Sunday, December 26, 2010

Animals in my life!

It was really lovely to have a local farmers herefords eating down my paddocks. Years ago I worked in Ontario, Canada with horses and polled herefords. I helped show the cattle. My job was to wash and blow dry their bodies and then titivate the bottom of their tails into the latest showing fashion. At the time they had to be in big white pompoms which entailed lots of back-combing. Showing was great fun and I used to lead a quiet bull (they were much easier to lead than the heifers) in the progeny classes. Whoever won the male and female Championships used to supply fried chicken and beer to all the hereford breeders.

At first Thomas was very diligent about his lifeguard job on Christmas day but then he became bored.

These alpacas were very interested in the Boxing Day party.

Lady Louise feeding the peacocks.

This young peahen is rearing 5 babies.

The two visible babies' camouflage is so good that they are hard to see. This was taken last week and I now hear that they can all fly and roost at night in the trees away from the foxes.

Published 11.15 p.m. 26 December

Friday, December 10, 2010

Neerim Show

It's only on arrival home that one realises how windy is was at the Neerim show. How quiet it is inside. It did not rain but at times it was cold. Sadly for the orginisers the entries were down but those that went enjoyed the excellent footing for their horses. Instead of the whole January agricultural show being on one day in a fairly restricted area they ran the show horse sections a month earlier than usual.

Showing should be all about having fun as well as competing well. It surprises me that so many riders confuse speed with impulsion. There were a lot of horses, galloways and ponies with nice movement that were running along rather than moving with elegance. As for the quality of the walks - most of them were abysmal! Part of showing is the 'bling', part is conformation and a huge part is the horse's way of going.This includes the quality of the paces.

 Fancy Dress winner - Puss in Boots.

 This lady was certainy having fun with her beautiful pony.

I was very fortunate to have a 'showy' pupil stewarding for me. She knows all the rules and the judges' etiquettes. I have not judged at shows for some time but little has changed. There is a little too much horse make-up being used. It tends to look ridiculous. Since when have white horses had black knees and hocks? It's a funny thing to draw attention to horse's knees. It actually makes their legs look short and the movement optically changes. Hopefully these 'showies' will video 'the look' and see for themselves.

These two children were having a wnderful time with their father.

Saturday 6.20 p.m.

Lady Louise's geese are growing up

The three babies, including one with a grey head, are still kept in the middle of the gaggle, but they have survived.

Gardening seems to be endless weeding. However, it is very satisfying to see a weed-free flowerbed.
Clearing up piles of weeds is not my favourite job.

There has been so much rain that the weeds and lawn need constant attention - very therapeutic!

I do not spend many Christmases in Australia so I am looking forward to this year in Jindivick.

Making a wreath is not quite so easy as it looks. On a dressage scale of marks my attempt is worth a 6 - rather mediocre but adequate. If the holly wilts I can easily replace it as my garden has a lovely big holly tree with green berries.

Last Sunday I judged at the friendly dressage competition at Warragul Equestrian Centre. A good
opportunity for novice riders and young horses.

Tomorrow I judge hacks, galloways, ponies and riding classes at Neerim show. One of my pupils
is going to steward for me as she cannot ride in my ring. At least she will keep me on track as there seem to be an aweful lot of classes to be judged!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Good grass growing weather

A broken fan belt - not a snake. This necessitated finishing the mowing by pushing an old hand mower. Good for fitness. The grass was mowed on Monday and has grown about 3 cms in 5 days. Why do machines break down on Friday evenings?

Of course there was time to appreciate the garden. What a therapy to the senses - sight, sound, the feel of the weather.

Posted 10.42 p.m. Friday

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Longden Grip at Equitana

Shane Rose assisted during my presentations at Equitana. Rather fun and it gave me a breather while he talked. Of course I had to pay attention and make sure he stayed on track! He vaulted on to Anne Skinner's 18.1 hand horse to demonstrate the Longden Grip at the end of the sessions. Cossack was not very impressed - everyone else was!

Anne and Charlotte Sweeney, on her young and beautifully behaved chestnut thoroughbred mare Lady Marmalade, were my demonstrators in the Education sessions. The arena was only 20m square and the going was deep sand so it was a bit of a struggle for them but they managed well. As both riders were demonstrating the Grip it was very unstressful for me. The Grip is there in case it is needed. To get to the John Deere demonstration area the horses had to go through the crowds and then not be scared by the roller doors being shut behind them or the constant noise and movement of people.

It makes such a difference to a presentation to have riders who can do exactly what you ask them - whether it is riding correctly or showing errors. 

The Longden Grip was launched at Equitana and, I am pleased to say, it has been very well received.
After more than 4 years it is now available. 

Shane told us he uses it on the thoroughbreds he breaks in that he would 'rather not ride'. It was interesting the number of 'breakers' who thought the Grip would make their lives a lot easier. 

Lollies were a necessity to keep going during the long days.

Lots of interesting people visited our stand including Sonja Johnson who was in the silver medal team in the Beijing Olympics with Shane.

Chris Curran with Shane and Sonja.

Now I am home and for more than just a few days - what luxury!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

National Stewards Course- Melbourne Showgrounds

Yesterday I went to Melbourne to give a presentation on stewarding for Para Equestrian competition. As these competitions are becoming a normal part of dressage competitions the stewards need to understand the special aspects of our competition.

