Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thinking Thursday

Horses: This was one of the judges at the last show. I don't know his name since there were 4. But this picture talks to me. He epitomizes what I think a horse show judge should look like. And honestly I bet I've only see one or two that even comes close to this image and about half have been women, but this is the image in my mind and he happened to be at this last show and posed himself for my picture (not that he knew he did).

I included this picture because of some comments about my desire to have my daughter wear a helmet at all times. This is just one side of the arena during a practice and it was taken JUST after they opened the arena to practice so it wasn't actually all that crowded yet and nobody was moving faster than a jog. First, you won't see a single helmet. What you can see (well, probably not) are several very young and inexperience horses. People bring young horses to shows all the time. Not to show, just to expose them to the show environment and to ride them in the arena with all the other horses. I understand this and accept it. But those horses are also completely unpredictable (more so than most well trained show horses) and an accident can happen in the blink of an eye in an arena packed with horses and helmet-less people. I'm probably more paranoid than most. I have Equestrian Girl walk Stanley from our little barn to the arena with a halter and lead, not his bridle, because it safer. I don't let anyone stand just behind his cross ties in case he backs up. When I think something might spook him I make sure he's facing it if possible. I'm cautious by nature and it's served me well. I don't plan on letting my daughter be any different when it comes to horses. The minute you stop being cautious is when you get hurt.

Motocross: The boys want to go bad this weekend but the weather isn't looking good at all. As in LOTS of rain. We've learned from experience that Baja is terrible in the rain. There are literally rivers running through the parking lots and the mud is out of control. I love to watch my son race but I am not big on standing around in the cold rain and mud and 4 of us crammed into 10 square feet of living space for 2 1/2 days....

Homeschooling: We started the week bad. It got better.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

After the show...

Horses: The show we attended this past weekend was a 3 day show with 4 judges each day. It was put on by the two Michigan Paint Horse clubs and is called the Fall Color Classic. It was at the MSU Pavillion (all indoors and heated!) and was by far the toughest competition we've ever seen. Apparently all the year end point chasers come to this show from all over to compete and pick up extra points to either keep them #1 or push them ahead of someone else. It was nuts.

That being said, Equestrian Girl didn't do all that bad considering we were nowhere close to the league of some of those people with their $30,000 horses, $2000 outfits, $5000 saddles, $150,000 trailers, etc. She placed in about half her classes and even got a 2nd in one class.

Our friends Shannon and Don came on Friday to watch and help coach Madison. They have been the best!

This isn't even the whole class for Hunter under Saddle - I couldn't fit them all in the picture from the angle I was sitting!

Equestrian Girl wasn't feeling all that great all weekend but she tried her best and looked beautiful as always. She was slightly miffed with me that she was the only one wearing a helmet with a chin strap and not a hunt cap but I think she understands. What I don't understand is why APHA doesn't REQUIRE children under age 18 to wear safety approved helmets at shows. It's only going to take one...

The Western Pleasure Classes were just as big and just as competitive as the English classes. We were hoping with all the western work we've done to do a little better but it didn't happen - a combination of horse and rider not feeling so hot along with super tough competition.

These are our friends Sheri, Sandhya, & Kristin. We shared a tack stall with them again this show. We had been bumping into Sheri and Sandhya at both Paint and Spur shows all summer when we finally figured out that we all live fairly close together and are doing the same shows. They've been a big help in coaching Equestrian Girl when she gets bummed out.

And of course, we always get a picture of Equestrian Girl with her Daddy!

Stanley did phenomenal in trail. Equestrian Girl messed up the pattern the first time out but the horse was stellar. He's doing so much better getting over the ground poles.

Because our tack stall was on the main isle we got to decorate! Ours was pretty last minute and not too fancy but others sure were!

Here's one that brought out way more than I've ever used to even decorate our house!

Nobody got much sleep at night so barn sleeping was quite popular. Even in show clothes and helmets.

Scott snuck this picture of me and Equestrian Girl from quite a distance away. It's hard to see my sweatshirt but it has Standards Gold Watch on front and back and Equestrian Girl's permanent number, 1111, on the sleeve.

