Sandy!

I rolled over this morning, looked at Mike and said “I feel a little bit like all I got was socks for Christmas.”

We were prepared. The truck was full of gas, water and food stocked to the gills, human/animal first aid kits and info ready to go, and… well… lets just say that I’ve had sneezes that have created more of an impact. I’m so very, very grateful that all of my friends and family are safe, and I feel awful for the people in the surrounding areas whose weathermen actually knew HOW to read the radar properly. I hope that they all were as prepared as they could be. It just would have been nice if our garbage can had blown over, so I could have justified my irrational paranoia a teensy bit.

Shannon & Milo waited anxiously as well!

Pretty much the extent of Sandy around here!

I just wanted to post a quick update! How did all y’all weather this thing! Jingling for all those still dealing with Sandy!

Doomsday!

Okay. Well maybe I’m being a little bit dramatic.

I about 98% sure that, given the right situation, I could very, very easily turn into one of those Doomsday Preppers that you see on TV.

Before I had a baby, the extent of my storm preperation was to grab a bag of Chex Mix and throw $15 worth of gas in my car. It was no muss, no fuss, because really, I’m cool with peeing in the woods and water was for sissy’s anyways.

Now, not so much. I still find storms exciting, and I LOVE a good rainstorm. Hurricanes kind of up the ante, however.

I’ve been kind of sort of following the progress of Hurricane Sandy that’s supposed to hit our area Monday(ish), and she doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Mike actually asked me to go get supplies today while he took Shannon for some Daddy/Daughter time. I kicked into overdrive mode, since he NEVER worries about this kind of stuff.

He said that he was checking in on her progress this morning, and she’s (idk why she’s a she…) set to hit New York/New Jersey, then up UP towards Canada. Before she gets to Canada, she’s gonna hook a left and pass right over the top of us. Bad hurricane! Bad! Bad!

I don’t know what any of this means.. but it doesn’t look good…

So off  Dixie and I trundled to Hannafords to stock up on water, snacks/food, batteries, TP, and diapers. The lady infront of me at the checkout line took things a bit more seriously, and I choked a little bit when her bill hit over $400. From Hannafords we ran home and I filled up a bunch of plastic totes with water, unearthed the beasts’ crates, packed a few extra blankets/candles/lighter/cans of beefaroni/Shannon’s snacks in the truck (LOVE my floor storage. Score one for Dodge!), and made sure the cats had plenty of fresh water and food in case we get stuck somewhere. Dixie has her collar with ID tag, and will be going with us if we have to leave the house for anything.

Willow will be tucked in nice and tight in her stall, and I’m not worried too much about her weathering the storm. I wish I could go snuggle with her the entire time, but I don’t think that that would be the safest thing ever.

For those of you who have horses… just a few things to make sure that your bases are covered.

  • Make sure you have ID attached to your horses in some way. I like the small round bridle tags from Dover. You can weave them into manes, or attach to halters. Provide at LEAST your name and phone number with area code. All lead ropes should have chains attached, even if you don’t normally use them, and should be readily avaliable.
  • Coggins and health records should be stowed away in your truck, along with a picture of each horse. Ideally you should hitch your truck to your trailer the night before, and have it ready to go with hay and extra water. Keep your gas tank full, and check tire pressure. It’s always a good idea to throw a few extra halters/lead ropes/coolers in there too. Make sure you can get all your horses to load. The middle of an emergency isn’t the time to be fighting with a crappy loader.
  • Have an evacuation plan that everybody who may be involved is aware of and comfortable with.
  • Fill ALL water tanks on the farm to the brim. You don’t want to be without water should the power go out. Make sure you have enough grain and hay for the minimum of a week.
  • Three words. First. Aid. Kit.
  • Finally, secure all loose objects. Knock jumps over if you have an outdoor, stack plastic chairs inside. If your horses stay outside, do a walk about of their area and take note of all trees, and double check fencelines.

Pilly is ready! Are you?!

I’m off to go dispense some carrots to my beautiful beast, do a few dances to the weather Gods, then enjoy the few hours of peace and quiet that I have left while my adorable munchkin is off bonding with her Dad. 🙂

Good luck, y’all!!

Whoa Means Whoa…

At least that’s the hard line I’ve been trying to take with Willow lately. If my feet aren’t moving, I expect that her’s stay still as well. If not, I’m on her like white on rice, no exceptions. It’s really helped her to re-focus on me, and even when she’s spooking at something I have her ear. When I’m leading her on the ground, she picked it up in a session, easy peasy.

