Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Heigh ho, the dairy-o, a hunting we will go!

Cross-posting from GRS blog because it amused me enough to share here too :)

So GRS ventured into a new world today - that of fox hunting. To put this in perspective, I have been exactly twice before*, and my students have never been. We're pretty sure Bella knows the game, but all the other horses were on their first time out as well...

*Sidenote - previous adventures: first in Southern Pines and then in Hamilton <-- if you're reading those, the SP one is educational, the Hamilton one way more fun - and there's a follow up to the Hamilton one from my friend Chris

So how did today's adventure come to be?

Well Adriana has been inviting me to come hunting for quite some time and somehow it never happened. But I wanted Jack to try hunting and didn't particularly want to hunt him myself, so she who often takes greenbeans out, volunteered. Sweet. So she agrees to take on the big 5yo with a sense of humour and is good to go. But almost as soon as agreeing to ride him, mentions "you should bring kids with you."

Which I of course promptly turned down as a Very. Bad. Idea. And then I thought about it, and about how much I would've *loved* to have gone when I was still young enough to bounce well. And I realized that I do have several students who are more than ready to give it a try. So why not? Well trailering works in two or four; I was taking two horses, so that left space for two more. Ran through the mental list of riders I felt were ready who would suit the horses I had left. And considered how very far both Paula and Hailey have come with their riding this summer. And figured their horses have a reasonably suitable temperament. Sooooo they got invited. Why not >;-P

So step one -- load and get to the meet. Shouldn't be an issue, except at the last second I decided I'd really rather take Athena than Lissy... hmmmmm

But she loaded like the civilized goddess she is we were off well on time and got there fairly early. Met a few people and caught up with A. Unloaded the two who aren't happy on the trailer and tacked them up. Then the other two (yeah for having trained Sienna to tie to the trailer - makes life so much easier!) and we were good to go. Made some new friends while waiting for the start and we were off.

We stuck to the back of the hunt with our excessive collection of greenbeans. Jack started out alert but not overly concerned -- didn't even really react to the hounds! Si was great to start - mostly hanging out grazing. Bella and Athena were less relaxed about the whole idea, mostly spinning slowly in circles. hahaha

And then the games began. Si didn't really understand the whole "hold your place in line" concept at the beginning. Fair enough - coming from the track she expects to be told to get as close to the front as possible. It took Paula most of the ride to convince her that she really was supposed to go the exact same speed as everybody else :) Strangest. Race. Ever. She bounced around a little and ran into Athena a couple times but by the end she had it figured out! At one point her proximity to Athena saved Paula as there was an abrupt group halt at just the point P had ducked to dodge a branch. Those laws of physics kicked in as Si realized she should halt and Paula couldn't see what was about to happen... She bounced off Athena and ended up back on Si who was clearly giving her the "Really?!?!" look >;-P

The jumping part though - every fence flawlessly (if, occasionally a little higher than *technically* necessary). Even the in and out :) Superstars!

Hailey, being the smartest one of the group, was on the *smallest* horse - enabling her to dodge far more branches than the rest of us :) She bravely tackled every jump she found and was grinning the whole way around. And Bella was clearly all for this game. XC AND friends without ANY dressage?!?!?! What could be better? The only thing she didn't care for was the holds. Standing waiting for no apparent reason when she *could* be running and jumping just seemed a fairly strange and pointless idea to her.

I, being less intelligent, traded my little 15hh quiet school pony for my 16.2hh horse who only sometimes has breaks and has a wickedly long stride. hmmmmm. Interesting decision. Right up there with randomly deciding to run 15k. Sheesh. But I have to say -- I was at least able to keep her in line! However, being a mare compromise was necessary. I could pick the speed - she would pick the gait. There was no walking. The entire ride. We did, however, have the most lovely passage for any time that didn't involve cantering or jumping. O.M.G. I suspect I will have a *very* tired horse tomorrow. But fun. So much fun. And now I know what she can do >;-P She also led Jack over one of the off-to-the-side fences he wasn't entirely sure about. I didn't see it, but apparently Jack felt the need to clear it by an extra couple feet, successfully introducing his rider to the branches well above them AND convincing her that I'm insane for doubting his ul jumping potential all at the same time. Made both of us grin though, so that counts for a lot :)

Overall an amazing day! All the greenbeans behaved themselves. Horses stayed between the riders and the ground. The members of the Wellington/Waterloo Hunt were incredibly welcoming and friendly. We even got a photo or two :) And the fox? Well she rode behind us for the first half hour or so before turning off to set a path for us. hahaha a dragged scent, that is, so no harm was caused in the makings of today's entertainment. And did I mention my horse apparently knows how to passage? >;-P The relaxation portion of things may need some work - but now we have a goal :) And unrealistic goals generally lead to entertaining blog posts, so stay tuned!

