Sunday, September 30, 2012

Drying Out

Crikey! Typhoon Jelawat packed a HUGE punch! It rolled in around 7AM and by about 9AM we were without power. By noon we had no water. Every one stayed safe, though. There was quite a bit of damage. A roof to the kids' playground got picked up by the wind and landed on a neighbor's car and obliterated their sunroof. Cars were picked up and tossed about, trees came down, roofs flew off, well, you get the idea. Oh and we apparently had a small earthquake yesterday, too. I tell ya there's never a dull moment.

I haven't been out to the barn but I also haven't heard anything so I'm pretty sure everyone out there is okay. I will be out tomorrow so I'll know for sure then. In the meantime here are some pictures and a video of the sights around Okinawa today:

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Rambo Sale

I just got an ad from Equus Now. They are having a big sale on their Rambo blankets including the Duo blanket that is only $250 right now (normally $440). Sounds like a pretty good deal so I thought I'd share.

Equus Now Duo Blanket

Somebody Poisoned The Water Hole!

Yeah, that was me... OOPS! I learned today that there are two different water sources at the barn. One comes from the city and one comes from the river close by. The river water is apparently non-potable and can only be used for bathing. Long story short, One of the Japanese barn workers was cleaning a stall with a hose... I thought he was filling water buckets so when I thought I saw the water overflowing I thought I'd be helpful and start filling the water bucket in the next stall. Luckily I only got to one bucket before I was told about the water situation. That was only one bucket that had to be dumped and refilled. At least water from the river is free!

Other than that little incident things at the barn are going pretty well. The barn owner has complimented me twice now saying that I am a good teacher. He's only seen me teach a couple of times and it seems to always be with the more advanced students who are already pretty good riders in their own right so I don't take any ownership for their abilities but still the sentiment is very nice. I'm starting to really appreciate how polite and gracious the Japanese are. Good manners beats simply (rudely) speaking your mind (no matter how true your statement might be) any time in my opinion. (Now, I just need to remember to practice what I preach!)

And guess what... we have yet ANOTHER typhoon on the way. Typhoon Jelawat is scheduled to hit sometime Saturday afternoon. However, you can see from the picture below that it has to make practically a 90˚ turn to hit Okinawa which somehow they are predicting it will do. How do they predict these things??? Who knew weather could be so exciting. Anyways, I'm holding out hope that maybe they are wrong but if not it looks like no lessons again this Saturday. Apparently Okinawa is a big typhoon bullseye this typhoon season. On the plus side this typhoon doesn't appear to be packing nearly the punch as the last one so hopefully that just means a weekend of family fun and togetherness. :)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

New Clothes

My sister just sent me this picture of Loki modeling his brand new Rambo Supreme sheet!
I'm not sure what his expression says here but if I had to guess it would be something along the lines of "got treats?"
Mindee said that everything fits very well and looks great. The sheet has no fill in it but I have the two liners that attach for when it gets colder. My only disappointment is I won't get to see them in their shiny newness. By the time I see them they will have had a whole winter's worth of wear. But I'm excited none the less.

Things are going pretty well over here. I'm starting to have fun with the whole being an instructor thing. It's such a new perspective. Sure, I've sat and watched lessons plenty of times but this is the first time in a long time that I've watched people ride with the intent of critiquing them and helping them improve. It has been eye opening. The biggest thing I've learned so far is that the absolute most important aspect to improving your riding is simply the desire to work hard for it. I have been amazed at the amount of students who really seem quite content just as they are. I'm also realizing that is okay. They are doing something they love and not everyone has to be so serious about riding.

Prince has improved quite a bit. He is now able to eat hay and has started picking the weight that he lost back up. Unfortunately he is still blind. Every day that his sight doesn't improve seems to make it more likely that he will not regain his vision. But we remain hopeful none the less.

We might be getting two new horses sometime in October from what I understand. We could definitely use some new horses to help take the pressure off some of the other lesson horses. Some of these guys work harder than the proverbial ant by about a million times.

