"And, when you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." -The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo

Friday, October 11, 2013

Mission: Rain

On Wednesday, Liz came to visit again!

She was on her way to Cape May to band raptors this weekend, but since she was furloughed anyway, she took a couple of extra days and spent them with us in MD.

She arrived in the late afternoon on Wednesday, the day the weather started to change: it had been overcast and chilly all day, and all of the horses at the barn had been out of sorts. Respecting that, Lily and I had a 45-minute dressage school in the arena, working on bending and suppling on circles, baby leg yields, haunches-in and shoulder-in. She started out somewhat distracted, but the more complex work I put her through helped her focus.

She is so beautiful.
Liz arrived in the early evening, just in time for happy hour at a little pizza place in our neighborhood. Jeremy, Liz's rock climber friend whom we met at Seneca, joined us for dinner and beers. We had an awesome time.

Charles and Jeremy

Not sure what was going on here...hahaha...

This tends to happen a lot around Charles at dinner tables...

Liz's bear head. That she skinned herself.
The girl is hard-core, seriously.

Trying to get the weekend's plans figured out now that the nasty weather was going to affect them.
Note the pay phone!!

Afterwards Jeremy braved the weather to return to VA, and we headed for our apartment.

I had bought paracord and 1/4" yacht rope so Liz could show me how to tie a rope halter. Lily has one that she inherited from Rhythm, and I wanted to make her her own halter, with her colors.

Liz demonstrated the fiador knot, the first knot to start the halter.

Liz demonstrates the fiador knot.

I should have known that a knot that requires your entire body to tie is something that requires sobriety to achieve. :)
Explaining how it should look at the end.
Conclusion? That fiador knot is a bitch to tie. I think all of those people that hand-tie rope halters for clients are undercharging! Seriously.

I tried to get it a good 10 times. I nearly got it maybe twice, but it wasn't quite right, so I undid it and started again. It was functional in that it would stay tied, but it didn't look as pretty as it should. Liz has the patience of a saint as she sorted me out every time I got lost. We watched re-runs of Saturday Night Live on Hulu while I struggled with the knot and Charles napped on the futon. (He had worked the evening before and had not gotten much sleep during the day.)

Charles and Kenai mirror each other...

So cute!! He was dreaming - his paws were wiggling while he was asleep.

Liz lay down next to Kenai and talked to him until he slowly woke up.
In the end, I gave up for the evening and we all went to bed.

We were going to attempt to ride the next day depending on the weather. The weather decided that it was going to rain and rain and rain all morning.

So we did other things. We went to REI where we tried on winter clothes and Liz found a shirt she liked on sale. We then drove across the street to the Barnes n' Noble, where Liz purchased a mushroom ID book and we had Starbucks.

All the seats were taken, so we found a corner to sit at.
We had lunch at The Corner Bakery. It was a soup and sandwich kind of day.

Pretending to not notice Charles taking this photo...hahaha...
And then we went to the Asian market, where Liz was hoping to find the ingredients for miso soup. Liz's face was worth a million bucks: she was grinning like a little kid in a candy store.


The frogs were alive...they were selling them as food.
This section seriously nauseated me. Almost any animal you wanted to eat, you could choose while it was alive. They had several different kinds of fish, eel, softshell turtles (! Liz wanted to take them all and set them free), the frogs, lobster, shrimp, etc. Charles later joked about hearing cats yowling in the back...I was not amused. 
Liz found the miso paste immediately. The dashi that she needed for the broth was a whole other matter. We were in the store for a good half hour searching unsuccessfully. Charles decided to ask the single hispanic employee about the dashi. The guy had no idea what dashi even was, which is what you get for asking the one hispanic employee at the Asian market. (Haha...and I can say that because Charles and I are hispanic and we had no idea either up until the minute Liz mentioned she needed to find it. :p) We continued searching on our own. Liz gave up and went to exchange her ice cream for a fresh tub. Charles suddenly appeared out of nowhere. "Hey, look!" he said.

He had found the dashi! He had been on his way to ask a different (Asian) employee, when he suddenly looked up and found it!

Liz models the dashi.
We went home afterwards, where we hung out for an hour or so. I re-attempted the damn fiador knot and GOT IT!!!

We then decided to brave the weather for the barn. I had secured McTavish for Liz to ride. I had a feeling she would be the perfect match for him with his anxious workhorse ethic.

If we did nothing else, we had wanted to try the rope halter Liz had tied on Lily to make sure it fit, and I wanted her to take a look at Lily's second pair of Renegades, meant to go on her front feet. I had just trimmed her the day before.

We got Lily from the field in the pouring rain. She was shivering slightly when I put her on the cross ties in the barn. Of course her sheet was down in the run-in storage shed, so I put my Back on Track back pad on her (it was the only thing I had that would cover a significant area of her back + retain warmth) while we tried the boots on.

From Lily's feet.
I love bare hoofprints.
Liz thought the left front was definitely too big, and the right front needed a smaller captivator at least. We took pictures, re-measured Lily's feet, and I took mental note of everything Liz said so I could e-mail Mel later.

Right front - captivator a little large.

Left front - definitely quite a bit of space between the boot and Lily's hoof. :/
The halter fit well, and we decided to bring her current rope halter home so I could use that as a guide with which to tie the second halter.

At this point, the rain had slowed down to a light drizzle. Both Liz and I were dressed warmly and with waterproof rain jackets. We decided to tack up Lily so Liz could take her for a spin in the dry lot, the only place in the barn that wasn't flooded.

Liz is still gimpy on her left ankle, which of course is the one you use to mount up. She had to position her foot awkwardly in the stirrup to push up into the saddle, and the first two times Lily tried to buck when she felt Liz's toe in her armpit. Silly mare.