We worked up and down the arena. Walk/halt. Walk/trot. Trot/halt. Turn away from me. Back up. I spent about twenty minutes on it, and she had it. Good girl! Lots of pats and I tucked her into bed for the night.

Last night, I stepped up our ground lessons to the lunge line. All I was asking her to do was be quiet and listen. I achieved it at the end after much ‘discussion’.  The first few times I asked her to walk off and she blew right through the aid. I tightened up the circle (we’re talking less than 5m here) and asked her to ‘whoa’ once. She totally ignored me. The sky opened up and mean mommy rained down on her little bay head. I gave the lunge line a good snap and did the big scary “WHOA” voice. I also stuck my whip in front of her. I didn’t hit her with it, just let her run into it.

Her eyes got huge, and she started backing up for all that she was worth. I didn’t chase her, just quietly followed her backwards until she decided that she was over herself. Then we went back to work. It happened a few more times, and she was finally doing walk/trot/walk/halt transistions with no fuss.

We had to rinse and repeat in the opposite direction, but she finally came to her senses about the whole thing. Whoa meant whoa last night, and I wasn’t going to negotiate about it.

I talked a little bit in an earlier post about how I was tiptoeing around her, because she’s the nicest horse I’ve ever worked with. I needed to get over that, and our come to Jesus last night was just that. She realized that Mommy isn’t just a carrot dispenser and she didn’t blow through me. By the end of the session, I had her brain, even though it was dark and Dixie was running around like a mad thing, and all her friends were inside. I’m going to apply myself to serious ground work for the rest of the week, and then it’s back in the saddle next week.

I’ve been debating back and forth about putting her somewhere with an indoor this winter. It’s going to cost us, and while we can afford it, I’d rather keep saving the funds for when we move. The downside to that is that my saddle time will be limited this winter.

I do love Frogs Leap though, and our arena footing is so awesome that I could ride in it as long as there isn’t a massive amount of snow on the ground. I can deal with the cold. My other problem is that Mike doesn’t get out of work until 5-530 or even later. The sun is down by then. We really can’t afford for me to be hiring a sitter 3-4 days a week.

What to do, what to do!

I also want to use this winter to really expand my Dressage education with books/videos and clinics. I have Dressage with Kyra on tap already, and I’m also taking advatange of Anne Gribbons and Michael Barisone clinics this November. Does anybody else have any good suggestions? Who are your rider idols? Mine are Kyra, Shannon Peters, Carl Hester, and Charlotte Dujardin, along with Becky, naturally. 😉

I’m planning on stocking up on the reads while I’m at Equine Affair in a few weeks and would love some suggestions!

 

iCam?

We recently had an incident where I needed a baby monitor, but forgot to bring ours along. Instead of purchasing a new one, I looked into way to turn our computer and iPhone into an impromptu video monitor. I tried to Skype call myself, but the call dropped as soon as I left wifi range. I did a google search, and it finally spit out the iCam app a few times.

It got good reviews, so I decided to give it a shot. It’s a $5 purchase from the app store, then you download the source program onto your computer. It uses the web cam in your computer to monitor the situation, and then transmits it to your phone. As long as you have wifi or 3G service, you’re all set.

I downloaded the iCam Source document to my PC from www.skjm.com/icam and it was a quick download and pretty easy to set up. Once you download the app onto your iPhone (or Android) you plug in a login username and password onto the computer and into the app and hit Start. From there you put your computer where you want it to be (in this case, Shannon’s bedroom) and you can watch from your phone. It sends you alerts when it senses motion and you can set it to take pictures as well. The concept is pretty cool.

However, this falls under the category of you get what you pay for.

I’ve run into a couple of problems.

1) Once you hit the start button and close out of the screen that pops up, the camera continues to run on your computer, even if the computer goes to sleep. I can’t get the program to open again so I can shut off the camera and adjust the settings. I’ve deleted the program from my compuer and redownloaded it with the same results. The camera just continues to run.

2) There is about a 4-5 second delay in the sound. Not a big deal, but then it continues to echo. I was testing it out yesterday and heard myself say hello about 12 times.

3) This one is perhaps my biggest concern. My phone pinged this morning with a message that the motion sensor had gone off. I figured it was the cat, since the baby was with me and I opened the app. Imagine my surprise when I was staring at 3 strange houses! This was a huge red flag for me. There are a lot of creepo’s out there and I don’t want them watching my kid sleep. It would be easy to figure out someone’s username and password and watch their home from your phone, as I accidently did this morning. My best guess is that their username/password combo was the same as mine, which is what gave me access to their live streams. The idea is very, very unsettling. Since I can’t re-open the computer program, I have no way of stopping the stream.

