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Just Horsin’ Around

Ahh… freedom! My job at the rest stop ended two weeks ago, and I am thoroughly enjoying getting to sleep in every morning, among other things. I’m also able to spend more time at the barn and take pictures (weather permitting), and I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed it. Here are a few of my most recent shots; enjoy! :)

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This was inspired by a post I came across the other day: 20 Thoughts That Go Through Your Head Before a Gymnastics Meet

Also, since my job is nearly over (this is my last week), I will soon have my weekends free again which means I will be back to showing very soon. I’ve posted lots of pictures of shows I’ve done over the past 4 years, but those pictures generally fail to capture what’s going on in everyone’s minds, particularly before the horse and rider step into the arena. So, without further ado, I present 20 thoughts from the rider’s, parent’s, and coach’s perspectives. Enjoy! :)

Rider

1. I hope we’re not running late. My coach is going to freak out if we are.

2. Where’s that schedule Ellie’s dad printed up? I can’t remember when my first class starts.

3. Where’s the warm-up ring?

4. Why do I bother plaiting my horse’s mane before we leave? He/she always manages to undo half the braids on the way over. *sigh* Can somebody give me a hand here?

5. Oh good, Jessie’s mom brought pastries. I need a sugar boost…

6. I hope I don’t forget my dressage test. (Alternately: I hope I can remember the jumping course. This one’s a doozy.)

7. Hey, those vendors have some good stuff. Gotta stop by later; I need a new saddle pad.

8. I hope my parents didn’t get lost on the way here.

9. I hope it doesn’t rain.

10. Why do they always use the same stupid playlist?

11. Oh great, the Barbie Pony Brigade is here.

12. HOW much for a questionable-looking hot dog?! Next time I’m bringing my own lunch.

13. Do I have time to run to the bathroom before warming up?

14. Where IS the bathroom?

15. Okay, boots, jacket, crop… am I forgetting anything? Oh yeah, helmet!

16. Where’s my coach? It’s time to start warming up.

17. How do they expect us all to fit in this tiny warm-up ring? I hope none of these horses kick/my horse doesn’t kick anyone…

18. Oh good, my parents are here. I hope they manage to get a good video this time.

19. Oh wow, that was a really fast round/good test. No pressure now…

20. Please, God, don’t let me fall off.

Parent

1. I hope I’m not late. My kid is going to kill me if I am.

2. What time does her first class start again?

3. Where’s the main arena?

4. I better remember to get a picture of her and her horse. Those little braids are so pretty…

5. I need coffee.

6. I hope she doesn’t forget her dressage test/jumping course.

7. I hope she doesn’t want to buy anything from those vendors. How many saddle pads does she have now?

8. I’m still amazed my GPS knew how to find this place.

9. I hope it doesn’t rain.

10. This music sounds familiar…

11. Oh, that barn with the color-coordinated ponies is here again. Did any of them actually place last time?

12. I wonder if the hot dogs are any good.

13. Do I have time to run to the bathroom before her class starts?

14. Where IS the bathroom?

15. Did I remember to bring the camera?

16. Oh hey, there’s her coach.

17. How am I supposed to see anything with everyone crowding around the arena?

18. I hope I can get a good video from here…

19. Oh wow, that kid was good. My kid’s better, though. I hope.

20. Please, God, don’t let her fall off.

Coach

1. We’re running late again… why does that one horse always refuse to load?

2. Where’s the schedule? I can’t remember whose class starts first.

3. Where’s the warm-up ring? The first group needs to be there 5 minutes ago.

4. Why do we even bother plaiting the horse’s manes before we leave? I hope we brought enough rubber bands.

5. Oh good, Jessie’s mom brought pastries. You, dear lady, are a lifesaver.

6. I hope they all remember their dressage tests/jumping courses.

7. Oh look, it’s that vendor with the overpriced saddle pads again.

8. I hope none of the parents get lost on the way here. Does this place even exist on a map?

9. I hope it doesn’t rain.

10. Seriously? This playlist AGAIN? I swear they use it at every show in the region.

11. Oh great, it’s the Barbie Pony Brigade. Good thing they spend more time making sure their tack and accessories match than actually riding. *snickers*

12. Ooh, hot dogs!

13. Do I have time to run to the bathroom before my next group warms up?

14. Where IS the bathroom?

15. Did I remember to feed the cat this morning?

16. Where’s my next group? It’s time to start warming up.

17. They have got to stop letting so many riders in the warm-up ring at a time. One of these days there’s going to be an accident, I tell you.

18. Oh good, Missy’s mom is here. She takes such good videos.

19. Holy cow, that kid is good. No pressure…

20. Please, God, don’t let anybody fall off.

Return of the Shutter-Bug!

I know, it’s been a while since I posted anything. I (mostly) blame work. Things have been crazy busy on that front and are just now settling down. A good thing, too, or I don’t know if I’d last until the end of the month.

