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.

The Arrival of My New Horse Phantom

 Posted by on 2 June 2014 at 9:30 pm  Animals, Horses, Personal
Jun 022014
 

Phantom arrived this evening! She’s here, and she’s mine, mine, mine!!!

I’d gotten everything ready in advance, so when she got off the trailer, I just took her up to the barn, walked her around the area, and then let her loose. She trotted and cantered a bit — not due to any great anxiety or excitement, but just to stretch her legs after two long days in the trailer coming from Atlanta. After a bit, she got in a good roll and then settled down to eat hay.

For now, Phantom is staying in the dry lot which surrounds the barn. Lila is in the neighboring ring, so they’ve said hello a few times. (Elsie departed to a new home yesterday evening, so Lila has been lonely for the past 24 hours!) Tomorrow, I’ll turn Lila and Phantom out to pasture together. (Right now, that pasture is occupied by the lovely quarter horse mare of the guy who trailered Phantom out to Colorado. He’s spending the night in his live-in trailer before heading out tomorrow.)

I’m just amazed by how smoothly everything has gone with this purchase of Phantom. If I didn’t know better, I’d say that it was meant to be!

ATLOSCon… and a New Horse!

 Posted by on 30 May 2014 at 10:00 am  Animals, AtlosCon, Horses, Personal, Sports
May 302014
 

Last weekend, Paul and I headed to Atlanta for ATLOSCon, a weekend-plus conference produced by the Atlanta Objectivist Society. We couldn’t attend the whole conference due to conflicts in our schedule, but we greatly enjoyed ourselves nonetheless. So if you’re interested in Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism and you’d like to meet a slew of interesting, benevolent, and happy people, set aside Memorial Day of 2015 to attend! The conference just gets better every year, and new faces are very welcome.

Two days before heading to Atlanta, Martha Deeds suggested that I look at horses to buy there, as the pickings are very slim for thoroughbreds in Colorado. My reaction: “Uh uh uh…. OKAY!” I drove out to Conyers with Arthur Zey on Sunday evening to check out a just-off-track thoroughbred mare, and I liked her so much that I bought her!

She’s very forward, she’s built uphill, and she’s powered from behind. All of that is critical, but I fell in love with her big floating gaits and unflappable attitude, which you can see in this video:

I rode her too, of course — walk, trot, and canter. I even jumped her over a little crossrail a few times. She’s very, very green (i.e. inexperienced, untrained), but she’s also calm, sensible, and willing.

She only raced nine times. Apparently, she never took to it. Her race name is Phantom Opera. I don’t want keep that, although I like “Phantom.” I think I might compete her as “Phantom Luck,” but I’ll call her Phantom or Fanny (Phanny?) at home. Oh, and here’s her pedigree.

She’ll be mine — ALL MINE — when she arrives from Atlanta in just a few days! We’ll have lots and lots to learn together. Since she’s so recently off-track, I’ll be training her slow and easy for the next few months. (She needs to gain about 100 pounds too.) Meanwhile, I’ll continue to train and compete Lila, who will soon have a new friend!

Emotions in Training Horses

 Posted by on 15 May 2014 at 2:00 pm  Animals, Horses
May 152014
 

From natural horsemanship expert Clinton Anderson’s blog:

Human emotions have no place in training horses. If you try to deal with a horse based on emotions, you won’t get the response you want because he won’t understand what you’re asking him to do. You have to be able to correct your horse and increase pressure without raising your emotion. Losing your temper is bad because even if the horse does what you want him to do, you won’t recognize it because you’ll be too focused on the punishment. And if you don’t reward the horse for the correct behavior, he won’t understand what you’re asking him to do. If he can’t figure out the answer you’re looking for, he’ll get confused and frustrated, which will only make the situation worse.

Nothing teaches emotional self-control quite as well as training horses. Horses are very sensitive, and their first impulse if you lose control is to panic and flee. In that mental state, they’ll never do what you want. So are you frustrated? angry? impatient? Too damn bad, human! You’d better keep your cool and keep working proper training techniques, or you’ll soon have a neurotic and dangerous horse on your hands.

Citronella Bark Collar

 Posted by on 10 May 2014 at 4:30 pm  Animals, Dogs, Personal
May 102014
 

Doggie Mae has a major addiction to laying about outside and periodically barking frantically at wildlife and passing neighbors… which is annoying. Today, I finally tried a citronella bark collar on her. Alas for her — but hooray for all nearby humans — this change has ruined all the fun of roaming about and barking. This morning, she asked to let inside, despite seeing that some very awful neighbor doggies were passing by on the trail. (!!) Right now, she’s happy to be inside, sleeping quietly.

Hooray! Clearly, I should have tried this with her years ago!!

In case you have a barking dog problem, here’s the collar that I bought: PetSafe Bark Collar. It says that it’s for small dogs, but it’s fine for large dogs too.

My policy is that I’m putting the collar on every time she goes outside, at least for the next few weeks. I hope that will change her behavior permanently, but she’s very smart, so I’m sure that she already knows that the collar is the source of her discomfort. So if she has to wear it every time she goes outside, so be it!

Rube Goldberg Machine of Animals

 Posted by on 6 May 2014 at 1:00 pm  Animals, Funny, Personal
May 062014
 

I witnessed an unexpected Rube Goldberg Machine of animals on Sunday morning.

Realizing that I was about to go outside to feed the horses, doggie Mae ran into the living room, dropped her ball, and chased it toward the kitchen table.

Doggie Conrad got excited and ran towards kitty Oliver, who jumped up on the cart on which I feed the cats.

Merlin, who was on the cart, jumped down and then up to the kitchen counter in a panic, sliding across the counter and knocking to everything… including the bowl of chicken covered by a dinner plate.

The dinner plate slide off the bowl and crashed onto the floor, breaking into many shards.

Then everyone calmed down… and the cleanup began.

Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha