Thursday, February 26, 2015

Tales from the Workplace, Trucking Edition, Part VII

I am posting stories from my job, because I think they're funny.  I've done my best to disguise my company name, even the industry, and to keep the people I write about and even some details of the situation anonymous.  If you know me, and know where I work, please don't include details in your comments.  I'll have to delete your comment and reconsider posting these stories.

I came in to work to the phone ringing it, set my stuff down as quickly as I could and answered it.  It was a trucking company, though I could only determine that by context:

"Hi, we picked up a load yesterday, and we're gonna have to bring it back because it's over weight."

"Could you tell me which carrier you're with, and where you're headed?"

"[Carrier], headed to [town]."

"Could you give me the name of the customer you're delivering to, or the trailer number, or some other way to locate you in our system?  I'll look for the weight slip."

"Um....[finally some slightly helpful information]"

I look, and don't find a weight slip.  Because, as it turns out, the load they picked up was actually picked up over the weekend, not the prior day, and since we didn't weigh it with the actual truck pulling it (we have a vehicle on the lot that can pull loaded trailers, but it doesn't weigh the same as a full-on tractor, so we weigh it beforehand to make sure it won't be over, but don't have exact weights we can certify).

My boss talks to the driver, and then calls the carrier's headquarters to tell them NOT to turn around before checking whether there is snow and/or ice on the truck and/or trailer, causing it to weigh heavier than it actually is, but lo and behold, guess who shows up a few hours later.  And it turns out the reason they claim they picked the trailer up Monday, and not over the weekend as they were supposed to have, is because they had only made it as far as Klamath Falls (2-2.5 hours on a good day, and granted there is snow and ice on some of the road between here and there these past few days).  My boss checks the lot every morning, and especially on Mondays, to see what trailers are still on the lot (we load them ahead of time so the drivers just have to unhook the empty trailer they arrive with and hook up to the pre-loaded trailer), and the trailer in question was NOT here.  So even if they left at 5:00 a.m. on Monday morning, they still only made it a couple hours down the road by Tuesday morning at 8:00 a.m.  Wow.

So, sure enough, they showed back up, and they did have a certified weight slip showing that the load was overweight.  So we pulled some product off the back end of the trailer, moved the back axle up a little to distribute the weight better, and re-weighed it.  STILL too heavy.

We were about to make the crew create a tunnel to the front of the trailer to CRAWL through to pull some weight off the front of the trailer, when someone noticed that there was 6-8 inches of snow and ice on the top of the trailer.  The roof of the trailer is 450+ square feet, so the weight of the snow on top adds up really fast--it turns out we got over 3,000 pounds of weight off in snow.  We probably could have put all the product back on and been fine, but we just put most of it back on to stay on the safe side, and sent the driver on his way again, with a good scolding about how snow removal is not our responsibility, and how we TOLD him (both when he called from Klamath Falls and when he first arrived back here) to check for snow and/or ice and re-weigh, because we always make sure our trailers are within the weight limits before letting them leave the property.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Riding Solo Yet Again

I didn't fully realize I'd be riding solo until I showed up at Shar's today.  She'd said they'd be burning, but I guess I assumed that R would be able to handle things while she and I went for a quick ride.  But I guess that explained why I had butterflies in my tummy the whole drive there.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  First I fetched Arya, and got treated to this view:

That's the little guy (foal) in the front, then Flash, then Mesa.  Arya and Goodwin are watching, but not laying down.

Then after I groomed Arya, Shar DID take a break from the burn pile for a little while to help me with saddle fitting.  We put the potential saddle back onto Arya, to check how her shoulderblade fit under it.  Shar walked her around while I felt her scapula move under the saddle.  Hmm...a little tight, but probably not enough to eliminate it from consideration.

I put the western saddle I've been riding in back on her for comparison (it's a bit tight in the shoulder, but she's never shown signs of being sore), while she got Flash and his saddle out for the same reason.  Hmmm...  Put the potential saddle back on, with the pad I'd be using this time, and that made the saddle sit back an extra inch or so, which did seem to help.  I was leaning toward buying it at this point.  But then I got on.  My first thought was how insecure I felt with the free-swinging stirrup leathers, but I could probably get used to that.  I tried to put my fingers between the saddle (pad) and her shoulderblade and couldn't.  Neither could Shar, so it wasn't just the awkward angle of being on the horse.  Ugh.  I could tell without even walking her around that it was just going to pinch too much.  Ugh.  WHY does she have to be so freakin' BIG?  Well, that's actually one of the things I love about her, it just makes finding a saddle so hard.  Ugh.

So, I tacked her back up in the western saddle I've been using and that I KNOW doesn't bother her, and we left for a solo ride.

It was weird--not too far from Shar's house, there's a house that has 2-3 dogs, a donkey, and a horse.  The dogs ALWAYS bark.  Arya's used to it and barely even twitches an ear in their direction anymore.  This time, they didn't bark.  Not a single noise.  They just sat there silently.  It was SO creepy.  Meanwhile, the horse was near the fence, which always freaks Arya out (any horse, not just this one), so she did her whole "I'm just gonna scratch my face on my front leg, don't mind me, oh now that I've got the reins from you, I can go where I want" thing, but I was onto her.  She also stopped dead when we were as close as we were going to get to the horse, but I squeezed and she moved out, no problem.

Then we got to the corner where she gave me SO much trouble on our last solo ride (she wanted to go home, I didn't, and I ended up having to get off in order to get her past that spot).  I kept my brain (and hopefully, therefore, my body and therefore my body language to Arya) focused on the NEXT corner after that one, and either that worked, or she figured it wasn't worth fighting if I was just gonna get off an make her go anyway, because she gave one half-hearted effort at turning around, I got her back on track, and she plodded right on through that corner, and the next, and so forth like it was no big deal.  Good girl!!