I have to say so far this time in Japan is going way better than last time. I have kept up with my goal of maintaining a good attitude no matter what and it is amazing how much that has helped. There are still moments when I find myself getting upset about certain things that I have no ability to change or control but so far I have been able to control my thoughts and turn them on something positive instead of negative.

So stay on the Sunny Side wherever you are!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Working Girl

First of all I just want to say thanks to everybody who responded to my last blog about supplements. I've decided to just go with Smartgain for now. (I know it wasn't even on my original list!) Getting weight on Loki is my immediate concern and I needed something that could be fed easily and shipped to my barn since I won't be around to do things myself. I don't have a new vet yet and I do feel like adding a bunch of supplements is something that should be discussed with a vet at the very least.

Here's hoping Mr. Loki will be Mr. Fat and Shiny when I get home! (Okay, I don't really want him to be fat... just fatter than he is right now.

Loki from earlier in the Spring. I'd like to get his weight back to this at least.
Typhoon Sanba was mostly uneventful for us. A good push for family time as we were stuck in the apartment pretty much all weekend. The barn was closed on Saturday and Sunday so no lessons but other than a few trees down here and there and a few busted windows here and there I haven't seen too much damage. I did hear that the damage was a little more extensive up north, though. Our power stayed on so I was a happy camper.

I had my first weekday lesson today. I almost felt like a "real" working Mom this morning as I was rushing around to get all three kids out the door and to school so I could get to the barn in time for my lesson. I know a lot of working Mom's out there will want to slap me for this but it was actually kind of fun.

The lesson (only one today) went really well. I was a little intimidated because this particular "student" is probably right around the same level of riding as I am. I was just up front with her, though and told her that I'm not going to be some super trainer or anything. I think we actually had a pretty good time and she had a really nice lesson and it didn't feel weird at all after we got going.

And if you haven't looked at a calendar lately then you might be surprised to know that September is already halfway gone! This makes me very happy because it means that time is ticking along nicely and before we know it we'll be heading back to the states where a big part of my heart is waiting for me!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

To Supplement or Not To Supplement

You know it is kind of hard to get my mind wrapped around the fact that on the other side of the world winter is right around the corner. There haven't been many signs of it here so far that is for sure. But when I check the weather for my little area in Ohio I saw temps that were dipping down into the 50s in the evenings. Still not cold but I realized Mr. Loki still does not have a sheet or blanket to his name. So I finally ordered A Rambo Supreme. It is the lightweight and I bought the 100 and 300 gram liners to go with it. If it looks to be a really cold winter I'll probably go ahead and get the 400 gram liner a little later.

I'm also looking into supplements. I really love Smartpak but every time I am on that website I am stricken with a huge urge to spend lots and lots more money on my horse per month. Have you tried the supplement wizard? I just tried it. It is pretty cool. But, on the downside it can make you feel like a horrible horse mom if you look at the bottom line for their suggestion on "comprehensive support" and realize you just can't afford another $100+ a month right now.

As well I'm not sure how many of these supplements are truly necessary and how much is just going in one end and getting flushed out the other!

But I really do need to get Loki on some sort of weight gaining supplement. He's definitely turning out to be a hard keeper and with the drought this past summer he's just not going to have access to as much hay as I'd like. I've been looking at Cool Calories 100 and Gleam and Gain as well as Smart Gain. My trainer recommended something called Glanzen but it really isn't a weight gaining supplement so I'm not 100% sure why. It feels like such a tough decision! How do you know what is really going to work without trying it? How long do you try it before you move on to the next one? Have any of you ever used a weight gaining supplement of any kind? What about Smartpak's Smart Digest and Smart Gut? I've heard that they can also help with weight gain by simply making the digestive system more effective. Truth?

I guess I will have to find out. I'll let you know if I learn anything. Meanwhile we have a "super typhoon" on the way to the island. It's scheduled to hit sometime Sunday. This will be my first Typhoon over here so it should be interesting. I just hope the power stays on!! (Even as I'm writing this it feels like the wind is getting stronger outside, ha!)