I offered to get a mounting block, but Liz decided to try a third time. She successfully mounted up and I took Liz for a pony ride on Lily, first holding my mare by a rein, then just allowing her to follow me without touching her. Lily relaxed and so did Liz, so I stepped back and let my friend play with my mare.

Walking around the dry lot.
Liz had a ball with Lily, especially when she discovered how easy it was to get her to move laterally.

I didn't tell Liz until we were safely home much later that she is only the second person, not including myself, to have successfully ridden my mare without either of them freaking out. The only other person that has ever been able to ride Lily without incident was the girl that almost bought her from me in February 2012 (I came to my senses before anything was finalized.) Liz is a quiet rider with a mare of her own whose quirks are very similar to Lily's, and I knew she would be fine on my girl. I would not have encouraged her to ride my mare if I hadn't thought otherwise. :)

After about 15 minutes of riding in the drizzle, Liz dismounted and we decided to tack up McTavish and ride up and down the driveway. It was the only place, other than the dry lot, where the footing was remotely decent. Liz had suggested riding on the bridle path, but I was afraid it would be slick and muddy.

McTavish standing happily in the cross ties.
"Work? I get to work?" He's such a cutie.
I gave Liz my Wintec Pro Dressage, which she was excited to try. We used my longer dressage girth and added McTavish's breastplate to the mix. Liz loved the saddle.

Liz on McTavish the Haflinger.
This photo has been a HUGE hit on my Facebook.
Liz's view
McT let Liz mount up from his right side, which saved her left ankle. Lily was a little skittish when it came time for me to get on, but I think it was more from just not wanting to be ridden at that point.

We rode down the driveway.

Liz initially let McT walk ahead....

...but afterwards he was quite willing to just walk along next to Lily.
Note Liz riding with one hand and a loop in the reins.
I think we rode somewhere between 20-30 minutes, just going up and down the driveway over and over. I personally hate riding in the rain, mainly because my glasses get wet and then I can't see, but it was misting very lightly at that point so visibility was not a problem. Liz and I had dressed for the occassion, me wearing hiking boots, wool socks, my Kerrits thermal breeches and a thin synthetic thermal shirt under my Irideon waterproof rain jacket. Liz was dressed in her new regular Kerrits tights, Pinnacle boots, and a long sleeve shirt under her Marmot waterproof jacket. We were quite comfortable despite the chilly wet weather.

We walked and trotted along the grass on both sides of the driveway. They were perfect. Lily started out high-headed and tense, and had 2 mini meltdowns. The first time going up past the gate to her field, she really wanted to stop and had a small fit when I didn't let her. Coming back down, she had another small fit over the same thing. I nudged her forward and she relaxed, accepting that we would just be playing in the rain. She arched her neck and trotted on, catching up to McT at my bidding. She gave me no more problems after that. Goofy creature.

Liz cracks me up. She had so much fun on McTavish. I wish we could have gone on a real trail ride. She is a calm, relaxed rider, and he loved it. Of course I had warned her that, while he was one of the bravest horses in the barn and he wouldn't do any silly like rear, buck or bolt, he could be strong, especially in the company of other horses and when heading towards home. This had been a consistent problem up until now. However, with Liz's calmness and happy nature, he was a completely different horse. I had a feeling that that's what would happen, but it was wonderful to see. McT reminds me in many ways of Cloud.

Lily and McT walked and trotted at the same speed. Liz said we could totally win in the toilet paper race (where 2 riders on 2 horses go at the same speed holding opposite ends of a long strand of toilet paper. The toilet paper should not break.) Since we had no toilet paper, we tried something else: trotting slowly up the driveway, horses side by side, reins in one hand, we held one another's other hand, laughing all the way. Just because we could. I felt like I was 15 again. I haven't had that much fun riding in the rain since the time many, many years ago when Lucero and I were caught in a sudden storm and had to gallop all the way home. It was one of the few times that he galloped for me.

And then we walked Lily and McT home, just in time before it started to rain hard again.

We untacked, put away all of our equipment, and brushed down Lily and McT. Both of them looked happy and fresh (especially after carrots and Stud Muffins) and were only a little damp from the gentle mist. They both dried off while we put away stuff. McTavish went back in his nice fluffy stall with his hay, and I walked Lily back down to her field.

Afterwards we ordered take-out sushi and just hung out at home eating.

I finished the halters!!!

I integrated the orange into our current colors: black and blue.
This morning, we took Liz to Founding Farmers for breakfast. I had been told that their breakfasts are amazing and....OMG, they are! Thank you, dear coworkers, for telling me about it!

Once back at the apartment, Liz finished packing up and left to go pick up her friends so they could continue their trip North to Cape May.

I went to the barn in the afternoon and tried the halters on Lily. Carlos stayed home to sleep because he was working tonight.

LOVE these colors on her!

Very inaccurate representation of the halter colors, but she looked pretty in this one...and I wanted to show how her run-in is nice and dry and stocked with haynets, yet she chooses to stand in the mud! Silly horses!
Success! And back to the real world (aka work) tomorrow...It's supposed to continue raining in our area until Sunday evening. Yuck.


  1. Not fair! I want to learn to tie rope halters... (although it's possible nobody would ever see me again if I did.)

    1. I hear ya! Lily is going to end up with a rope halter for every occasion...I mean, seriously, check out the paracord on this website: https://www.paracordplanet.com/550-cord.html (paracord is for the noseband.) They have PINK GLOW-IN-THE-DARK. Among others...

      We need to coordinate so that you, Liz and I can meet up. :)

  2. Sounds like an eventful time - and I'm a bit jealous of your new rope halter-making skills:) Here's hoping the constant rain that has been plaguing us finally goes away today!