We trotted a couple times, but mainly walked, as there are a couple spots where we get near horses, and like I said, she gets weird about that.  She tried to gravitate toward a cute Arab (it looks like an Arab anyway), but I kept her on the opposite side of the road and that was the end of that.  No biggie.

We got to where the road becomes a trail and heads downhill, and she balked.  It IS kind of a weird spot.  You're between two fenced properties, and half of the narrow strip you'd otherwise be able to ride on is all churned up--I think they dug a ditch for drainage.  So we're forced to ride on the other half, in which you're limited to a fairly narrow passage between a fence and a big pile of large rocks.  To top it off, some of the dirt there is disturbed, too, and of course Arya's little pea brain probably worries there's *gasp* WATER or something.  :-)  So she stopped dead in her tracks.  I gave her a second to think about life, then asked her to walk on, and she did.  Good girl!

We made it down the hill, and the trail levels out and is mostly single track, though it follows a dirt road and there's a spot or two where you either have to get on the road, or it's the easier choice for a short distance.  We trotted quite a bit of the trail.  Last week, I'd been so nervous about letting her get any speed going at all that I clung to the reins, which (justifiably) ticked her off.  This time, I tried to contain her speed with my seat and, when necessary, my voice more, though I never dropped the reins completely.  Just tried to keep them loose while still keeping my grip close so I'd be able to get contact back in a hurry if I needed to.  Of course, there were still a few times where I clung on, but not as bad as last week.  She did great, and we had some really nice trot sessions where I felt really in sync with her, plus felt like I was posting more off my thighs and less off the stirrups (I didn't test this theory by dropping the stirrups, but my ankles felt loose and floppy instead of clenched).

We crossed one road and rode along another without incident, though there were some cars that were going pretty fast along there--luckily only while we were off the road.  Whew!

We made it to the spot where we turned around last week in what felt like no time, so we kept on going, into the area where Shar and I rode together last weekend, the day after my solo ride.

It's funny, I don't FEEL like I did anything different with my body language, but maybe I did.  Or maybe Arya just felt comfortable with the trail up to that point because we'd just done it solo the week prior, but as soon as we headed into the area we'd done with Shar last week, she went into HIGH alert mode.  She even tried to turn around toward home a few times, though she'd been eager (to continue away from home) a few minutes prior.  I'll be curious to see how she acts on our next solo ride to that area--if one ride without Flash is enough to make her feel comfortable with a certain spot or what.

Anyway, we trotted a bunch, walked some (when either she or I got tired, and it's funny that sometimes it was me first and sometimes it was her), and I started to need to pee.  So chalk up another first--had a pee break while trail riding.  :-)  I'd planned ahead, though, and picked a spot with a nice log for re-mounting.  I also removed my jacket and tied it to the saddle--it'd been COLD at Shar's house because of a brisk wind, but down in the gully I was in, I was getting too warm, and had been for quite a while at that point.

We wound around on the trails, mostly following the track Shar and I had done the prior weekend, though we took a couple shortcuts, on single track and a tiny bit of "off-roading," and we skipped the climb up onto the plateau that Shar and I did last weekend.  At one point, I told Arya "okay, you choose" and of course she chose to head home.  :-)  We did some more trotting, and of course her trot toward home had a bit more oomph than it had earlier.  She even offered to canter a few times.  I considered cantering on purpose, but just didn't feel ready--the thought of it made my stomach clench.  But I didn't panic when she did canter, so that was good.  (She bucked the last time we cantered on the trail.)

We trotted as much as my thighs could take on the way home, except as we approached road crossings or got close to traffic on the road itself.  Once we got to the big hill near home, we walked up the hill, and then walked the rest of the way home.  I think Arya was fairly tired, as she didn't mind.

I didn't think to take photos during most of the ride--here's what I took when we were almost home:

Look Mom, I'm a unicorn!

Does this shadow make my horse look big?

When we passed the house with the dogs, donkey, and horse, once again the dogs were silent.  SO. WEIRD.  Even weirder, Arya spooked at something as we passed that house, trying to scoot away from that house.  Not sure what's up.  If the dogs don't bark again some other day, maybe that means they got bark collars or something.  If they DO, though, that'd be really weird.

At the corner a quarter mile or so from Shar's, I'd had enough with the walking, my hips were tired of it, and I didn't want to trot so Arya would have a chance to dry out a bit (because of the cold wind), plus I could use the exercise, so I hopped off and walked her.  Well, I jogged and had her trot a few times--gotta practice for the trot-outs at vet checks, dontcha know.  I also attempted to see how she'd take it if I tailed her (hold a long lead line, grab the horse's tail, used to have them help you get uphill faster than using solely your own power, but without having to actually carry your weight up the hill).  She thought I was crazy.  We'll have to work on that.  Someday.  Not a hurry.

I wondered whether Shar would worry that I was coming back on foot, but she said she knew I'd mentioned wanting to do that sometimes, so she wasn't worried.  :-)  We sat around their "bonfire" and chatted for a while, and I got thoroughly doused in smoke smell (some people complain, but I like smelling like a campfire), then headed home.

I was nervous at first, but really enjoyed the solo ride today.  (Same with last week.)  Of course I love riding with Shar, and she definitely helps me with my confidence, but riding alone helps my confidence, too, and I think it helps Arya's confidence in me and mine in her.  And that's a really good thing.

This week...possibly bareback (in the arena, not off the property--I'm not that crazy!), or maybe just groundwork.  I'm returning the saddle that didn't work out, and had to return the pad I've been using with my western saddle (it was borrowed), so until the new one comes (1/3 the price online as it was locally), I will be saddle-less.  Or maybe I could rig up the synthetic saddle....hmm....

