Horses, Life, A Touch of Geek


Saddle Seat Wednesday
December 6, 2016

December 6, 2016

Another competitor in Adult Academy used the hashtag #howmanydaystillnationals. I thinks to myself, I can answer that. So, when I updated the AEC counter ([AEC], link in the upper right corner), I added a Nationals countdown. Since that came out in months & weeks,
gave me the exact answer. As of yesterday, 324 daystillnationals. I remain adamantly ambivalent about the show itself.

My competitive side: Horse show! Horse show!
The sane part of me: No! No! No!

Competitive, adopting a wheedling tone: If I work reeeeeally hard at my equitation all year …
Sane: I can ride with no stirrups from now till October. I still won’t have the temperament for equitation.

Competitive, stomping feet: I want that Sunday blue!
Sane: It’s about the process, not the ribbons. Happiness is not tied to results.

Competitive: It’ll be good experience.
Sane: It’s been four years of good experience. Enough is enough.

Competitive: I got something else to do the last weekend in October?
Sane: —

Competitive: Horse show! Horse show!
Sane: I’m never going to be reasonable on this subject am I?

Competitive: HORSE SHOW!

In reality, until such time as I ride in a suit class, Nationals will remain an option. We’ve seen how good I am at resisting the siren song of the show ring [To Show or Not To Show].

At least I got a blog post out of it.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

So what have the horses been up to while I’ve been moping [Headspace]? The big picture remains a hopeless disaster. On a small scale, they are doing quite well.

Field walks
With Milton, our walks wander all over, in a different patterns, incorporating regular loops [Two Horses] and hills [Hillwork], to keep him from getting bored. With Rodney, we do the same small path, over and over [Progress], to keep him reassured. Rodney recently added a second, slightly more adventurous path to his repertoire.

Ground Work
Both are lunging with double lines or ground driving. We use the saddle from Milton’s driving harness [Equipment]. The large middle strap of a harness is called the saddle. We thread the line(s) through the ring(s) on top, known as terret(s).

Double lunging has one line directly to the bit and the offside line through the offside terret. Ground-driving has both lines through the terrets. The latter is more flexible, allowing for changes of direction without having to restring the horse, but easier to overdo. With great power comes great responsibility.

Rodney is working on walk-halt transitions, which he finds difficult. He stops, but then drifts forward, as if he has popped out of gear. Milton nailed his walk-halts by the third lesson, although he occasionally gives us the hoof, just to remind us that he is a Thoroughbred. Greg and Milton have moved up to trotting in hand.

In either case, I am amazed at how much learning can be done with long lines. If I suddenly had a riding horse tomorrow (ha!), I would still keep this in the rotation.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Headspace Update

I’ve been in a mood lately.

Everything’s fine. I’m fine. Horses are fine. We’re fine. We’re all fine here now, thank you. How are you? Luke, we’re gonna have company…

But I digress.

I’m not depressed. No gray cloud hovers over my head.

I’d say I was recuperating, if I had done anything to recuperate from.

It’s partly politics. There is so much anger on both sides. We seem to have misplaced the concepts of reasoned debate and civil civic discourse.

Stuck is the best way to describe it. A degree of inertia that would ground the Space Shuttle.

I want to do something. Leave my mark. Help humanity. Write the great American novel, or at least a Hugo-winning one. I’ve always been more Hugo Award than Nebula. But that would mean writing something other than a blog post.

As for the horses. I’m stuck there as well. In saddle seat, I’ve done an abundance of Academy but am unwilling to commit to suit. Driving’s great, but any serious training or competing will involve extensive interstate travel with mountains of equipment. Oy, the equipment.

With Rodney, part of me never gives up hope. That part often gets shouted down by the voices of frustration and despair. Progress with Milton requires a truck, which has been the plan since my butt hit the ground [2014: Universe, 2015: Whither?]. I’m as shocked as you at how long this has taken. See above remark re inertia.

I hesitate to say anything. I should count my blessings. I know good things can be taken away in an instant. I should STFU. So many folks have actual problems. OTOH, these are not productive lines of reasoning. Attempts to foster gratitude trigger the guilt hammer instead [A Look Inside].

Movement is usually the best answer. Onwards!

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Letter Art: Logo


After reading Pretty Much Everything by Draplin, I have been fiddling with the idea of a logo for the blog. Clearly, I am not about to put professional graphic designers out of business. Ah well, at least I don’t do it in the streets and frighten the horses.


Draplin Design Co.: Pretty Much Everything
by Aaron James Draplin
(Abrams 2016)

Image, minus border, from the website.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

My Next Reading Assignment

This is not a review, nor a recommendation. I have not read the book yet. I bought it because of a Facebook post.


Brain Training for Riders: Unlock Your Riding Potential with StressLess Techniques for Conquering Fear, Improving Performance, and Finding Focused Calm
Andrea Monsarrat Waldo
(Trafalgar Square 2016)

Trainer: Horse is cutting in on the corner.
Me: He is spooking at the shadow, snow falling off the roof, phase of the moon.

This was always taken as a complaint or an excuse on my part. Not the case. It seems to me that the first step in solving a problem is knowing the cause. Is the horse diving left because I am inadvertently hauling on the left rein? Then I should stop doing so. If the horse is diving left to avoid gremlins on the right, my response needs to be different.

I like that the book acknowledges that behavior can start with the horse. Still up to me to fix the problem, granted, but I am not always causing it.

I will report back. Be warned, my To Be Read pile has reached such massive proportions that it has become a black hole into which books disappear, never to be seen again.

Also in the box was the blog book from Stellar Fashion & Fitness.

Fat Girl Power: How I Built Confidence through Body Positivity, Fashion and Fitness
Jennifer King
(CreateSpace 2016)

Full of personal stories and lessons I hope others will find useful and inspiring. Fat Girl Power: The Book

Doing my part to support local bloggers.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Foto Friday: Predawn



Milton waits in hope of an early breakfast.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Milton’s Practice Cart

Driving Thursday




Greg built practice shafts out of PVC pipes and a set of lawnmower wheels. It’s light, maneuverable, and doesn’t cost $100s of dollars if Milton declines be a driving horse with a violent hissy fit.

So far, Milton has accepted all of the introductory exercises. We have not rolled the shafts to either side of him, nor hitched. We need a third set of hands for the former, and expert supervision for the latter.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott