Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Comedy of Errors

I've said a few times before that my life is a giant comedy of errors. Everything that can hilariously go wrong in a day usually does, especially on an important day. But at least it is funny most of the time... hey, if you're not laughing you're crying, right? 

But the good news is that none of the bad stuff relates to O's behavior. In fact, she gets a gold star for being a total angel all week long. 

Everything else though? It's been a bit, erm.... well. You know.

When we last left off, I was lunging or ground driving O nearly every day, anxiously awaiting my new harness. Without a harness to use, I was kind of a sitting duck. I also put EasyShoes back on O, just on the fronts, to see if *maybe* she could keep them on for longer than one single workout. 

And, technically she did! She kept them on for more than one single workout. She kept them on for...  two. And then, she ripped one off, halfway through the second lunge. Grand total of lasting time: 3 days. I hope you're proud of yourself, mare. I went ahead and removed the other one and decided to can that idea forever. She's just a bad candidate for most everything that goes on her feet, save for her ratty old Cavallos. She has ripped through a pair of Deltas, two sets of EasyShoes, a set of Superfast shoes, and pulled off a pair of Gloves and a pair of Renegades. It's kind of amazing that the old Cavallos have lasted as long as they have - god knows when she gets her big-moving trot on, I hear her striking them with every single stride. The problems of being a short-backed, big-moving horse, I suppose.

So, there was that. Anyway.

On Tuesday afternoon, my harness arrived!! I was so excited to have it. I'll fully admit that I am a leather snob, but I am impressed with the quality of this synthetic harness. The padding is this awesome waffle weave that is so, so soft, and the quality of the rest of the synthetic is just as nice. The smaller less important bits of strapping are your more typical oh-that's-plastic-harness type of synthetic, but the overall look is super nice. It just about passes as actual leather if you're just taking a quick glance.

Pre-adjustment. It's a nice harness! Good and squashy but sturdy at the same time.

On Wednesday afternoon, I harnessed her up in the afternoon, put her to, and headed out down the road to see what exactly we'd have going on. I hadn't driven her since she busted the other harness into a bunch of pieces, and we were going to be traveling on the exact same route, so I was interested to see exactly what she would do. 

She was perfect. Lovely, quiet, forward and soft. No problems with transitions, stopped and stood like a rock anywhere I placed her, and we even had a passenger join us for a little while partway down the road. He was a big dude too, and surprisingly that extra weight REALLY made the cart ride smoothly. No extra balancing required, we just sat there and had a good time! I should see if I can figure out a way to add some extra weight to the cart, to see if I can make it ride that smoothly all the time.

Did I win?

Super, super pleased with her. And pleased with my harness!

I gave her Thursday off, since even though we only worked 3 miles she did get good and sweaty on Wednesday. On Friday, I had a lesson scheduled for 10am with W again, so I was up at the buttcrack of pre-dawn (4am). Once at the barn, the mares were fed and then left to munch their alloted bit of alfalfa while I winched the cart into my truck bed, hooked up the trailer, and made sure everything was ready. I had to drop off some clipper blades at the sharpening place on my way there, so I wanted to make sure I was on the road by 7:30 so that I could drop off the blades, arrive early, let O eat, unload the cart, harness up, and be ready on time. (There is an awful lot of equipment to deal with when driving, in case I hadn't mentioned that before. It's worth it but it's also a PITA.)

As I was pulling down the driveway, I noted that one of my trailer tires looked low. I had the low tire sign on my truck as well, but upon inspection a few days ago found that it was nothing more than a tire that was just barely slightly below the point where it triggers the signal - it just needed some air, all the tires did as they were about the same level. I drove about 20 mins up the road, pulled into a gas station, cursed at the idiots parked in the spot reserved for people needing air, ended up having to back the trailer into the spot (which thankfully I am good at), and checked the tires. The trailer tire that looked low was not low at all, thankfully. I got around to the other side to check tires, and to my great alarm and surprise, the valve on one of them popped clean off. Air came screaming out, rapidly deflating the tire right before my eyes.

Whoever invented these is a genius 

So, there was that. Anyway.

Very annoyed, I pulled out my spare, jack, and wrench, and got to work. O has a relatively low tolerance for being stuck in an immobile trailer, and as I was loosen the lugnuts, she started banging around. The entire trailer started bouncing up and down like a lowrider hydraulic. "Mare! Shut up!" I yelled, to no avail. When she continued, I reached my jack up and meant to tap on the side of the trailer, to make a noise and get her to stop long enough to get the lugnuts loose without my jack flying off in every direction every time it bounced. I completely miscalculated the trajectory of this movement, and the jack connected with the sliding window on the passenger side escape door. To my astonishment and alarm, the window exploded, showering me with shards of glass. It did get O to shut up for a second, but I shudder to think about if this had been on the driver's side, where she was. It would have been a little too much flying glass waaaaay too close to her face, I'd think. As it was, I got sliced in a few places, but otherwise was fine.

Nice aim hawkeye!

So, there was that. Anyway.

I was so completely flustered at this point that in my apparently blind rage, I put the tire on backwards. As I was tightening the lugnuts, I noticed that tire was totally flat too, so I looked for the air gauge and... not there. Yep, on backwards. I had to relift the trailer, take it back off, turn it, and put it back on. Again.

Strongly considered this option

So, there was that. Anyway.

