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.

Japan morning walks

Morning walks in Annaka, Gunma, a couple of hours drive outside Tokyo, were a lovely way to start the day before we trained therapists and coaches and worked with riders with disabilities. The views of the mountains and the old houses were worth the effort of the hills.

80% of buildings in Tokyo were destroyed in the Second World War (1939-1945) so the city has more post-war buildings than old ones.

All the streets looked the same where we stayed in Tokyo. Its amazing how people manage to park their cars in tiny areas.

I travelled with a New Zealander, Vicky Melville, who is a physiotherapist. She works with both therapeutic riding and Para Equestrian as well as having a Palates Physiotherapy practice in Nelson. We had a rather wet day off when we went on a bus trip and visited the Emperor's garden.

At the Meiji Jingu Shrine there was a wedding. It was a shame that it was pouring with rain.

The wedding party was all wearing raditional black and white.

At the Asakusa Kannon Temple peole seemed to be more interested in the Nakamise shopping arcade.
There were preparations for a festival and the chrysanthemums were just about in full bloom.

In this little temple the guttering ends up in a series of bells. Unfortunately the rain was too noisy to hear them.

Then it was back to the country, the vegetable growers and avoiding the bears. They had come down from the mountains because of the heat of the summer.

The 3 hour bus drive to the airport is always interesting. It gives a great view of the other vehicles. I looked at truck drivers and found that only about 40% of them have both hands on the steering wheel. One young driver was steering with his elbows and another driver did not have a hand on the
wheel at all and was steering with his knees! Several were texting. My bus driver filled in his records on a clip board while driving along the middle lane of a freeway, which was a little alarming to me!

Amazing feats of road building.