Friday, May 29, 2015

Nice evening ride

Shar was invited over to a friend's house for an evening ride.  Brenda bought Cisco a few years ago, but as an adult re-rider, didn't want her first few rides to be alone.  So Shar had helped her with the first few arena rides, and now Brenda was ready to try the trails.  Shar invited me to tag along.

But first, I had to snap a photo of the socks my mom gave me for my birthday--they have my favorite indoor pet, a cat, on them, but are perfect summer horseback riding socks, because they're thin but long.  :-)  They worked perfectly!

We trailered Flash and Arya over to Brenda's, where she was already mounted up.  So we quickly tacked up, Arya's first time wearing a breastcollar, and only second ride in the new girth.  Shar tried Goodwin's saddle on Flash, but it didn't fit quite right once she sat in it, so she quickly switched back to his normal saddle, and we set off.

We went down her driveway, past inactive sprinklers and "active" rocks (gasp! if you're Arya).  We turned onto the road, and rode on the shoulder.  There were a lot of drivers passing us, but they were all polite, and got over when they could, or slowed down.  We saw motorcycles, possibly Arya's first time.  They're noisier bicycles, and she's already not too sure what she thinks of bikes, so she gave them a good hard side-eye, but didn't spook at all.  Good girl!

Soon, though, we crossed the road and headed onto trails.  First a bit of singletrack, which was VERY rocky (sharp jagged little lava rock, sometimes embedded as basically part of the ground, sometimes more like gravel), but Arya didn't mind.  We have NEW SHOES, including pads!  She tromped over grass, sand, gravel, and sharp rocks all the same.  Woo hoo!  Then we were onto jeep trails, doubletrack and nice smooth, often sandy, footing.

Shar and Flash on the left, Brenda and Cicso on the right.  Flash isn't QUITE as small as he looks here--he's on lower ground.  Though his butt is quite a bit smaller than that big QH butt.  We should've somehow gotten a pic of all three.  Then he WOULD look like a shrimp.  ;-)

Same photo basically, but while that one was a better one of the ladies, this one has Arya's ears fully included.  :-)

We wandered around, trotted a little bit but mostly kept it to a walk.  I raised the stirrups one notch higher than the last ride, and it felt even better, so I guess I'll keep them at this level for a while.  They were kind of short for posting the trot, but longer makes my hips hurt, so oh well.  We crossed a road that had JUST been chip sealed and didn't have much traffic, and wandered around some more.  Then Cisco started sneezing (clearing his nose) constantly, and we weren't sure whether it was an attitude thing or if he actually physically had something in his nose (he'd been doing it before we arrived, apparently, but eventually stopped).  So we turned around to meander our way back.

We saw a huge puddle (we got a BUNCH of rain a few days ago!), so of course I had to make Arya go into it.  Well, first I tried to get her into a smaller puddle nearby, but Cisco and Flash were already in the bigger puddle, so she kept veering toward them, and I gave up and just steered her toward the big one.  After a couple good sniffs at the water, and the fact that Cisco was pawing and pawing and pawing at the water, plus Flash was just standing in it like a good boy, Arya walked right in (though a bit tentatively).  She got a few pats, and the reward of immediately exiting the water then eating grass (which I'd been disallowing the whole ride until then).

Here's Cisco.  He enjoyed the water so much his boots flew off, and one of them broke the gaiter.

After the fun in the water (and Shar fetched the boots), we headed back toward home, but with a detour up a bit of a hill.  There were some awesome views:

Smith Rock

Black Butte right in the middle

Sisters, etc.

I took a little video as we rode down from the view point.  The mountains were behind the trees, but got Smith Rock, plus the big sky.  It's a little bumpy, though, so don't watch if you're prone to motion sickness.  :-)

At one point, we rode through a spot where people had dumped some trash.  I was blabbing (as I often do in trail rides--I should probably shut up occasionally!), and all of a sudden, Arya spooked sideways a bit at a TV (well, what used to be a TV) alongside the trail.  I barely broke my stream of consciousness babble.  Woo!  I'm proud of myself for not freaking out.  Getting more comfortable.  :-)

The trail took us right up to the top edge of a big gravel pit, so we stayed a little back from the edge, but it was really REALLY rocky.  Arya did great, though, of course--just plodded through it like the whole rest of the ride up to that point.  I was talking and talking and blabbing and blabbing to Shar, and we got down off the hill and back to the gate the led back to the road, and we realized Brenda wasn't with us.  Oops!  We were supposed to be helping her out and sticking right with her, and we abandoned her.  Luckily, it turned out she'd hopped off when the footing got rocky, because poor Cisco was now entirely barefoot after having flung his boots off at the puddle.  So while we traipsed our shod horses right through the rocks, he was ouching along through them, so she got off to relieve him of the extra weight, and hand walked him down the hill.  Oops.  We're bad riding buddies.  But at least she hadn't fallen off, so Shar helped her get re-mounted and we set off toward home again.  Back alongside the road, and up the driveway.

The sprinklers alongside the driveway had come on.  I don't think Arya minded the spraying water at all (she has a sprinkler in her pasture), but she was NOT amused by the water dripping from one of the pipes and puddling up at the bottom.  I think she worried I'd make her walk through it.  Ha!  She also gave the side-eye to the rocks again.  Mean rocks, just skulking about in random places.

I snapped a photo of our silhouette:

And of the orange ponies and lovely ladies in front of me:

After we untacked, we got to meet Brenda's cute little filly, a little younger but a little bigger than Aschere, and a beautiful buckskin.  Can't believe I didn't take any pictures!  Oh well.  Then we hauled back home, and I got to just leave my tack in the truck since we're hauling to a ride again on Sunday.  Supposed to be 18 miles, but we'll see how far we actually get.  :-)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Arya's Got a New Set of Shoes

Arya came to me barefoot, having never been shod.  Her previous owner didn't need to shoe her.  So I decided I'd keep her barefoot as long as I could.  She seemed to have tough feet--we rode on the gravel roads near Shar's house without problem.  We rode off-trial over rock without problem.

The first inkling of any problem was when we rode a 12-ish mile trail that had quite a few rocky spots.  The first mile or so is soft dirt, then it goes into quite a few miles of gravel road.  I always try to keep her in the tire tracks, assuming they're smoother than the rest of the road, but of course it's still not perfect.  The trail goes into some softer dirt roads, then the trail goes up a canyon, which is rocky.  Some of the trail has gravel-like rocks, though some of it is larger smoother rocks, which other than the concussive issues of hard terrain, don't hurt her feet the way gravel-like footing does.  Where she first showed signs of ouchiness were in the last few miles where the trail is on the side of a hill (valley, really) made up of scree.  Arya kept trying to get off the trail (as she'd do if it were a gravel road with soft dirt on the shoulders), and sliding off the hill a little bit.  Of course, when the entire hill is made up of rocks between the size of a matchbox car and a deck of cards or so, getting off the trail doesn't help.  She also started mincing her steps a bit and showing that she was ouchy.  Once we got off the hill back into softer dirt again, she was fine.