In all it was a fun but exhausting show. We were all so tired by the time we got home on Sunday night I'm not sure we could have done any more.

Motocross: We are tentatively scheduled to got to the Baja Monster Mash race this weekend but the weather isn't looking so great. Lots of rain in our fall forecast this year... Last year was a lot of fun as Scott and I drove the golf cart from camper to camper following the kids as they ran in their costumes trick or treating. I think they had as much fun there as they did at home a few days later.

Homeschooling: We took two days off last week because we left at noon on Thursday for the horse show. I was feeling a bit guilty about it but it seems every other kid in the state has been out sick for at least a week and so many schools are closed it doesn't seem to matter all that much. We should still be on track to be done with our main curriculum by early April...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday Moanin' (anyone remember Bob Talbert?)

Horses: I would love to give credit to the person who created the image above - I think its beautiful and extremely clever! Equestrian Girl got it from a friend on to use in a banner. There are others that I'll feature between now and Halloween but this one is by far my favorite.

We went to work on Stanley tonight to get him clipped up for the show. Although I started blanketing in early September he is already a hairy beast and there wasn't all that much we could do. No doubt others will be just as bad. We also got all his grain bags ready along with the shavings. Tomorrow Equestrian Girl will load more into the trailer so we have little to do on Thursday other than load up the horse and GO! We can check in at noon on Thursday and I plan on being there not long after that so I can hopefully get a pull through camping spot close to the barn. Crossing fingers.

Motocross: Since there are only 3 class at the show on Saturday and one is showmanship, the boys are heading up to Freelin to get in another race day just in case the weather is bad for the Monster Mash at Baja. It does free up the trailer for us girls so we aren't so crowded but we'll miss our men on Saturday! (Motocross Boy says he's now officially a man because he got Old Spice deodorant. Actually RAN to take a shower today so he could use it.)

Homeschooling: Scott is taking more time to sit with Motocross Boy while he does his school work. Most of the time it just means sitting in the same room with him. Today they both laid on the bed with laptops but got it all done! Equestrian Girl got most of the week's work done today except for Language Arts which she apparently "forgot" but will do tomorrow. At least nobody is struggling or complaining - all good!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fall Color Cornucopia

It's fall. It is most definitely and positively fall.

Horses: Being that it is most definitely and certainly fall, the horses at Legend Land were feeling quite frisky yesterday afternoon. Stanley even threw in a few bucks though I didn't catch any on film. Disk. Digital media. Whatever.

Once we rounded up OUR horse out of that herd (the only one wearing a blanket so he's not so hard to pick out!) of frisky geldings, Equestrian Girl did some serious practice and then mounted up her 10 year old cousin, "Wolf Lover" for a pony ride on Stanley. They were being rather goofy.

Football: (Yes, OT again!!) Wolf Lover was spending the day with us while her Mom (my sister) and David (my sister's boyfriend) went to the UofM game to see our cousin Tate Forcier play. They sat with his brother Jason who used to play for UofM too and happily just got a job in San Francisco so he can be back near his girlfriend. Tate was being swarmed by young ladies all very anxious to meet him. Many thought David was his Dad which was a hoot - they all had a great time and Carrie couldn't say enough nice things about both Jason and Tate and how gracious they were.

Motocross: This is a picture taken in our yard up north. I like it because I can see Motocross Boy's eyes - can't normally see them in most of our race pictures!!

Homeschooling: I spent an hour this morning finding fun math games on line. Motocross Boy needs to do some review on his math facts before we can keep moving ahead it seems. He says he filed them too far back in his brain and they won't come out now. They are stuck. Well, I guess we need to unstick them!!

Here's a small sampling of some that I found:

Golf estimation math game:

Friends and Family: I have known my friend Leslie since we were Equestrian Girl's age - 11. We met in 7th grade at OE Dunkel Junior High in Farmington Hills, MI. It was a LONG time ago. After undergrad school at UofM she moved east to Harvard, spend time in NYC, the far east, and then back to CT where she got married and settled into suburbia. That's the short version. Yesterday Leslie and Jim ventured back to Michigan to visit her parents and privileged us with a lunch date. We had a wonderful time catching up and the kids had fun finding out how she made he way onto Jeopardy! for her 15 minutes of fame! I should be posting a picture of Leslie and Jim together but I found this one first and I like it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Longing for warmer days...