Saturday, February 21, 2015

"Just" Groundwork

I was planning to do another solo ride today, but I'm fighting off a cold (I think I'm finally winning), and it was cold and a bit windy out, so I was already pretty sure I didn't want to go.  Then, while grooming Arya, I found a lump on her back (bug bite?  horse bite?  not sure...), right under the saddle.  So that clinched it, I was gonna skip the ride.

However, Shar was out of town, and I'd told her I do the evening feeding, and it was only noon-ish.  So I had a LOT of time to kill (or a lot of gas to waste, but I opted for the former).  So I tried the new saddle on Arya again.  Still not too sure about the fit--really need to sit in it and have Shar help feel how her shoulder moves under it.  And probably vice-versa so I can feel it myself as well.

Then I put the new boots on her front feet--I wanted to let her run around in the arena with them on, both to see how SHE reacted to them, and to see how well they stayed on.  I grabbed my new dressage whip and Arya, and headed to the arena.

So yeah, a boot came off.  But I put it back on and made sure to do the hoof strap tighter the next time, and it didn't come off the whole rest of the day, which included more galloping, cantering, trotting, and even stepping on it with her other foot.

She was FULL of beans (and piss and vinegar), and ran around for quite a while (with a bit of encouragement from the lunge whip, but seriously, I prompted her to move, but she chose the speed, and she chose FAST.  And has been living with and next to Arabs for too long, as her tail and her trot really evoked that breed more than the Mustang she is.

Then I put the two barrels up against the fence, and one against the other (both laying on their side), plus added one of the poles just to make the whole shebang a little wider.  I was curious whether she'd jump it.  Yeah, that'd be a big fat NO.  She either whirled around the other direction or ducked out every time.  Well, I did know she wasn't much of a jumper.  :-)

So then I moved them back apart from each other to make a gap she had to squeeze through.  I led her through to remind her how it works, then started lunging her, first away from the barrels.  I was really impressed with her "responsibility lunging."  Theoretically, she should go whatever gait and speed I tell her to go, until I tell her to change.  She's lazy, and normally trots slower and slower until slowing all the way to a walk.  But today, she was GREAT.  She trotted and trotted and trotted, with energy.  She made at least four full circles before I started veering her over toward the barrels.  What a good girl!!

So then I circled her BETWEEN the barrels.  After one false start, it clicked with her what I wanted her to do, and she trotted right through.  We did it a few times, both directions.  Then I upped the difficulty a bit by standing the barrels up and asking her to pass between them.  No problem.  Then I put both barrels next to each other and asked her to squeeze between them and the fence.  No problem.  Then I stretched the barrels farther apart from each other and put the pole between them to increase the length of the "squeeze."  No problem.  Once she was reminded of the game, she played it very well.

We moved on to the "bridge."  It's really just a bunch of short (a little too short, unfortunately) segments of large lumber placed on the ground next to each other.  She knows exactly how that game begins--she marched her front feet right up onto it.  But I wanted her to get her back feet up onto it, stay there, and then get off slowly, without rushing.  That took a LOT more work.  She kept squirting her hind feet out to one side or the other, and was NOT understanding me using the whip to ask her to move her hind end (she's getting better at moving her hind end with leg cues when I'm riding, though).  Finally, we did it.  I had her stand with her hind feet up on the bridge (but not her front feet--she doesn't fit!) for a little bit, then she stepped off carefully.  I tried to do it one more time, and she started stepping on her own front feet, tipping the boards over, and even tipping one up on end and over itself that direction.  Sheesh!  Finally, we nailed it a second time and called it quits on that particular obstacle.

Then, prompted by the difficulty in moving her haunches around "remotely," I decided to work on that for a bit.  I started with gentle taps on her thigh with the dressage whip, then whapped harder and harder.  She still didn't seem to get what I was asking for, so I also said "over," and used my hand approximately where my leg would go.  THAT did the trick.  So I petted her and praised her, then started over.  Gentle tap to harder whapping.  It took quite hard whapping, but I didn't have to use my hand, and she eventually stepped over.  Good girl!  Again, with slightly less whapping required.  Again, until eventually she moved over with just the first few taps.  GOOD girl!  We repeated it on the other side, then called it a day for that exercise.

By this point, she'd really "joined up" with me--she wanted to follow me wherever I went.  So I decided to play with that.  I unclipped her lead rope and we played "chase" for a little bit.  I got her to trot behind me, zig and zag, and of course, I paused every so often for some good head rubs (for her).

THEN, I decided to see how she'd do with dragging one of the poles around.  I looped the rope around her neck and around the log, and she succesfully pulled it from both sides, only bothered slightly when it bonked her on her bag feet, and otherwise not minding it in the slightest.

Then I paused for some pictures:

Tired pony!

Pretty girl!


Selfie with a kiss!  (She actually let me sit there and love on her for quite a while)

Okay, so show me how this works...

So, by then it was still only like 1:00.  So I took Arya to the grassy patch in the front yard to graze while I groomed her a little more thoroughly--I don't comb out her mane and tail very often, so I did that.  She had the weirdest crusties in her tail--I'm not sure whether it was dead skin that flaked off in a HUGE chunk, or whether she actually lost patches of live skin with the hair attached, but it was REALLY gross.  Ugh.

I let her continue grazing while I read the instructions for the heart rate monitor (but without a saddle to attach it to, I didn't actually use it yet).  I let her STILL continue grazing while I prepared a few weeks worth of feed baggies (her breakfast--a little pelleted feed with vitamins and salts).  Then, it was the funniest thing, as I came out to grab her and put her in her pasture, she actually headed to the gate ahead of me!  Smart girl!  I put her away just as it started getting even colder, so I finally gave up on killing time and headed into the house and watched TV for a while.

Shortly before dark, I fed all the critters (one dog, four cats, and five horses), and as I was finishing up, got rewarded with this view:

I hung out in the baby's pasture, scratching him (seriously, he blisses out SO hard, we really need to get a video of that!) and watching the sunset for a while.