So heading into the Still Memorial ride, I asked folks who've ridden there (it's near the above trail, but not in exactly the same place) and the ride managers how the footing would be.  I was assured that while many barefoot horses would be wise to use hoof protection, if I've ridden the above-described trail barefoot, she'd be fine.

Well.  It turns out that the trails were MUCH rockier (as in gravel; as in gravel roads with HUGE pieces of gravel scattered about, not smooth dirt roads or even gravel roads with lots of small gravel that provides a pretty even, if abrasive, surface overall) than described.  I really should have booted all four feet, but only did the fronts.  Then when one boot had to be destroyed to get it off from around her leg, she was down to zero (well, we could've had ONE, but that would be silly).  And she did NOT do well on those gravel roads with zero boots on her feet.

Then lately, even around Shar's house, she's proven to have some sensitivity on the gravel.  I don't know what's changed--have her feet gotten more sensitive, period?  Is it that we're doing more miles than we were earlier on?  Is she just trying to get away with stuff?  Am I more perceptive?  Who knows.

Some people are staunch barefoot believers, and will avoid shoeing their horses with quite a bit of effort on their parts to make boots work.  However, Arya's on the upper size range of boots, we had one bad experience with one not just coming off, but coming off so spectacularly that it was unuseable the rest of the day, which is just NOT cool for an endurance ride.  To be sure boots would fit properly and be less likely to cause problems, I'd have to have her feet trimmed more often.  And you have to fuss around the boots before every ride, possibly during any given ride, etc. etc. etc.  Just seemed like so much hassle when you can nail on shoes every 6-8 weeks and not have to think about them again.  Okay, they're not without issues--horses can "throw" a metal shoe, too, and it can really damage the hoof if they do, there is question about how much steel shoes (and, honestly, hoof boots, too) change the gait and the biomechanics of how the hoof reacts to hitting the ground, blah blah blah.  But I am not against metal shoes in principle, and it seemed like the best choice for Arya for right now (who knows, maybe next summer we'll condition better from winter into spring and her feet will become/remain tougher than they proved to be this summer).

So.  That brings us to the point where I decided to give steel shoes a try and called the farrier who's been trimming Arya's feet to make an appointment for actual shoes (and remind him how big her feet are so he could have supplies on hand!).  The appointment was for yesterday.

He and I discussed pad and whether to use them.  Reasons not to include expense (but I'm willing to pay), easier for him to shoe without them, and they could possibly trap moisture, fungus, etc. between them and her feet.  "Risks" to not using them include showing up to our next ride, having it be rocky roads/trails (not just smooth gravel or treading on rocks the size of a house, but chunky rocks spread apart enough to be a problem), and having the 5 inches of exposed hoof between the parts covered by shoe impact a chunky hunk of rock and still make her ouchy.  I don't want to pay a bunch of money and invest the emotional energy to enter another "long" (for me) ride, only to have to ride fewer miles than we normally do at home, like happened at Still.  So I asked for the pads, and we began the process.

Before (well, he'd started trimming her left foot, the one on the right in the photo)

Shaping the shoe--he just pounds on them to shape them cold, no heat necessary

Blurry photo, but this is what her face looked like throughout the nailing, including with the very first nail.  Slight worry wrinkles, but mostly just napped through it all.

Kind of hard to see, but you can see him rasping the bottom of her hoof

Finished with the shoe and pad, still need to finish off the nails (though you could leave them as is and call it goth!)

Checking the fit--a couple of the shoes took a few trips to the anvil to get just right.  Once he had the shoe shaped, he cut the pad to match the outside tracing of the shoe.

Again, kind of hard to see (I had to hold her head, so could only take photos from a pretty bad angle most of the time), but he's nailing on the shoe.  You can see the flat, black pad just under the shoe, covering her hoof.

Not pictured--he "set" the nails by doing a final pounding from the bottom while holding a metal block against them.  Then (pictured here), nipped them off even with the hoof...

...rasped them to smooth them over...

...and clinched them down.  This tool looks like the nippers, but the ends flare out and are smooth, and just press the nail tips down and leave them smooth against the outside of her hoof so she doesn't hurt herself or others with sharp points, and so they're bent over a bit to hold the nails in place.

Pretty girl trying out her new shoes!  (Non-horsey people--that's not a blindfold, as some people think; it's a fly mask--the horse can easily see through it from the inside (try pulling your T-shirt up over your eyes--you can still see out), but it keeps the flies off her eyes and out of her ears, where they like to gather.)

Hard to see in this photo, but new shoes all around. 

The farrier was actually impressed with her behavior.  She leaned on him a few times, but didn't really try to yank her foot back, just more like "Oh, you're gonna hold my leg up for me?  Well, I'm just gonna go on ahead and take a little nappy-poo then..."  But she didn't even mind the tapping of the nailing at all, which was all new to her.

Tonight, we'll give them the inaugural ride and see how it goes, then this weekend will be a high-mileage ride (though probably decent footing she wouldn't actually need the shoes for).  Looking forward to seeing how it goes!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Relaxing Ride (for the most part)

Shar and I hadn't ridden together in over a week, and the lesson we were originally planning to have yesterday was postponed, so we decided to just ride together off the property.  This was my first ride in the new saddle after the inaugaral (and VERY painful!) ride, and after making a few adjustments.  I had also borrowed some English girths to try out, so fussed with them a bit first, then we tacked up for real and were off like a herd of turtles, as Shar likes to say.

Arya in the latest setup.  The pommel bag is flipped up over the saddle so I could show the saddle maker how it sits, well off her shoulder.

And we really were.  We walked VERY slowly for the first bit.  My hips didn't LOVE the saddle still, but were much more comfortable than before.  Just small twinges rather than outright pain.

Then when we started trotting, I remember how much I love this saddle for trotting.  So nice!  But Arya didn't want to keep up with Flash, despite my encouragement, and we ended up with quite a gap between us.  I also kept feeling like she wan't quite right.  Her head wasn't nodding, really, but she felt like she wasn't taking full steps, and her body was kind of swerving wonkily even though her feet didn't seem to be.  I asked Shar to watch us at the trot, both with me posting and with me sitting the trot so I wasn't affecting her gait that way.  Shar didn't THINK she saw anything wrong, but she clearly seemed ouchy on the gravel.  So we took it easy, trotting fairly slowly when it wasn't TOO rocky, walking when it was, both on the roadway and when we got to the singletrack.  We walked down the shoulder of a paved road, then got to another dirt road.  For some of it, there was space on the shoulder to ride on, though it was sometimes canted so much I didn't feel comfortable trotting her on it.  But where it was level enough, we trotted, and she MOVED OUT.

Of course, she's always much more motivated when on the way home, and she knew we were headed that direction, but the softer footing also made her more comfortable, I could tell.  But most of all, it seems this saddle DOES feel better for her--it felt like she was reaching farther with her shoulder than she'd been able to in the Western saddle.  More time will tell, especially if she gets comfortable in her shiny new shoes.  :-)

Meanwhile, we were assessing Flash.  He's got new wedges for his shoes (horsie high heels), and only one ride prior to this, in which he did have one recurrence of the issue he has the wedges for (a wonky shoulder movement every so often).  It didn't happen at all this ride, though, luckily, so maybe those wedges are working and his muscle is rebuilding.

