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THREE PONIES (well, four)

today i decided i'd work THREE ponies! -- my two as usual, plus ljufur who i'm always saying doesn't get enough work.

STJARNI: first and foremost :) groomed him, ten minutes liberty work (good trot and canter both directions), ten minutes lunge line (walk and tolt, aiming for flexibility). i was a little concerned about him, because i tried teaching on him on sunday (my barn manager) and it was kind of disastrous; he spooked (!!!!! -- like whuh?) and was a total pill for her. (he was fine when i was on him first.) anyway today he was fine, including basically ignoring snow sliding off the arena roof.

OFEIGUR: he feels all gritty along his spine, so i gave him a little antifungal spray, though i'm not sure it's not just the general dirt of winter. worked him twenty minutes on the lunge, goals being transitions to walk (he tends to trot on) and continuous cantering in a 20m circle. he did pretty great! also unimpressed by snow sliding. good pony!

LJUFUR: he hasn't been wearing a halter because he's been scratching in the paddock, both his face and his butt. so he was entirely at liberty -- i just tossed a lead line around his neck to lead him from paddock to arena. we did "go go go" (trot and canter both ways) and "come here". he sort of slowed down and turned away from a corner of the ring while snow was sliding off it, but he didn't spook or anything. and i massaged him and he was super adorable.

while i am talking about ponies i will also mention about FALKI that he's been on an antiprotozoal medication for ten days, in the hopes that that might have underlaid his digestive problems (recently controlled with beet pulp and probiotics). now his manure is weird-looking, basically well-formed but coming out more stuck-together than separated as is usual? anyway he's got like four days left. then i'll keep him on the probiotics and all for a month or so in case the antiprotozoal has killed off his good biome as well, and then see if he can come off it without return to digestive ick.

...and that's the news today down on the farm... wonder if i'll ever get to see paree?


given free rein, i will apparently eat four to six fuyu persimmons a day.


today in ponies

rode o in a lesson, first lesson i've had in like a month...

i think he's getting less "hot" since i reduced his grain (he's finally not scrawny, thank ghu) but he still gets like OMGSOMEONEWHOCANRIDELET'SGOWHEEEEE! and i do circles and breathe and try to let my legs hang, like "hey o, it's all good but now we're gonna walk, yeah?" he is super cute and funny.

we did a lot at the walk today. then the tolt, which is coming clearer and nicer! SO MANY CIRCLES. and at the end, super round trot. he finally has back muscles; maybe neck muscles will happen yet.

lateral work last. pony's stiff as we go, but when asked to bend he is putty. more of this equine yoga and everything will be good.

actually everything is good :)

afterwards me and the elf took our boys for a little walk and tiny tolt in the snowy woods, and it was as beautiful as anything.


more iceland, more ponies


on the way back from north iceland, we went by a museum -- the "war and peace museum" commemorating the occupation of iceland by allied forces in ww2. the door was open so we just went in -- turned out they were actually closed? but the guy inside made us welcome and turned on lights so we could see the exhibits.

there were many old radios (many made right near home -- belmont and cambridge), medical equipment, clothing, a destroyed airplane, soldiers' sketches, taxidermy animals -- a fascinating collection. highly recommended!


today i taught my student jay on "his" (free lease) horse, buzz. when grooming we found some stiffness on the sides of his spine between his pelvis and his tail, not surprising since he is newly back in work after five years off, and easily remedied with a little massage. the whole lesson then was about getting your horse to pay attention to you, on the ground or mounted. (attention is crucial. horses are big, and if they're ignoring you, you will lose.) the mounted part was especially interesting; buzz was a little inclined to trot on, but would agreeably circle and return to the walk when asked. messed around a little with arm positions, too.

came back to the farm and worked baby o on the lunge -- his canter's really starting to come together, wheeeee! :)

riding again

we had a family-and-household xmas that was pretty good -- highlights for me included a box full of persimmons (from me to the house) and some homemade candy from my nbae (long story). my recently-widowed student's family was officially NOT doing xmas (because too hard on her) but did eat a big dinner and such. in the morning she called me and said she didn't feel up to riding, but i said i'd be in touch in the afternoon, and when i was she said she would go.