Then I headed home.  Tomorrow, I believe we'll ride.  Woo!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Tales from the Workplace, Part VII

I am posting stories from my job, because I think they're funny.  I've done my best to disguise my company name, even the industry, and to keep the people I write about and even some details of the situation anonymous.  If you know me, and know where I work, please don't include details in your comments.  I'll have to delete your comment and reconsider posting these stories.

We have a customer who is apparently making deals with all his friends and neighbors and business partners that he'll run their purchases through his own account.  That's fine with us, as long as he pays us.  Then he gets us involved in his profit-making venture by having us charge him $1.00 more per unit than we actually charge him, bill him that price on an invoice, then issue a credit memo for that same $1.00 per unit so he nets out at owing us only what he normally would, but has the doctored invoice to show his friend or neighbor or whoever.  Oddly, we comply with this.  Whatever.  I do what I'm told (as long as it's not actually illegal, not that I've been told to do anything illegal.  I haven't.)

This same customer is also a part owner of a different company in the exact same business, and for a while, we just had that other business set up as a separate ship-to, but billed the original customer as always.  This was fine with him, until it wasn't.  He expressed surprise at what his account balance was, and it turns out that's because he had three invoices outstanding when he though he just had one.  Well, yeah, you've got one for YOU, specifically.  But one of the marked-up ones for your neighbor, plus one for your other business, and it adds up fast.  So he asked if we could set the separate company up as a separate entity in our system as well.  Sure, if they apply for credit and we grant it.

So I send him a credit app to have the separate company complete and return.  Some places ask for four (or even more!) credit references--companies you've been doing business with.  We just ask for three.

(Side note--I had a potential customer send in a credit application with two of their references being companies who they're on a cash basis with--that isn't actually a CREDIT reference, then, is it?  The third one hasn't responded yet, so I'm dying to know whether they're the same.)

So, the credit app from this side company comes in.  They filled out their own information, for the most part.  They filled in the bank information, though it's so messy I can hardly read it.  Doesn't really matter--I don't usually call/fax banks, because just having money in the bank (if the bank will even tell me about it) doesn't mean you'll pay US--other vendors are much better references.  

The first vendor reference is actually a customer of ours as well.  They didn't include anything except the name (which was actually incorrect, but I inferred the correct one based on them being a customer of ours in the same town as the applicant) and the phone number, but hey, I guess that's all I really NEED.  

The third vendor reference space was left blank.  Sheesh--you can't come up with THREE companies who can vouch that you'll pay us?

But the kicker is the second one--the second vendor reference, who is supposed to tell us how good of a customer you'll be, was THE CUSTOMER.  The same name, phone, and fax listed at the top of the application.  Seriously.  Um, Acme Company, how good a customer would you say Acme Company is?  Do they pay their bills on time?  Do you think they'll pay us on time?  Really, you do?  Great--we'll go ahead and extend them an unlimited line of credit.  Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Fun Gadgets plus a Night Ride

Anyone with a hobby knows that there's always "stuff" you need to buy.  Anyone with horses knows there's ALWAYS "stuff" you need to buy.  Endurance is no exception.  I've been on a bit of a buying spree lately, and since the last time I rode, have received three gadgets I get to try out in the near future, and have a few more on the way.

I received a new-to-me saddle on trial, to try on Arya and hope it fits.  I didn't want to ride in it last night, because new gadgets PLUS dark isn't necessarily a good combination.  But I was excited to try it on her.  Unfortunately, neither Shar nor I are experienced saddle fitters, so we thought it looked pretty good but weren't positive.  I sent some photos to my riding instructor, who IS a saddle fitter, to get her opinion.  She has some concerns, but told us some things to check, so next time I make it out there, Shar and I will check it out further.  More later...

I also got some used Renegade hoof boots online.  A lot of people use normal steel (or aluminum) horseshoes.  There's nothing wrong with that (though there are people militantly anti-shoe who would tell you otherwise), but they're somewhat "permanent."  I mean, they only last 6 weeks or so (or even if the shoe itself lasts longer, it has to be taken off then the hoof trimmed, then the shoe can be replaced), but you can't just wear them for a particularly rocky ride then take them off for softer footing or for relaxing in the pasture.

This is absolutely fine, but since Arya's never had shoes, and has ridden 20+ miles a day with her previous owner through rocks and sand and not needed shoes, I figure why start shoeing her if it's not necessary.  However, I don't want to show up to a ride and get started, only to have it be a super-rocky trail that she gets ouchy on halfway through.  So temporary shoes are a good solution, unless/until she proves to need the more permanent shoes.

Enter hoof boots.  Some people use them as an all-the-time solution, using them every time, every ride, so that their horse can be barefoot when pastured but have protection on rides.  I plan to use them as an emergency backup, but it's the same idea.  They're basically a tennis shoe for horses.

They have a sole with tread, and different boots have different methods of keeping them one--the above picture is similar to the ones I bought, except mine are black (when will they come out with purple, I wonder?).  Once again, didn't want to try them on FOR the ride, but after we got back, I put them on her front feet, fully expecting some weird antics when she felt them around her ankles and felt/heard the weirdness of her footfalls.  But she did great--she pawed the ground a couple times with the first foot, but otherwise didn't bat an eye.  I walked her around outside on the gravel, and she walked completely normally.  I'll want to turn her loose in the arena to trot and canter around with them on before trying them on the trail (and in turn, will want to try them on the trail with no pressure before relying on them as a backup at a ride), but that seemed to go well.

The last gadget I received recently was a heart rate monitor (for the horse--I also recently got one for me).  Since it has to get attached to the saddle, I'll wait until knowing whether this new saddle will work or if I'm stuck with the current one for a while longer before messing with it, but I'm excited to try it out, too.  I'm especially curious how fast her heart rate comes down after working hard, but it'll also be good to learn what her target heart rate is and work on conditioning that way.

