Monday, April 30, 2012

Recipe for Anxiety

First you must gather all the necessary ingredients.  Here's what you need

3 glasses of wine.  Two white and one red.
One party with friends on a Sunday night.
Thanksgiving foods like turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing.
Pumpkin pie and whipped cream.
One whipped cream vodka jello shot.
Restless sleep
Two rides on the pony in two weeks.
No turnout on Sunday.
Two days off for the pony.
Windy weather
A drop in temperature.

Step one:

Mix together the alcohol, the food and the friends.  Stir very well.  Ingredients must be mixed well enough that the logical part of your brain is silenced. You can add a small glass of water, but do not add enough to counteract the alcohol and sugar.  Heat to a boil and let simmer for about six hours.

Step two:

Do not drink any water.  Proceed to bed and fall in.  Wake up an hour later, thirsty.  Drink 24oz of water.  Wake up an hour after that to pee.  Go downstairs to refill water.  Drink more.  Pee more.  Fall back to sleep with a headache.  Have vividly bad dreams about ex husbands and furniture.  Wake up every thirty minutes debating getting up to take Ibuprofen.  Do not take the Ibuprofen as this might actually help with sleep.  If you get good sleep, the recipe loses it's punch.

Step three:

Wake up with a raging headache and a cranky, sleep deprived kindergartner (don't worry, she didn't do any jello shots).  Mix physical discomfort with pony anxiety.  The ratio should be about 50/50.  A group lesson must be scheduled, as a private lesson in an empty arena does not offer the same level of anxiety.  The weather must be very blustery and with a significant drop in temperature.  It's important that the weather be the kind that makes ponies feisty.

Step four:

Let the whole mess simmer all day while your sleep deprived, dehydrated brain plays horror movies of crazy ponies.

And there it is.  A recipe for anxiety.  I have followed it to a tee and it seems to be working marvelously.

Should you make too much of this recipe (which I may have) drink lots and lots of water, eat some nutritious foods, take a nap, take some Ibuprofen and get your ass out to the barn for that group lesson.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Alternative Lifestyle

Don't worry, this isn't a controversial post discussing sexuality or open marriages or anything of that nature.  I ws just thinking about the choices we make...okay, the choices *I* make and wondering what it would like if I did something different.

I was reading this blog post over at Equestrian Ink and it got me thinking about fun and horses and all that.  The last two weeks I haven't seen much of the pony, which has been disappointing.  So maybe some of this is because we haven't really done much lately.  But reading this post left a small ache in me.  Not a big hole, but just a tiny pinch of something.

I ride dressage.  Mostly because when I started riding as an adult I wanted to do English and I ended up at a barn that did mostly dressage.  This was 20 years ago.  Then I took my 10 year hiatus and when I returned, I tried Western Pleasure for about a year.  It wasn't my thing either.  So I returned to dressage.  I now ride three to five days a week and take one lesson a week.  It's good exercise and I feel exhilarated afterwards.  My horse and I have made so much progress since the end of November.  We are coming together more and more every day.

But fun?  Huh?  Is it fun?  After reading Laura Crum's post and seeing pictures of folks walking their horses, socializing, probably laughing and talking while they rounded up cattle.  That looks like fun.  Could I imagine doing that on my horse?  No.  How about five years from now?  Ummmm, maybe?  I really like the idea of doing something with your horse.  Being useful.  And from what I could tell, nobody was 'pushing their boundaries' or 'working through issues' on this ride.  They were doing a job and having some fun.

So, I'm jealous.  My mind starts to wander and think about alternative lifestyles.  Western saddles and cattle drives.  Obstacle courses.  Potlucks.  Sitting on your horse talking to a friend.  Putting up a cross rail even though you've never jumped and your horse hasn't either.  Teaching your horse to bow.  Happy, mellow geldings instead of neurotic, young mares.  I think about moving to a barn further out from my house, but one that is laid back.  A barn where nobody cares if your horse is on the bit or moving off your leg.

This is hard work.  I think it's fun, but I'm not sure sometimes.

But could I do it?  Do I want to do it?  Is it important to me to have horses so I can relax and have fun or so I can make 'progress'.

