Sunday, October 28, 2012

Time Out

I just uploaded a bunch of photos that had been sitting on my i-phone for who knows how long. I forgot these were on them. Boy oh boy do I miss this face!

I took these right around the last day I left Ohio. I happened to glance in Loki's stall as I was about to leave and found him sleeping. I wish I could have picked out the stall before I took the pictures but I didn't want to wake him up.  He's so cute when he's sleeping!

I couldn't resist going in and sitting with him for a while.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Diamond and Tsubasa

Good Morning!

We had a big day yesterday. Our two new horses arrived after a two day journey from the mainland.

The Ship at Dock

The MHC Riding Instructors met up at the barn around 9:30 Friday morning. We rode for an hour which was very nice. (More on that at a later date.) After our ride we loaded up and headed out to the docks. We made a few side trips but again there will be more on that later as well.

The horses arriving straight from the ship
We didn't have to wait long for our horses to arrive. I have to say how ironic some things are. We talked about how different it is when we ship horses compared to how these horses are/were shipped. We practically bubble wrap our horses or near as we can and how often do our horses somehow manage to hurt themselves in spite of our best attempts? These horses literally have nothing in the form of protection but luckily managed to arrive unscathed.

Tsubasa is the bay and Diamond is the gray. We changed Diamonds name from Daioh because apparently there was another Daioh at the barn a couple of years ago that died. We didn't want to risk any bad luck so Diamond it is.

I have to admit I'm already half in love with Tsubasa
Diamond is a cutie as well
This is a third horse that was going to a different stable on the island. He was a bit older and in much better condition
A fork lift came by and just like that unloaded the horse boxes from the trucks. As soon as they were down we were able to get a closer look at our new horses. Unfortunately we were disappointed in their condition. They are VERY skinny. :(

Yes, this is their version of a horse trailer.
Both horses were loaded into our "horse trailer." They were cross tied with only a rope separating them. We had about a 40 minute drive back to the barn but luckily both horses arrived unhurt and none the worse for wear.

As you can see both horses are horribly skinny. But they don't seem unhealthy otherwise and we will hopefully be able to get the weight back on them in the next couple of weeks. The good news is we have been promised that no one will try to ride them for at least three weeks.

Diamond getting a taste of some hay!
I went out and saw the horses again today. They seem to be settling in okay. They don't have the spunky(ness) you would expect from your typical 3 year old off the track but that is to be expected with how skinny they are. They seem to eating and drinking fine, though. So I am hopeful that we will see some improvement soon.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

It's a Whirlwind

Lots lots lots going on over here. This is the first time I've ever had all three of my kids in school at the same time and gosh who knew how much stuff there would be to do such as baking for fund raisers, chaperoning for study trips (the new name for field trips I guess), and just getting all the kids to and from. It's great, though, my life is nicely busy and time is buzzing right on by. (I'm also trying to get a run or some jump rope in as often as possible.)

Yama, the Japanese instructor and the rest of the MHC instructors at the show last weekend.
This isn't even counting the barn stuff, of course. Right now I'm still only teaching about 8-10 lessons a week but I expect that number to double come November/December. I'm starting to find a rhythm to this teaching business and starting to really enjoy it for the most part.
Sky and one of my new students at the show.

I even got to ride for the first time yesterday!! I had an (almost) no show. My student was about 20 minutes late to her lesson because of some exercises at the base had traffic backed way up. So I took the opportunity to get little Mocha man out. I don't feel bad riding him because of all the horses at the barn he gets ridden the very least. He's small but very challenging so most kids can't ride him and of the adults who have the ability to ride him a lot of them are too big. It was nice to get back in the saddle even for just twenty minutes. We did about ten minutes of warm-up and then just popped over a couple of fences I set up. It was nice to know that Mocha really can still move faster than what I like to call the Mocha-shuffle. And he can still get his cute little knees up just fine, too. He's really a fun pony for an advanced rider. After watching some of my students really struggle to get him going it was nice to get on and remind him and me that yes he really can move forward!

Tomorrow is going to be an exciting day. Our two new horses are due in the port. I guess I am going to be there. It will be very interesting to witness and hopefully the interesting won't be in a bad way! Yama told me that the horses' names are Dai'o (pronounced Die-Oh) and Tsubasa (rhymes with Mufasa). I'm sure I'm not spelling those names correctly but I didn't get a chance to write them down at the barn and am just going off of memory. I was told Dai'o means great king and Tsubasa has something to do with wings. I have a feeling there was something lost in translation with that one.

So hopefully the next time you hear from me our new horses will be safely tucked in at the farm and I'll have some pictures to share. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Coaching Is Hard!

Well, for the most part the storm passed us by. It did prevent the horses from being delivered yesterday but it stayed far enough away to keep the wind to a "light breeze." Of course a light breeze in this case was somewhere around 40-80 miles per hour with gusts at about 130 miles per hour but you know... it's all about perspective!

Luckily Prapiroon cleared out just in time for us to get ready for our fall show at MHC. We put on two horse shows a year for our students, one in the fall and one in the spring. Typically we offer dressage and jumping classes but with the interior of the arena unusable we had to get a little creative. So Instead of dressage we had an obstacle course. I think it actually turned out pretty well and a good time was (hopefully) had by all. It was judged strictly on time and if you missed an obstacle you had to go back and repeat it until you got it done.

