Saturday, November 28, 2009

Goals

Horses: Equestrian Girl made up a list of goals for riding that she wants to achieve next year. I thought this was a great idea and was pretty impressed. I don't recall having much in the way of goals when I was 11. Heck, I still don't! But one of them is learning "goat tying".

Since neither of us knew the first thing about goat tying we did what every modern family does - watched some videos on You Tube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RP_-iqfHMbg
It appears the goat is tied to a stake at one end of the arena by a "leash". You start on your horse at the other end and when you get the "go", you ride like heck towards the goat, jump off your horse, run over to the goat, and tie up three legs.

So a couple of days ago we set our "stage". She decided Stanley should be bareback so it would be easier to learn to do a fast dismount. We set up a couple of cones as her "line" where she needs to jump off. Then we set up 4 cones all next to each other to be the goat and she'd have to stack the cones in lieu of tying it's legs. We decide she need to start at a trot until she masters the dismount.

Cones are set up and she trots towards her "dismount line". She leans forward as she approaches the line, starts to swing her legs and Stanley stops dead. Before the line. Try again. Same thing. Stanley has always been taught when you are losing your rider, you STOP! In this game, the horse should still be moving pretty fast across the line so the rider can hit the ground running and other people worry about stopping your horse. Not Stanley. His rider comes off and he stops dead - nobody needs to catch that horse! Over and over we try this with Equestrian Girl trying to get him to run over the line and even when we took away the cones and just drew a line in the dirt, he still wouldn't run across it if she started to come off but she did learn to get him really close before jumping so at least it was a fair trade.

Today we tried it with a saddle. First, Equestrian Girl ditched the spurs just in case. We didn't want any accidental stabbings. Since this was the first time with the saddle, she has Stanley stand still. He was still standing still when she tossed herself off and found herself dangling from her coat caught on the saddle horn!! We are so lucky to have such an unflappable horse. He just stood there chewing while I ran over to lift her free.

Motocross: One of the biggest races in the country is in Florida this weekend. We are proud to know several of the boys who are in the placings as of today!! Having such world-class riders here just ups the standard for all the riders in Michigan which explains why we have so many that qualify for these national races.

Homeschooling: I spent a good chunk of Friday getting the school assignments scheduled for the next several weeks - or at least until the Christmas break. I'm always amazed at how long that takes to do even though such a good chunk of it is cut and paste...but we are ready!!


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has always been a lot more about eating turkey in our family than about giving thanks. Sure, we've tried to start traditions where everyone has to state at least one thing they are thankful for as we sit down at the table but it's never really "stuck". As family has moved south over the years, our table has gotten smaller and smaller. There were years where we had to add a card table or two and this year...it's just the 4 of us. Since our favorite parts of the meal are the turkey, stuffing and sweet potatoes, that's all I'm making. Maybe rolls. It's just such a non-event for us any more...

Horses: We'll take Stanley a fresh apple today.

Motocross: Hmm. Pretty hard to thank the bikes.

Homeschooling: The kids will watch "After the Mayflower" on the History Channel. They were supposed to watch it yesterday but neither of them did - thus having to do it on Thanksgiving. I'm really not that evil!


Monday, November 23, 2009

Ribbons


Horses: As planned, we attended our last horse show of the season yesterday and as hoped, it was a great success. Equestrian Girl would have had a clean sweep in her age group for Showmanship and her 4 riding classes but...a metal table sucked the magnets off the number on her shirt and none of us noticed until it was too late. The judge couldn't place her in her Western Pleasure class because she wasn't wearing a number. And the 4th place ribbon was in Open Bareback equitation so she was competing against adults - but the real problem was she was losing her boots and had to reach down to pull them back on a few times!

Motocross: The boys got a nice surprise on Saturday when a friend invited them out to their home track and found it to be awesome!! They were really impressed and had a great afternoon of practice. They were on their best behavior and hope to be invited back soon.

Homeschooling: I have a sneaky suspicion this is going to be a tough week of schooling. I have some fun stuff planned - like history channel videos on Thanks giving...but we'll see how it goes.



Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Feast

Horses: Last night was a lot like old times...we have two old friends from a barn where we used to board a few years ago back boarding with us again! There's actually a 4th person that was there that after we left but came to this barn before the other two. This is Lori and Blade and Kris and Joey.