Shar and I will ride again, along with a couple other folks, on Thursday, then we're hoping to ride 18 miles on Sunday.  It's an out-and-back ride, though, so if either of us needs to turn around, we'll both turn around.  But hopefully both horses and both humans are up for going the distance.  It'll be my longest ride to date.

On the confidence front, there were a couple of things to report:

Fairly early in the ride, on the singletrack where Arya had a pretty big spook on my last solo ride on her, we were trotting along at a pretty good clip when we got to that spot, but I went ahead and kept trotting rather than slow her down in anticipation of that spot.  It turns out the plastic bag was gone, so she didn't even bat an eye, but I was mentally a bit proud of myself for not pre-freaking out.  :-)

On one of the home stretches, when we were going at a pretty good trot, Arya did a tiny little crow hop then broke into the canter.  I think she was pissed that I was kind of holding her back.  I didn't even get that panicky feeling in my gut.  I stuck the hop (such as it was), sat the canter, and slowed her down without panicking, though I was concerned that we were right next to a T-post fence and I REALLY didn't want to end up anywhere near it if I came off!  Shar said she was proud of me for not freaking out, and I was pretty proud of myself too, I can admit that.  :-)

Lastly, when we were nearly home, Arya's pasture buddy and BFF (if not all-out girlfriend) had been missing her, and bellowed loudly when we got nearby.  Usually Arya just ignores her, but today she was glad to be home, too, and was pretty focused on her buddy.  I saw that she was veering off the road and into a ditch that's a few inches deep, but a decent drop-off from the road.  If I hadn't noticed that, and was spacing out or looking in another direction, I probably would have freaked out.  But I saw that she was about to trip her way into it, so when she did, I just laughed at her.  We've come a long way since the first few rides post-bucking incident(s)...

Hope it continues in a positive direction.  I can't say I NEVER freak out, but even the spook on a strange-to-me equine (the mule I rode Monday) didn't have me as freaked out as I would have been a few months ago.  I mean, I knew it wasn't a GOOD thing, but first I focused on sitting the gait, then worried about my shoe being further into the stirrup than was a good thing (tennies in a non-caged stirrup), and it wasn't until he put his head down like he was going to buck that I really got that tummy-clenching feeling of panic.

Anyway, so it was a good ride, and there are hopefully many more to come.  When we got back, I tried a breastcollar on her (with Shar's help for how to adjust it).  She may not NEED it, but it probably can't hurt before doing the hilly ride we've got planned this weekend, and I figure I should ride her in it first (Thursday's ride), so needed to get that figured out and adjusted.  If nothing else, it gives the pommel pack another anchor point so it doesn't flop around as much.

After all that, Arya finally got to do her favorite thing, which I'd been preventing her from all along (I'm so mean!)--EAT!  I was grazing her on the little circle of grass in front of Shar's house, and she said" have her eat down the rocky area where we can't mow," so I pointed her there, and she was happy to oblige.  Ignore the fact she looks guilty in this photo.  She was just glaring at me taking her photo--she was MORE than happy to help with her assigned chore.  :-)

Lawnmower duty

After I put Arya away, I finished putting away her tack, and then headed to the house to chat with Shar a bit.  From afar, I saw this strange sight:

Three semi-feral kitties, hanging out in the middle of the horse pasture.  Weirdos.

It was weird to see a beautiful, soft, fluffy, prissy-looking, long-haired cat tromping through horse poo, but there she was:

Crissy, of the litter of cats named after the Threes Company characters

Too funny.  :-)

So tonight, shoes.  Thursday, easy ride.  Then Sunday, big long ride with lots of elevation change.  Life is good!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day Weekend

My sister came to visit me for Memorial Day weekend.  My birthday falls around then, and it's a nice time to visit, and she hadn't been down this way since last Memorial Day.  She brought two dogs with her, her own dog Dylan plus a dog she's fostering, Leo.  Both are pit bulls (or mixes, or whatever), and both are sweet dogs with people but probably not cats, and I have three cats, so we worked all weekend to keep them separated.

She arrived Friday, but we just had dinner and hung out at home, playing games.

Saturday, I wanted to introduce her to one of my favorite hiking/wogging/dog-friendly spots--Shevlin Park.  She took Dylan, and I took Leo.  That boy is STRONG, and started out VERY gung-ho for our hike, pulling and pulling at the leash.  We let them play in the water a little bit right at the beginning of our hike, where we crossed the creek, but then we set off on the Tumalo Loop Trail, that circles the park further away from the creek and higher up on a ridge, so we weren't going to have water access again until nearly the halfway point.  The dogs pulled up the hill, but were very polite when we met people on the trail.  We'd step off the trail and hold the dogs on a short leash so they wouldn't bother anyone.  We got to a spot where I knew there was a geocache, so Jen and Nathan set off to find it while I held onto the dogs.  They didn't love it when Jen walked away from us, but they soon realized she wasn't going far, I guess, so it went fine.

When we got to the bridge at the far end of the trail, we stopped and let the dogs play for quite a while.  Jen even put Dylan on the 30-foot leash she has for him (so I swiped his shorter leash to add length to Leo's), but couldn't let him fetch the floating toy she has for him, as it would get swept downstream in the current.  The dogs played for a little while, but soon we headed downstream in the trail that runs right alongside the creek most of the way.  We stopped at a few spots to let the dogs play in the water (and drink), including a spot that was protected enough by some logs that Jen COULD throw the toy for Dylan, which of course, he loved.

I tried to get some photos of Leo, but he wasn't cooperating.  He was too interested in what Dylan was doing.

Sunday, my uncle called.  He was in town (he lives in Boise, but my aunt has family here in Bend) and knew it was near my birthday, so wanted to take me out for a little treat.  I told him Jen was here, too, and all three of us met up at a Starbucks for a tasty drink.  We told him we were headed out to do some geocaching and let the dogs play in a pond, and he was welcome to join us.  He did just that.

We went to the Hatfield "Lakes," reclamation ponds for the water department.  The boys got to play in the water, though the shoreline was muddy and the water was full of algae, so it was a pretty messy proposition.  After the boys had had their fun, we found a couple geocaches, my uncle left to meet up with his wife, and Jen and I found another cache or two then jogged back to the car (me, with the help of Leo pulling to propel me!).  We had just gotten back to the car and were about to give the dogs some water when we spotted another dog.  It had a collar, but not a leash, but there were no other humans in sight.  It was clearly a loved pet, though, and came right up to us.  So Jen read the tags and called the numbers.  The first one went to voicemail but the second one got through to the guy half of the couple that owned him.  He was in the same area, out jogging, and the dog had ran off back to the car and wouldn't come when he called him.  So Jen and I hung out with Peluche (the dog) and waited for his owner(s) to come back.  In the meantime, we realized he was incredibly thirsty and had some sore paw pads (cut/torn from the rocks), so we rested with him in the shade where he could stay off his feet and just hang out and wait for his people.  Jen's dogs waited in the car (AC running and windows cracked) and were NOT happy at this turn of events, but they survived.  :-)

Once the owner came, we set off looking for access to the next further "lake" by car rather than hiking there, and Jen did some rugged off-roading in her Camry, but there was a barbed wire fence with "No Tresspassing" signs, which even if we wanted to disobey them (since we knew we were allowed on the other side), would be a pain to get two humans and two impatient dogs through.  So we headed home without getting out of the car.

