Sunday, August 10, 2008

done jamming I hope!

Woo wee, sometimes the weekends where I "don't have much of anything planned" turn out to be the busiest. There were a lot of things I would have liked to do this weekend but I just flat ran out of time.

Friday evening I went to the wedding of friends W and B. Congratulations you two! Had I known the horses weren't there just for photographic purposes I would have stuck around the church long enough to see you ride off into the sunset (crazy people rode a few miles all the way from the church to the reception, lol!)

I made six batches of jam this weekend (21 jars of peach, 21 jars of nectarine). UGH, that's a lot to do. I finished most on Saturday but had to do two batches today. It's a very long process: pick it, peel it, slice it, mash it, boil it, can it, label it. All together I probably spent about eight hours making jam. Unless I get another big order in the next day or two, I am done for the season! (As in, if you want to order, DO IT NOW). Let's see, I think I made about 30 jars of strawberry, 40 jars of apricot (or was it 50? I forget), 20 jars of plum, 21 peach, and 21 nectarine, good grief!!!)

I did not go to the mounted shooting thing in Dunnigan. If I'd had more time I would have driven up there this morning but it just wasn't in the cards for now. Maybe next time.

So at the age of five years, Shylah is finally finding her canter. I've been riding her for two years now (I started her under saddle at age 3). Her canter was awful from the start, so it's not something I've asked of her as much as I would a smooth horse. Within the last few months it started to improve a little here and there, probably not coincidental that within the last few months it's something I've been working with a LOT more with her. I think the turning point may have been the day that she was an awful b*tch on the road and I made her canter way more laps around the round pen then I'd ever had her do before, and by the end I was thinking "you know, this isn't half bad". Then last time I rode I remarked that she'd found a lope in there somewhere.

People asked me from time to time if she's cross cantering. A really simplified definition for non-horsey folks is that the feet hit the ground in the wrong order, so the horse is unbalanced and it makes for an awkward ride.

I wasn't sure, I can't see her feet when I'm riding. Why I never made a point to check her on the longe line, I don't know. I guess I thought a cross canter was something that a horse would occasionally do, but not all the dang time every time, and I'm the sort of person who can overlook what's right in front of me unless I specifically know to look for it. This evening I saddled her up and took her out to the round pen and watched her canter around me. Normal, normal, cross-canter! She switches back and forth. Sometimes she immediately goes into cross canter, and sometimes she'll be normal and then switch in the hind end without breaking stride in front. Hmmm. I have a horse that does spontaneous flying lead changes of the back end, great...

I asked my mom to come out there for a minute and watch (ha ha, she's not a horse person). I pointed out what to watch for with the back feet, and then I hopped on and cantered around and she confirmed that Shylah will switch back and forth, and it was REALLY interesting to have someone pointing this out on the ground because most of the time Shylah was cantering normally tonight and it felt pretty darn good, but then there would be a few strides of the old "ugh this sucks" and Mom confirmed that's when Shylah would cross canter, and then she'd switch again.

Horsey friends, any idea what's up with this? On the bright side, she's improving by leaps and bounds right now, the difference within the last month is incredible, I think she had never properly cantered (at least not under saddle) until very recently. Anyone know any particular exercises that will help continue to improve this? I know this can be a result of back pain, I just don't see her as a likely candidate for that, particularly given that she's probably been doing this all along. She shows no signs of discomfort anywhere along her back, she doesn't buck, she doesn't toss her head, she's doesn't have any qualms about being saddled or cinched up, she stands for mounting, etc. I really think this is more of a development/strength thing. It would be interesting to have someone who knows about horses watch her (JJ?)

I hardly had any art time at all this weekend but oooh baby now we're cookin'! This is getting drastically better as the color gets more saturated. Looks prettier in person. I'm definitely taking some liberties with this piece and using my artistic license, but hey, it's not a portrait, it's not a commission, and only one person knows what this really looked like so I think I can alter things however I see fit. ;-)

9x20 inches
colored pencil on cream Stonehenge paper

Can you catch a mouse bare-handed? I've been told this is not a skill I should brag about ("it makes you sound like a weirdo") but hey, isn't it nice to know that if a mouse ever runs through the room I'm not going to jump up on a chair? It's not like a make a habit of this, but if I'm out collecting eggs or something and don't have a pair of gloves handy and suddenly there's a mouse, well NO I'm not going to get it get away, I'm going to catch the little bugger. It's not hard, just takes some finesse, I have yet to get bitten (mind you these wild mice would be more than happy to chomp me). Anyway, I actually caught two this weekend... I had to get photographic proof. So if you didn't already think I'm weird, now you do. :-) I won't be mentioning this particular skill on my personal ads. ;-) And no I would never ever try this with a rat, they are pure evil.

(sorry no, this doesn't end well for the mouse, rodents are not welcome here)


Anonymous said...

Holy Guacamole, Catch-a-Mouse Girl!

Anonymous said...

I'd be happy to come watch. I'd be even happier to bring Bob's video camera, then we can both watch. Watch Shylah canter, that is. Not the mice catching. JJ

Adventure Prone and Co. said...

Don't rule out poor saddle fit or back problems. Get someone to check this out for you if you get a chance. A horse can have back problems without showing much or being lame (the fact that she is cross-firing says that she IS showing!) A good chiropractor can check saddle fit and let you know if Shyla has any deep muscle or joint or bone pain. A masseuse (sp?) can tell you about muscle pain.
But I still say it's coordination issues related to poor strength in her rear. Whatever you do don't over canter her while she is still having cross-firing problems. If you do, so so after you have started excercises, and only canter short bursts until she cross-fires and then stop. You can canter more steps as she is able to keep the correct beat longer. What is probably happening is that she is hurting or is uncomfortable and trying to find a way out of the discomfort, kind of like the way a lame horse will switch back and forth on its feet while standing in discomfort. Also, since she has been doing this for two years now, it is habbit and she now has an inccorect gait! Some exercises you might try: leg yealding (the beginning of flying lead changes), bending (keep her haunches in so as to take weight off of the outside rear leg, the one she would push off of, see my last response in previous post), side passing, cantering over poles or low obstacles (a horse will naturally find its lead cantering over a log, etc.).
Lastly, I would say try different saddles for saddle fit, but since this may be habit now, that may not correct things right off the bat but may help her be more comfortable.

Katherine Plumer said...

JJ, that would be super cool.