I’ve realized that I don’t write about my personal life as much as I used to. In part that’s because I’m relatively stable (read boring) right now. But here’s a rundown of what has happened recently:
1. I judged a trail ride in Florida last week. I’ve judged that this location in the past and it is hard. I judge on changes in the horses’ condition. This ride is flat and slow and cool. The horses are literally out there strolling through the park. It is really hard to judge this ride.
Last weekend though, it was different. The temperature went to 75 and the horses all had heavy winter coats. When it was all over 1/4 of the ride had to drop out for reasons ranging from being out of shape to not being fully recovered from previous illness to sore backs to sore feet to rider injury to family emergencies. The riders are really good at stopping the horses at the first sign of trouble. At one checkpoint I had three riders decide to have their horses trailered out. All the horses were fine with a break and a good meal in their stalls. I don’t have any pictures because every time I got the camera out I had to go check on someone.
On Sunday, we lost half of the experienced rider division in the first half mile. They went on the wrong trail. Then the park service decided that conditions were lovely for an impromptu burn of the forest that the riders were in. When we got the call that the trail was on fire, I burst out laughing. It was just that sort of weekend. Of course the trail was on fire.
They were seen starting the fire so they were able to put it out quickly when told that there was a competition going on in the area they were planning to burn. I believe an email was going to be sent requesting that they check what scheduled events are going on before they go randomly setting things on fire.
2. I got a new computer. My Mac Mini was 9 years old and tired. Now I have a brand new one but it required three trips to a store to get the right cable to connect it to ancient monitor. Why can nothing ever work the first time? The scroll button on the mouse works in the opposite direction when connected to this computer. That is confusing.
3. We have Z this weekend and she is sick. Now the husband is sick. I am not a doctor of humans. They forget this and think I am being unreasonable when I don’t magically fix them. Last night had Z had an earache. She communicated this by standing and screaming for hours. Lest anyone forget – this is not a toddler. This is an 11 year old. Her screaming would have been appropriate if a bear had chewed off her leg and then beat her over the head with it. It was unnecessary for an earache. I was the bad guy because I wouldn’t fix it. I considered offering her some of Freckles’ ear meds. Hatred of screaming children is one of the reasons I chose not to breed. Why did I end up with it anyway?
The husband was angry that his ex was sending a sick kid to him instead of keeping her home to rest. I swear his sickness is most likely psychosomatic but I’m smart enough not to say that. I’m missing my family Christmas party because I have to take the kid back to her parent now.
Z vomited today and wanted me to examine it in the toilet. I don’t do vomit. I’m a gagger. I refused to look at her vomit. Guess who is a bad person again? You can’t learn anything I didn’t already know from vomit. For the record, I take this stance with most people who want me to look at pictures of their dog’s vomit too.
4. I slept in the living room last night to avoid germs. I got up in the middle of the night and panicked my poor bird. I had to talk her down to get her to realize it was me and not a predator before I could move again and turn on the light. She was annoyed with me too.
5. I think I’m cool with the dog and the cats but you never know about these things.
I went back to Alabama for the second time in 3 weeks to judge a trail ride.
I didn’t think this one was going to happen. It was scheduled in a national park which shut down last week. They managed to move it to private land at the last minute which was a huge undertaking. I’m shocked that they pulled it off.
There were donkeys to pet.
I’m thinking of requiring a donkey or mule to pet in my judging contracts from now on.
There were dogs.
Of course there were the horses that I was there to see.
This guy has been competing as long as I’ve been judging, which is a long time now. He’s semi-retired but occasionally he comes out and plays for a day.
I was in Alabama this weekend to judge a trail ride. It went pretty well with only one sick horse. There was a minimal number of human injuries that resulted from humans doing something stupid.
Have you seen those pictures like this one that show a horse waiting outside an outhouse?
Turns out they are true!
This had the added degree of difficulty of the rider still holding the reins. If the horse had decided to leave that would have been a real mess! One of the complaints that some people have about our organization’s rides is that we make people do obstacles along the way. Our obstacles are nothing compared to what the riders do to themselves apparently.
I was really on my way to take a picture of this little guy.
…. I will sum up, to quote Inigo Montoya. I’m getting very behind in my blogging.
Last weekend I was here.
In theoretically sunny southern California where it got to a high of 10 degrees less than predicted. When I was heading out onto the trail to start judging on Saturday morning the temperature was 29 degrees and yes, that is Fahrenheit. I was wearing all the clothes I could find and I was still cold. It was shorts weather in Ohio. The world had gone all twisty.
But there were mules and that makes everything better.
There was also this little guy. I’m referring to the horse not the kid, of course. He was one of 3 Icelandics there. I’ve never seen one at a ride before and now there was an abundance. He was the only one in competition though. The others were the point horse (that goes out first and fast to check the trail and make sure the markings are correct) and a safety horse (who goes last and carries the first aid kid and goes searching if someone gets lost).