Here's what Leo looks like after two days of fun in the sun, "sand" (Central Oregon grit), and water:

Monday, the plan was for a horseback ride before Jen headed home.  A few weeks ago, I put out a request to the universe (well, a couple Facebook groups) for a spare horse--someone to ride their own horse plus bring an extra for either me or Jen to ride while the other rode Arya.  Linda volunteered--yay!  So Jen and I went to Shar's house, got Arya out, put the dogs into a stall in the barn (so they wouldn't get too hot in the car when the shade inevitably moved), and groomed Arya.  We were in the middle of tacking her up (figuring we could do a little warm-up ride there in the arena if we got to that point before Linda showed up), when Linda arrived.  I had asked if she had room and minded hauling Arya to a nearby trailhead area so we could ride trails that were familiar to me, but cut out the part where you have to ride on dirt roads to get there.  That was fine with her, so after finishing up with Arya, I took her over to the trailer.  There were two mules in the trailer, a gelding further back, and a mare/jenny closer to the door of the trailer.  I led Arya in far enough that the two horses could "introduce" themselves, and waited for the expected squeal that always seems to happen when two mares meet each other.  Sure enough, they did, and Arya backed out.  That was fine, I expected that and was ready.  Then I loaded her in again.  She was a little more unsure this time, but hopped right in.  The mule twitched a little or something, and Arya went flying back out, so I loaded her a third time, with more authority, and she hopped right into place and I clipped the trailer tie and off we went (after loading the rest of my tack into the tack room of the trailer).  Linda had room for all of us in her cab (sort of), so we all squeezed together for a short but cozy ride.

At the trailhead, I asked Linda what she was thinking, as far as who should ride which equine.  I'd filled her in on the fact that my sister was a rank newbie (been on a horse a few times, but always years apart), and I was green but with a bit more experience than that.  She told me that the worst the mule was likely to do was spook sideways three feet, as he has a cloudy eye that probably affects his vision.  He'd also probably want to check things on that side out really well, and preferred to follow other horses, for the same reason.  Hmm...I wasn't sure I could sit a three foot levitation spook, but didn't want to subject Jen to that, either.  Plus she'd kind of fallen in love with the idea of riding Arya, and even more so when she saw the cushy saddle setup I've got going.  Plus we were both wearing tennies, and I have caged stirrups on Arya's saddle, but the mule had regular western stirrups.  So the decision was made--Jen would ride Arya, and I'd ride Nabob the 22-year-old mule gelding.  Linda was riding the jenny mule (shoot--I forget her name!) that belonged to someone else and she didn't know much about, so there was never a question of either Jen or me riding that particular equine.

The horses had all been saddled for the brief trailer ride, so we just had to bridle them, tighten the cinches, and decide on helmets for everyone, and we were off.  We hadn't grabbed a mounting block, but there are some big rocks nearby that work almost as well.  I did a little "check-in" lunging with Arya, just a circle each direction at the walk, but she was really good and dialed in.  Yay!  So I led her over to the rocks, and helped Jen on.  Checked the stirrups and the cinch one more time, then mounted my own steed.  I'd had to guess on the stirrup length and it worked out perfectly.  It was weird to be on another horse for the first time in a while, and he was quite a bit narrower than Arya so that too a brief second to get used to, then my hips thanked me.  :-)  Linda mounted up too, and we hit the trail.

Somehow, I ended up in the lead on the mule that doesn't like to lead, but he did fine.  We changed positions a few times throughout the ride, and it was all good.  I even rode side-by-side with both Jen on Arya and Linda on her mule a couple times throughout the ride.  No biggie.

It was fun to get to see Arya from a different angle, and I took a few pictures:

Fairly early in the ride, we saw a coyote up ahead.  I don't know that Arya's ever seen a coyote (and of course I have no idea about the mules).  They saw it too, but didn't seem fazed in the least.  Not sure if they just thought it was another dog (they've all ridden with dogs alongside) or what.  But it was a non-event, other than being cool for us humans to see.  Then about midway through the ride, we saw another coyote.  How cool!  Sorry--I didn't get photos, though.  I was in the back of the pack, and wanted to keep two hands on the reins in case any of the horses spooked.  In think Linda got some, though...

My biggest worry with Jen riding Arya was her stopping to eat or rub her face, and Jen not being able to get her going if she didn't want to go.  I usually ride with a dressage whip for those occasions, but didn't want Jen to have to hassle with it (and after the switch to an endurance saddle, don't even have a horn to hang it from by its makeshift rubber band wrist strap).  Arya did GREAT in this regard throughout most of the ride.  But at one point, we stopped and opted to LET the equines eat, and Arya kind of started wandering around looking for the best treat, and Jen was just a passenger along for the ride.  But when we set off down the trail again, Jen was in full control and it was fine.

At our snack (for the equines) break

As we reached the far point of our ride and headed back to the trailer, at one point Jen asked Arya to go faster, and she started trotting.  She was in the lead and headed for the trailer, and didn't want to slow down when Jen tried asking her to.  Linda gave her some pointers (pull on just one rein), and she got her under control.  Whew!  We maintained a calm walk back toward the trailer.

We'd had some freak rainstorms in the past few days, so the puddles that had long ago dried up were back.  I told Jen that Arya didn't love crossing water, and I didn't need her (Jen) trying to train her (Arya), so she should just give the puddles a wide berth.  We did that throughout most of the ride (me, too, on a new-to-me critter), but then Linda led the way through a puddle that was on a road with deep enough ruts that the berm in the middle extended quite a ways into the puddle, so before Arya knew it, she had nowhere to go but through.  I worried she'd try to jump out to the side, but she just plodded right through like it was the most natural thing in the world.  Maybe the big river crossings at Smith Rock taught her there are worse things than little mud puddles.  I was so proud of Jen and Arya!!

We were nearly back to the trailer, and debating heading up a steep hill to a plateau that provides some good views.  You have to kind of scramble up a non-trail with some boulders and such.  All the equines were sure-footed enough I was sure we'd get up just fine.  However, I've never ridden Arya on steep terrain in the new saddle, and didn't have either a breastcollar or a crupper or anything on it (the mules were fully kitted out with breastcollars and breeching/britchen/whatever you call it that goes around their butts), plus Jen being inexperienced, I wasn't sure it was the best idea.  But I figured we'd probably make it up okay, and all of us, or maybe just Jen, could get off and lead down the hill.  We were debating this option when we spotted a deer out ahead of us.  All the horses have seen plenty of deer, and last time I saw them while riding Arya, it was solo and she barely batted an eyelash.  So we just kind of followed along behind the deer.