So, unrelated to the gadgets, we also went for a ride last night.  Seems I never have a ride that there's nothing to write about, and this was no exception.  We set off as usual--we have a route we usually take for our night rides, though last time we left with enough daylight left that we extended it a bit.  We ride dirt roads through rural neighborhoods.  It's all large lots, and therefore a lot of the residents have horses or donkeys (and there's one place with llamas we passed on Friday), and a lot of people have dogs.  Arya's used to dogs, especially at the places we frequently pass--she barely even tips an ear toward them anymore.  But for some reason, horses always get her full attention, sometimes in a bad way.

We were trotting down a nice empty flat dirt road just before it started getting truly dark.  Arya was going slow all evening for some reason--normally she walks faster than Flash and doesn't have any trouble keeping up at the trot pace we normally do, but tonight she was walking the same speed (though Flash was walking fast) and was lagging behind at the trot.  I let her lag behind--it's good for her to know that it's JUST FINE for other horses to speed ahead of us, because I plan to take it slow at our first ride.  Then all of a sudden, she DARTED forward.  A horse in a neighboring pasture (who she'd already been aware of) galloped off, and either scared her or prompted her to want to run, too.  The first split second, I thought "Oh, Sh!t," then the second split second, I realized "oh good, she's just cantering.  I can do that.  Sit the canter."  Then she slowed to a fast trot, then a normal trot, and I resumed breathing again.  :-)

We continued our ride, with a bit of trotting on the dirt road (Arya still lagging way behind Flash).  Then we hit single track and it was pretty dark by then so we walked on it.  Then paved road, so walking only.  Then we trotted a little more on a dirt road (still lagging behind), but we were chatting so much we ended up walking most of it.  Then paved roads again, so just walking.

Along part of that paved road, all of a sudden Shar noticed a few deer in someone's front yard.  Flash had noticed them, but Arya had NO clue.  Just obliviously walked on past.  Shar teased me for my mustang mare not noticing the wildlife, but I pointed out that they weren't predators, and she was ignoring the deer while remaining on high alert for cougars.  :-)

We continued our ride, and by the time we got to the other stretch of single track, the cloud cover had dissipated and it was rather dark.  And Arya and I were in the lead.  I let her continue leading right onto the single track, but fully expected her to plant her feet and wait for Flash to catch up and pass her so she could follow directly behind him like usual, but she didn't.  She led us right down the little trail through the trees and shrubs without a hint of hesitation.  Shar pointed out that the bushes kind of seemed like clouds in the faint light, and it made it feel like floating.  She was totally right!  Arya's walk was even feeling really smooth, adding to the illusion.  So cool.  We headed on home, past a pasture with a foal we couldn't see but could distinguish by its whinny, and did one more quick trot session before the final stretch home.

So, not a whole lot of trotting overall, but a couple good long stretches, though it was weird that Arya was so slow about it.  Hope she's feeling peppier next time I ride, though it will likely be solo, so maybe laid-back is better.  :-)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Tales from the Workplace, Trucking Edition, Part VI

I am posting stories from my job, because I think they're funny.  I've done my best to disguise my company name, even the industry, and to keep the people I write about and even some details of the situation anonymous.  If you know me, and know where I work, please don't include details in your comments.  I'll have to delete your comment and reconsider posting these stories.

A truck driver delivered a load that (which of course the customer needed to unload) by dropping the trailer off with the rear end (you know, where the doors are) hanging over a ditch.  Awesome.

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In other news, a different driver claimed that they couldn't pick up a trailer from our lot overnight because of the fenced property and locked gates.  We WISH we could fence and lock our property, but unfortunately can't (and don't) because of the overnight and weekend pickups.  There's not even a fence along the whole front of the property.  So they didn't pick up until Monday instead of over the weekend, and of course that delayed the delivery by a day.

Unfortunately, guess what recourse we have against all this?  NONE!

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One more:  The drivers all have GPSs in their trucks.  This morning, I saw a truck from one of the few carriers we use near the office, on the next street over, as I pulled in to park.  Sure enough, I'd barely set my stuff down on the desk when he called because he couldn't find us.  He literally could have looked out his drivers side window and seen the empty trucks lined up on our property.  Not to mention the raw material, but depending how our company's name came through on his dispatch info, that may not have been obviously associated with us, but still...  We told him, "See that road in front of you?  Turn left.  Then see the big blue building with lots of trucks in front of it?  Turn left."  Amazingly, that did the trick and he found us.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Three in a row!

Today was the third day in a row of riding for me.  Right on the heels of working out with a trainer, so I am BEAT.  But with a day this gorgeous and sunny, how could I NOT ride?

Shar and I  met at her house, but loaded up the horses for a short trailer ride.  We parked where Arya and I had seen a lady tacking up her horse yesterday--the point where we turned around.  We forgot to bring the mounting block, but luckily there are a bunch of rocks there, so we were able to mount up, no problem.

We took off down some single track, walking quite a bit, trotting when we could (it seemed every time we started trotting, we arrived at a rocky spot).  We ended up back on some double track (but still relatively untraveled and nice footing), and came upon a puddle.  Oh, good--a training opportunity.  It took quite a bit of effort still, but we got her to walk through it.  Shar had to pull on her halter a bit, but she did it.

We started to do some leapfrogging on the trail, but then Shar realized she'd gone off course from where she intended us to be.  So we started trekking cross-country.  Arya was loving it--she'd gotten confident (compared to when we first set off) and was happy to be leading, and being a mustang, she seems to love tromping around through the rocks and bushes.  We went up and down over some rocky stuff, and she did awesome.