Anyway, the weekend before last was my uncle’s 60th birthday bash, which he’d been planning at least since last Christmas, and I have to say it was a great success. I was able to get the weekend off, so for once I didn’t have to miss out on the festivities. He rented a lodge out in the Beaujolais region, which made for a fantastic setting.

After dinner, we warmed up the dance floor:

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Then we had a bit of dancing with traditional music:

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We took a little break for cake and presents:

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After a fun trivia game centered around my uncle’s favorite things (art, music and food), he shared a sample of his compositions with us (really good, by the way):

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And then it was time for more dancing:

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I stuck around until 2 am-ish, at which point my bed started beckoning loudly.

After breakfast the next morning, I brought the camera out again and started snapping pictures of things in the courtyard:

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Then one of the other guests joined me for a walk around the neighborhood where I found lots of picture-worthy sights:

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And now, just for giggles, my latest Lucy cartoon:

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Vaulting into Summer

Three weeks ago was the barn’s annual end-of-the-year party/show. Because I had to work that day (working weekends can be incredibly inconvenient sometimes) I only caught the last 20 minutes or so of the show, but I did get some nice shots of the kids vaulting:

Waiting their turn...

Waiting their turn…

Hi Fred!

Hi Fred!

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This kid was especially photogenic:

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Afterwards, Laurelia and Lucie hopped on for a quick lap around the arena:DSC_1201cs

 

I’m still bummed I missed most of the show, but at least I got to see this little bit, and there was a dinner afterwards, which was a lot of fun. After a long day at work, getting to share a meal with my fellow equestrians (during which we mostly discussed horse-related stuff) was just what the doctor ordered. :)

 

Now that the weather is mostly sunny, I’ve been able to bring my camera out to the barn more often and get some nicely lit pictures.

A couple of Mountain Blue after class:

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This may be one of my favorite horse-related portraits yet:

 

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Blue’s ready to hit the trails!

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I dropped by the barn one afternoon to get some pictures of one of the classes, and I got these gems:

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Afterwards, the kids took the ponies down to the creek to cool off:

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DSC_1058csLast week I got Elise to take a few pictures of me with Blue and I think they turned out pretty well:

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Or, Why I Will Never Have a Career in Retail

My summer job this year has me working at what is apparently the biggest rest stop in Europe, and so far it’s been interesting, to say the least. I actually work for the company that supplies the nougat (and related products) for the shops, and my sole responsibility is stocking the shelves. Sounds simple, right? Actually, once I figured out the stockrooms and such, for the most part, it is. The stocking shelves part, that is. Dealing with customers… well, let’s say there’s a great deal of truth to the saying, “Whoever said there’s no such thing as a stupid question never worked in retail.” I get treated to all sorts of ridiculous questions every day, some several times a day (those of you who work/have worked in retail or customer service know exactly what I’m talking about). It’s gotten to the point where I’m tempted to make myself a T-shirt that preemptively (and somewhat snarkily) answers said questions, among other things:

1. If your question is not nougat-related, I may not (ie. probably don’t) know the answer.

2. Don’t ask me which brand is the best. I am contractually obligated to tell you that they’re all good. Just pick one.

3. You don’t want that bag/bar of nougat after all? That’s fine, but please do me a favor and put it back where you found it.

4. In the same vein, please, for the love of all that is good and holy, kindly remember that nougat bars are not Jenga blocks.

5. It’s called soft nougat, not “chewy.”

6. Read the label carefully before asking me a question. Chances are the answer is on said label.

Another question that pops up frequently is, “Where is [X]?” Answer: “It’s right behind you.” Mind you, I can’t snicker too loudly at that one because let’s face it, we’ve all been guilty of not seeing what’s right in front of our faces at least once.

Every now and then I’ll get a more original (but no less baffling) question. The winner to date is: “Where can I find nougat without honey?” Umm, that doesn’t exist… This is when I truly realized that while most people might know that Montélimar is basically the nougat capital of the world, they don’t necessarily know much about it. Looks like I really have gone native.

Now if I could just stop dreaming about refilling the storage bins, that would be fantastic…

April Show Pics

Last month we had our annual unofficial, just-for-fun spring jumping show, and it was a rousing success, as usual. It was a great opportunity for me to get in some practice with Mountain Blue, who is apparently my new project horse. It turns out that despite her being nine years old she hadn’t been ridden all that much or learned anything beyond the absolute basics before coming here, so we’re in the process of getting her up to speed. She’s quite the handful, but quick to learn and generally eager to please, and she’s making pretty rapid progress. I think that with a bit more work, she and I will make a great team.

Here she is before the show:

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me on mountain blue

I also took advantage of the show to test my new lens (with a bigger zoom) and I’m quite pleased with the results:

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