I don't have answers for these questions.  As a kid and even as a young woman, these questions were easier.  I would just do it all.  I had all the time in the world.  Now, my horse is squeezed in between raising my child (my absolute number one priority), my job, my husband and my friends.  It's just one of the many balls I have to keep in the air in order to keep the circus of my life running smoothly.  If I change the shape and color of that ball, will I be able to keep it up in the air?

I'm not saying I'm moving my pony or switching to Western.  I am looking for that elusive quality we all want in our lives.  Balance.  It's all about balance.

And if you have a pony that you get to do all of the above with (, I'm looking at you!!) give your pony a huge, fat kiss.  And ask them to please telepathically communicate with Tessa that if we can work this shit out, we can go do fun things in the future.  Horse can do that, right?  Right?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Two Bits and a Haircut

The deed is done.  The pony has a short mane now.  I'm not going to say I like it yet, but it is much easier to deal with.  I am crazy backed up with work and life and everything so this blog will be more bullet points to catch everyone up.

- Pony is doing great in training.  I heard she went forward with no bucking.  She's learning that she can move off your leg without trauma.  I only rode on Saturday after my group lesson so I haven't had much time to enjoy this.  She's still sticky with me, but I think I've figure out why.  See next bullet point.

- I need to write a whole post about my first lesson with Beth Glosten, an MD turned Pilates instructor who does Pilates for riders AND on horseback if you want.  If only I had a horse trailer!!!!  She wrote this book:

Currently her website is down or I would send you there.  We talked about my separated abs and I'm working on those.  She pointed out that my horse would have a hard time going forward if I wasn't able to use my core because I would grip with my legs to stay on.  So even when I'm asking for forward, I'm probably blocking that motion with my legs.  Right now we're working on body awareness which is challenging for me.  I'm much better at just doing really hard, powerful exercises than I am laying on the floor seeing if I can tighten my inner abs.  I also found out that my pelvis tilts the wrong way when I think I'm straight.  Try this.  Stand with a mirror to the side of you.  Don't look, but stand up straight.  Once you have what you think is straight, check yourself out.  My 'straight' turned out to be sticking my butt out behind me, pulling my shoulders back and sticking my chest out.  Not pretty and definitely not straight.  So now I constantly work on pulling my pelvis in (without tightening my glutes all the times) and pushing my ribcage down.  It's tough work to relearn straight.

- Pony is still on no turnout but her leg is much, much, much better.  She will now be living in a stall and put in regular turnout rotation.  This means she will get to go outside with a buddy every other day.  I'm sad that she wont' be outside all the time and that my bill will be higher, but she is so much happier this way.

-I have another saddle sore from trying to ride dressage in a jump saddle.  I have yet to find another dressage saddle to use until mine comes in July, but we're still looking.

-I chickened out on having the lovely blue piping on my saddle and asked them to make it solid black.  Wanna know why?  I couldn't stand the idea of not color coordinating everything and I didn't want to have to go buy blue stuff.  Also, if I ever got another horse, what if blue didn't look good on them?  So, plain black it is and I'll leave the bling up to my bridle and pads and other smaller items.

-I haven't ridden very much and the weather has been gorgeous.  But the arena is closed while they fix the footing.  I probably won't get to ride until Thursday this week.  Ugh.

-It's been fun watching the Eventing crowd who are die hard Thoroughbred owners admit that they like my horse.  They always start out with the phrase "I've never really liked Arabs before, but your horse....."  Yep, the tiny, grey Arab princess is winning them over.

-I am behind on my blog reading too.  Hoping to catch up this week while the husband is out of town and I'm stuck home with the kidlet every night.

Hope you are all having great times with your ponies!!  

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Riding in a Group

I was so nervous before my lesson last night that I was practically shaking.  There were five horses in the arena when I arrived.  I asked them to please clear out because I was going to ride, but nobody listened.  Well, Laura heard me and laughed at me.  Does that count?  Then I tried to convince everyone to turn around for ten minutes while I fumbled my way through the mounting process.  Okay, not really.  But I wanted to.  The nice thing about private morning lessons are that there isn't anyone there to see that my horse no longer stands at the mounting block.  And it's become her favorite game to wait until I'm up on the block and then step away or walk around it.