We found our way back to the road we wanted to be on, then Shar started looking for a trail up the nearby cliff.  Well, up it in a spot where it wasn't actually a cliff.  She found it, and we went UP a rather big, rather steep, rather rocky hill.  Arya did great, though.  We reached the plateau, took in the views of the mountains to the west (and each snapped a few pics of the other)...

...then crossed it, seeing a couple people out walking while we went, then took in THOSE views, of Smith Rock to the east.

We retraced our steps across the plateau again, and this time met up with the people we'd seen earlier at the top of the trail back down the hill.  (Oh yeah, Shar didn't tell me we'd have to go back DOWN the way we'd come up--I'd assumed we'd loop back to the trailer a different way, I wasn't too thrilled about that.)  We chatted with them a bit--they recently moved there and were curious about the trails.  Then we proceeded DOWN the big, steep, rocky hill.  I was worried about my poor horse, who's heavy all on her own, carrying my fat butt down the hill and possibly losing her balance, or even just losing control of her momentum, but she did absolutely FINE, even stopping for a bite to eat now and then, which is disconcerting when you're already aimed down a steep hill, then the head and neck of the horse you're on just disappears.  But she really did do awesome on the way down, didn't rush at all.  We made it to the bottom, and headed back toward the trailer.

On the way, we passed another couple puddles, and I figured I'd give it a shot.  She resisted and resisted.  I kept working on getting her to step into the water, when all of a sudden, I felt her front end rise up and she LEAPED over the puddle.  Shar and I had JUST been talking about how she wasn't ever going to be a good jumper, and while she disproved it with her attitude, she proved it with her grace, or rather lack thereof.  Her hind feet still landed in the water, even though it was only about a foot wide or so.  :-)  Luckily, I was relatively prepared for it and stayed on through the leap.

After that, we headed back to the trailer without further incident.  Overall, I think it was a positive ride, and of course the combination of weather, fellow human, and both horses made it a wondeful day.

But it wasn't over quite yet.  When we got back and put the horses away (Arya is doing SO great at backing out of the trailer), Shar got Goodwin out and worked with him in the arena, with the obstacles she's set up there.  He did great--I wasn't there for his prior lessons, but it really did seem like he remembered them and built on them from what Shar said.  Good boy!

When we got back to the trailer, guess who was waiting in the tack area?

We let Goodwin graze for a few minutes, then Shar and I went and picked up pizza and enjoyed it, along with R, in front of some interesting TV--something about auctions.

I was sorely tempted to go soak in the pool at McMenamins, but once I got home, I didn't feel like leaving again.  I'm perfectly happy to sit on my couch in my comfy clothes.  I think I'll be taking a break from exercise tomorrow.  :-)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Solo Ride 3 - on the trail this time!

Did another solo ride with Arya today!  First, I showed up and took a selfie with one of my many valentines:

Then I tacked her up and got ready.  I checked in with Shar and R, and they were planning to leave soon, so I also texted my mom and sister with my route (a previous ride on Endomondo) and to check on me if I hadn't checked with them in a couple hours.  Then I hopped on Arya and we were off.

She went down the driveway no problem.  Then she got squirrely a we got toward the end of Shar's property.  It wasn't quite as bad as the last time I rode her solo, but she was letting me know she'd rather go back home than ride away from home without Flash.  But I got her back on track without TOO much trouble, and we continued down the road.  We trotted a bit, walked a bit.  Made it past the house with dogs and donkeys without any trouble.  Then we came to the stop sign where on the last solo ride, we'd turned left and just circled the block.  (But just last night, we turned right and made a much bigger loop.)  She did NOT want to turn right.  She figured she'd prefer to go HOME, but if she had to go a different direction than home, she'd rather go left.

I circled her and circled her.  Let her rest when pointed the way I wanted to go but circled all the way around when she tried to head home.  She got brattier and brattier, and was succeeding in making each circle bring her closer to home, so finally I gave up and got off.  I led her in the direction I'd been wanting to go, and she didn't even take up slack on the lead line.  Ugh.  Crazy girl.

So I walked her a ways.  I thought about using a ditch (her in the ditch, me up higher) to get back on her, but the best ditches would have meant getting on from the "wrong" side (yes, you should use both sides equally, but I'm not graceful even on the good side, and MUCH worse on the wrong side) or having her pointed toward home, so I kept going.  I ended up walking about half a mile, both so we were sufficiently far from home and so I could get back on.  I was concerned she wouldn't stand well for mounting, especially if she tried to head home, but luckily she did great.  I got her pointed down the trail.

Up till this point, we'd been on dirt roads, but the road ended and the trail began right where I got on.  She wasn't too sure about getting on the trail without a buddy, especially since there had been some excavation in the area and there was a big boulder pile, but she did it.  Her ears were up and she was on high alert, and she felt really light on her feet, but she did it.  So of course I was kind of nervous, too, but I tried to breathe deep and sit deep, and we headed downhill on the trail without incident.

When the trail flattened out, I tried a trot.  She was VERY forward (and I was very nervous), but I kept a tight hold of her and we trotted, then walked, then trotted on down the trail.  At one point, I figured I should give her a looser rein and see how she did, but she started cantering.  Nope, not ready for that, but luckily she was pretty easy to bring back down.  In fact, she was pretty easy to bring back to a walk most of the times with just voice and seat (slowing the posting, sitting down and back), but she was definitely wanted to trot faster than I was comfortable with.

At one point, the trail crosses a paved road.  You have a decent view of traffic in one direction, but in the other, the view is blocked by trees until you're right at the road, and even then, the road comes down a hill and through a curve, so you can't see the traffic very far in advance.  She was getting all squirrely and antsy as we approached the road, and I was really afraid she'd get out of control and prance on across the road regardless of traffic.  But luckily she let me slow her and stop her to check, and then hurried across the road like a good girl.