Hitler learns HP is abandoning WebOS

Thought this one was fairly well done :)

My legs can keep no pace with my desires...

So I did it. Proved you really don't need to *actually* run to get fit to run :) Ummmm that's to be filed under the "don't try this at home category" k? It is definitely not recommended. But it did work for me.

Yes so I followed through and actually ran the 15k race I signed up for back in June and earned my pretty jacket. Sweet! Better yet -- I'm not horrifically sore (I expect to be tomorrow and Mon of course, but last time I tried that game I was dying by km 7 -- this time fine. But this time I'm also xc/event fit, so that helps a whole lot :)

I *am* thoroughly annoyed that my computer seems to be eating my photos as we speak. 3 of my favs have mysteriously vanished between the camera and the computer :( NOT kewl. I didn't take enough to sacrifice the couple good ones! The few remaining ones are up on fb.

So the race...

Parked the car in the designated location and hopped on a school bus to go to the park where it would all begin. Wandered around looking at some of the costumes (what *is* it with dress-up this week???) and spoke to one of the pace faeries about appropriate time for someone who's never done this before. I didn't bother to mention the complete lack of training. hahaha She suggested, based on my one-time 5k speed of about 1/2h to aim for 1:45. I was thinking 2, so that seemed ambitious but why not?

Grabbed a power bar while I was hanging out and ate about half of it. Ugh. Pretended to stretch a little bit and did the small-talk thing with some random strangers. A few had t-shirts that amused me -- I took photos but they've been eaten :( I hate my computer some days. Both were printed on the back - one was something about "I hope you can read this so I'm not last" another had something like "tough times pass, but tough people last" -- she was in "my" group for the first part of the race (she probably belonged there :) so I saw that one a few times.

They announced the 10 min warning, so I meandered my way over to the start area. Have to wonder about the ones who were jogging and bouncing around. Really? You're about to run 15k. Don't you think you could put that energy to better use in 10 mins or so? Sheesh.

So I found myself around the 1:30 pace faeries and decided I'd start with them then fall back to the 1:45 ones when I couldn't keep up anymore. So much for the 2 idea eh? Some random stranger who knows nothing about me or my fitness level suggests 1:45 so I immediately aim for 1:30. Oh comeon, you're not new here >;-P But @ least I was realistic that it wasn't a serious goal. More of a curiosity thing: "I wonder how fast this really is?" So there were two 1:30 faeries -- one doing walk/run and the other doing continuous run and they were having a mini-war between them. Now I'm not sure exactly how the bet can work since if they do their jobs correctly they'll actually end at the exact same time... hmmmm perhaps number of people who go with them? Don't know, but kinda puts the tortoise and the hare theory to the test eh? (side note - it took me about 4 tries to spell tortoise -- and that's *with* a dictionary and a spell check. Sheesh. Bad memories of early illiteracy! Fortunately for me that's not really a word I care all that much about :) So the turtle and the hare it is...

And I rediscovered that I make for a really poor turtle. I can't do slow and steady to save my life. Go hard or go home. When I run I want to really run. Not that I'm even remotely fast -- don't get me wrong -- but I want to at least pretend to be. And when I'm done, I'm done. hahaha

However, at least I KNOW that little fact about myself. So I followed the 1:30 walk/run fairy. (and to those of you who run who are cringing every time I type that saying "it's a pace BUNNY you idiot" all I can say is, this is not your traditional race. Here they were very definitely pace faeries. I *had* photos to prove it... *sigh*) And she starts running. At a pace I can do easily, but I honestly wasn't sure for how long. And as we past km 2, I was starting to wonder when the walk portion would be kicking in *g* Keep in mind - what very little conditioning I did, was usually at run 2-3min/walk 1-2min. So this was a little more excessive. And faster. But we did eventually get a walk break. A too short walk break imho, but sobeit.

I stayed with that group till about km 5. And then I added a walk that just wasn't in that evil fairy's grand plan and they left me long behind. However, in following them I did learn about the accepted standard that if you're going to abruptly slow down, you raise your hand to alert the people behind you. This is very civilized all-round really. So I adopted that practice throughout the rest of the race.

Shortly the 1:30 turtle caught up so I ran with them a bit, but by the lovely drink area just before km 6 I knew I was more of a snail than a turtle and let them go on while I stopped for a sip of water (note I was @ least smart enough that it was A, a *sip* and B, not Gatorade. Which I love. But which I can't actually drink while being active.). So here we hit the one and only "hill" in the race. Which, to put in perspective, is as close to flat as it gets near the farm where I was "training". But it was a good excuse for a walk break.

