Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Riding Lessons on Thanksgiving

Motocross Boy hasn't sat on a horse in a very long time.  About 2 years I think and the last time wasn't a great experience.  This time was better!

Started out with a quick lesson from Sis on how to hold the reins while Stanley waited patiently.

And off they went at a walk...

Then to a trot and later a canter!

It was a pretty sweet brother-sister bonding moment!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving doesn't mean dressing up much when it's just the 4 of us for dinner but it does mean eating good food!

We started in late afternoon with some shrimp and cheese.

Daddy and daughter took time out for a hug.

And then the serious eating began.

With plenty of good drinks too!

Equestrian Girl made an awesome cherry jello that was just the right touch of cold tang to all the hot turkey foods.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Pony Club

There used to be this TV show called The Pony Club that Equestrian Girl liked to watch when she was younger.  It was about 3 girls and their horses.

This is her version of the pony club.  These three girls were unstoppable at Spur this year and pretty much took the top 3 awards in every single pleasure class in 13 and under.  What was cool is that they are such good friends and were always proud of each other for doing well.  Slick Girl - in the middle - also rides the speed classes and took several championships there as well.  Irish Girl may very well have won the overall pleasure award if she had stayed for the last show - she was neck to neck with Equestrian Girl going into that last show.

Sadly, Irish Girl will move up to the 14-15 year old age group this year but I bet they still remain great friends!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Big Prizes

Equestrian Girl was really proud to win the over-all Pleasure Champion Award at Spur this year and we were proud of her too!  It's a pretty big accomplishment considering she was competing against ALL ages and many very good horses.

This tack trunk is WAY heavier than it looks.

What a proud smile!

This young man won the over all SPEED Championship award.  He got a set of pole bending poles and bases.  I heard he was really happy since he's been practicing with pvc pipes stuck in traffic cones.

Equestrian Girl and the Speed Boy.  She's 12, I think he's 15 or almost 16.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Perks of Horse Showing

A LOT of time and effort goes into showing horses (not to mention money).  We work really hard all summer keeping Stanley conditioned and in great form for every show.  It pays off immediately when we see the blue ribbons roll in at each show but the BIG perks come at the awards banquet.

Last Sunday was the awards banquet for the open series we do:  Spur of the Moment Horse Club.  This is the series that both me and Equestrian Girl showed in and had a blast!

The tables were overflowing with booty!

The kids were joined by Slick Girl on the left to check people in and give them door prize tickets.  Stephanie, the treasurer for the club kept a close eye on them!

Equestrian Girl getting one of her favorite awards - a framed professional photo collage of her and Stanley at one of the shows this summer.

I was very proud of Equestrian Girl and Slick Girl for not being afraid to get up in front the microphone to announce the winning door prize numbers!  Most kids HATE public speaking (most adults too) even if it is to just announce numbers.  So much for my kids being sheltered home schoolers!

Equestrian Girl won a ton of stuff including jackets, sheets, stadium chair, etc., but she was also the BIG winner - she was the overall Pleasure Champion and was awarded the huge tack trunk with the embroidered top in bright pink!

I didn't make out so bad either.  I won a hat can, a framed photo of me and Stanley showing, and this embroidered horse sheet - which we REALLY needed so I was glad we won 2 of them.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Health Care Reform

I don't often talk about my job.  While it gives me a good income and most of the time I really do like it, lately it's been not so much so.  I can thank Health Care Reform and President Obama for that...

Dear President Obama,

What were you thinking??  Pushing Health Care Reform through like a freight train was a bad, bad move.  Not even considering the costs involved which is a concern for everyone, do you have any idea of the extra work this involves for the average grunt?  I work for a fairly large health insurance company that has already been doing many of the things legislated for years but now it's law so we must do them DIFFERENTLY.  For all the changes that MUST go into effect 1/1/11 we've had approximately 6 months to get them ready to go live and in many cases, it's much less time than that because your government failed to offer any details.  Do you know how much programming has to be done?  How much material must be re-written? How many phone calls we get asking about it?  How many people are totally confused?

In July my group customers had to apply for subsidy money for covering their early retirees - they'd be fool not to do it.  But THAT was a ton of work for their administrators and required multiple reports from me with claims estimates on those early retirees - who aren't exactly easily identified!  Next I had to have them all sign agreements to GET the data they will be required to submit to the government in hopes of getting a handful of that money.

In August I had to find out when the group's plan year started.  Is this their renewal year, their deductible year, their fiscal year?  What if all three dates are different?  And of course, my company wasn't just satisfied with them TELLING us their plan year, they had to prove it - just in case your government didn't believe us/them.  We needed documentation and certification.