4) It sucks the battery life out of your phone before you can even think about it. When I opened the app, my phone was hangin’ out at about 75% charged. Within about a half an hour, it was down around 30%.

I have an e-mail into the makers of the app, wondering what the issues are and if they are simply user error or not. Either way, my opinion is that the app is great in theory, and it does work, however, in order for me to feel comfortable using it for any home or child monitoring purposes, it needs to be a little bit more secure.

Those of you be warned. Our guard dog is very vicious, and she will bite your face off. 😉

8!

Shut. The. Front. Door. Our girl is 8 months old today!

She continues to amaze Mike and I everyday, and she has us laughing all the time. She’s offically crawling and pulling herself up on everything! She’s recently started working on letting go and wobbling there for a half second before plopping down on her adorably diapered bum. We are doing everything that we can to encourage her independance, and I now have a defult setting that has me throwing my hands in the air and going ‘whoompa!’ when she (or anybody…)falls down. She’s a tough cookie and shakes off all but the toughest of falls. She keeps Dixie and Milo running, and it’s pretty hysterical to hear her squealing as she chases them around in circles. They are good sports about it, thank goodness.

Her vocabulary is ever evolving, and I’m never sure what noise is going to come out next. She’s pretty fluent in ‘mama’ and various squeaks, squeals, and recently, growls (thanks Grampie!). When she gets really excited about something she pants, squeals, and bounces her whole body up and down. It kills me on a fairly daily basis. We’re working on clapping as well, and she has the enthusiam down like a pro. She’s always quick to smile, and the sight of her flapping her arms up and down, squealing, and smiling away (her version of clapping) keeps me giggling. Her favorite part of the day is when Daddy comes home. She bounces up and down with her mouth wide open, squealing, until she holds my hands and walks over to him, moving her little legs as fast as they will go.

She is quiet the little food hound, and its funny to see her eating like a grown up (ish). She only nurses 2-3 times a day now. While I’m a little bit sad at the decrease, it’s just another sign that she’s growing up and I’m happy to roll with it. I still nurse in the morning when she wakes up, and again before she goes to sleep. Depending on how much she’s eaten that day, I’ll throw another one in in the afternoon, around lunch time. I constantly worry that she’s not getting enough of everything that she needs, and I’ve become a neurotic label reader. We’ve also got her tummy troubles ironed out with yogurt and pear juice. She’d much rather eat off our plates, and is a shameless beggar. She’ll crawl over to where you’re sitting and stare at you, panting, with her mouth wide open until you give her a piece of whatever you happen to be eating. She’s worse than the dog. We have a good time introducing new things to her and watching her reactions to everything. Her favorites are still yogurt, plum organics pouches, and cheerios. She also has a soft spot for soup. She won’t touch anything Gerber. I don’t blame her. Have you smelled that stuff?! Yuck. Meal times are always messy, and are usually attended in just a diaper. She’s a pro at feeding herself her cheerios and I try to give her a snack time each day to work on her skillz. It’s also a lifesaver at resturants to be able to throw a handful on the table and let her chow down.

If you’ve been keeping up with the times around here, the past two weeks have been pretty sleepless. I don’t know why, and I got boarderline hysterical over it (from MY lack of sleep). She *seems* to be back on track, and the past two nights we’ve had pretty good stretches (9-5). I thought that she would be getting some teeth, but I still haven’t seen any sign of it. Before her bedtime strike, she was sleeping pretty well, with only one wake up around 2 to nurse. We started mixing some oatmeal in with her dinner at night to thicken it a bit, and that seems to have done the trick. Another thing that we have started working on is putting her down awake. We have dinner, then bathtime, then I nurse her and put her down. Her doctor told us at her 6 month appointment that it was something to start thinking about. The first night she fussed for a good while, and it’s become less and less each night. We don’t let her scream outright for more than a few minutes. I’ve had to make some sacrifices to keep her on her schedule, but it’s worth it to me. She needs sleep to grow.

I’m continuing to have a blast watching her grow, taking too many pictures, and playing with her everyday. 🙂 She’s the light of my life!

Barn Voice.

For those of you who don’t know what a barn voice is, it’s like an outside voice, but more mean. It’s usually used in the context of “WILL YOU STOP (insert naughty action here)!!!” and it’s more often than not yelled down the barn aisle. It is not as effective as the “hey” growl that generally goes along with a slap on the belly, but it usually makes the user feel better.