Since Riding for the Disabled had its office at the showgrouds there have been major changes. All the old Royal Agricultural Society Victoria offices have gone. They have been replaced with a shopping centre! I have not been to the show for many years so had not realised how it had changed.

The magnificent new RASV building is set off with this huge sculpture by Sir J.E. Boehm, Bart.
(1834-1890). It was a gift from the National Gallery of Victoria in 1941.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Between stormy weather in Jindivick and Launching Place

I always know I am home when I pass these wombat signs.

Driving through Gembrook.

Wilbur - living art.

Lady Louise, of Camberwell and Jindivick, seems to be collecting peacocks and geese. There is only one female goose who produced 4 eggs. One egg was turfed out of the nest so it is presumed it was faulty. The three offspring are shepherded by the mother, father and uncles. There will be no court cases regarding paternity, as geese do not understand the significnce of DNA testing. Just a large and happy family.

Charlotte Sweeney was preparing for my presentations at Equitana. We put the Longden Grip on her saddle so that she could become used to it. We did not anticipate needing to use it until a pony joined us in the arena. Her young horse Cumquat was not at all sure about this intrusion. Charlotte was quite unperturbed as she knew she could grab the grip if necessary.

Nicola's horse Charlotte, who stars in the DVDs "Riding Towards Excellence' is introduced to the new arrival.

They are closely watched by three yearlings.

Monday, November 8, 2010

NARHA Conference and home to Jindivick

NARHA, Denver Conference. The guest speaker at the Friday luncheon was Burton 'Bubba' Gillian, the actor, boxing referee and retired firefighter and boxer (he won 201 out of 217 fights when enlisted with the Coast Guards boxing team). At 72 he said he now plans in years instead of in decades! He was a most entertaining speaker. He never trained as an actor but applied for a 'walk on' role when a film was being shot in Dallas where he was a firefighter. He went on from there but has never stopped being involved in the boxing world. His first famous acting rle was in Blazing Saddles. He supports charities, such as NARHA, by giving his time as a speaker.

I talked with him outside the hotel where we were both waiting for transport to the airport. A very down to earth and nice person to meet.

Ayako Tanaka is now a student in San Fransciso so she was not able to interpret last week in Japan. She came to the conference and we were able to catch up. Interpretting the medical therapeutic riding terminology is not easy and she had become very good at it. On average 4 English words translate into more than 8 Japanese words so it is very tiring for an interpretter. Two people took over her job this time and both of them were exhausted by the concentration and the intensity.

My Presentation was well received so the long journey was worth the effort. It was lucky that I was flying with Air New Zealand. I usually fly Qantas but if I had I would still be stuck in L.A. waiting for their planes to be reintroduced to the air!

So home to Jindivick. I always mow when I return home from a journey. A nice way of reestablishing my roots in a fairly mindless manner. Too mindless! I had not realised how wet it has been while I have been away. The ride-on mower just slipped down, as can be seen by the muddy tire, into the edge of the pond. I thought of leaving it there but it was gradually sinking into the mud.

There was lots of time to appreciate the water lilies.

The dogs were not much help as they were busy looking for rabbits.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

NARHA Conference in Denver

Arriving early for the conference allowed me to visit the King Tut exhibition at the Denver Art Museum. This was my treat after taking my presentation DVD to be transformed to North American version. It is always a nightmare trying to use Australian computer technology in North America and Japan. Memory sticks do not transfer to other systems so do not open in local computers.

No photos were allowed to be taken in the wonderfully presented special exhibition. Tutenkhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharoahs. Such fine craftsmanship from so long ago, when the tools would have been extremely primitive, was fascinating to see.

Other exhibits were able to be photographed providing they were owned by the gallery and not on loan.

View from a gallery window.

Steve Kestrel's 'The Memory of Granite (2005)

Of course there was quite a lot of 'native' art.  Alexander Phimister Proctor (1862-1950) was a prolific sculptor. 

On the War Trail

The Buckaroo

Indian Warrior

Pioneer Mother
This stunning bronze showed the hardships of the early pioneers. The photo does not do justice to the work of art.

Such a nice museum for children.

Catching up with like minded people at the conference has been fun. Tomorrow morning I present my Paper on competition for all riders with disabilities (not Para Equestrian standard). I will be showing video footage from Australian and Japanese competitions for these riders.

Then its the long trip back to Jindivick. Looking forward to seeing the 'Longden Grip' which has now been manufactured during my absence.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Animals in Japan

Tinky supervising the training of the therapy miniature ponies.

Chris, the imported kelpie, never stops running around the arena which is a bit of a problem On the other hand she is a wonderful therapy dog as she never tires of playing ball with the clients.

This was a stray dog that turned up at the stables. Happy but still shy.

Chiro is a most reliable therapy horse who has been in the program at Hello Hippo for five years. He does therapy sessions, vaulting and independent riding. It makes it so easy when the horses are well trained and willing to work. Here occupational therapists are having a feel of the three dimensional movement of the horse which is similar to a person walking.

John, who is a successful dressage horse, was interesting to train for the competition. He had no previous experience in this field. On the first day he found the noise and movement too much to comprehend and he kept looking away from the action. In time he became interested in the proceedings and on the second, and final day of training, he was quite confident. His behaviour at the competition was perfect. It does not take long to train horses to a new environment provided you only progress at the horse's rate of learning. He was very popular for photographs.

This fox-like dog is typical of the local Japanese dogs. Others are chunkier and have fluffy tails.

This paraplegic dog is perfectly happpy. I met him near Osaka last year.