Equestrian Girl gives advice to Lori on how to side pass.

Equestrian Girl was all smiles!



We are doing one last little show on Sunday. It's at MSU so all indoors and heated!! It's an open show and we know the judge so it should be a lot of fun. Our new trainer is coming up with her baby horse so we'll have help - but it's a low key, no show clothes show so it will be relaxing and FUN! The next day Stanley's shoes come off and we will be DONE for the season!

Motocross: The boys just can't give in and winterize the bikes...such wishful thinking! Last winter they were able to race and practice all winter - there were 2 or 3 indoor tracks and one had a race series. This year...the only one they can find is about 5 hours away in Indiana.

Homeschooling: I honestly didn't think either of the kids were going to get all their school work done this week and then...they did. But I did have to laugh at Motocross Boy. He really thinks he is tricking me when he gets 100% on a quiz but has no idea what the topic was. Today he sent me a quiz on pronouns that was perfect...except when I asked him to name 3 pronouns he couldn't do it. Back to actually READ the lesson sir!




Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Equestrian Girl's Wild Rides

Equestrian Girl had some big time fun last week. We went up to visit our friend Shannon and see the horses she's been training. The first one is her Gypsy, Ace. He's only been under saddle for about a month and was just as cute as cute could be! He took a few minutes to figure out Equestrian Girl's long legs but they looked awesome together.


Big smiles riding this little guy!

Then she lunged Blade, the QH/Paint that Shannon has in training. He was sooooo pretty!


Shannon warmed him up for Equestrian Girl after the lunging.


Equestrian Girl loved his big lofty trot! He's only been in training for a little more than a month too but is going great. Has all his buttons already and just needs refining now.






And then we got up north and she turned on some REAL horse power!!


She won the shirt at Motocross Boy's banquet last weekend and he dug up a pair of pants that fit her. She had to steal Dad's new boots - they were a tad big in the calves but not so bad in the foot!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New faces

Horses: Horses are such willing photography subjects...though it's often hard to get them to smile for the camera, let alone actually look at it! This boy's name is Flurry and he's a Gypsy Vanner. Gypsy horses were the horse of choice for the gypsies in Ireland. They were built like draft horses and able to pull heavy loads but were small enough not to need as much food as a big draft horse. He's a new guy at the barn with his owner Carin.


This boy is a Paint like Stanley but with minimal white markings. I can't remember his name but he's new too. He spent his first evening jumping fences to the point where the barn owner's daughter thought she had lost him in the dark when she went to bring him in from the pasture. I've only had brief passings with his owners but I'm told this is their first horse and they are pretty new to the business.

This is Kiss. Kiss is a Saddlebred and is very tall, and fast and excited. Her owner is Lori and while she isn't all that new to the barn, I've never photographed her before because she doesn't get to go outside in the pastures much. She's a fancy show horse who Lori hopes will be a champion for a kid some day. In the mean time, she keeps us on our toes when she comes barreling by us!


Motocross: The kids have big plans for riding the dirt bikes up north this weekend. Camera will be on standby...these could be the last motocross pictures of the year...

Homeschooling: Some weeks are good and some weeks are bad. This has been an EXCELLENT homeschooling week!! All is good in the world and both kids are spot on track - actually Equestrian Girl is done for the week and it's only Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mud

Horses: Anyone with horses knows mud is inevitable. And while it is actually starting to dry up around here, the rains of the past few weeks were bad enough to create some serious mud bogs. These pictures were taken on Saturday when we had a beautiful fall day but it was still muddy. Equestrian Girl has an elaborate method of turning Stanley back out to the big pasture while trying to stay out of the mud. You can't quite see her in the first picture as she slips through the gate leaving him on the wrong side.


Now she has to stand in just the right spot to be able to lift and open the gate wide enough for Stanley to get through while still staying out of the mud.


If you didn't think the mud looked that deep, look again. Where are Stanley's feet?


After he's turned loose Equestrian Girl tells him to walk on the paths that are dry so he stays out of the deep mud and keeps his feet clean. You can see the grassy pasture in the background but he has a ways to go to get there since there's a fence in the way.