And from then on in I was my own pace fairy. I'm an *awesome* pace fairy. So long as you don't care what pace you're going >;-P Esp once it got darkish and I couldn't see my non-indeglo second hand any more *g* While I could read the watch, I tried to stick to 2 min on, 1 off. Then it was just kinda run when I felt like it or if too many people were passing me and walk when I didn't feel like running any more. I think I actually run *more* with that system than with the watch. I was figuring I'd join in the 1:45 walk/run group when they caught up to me. Added in a very short stop at the halfway lighthouse to take a photo. Which got eaten :(

About this point I met up with another girl about my age who seemed to be doing about the same walk/run rate as me. We leap-froged (leap-tortoised? That image just doesn't work at all!) for the rest of the race. Which promptly made it a race between me and her -- at least in my mind. I'm quite certain she was racing someone faster who was ahead of us in hers. Sadly I'm reasonably sure I lost that one. I think she passed me about the 13k mark and I didn't see her again after that.

Around km 8 my ipod starts singing "see how far we've come!" hahaha that one amused me. As did "just don't stop" around km 11.

I have to say the cheering squads with cowbells and noise makers actually made a rather huge difference. How can you slow down with a clanging cowbell next to you? It makes you smile and keeps you going. Or @ least it did me.

I made it to about 12k before my quads started to tighten. Significantly better than the last time I tried this game and not even brutal. Just a minor "hey, we're here and you'd better have another plan to get us home," type warning. No worries. And somewhere in the last 3k I suddenly felt absolutely perfect and had a wicked burst of speed. Passed all sorts of people. Pretty sure I've never run that fast ever. And just as my brain was starting to wonder what exactly was going on, it ended. Abruptly. Body to brain: ">;-P I was just kidding; you didn't think that'd last did you?" Definite slow walk break for a block or two (back out of the park on the street by this point) to recover that one. But recover I did and was able to run the last 500m at a reasonable pace and not collapse as I crossed the finish line *g* Really felt more stressed after the 5k a couple years ago than this one. Thought that was pretty kewl.

The 1:45 fairy never caught up :) Have to admit I was pretty stoked about that. I think I was in the 1:40-1:45 range, so they probably weren't too far behind, but all good.

And when I did cross said finish line a nice young lady asks "do you want a medal?" YES I want a medal. What a silly question. Of *course* I want a medal :) My poor tired brain was trying to figure out if anybody ever said no. Fortunately tired though I was all civilization censors were in place so what came out was "yes, thanks". hahaha Possibly the first time I've ever been really proud of a participation award *g*

Oh wow - official stats are up already. Sweet. They def weren't when I started typing. Soooo... I was 1:41:18.5 -- so I definitely beat the 1:45 pace fairy. Woohoo! Out of the women I placed 496/1112 (there's no number for how you did out of everybody). In the top half even :) Yeah me! In my category (women 30-39) I placed 200/345. Boo, less good there. Ah well -- we'll pretend most of them trained for it >;-P My pace was 6:46? I don't actually know what that means... Anybody still reading this who could clarify?

Sort of interesting that there were significantly more women than men running. Is that normal or is that because of the atmosphere of this particular race? I somehow expected a more even balance or even more men than women. Not sure *why* I thought that, but somehow I was surprised when I saw the #s.

Awwwww photos aren't up yet -- I was all set to be *really* impressed by their turn-around time :)

So random lessons learned:
- the blister that forms and hurts the most while you're running is the one that's the smallest
- runners and cyclist wear form-fitting clothes for a reason. Loose shorts, comfy though they may be = bad idea.
- even though the slick fanny pack seems comfortable, make sure there are no pressure points... Didn't even realize that one hurt till I took it off. Ouch.
- shoe laces s.b. double knotted.
- make sure your ipod is charged before you go (my 1/2h charge seemed to work, but I was worried for a bit)
- running is not the ideal way to take photos
- lights that appear randomly behind you are likely a car on course - move over
- if someone puts a hand up in front of you, be prepared to go around them.
- and most importantly: the hare will always win. Every time I was on a walk break being passed by a tortoise, I would pass them again as soon as I started running and they'd never catch up a second time.

It's amazing how many of those are clothing related >;-P Ugh. We'll just leave it on that.

Alright so now I appear to be babbling, so methinks tis time to sleep... Perchance to dream... hahaha sorry - couldn't resist *g* I'll stop now. My apologies if this account is less than coherent; I feel great but my brain seems to be a touch tired :) Night!

Leap and the net will appear -- John Burroughs

So my mum sent me this quote that for some reason apparently made her think of me...