My adrenaline was so high that I couldn't get Tess to even resemble standing still at the mounting block.  I asked Linda to help and she came over and held her while I got on.  Okay, I'm ready now.  The arena cleared out to just me and the two other girls I was riding with.  One on pretty grey mare who didn't like other horses and the other on a shiny bay gelding.  We started the lesson by walking and asking our horses to tip their noses to the inside and then the outside while maintaining their rhythm.  Then we trotted a bit to loosen up muscles.  We were then asked to do a 15 meter circle in the center and work on asking our horses to move their hindquarters away from our legs.  I don't know how the other ladies fared but we definitely had a shoulder bulging issue.  I finally got a few steps of turn on the forehand and praised Tessa.  Tessa thinks that if you tell her 'good girl', what you really mean is 'okay, we're done'.  I need to change that expectation.

We then moved into trot with the same exercise.  We did alright, but had a few crabby moments.  We came back down to the walk and worked on getting her OFF MY LEG.  Then I asked her for trot again and she stopped and threatened.  Then she kicked out, once, twice and finally a GIANT kick out and a sluggish, pent up trot.  It wasn't our finest moment.  The girl on the bay grinned at me as we went by.  "Wow, she can really get her hind end up there."  The kick on the video yesterday was nothing compared to last night's temper tantrum.

However, we survived.  And we even went on to canter.  In a group lesson.  Yeah!

I learned a few things last night about group lessons and me.

1.  Steering becomes much more important.
2.  Forward becomes much more important because you can't steer a cantering horse in a 15 meter circle to avoid a wreck if you don't have forward.
3.  Harder than cantering a 15 meter circle is trying to canter said circle and having pony drop into a head straight up in the air out of control trot.
4.  Group lessons are an hour and 15 minutes where privates are only 45 minutes.
5.  You spend more time trotting and cantering and working because sometimes she's said 'Canter' but she's not even going to look at you for ten more minutes.
6.  I am still embarrassed about my pony's mounting block skills.  I must work on this immediately.

Self portraits are hard when the pony's head is so much bigger than mine!
It will be nice to get to know some other people at the barn so I'm looking forward to that.  This weekend is a barn work party to work on fixing the arena footing.  I'll try and post about that later.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Crabby Pants the Pony

Here is the briefest clip of my ride yesterday.  This is the Princess expressing her displeasure at being asked to canter.  And then putting the minimal effort into actually cantering.

Tonight during my group lesson, I am going to attempt to work on not pumping and keeping her forward, forward, forward!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Murphy's Law

Once you put a deposit down on a high falutin, three times your budget custom saddle, someone will show up with a saddle that fits both you and your horse and is in your original budget.  I'm trying it out in my first group lesson tomorrow night and then we will probably buy it so I have a saddle to use until my custom one comes in.  It's too late to not order the custom since I put a deposit down and the custom fits me exactly perfectly, but it is pretty funny that the perfect saddle came along two weeks to late.

In other news, we had a few good rides this weekend.  I had my husband take a video tape of us riding today and if it wasn't so awful I would post it.  Here's what I learned from this video:

1.  She is still not forward.  I might think we are forward but we are not forward.  We are slouching around the arena while she drags her hind behind her and I pump with every stride.

2.  What feels like a monumental buck is not that impressive on video.

3.  I can see daylight between my arms and my body at all times.  Huge chunks of daylight.  You could build a condominium in the daylight between my arms and my body.  I am going to make my new mantra be 'elbows in and bent!".

4.  If you are having your husband/boyfriend/partner videotape you, you might want to make your expectations clear.  I do not want to watch a video of MY FACE while I'm riding my horse.  And if your boyfriend/husband/partner comes in to the arena to video tape, you may need to give them some etiquette guidelines.  Something like "Standing like a giant on top of that corner is just going to scare all the horses." or "That's the outside track of the arena so you probably shouldn't stand there."

Husband also took pictures of me and the pony.  In most of them, the princess is trying to leave and I'm looking exasperated.  I also probably should have taken pics BEFORE I rode to avoid helmet hair.  Oh well.  Live and learn...

Stop, Pony.  Seriously.

Why are you always walking away from me, pony?  And why do I not know how to stand up straight?

Sadly, this is the best shot we got.  All the others, one of us had our eyes closed.  Pony...I'm talking about you.

Friday, April 13, 2012

It's Back

And by 'it', I mean fear.  I thought it had faded, but yesterday it took me ten minutes to get up the nerve to get on.  Today, I puttered around grooming and chatting and grooming and chatting for half an hour before I even started saddling her.  I got her saddled up and took her to the arena to get on.  She has been ridden every day since Monday, but now that I'm not lungeing her I'm a hot mess.