All of a sudden, the mule I was on wheeled around 180 degrees and started galloping off through the brush.  I had to duck an overhead branch at one point, and he headed for a branch on the ground I was afraid he'd jump at another point, but he just went over it right in stride.  He put his head down like he was going to buck, and I was really worried because my foot had started going through the stirrup and it doesn't have cages (it wasn't all the way through, though, luckily!), when he came to a stop near Arya, who was riderless.  Oh shit.  I hollered behind me to ask if Jen was okay.  I'd been at the tail end of our group, and when all the horses turned around while spooking, I became the lead horse of our little stampede.  So I didn't see what happened at all.  But apparently the deer bounded off, so one or more of the horses figured if the deer was "spooking," they needed to too, and the rest followed suit.  When Arya spun, Jen lost her balance, and when she started running, she lost her seat, and came off.  Luckily, she fell in a "soft" spot free of rocks and sticks, so she wasn't seriously hurt, but did have the wind knocked out of her, and of course will not feel good for the next few days.  Linda and I both managed to stay on (me by pure dumb luck, not through any riding skill!).  Once Arya stopped, she just stood there and I easily caught her and led both her and "my" mule back to Jen.  She checked out okay and stood back up.  I said it wasn't far back to the trailer, and we could just walk back if she wanted, but she knew the adage of getting back on the horse, and determined that she would do just that.

It was kind of tricky leading both equines to a decent mounting spot (we led them past the spot where they spooked, too, just to be safe) and arrange Arya while still holding Nabob.  I stood on the "off" side and put counterweight in that stirrup, and Jen got on at least as gracefully as you can expect for someone who'd just taken a tumble.  Deep breath.  :-)  I got back on Nabob, and Linda got back on her mount, and we headed back to the trailer at a sedate walk.  We really weren't far, and within a couple minutes it was in sight.  Apparently Arya didn't recognize this strange trailer (which she had loaded into hours before), and kind of snorted at it as we approached, but didn't full on spook.  Jen asked how to go about dismounting, and we kind of laughed at the fact that though she'd now mounted twice, she hadn't yet had to dismount.  :-)  I talked her through it, and she managed to get off safely and not fall down when she hit the ground, which is more than I can probably say for how I would've been.

We loaded the horses back up (Arya got in hesitantly, but in one try), hauled back to Shar's, put Arya away, got the dogs out of their prison, and I invited Linda to join us at the Pump House in Terrebonne for some lunch.  She saw someone she recognized there (small town!), and we had a nice lunch chatting about all sorts of things, and of course rehashing the spook/fall incident.  Jen doesn't blame Arya or me--"it just happens."  I asked if she didn't live so far away, and was around when the soreness wore off, if she'd be willing to ride her again, and she said she would.  So all's well that ends as well as it can, and we all live to ride another day.  Hope Jen doesn't stiffen up TOO much on her drive home, and isn't TOO sore tomorrow.  And that she's willing to ride again in the future if we can put together another borrowed horse or whatever next time.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Tales from the Workplace, Trucking Edition, Part XVIII

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 as I've described before, we often have loads that pick up on the weekends, when we're not here.  We pre-weigh them using a smaller "yard goat" we have to tow the trailers around, and leave a buffer, knowing that the real tractors weigh quite a bit more (plus shift the weight of the trailers themselves, as they're usually taller).  We stick the bill of lading (which includes the net weight of the product itself) into the back of the trailer, e-mail the trucking company with the trailer number so they can let the driver know which one to pick up, and it generally goes smoothly.

Well, Monday morning, we heard that one of the trailers that was picked up over the weekend was coming back because it was over weight.  There is a truck scale about 70 miles south that he could have gotten weighed on, and we had left "only" 500 pounds buffer, which apparently can sometimes be not enough (the boss was out of the office, so I was winging it and figured 500 pounds would be enough).

Sure enough, he appeared not long after we opened (at least THAT was efficient!) and we had him go over our scale to see what we weighed him at with his tractor.  The one axle that had been closest to the limit was actually LESS than what it had weighed with our equipment, and all of them were within the legal limit!  So we asked for the scale ticket from the weigh station he'd weighed at down south.  He didn't have one.

Apparently, he'd taken it upon himself to ASSUME from the net weight of the product that he'd be over the weight.  Without actually checking it.  So he'd waited around for us to open on Monday morning, holding up the load that is supposed to deliver in southern California on Tuesday morning.  What do you want to bet he's not going to deliver it on time, solely due to his own mistake (trying to think, when we actually do know what we're doing).

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Tales from the Workplace, Part XVIII

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 walk-in customer comes in and asks to buy one of our products that we sell by the pallet.  Sure, how many pallets would you like?  "Two or three."  . . .  Um, great.  Would you like two, or would you like three?  That will affect how I write up the invoice and how much you have to pay.  I suggested he pay for two now, and let us know later if he'd like the third.  Mumble mumble, something to the effect of "okay," plus he handed me cash in the amount that two pallets cost.

So I write up the invoice, write that he paid cash, and have him sign it.  He mumbles something about what our hours are for loading in case he comes back some other time.  I tell him we're here to load him up until 4:00, and he says "So maybe I should come in by 3:30, then?"  I agree that that would be wise, and we finish the transaction.

I radio back to the guys in the back that he wants two pallets, and they start loading up the forklift to bring it around.  The customer goes out to his truck and . . . drives away.  Not just to turn his truck around and head toward the loading area, no.  He drives off the lot and down the street.  Apparently he wasn't just talking about coming back some other time for the third pallet he was still deciding to purchase, he actually wanted to pay now but pick up later?  Weird.  And he didn't make that at ALL clear, not that any of his communication was clear.  Oh well, we've got his money so I guess even if he never comes back, we're fine.  :-)

[Update/spoiler--he did come back later.  It was just weird that he wasn't clear that that was his plan]

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Saddle Fit

When I bought Arya, her previous owner warned me that finding a saddle to fit her would be a pain in the butt.  So I got started looking right away.  I found a Western saddle that had fit a draft horse on Craigslist, and even better, the seller was willing to take it back if it didn't fit.  It didn't fit at all without a pad, but with a pad that was thicker in the front and had a cutout for her withers, it actually seemed to work.  I kept that saddle for riding in the meantime, returned the saddle I'd been borrowing from Arya's former owner, but kept looking for a lighter weight saddle that would be better for longer distance riding.

I tried a few saddles.  One I bought outright but luckily was able to sell on to the next person, one I was able to get on trial (had to pay shipping both ways, though, which wasn't cheap).  Tried a couple saddles of Shar's on her, but her horses are so skinny that it wasn't very helpful.  I hired a saddle fitter from afar, who shipped me saddle trees and had me take pictures and measurements of my horse.  I finally got to meet up with her in person, and she told me that at least my western saddle wasn't causing her too much pain, though of course it wasn't the ideal fit for her.