This is what the Obstacle Course looked like.
We still kept two small jumping classes. 4 small jumps for the little kids/beginners and six jumps for the novice/advanced riders.

Everything went off well. But I have to say that coaching is hard and if I had to grade myself on my first effort I think I'd get a big fat F. Only three of the students I've been teaching rode in the show and of the three one had a fall and one missed a jump. The fall I mostly attribute to show nerves and I'm not sure what else I could have done to help. The missed jump I mostly attribute to bad coaching. The jump that was missed came on a 90˚ turn and I should have warned my student that if she cut the corner she would miss that jump. That was exactly what happened but I just didn't think to warn her ahead of time and I felt bad about it. Live and learn and I have to say that both my student and her Mom had a very good attitude about it. The rider was disappointed of course but she is determined to work harder and learn to ride better. 

The lesson horses and MHC are not easy to ride. They aren't your typical push button horses. They require huge amounts of leg and they take advantage of any kind of timidness or weakness of the rider. It really takes a positive, hard working attitude for these kids to ride well. These kids and some adults are truly learning through adversity and I know the ones that keep at it are going to get back to the states and all the sudden realize that riding isn't always going to be so hard.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Aint Okinawa Fun!

... and unpredictable!

We are supposed to be getting two new horses on Friday. Both are three years old and have been very recently gelded as well as recently off the track (I believe... not 100% about the track part.) We've been told these horses are "very well trained." Hmmm, I guess we'll see about that. Either way I really do wish they were a little older and I'm hoping that they are closer to four than three. The younger they are the easier they break it seems. But still, I can't help but be excited. I've been told one is a gray and one is a bay. It will be a while before they can be put in the lesson program but I might be able to help with training which would be fun and hopefully we can get them started correctly.

However, to the unpredictable part, there is yet ANOTHER TYPHOON possibly on it's way to Okinawa that could disrupt the shipment. (These horses are being shipped via boat from the mainland.) Yes, that is right ANOTHER TYPHOON  (Typhoon Prapiroon) possibly hitting us by the end of the week. This typhoon is a little different, however in that no one is quite sure what direction it is going to take. From Kadena's facebook page:

  • The Joint Typhoon Warning Center is looking at an approach to Okinawa of 196 miles on Thursday morning, but the Japan Meteorological Agency is showing a track that would bring Prapiroon MUCH closer. However, this storm is acting like a 16-year-old trying to parallel park a Chevy Suburban. During a snow storm. At night. Wearing sunglasses. I wouldn't put a lot of faith in anyone's predictions until this storm starts moving again. And by then, if it's headed this way, we're not going to have much time. Yikes.

    I (still) don't know when or if we'll start moving up the TCCOR ladder. But the wind you hear outside right now is Prapiroon spinning up. I'm going out on a limb: set TCCOR Bouncy House! See you in the morning ... (at Dunkin Doughnuts!). Stormy

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Still Here

Time is flying and crawling at the same time. I have had zero energy the past couple of weeks and sometimes I feel like just getting out of bed is a major accomplishment. I'm still teaching and I'm starting to find a groove. It does get easier the more you do it. I find that yes, I really do have knowledge to share about riding a horse. I don't know why this is so surprising to me but I guess I've just never really had to intentionally sift through the knowledge I've gained through the years of lessons that I've invested.

I don't really have anything exciting to share right now. I'm thinking of making a wish list for the spring. It would be nice if I could buy one item on my list each month so that I will be ready for some shows next summer. Other than that I'm just keeping on keeping on.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Gray Clouds and Silver Linings

All the horses came through the typhoon okay. I went and saw them on Monday. They all did seem a little extra sleepy but otherwise none the worse for wear.

We are now down three horses at the barn. Prince of course is still out. Big has been lame on and off for a while. He's getting a little older and I'm sure has some arthritis so he is going to have to slow down and be mainly a beginner lesson horse with light use only. And now Woods is lame. We're pretty sure it is just an abscess but he is not usable for at least a while. There is one other horse named Adam that is also not usable. He's only been there for about 5 months and he isn't suitable as a lesson horse yet and he has also had some on and off lameness issues. This means that we really only have two lesson horses Sky and Makoto and three lesson ponies Sly, Rocky and Mocha. This is making scheduling lessons quite challenging especially on the weekends. I am down to just two lessons on Saturday right now and I'm kind of glad of it because there just isn't enough horses to sustain the program right now. I have yet to even ride since I've been here and I feel guilty even thinking about it because I know how hard these horses are working right now.

On the plus side we are supposed to be getting two new horses at the end of this month. Unfortunately one of them is only going to be a three year and they are both going to be pretty much straight off the track. So in the short term it won't be a lot of help but hopefully in the long term things will get better.

And the best silver lining so far is this:

Prince made it out of his stall and to the grass field today for the first time since his accident! He is finally able to eat and we think (and hope and pray) that he has some limited sight in his right eye. We aren't sure and we are hoping it will get even better but it is still quite a lot to be excited about. It took quite an effort to get him out of his stall. He was shaking and terrified but once he got out to the field he calmed down quite a bit and actually started to graze. We'll take it!