Then Equestrian Girl has to climb back around and out without getting in the deep mud while holding posts and gates. It's pretty tricky trying to stay mud-free this time of year!


Motocross: Motocross Boy might have another racing friend soon. The Barn Owner's son had bought this little thing he called a dirt bike that was really more of a mini-bike with fat tires and a big seat. It wasn't running right so they asked Scott to fix it. To make a long story short - it's not well made and parts are not exactly readily available. So tonight the boys took Motocross Boy's 110 cc and 65 cc bikes over to the barn along withe mini-bike for Barn Boy to ride. Saying he loved it is probably an understatement.

Homeschooling: Motocross Boy was having a tough time with math this past couple of weeks so we decided it was time to go back to Aleks.com for math again. I really like Aleks math. It doesn't let him move on to the next topic until he's showing mastery and it does regular assessments to make sure they are remembering what they've learned. This week I've had him taking a series of quizzes on old material to make sure he's remembering the basics. We've had to do some one on one time to jog his memory but that's okay.

Equestrian Girl uses Aleks math too. She's about 6 topics away from finishing math for her grade for the year but she loves math so she'll just move on to the next grade. She is seriously in tune with school this week and has spent about 10 hours in two days doing the week's assignments. I think she is almost done for the week!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Motocross Racers Celebrate

Motocross: Yesterday was the MPX Motocross Banquet. This is where they hand out the year end trophies and the kids all get to see what they look like in normal clothes and the parents don't recognize each other because we are clean - especially the moms - we are even wearing make-up and have our hair done.

The banquet was huge with over 300 trophies to hand out and over 600 raffle prizes!!

They started the evening with a limbo contest. Motocross Boy did well but didn't win.


Motocross Boy loves his trophies. He got three out of that huge stack of them!


Here's some of the boys he raced with - he's third from the right in the black t-shirt.



Motocross Boy and his crew.


Equestrian Girl came and had fun too. She hung with one of the other little sisters but her eyes were dancing over all the cute boys.


Motocross Boy and his buddy

Sunday, November 8, 2009

More Indian Summer in November

Horses: Equestrian Girl went out on a trail ride with a couple of women from the barn. On the left is Colleen on her Tennessee Walking Horse named Chip. He's Stanley's best friend. On the right is Erin on her Quarab (part Quarter horse, part Arabian) Casey and poneying her yearling Morgan, Phillipe. It was the perfect fall day for a trail ride!!







Friday, November 6, 2009

Homeschooling Happiness

Homeschooling: This morning Motocross Boy had one assignment left to do. He needed to read for 15 minutes. He happened to be sitting in the office with me since he had just finished an assignment on the computer so he reached over to a stack of homeschooling stuff I had sitting on my desk for inspiration and grabbed a book called, "A Little Child's 50 States of America". While the pages are those thick cardboard baby book pages, the content really isn't all that juvenile.

Here's a sample:
Have you ever eaten a slice of fresh, juicy pineapple? If you have, it probably was shipped from Hawaii to your grocery store.

Motocross Boy started with Alabama and was on Hawaii when he told me he had just watched some car show on the Speed Channel that was filmed in Hawaii. Then as he read the little list of the capital, state nickname, state flower and state bird, he started laughing. Hawaii's state bird is the Hawaiian Goose! And here's what's cool...he spun around in his chair and googled "Hawaiian Goose". Before I could spin around too, he had a picture of one on the screen and was reading about Hawaiian Geese even though his 15 minute timer had gone off!!

Yesterday we skipped his math lesson. Why? Because Dad wanted to put new siding on the side of the garage. Major LIFE math lesson in the works here!! First he had to measure the side of the garage. Then they had to figure out how many 4'x10' sheets of T1Eleven were needed and how much would be left over. Then how much trim wood was needed. And finally, multiply all those numbers to figure out the cost! It was all real, it all made sense and he did it all perfectly. If I had put all those individual math problems (same everything) on a piece of paper he probably would have gotten at least half of them wrong.

THESE are the reasons why I love homeschooling so much. We can let the kids explore what they find interesting and use REAL LIFE for learning.

