guidance of a trainer. One rider looked at her hands intently through both fences, and the horse couldn’t even canter properly between the fences as a result. The horse muddled through, but he was clearly nervous and jumped poorly. The trainer never told the rider to look up, and they moved on after two rounds of bad jumping, leaving the rider to her poor form and the horse with less confidence than before. That’s a disaster waiting to happen.

I’m too new to eventing to say much of what’s wrong (and I have my own share of bad habits that I’m working hard to correct), but I am alarmed by the kind of riding that I see even on non-technical jumps. My sense is that people seem to be relying too much on the natural athleticism of their horses to just get over fences rather than developing the skills required to ride cross-country according to best (and safest) practice. That poor riding seems to be aided by trainers who aren’t demanding best practice, if they even know what that is (!?!).

Such problems cannot be solved by a change in format, I don’t think. Sure, perhaps greater demands would induce people to invest more in conditioning and training. Some people would do that. But others wouldn’t, and the result might just be even more injuries and deaths for horses and riders alike.

In any case, Denny Emerson has had some really good posts on this topic in the last day or so. I appreciate that, as I’ve been thinking a good bit about the risks of my sport lately.

On a related note, I’ve decided that I’m very happy to compete Lila at novice level again next year. We’re not ready for training level yet — and with her particular draft-cross build, she might never be ready.

That’s fine, because we’re going to work on being damn perfect over the smaller fences at novice level (2’11″). That’ll be far better for the development of my skills than trying to muddle her over bigger fences.

Plus, I’d never forgive myself if I destroyed her honesty over fences and her trust in me by pushing her beyond her limits. She’s such a good girl — so willing — and I want her to always enjoy cross-country as much as she does now. If that means staying under 3 feet forever with her, I’m happy to oblige. She’s my girl, and I want to keep her that way.

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!

Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha