Remember how I said I love music?

I take a lot of my inspiration from music I hear. This one is a really good example of that.

Different subject matter — music, versus horses/endurance — but same message.

“Keep on dreaming, even if it breaks your heart.”

My dream is Tevis. I will get there, and until that day, I will keep dreaming about it.

Music to Ride By

Music is one of those prerequisite things in a lot of the barns out here.  During my formative, growing-up-with-horses years, I spent quite a bit of time in barns that played a lot of music.  Add to that the fact this is Arizona…the southwest.  Wild, wild West sometimes.  Can you see where this is going?

Yeah…I still know/remember pretty much every country song that was popular between the years of 1993 and 2002.

Music also tended to play a part in horse shows…when the “Serious Business” ring work was over and it was gymkhana time, someone would typically kick on the radio.  Music seemed to make the ponies (at least mine) run a little bit faster.

It also meant the long-suffering show parents (and ponies) were forced to listen to the musical, karaoke-esque stylings of a bunch of kids as we’d sing along in between whoops and hollers of excitement.  Sorry, Mom and Dad.

Some of the larger shows would actually play music during the classes, even the ring work.  It’s very popular at large shows, such as the Scottsdale Arabian Show that’s going on right now.  It definitely adds some extra excitement and energy to performance classes.  And one of my favorite classes to watch at Scottsdale is the Liberty class, in which the horse is set loose to run around the arena and show off their athleticism and movement…all set to music.  Great fun, and a class I’d love to participate in some day.  (I’ve got a great playlist of song possibilities.)

One of the few things I was disappointed about never getting the chance to do while I was still showing in POA was Freestyle Reining.  It’s a class only offered at the International Show, which I attended once but wasn’t at the riding level (myself or Mimi) at the time to handle that particular class…helps to know how to do a flying lead change…or actually stop.  :)  But it’s a fun class: You come up with your own reining pattern that displays a certain amount of skills: flying changes, sliding stops, spins.  Standard stuff you’d expect from any skilled reining horse.  The catch?  It’s all set to music.  And the POA version, at least, also included a (very often used) relevant costume option.

Despite never competing in the class, I spent a lot of time practicing what I would do for it.

Long story short: Mimi and I have spent a lot of time riding to music. 

Oh, yeah…I also sing when I’m bored and/or nervous on a ride.  Anyone else grow up on the kid’s TV show “Lambchop”?  I did!  Long-suffering parents might recognize it as the show that spawned the song, “This is the song that never ends…yes it goes on and on my friends…some people started singing it not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue singing it forever just because this is the song that never ends…” Repeat ad nauseum.  I…adapted it during the McDowell ride I took Beamer to, when his antics had me off and hand-walking through two miles of sandwash.

Endurance version?  “This is the wash that never ends…yes it goes on and on my friends…some people started riding it not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue riding it forever just because this is the wash that never ends…”  Bad?  Yes.  Effective?  Yes.  Singing it kept my spirits up and the horse quite happily trolling along behind me.

(I don’t claim to be a good singer, especially a capella.  I ride tone deaf tolerant horses.)

My other trick has been co-opting the line from Finding Nemo‘s Dorry, the absent-minded angelfish: “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…”  When you replace “swimming” with “trotting,” the rhythm exactly matches the pony’s 7mph, loose-rein, troll-down-the-trail trot.

And I’ve got a selection of stuff I’ll sing quietly or hum when I’m on a section of trail that’s making me a bit nervous or uptight…it’s really hard to sing and hold your breath at the same time.  Plus, singing distracts me and lets the pony get on with her job without her rider messing her up.

So…all of that to say that today, I remembered to bring my little music set-up: iPod and little portable plug-in speakers, to the barn to ride today.  Arena work is getting a little stale again, so wanted to do something to spice it up. 

I’ll be doing my riding to music from now on, thanks.

Mimi was so happy and cheerful and forward today.  She kept offering to do more and more work, instead of schlepping around or trying to sneak to the gate.  (Well, we had a couple of sneak-to-the-gate moments, but all it earned her was the right to canter in small circles around the gate until she figured out the gate might just be a sucky place to hang out around.  Ponies.  Always testing.)

And Mimi has her own playlist on my iPod.  It’s actually called “Pony Playlist.”  Because she has music she likes.  It has to be energetic and preferably loud.  So her playlist is a lot of rock, some pop, and some country.  Want to know what Ashley Mimi likes to listen to?  (And of course the fact that I have definite music tastes, preferences and favorite songs doesn’t influence my pony at all…Because all of these aren’t on my Favorites playlist or anything…)

The House Rules
Whiskey in Mind
Let Me Go
American Made
Seven Days
(All of the above are off of Christian Kane’s “The House Rules” album.  My favorite musician [and songwriter].  A great country-rock blend.)
This Town – O.A.R.
Back in Back – AC/DC
Bitch – Mereditch Brooks
Bad Romance – Lady GaGa (Yeah, really.  Only song of hers I own…it’s catchy.)
Independence Day – Martina McBride
New Divide – Linkin Park
All In – Lifehouse
Bless the Broken Road – Rascal Flatts
Danger Zone – Kenny Loggins

Those were the ones we got through today.  There’s still another dozen or so that didn’t get played.  Eclectic much, right?  That’s sort of representative of my music collection…I tend to listen to a little bit of just about everything.

