Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Jesus Take The Wheel: Adventures In Learning to Trailer (Part One)

Hide your women and children!

So I have this trailer now.  It’s no longer mired in ice, so I’ve begun taking it out to practice, with the idea being that I should get as many mistakes as I can out of the way before I actually put live animals in there. 

A few folks told me to just hook the thing up and go out and practice. That wasn’t going to work for me. The way I saw it, that’s not how I learned to drive in the first place. (Here are the keys, Aim. Have at it! The highway’s just down the road on your right.)  I wanted someone who knew what they were doing with me for the first few times. 
My friend Mary-Ann went with me the first time, bless her brave heart.  The kids and I had been practicing hooking the trailer, so by the time she got to the barn Noah and I had hooked up and ready to go.  We made it down and out of the long driveway with no trouble (kinda weird not to be able to see anything but white metal in your rear view mirror) and out on to the closest main road.  I was busy congratulating myself for making the sharp uphill turn it and when I heard Mary-Ann say, “The speed limit’s 50. You have to do at least 50.”

Now, I’ve never had that kind of issue with speed limits before.  Mostly I have to slow down to get to the posted limit. I don’ recall ever needing to speed up.  However, dragging a big box around made me a little conservative, so every now and then you’d hear Noah or Mary-Ann remind me to speed up until finally Mary-Ann said in a tone that brooked no argument, “No, really.  You have to go 50. Now. Step on the gas pedal.”
We drove over to a local office campus with several large parking lots, figuring since it was a Saturday there would be ample room to practice backing and turning without too many casualties. The lot was wide open so I worked on backing up into parking spots. We were just about to start with K-turns when a little white-haired man in possession of a uniform and a very official attitude came out and asked us to leave the premises. I’m not sure why, but this struck us as hysterical for some reason. 

After our eviction we got on the highway for a bit, and then popped off to go to a road that Mary-Ann said was perfect for working on K-turns. It was basically shaped like a T, and Mary-Ann had me stop on the top-left side of the T and back the trailer down the long stem of the T, then pull up to the right so I was straight on the top right side of the T, and then back the trailer down from that way.  This did not go well. At all.  I sucked.  I think I might have tried to do this about 20 times in each direction to no avail. Which made me tense.   And flustered.  And irritable.  My vocabulary was getting more colorful by the second, and I was incorporating my Higher Power’s name in expressions that could have gotten me smoked by a lightning bolt had said Higher Power been paying attention. Mary-Ann did her best to remain patient with me and Noah did his best to avoid laughing. (Smart Boy).
Finally I half-assed it in a way that we could call marginally successful and we left it at that.  We got back to the barn, unhooked the trailer, and heaved huge sighs of relief. Mary-Ann headed home ( and probably poured herself a large adult beverage) and Noah and I drove home, feeling that we had a good number of successes and knew what we needed to do to get better.

More about the 'getting better' stuff to come.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Truly Fabulous Horse Show Swag...

Whoa!  Two posts in one week!  Can you stand it?  Must be some new record or something.

Today's blathering is on the topic of prizes.  You know, the ones you or your spawn get if you happen to have a good day and you wind up with a $1.00 piece of blue nylon telling you, "You done GOOD!"

Coolers or silver plated whatnots (plates/frames/cups) are awesome, but a: they kids and I don't typically show at that level, and b: if we did, I'm not so sure we'd be getting those kinds of ribbons.  So we play at the more local level, for the most part, and I'm really happy with the direction the prizes are going.

I mean, shows have a hard time making money, so I'm gonna say that the fact that they give prizes at all is pretty damn fantastic.  Because a ribbon may fade, but a coffee cup or candy jar can go off to college with you.  No joke.  Both my kids will go off to college with a full set of coffee cups.  I'm thinking they can use a couple for their intended use, then repurpose the others into pen holders, hair tie organizers, or flower pots.  (Whatever, the last one could happen, although they better not be growing anything funky in them!)

Anyways, I've noticed that show management has gone and seen the light.  Yeah, kids make up a good portion of the active show population, it's true.  But if you look carefully at the folks who are sitting on top of horses, sweating from activity and nerves, and looking as if they are going to vomit, you're going to see a lot of adults.  What's the connection here?  The age thing.

Who is paying for the horse show?  An adult.  The adult who is parenting or the adult who is riding.  What do adults who are paying for the whole galactic ally expensive horse thing do?  They drink!  They drink to exacerbate the pain of writing astronomical checks, or to alleviate nerves or because that night's lesson (or any of them in recent memory) didn't go to plan.  Or just because hanging at the barn/show with the other inmates at the horse-crazy asylum and sharing an adult beverages is a good thing.

Crap, this post was not supposed to be so log.  Here's the point: Horse show management is finally recognizing who pays the bills, and is tailoring the prizes to them. PREACH!!!!! Sing Hallelujah!

I offer as evidence....

Yay!  Bring on the vino!
We went to a show where they were giving the wine glasses above as prizes for winning a class.  I told the Boy, "No pressure, honey, but Momma needs a new set of wine glasses."  Luckily the Boy had a very good show, and I got my wine glasses.  SCORE!!!!

Mommy's sippy cup

One of my favorite shows is right up the road and one of the masterminds behind it is a very cool lady who actually reads this blog (Hi, Lena!!).  Lena is a true genius.  She has great stuff for the ponies and kiddos, but she also knows that Mom and Dad (aka The Bank) need a little recognition as well.  The Child did well at one of the shows, and after she won a class Lena walked over to Sophie to hand her the blue, and on her way over she handed me the wondrous invention you see above.  SWEEEEEEEETTTT!  (See, I told you she read the blog!)

And to further expound upon Lena's brilliance, look at what she gave to the series Reserve Champions.  A chair!!  Seriously, this is great on so may levels.  As a parent of a rider, you need something to sit in during the hours of "hurry up and wait" until the spawn goes in the ring for the 2-5 minutes they actually spend showing.  Or, if you are the person that is showing, you need something to catch you as you slide bonelessly off your horse, as well as something that will hold you as you a: suck deeply from an oxygen tank or b: hydrate yourself with an adult beverage. (In which case, see above).  And it comes in handy if you have multiple children with activities, or the equestrian child participates in other sports.  The little beauty above has come in handy at several soccer/lacrosse games.

As you can imagine, I've been lobbying our trainer and barn manager to go to these shows as often as possible.  You can never have too many wine glasses.