Finally, I saw a saddle online that intrigued me.  It was an SR brand--those saddles are made right here locally, and while the build of the tree limits the pool of horses it can truly fit, the padding can be adjusted to some extent by the saddle maker to fit a bit of a variety of horses within that pool.  I inquired about it, sent the serial number to the saddle maker and he was able to tell me some information about it, etc.  But within a day or two, the seller said she'd sent it out on trial, so if it sold to that person, I'd be out of luck.

But then ANOTHER saddle of the same brand came up online, and actually seemed like it'd be a better fit for Arya, plus it was $500 cheaper.  It was older, but looked to be in great shape.  It was black, which would be my preferred color, not that I can afford to be picky.  The down side was it was in Texas and being sold as "all sales final," no returns if it didn't work out (or wasn't as advertised, but at least with buying through Facebook, you have the person's name and some information about them, and they're kind of in your "network" of horse-related groups.  Not quite as much of a stranger as buying off Craigslist.

It was a risk, but at least being in the same town as the maker, I knew I'd probably have an easier time of selling it on if it didn't work out than I would with a different brand.  I went ahead and bought the saddle and had it shipped to me.

When it arrived, I excitedly put it onto Arya, and Shar and I evaluated whether it seemed to fit her.  It really did.  It fit her like a glove.  Well, at least in our opinion, but we'd been wrong about these things before.  Shar was trailering to the trainer's place a few days later, so she was nice enough to haul my horse and my saddle along, and Celena evaluated the fit and gave it the thumbs up.  Woo hoo!

When I first sat in the saddle, though, the stirrups were way too short.  On their longest setting, I still felt like a jumper (as in the people who ride horses over jumps, not the article of clothing, either British or American).  So I contacted the saddle maker, who was more than happy to use the measurements and saddle number I provided to make a set of new fenders for the saddle that fit my legs and matched the saddle.  Woo hoo!

Of course, it took him a few weeks to get the fenders made, so in the meantime I kept riding in the western saddle, looking longingly at the new SR saddle in the tack room (well, it spent a lot of time in my trunk, too).  Finally, Steve called and said he was done with my fenders.  I visited his IMPECCABLE shop, got to chat with him a little while he worked, and he installed the new fenders.  I was SO excited!

Oh, at one point Shar joked that maybe I'd get there and the new fenders would be ORANGE.  (One of the saddles I'd tried had been a VERY orange shade of brown, which I hated, but of course I would have bought it if it fit Arya.)  I said I was sure that Steve would know by the saddle number which color to make the fenders, though I'd never explicitly told him what color to make them.  Well, sure enough, when I got there, the fenders were an orange-ish shade of brown.  But only on the back side (next to the horse).  The visible part was suitably black, darker than the saddle, even, because of the wear it showed.

Anyway, got the saddle on Thursday night, and went riding with Shar on Friday night.  Put the pad on, saddle on, had to use a western cinch and cheapie billet and latigo on loan from Shar until I get a better cinch/girth setup (the one that came with the saddle is too short for my large and slightly chubby girl), switched the pommel pack over from the western to the SR, switched the fleece seat cover over from the western to the SR, put the bridle on, and after much anticipation, mounted up.

OUCH.  My hips were in immediate pain.  Shar helped me with adjusting the stirrups, since they still seemed a bit short.  We went down to the lowest hole (though the fenders themselves are mounted on the saddle with some adjustability both forward/back and up/down, and had one more notch lower they could go).  They still hurt.  Ugh.  Well, maybe they were just tight from not riding a lot lately, so I figured we should go ahead and ride and maybe my hips would loosen up.

We started out with a good long walk, since this was only Flash's second ride back from his recovery (and the first one had been pretty short).  My hips still hurt.  We picked up a trot, and the saddle felt SO good.  I felt more balanced than usual, and posting more off my thighs rather than my feet.  Back to a walk, and the pain was back.  We trotted again, and I tried a two-point (standing in the stirrups).  I have crappy balance, so I was still tipping forward and back a bit, but much less than when I attempt it in the western saddle.

We continued on, but Flash took a bit of a misstep that was just what happened that alerted Shar to his problem in the first place (bad hoof angles, and he's now under the care of a corrective shoer), so we declared the rest of the ride a walk-only ride, which of course meant more discomfort for me.  :-(

As we went along, my hips got more and more sore.  Shar asked if I wanted to try riding without stirrups.  OUCH!  That made it worse, as it felt like it was pulling my femurs down and out of my hip sockets.  I could barely get my feet back into the stirrups at that point, and once I did, I couldn't really squeeze her with my legs to urge her any faster.

I genuinely started to wonder whether I'd even be able to climb down off of her--first I'd have to stand up in the stirrups enough to heave one leg over to the other side, then hop down and hopefully land safely on the ground.  When we finally got home and I attempted to dismount, I spent some time laying on my belly across the saddle and wiggling my legs before I hopped down to the ground.  I did manage to land safely.  Woo!  But now I was worried that the saddle I'd finally found to fit Arya wasn't going to fit ME.  Oh dear.

I took the saddle home over the weekend and moved the fenders forward a position as well as lowering them so I'd have a better range of options for adjusting them down by the stirrups.

Yesterday, I went to Shar's house, pulled Arya out, and tacked her all up, including the newly adjusted stirrups.  I got on.  My hips STILL hurt.  Ugh.  I pulled the fleece seat cover off, and the pommel pack, and moved the saddle a bit further forward (the further back it is, the wider her body is in that spot).  Got back on.  Better, but still a bit painful, and now it felt like the stirrups were too long and too far forward.  Aargh!

I took the saddle back off, adjusted the stirrups back to the middle spot (forward/back) but left them on the longer setting.  I raised the stirrups a couple notches using the normal buckle, though.  Got on (still without seat cover or pommel pack) and WOW.  Finally felt comfortable again.  So I may have to get used to slightly shorter stirrups for a bit, and re-try longer stirrups little by little, but it seems that must have been the only issue.  Well, it's possible the seat cover adds a little extra width that my hips don't like.  I hope not, as it'll be great sweat absorption in the summer, insulation in the winter, and chafe protection year round.  I put it back on, but was tired of getting on and off and needed to get back home.  So if my hips hurt on the next ride (same stirrup settings, but with fleece added back on), I'll have to take the cover off and stuff it in my saddle bags or something.  But if not, then WOO HOO!  Finally back in business with a saddle that works.

Here's the saddle without the seat cover or pommel pack:

And then with the seat cover and packs, as I'll normally be riding in it (I hope!):

Clearly Arya was very upset and agitated by all the hubbub.  ;-)

Friday, May 15, 2015

Tales from the Workplace, Trucking Edition, Part XVII

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.

Apparently trucking companies save a lot of money on gas by having a network of electrical wires connecting each truck to their corporate headquarters.