So, of course, she won't stand still at the mounting block and I'm too chicken to just get on.  Even though when I finally do get on, she's fine.  She might walk off for a few steps but it's not like she's bucked when I got on.

Then I get on and she bucks when I want to trot.  She bucks when I want to increase the trot.  She bucks when I want to canter.  She bucks when I discipline for bucking.  She bucks harder, I tap harder.  Then she bucks and takes off.  I try to praise her but my fear is screaming "You're gonna dieeeeeeee!!!!!" and I'm sure I'm curled up in the fetal position.  I pull myself out and urge her to trot on.  She slows down.  I tap with the whip.  Buck. Tap. Buck. Tap.

She only bucks for Laura once at the canter.  She is testing me.  I know this.  But I'm so tired of this fight and then fear sneaks back in and before you know it, I'm leaving the barn in tears.  I've been here before so it's doubly, no make that triply frustrating to see this spot again.

I'm pretty sure the fear is back because I've removed a crutch (lungeing) and that if I just push myself through this time, we will come out the other side.  But ugh, blurgh, blah and now I'm going to settle down this afternoon/evening with the family and have a nice glass of wine.

The weather is gorgeous and is supposed to be sunny and 60 all weekend.  I will be going out to the barn both days, but not riding one of them.  I have my first group lesson (AAAAHHHHHHHH) on Monday evening so I'm pretty sure I will give the pony tomorrow off and then ride on Sunday.  Though for my sake, I feel like I should get on both days and ride.  I only rode 20 minutes today because I was such a chickenshit.

What do you think?  If I ride both days am I risking pony mental burnout for Monday's lesson?  Or should I just buck up and get through my fear and ride tomorrow and Sunday.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pony, Can You Hear Me?

 I got to the barn today excited about having a lesson.  It was a gorgeous spring morning with clear skies and temps in the fifties.  Riding in a t-shirt weather!  Finally!

My pony greeted me enthusiastically.  She lifted her head and whinnied, shook her head, nickered and ran up to the door tossing her head up and down.  I looked behind me to see what the fuss was about.  I actually walked away and went to the other side of the barn where the morning person was finishing up watering.

"Can I have Tessa's breakfast, please?"

She gave me a blank look and said "They've had breakfast."

"Oh.  She didn't get turned out this morning did she?"

"I put her in the arena for an hour and a half before breakfast."

So....where does that leave us?  Yes, that leaves us with my pony calling to me because she's glad to see me!  I don't ever give treats at the beginning of a ride and only rarely at the end, I don't feed her.  Maybe it's all the scritches I've been giving her as she sheds out her winter coat.  Whatever it is, I'll take it.

They moved the Princess to a different stall and she spent the last day flirting and making friends with the giant horse next door, appropriately named Truck.  Somehow, Truck managed to get a hold of one of my pony's dainty ears and left teeth mark and a giant scrape where there is no hair.  Poor pony.

Ouchie ear.
Who me?  It was a love nibble!

We are not doing anything to this ear since medicating it or attempting to do 'stuff' to it would probably just result in an ear shy horse.  I got the bridle on by unbuckling the side so it was huge and then buckling it back up.  Tessa was an angel about it.

My lesson was great with some really nice forward trot (after an attitude adjustment).  I did have a hard time getting on because I've only ridden once since I got back from vacation.  So it took me about 15 minutes to get up the nerve to get on and I was pretty anxious for the beginning of the ride.  There was lots of deep breathing going on.

The main thing we worked on with me was setting my hand with the outside rein and riding Tessa into it.  When her head would come up, she would get a bump with the legs or a tap with the whip.  Because I had set  my hand on the 'oh crap' strap on the saddle, my outside rein stayed nice and solid and she was able to find it every time.  We had lots and lots of good moments.  I am going to try and get some of those moments on video this weekend.

And last but not least, the pony will be losing her princess mane soon.  Laura told me today that she'd like to get it pulled.  And since I'm not showing any Arab shows or open shows or really have any show plans right now it seems like a good idea.  I can always grow it back if I want to.  And it's WAY easier to not have the mane in your face all the time.  This way, if we start jumping (stop laughing!!) her mane won't get in the way.  Pictures of the new short mane will follow as soon as it's done.