Equestrian Girl went shopping on line at Aeropostale. She figured out everything she wanted, added it all up and got the tax and shipping. Then she got a coupon that gave $10 off for every $40 spent but it was only good in the stores and not online. Then she figured out what it would cost to buy the same stuff at the store using the coupon plus tax but no shipping. The store was the way to go saving over $30. I couldn't help but take her today to buy a few of the things that she wanted so bad!

Horses: It's like old home week at the barn. Another old friend that we used to board and ride with has moved into our barn with her QH. That now makes 4 of us that came from that barn...and all of our horse share a paddock.

The odd man out in that paddock is a 3 year old draft cross. He's been more or less left on his own for a very long time with absent owners. Equestrian Girl needed a "project" for the winter and asked if she could teach him some ground manners and showmanship. Our barn owner checked with the horse's owners who were reluctant at first but agreed when he told them we do know what we are doing. Last night Equestrian Girl had her first session with him. She started out just walking him on his lead and asking him to stop on command. The first few times when she would stop he would wrap his head around in front of her invading her space in a bad way. Very gently she told him that this wasn't acceptable. Two more tries and he was stopping when told and keeping his head straight ahead. Before long he was doing that so good that she added in backing after a good stop. She would turn and ask him to back. The first few tries she had to really pull on the lead rope down towards his chest while making her back sound. By the fourth try he was doing it just by her sound! I'm sure she is thinking this is all way too easy but the darn horse didn't help that thought by learning how to "set up" in about six tries!


The horse's name is Hidalgo and he does indeed look like the movie star horse. His ears were all donkey-ish the whole time! He was listening and trying soooooo hard and just LOVING all the attention! We stopped after about 20 minutes not wanting to over do it and then spent a little time on grooming - something that he badly needs. This is going to be a fun project and I'm hopeful that someone will pick up where we leave off in the spring and get him started riding. We just aren't qualified to go that far...

Motocross: Sunday is the banquet for the MPX series of races. I think Motocross Boy gets a trophy...or two...or maybe even 3!!


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Baja Monster Mash

Motocross: And they are off!! This was the second moto on Saturday in the 65 cc class 9-11 year olds. Motocross Boy's last time to ride in this class since he is now 12!


It was pretty cold out - he had to wear his coat over his chest and neck protectors.


He LOVES hitting that little jump at the finish line - even when there are several laps to go.


Yipee!! Motocross Boy learned how to put that leg out going into the corners!


Must have been a good race - Dad looks happy!



Gulp. Makes me a nervous wreck when the bikes are jumping this close together. I can't believe I'm actually able to take a picture and have it turn out - my hands were shaking. Good testament to the auto stability control in this new camera.

This is how pre-teen girls get around at Baja...how they troll for boys...how they show off...how they have fun!



Baja looks so different when all the leaves are gone...it was Halloween weekend and definitely had a rather scary look.
Motocross Boy didn't bring home any trophies for his last 65cc class of the season but we all had fun, made some great new friends, and are looking forward to next season!

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Baja Halloween

Halloween weekend was spent this year at Baja for the Monster Mash - a big motocross race. Lots of stuff going on all weekend for the kids including costume contests, pumpkin carving, etc. In spite of it being rather cold, damp, muddy and windy, the kids dressed up and went out trick or treating camper to camper!

Most of our "gang". Equestrian Girl is the pretty pink pirate second to the left and Motocross Boy has on the fuzzy black wig and yellow sunglasses in the middle. Girls on the Right. Boys on the left. It just happened.


The clown and swat boy are brother and sister. Motocross Boy seems to like her nose...


I loved this little guy's costume!


I liked this one even better. He was the littlest one in our "gang" of kids. Everyone kept stepping on his cape and strangling him. One adorable little guy.



Trick or treating in a quasi campground is interesting. Very noisy - no electricity except what everyone gets off their generators. The good thing is that everyone is pretty close together.

Some of the bigger motocross vendors like Fox racing had pretty elaborate displays.



Mud. There was a lot of mud. It had rained for several days before everyone got there on Friday night. They even had to delay the start of practice on Saturday to work on the track...getting rid of some of the mud...


Not much difference in sitting in your garage at home to pass out candy or sitting in your camper garage.

More on the actual racing later!