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!

Dog Agility Done Right… and Slow

 Posted by on 8 December 2014 at 1:00 pm  Animals, Dogs, Funny, Sports
Dec 082014
 

This is the most fabulously funny dog agility video ever:

He’s willing, just v e r y s l o o o o o w.

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…

Video from Eric Horgan Clinic

 Posted by on 6 December 2014 at 10:00 am  Animals, Horses, Sports
Dec 062014
 

Over Halloween weekend, I rode Phantom and Lila in a three-day clinic with Eric Horgan. (Eric was the reason for going to Aiken, South Carolina last winter… and the reason for doing the same this winter. He’s wonderful.)

Here are some video highlights from my rides on Lila:

I was particularly delighted with Lila’s flatwork. We’ve come a long way, baby!

Here are some highlights from my rides on Phantom:

Phantom was very excitable the whole weekend — mostly due to being separated from Lila, I think. So that was a struggle for me. Still, we made progress, and we’ve been doing really well together lately.

The More Cats Change…

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

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.

Interview of a Guinea Pig

 Posted by on 16 September 2014 at 12:00 pm  Animals, Funny
Sep 162014
 

This is adorable:

A Morally Elevating Video

 Posted by on 11 August 2014 at 1:00 pm  Animals, Funny
Aug 112014
 

Dear People of America,

You must watch this important video. The very health of our culture depends on it.

In All Seriousness,

Dr. Diana Hsieh

Goats Riding Horses

 Posted by on 24 June 2014 at 2:00 pm  Animals, Funny, Horses
Jun 242014
 

No really, this is a compilation video of goats riding horses!

Suddenly, I want a goat!

Jun 092014
 

Liam Neeson narrated this excellent video in defense of NYC’s horse carriages. (Alas, embedding is disabled.) These people love and care for their horses: the horses live good lives, and they’re treated well.

I’m disappointed — but not surprised — that real estate interests seem to be the driving force here, in alliance with “animal rights” activists. It’s pure Bootleggers and Baptists:

Bootleggers and Baptists is a catch-phrase invented by regulatory economist Bruce Yandle for the observation that regulations are supported by both groups that want the ostensible purpose of the regulation and groups that profit from undermining that purpose.

For much of the 20th century, Baptists and other evangelical Christians were prominent in political activism for Sunday closing laws restricting the sale of alcohol. Bootleggers sold alcohol illegally, and got more business if legal sales were restricted. “Such a coalition makes it easier for politicians to favor both groups. … [T]he Baptists lower the costs of favor-seeking for the bootleggers, because politicians can pose as being motivated purely by the public interest even while they promote the interests of well-funded businesses. … [Baptists] take the moral high ground, while the bootleggers persuade the politicians quietly, behind closed doors.”

The original 1983 article is well worth reading: Bootleggers and Baptists-The Education of a Regulatory Economist.

As the article in Foxhunting Life observed:

If we love foxhunting and are willing to defend our sport against those who would take it away from us, we cannot stand mute and allow our relationships with the horse and the other animals we love be separated from our lives piece by piece (carriage horse, racehorse, hunt horse, trail horse), specie by specie (horse, hound, dog, cat), and location by location (city, town, farm). We’re all connected.

The least we can do is communicate with our fellow citizens about these well-funded campaigns masquerading as animal welfare. The animal rights activists are few in number but have an inordinately loud voice. We who actually live, play, and work with animals are also relatively few in number, and we need to ratchet up the volume of our collective voice. The great majority of citizens have no preconceived opinions of who’s right and who’s wrong. They can only form their opinions based upon what they read and what they hear.

By the way, if you want to quickly judge whether a horse is cared for well, look at its feet: if they’re neatly trimmed (and shod), then the horse is probably in good hands. If they’re a mess, then the horse is probably neglected and maybe abused too.

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