Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Back on the Grid

Monday afternoon, the power was back, along with landline and cable, and the all important INTERNET. YAY!!!

After two days of unseasonably warm temps that melted off the ice, we now have 2 -3 inches of snow with more expected. Looks like a White Christmas in New England.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ice Storms...UGH

Ice Storms...what a joy. [insert heavy sarcasm]

The meteorologists had been missing calls for a while now. So, imagine our shock when they actually got one right.

Since 10pm Thursday, December 11, our neighborhood has been without power. We were watching "The Dark Knight" at had just arrived at the climax of the movie when...[distant boom] a transformer blew and the power went out then browned in and out as the power fluctuated for a few moments...[distant boom] the second transformer blew and the lights were out for the duration.

8am the power was still out. Donning jackets and shoes, we leashed the hounds and walked outside to find a crystalline forest, a downed pine tree and a birch tree across the road. Both had just missed taking out a utility pole and the associated power lines. Around the cul-de-sac, a small birch tree had its branches frozen to the power lines, but no break. As we rounded the corner, our neighbors we not so lucky. Their power line from the pole to their house took a direct hit by a high, hardwood branch that had snapped off.

We finished our walk. Figuring that we'd be without power for at least the day, maybe two, we pulled out the portable generator and got it fired up. Then we headed out for gas and some breakfast. It was at this moment that we realized how badly the town had been hit.

Our road was blocked by two fallen trees. Fortunately we had a connecting road. As we drove down the road, there were trees with their crowns touching the pavement and frozen there. Power, cable, and phone lines were snapped or strewn all about. We wove our way down to the main road and headed to the local Sam's Club.

No stop lights were functioning. This made making turns across four lanes of traffic an extreme sport. Sam's and Walmart were down for the count, as well as Dunkin Donuts, MacDonalds, and the local super markets. Everything was dark which meant the town was in bad shape.

We headed across the bridge to the neighboring city. We fueled up and went on a hunt for breakfast. There we found the rest of our town, in the drive thrus. We all had the same idea at the same time. We pulled into Mac Donald's and already the drive through had 25 cars in it and the parking lot was filled to capacity. 5 minutes after we got there, two uniformed employees came out and started turning walk-in traffic away. "no food". "we're closed". Rolling down my window I asked them if they were really closed or we're they at their maximum seating capacity. "No food". They had the last car in line pegged as the last vehicle that they could serve. I found myself wondering "How did they know this?" "What if the last guy was picking up meals for six of his friends that were working construction somewhere?" At that point, we figured we'd leave and try to find another one.

Finally we did. While the line was long, we got what we wanted. Then we headed back with our fast food bounty to liberate the dogs and hunker down for a longer wait.

It is amazing how reliant we've become on creature comforts and instant information.

All I can say is thank God for cellphones as we'd have been SOL without our cells as our landline was toasted. We have no internet access. This blog is courtesy of my employer's access.

So, today is Monday. Welcome to day four without power. I did see one of the big utility trucks in our circle last night. I'm hoping he was there doing some assessments to see if they could get us back on the grid in short order.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Habit Forming Continued

It's been four months since my last post. I'm nearing some final touches on my riding "habit". I've commissioned a new hennin with a butterfly veil. This should complete the clothing nicely. Antique gold silk with a creme colored veil with pearls and goldwork.

Once the final touches are finished, I will post a picture of the completed look.

Then it's on to the saddle.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Long Awaited Buckle

The Belt and the Buckle are now complete, now they must be attached one to the other. For this I will be paying a visit to a friend who has the experience to put it all together. I tried to do it but felt that I would mangle Gina's work.

Above is what the belt will look like when it's actually finished.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Habit Forming: Revisited

Many who have followed this meandering and occasionally sporadic blog might remember that I was having a 15th century broad belt made for my historical riding attire. The belt portion of lovely tablet woven silk has been done for quite some time and has been eagerly awaiting completion.

Well it seems like that day is drawing nearer. I've received some updated pictures of the belt buckle. Below is just a taste. I don't want to spoil the end result as the buckle has not been gilt yet.

The image that follows is the strap end. The buckle is silver and hand crafted, not cast.