We are on the little island right by where it is says 3 AM Sun

Monday, September 10, 2012

Settling In

Lori sent me a picture of Loki getting in some good grazing time this past week. I miss him so much already!
Well, it's been a little over two weeks now. So far all three kids are now in school (a first!), I've slept until 7 am three days in a row now and I've worked one day. I still can't get over the fact that I actually got paid to do something that I love, how cool is that?

Actually it was very, very hot. I ended up teaching three lessons on Saturday and led a beach ride. I slathered sunscreen on between each lesson and actually managed not to get burned. But I felt like crap by the end of the day. I guess I'm just not used to standing out in that kind of heat for that long of a time. The Japanese are in the middle of trying to change their sand arena into a grass arena so for right now the middle of the arena is off limits while they wait for the grass to take hold. This has made teaching very interesting as the only real riding space available is the track around the outside of the grass. I mention it because I found myself doing a lot of walking/jogging from one end of the arena to the other in order to tell a student this or that. There were, at times, two other lessons going on at the same time so yelling across the arena wasn't really working. No wonder I felt like crap afterwards!

The lessons were quite interesting. I've been riding and taking lessons for so long that you know I had sort of forgotten what a beginner/early intermediate lesson felt/looked like. I kept racking my brain for different exercises for my students to do to make the lesson more interesting. I had to remind myself that at this stage in riding the most important thing, really, is simply getting time in the saddle. I also found myself repeating some of the same phrases over and over. They are probably familiar to you. The main one being "keep your heels down!" By golly I felt like an actual real instructor, lol.

Starting next week I am going to be working three days a week but only for a couple of hours a day and around 4 or 5 hours on Saturdays. Right now I am just subbing for someone. I don't know for sure if this will last the entire time I'm here or not but I'm enjoying having a "job" for the time being.

Oh and last but not least, Prince was looking much better the last time I saw him. He is still far, far from being out of danger but because he shows small signs of improvement each day we are hoping that he can and will get better. Unfortunately only time will tell and we're not sure exactly how much time the Japanese will give him. So keep your fingers crossed for him.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Prince Update

I went out to the barn today and I saw Prince. It is much worse than I thought. They are 95% sure that he is blind. They are trying to just give him some time to see if he can recover but right now things are not looking good. He is finally eating some mash and drinking a little bit but mostly he is just standing in his stall with his head hung low. The vet has been out every day and given him fluids and antibiotics and something for pain. It is heart-wrenching.

I don't know what is going to happen to the girl and her friends who are responsible. I have heard the whole story now and I am astounded at the arrogance and stupidity behind this absolutely, 100% avoidable accident.

Prince could use whatever good thoughts and/or prayers anyone can spare.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

An International Horse Incident

Oh my gosh. I just got carbon copied on an email about something that happened at the barn (here in Japan) yesterday (Saturday night for you in the states). Apparently a girl came out on Sunday when no other American instructors were present. I don't have any details but she apparently had one of the lesson horses, Prince, in the round pen and something caused him to rear up and flip over on his side. He started bleeding from his nose and the Japanese owners were forced to call a vet out.

What? How? Who? Why???? These are just a few of the questions going through my head. As of right now, Monday morning over here, the horse is expected to make a recovery. The girl seems to be genuinely contrite and has offered to pay all vet fees so I don't think anything was done maliciously. Needless to say the head instructor has banned her from the barn for life. But how did this even happen? I'm sure there is much more to the story than I know and it isn't my intent to just push along barn gossip but seriously when is it ever okay to go to someone's barn and get their horses out without permission? I'm trying to wrap my head around the thinking that led to this incident in the first place and I have to say I'm a bit stumped. I believe the girl has been a volunteer in the past but I still don't see how that would lead her to believe it is okay to mess with the horses without anyone else present.

I'm not sure how this is going to effect the Japanese-American relationship out at the barn. I'm supposed to start my first lesson on Friday (instead of Saturday now) but I'm waiting to find out if that needs to be postponed, possibly indefinitely. I could see how the barn owners would be leery of any new Americans right now.