Isn’t he cute? I get all squishy over small furry horses. He would have been extra furry in his natural state but he was body clipped since it had been 90 degrees in CA up until a few days earlier. You can see what isn’t clipped around his eyes.
There was much hugging of him. You just have to. He’s like a stuffed animal come to life.
Speaking of small furry things…
These guys weren’t very active because they were cold too!
I’ve been AWOL for a while. Here’s what I’ve been up to.
-My mother came down last Wednesday.
-Thursday we drove to Virginia
– We stayed with my childhood best friend overnight. She has one year old twins.
– She bragged about how well they sleep. One screamed for a long time that night. That’s what you get for talking nice about kids.
– Friday we headed into the national forest to judge a trail ride
~~~~~ Entering a haze of sleep deprivation from having to get up when the time started with a 4. ~~~~
– They were sending the horses out on the trail at 6 AM. That means any morning exams I had to do on late arrivals (Saturday morning) or an injured horse and the morning trot out (Sunday) had to be done before that.
– I AM NOT A MORNING PERSON!!!!!!
– Riders were off the trail by two or so in the afternoon. They can nap. I was doing more exams.
– Sunday we drove six hours home after the awards. We got there at 11:30 pm.
– We transfered everything of my mom’s back into her car.
– The dog didn’t notice we were there until I was in the shower.
– The SO woke up long enough to apologize for being asleep but he had “a very long day.”
– I was too tired to strangle him.
– The dog decided that the cat was evil/insane/making weapons of mass destruction on the armoire and was barking at her all night. Then the cat got mad and decided to go downstairs so the dog chased her around.
– The SO woke up long enough to ask me to strangle the dog because he was too tired to do it.
– I had to be at work at 8 am for a 10 hour shift.
– It was one of the busiest Mondays I’ve ever seen at this clinic.
– I was on the couch at 7:30 pm watching Torchwood and Hoarders.
– I finally got to sleep for 12 hours and I feel like I’m back in the land of the living. Having to be a morning person totally messed me up.
National competitive trail mileage record holder Elmer Bandit, 38, passed away Sunday evening at 6:30 p.m. in the pasture of his longtime boarding stable, Misty River Equestrian Center, in Independence, Mo.
In September 2009 Wood and Elmer completed the Stephens Forest Competitive Trail event near Lucas, Iowa, which pushed Elmer’s lifetime mileage to 20,780 miles, surpassing the previous record held by Wing Tempo. Elmer won numerous National Championships over his 34-year career.
I judged Elmer (and Tempo) many times. He was amazing. At vet check in he always looked his age. (He was 36 the last time I judged him.) This would lead to fervent prayers to any and all deities – Please don’t let him die on my watch!!!!!
But then he would go out on the trail. He would get stronger and stronger over the weekend. By the end of the 60 miles he was bouncing along like a young ‘un. He would give you an extended trot at the end of the ride that would make you forget that he had just gone 60 miles or that he was older than me.
The last time I judged him he had the highest score of any horse in the entire ride. I kept thinking to myself that I must be doing something wrong if an elderly horse was outscoring everyone else. But then he’d go bounding by totally sound and energized and looking better than anyone else and I realized that he was just that good.
I am an idiot when it comes to packing to go to trail rides.
There was the time I got to Louisiana with one pair of socks. At the next I was paranoid about packing enough socks. I packed lots. Then I proceeded to drive off and leave the whole suitcase. I didn’t realize until I was two hours from home. I had to buy new clothes at WalMart.
Let’s not forget the week of Jeopardy followed immediately by a trail ride. It was terrified that I’d take the trail ride bag to CA. I didn’t but I did pack my brush and toothbrush in the wrong bag. I ended up going on TV with no way to pretty up myself.
This weekend I brought everything I needed. Then I left my shampoo and conditioner at the place where I stayed on Thursday. I also dumped a half full container of powdered eye shadow down the sink.
Good thing I don’t have to be beautiful in the woods.
I got to the airport at 11 PM central time. I was tired. I was not in the mood to look for my ride. You know on TV when people pick up strangers at the airport and they have a sign with the name on it? Good idea. Wearing a sweatshirt with the name of your organization ON THE BACK? Not the best identification tool.
•I never did get to see the horses on the parade. The feed started having lots of commercial breaks so I gave up.
• I am making another photo quilt for a coworker. This one has pictures of her father who died several years ago. A lot of the pictures are of hunting so I’m going for a more masculine feel. The pictures will be set in wide sashing with green frendship stars on a tan background at the corners. I have five of the stars done. Of course it is a rush job. I agreed to do it a few months ago, just got the pictures a few days ago, and it is due in February.
• I’ve been making ‘leader-ender’ blocks. I had a bunch of 2.5″ squares that I’m sewing together randomly. I sew one at the end of every seam I sew. I leave it in the machine and start the next seam of my current project without breaking the thread. It saves thread and I get a lot of fiddly stuff done without a lot effort. I’m not sure what it will eventually be.