so i bundled up in the icelandic riding suit and my new polarfleece helmet cozy, and off we went. it was nearly sunset when we left the barn, and a little icy on the trails, and the ponies were super excited to be in the forest. between all these things my student was a little tense, which honestly i think was a good thing -- she's got the GIANT GRIEF and that's not about to dissipate, but it can be contrasted with SMALL BUT MEANINGFUL REALTIME STRESSORS that resolve. which is practice in coping, and in feeling better.

the dying light over the pond was beautiful, as were the bare trees in the gloaming. we rode for half an hour or so, singing as me and my students do, in unison and then in a round. we came home and she told her pony how good he was, and i was like "YOU. you are just about superhuman amazing to come out here and ride him out like you did. tell him that!" which she did.

(and so we go singing, despite the dead, into the falling winter night.)

xmas and such

this year's xmas revels were fun partly because they were ethnically waket's (acadian) -- though the best part, for all of me, is always the abbots bromley horn dance. don't know why i love that so much, but i do.

today my recently-widowed student rode her pony again. and she can now use the "active hand" in her reins, which is a thing i no longer teach -- i just teach the following hand, and trust that the active hand will emerge, and note when it does. and i announce when i see it. and she SMILED like sunshine, and i was glad and glad.

i gave her and her mom a basket of persimmons for the holiday -- i've recently found a good source of fuyus in season (h mart) and had to share the joy. the perfect food!

then i ate ALL THE PERFECT FOOD with theloriest and now i am home and happy and sated. my life is good!

i've got some more presents to wrap, and i probably don't have enough brown paper bags to do my usual version. who knows, i may end up borrowing actual gift wrap...

icelandics, now and then, hither and yon


rode at lukka's farm langhus in the north. our guide was a fellow named láki, and he and we rode three black horses: mjölnir for him, almur for me (who was cute and had a sweet little tolt) and askur for waket. (there were also two girls from germany on two mares, but i didn't talk to them much.)

it was SUPER BEAUTIFUL up there. we rode along tracks by the fjord, from their farm to a king's burial mound where there was a story:

they were building the road and needed stones, so they started to gather some from the burial mound. then someone came running from the town saying that the church was burning, and the curse on the burial mound (which had treasure in it) was that the church would burn and the lake overflow. so they stopped, and it's still there, minus a chunk where they had already taken out the stones.

(there was a picture, but láki isn't great at that stuff and it was blurry :)

then we rode to a "ghost town" by the coast, where there's an abandoned hotel and stuff, formerly a fishing village. now a couple of people have cottages there, and they just opened a hot spring back at the farm and ran hot water down there (and to a couple neighbors as well). so in my dreams i buy the old hotel and we run an ibogaine-based opiate-treatment clinic there, with horses for people to take care of while they recover and reset their lives.... *sighs*

rode back to the site where hrafna-floki landed (i think?? -- there was a plaque) and drank hot chocolate and chatted for awhile, then back to the farm.

notably I REALLY LOVED THAT SADDLE BEST SADDLE EVER. of course it's nameless and entirely unmarked. felt great though!


vet came today and cleaned everyone's sheaths (stjarni's was of course fine, ljufur's grotesque) and checked everyone's teeth (need doing again in 3 months and this time i'll have the vet do it). best part is stjarni's hocks got x-rayed again and NO SIGN OF ARTHRITIS OMG HOW DOES THIS EVEN HAPPEN??? -- but i am very pleased!! i will be working on his hind leg engagement now without worrying about joint pain <3

iceland and stuff

0. this morning was the funeral. my friend was doing ok, smiling and talking, and so was her mom. her dad, who is a man of the cloth, was the one from the family who did a eulogy. he broke down crying twice.

1. i am so, so sad this guy is dead. and i am so happy he had the life he did. there should have been more of it, but there's nobody to complain to.