Bit-less Bridle Round 2

I received my replacement bitless bridle Thursday but due to weather, didn't have an opportunity to use it until Sunday. It worked great! Phantom's head carriage was natural and relaxed. She figured it out very quickly, and was more responsive. Halts were instant rather than 3 or 4 steps. I got to concentrate more on leg and seat than having to worry about the battle of the bit.

It was a great ride and I'm very pleased.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Bitless Bridle First Try

Well, I have to say I am impressed. I fitted Phantom with the new Dr. Cook's bitless bridle today. Normally, when a bridle with bit is placed in her mouth, she gets tense and makes a fuss if the same bridle has a brow band. I put her on the cross ties and after the dust and fluff, and unclipped her halter and slipped it over her head. I unbuckled the noseband of the new bitless and slipped it on. No fuss, no muss. She even accepted the fact that this was an English style headstall with brow band.

Then she quietly stood while I read the "User's Guide" and made the appropriate adjustments. I was amazed at how quiet and calm she was, especially since we haven't done any work in about six months. She also seemed to understand and work with the new bridle quicker than expected, but since I only worked with her from the ground today, I won't have a full evaluation until I actually sit in the saddle.

I ordered the Draft size as historically these are the only headstalls that seem to fit warmblood sized horses. I have all the straps to their highest holes and it still looks like I have an inch of play on each side. So I've asked for the Bitless bridle folks for some advice. Normally, I'd put some additional holes in the bridle, but it's a synthetic AND if it doesn't work, I have a 30 Day Money Back on it. So far the company has been VERY user friendly.

I'll keep ya posted.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Dr. Cook's Bitless Bridle

Over the past few years, it seems that getting just the right bit for Phantom has been a major challenge. No matter how many times I measure, have another experienced horse person measure, etc... I've always felt that whatever bit I ended up with was never "right". Phantom is not hard mouthed and I really want to keep it that way. So, one day while looking through the latest "Yankee Pedlar Horsemen's edition" publication, I came across an ad for Dr. Cook's bitless bridle and thought..."hmmm...I wonder if this might be a good solution." They had a web site, and I visited.

You'd be amazed at the number of people that have written about their success with this bridle. I've read the product material on the web site and read the hundreds of reviews from satisfied riders that have had similar feelings and issues with bits and their own riding experience. The testimonials made the difference for me. How can 374 pages (Dec 2000 - March 2008) of heartfelt testimonials be wrong? The people writing their stories range from professional dressage and eventers to the weekend horseman.

Now some might think that I might be hard on my horses mouth. Heavy handed or my hands aren't quiet.

Firstly, I am not a heavy handed rider, all of my instructors have said that I'm light and have quiet hands. I do my level best to use leg, seat, and voice over the bit. My friend and current instructor, always said that the "Horse's brakes are in their feet, not their mouth". C'est vrais.

Others might say that my horse is hard-mouthed or has dental issues, or is just a pill.

Secondly, Phantom does not have any issues with her mouth. Her teeth are perfect and she has no sores on her tongue, lips, or any other part of her mouth. She does have a lower palate, which is why I moved away from a snaffle all together. I ride in a meyler low-port mullen mouth which she seems to be fine with, but I always felt that it was hard on the bars of her mouth. I just feel that she is one of those horses that would do well without a bit.

A few years ago, someone had suggested going to a hackamore as there was a pony that had similar bit tolerances. Once the owner switched to a hackamore, the pony was a perfect gentleman and no longer tried to dump the kids. Phant's only intentionally tried to dump me twice, on the same day. That is due in large part to another rider letting her get away with stuff. But in regard to the hackamore, I never got around to that stage.

Since Phantom has had about six months off, I thought we'd start fresh this Spring. Lots of ground work and a new bitless bridle.

I contacted Their staff was very swift to respond and answered my questions. within 2 hours of my hitting the send button. I ordered the bridle the same day. I ordered it the 15th it arrived on the 17th. It comes with a 30 Day money back guarantee. Also if you buy the synthetic and decide that you want to upgrade to a leather, just clean up the synth and send it back, they credit you the purchase price of the synth and you pay the difference.