Next was "grandfathering".  This was a brilliant idea.  Groups who are broke and have had to make benefit reductions in the past 8 months have to also add MORE benefits to their plans (that increases costs just in case you weren't aware) 1/1/11 but the groups who are surviving okay and haven't made any changes can delay adding those benefits until 2014 or when they next make changes.  Again my company is no way going to believe groups just telling us that they deserve to be grandfathered and they must again "certify" that they really can delay adding those special benefits - just in case your government didn't believe us/them.

Now getting back to having 6 months...in reality it was much less.  We had groups with plan years starting 10/1, 11/1 and 12/1 that had to implement the changes THEN and not wait until 1/1/11.  Are they actually compliant?  Well, on paper they might look like it but I'm not so sure claims will actually process correctly.  Who is going to be in trouble here?

Honestly, I'm getting tired of working like a dog to implement this mess you created and I'm sure thousands of other health insurance type people across the country would agree.  I don't think any of us wants to see anyone go without medical care but seriously, you have a huge population of us tax paying people that are stressing out to the point of wanting to give up....

Not liking you much these days,


Saturday, November 13, 2010

The last days of fall...

Equestrian Girl is in full "play mode" with Stanley these days.  We make a big effort to do no serious riding when show season ends for the next couple months and Stanley loves it!  Most of the time he has no bridle and often no saddle.  Today Equestrian Girl and Te's Girl were going to go on a trail ride but...Te seemed a bit lame.

They took off across the big outdoor arena to chase the goats first.  This when when Te's girl decided Tequila was lame.

After walking around a bit, the girls decided Te's Girl should ride Stanley to get some riding time in.  Before long, Equestrian Girl was giving her a lesson.

When the sun started to drop it was getting cold so they moved to the indoor arena.  After messing around riding some more, they did some horseback chillin'!

There are very few mares that Stanley tolerates standing close to but he actually LIKES Te.  This is a really good thing considering they often go on trail rides together!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Costume Class at the Fall Color Classic 2010

Horse costume classes are always fun but having this show just before Halloween adds a fun element.  I didn't get pictures of some of the stall decorations this year but we made time to watch the costume class while eating our dinner.

First came the circus.

Including the ringmaster.

Then E-Girl's little sister who got herself and her horse ready all by herself!

Next was Einstein Girl, Alvin and her mom as the clowns.  Poor Alvin had to wear knee socks!

This little girl was from New Jersey and kicked butt in the Novice Youth classes.  She was an angel on one side and a devil on the other.  Her little dog was all devil!

This is the Time Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland.

This group of girls were having a slumber party with their horses and looked like they had just rolled out of bed to ride.

And the winners...the FCC horse ambulance!  They had a whole skit where the monster stabbed the girl then the doctor came with the ambulance to save her.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

2010 Fall Color Classic APHA Show part 3

These 3 day shows (which are really 4 days) are long and hard on everyone.  We rarely see Stanley lay down so catching this picture was pure surprise.

After short naps on Saturday for everyone, we were off to watch Equestrian Girl and Stanley tackle the trail class.
Over the trot poles,

Then back the L.  (this was tricky because of the bridge being right there.  A lot of horses wanted to turn too soon to go over the bridge when they still had more backing to do.)

NOW forward over the bridge to the gate.

And finish up with a jog through the cones.

And the dynamic duo ended up completing their best class of the weekend with a 1st, two 2nd's and a 3rd from the 4 judges!!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

2010 Fall Color Classic APHA Show part 2

Western Pleasure class was next up.

You see a picture like this and it looks like Equestrian Girl and Stanley are out in the arena all alone.

Not really.  You can see them way at the end of this line on the right.

The Western Pleasure classes were even bigger than the English class.

We have a friend that calls this the "costume class".  Compared to HUS classes where everyone looks the same, I guess it is!

Our friend Sheri brought along her baby horse, Wally, since we had a spare stall with Sandhya not coming to show.  We wanted to get a cute picture of them together with his head wrapped around her.  It didn't work so well.

We settled on this instead.

A Newbie

We have known Einstein Girl for several years.  Her mom is Equestrian Girl's 4-H leader and they used to take lessons at the barn where we first started riding.  Early this summer they got their first Paint horse - Alvin.  They took him to all the Spur of the Moment open shows with us and then decided to try an APHA show to see if that's what they wanted to do next year.

It was a big plunge but they decided on the Fall Color Classic show - the biggest show in Michigan.  This wouldn't have been so bad since she's just walk/trot and there have only been 2-4 riders at all the other shows this summer but it's a CROWDED show with not much room for practicing...

Their first class was showmanship which I missed in taking pictures.  This was followed by the Hunter Under Saddle class with 4 riders.  Einstein Girl and Alvin did great!

In the line up after class.  Alvin didn't like being so far from the other horses.

He got a little antsy and the ring steward came over to help calm him down.