2. i talked to my friend's mom about stuff -- the family has plans to go to iceland, because my friend's brother is marrying a woman who's ethnically icelandic (they're going to live in another country, but that's where the wedding is). maybe my friend and i (and maybe some other friends, though i think no husbands for obvious reasons) should go traveling there first. because going to your brother's wedding in your new widowhood.... i mean that has got to be CRAZY HARD LIKE WHAT??? and maybe she should just see some new part of the world, and see that it is beautiful. is that enough to hope?

so i wanna talk about iceland again.

we drove out of reykjavik, and through the hvalfjörður to the western region. that's the longest and deepest tunnel in iceland, and it's 6km of black rock. beautiful and impressive.

went to sauðakrokur and ate OMG REALLY GOOD FISH. there we stayed in the spare room of a small family. they had a very steep staircase, with antlers on the wall as handgrips. they also had two precious cats, an orange tom named bob and his kitten doppelganger rob. icelandic cats all seem to have very dense, soft coats, and tails that bend over their backs further than the cats i am used to. waket left the next day to fly out to grimsey island (north of the arctic circle, whee!) and i sat around the house and wrote fanfic.

i probably forgot to mention that we went to ikea and picked up a toy stuffed dog we call wiener dog; wiener dog went to the arctic circle too.

then there was horseback riding, but that probably deserves its own entry. and anyway now i am curled up in a fox onesie with my dog, and i might cry again. so.

icelandics interlude

we interrupt my retrospective on iceland to talk about my local iceys.

last night the husband of my boarder student, aaron, died suddenly of a heart attack. it was right after they lit up their house for the holidays. my student is obviously shattered, and didn't make our plans for riding today. i can only hope that the love of her pony (and mine, too) can help her get through this horrible time.

meanwhile though elf my elf and i went on our planned trail ride. he rode ljufur as always, and i (being in whatever mood this is and having had wine for lunch) took ofeigur. we went FAST all through the forest, mostly at tolt (o has a fast tolt! -- more about fast tolting at a later entry re: iceland proper). we went around a bunch of private property to a previously-new part of the lake, which was very scenic. we met two charming young fellows who like horses and petted our guys :)

i got nothing but grief and i guess the lesson everyone says: spend your time with those you love and those who love you (people or ponies, or as you have), and doing the things you love (whether it takes you a glass of wine for courage or not).

because life is beautiful and that is as good as it gets.

anniversary; iceland

0. happy 27th anniversary to me and seniormost. *incredulous; overjoyed* <3

1. i just got back from iceland. reintegrating is very rough right now, for the usual reasons plus more that are political and personal and/or at the painful junction between. but i wanna blog about what happened there, so i think i'll make a bunch of retrospective posts. (who knows, i might even upload pix sometime :)

>>ICELAND REPORT: days 1 & 2: reykjavik

waket likes driving sturdy, manual-transmission, diesel cars on scenic roads with mostly-clueful drivers, so we got a skoda station wagon for the duration. it's dark about 18 hours a day there right now, so we landed and he drove us to our temporary digs two blocks off laugavegur in blackness. we both slept a lot the first day; then he had a small cold and slept in for another day while i wandered around the city.

i do love reykjavik! highlights:

SUNDHOLLIN: public swimming pool. so iceland is basically run on hot geothermal water, and this swimming pool (there are loads of them) is a new favorite. inside there are two warm pools; i swam about four laps (i'm not really much of a swimmer, so this was a bit of exercise). then out to the outdoor hot soaking pools -- 37C and 42C iirc -- to sit and enjoy the cool air and relax. i left feeling absolutely marvelous. (this note to be repeated a number of times during my stay :) another thing about iceland and water: the tap water is delicious, and at the swimming pool, the drinking-water fountain just runs continuously -- there's no faucet to open. apparently they more or less have just diverted a bit of some river on its way to the sea, so you can open your mouth and quench your thirst along its way.

ELDUR OG IS: paradis had been recommended to me but was closed (and open more or less randomly other days). i ended up not getting ice cream right then, but a "toblerone" hot chocolate at eldur og is. best, BEST hot chocolate of my life. (the clockwork elf and i once spent a long, cold day trying every single hot cocoa available in harvard square, so i am a total snob about this!)

LAKE TJORNIN: wandering alone after dark feels safer to me in reykjavik than any other city where i've been. the lake is in the middle of downtown, among what i think are government buildings; it's pretty quiet at night. there were all kinds of seabirds floating around and sleeping by the lake. i watched two swans take off, and tried to take photographs. a peaceful and beautiful interlude.