We continued down the trail, paralleling a different road for a bit, and mostly walked that stretch.  In fact, we mostly walked even once the trail branched away from the road, and she was definitely on high alert, but was behaving quite well.

Then we spied a horse ahead of us.  A lady was parked at a trailhead just ahead of us, tacking up her horse.  That's why Arya's ears are so perky in the picture below--you can JUST see the other horse's butt to the left of Arya's right ear, I think.  Not sure, but they were straight ahead of us in that photo.

Anyway, so I didn't want to deal with her either trying to go toward or scurry away from the other horse on my own, so we turned around at that point and retraced our steps.  There's a different way (more of a scramble straight up the side of a hill) to get up the hill and then take roads the rest of the way home instead of trail, but I missed that trail, plus figured it would be better to retrace our steps for a few reasons--more single-track trail (even if it parallels roads) instead of road, plus we'd already been there done that so she might behave a little better.

Once we were pointed toward home, she definitely sped up.  Her walk was quite a bit faster (4 mph according to Endomondo), and she definitely wanted to trot.  I worried about her not wanting to come back to a walk, so we had a couple practice runs at a VERY controlled trot, and she did great, so we had a few longer trot sessions, hitting 7-8 miles an hour (not super fast, but considering how nervous I was to let her get much speed, it was pretty good for us).

We got back to the intersection where she'd given me so much trouble, and rather than head for home, I made her take the long way around the block.  She barely resisted (she swerved toward home, but willingly went where I directed her).  We trotted some more on the way home, but here's a video I took while we were walking:

Here's a photo taken shortly after the video--we turn left at that intersection, then "home" is just a few yards away.

We made it back without incident (that corner is the one she gave me SUCH a hard time on last time, but this time, even though the same horses came up to the fence, she was tired and ready to just go HOME.  :-)

I texted everyone to let them know I was home safe, then untacked the pony and let her graze for a bit while I sat down (and not in a saddle--my butt's getting sore!) and posted some pics to Facebook.

She LOVED that, and of course didn't want to leave, but I had another couple treats for her--first I took her to the arena to let her roll:

If you turn your sound up, you can hear all her grunting and groaning during the roll and the subsequent shake.  Also, this is the longest, most thorough roll I've seen her do.  Check it out at about 0:17 when she gives and extra good rub for her face--she hates when her ears are sweaty, and it tickles as it runs down.  This clearly felt SO good for her.

THEN I took her back to her pasture and gave her one more treat--some carrots!  In fact, I made the rounds and gave them to everyone.  The foal wasn't quite sure what to do, so I ended up putting them in his feed pan.  Similarly, the other mare didn't want to get too close, so I just tossed some on the ground for her to find and distracted Flash by hand-feeding him while she went hunting.

So, it was a really good day.  I'd originally been planning to do some hiking afterward, but my body is SORE and tired, and the lesson for tomorrow got canceled, so I can hike tomorrow, but now it sounds like Shar and I are going to ride (my butt will be SO sore, but this is good--gotta get used to this!).  Woo!  We've got to soak up this spring sunshine while we can--I'm sure we'll get more snow again before spring really comes.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Sunset / Night Ride

Shar and I talked about riding on Wednesday, but stuff came up for both of us, so we postponed to Friday.  Better in a way, because I get off an hour earlier, so we had a little more daylight to work with.  I showed up, fetched my horse, and groomed and tacked her, including all our reflective night-riding gear.

I took her to the roundpen, but she was all up in arms about the changes to the arena and wouldn't focus.  Shar has been working hard all week on adding some obstacles to the arena--there's a flower box for the horses to step over, some ground poles, two barrels to squeeze between, and a "bridge" of sturdy timbers laying side by side.  Since she was so curious, and I'd been planning to take her there anyway, I took her over to the arena.

She was quite curious about the flower box, and it was directly in front of the gate, so we headed there first.  She snorted and snuffled, but walked right up to it and stuck her face into the fake flowers.  Like seriously, fabric petals all up in her nostrils.  Silly girl.  I had her walk over it a couple times, from each direction.

Then we went to the bridge.  She stepped up onto it with her front feet, no problem.  Getting her back feet onto it was a little more work.  First she wanted to rush over it, then she swung her back end wide to avoid her back feet even going onto it (she's not dumb, and the bridge is really skinny), but finally I got her to walk over it, stopping with each set of feet on it.  Woo!

Then over to the barrels.  She wasn't too worried about them EXISTING, necessarily, but wasn't thrilled about walking between them.  But she survived.

Then the ground poles.  I walked her over them.  Easy peasy.  But then I made her BACK UP over them.  That proved a little more mentally challenging for her.  She didn't seem to remember where they were, so she'd step on them, they'd roll, and then she REALLY wouldn't know where they were.  But she was smart and cool about it, and proceeded through without incident.

I took her back to the flower box, and got her to where she was straddling it with it between her front and back legs, then asked her to back over it (so only the fronts had to cross it, not the backs).  Not so bright on this one, she stepped ON the flower box, but luckily on a part with a cross piece so it didn't break or anything.  But she's getting very trusting about backing over stuff, so that's good.  (She was VERY reluctant the first time I asked her to unload backwards, and the first time we did exercises like this by backing over stuff in the arena).

I lunged her a bit, and tried to get her to go through the barrels, but that wasn't so successful.  Finally, we finished off by lunging in a couple circles, and she did well so we called an end to that and headed off on our trail ride.

Shortly into the ride, and I think after just one, maybe two trot sessions, we came to a puddle.  Well, what a convenient opportunity!  We'd just been working on crossing water, and here's a little puddle to try it out with!  Flash walked right into and through it, but Arya wasn't having any of that.  I urged her forward, and she'd squirt sideways.  But we kept at it, with me giving her a minute to think about things when she got closer, and finally she stepped into the water.  YAY!  She even DRANK the water (it was really dirty, and right in the road, so I said if she's dead in the pasture in the morning, we'll know why).  Then she pawed at the water, so we hurried on through.  GOOD girl!