Horses: It's already getting really cold here in Michigan. Surprisingly so and very early. Stanley has been wearing a blanket for more than a month now starting first with his fleece line medium blanket and quickly transitioning to his heavy winter blanket. We might need to add a fleece liner...soon. I truly do love cool fall weather and didn't mind that our summer was a little cooler than normal but it's quite chilly at the barn when the sun goes down. Tonight we went to the barn at 7:30. It was pitch black. Everywhere. The horses were already snug in their stalls and nickered softly when we came in - probably thinking we were bringing in treats - which we were! No more golden yellow summer days for a while...

Motocross: I have no idea who these guys are, I just like #193's race clothes. It's sort of a super colorful camo...maybe for hiding at a circus? LOL!

Motocross Boy says this is "Crozier". I have no idea who he is but I love this picture. Because of the angle and slope beyond the jump, this looks like an incredible jump. The reality is that this was one of the only jumps on the track last weekend and it wasn't all that big. It was technical though because the landing sloped down to the right and then went into a deep, very sandy turn. I also love that little orange tree hiding behind the pines!

Homeschooling: I honestly don't know how my kids can pull such tricks off at the last minute but both got all their school work done for the week. Last night Motocross Boy still had 2 days worth of school work and Equestian Girl was down to just a couple of assignments. When I called home at 1:30 Motocross Boy hadn't done anything. When I got home a little after 2 he still hadn't done anything because he had used up his allotment of internet time on his laptop and my laptop didn't like his math curriculum for some reason. Next thing I knew, he was done and actually did a fantastic job with his writing assignment and was laughing his butt off at his very creative sentences!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Winding Down....

Motocross: The guy on the right is Scott - Daddy of our children and Moto-Dad extraordinaire! The two guys with him are his friend Jay and Rick. Both live near us at home and have cottages near ours and came out last Saturday to watch Motocross Boy. I think they had a lot more fun than they expected. And we all enjoyed sitting INSIDE the lodges watching the racing going on outside. That was first. Normally we are standing out in the elements - good and bad.

More Motocross: Our pup is such a good moto-mutt (and yes horse people - that is a longe line she's wearing!). She never barks at the bikes, wags her tail at all the little kids and does her best to keep the flies at bay. She's the same way at horse shows. Just hangs out by the trailer waiting for someone to come by to pay attention to her!

Horses: Anyone who loves Quarter Horses and Paints loves their big butts. I also happen to like taking pictures of their big butts. It's a disease. You can't have enough pictures of these big butts in a show line up. You just can't.

Homeschooling: Now it's Equestrian Girl that is slacking on the school work. Today I was told she was done with all her work. I told her to take a shower (which I won't even get into how long it takes an almost 12 year old girl to take a shower - my mother would have turned off the hot water). At 7:30 I check her schedule and both Language Arts and Writing are blank. "Hey! Did you do these?" "I'll do them right now." Sigh.

Monday, October 12, 2009

"Dropouts Happen"???? had a very interesting article today. It was a commentary by John W. Myres, a retired teacher and superintendent from California titled "Dropouts Happen: And other Hard Realities of Schooling".

His first reality: "There will never be enough money". This is so ludicrous as to make me laugh out loud. Seriously. I educated my kids on less than $500 each per year. Schools get something like $5000 per student per year.

Second reality: "Not everyone goes to college". True enough. But shouldn't we educated children as if they were going to go? Where I went to high school it was just expected you would go so we did. It was like moving on to high school after you finished junior high. You went to college. There was an expectation and most of us met it. The few who didn't go on to college tended to have very specific goals as well though...some went to "Hollywood", others to trade schools.