Leap, and the net will appear. -- John Burroughs

Can't imagine why :) I certainly haven't been guilty of that. Let's see... Some random conversations that might've led to that thought:

"I think I want to go to school in New Brunswick..." Why? "They have what I want to take." So does Guelph "Yeah but I want to see another part of the country." For 5 years.
Followed two years later by
"I'm going to school in Australia..." How? "Don't know, but I'm going next winter."
"I'm going to Scotland. Next week." Do you have a passport? "No, but I can get one" <-- can, yes - but not easily! hahaha now passport is always up to date so when these random opportunities occur it's not quite so frantic :)
"I'm going to travel around Europe." You don't have any money. "That's ok." Where are you going? "Don't know. I figured I'd fly to Paris and catch a train from there."
"I'm bored so I'm going to grad school."
"I'm moving to Vermont to be a working student for Denny Emerson." When? "Next week." What about your job? "I can work from there." Will they let you? "I'm sure I can convince them."
"I'm going to write a novel in a month."
"I'm going to run 5k" . . . Then fast-forward a couple years and with equally no training change it to 15k.
"I'm going to start a riding school..." hahahaha

I'm sure there have been other moments that have raised a few eyebrows... But as my sidebar says -- you can't cross a chasm in two small jumps :) Life would be boring if you did things the expected way :)

In other news... Lollipop show today. *Bling* lollipop show at that. Oh my. Story up on GRS blog in the near future :)

Where horses and history meet

I'm not telling you it's going to be easy; I'm telling you it's going to be worth it.

So Facebook informs me this was my status from one year ago today: "Lauren Cude finally finished V1 of her business plan (a whole 2 days early!). And with reasonable numbers. That don't necessarily require winning the lottery. @ least, not the big one :)"

Reading that made me smile. Sometimes it feels like I've been doing this forever and it takes something like that to remind me that no, it's still reasonably new :) And then I feel less frazzled about the things that aren't done yet because I realize how far it's really come.

It was a good lightbulb moment.

And conversely, apparently in 2009 I was "wishing I was still at the cottage" -- so clearly some things stay the same! hahaha

So on a completely different note, last Friday I had an entertaining lesson with two Athena-moments. The first was when we were warming up to jump - first fence of the day. Tiny oxer (I'd say 2'3 first rail, 2'6 back rail, very small spread 2'ish) and a placing pole out front at about 10'. Trot approach. She trots in oh so casually, no speed, no real impulsion. And oh so quietly takes off before the placing pole and clears the oxer and canters away on an 18' stride. And came back to me quietly as can be within about 2 strides. Ummmm seriously?!?!?! Now I realize that she defaults to about a 14' stride so jumping a tiny fence that happens to be 13 or 14' wide is not actually all that challenging for her, but who *does* that???? And out of a trot. With no anxiety or tension or power or any sign whatsoever that she might be considering that as an option. Sheesh.

Then later we're cantering off a tight turn to a fence. Now A's #1 escape is to drop behind the bit. We're working on it. Frustrating in dressage. Terrifying over fences. So tight turn means I instinctively asked her to bring her hind legs pretty deep underneath her and sit -- and we made said turn beautifully. Best balanced, light, floaty beach-ball canter ever. Very exciting. Except that she's not strong enough to hold that yet so she dropped behind the bit to escape. And we're ONE stride out from the fence. And I know she hasn't seen it yet. And I can't get her back up in front. Yeah, suffice to say it wasn't pretty :( Possibly the scariest situation I've been in in a long time -- to be one stride out of a jump and KNOW the horse hasn't even seen it yet. Pick up the phone to call her and find I have no signal. Not. Good. *sigh* So no more engaging (at least with fences involved) till I fix some basic buttons. Guess this is what happens when you ride a horse somebody else trained. hahaha haven't done that in several years. Somedays it's good. Other days you just want to go back and ask what they were thinking...

8h of lessons today and lollipops tomorrow. It's going to be an interesting week...

How to find the end of the universe

Didn't write this, but it amused me so I thought I'd share :)

How to find the end of the universe

It’s pretty simple, actually: Drive about five miles past the secret alien landing strip, turn left at the Repository of Missing Left Socks, travel due up into the New Jersey Time/Space Wormhole (toll) and when you come to the mariachi band playing “Yellow Bird” to a beluga whale, you’ve reached the end of the universe.

Credit and Vid

The things you find on youtube...

Clearly need to move to the UK >;-P There's tons of these to kill time with, but here's a selection :) You don't technically *need* sound for this, but it does help!

Guess the song!

Edited to add this one because before it got really silly it had me laughing out loud at my machine... Different game, same show: