Friday, April 29, 2016

Michigan Capitol Building

Everyone knows I'm an early morning kind of person and enjoy seeing the sun rise every day.  The other day I was headed to our Lansing office which is on Capitol.  As I drove up the street headed towards the capitol, the clouds broke and the sunrise lit up the dome of the building! Talk about being in the right place at the right moment...

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Cross Country Schooling

THIS is what they've been waiting to do since forever. Training and getting in shape by galloping around hay fields and popping over hay bales.  This is the third part of "eventing".  Dressage, stadium jumping, and cross country.  

Tuesday we trailered out to Cobblestone Farm to practice in their cross country fields.  Most of the jumps are set up as a series from small to big like the one below (there's actually even more that are bigger that aren't in the picture). This allows riders to school over jumps that are appropriate for their level of training.  Madison and Mata Hari aren't total beginners but since this was really their first time out, they stuck to the smaller jumps even though Mata Hari would have MUCH preferred to go bigger.




This was their first time schooling a step down jump and to say it was awkward would be an understatement!




This was one of the biggest jumps they did - great form for both them!


At the end, they did a "course" running both sides for a total of 10 jumps.  Because it's on two separate fields of about 10 acres each, I had to film it in two videos with a small section missing while I ran from one field to the other!

Here is part 1.  The "junk" you see beyond them at the beginning is what is left of a big barn fire they had about 2 weeks ago.  Very sad - this place is beautiful and an amazing facility.



and part 2:




But this is how they started the evening:





Then they worked on "ditches".  The first one isn't really a ditch at all but just built to look similar to the others but with no "hole" dug out.



Next was working on getting through the water.  I didn't video "walking" through the water but that was very uneventful.



Next was trying the step up out of the water.



And finally, stepping down into the water.





Spring Time at the Barn


Spring time at the barn and horse are grazing the green grass!




Madison and Mata Hari and hacking the hay field against beautiful skies.


When they ride in the indoor arena, it's so bright outside it looks florescent!


We have mini picnics with PB&J sandwiches and play with babies.


I dust off my helmet and mount up to catch a ride on the new boy.


Madison starts working with a new project horse.  A racing school drop out Thoroughbred. 




And silly barn kitties nap in hay piles while curious ponies look on.


Life is good.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

First Dressage Show of the Season


We woke up to one of the most amazingly beautiful days so far this spring! Crystal clear skies and the temperature creeped up to 72!  By 8:15 we were loaded up and headed to Willbrooke Farm for a dressage schooling show - the show that we were supposed to do in December but they were over-sold and we got bumped to February and that one we had to bump since it was the same day as Madison's ACT Test.  So here we were, April 16th ready to go!




The first test was intro - just walk trot - and Madison got a nice compliment from the judge and came out feeling quite happy with her pony.



And when the scores were announced, she was even happier!



This duo are rock stars!



Madison and Mata Hari placed FIRST in both classes to win the reserve high point for the show!





Here are the video's of each test.




Saturday, April 9, 2016

Spring Break 2016

Last fall I took Madison to Washington DC with me for a business trip/pleasure trip.  We reveled in the history at all the museums and had a great time.  I owed Austin a trip.  We discussed it well in advance and had decided we would go to Cleveland.  Yes, Cleveland.  The destination was the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame!

Of course, that couldn't be the only thing on our agenda so I scheduled us to a full slate of fun!  Early April can be a little dicy on weather but we really didn't expect it to be quite as bad as it turned out.  And Austin didn't care - dressing for the tropics the day of our departure.  It's Spring Break after all!


We checked in at the downtown Holiday Inn Express which is housed in a very cool old building - restored hardwood floors in the hallways and rooms!


It was only 3:30 but Austin was so excited to get on with our agenda that he barely let me unpack and freshen up before we were headed out the door for a quick walk to the Cleveland Hard Rock Cafe for dinner.  Since this was also MY vacation, I chose to sample a signature cocktail. Let Spring Break begin!



Next stop?  A Cleveland Indians baseball game against the Boston Red Sox!!  We were bundled up  - the temp was only 36 degrees with it only going lower as the lights came up and the sun went down.  There was also a lovely drizzle in the air...  Austin wanted to get to the game early enough to see the warm up so we slammed down our dinners and raced out the door and the two blocks to the stadium.  Only to see this:


The woman posted at the gate to answer questions was super nice and told us since we were from out of state, they'd probably refund our money since the game wasn't just being postponed - it was flat out cancelled and probably wouldn't be rescheduled.  I told Austin we could spend the money I had spent on the tickets.  He had spotted this place (Horseshoe Casino) on our way to the restaurant (no idea how since we were moving at warp speed) and asked if we could go.


I agreed and said he could have $40 to gamble with but he had to use my method of pocketing all winnings.  He agreed and off we went.  Only to find out that in Ohio, you have to be 21 to even go IN the casino.  Ack!  Our first evening wasn't turning out so good.  There was a nice police office near the door who commiserated with our misunderstanding that in Michigan you only have to be 18 and directed us to a movie theater nearby as an alternative.  This  perked us up and after walking us out the door and half way down the block, we were on our way to the theater in the mall.

We find the theater and see that they are having a film festival.  Austin is a movie aficionado and has probably watched every odd movie on Netflix but he sees the list of such films as 2nd Life, 91%, AAAAAAH!, The Gnomist, Motley's Law, and Raspberry Galaxies, and quickly turns tail totally bummed out.  I was feeling horrible that nothing was working out!!