So not only did I have a great ride today, in gorgeous weather (75*, sunny, breezy…I actually got a bit pink from the sun…and they call this “winter” here, y’know…), I got to listen to music that I love.  Now that’s a good day!

The Absentee Blogger

Not promising anything regular by way of posting, but just a quick note…yes, I’m still around.  I’ve become a very good ‘net lurker these days, and a pretty bad blogger overall.  Several reasons:

– I haven’t had much to blog about that is interesting and positive.  I went through some major upheaval and changes in my life when we sold Beamer and the trailer several months ago.  Long story short:

Dear Economy,
You suck,
No Love,

Beamer went to what we feel is a great home where he will be able to continue his endurance career in a way we currently aren’t able to do.  Horse and trailer actually went to the same place, so Beamer gets a little bit of home and familiarity with him.

– Consequently, I’ve been in a sulking funk most of the summer, and have ridden Mimi maybe half a dozen times, and only one of those times on a proper trail ride.  I hate not having a trailer, and I really hate bumming rides off people, because then I feel obligated to ride with them in a style that is very much not my own.  I’m a control freak with a healthy dose of Slavic guilt complex.  Means I’m sort of a pain to deal with in these kind of situations.  So I feel somewhat like a neglectful pony mom…but I’m still going down to the barn and keeping up on her feet (ironically, they look the best they’ve ever looked now…I have all of the flare completely gone), she still gets her regular supplements, and she’s turned out with the herd in the 3+ acre big pasture for close to 14 hours a day.

– I don’t like whining too much on my blog.  I tend to approach much of my “public” life with a “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say it” mentality.  I figure that most people have enough of their own problems, concerns, and drama to deal with.  They don’t necessarily need to be hearing all of mine heaped on them as well.  Couple that with the fact I try to be an optimist (boy, is that getting put to the test this summer), and I just haven’t felt a whole lot like blogging this summer.  Each post would have essentially looked the same: “Went to the barn.  Trimmed feet.  *insert photos here*  Rode around the arena.  Wilted in the heat.  Gave pony a bath.  Went home and hugged air conditioning.”  Lather, rinse, repeat.

And just a quick life update:

– I took the summer off of school.  I needed the break, mentally.  And I noticed that I suffered fewer nervous breakdowns and stress headaches over the last few months.  And I still have plenty to be stressed about.  That lead me to the conclusion that, when the fall semester starts up this coming Monday, I don’t believe I will be sitting in that classroom.  At this point in my life, I don’t know if court reporting is for me.  Yes, I put a lot of time and effort into it…yes, it seems a shame to quit now.  But I don’t feel like incurring further student loans debts while I figure out whether I want to continue this or not.  Maybe I’ll come back to it.  Maybe I’ll figure out something to do within the field that isn’t the level of a certified reporter.  There are options, so the past four years isn’t a total waste.  But right now, mentally, I don’t have it in me to throw more of myself into that program.  If it hasn’t happened by now, I don’t know if it ever really will.  And I don’t want to give up more of my life trying to figure that out.

– I did find a new hobby/time-occupier over the summer: I’m learning to play the guitar.  At the moment, I’m self taught, since lessons take money.  But there are a lot of videos on youtube that are fabulous resources, and I’m slowly learning.  Turns out I do have an ear for music, after years of wondering if I was tone-deaf.  Not tone-deaf…just untrained.  I still don’t know what I’m doing, but I know when something sounds right or not.  And I’m definitely leaning towards a more countryish flavor with some of the tunes I’m managing to pick out.  Not like that’s a surprise with a guitar, but whatever.  I’ve sort of come full circle with music…growing up around barns and horses, I was always a country girl.  Expanded my music listening repertoire in high school and especially college, but have recently re-embraced the country thing, especially some of the newer, up-and-coming artists that are more than just traditional country.  (My new favorite artist of pretty much any music genre is Christian Kane — he does a great blend of rock and country with a ton of energy, great vocals, and he writes most of his own material.)

– It’s summer in Arizona.  It’s hot.  That mitigates some of my lack-of-riding guilt factor.  And makes it really easy to, while giving Pony a bath, turn the hose around on myself.  Long hair holds water for the next couple of hours and keeps your head cool. 

So, anyway…if you stuck with me for this long, my hat’s off to you.  I can’t promise regular updates, but I will say this: At least I have an interest in blogging again, and reading other’s blogs.  For a couple of months, I was completely incommunicado and not even looking at blogs.  So this is a step in the right direction.