I'm a Puppet

A marionette puppet, to be exact.  We have figured out the problem of my hips.  The first problem is the original one, that my hip flexors are a mass of scar tissue and the ball joint doesn't quite fit in the socket properly.  But the other problem is perhaps the cause of the major discomfort.  The other problem is that I have separated abdominal muscles from back when I was pregnant.  Yes, from almost 6 years ago!  How is it that nobody in the last six years mentioned this could be a problem?  How is it that my midwife, the doctor that did the emergency C-Section, the trainer at the gym (I have tried personal training THREE TIMES AND NOBODY EVEN MENTIONED THIS) , they all missed this!

So, for the last six years I've been doing crunches and Pilates 100's and every exercise I can think of to make my stomach flatter and harder and it hasn't worked.  In fact, come to find out, all these exercises have made my abdominal separation worse!  ARGH!!

When I think about the problems I've been having with riding (and other activities) the separated abs make sense.  It's no wonder I can't be effective in the saddle, I have NO CORE.  None.  Zero.  Zip.  So, without the support of that whole 'pelvic girdle' area (where your transverse abs are and where you would feel it if you did Kegels....) my hips are free to just flop around like a marionette puppet, which leads to the tendons getting pulled and yanked and stretched.  Yow!

So, my new workout plan consists of doing only transverse abdominal workouts and Kegels.  I'm doing lots of pelvic tilts and tiny squeezes to try and bring those ab muscles back together.  Since it's been six years, it may take a while.  I'm lucky that the separation is only about 2 inches.  It could have been much worse considering my baby was a whopper (9.8lbs).  The hardest part is that it's actually not that easy to work the transverse abs because they are a secondary muscle.  So whenever you try to work them (by bringing your belly button towards your back) you usually end up tightening your obliques first.  My PT says that the obliques are the 'louder muscle' and that you really have to concentrate to hear (feel) the quieter transverse abs.

At least I now know what it is and I feel like there's a great chance for recover.  I have to stay away from any 'open chain' exercises.  No yoga.  No stretching.  No crunches.  No horseback riding (oh.....hahahahahhaaha......I totally ignore this one.  This is not going to happen.  There will be horseback riding and my PT can suck it.)  No Pilates.

I am someone who likes to do 'active' workouts instead of 'static' workouts, so it's really hard to feel like I'm accomplishing anything sitting in a chair tightening my transverse abs and my pelvic floor.  If  anyone has any experience with separated abs, I'd love to know ANY exercises that are effective!!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

For Realz

Today was an amazing spring day in the Pacific NW.  I like to think I brought the sunshine back from Arizona.  It was blue skies and temps in the high 60s.  Lovely, just lovely.  I hadn't seen the princess since last Sunday.  When I left her, she was on stall rest with a nasty case of scratches in one leg.  She has since been on antibiotics (her last day is today) and has continued stall rest.  She hadn't been ridden since Thursday and hadn't gotten out of her stall since Friday.  There was some mess up with who was supposed to turn her out in the arena that resulted in her not getting out at all.  So I wasn't sure what to expect when I showed up this morning.  This is what I got:

Hi Mom!  This is my friend, Knox.  He's the same age as me!

Look how pretty I am.  Ooh, what's that over there?

I wish I could kiss Knox.  
 Groomed her thoroughly, which meant removing another ten pounds of hair.  Her leg was still warm, but she was sound so I took her in to lunge her.  She poked around, quietly jogging, then trotting and picking up her canter with minimal headshaking.  After about two minutes, I stopped her.  Laura walked by and yelled across the arena "You don't need to lunge that horse.  She doesn't explode anymore."

Since Tessa was standing next to me, resting a hind leg, I figured she was probably right.  So I saddled up.  Laura had me put on a martingale for my ride, just to keep her from flinging that flexible Arab neck into my nose when she got pissy.  Our ride was mostly uneventful.  It had some crabby moments and some great moments where her trot was forward and she practically pulled me to the other side of the arena.  She did want to hang out with the other horses and would slow down whenever we got close to one.

'Does this martingale make my head look big?'
We then headed back to the cross ties for some more relaxing, more shedding, some clipping.  Tess suddenly had to pee so I dragged her back to her stall.  When I put her back in the cross ties, she hunched her back and winked.  Oh!  My pony is in heat!  AND SHE WAS QUIET!  AND SWEET!