At this point I had been dicking around on the side of the road changing tires and cleaning up glass for the better part of an hour. I was seriously running late. I half considered just giving up and going home, because surely this was a sign from the universe to just can the day and try again tomorrow, but I swallowed the threatening lump in my throat and pressed on. Did I mention I'm also super PMSy right now? I really just about broke down and sobbed on the side of the road, that's how hormonal I am. I suppose this is what makes me sympathetic to O's ridiculous emotional outburst when she's in heat.... I have them too.

I somehow managed to get my blades dropped off, get my butt to the lesson, and finally get the day rolling. I had hoped to be there by 9:30am, but I didn't pull in until almost 10:30am. So grateful that W and L were sympathetic to my plight. What a total cluster of a morning, seriously.

I unloaded O and set her up with her haybag, and right away she was completely opposite of how she had been last time. She was intensely focused on her hay and dove right in, to my complete and total joy. She stood like a rock and gobbled while I unloaded the cart, harnessed her up, made some adjustments on the harness according to W, and put her to. Last time, she was too in heat to be able to think about anything beyond the other horses. This time, we drove right out into the field, got to work, and had an AWESOME drive. We ran through our dressage test first - both L and I were a little underpowered and our horses weren't being particularly fancy, but we knew it and we both made sure to make sure they were both awake during their tests at the show. We have the actual test down well now, it will be easy for me to remember - although I have to make sure I halt for long enough. In driven dressage, there is a certain amount of time you have to halt and stand immobile (I think 5 seconds for us) before you proceed onto the next movement. Easy enough to remember - I just have to, you know... remember it.

We went from there to the cones course, which L had set like the one we'll have at Sunrise Ridge. The competitors have all been emailed a packet showing our cones course and all of the hazards.... and wow, I'm pretty sure they're deliberately trying to make all of the newbies either pee their pants, eliminate out, or end the course crying. It's HARD. REALLY hard. The cones course was 'inspired by Kingdom of the Sun.' Meaning.... it's really freaking complicated. There are not one but two combinations of four cone sets placed in a really tight zig zag, nearly 20 set of cones, and two sets of cones that are 'skinnies,' set 5cm shorter than the actual legal length of each division. Can they even do that? I forsee a lot of knockdowns happening. Or maybe not, seeing as most of the people that go to this show have been doing Training level for the past 20 years and know what they are doing.
L had set the zig-zag of four cones set up at the tight length, 10 meters between each one. I struggled to do it, and clipped several cones, especially when turning to O's stiffer side. I will absolutely need to practice that this week, because with a full size horse it is HARD.
While doing our cones courses, O really turned on the sparkle and moved out big time. W was impressed and commented on the trot we had, saying that was the trot we really need for dressage. Not sure if we'll get it on the date of the show but we can try!

Super, super pleased with the lesson. O was super. Super! Could not have asked for better. She always seems to be a little weird the first time we go to a new facility, and then the second time she goes she is always perfect. Hopefully by getting to the show and being able to walk around on Friday, she'll be good and quiet by Saturday. We're only a week away now!

I see a few more adjustments I need to make on the harness and placement of the shafts, then we should be good to know. The chrome rein rail gets put in shortly too - how nice will that look!

We went over our packets, then I winched up the cart, loaded the horse, and headed out. After picking up my blades (just on time, before they closed), I made it safely home, and unloaded O and turned her back out. And then, because this is the comedy of errors, I realized to my dismay that the winch cable had tightly wrapped around itself within the sheath of the winch. It was so taut that trying to loosen it manually for an hour amounted to absolutely nothing. I even dismantled the thing and couldn't fix it. It's toast. It's super hard to keep track of exactly where the cable is going while you're winching the cart in.... crap. I need to get that repaired or replaced ASAP - luckily I had the foresight to buy the warranty. But still... I've only used it to go places twice, and I already destroyed it. I did, however, discover that when I am in a Hulk rage, I can in fact roll the cart down the ramp myself using only the weight of my body to counterbalance and carefully lower it down. Note to self: do not try this when in a cheerful mood, you surely will not have the strength for it. I am super sore today, the cart weights a few hundred pounds and trying to keep something that heavy from rolling rapidly down a ramp is not easy.

So, there was that. Anyway.

So far, I have recently destroyed a tire, a window, and a winch. O has destroyed several important pieces of a nice harness, and a set of Easyshoes in three days. It's a good thing we usually both choose to use our powers for good, because I think if we teamed up, we could totally destroy the universe in short order. We are awfully good at destroying stuff!


  1. "So there was that." LOL.

    At least you can laugh at it all!

    I'm super excited for O's show debut!

  2. Dang, girl, what a day! At least your lesson was great and you both survived!

  3. That was a doozy. Glad you both survived and had some good experiences.... and yeah, maybe find a way to dial in the hulk rage a little. ;-)

  4. lesson sounds amazing! everything else... well thank god for hulk rage-related strength...

  5. What a day! O sounds awesome though, I must admit I'm quite jealous because I'd love to do driving with Jetta. I'm just not sure she'd tolerate it...Can't wait to hear about the show!

  6. Oh wow!!! Living it had to suck, but reading it is hilarious!! I'm glad no living things were hurt (well besides your minor cuts) and I hope all the repairs aren't too expensive. O being perfect makes it all worth it though. :D