• I’m going to go to Florida to judge a ride in March. They asked if anyone was interested and I replied that I was freezing here so Florida sounded good.
I mentioned in the last post that we had the riders lead a horse while riding as a judging obstacle. We used a horse named Scooter as the horse to be lead. He was a safety horse this weekend. The safety riders ride behind each division of competitors. They carry first aid kits for minor injuries and they go looking for people if we realize that we’ve lost someone.
Our scenario for the obstacle was that we found this horse on loose on the trail. They were to lead him around the clearing to see if anyone claimed him and if not, bring him back to where they started. We were joking that poor Scooter was getting a complex because he kept not getting claimed. At the ride meeting that night I explained that although we had only the most advanced division do the test that it was a good skill for everyone to practice since this scenario happens in real life if a horse throws his rider and runs off.
The next day we were driving to a judging spot and saw a person over in a hay field walking. Before we had time to really determine if the person belonged to the ride we caught up with a safety rider flying down the field. A bit further on here came a few novice riders heading back the other direction leading Scooter. Apparently he is taking his new role as a teaching assistant very seriously and wanted to see if the novices knew how to lead him from horseback too. It turns out that his rider had dismounted to give him some electrolytes and Scooter took the opportunity to leave. He was outrunning his companion horse but stopped when he met up with a couple of horses.
Time gets compressed and warped at rides. I am not a morning person but judging days start early. The horses went out on the trail at 6:30 this morning. We travelled around and saw six judging spots during the course of the ride. They were off the trail around one PM. We have finished up the scoring for the one day riders and now we can take a nap! My secretary is already dead to the world and the other judge was going to take a nap too. It is 3 PM. It isn’t quite as good as the Army’s “We do more before 9 AM than most people do all day” but it is close. (By the way that ad convinced me that the Army was not a career choice for me.)
In today’s judging we asked them to stop their horses right out of camp, then step over a log and either stand still or sidepass the log, cross a creek, back up in various configurations, turn on the forehand and haunches, and lead another horse while riding their horse.
After dinner we go to work again checking the horses who are continuing on tomorrow.
I’m somewhere in Alabama. I’m judging a competitive trail ride this weekend. You have to be sort of trusting to be a judge in this sport. I realized as I was about to get on the plane last night that I hadn’t heard from ride management in months so I had no idea who (if anyone) was picking me up. Usually I fly into a major city and then try to find my ride. In movies people find people at airports by holding up a sign with their name on it. No one has ever done that for me. They might be wearing a shirt with a horse on it or holding a horsey magazine. I feel like a spy making a deep undercover meeting. I knew the person who met me last night so that was easy.
Then I get taken somewhere. Since the events happen where there are miles of trails I’m usually driven into the back of beyond to a campground. It may be a formal campground like here or it may be a field where we are camping for the weekend.
I hope I’m never in a situation where I have to know where I am. Right now I can tell you that I’m about 2 hours away from Montgomery. I’m not sure what direction. I live in cabin 4. I’ll spend the weekend watching people ride horses and then someone will take me to the airport. Not a bad gig as long as I’m not picky about knowing where I am.
While I was at the ride this weekend I heard a competitor talking about her horse being on a website. The horse is famous in the sport but apparently he is getting famous all over because I decided to google him. I just got back from judging this ride and the details of it are all over the internet.
I’m in Iowa to judge a trail ride this weekend. It is supposed to be sort of cold and definitely rainy. There are scheduled to be a lot of horses so I’ll get to spend lots of time in the rain unless the weather scares some people off. It probably won’t though. Horse people are nuts.
I didn’t disappear and go into the witness protection program. I left LA last Thursday and flew back home. I got in around 6 PM. I had to fly out again to judge a trail ride in NC at 6:00 AM Friday morning so I just stayed at a hotel near the airport. I’ve been the wilds of North Carolina freezing my butt off ever since. Right now the ride is over and I’m at a hotel with my room temperature set to near-sauna levels. I’ve taken a hot shower and may take another. I’m excited that I’m down to wearing one layer of clothing from a high of four. I’m quite brain dead after this week so I won’t have any more details now. I have pictures from LA and from the ride that I’ll post after I get home and do penace with the dog and cats for being gone for a week!
Ah the joys of air travel. On Thursday my quick flight turned into an ordeal because of storms shutting down my destination airport. I was supposed to get there at 5 pm and ended up there at 11 pm. The ironic part of this was that according to the people who picked me up it never rained.
Then I was supposed to come home on a 6:30 AM flight. I left my host’s house in plenty of time to make it to the airport at least an hour ahead of time. But she must live farther from the airport than she thinks she does because it took us a half hour longer to get there. So I missed that flight and had to get another. We got up at 4 something for nothing. That’s never a good thing.
Now I’m sitting here waiting for a call back from Children’s Services to go show them my completed homestudy to see if they will accept it or if they feel the need to have us fill out all the exact same paperwork again.