We got a call from our customer (whose truck was supposed to arrive at 8:00 a.m.) at around 10:30 that the truck hadn't arrived yet.  Our sales guy called the trucking company, and they said, "Oh yeah, sorry about that.  Our power went out."  . . .  Um, so?  Trucks stop moving when the power goes out?  Apparently so.

They told us they'd deliver at 1:00, so we passed the message along to the customer.

1:00 came and went, and the customer still hadn't heard anything.  But then he got three calls from the truck driver and three calls from the dispatcher in a short amount of time, while he was trying to get other stuff done.  They didn't know how to get to his place.  Now, we put the address on the bill of lading, and there is such a thing as Google.

So now our customer is not only annoyed that the shipment is late, but also that he's being interrupted so much, and he STILL doesn't know when the load will arrive.  Eventually, he gave up and called us and said he needed to send his employees home for the day, so asked us to tell the trucking company not to deliver until tomorrow.  Of course, they'll probably try to charge us some kind of fee for this "inconvenience" but we'll dispute it because of course none of it would have happened if they'd delivered as originally scheduled...we'll see.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Tales from the Workplace, Part XVII

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.

Remember the employee from Part XII?  Whose spouse calls all the time, apparently to verify the employee's whereabouts?

Well, today is a day the employees who package the goods and load the trailers got off, rather unexpectedly.  They got all caught up yesterday, loading what they could, and we don't have any orders leaving today, so they were told not to come in today.

Then this morning, we find out we actually DO have a load leaving today.  (That's a story for another post, though it's not a long story, so I guess I'll just put it here:  when we get an order from a customer, we have to find a trucking company that can pick up a trailer from us on the appropriate day.  We send out an e-mail to request this, and if they can do it, they confirm, and if they can't, we move on to another company and try again until we're successful.  We requested a load yesterday, and got no response, then this morning a truck pulls in.  We STILL have no confirmation e-mail.  So we're having to scramble.)

Anyway.  So we start calling in employees, including the one from that other post.  About 10 minutes later, we get a call from the spouse, asking if the employee really is supposed to come in.  So what we suspect is employee told spouse "hey, I gotta go in to work after all," and spouse thought that was an excuse to go meet with a lover or something.  But don't involve US in your jealousy.  Check the employee's phone and verify the number, if you must, but don't actually CALL us and waste our time and undermine the employee to the employer.  Ugh.

Oh!  Employee just came in and mentioned seeing the spouse's car pulling out of the parking lot.  Apparently spying.  Wow.

* * * * * *

The day after I wrote the above, and the spouse called again today, plus apparently drove through the parking lot to check on the employee.  Wow, wow, wow.  Insecure much?

Monday, May 11, 2015

Tales from the Workplace, Trucking Edition, Part XVI

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.

There's a trucking company we used to use, but don't use any more.  (A different one than the one mentioned earlier--seriously guys, trucking companies SUCK.)  They screwed up one too many loads, plus they cost too much.

However, we're apparently on their sales list, as we get calls from them 4-8 times a week.  Lately, a co-worker who is nearing retirement (we're talking weeks) has been getting more vocal with sales calls.  Not TOTALLY rude, but not taking any flak from them, either.  Basically calling them on their tactics.

This particular company called the other day, and he asked them why they were calling us for business when we were already a customer of theirs.  They kind of stammered and hung up.

An hour or two later, the owner of the company had an e-mail in his inbox that said:

You're not an active customer.  Active customers actively run loads.  That's why you're getting called so much.  Thought you might want to know.  Thanks for the time.

Well, this e-mail really makes me want to go out and request them to ship our very next load!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Solo Ride - Llamas and Canyons

Shar's just about to bring Flash back into work, but our work schedules don't mesh very well, so if I'm gonna ride, I'm gonna ride solo.  I was planning to ride Wednesday, but neglected to check the forecast, and wind and hail made me change my mind.  :-)  So I postponed to Friday, when I have an extra hour of daylight anyway, due to getting off work at 4 instead of 5.

Shar was going to be at work, so I created a map as a reference to my mom and sister so they could be my safety net for riding solo.  They're far away, but if I fell off and bonked my head and quit texting them, or broke my leg and texted them that I needed help, they could at least call the authorities or something.  Better than no one knowing where I am.  The downside is I have to decide ahead of time what my route will be and stick to it, without deviating.  Though tonight's route included a section of "explore toward the west for some amount of time," but at least they'd have a general vicinity to send out the search party.  :-)

Anyway, I arrived, fetched Arya (she only walked about 10 feet away before letting me catch her--she's getting better about it, maybe due to all the times lately I've pulled her out and not made her work), tacked her up, cranked up some music on my phone (out loud), texted my mom and sister and Shar that I was leaving, and started the Endomondo tracker.  We were off!

Arya did make my life a little difficult as we passed her pasture and continued down the road, but not quite as bad as last time.  We picked up a trot after turning the corner, and stuck to a trot for a good portion of the ride.  It just wasn't a very FAST trot.  I'd urge her faster, and she'd speed up for a second, then slow back to a walk.  I'd ask her to trot, and she would, slowly.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  Definitely something we need to work on.  Ugh.

When we got to the first section of singletrack, we trotted for the first little bit, then Arya went sideways FAST when she saw a grocery sack in a tree branch.  I lost my balance a bit, but quickly got it back because she stopped moving and stared at it.  I let her look, made her move a bit, let her look, etc., and we made it past the bag.  I was worried that the spookiness would bode poorly for the llamas we were about to encounter, but between having already ridden past them solo a couple weeks earlier, and the fact that they stayed back from the fence, she barely noticed them.  Her ear went that direction, and she was clearly watching for any scary movement from them, but we plodded right past them without any antics.

We picked up a trot once we were past the llamas, and even maintained it as a car passed us.  We were far enough from home that she was finally clopping along a little faster, too.  Woo!  We turned the corner, then took a different trail than we had the prior time--there's a trail that parallels someone's property, but off to the side.  At first, I was worried I wasn't allowed to ride there, because there was a sign that said it was private property, but it just said hikers and horses only, stick to the trail, etc.  So we set off.  She balked a little at a couple silver logs, and didn't want to trot because it was kind of rocky (even where the rocks were off to the side of the trail, not actually IN it, but you know that rocks are evil monsters, so she had to be very cautious.  I gave up on the idea of maintaining a trot on that trail, and we just explored.  There was a branch in the trail, and I stayed left.  Shortly after that, the trail broke out at the edge of a canyon, with gorgeous views:

The trail followed along the edge of the canyon.  It would have been a really nice spot to ride, if I wasn't so worried about Arya going off the cliff (or rubbing me off on a tree) because of the white chalky rocks.  Whoa...a different COLOR!  They must be POISON!  Heh.  Plus I didn't want to end up being out past dark or anything, not that it was even close to that point.  But anyway, I decided to turn around.  Arya walked a little peppier after turning around, but still wasn't interested in trotting through the rocks.