Third reality: "Dropouts happen". I have never seen an actual statistic but has anyone every dropped out of a homeschool? I mean like just refused any more education and went out to get a job or just "hang out kind of dropping out? If there is an actual statistic on this I'd imagine it's extremely small. What kind of parent who has just spent x number of years educating their child is going to just let them STOP getting educated to the point of graduation?

Fourth reality: "Reforms will always be with us". Mr. Myers' focus on this one is more in the vein of "movements" such as "back to basics", "new math", "No Child Left Behind", phonics based reading, etc. To this point I actually agree. The difference being that these "reforms" he speaks of often take years to take live out their usefulness before someone sees that it isn't working or finds something better. In the mean time, kids stop learning. In a homeschool our reforms (to use his word) come fast and furious. If something isn't working we know it right away and change it quick or tweak it until it does.

Last reality: "We don't control out destiny". Mr. Myers is talking about teachers and administrator's not actually controlling the school environment. He talks about outside forces such as government, ethnic groups, labor and courts. I believe a majority of us decide to homeschool or continue to school because we don't want others controlling our destiny or that of our children. Most of us are very much against government and court influence on homeschooling although we certainly embrace ethnic and religious influences individually!

I'm sure there will be many public school people that will disagree with Mr. Myers but I enjoyed using his statements to my own thinking on homeschooling!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Another Horse Show Update

It was a very cold, wet and dreary weekend for a horse show but I can't complain too much - the barns were enclosed and dry, we had paved roads and the arena was indoors. There was a high school equestrian team regional meet going on the other side of the fairgrounds that was totally outside - shed row barns and all outside arenas with dirt roads between it all. Everything was mud up to their ankles. Equestrian Girl had a good show - she placed with every single judge in every class except one trail class where she was DQ'd for not doing the pattern correctly. I think she ended up with something like 22 points which wasn't bad considering it wasn't a great turn out. We are hoping for a lot more at the next show!

Friday, October 2, 2009

It's Raining...and cold

Horses: It's pouring rain right now. And cold out. And we are due to load up to leave for a horse show in six hours. Ugh. Our last show was in the rain and cold...but that one was also totally outside with shed-row stalls and an outdoor arena. At least this time there are enclosed barns and a huge indoor arena. At least in the section of the fairground where we will be has that stuff. At the other end of the fairgrounds is another show area that is like the one I mention above. This is where 5 or 6 high school equestrian teams will be competing in a regional meet tomorrow including a few girls we know. I feel bad for them. The equestrian teams have had really bad luck with weather on their meet days the past few years. Hopefully most of this rain will move out of here quick today and tomorrow will be dry...and Sunday since we have two days.

Stanley is clipped (mostly) and ready to go. We'll bath at the show since they have warm water and it's in an enclosed area to keep it a little warmer. He's already gotten so shaggy even with having him blanketed. Equestrian Girl and I had to work a long time on trimming his ears! They were big fur balls after not having shown for 5 weeks and the cold weather setting in so fast this fall but I'm sure he's not the only horse that's going to be a little extra fuzzy.

Equestrian Girl has a BAD cold. She's starting to feel a little better but the nose is a faucet and she's coughing a lot now too. Poor kid - and now to subject her to this cold wet weather. I have feeling I'm going to be doing more than my share of show-mom duties this weekend just to keep her warm and dry. And then of course I'll catch it for Monday...

Motocross: Next weekend Motocross Boy does something new in racing. Some people have gotten together and built a track at a golf course/ski resort up north but it's not a normal course, it's more of an enduro type track that is much narrower and winds through natural elements. It's also a race against time as opposed to other riders - they won't all go off at the same time in order to spread them out around the track. So there can and will be times where riders are racing "each other" on the track but the winner is the one with the fastest time overall and not necessarily who crosses the line first. The neat thing for us is that its about 15 minutes away from our cottage so we don't need to stay at the track in the trailer!! We'll be able to go out for a few hours to watch and then leave to our warm, comfy cottage. Hopefully the weather will be good...

Homeschooling: It's been a rather rough week with Equestrian Girl not feeling so good and Motocross Boy being only motivated by getting a new street hockey stick. We also had some computer issues with Motocross Boy forcing me to put a very aggressive parental watch program on his laptop...