I thought it was very nice that the bridle actually comes with a "User's Guide" to make sure that you have the proper fit for your horse and a trouble shooting guide if the rider should note that there are somethings that aren't going quite right with suggestions for tweaking.

I ordered the synthetic as it was an inexpensive option. It looks like leather when it comes out of the box. Mine is the English design as the Western doesn't come in warmblood/draft size. It is a nice simple design. I will be trying it out on my mare this weekend and will post more when I have something to report and will try to get photos of the experience.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

My previous assessment

What do you get when to add one 9 month old IG, one bag of kitty litter, a large kitchen, and approximately 1.5 hours to work with?


In my last post I had indicated that I was ecstatic to have two Italian Greyhounds...that assessment might have been premature. Especially when thinking about the path of destruction that was torn through my kitchen last night.

We had to run to the grocery store and then two the barn to dispense love and cookies on our horses, who have started to wonder if we're figments of their imagination. The dogs had been walked, fed, had bedding, and more chew toys than Santa could possibly supply. Setting up the gates, we told the dogs we'd be back "shortly", the key word for a few hours. They had the TV to listen to and light.

Bob and I returned in about 1.5 hours. I walked up to the door and saw my beloved pup, sitting on the oriental carpet in the kitchen with her "happy" face. Her tail started wagging at me as she watched me as I looked through the door window. My face was blank as my mind attempted to work over exactly what I was looking at...this odd blue stuff scattered on the floor. I knew they'd gotten into something...but what was it? Then in DAWNED on me. She realized it at the exact same moment and disappeared around the corner of the island.

OMg! The Carnage... Revenge Poop, the shredded training pads, the eviscerated remains of the cat litter bag; its blue "gore" sprayed across the pristine tiles of the kitchen as if a tiny Sweeney Todd had slashed his way through.

Needless to say, the blue of the litter wasn't the only thing being spewed!

It took me an hour to clean the kitchen. What a mess!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Another year older...


Just found out that Circle R isn't currently taking orders for side saddles. The fuster (treemaker) is redesigning the tree. So, I have no idea when the saddles will be available again. Very frustrating. I may need to talk to our historical saddler and see what he can do. He's made side saddles before and has been a saddler for over 30 years. So it might be time to do a fitting and just have him go ahead with the "project".

On the bright side of today, Bob's taking me out for my birthday. We're going to try out a new Japanese restaurant that opened in our area.

And this weekend, we'll have our new Italian Greyhounds. YAH!!!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Belt Buckle... delayed

he girdle buckle is still being made. The craftsman had a very busy holiday and then suppliers and other folks took off for the holidays. So needless to say I'm still waiting for my buckle. However I knew that they really wouldn't get started on it until close to the end of 2007.

Here is the beginning of it. It's the little piece in the upper left corner. It will be two of those pieces tall to conform to my girdles 5.4 cm width and will have the back plate. Somehow I don't think it will look exactly as I had imagined it, but we'll see.

So far, most viewers probably are not overly impressed. It's not far enough along for me to "panic", so I reserve judgment at this time. His other work is fantastic, so I'm going on faith here.


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Happy New Year... belated

he last week of 2007 and into the first full week of 2008 has been really busy. Before Christmas, Bob and I had been in contact with the East Coast Italian Greyhound Rescue. We wanted to adopt some Iggy's, as they are affectionately known. We'd been thinking about it for a long time and when we visited the adoption page, we saw her, little Evie. She is the cutest blue/fawn greyhound. Right now we're waiting for her to finish healing from her spaying before we can bring her home.

Due to the holidays, things were kind of slow and in the last week, we've signed applications, discussed our goals, and had a home visit to make sure that our home is the proper fit. We also adopted an 8 year old male named Brady. His owner was forced to give him up because he has a serious medical condition. He loved his three dogs, so we hope he will take some solace that Brady is coming to a home that will love him and take care of him. Evie and Brady had clicked really well, so we decided not to separate them. Brady is apparently good with puppies, Evie is 8 months.

On Sunday night we were given the green light and in two weeks our two Italian Greyhounds will be coming to their forever home.

Bob and I can't wait.