THEN, horror of horrors, we hit the worst part of the trail yet (to her).  There was a pasture to our right, with a horse and a pony in it!  !!!!  Then we were at a rocky patch of trail, where it was basically like steps, downhill.  !!!!  Then there was a random structure off to our left, like a treehouse or something.  !!!!  Arya stopped dead, unsure whether to head toward the safety of other horses, away from the threat of strange horses, off the trail (and into a tree) instead of clambering down the rocks, but if so, then which way--away from the scary structure?  But then that would be toward the other horses...  Her little brain was churning about what was the path of least resistance.  I made the decision for her--FORWARD, and ON the trail.  It took a few times of "un-sticking" her, but we finally started walking at a normal pace again.  Sheesh.

Once we got back on the road, she was very eager to continue home on a route she remembered from a couple weeks ago (plus many rides with Flash).  So we worked on our halt and stand still skills for a few minutes, plus I texted an update.  THEN we headed home.  The road inclines slightly for a quarter mile or so, then has a steeper uphill portion for a little bit.  When we got to the steeper section, I encouraged her faster and faster, to see if she would canter, but she just trotted faster until she wore out (uphill and all), and slowed a bit.  I kept her trotting till we got to the top, and she was huffing and puffing pretty good.  So we turned around and went back down the hill to try it again, though a little slower this time.  Didn't even try to canter, just a nice steady trot.

We continued on, trotting nearly the whole way for the next mile or two.  She didn't even slow down when we got to the part that had been watered or oiled or whatever.  Good girl!  She learned last time that it wouldn't hurt her, I guess.  :-)

Here's a picture from around that point.  I was trying to take a picture while trotting that included her brand.  Yeah, didn't work so well--the camera focused on the road instead of her, but oh well.  I still like it.

We took a shortcut rather than taking a loop I'm not a fan of (and neither is Arya--it's either riding on asphalt or soft gravel punctuated by concrete driveways), and headed home.  Of course Arya was in a BIG hurry by this point, so I kept checking in with her, making sure we had brakes.  :-)  Sometimes we'd just slow to a walk, sometimes halt and practice standing still for a minute.  When we got to the turn to go home, she wanted to go that way, of course, so instead, we went the long way around the block toward home.  Then we did a branch off onto a side road, then turned back toward home again.  Then we passed our turn for a minute, then turned back (a couple times).  Then we passed the driveway, then turned around (a couple times).  Then we went into the driveway and back out of it.  She was never bratty about any of this, but I don't want her to become that way, either.  This was all at a walk, so it slowed our overall speed some (as did the "exploring" portion), but we had plenty of daylight, so it was all good.

I untacked her, then Arya got some water and a good roll, and I headed home.  Another successful solo ride in the books!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Tales from the Workplace, Part XVI

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.

As soon as we finish dealing with the guy from the last post, we have another one.

We had a customer call us who had called in the past, requested a quote, and never bought.  THIS time, she was ready to buy.  I was actually the one who talked to her when she called to place the order--she told me which product she wanted, and I asked if she had a preferred day or time for the delivery.  Nope, any time was good, and the sooner the better.  So we lined up a truck, made the product, and loaded a trailer.

The driver arrived, we weighed the truck, and it was a little heavy, so we adjusted the load.  In the meantime, since this was a first time customer, I'm trying to invoice her so we can charge her credit card at the same time the product leaves the lot, but the invoice keeps changing as we pull product off to lighten the load.  Finally we get it ready to go, the driver signs the paperwork, and she asks what time it should deliver.  (Yes, a woman driver!  They're rare, but usually refreshing.)  We told her the customer hadn't specified a time, so whenever would be fine.  She said, "Well, it takes about 12 hours to get there..."  Yes, well 12 hours from now is 4:00 a.m., so probably NOT then.  The driver said her information from the trucking company said to deliver at 10:00 a.m.  Well, then there you go.  Deliver it at 10:00 a.m.  But feel free to call the customer after 8:00 to see if you can deliver it earlier (or later, if you like).  Whatever.

My co-worker then called the customer to tell her the load was on its way and give her the heads-up that we'd be running her credit card for the payment (which she had already said was fine, but still...).  Well, the customer FREAKED out, and said it couldn't deliver tomorrow, they had film crews all over the property tomorrow, and her crew wouldn't be able to unload and oh dear or dear oh dear.  Remember, this is the SAME DAY as the customer who also told us while the driver was on the lot, that he couldn't let us ship his product without some magical certificate.  This NEVER happens, so twice in one day was just bizarre.

My co-worker managed to flag the truck driver down before she left the lot, and the customer managed to find a time that MIGHT work for her, but then after all that, we found out that the trucking company has a depot (or whatever it's called) in the same town as the customer, so worst case, the driver can drop the trailer there, where it won't bother the customer but where the driver can move on to the next load, and then the customer can let us know when they ARE ready for the load (and probably pay an extra fee to get it basically stored at the lot, but not our problem except as the pass-through for the billing).

Whew.  What a day.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Tales from the Workplace, Trucking Edition, Part XV

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 driver from a trucking company we don't normally use (and haven't even heard of--we didn't hire them, but they're coming to pick something up from us that isn't our normal shipment) came in today.  First, he called to let us know his ETA, which was nice.  He asked where the nearest truck stop (by name) is, I told him, and told him we don't recommend using their scale, as it's WAY off, but he could continue past it another however-many miles to a much better scale.  I assured him we have a scale, though, and while it's not certified, it is calibrated, so if/when he gets to a state scale, he won't need to be worry about being overweight.

He called again when he was about an hour out, to update his ETA (wow--how thoughtful, seriously, that's not sarcasm!) and asked my co-worker about the same truck stop, and surprise, surprise (since he's how I knew what to tell the guy), he told him the same thing I had earlier.

A few minutes ago, we heard an awful squealing/squawking/screeching of brakes, and my co-worker and I both looked up from our desks, at the truck slowing outside our driveway, and then to each other.  Guess he's arrived!

He came inside, we told him which dock to back up to, and he asked AGAIN about the truck stop.  Seriously, dude.  It's just as many miles away now as it was the last two times you asked.  Plate tectonics don't move THAT fast, don't worry.  Finally, he went back out to his truck to drive it over to the dock, and the starter made a god-awful racket as he fired it up.

We got him loaded up, and guess what?  That god-awful racket was because that was the last time the starter would ever start again.  Yep, he's stuck on our lot, in our loading dock.  Luckily, we didn't have any more orders to load, either the rest of the day or the next, so he had some time to get a mobile mechanic out to fix it.

Lucky us, he was still in the loading dock when we got here this morning.  Our poor maintenance guy arrived at 6 and got to spend two hours being the only one on the property for the driver to talk to.  Oh, and he also got to be the one to tell him that he couldn't put his pee baggies (!!) in our bin marked "wood only."  Yeah.  He ALSO got to tell him how far it was to the nearest truck stop about a dozen times.   Wow.

Once my co-worker and I were in the office, the truck driver also came in here a few times to give us updates, including making a phone call on  his cell phone while pacing in front of our desks.  Then he debated the merits of taking a cab to a motel (benefit--shower, for one!) with us.  Then he told us we were so friendly and nice.  Uh, only to your face, dude--get out of here!