We started strolling through the mall and he spots a Champs shoe store and asks if we can go look, mentioning he could probably use a new pair.  I agree, ready to buy him just about any shoes he wants.  And pretty much ended up doing just that.  They were Kyrie Irving basketball shoes and had just come out that day.  He was so in love with them, he wanted to sleep with them!


I had forgotten to pack my shirt for our Friday night plans so we hit one more store where I bought a cheap black t-shirt and jacket and we headed back to the hotel.  We found "The Heat" on some movie channel with Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock, laughed our butts off and hit the sack.

Our main destination for Friday was the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. When I planned the trip, I had no idea this was also the day that the 2016 "class" was being inducted.  If I had, I would have planned for us to go there that evening so we could watch the live telecast from NYC but alas, we had other plans so it was a morning visit.  It  was a brisk 1/2 mile walk from the hotel but it was a pretty, sunny day.  Just cold and windy - especially as we got closer to the lake.


So many cool things in this museum!












The museum itself is really a work of art as well.


And the view out to the lake is awesome.


At 1:00 we took a break to sit down for a lecture on the 2016 inductees.  It was awesome!  We both learned so much and really enjoyed it.  The inductees were Chicago, Cheap Trick, Deep Purple, Steve Miller and N.W.A.  All bands I grew up with except for N.W.A., though that was one that Austin liked.  That kid has an amazing taste range in music so he was good with everything!

After the R&R Hall of Fame, we stopped at the hotel for a quick drop off and then went across the street for some BOWLING! LOL!  This place is one of very few downtown city bowling alleys and was super nice.  The people were friendly and Austin and I had a blast.  He probably wouldn't like me sharing this pic of the scores of the last game and noting that *I* won!


After bowling, we wandered through a couple of "arcade malls".  This one was being decorated for a wedding that was taking place there later that evening.


In the next one, we found an old fashioned barber shop and Austin asked to get his hair cut. Since he REALLY needed one, I agreed and sent him in! They even trimmed up his beard and slapped on some stinging aftershave.



He looked so handsome!



This day was turning out GREAT compared to the day before. Thank God!  We returned to the hotel room so I could take a 15 min "nap" and we got dressed up to go out for a nice dinner to be followed by a concern at the House of Blues with the Dan Band (from The Hangover movie).  Austin put on his new basketball  shoes and was ready to roll!



He wasn't thrilled with me wanting to do another selfie with him at dinner.  I did it anyway.  We had an excellent dinner at place almost right across the street from our hotel.  Austin had steak and I had stuffed salmon.


After dinner we went to the House of Blues for a pre-concert drink and then - THE DAN BAND! According to Wikipedia:  The Dan Band is a comedy band created by actor/comedian Dan Finery.  The band is well known for its covers of originally female-performed pop songs, with added obscenities and swearing, made famous by Dan's appearance in the films Old School and The Hangover.


A fabulous day ended with fun music while we danced our butts off!

We had one last stop on our agenda for Saturday morning but it meant leaving Cleveland and heading south to Canton, OH, home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame!



Since Austin started playing football in high school his last two years, he's had a much bigger interest in the game and really enjoyed both the displays and some of the interactive exhibits.



He liked saying he got closer to the Super Bowl trophy than the Detroit Lions did!

I got a kick out of seeing the super bowl rings - these things are HUGE! But when you consider how big these guys hands are, I guess it makes sense. This is my hand against a mold of Willie McGinest's hand.




And with that, our Spring Break trip was over - except for driving home in a blizzard.  On April 9th.  My mom's birthday.  Happy Spring Break!!!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Good Friday at the Barn



Mata Hari was named after a WWI spy because she was always sneaking around her pasture and peaking out from behind trees as a baby.  She still likes to tuck her head in-between things like she can actually hide like that!

It was chilly cold today but Madison and I headed out to the barn to ride.  Our plan had been for me to watch her use her new cross country jumps but it rained ALL day yesterday and it was way too wet out. We ended up just walking for about an hour but it was up and down hills and exploring some new areas of the farm.



We found a path that led across a creek from what we thought was the far south west pasture but actually led to an even more southernly pasture.  It was actually drier than the northern pastures even though it was flatter...must be sandier soil.  From there we went through the gate shown above into a path that led past some ponds.

As I followed along on foot, Madison pointed out all the turnips!



I guess they've been planted for the deer but there sure are a lot still out there!



Earlier, these geese had spooked Mata Hari a little (but not the teenage boys that were on their dirt bikes - silly horse!) but up closer, she found them much more interesting.





We quickly ran out of trail because it was mostly under water so we had to turn back.  We stopped to visit the new horses in the lower barn.  This barn will soon be the indoor arena and these stalls will be moved outside into a shed row along one wall.



While we were in here, Madison demonstrated something new she had taught Mata Hari.




After that demonstration, it was time to head back to the barn.

The day had turned mostly sunny and we were totally enjoying being outside, even if all we did was walk.



Some of the open (not pregnant) mares came down to visit us as we headed back.






Sometimes we take this road back up to the barn.




That road takes us up past Mata Hari's pasture and her pasture pals. Here they are standing out in the sun waiting for her return.  



But today we chose this one.



On the way up we stopped to chat with some boys.  Mata Hari doesn't like this one.  I don't know why, he's quite handsome!



She liked this one better.  



And so ended our Good Friday walk around the farm!  Unfortunately, it wasn't tiring enough to keep Mata Hari from creating a bunch of "hoopla" this afternoon.  She jumped out of her pasture - clearing a 5 foot gate.  And taught her gelding friend how to do it too.  Sadly, he didn't quite make it and tumbled back into the mud.