So, to recap quickly, the only major change in my pony's life is that she has not been living outside for almost two weeks.  She has had constant companionship with the horses next to her and gets out in the arena, but she was worked much less this week than normal AND she was in heat and she was so pleasant and easy going.  I really think that she just wants the comfort of the other horses close by all the time.  Or she's growing up.  Or she actually loves being inside??!!  Maybe she's a freak of nature horse.

Now I just need to figure out how to get this hair out of this saddle pad.....


Thursday, April 5, 2012

An Exciting Update...and I'm not even home yet!

The princess had her first day of training yesterday!!!  We'll see how her leg holds up today, but Laura said she was sound and that the puffiness had receded considerably.  She was even able to use the mounting block in the scary goat corner!  Laura said she wouldn't go forward through the gap between mounting block and goat pen, but she did back up quietly and turn around without any fuss.

The one thing that Laura said was interesting, was how quiet Tessa was.  She said she lunged her but she was so quiet on the lunge that she just went ahead and rode her.  She was a bit spooky about the sunshine dappling in the arena and had a hard time with her left lead canter (she had to give a kick/buck before going into it) but was otherwise well behaved and very, very quiet.

Which is very interesting because she's been on stall rest now for a solid week and a half.  That's with zero outside turnout.  She gets turned out in the arena almost every day, but she has gotten MORE quiet instead of crazy.  Has anyone else experienced this?  I'm chalking it up to her being an insecure anxious horse.  See, when she lived outside, she was next door to other horses but she didn't have a buddy living with her.  We tried her with one horse, but the other mare was so dominant that she wouldn't let Tessa in the shelter.

So now she's inside and she has a buddy on each side all day.  The barn rotates which horses go out, so there's always horses in the stalls next to her.  I'm wondering if she's just soaking up all the other horses quiet energy and maybe getting some much needed rest.  She's on stall rest, indoor turnout, until her scratches heal up completely and then we'll decide what we're doing.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying my last day in sunny Arizona where the forecast is for 84 degrees.  I didn't realize how depressed and sunshine deprived I was until a few days into this vacation.  I'm pretty sure I need to make this an annual event.  And maybe next time, I'll bring some riding clothes and check out some Scottsdale barns!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Scary Thing Behind You

I went out to say hello to the princess before I leave for Arizona.  Her leg was looking puffy and hot and was tender to the touch.  Laura has started her on antibiotics and she is still on stall rest.  Surprisingly, though she had not been turned out since Friday, she was very well behaved.  I let her have  a romp in the arena and she mostly just walked around looking for things she could play with.

Laura suggested I walk her down the driveway, the flattest non-muddiest part of the property, to help move some of the fluid around in her foot.  So, we ventured through the scary gate and down the driveway.  Our walk was short, both in distance and in time, since the pony had a hard time keeping it together.  There was lots of freezing and blowing and snorting.  But, I remained relaxed and calm and we did go a little ways down and back a few times in a row.

But here's the thing....I think Tessa was trained to face the scary thing and if she can't face the scary thing, to run away.  I know some of this is inherent in horses, but I also know it's a popular training method to have them face the scary object, walk up to it, touch it etc.  I understand how this might be helpful when you're riding and if your horse TURNS to face the scary object.  But when you're going for a walk and your horse gets scared and SPINS to face the object at warp speed, it makes for a dangerous walk.  Poor Tess just couldn't handle any noise coming from behind her.  She would tuck her tail and try and bolt and spin at the same time.  Some folks say to disengage their hindquarters and get them working, but her hindquarters seemed pretty disengaged as she spun frantic circles around me.

So, tell me your brilliant ideas for how to instill bravery in a horse.  How exactly do you teach a horse that they do NOT have to face the scary object/noise.  I know trust is part of it, but is there more I can be doing.  Today, I did not want to do a lot of fancy groundwork that might have aggravated her lame foot any more than it already was, so I just stayed calm until she came down.  And when she lowered her head and licked and chewed, I praised her effusively.

Also, she shed off enough hair to make a pony sized sweater.

Not from today, but a good example of her giraffe neck right before she whirls and bolts.
I'm off the find some sunshine for a week!  I'll be on the computer a bit, but it's been so long since I've been warm I'll probably be spending most of my days poolside.