After I got home from the barn this afternoon, it was like my whole house exploded all at once. Shannon was sheriking and hitting the noisest toy in the entire house. Dixie was chasing the calico cat around and she was meowing. Dixie was whining. Milo was screaching to go outside. My phone went off about 8 times. I thought that my ears were going to explode. Chaos is a normal state around here, but for some reason this afternoon I didn’t even have time to think before I shouted “ENOUGH” in my barn voice.

Everybody froze. Shannon’s eyes got huge. Dixie layed down. The cats ran for cover. Then Shannon started to giggle. The dog started chasing her tail. My phone went off again. Milo resumed his squalling.

See? Hardly effective, but it made me feel better!

Speaking of the barn. I went this morning and watched Becky work Willow. I couldn’t make it out yesterday, and wanted to see what she had worked on. As I was watching her, I started to realize that a lot of the problem is me. I’m not reacting to her outbursts the way that I need too. I’m so concerned about not messing anything up, that I don’t DO anything other than throw water  on the fire, then take the next excuse that I get to end the session on a good note. I forget to treat her like a horse.

I’ve started a lot of horses, mostly Quarter Horses and TBs for the hunter and wp ring. They need to be quiet. I don’t put up with their BS. For some reason I didn’t apply that same theory to Willow. Just because she’s big and pretty and the nicest horse that I’ve owned to date, doesn’t mean that she gets away with all her crap. It’s my turn to take the lunge line tomorrow and draw the line in the sand. I’ve seen now how Becky handles her space moments, and how Willow reacts to that. Balls in my court and I’m pretty determined not to drop it. :).

Just because I’ve identified my problem, however, doesn’t mean that we won’t still have our issues because she’s a spacey tracey sometimes.

In other, non-equine related news…. Shannon is great. She’s now pretty fluent in Mama and some garbled languge that only she and her various toys seem to understand. We’re still working on the sleeping thing, but she’s starting to go down with less of a struggle. I’m really tempted to bring her into bed, since I know that she’ll pass out in a matter of minutes and stay that way. It worked for us when she was 1-4 weeks old, and I broke the habit with help from my Mom when Mike left. I miss cuddling with her at night, but we both feel that it’s better for everybody at this stage of the game. I will still snuggle up with her on the couch for naps, if I don’t have a lot of extra stuff to get caught up on.

It’s so much fun to watch her explore and learn about her environment! I’ll touch more on all that stuff in her 8 month update in a few days! 😀

That’s about it for now. Shannon and I are having friends over! 🙂

Check It.

If you’ve ever played a sport, you know that sometimes your emotions play a huge part in your abilities and success. I think something that really sets the equine sports apart from others is that our sport is a direct partnership with a living, breathing creature. Those that can’t check their emotions at the door have a rougher time breaking into the scene as a positive role model. I understand that we’re all human and there have been times where I’ve come down centerline choking back tears, or cantered towards the final fence with my ears smoking. I’ve gone back to the trailer and thrown my stick because I was so frustrated/upset/disappointed/*insert bad emotion here*.

This is where I run into problems trying to juggle my Mom life with my barn life. On days like today, when I’m running on coffee and not much else, it’s so hard to walk into the barn and leave my frustrations in the truck before they even develop. It’s even harder to look at Willow and not get upset with myself over the fact that we’ve had to back track because she just can’t seem to get a grip on herself and know that that backtracking is 98.9999% my fault becuase I’m so inconsistant with when I can work her. She’s such a sensitive mare that she picks up on the fact that I’m not on my “A” game.

We had a lesson with Becky today, and it was all ground work. Getting her to listen and respect me on the lunge line. With a horse like Willow that kind of stuff directly translates into our under saddle sessions. We had a really good work to the left, she was right on and I was able to let her out pretty far and still maintain control. We changed direction and she totally checked out on me again. Becky took over to end things on a good note with her and was able to get her to check back in after a few minor discussions. To me, its the most obnoxious thing that I can’t get the same results out of her.

I have to be honest with myself though. I’m exhausted. I’m stressed. I’m ready to put my head through the wall the next time I hear my daughter start whining. I feel like I’ve made a decision that’s made Mike angry with me. I have about a million negative feelings going on in my head, so if I don’t check it at the door, how am I supposed to expect her to get her head in the game? Mine isn’t.

I think that that is what really makes this sport so much more challenging than the majority of those out there. It’s equal parts mental and physical. It’s also what makes this sport so challenging for me. My team mate doesn’t care that I haven’t slept in a week. She doesn’t understand me when I’m putting her boots on and begging her to behave because I’m not with it. Willow expects me to step up and be her leader, no matter what other stuff is going on in my life. I can’t ride the pine and don’t have anybody to pick up the slack for me.

And you know what? I freakin’ love it.

 

And I really love her!