Just then, the sun was setting and making a gorgeous sunset, more beautiful than the picture shows, but isn't that always the way with photos, especially taken on a cell phone?

We continued our ride--on a bit of single-track trail, then down the dirt road past the llamas.  Arya was curious, and hugged Flash a little closer, but was ultimately fine (this is our...third?...time past them, I think, and luckily we made it while it was still pretty light out.  We saw a deer, too, and Arya was on high alert but also fine with it.

We did some more trotting, and practiced "leap-frogging" (passing each other--good prep for endurance rides).  Arya barely tried to speed up at all when Flash passed us (us walking, him trotting), and just a gentle squeeze on the reins reminded her to just walk.  Then we trotted--she wanted to slow down (stop, even!) when we caught up to him, but I made her trot away.  By the third repeat or so, she was on to the game and easily trotted past him.  A time or two at a slow and steady trot, and a time or two even at a pretty good clip.  She even trotted past him going up hill, when I thought surely she'd try slowing down.  We crossed a paved road, rode along it, and saw more "scary" things (rocks, stumps, mailboxes, etc.), but Arya only veered around them,  never full-on spooked.  GOOD girl!

She even took the lead for a lot of the ride after the leapfrogging session--she's usually rather timid at the beginning, cowering behind Flash, but she started reluctantly leading (Flash walks SLOW), then confidently leading by the end of the ride.  GOOD girl!

We did have to work on not snagging bites while riding (I won a few, and lost a few, especially when we went through a ditch.  I prepared my body for the dip down then back up, but she went down then STOPPED, figuring having the food at face level was a good sign she should stop and take a bite), but overall it was a GREAT ride, with great company and a pair of great horses.

Tomorrow, I may try a solo ride, may just go hiking, or may not be able to get out of bed.  Sunday, lesson time, and Shar may be getting back on her youngster (not the foal--she has a green horse who's more than ready, physically, for riding, but his brain may or may not be all the way ready...we'll see!)

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Tales from the Workplace, Part VI

I am posting stories from my job, because I think they're funny.  I've done my best to disguise my company name, even the industry, and to keep the people I write about and even some details of the situation anonymous.  If you know me, and know where I work, please don't include details in your comments.  I'll have to delete your comment and reconsider posting these stories.

So, a customer wanted to order from us, but they had a LOT of questions.  They had multiple calls with our sales guy to get their questions answered, received an ENTIRE PALLET of our product free, as a sample (we usually send out a small box with samples, so they got special treatment), had more questions, wondered if we couldn't lower our price, had more get the idea.  Then they decide that they would, indeed, like to order from us.  Yay!

So it takes us a few days to create the product, a few days to schedule a truck to deliver it to them, etc.  Since they're a first-time customer, we require payment in advance, but we don't require it WAY in advance--if they pay by credit card, we'll just run it the morning the truck is arriving to pick up the load.  We told them all of this.

The day arrives--the truck is coming to pick up the product.  I call at 8:00 a.m. and get a voicemail recording saying they don't open until 9:00.  Okay.  I call back after 9:00 and am told that only one person has the credit card information, and she's currently on a local radio show so is unreachable.  Um, okay, but the truck's coming at 10:00.  He'll see what he can do.  The truck driver arrives, we start loading the stuff into the truck.  The lady finally calls at around 11:00.  She'd love to pay us, but her credit card has a credit limit of barely more than her bill with us is, and it's pretty much full right now, and while she paid it off the other day and the money left her checking account, it hasn't yet been credited to the credit card balance.  Um, not my problem?  I can sympathize, but what are we supposed to do about it?  You knew you needed to pay for the order before it left, and you didn't send a check in advance, and you didn't plan far enough ahead to clear off enough room on your credit card with time to spare...

She said she'd look for her other credit card, but the card was at home and she wasn't, and she'd have to call back later.  She said I could keep trying the card that was full, but I doubted that would do much good.  (I did try it later, a couple times, and unsurprisingly, it didn't go through.)

Meanwhile, the truck is loaded, weighed, and ready to leave.  So the owner of my company asks the trucking company to do us a little favor (this is not one of the behemoth companies, but a smaller local-ish company, so they agree).  They'll take the load from here to their hub between us and the customer, and hold onto it until we receive payment and release the load from the trucking company to the customer.  Great.  Problem nearly solved!

The lady calls me, gives me a new credit card number, but mutters how she was really hoping to get those airline miles (still not my problem, and if you wanted them that badly, you would have paid off the CC sooner; I think she was hoping I'd just say she could wait a few days [her bank said it'd likely be another two days before the payment was posted, which SUCKS for her, but again, not my problem], but I didn't).  Payment goes through, yay!  So we tell the trucking company they can go ahead and deliver the load, which they say they'll do the next day.

The next day, I get a call from the trucking company.  They've arrived at that customer's location, and there is apparently only one employee on the premises, and he says he can't unload the load alone and will need the truck driver's help.  This isn't something they HAVE to do, and certainly not anything we contracted for, but the driver is willing.  However, the freight company charges $75 an hour to do this, which isn't unreasonable, I don't think.  I tell them that if the customer says they need the help, what can we do but provide it, but to please let me know when the driver's done helping how many hours they'll be charging us for, because we are certainly going to pass the charge along to the customer ASAP and we don't want to wait for the freight bill to arrive.

I find out later that once the customer heard that THEY were going to have to pay for the unloading help, he managed to figure out how to unload the product himself (or find help elsewhere).  But seriously, after all the pre-order runaround, and then the snafu with the payment, you had plenty of warning that this load was coming.  Granted, the one guy may not have been kept in the loop about the holdup because of the payment issue, but again, NOT. MY.  PROBLEM.