testing, testing, one, two three

Warning, this post is a bit stream of (un)consciousness as I was using it to test functionality and am sleepy. Soooo….computer froze. Apparently, as I clicked about to see if yes, it really was frozen, I also completely messed up my blog’s database. Le sigh. Anyways, I decided to try and see what happens when I add a new post. But since it’s late and I’m tired, I will just reprint an older post (with a now broken link, so at least you can read it now if this all works). And wwoooooo, that worked, so I have deleted said older post. Of course, now I still have to deal with some Error 400 pages with other things, but at least I can ninja-edit on the post itself.

Not that I ever *do* mock people in IT, but it’s stuff like this that makes mocking people in IT a loser’s bet. Also have just now sorted a few other things (error page), but am putting off till tomorrow things like easy image insertion into posts.  Sheesh. Oh, by the way, that’s Antwerp. Isn’t it nice? More on that later.

Sometimes, you get to smile so much your face feels tired

The past month has been busy, stressful, fun, and (thank goodness) sporadically sunny. In getting ready for a talk at a conference in Antwerp, I was really having to work closely with the themes that we have drawn from our study. Every once in awhile, I feel like I gain greater insights while trying to figure out a way to communicate with others than when I purposefully analyse and focus on the data. I’m sure it is a consequence of really having to understand the topic before trying to teach others, but it felt like a real breakthrough to me. The themes (and the metaphors we are using to explain them) are fairly complex and really, really, interwoven, so separating them out in a way that makes sense outside of my own head and instincts has been more difficult than I expected. That said, I feel much better about the presentation, and hopefully most of the bugs will be worked out this week during our practice meeting.

So, yeah, that’s one reason for the happy picture in this post. Another reason, of course, is the horse himself. The barn I ride at has been hosting some fun summer dressage shows. I’ve been entering them as much to force myself to focus on goals as to actually compete. Moss really deserves a rider who is always trying to improve. He’s such a talented guy, and he really enjoys working (and, of course, hacking and galloping), but it is waaaaayyy too easy to just enjoy riding around and around on such a nice horse without really focusing on improving, so hopefully these little shows will help me up my game a bit.  They’ve already convinced me that I should start trying to do more complicated dressage–Moss has really gotten a lot stronger over the past few months, and he feels ready to really start working on more demanding work. My big goals, I guess, are to get us “off campus” for a few tiny (low key!) shows and to work on more collected work (the extended work, we like, but the stuff that requires us to slow down? not so much).  I’ve also signed myself up for the Stage 1 exam for the BHS. Hopefully, I’ll get that, my riding and road safety, and my Stage 2 done this year and then start prepping for my Stage 3 (which I can use to get jobs teaching riding!).

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Badminton, year two. It only gets better.

This is Mark Todd, before his Badminton-winning show jumping round. The grin you see is in response to someone yelling out “Woooo Toddy” as he went by. That pretty much encapsulated the weekend right there, that “Wooo!”.  Between the weather (unbelievably sunny), the cross-country course (absolutely cool), and Mark Todd, Piggy French, Mary King and the rest of the eventing world, it was probably the most fun I’ve had yet in the UK. I was lucky enough to hang out (and camp out!) with a good friend for the weekend as well, nothing beats having someone to encourage you to buy those all-essential Badminton souvenirs. This year a new winter coat and hat were on the list; well, a dressage whip was on the list (mine had walked away already–I’d only had it for a few months!), and a new winter hat and coat ended up sneaking on at the very last minute, when they were amazing and therefore totally worth it.

We spent the first day circling the cross-country course.  There is the all important lap-to-check-out-all-the-fences and then the lap-to-pick-your-favourites, and then, finally, the following-the-course-backwards-to-avoid-the-crowds when the riders start. It worked especially well last year, when the wet and chilly conditions made bits of the course a mudslide. This year, with all of the sun, that was a total-non-issue, but we still got to get right up to the ropes at most of the fences. It’s amazing how walking 6+ miles for 6+ hours can feel like nothing when you’re totally distracted by great riders on amazing horses absolutely flying over these jumps. Some of the best bits came from watching the younger riders really shine on course. We got to see Rayef and Laura Collett just bound over the course, and I especially enjoyed some of the super-colourful cross-country outfits a couple of the riders were sporting. The atmosphere in show jumping the next day was absolutely unbelievable.  There was absolutely no room for error, or hesitation, or bad luck. Mary King’s double clear was met with stadium-shaking applause, but Mark Todd’s winning round was watched in absolutely breathless silence. And then the stands just…exploded into applause. It was the sort of weekend that made you want to rush out and go for a ride, especially if that ride could include some galloping about and possible over fences.  Just, utterly fun and inspiring. Luckily, we’re already planning to go again next year!