Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Vegas, baby... Part I

Vegas was awesome. Getting there was not so awesome.

I drove to the Parental's house on Friday night. I did laundry until around 11pm. I went to bed and then proceeded to get up at 3:30am so I could leave by 4am and be to BFF's house by 4:30am. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 6:55am and we wanted plenty of time to get through security. Good thing too...

So, a while back I went shooting. I brought a bunch of rounds with me so I could reload the clip. I put those loose rounds in my purse. I did not reload my clip. Instead I went through security with them. But I had forgotten I had them, so when they pulled me aside I was a tad bit bitchy (well, that and it was like 5am). They asked me if I could possibly have anything that was cylindrical and metal in my bag. The only thing I could think of was mascara. It definitely was not mascara they were seeing on the x-ray machine. Oops...

So, a few lessons learned that morning... 1. TSA agents really don't have a sense of humor and seriously frown on these types of things. 2. If it had been less than 10 rounds it wouldn't have been a "violation". 3. The cops they have to call in do have a sense of humor... thank goodness. 4. Your BFF will totally ditch you while you're being cavity searched in front of the line waiting to get through security.

She totally disappeared. And then told me later that if they had detained me that she would have totally gone to Vegas without me. What kind of friend does that? Seriously.

Anyway, no harm no foul. I made it to the gate in plenty of time. We were flying Spirit so we packed onto the plane like sardines and headed to Vegas. By the time we got into the Vegas airport, BFF and I were both in agreement: nap. Now.

After that, we headed to MGM to hang poolside with BooBoo and the rest of the bachelorette party. After having a few cocktails, floating around the lazy river (which totally looked like a frat/sorority party gone wrong) and getting sunburned, it was time to get dressed to go out and have some fun. We were all dressing as cocktails. I was champagne. BFF went as Sangria. BooBoo was a Black Russian. There was also a MaiTai, Shirley Temple and Peppermint Schnapps. We were a colorful crew...
Black Russian...

Champagne and Black Russian...

Sangria and Champagne...

I would love to give you specific details as to what happened next, but I've been sworn to secrecy by several different people. All I can tell you is there were drinks, a lost ATM card, more drinks, a 6' blow-up penis called Captain Pecker, more drinks, a buffet, a found ATM card, more drinks and a drunken cab ride at 3:30am. 

It was a good time...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

It's coming...

I have a lot of stuff to blog about... after all, I was just in Vegas. That should be totally good fodder, right? Right.

Stay tuned. Might take me a few days to sort it all out and write it down.

Friday, May 18, 2012

A subject near and dear to my heart...

Reposted from SnarkyRider and Fugly Horse of the Day

SweetPea in: I hate animal abuse. I especially hate horse abuse. And the abuse that the Tennessee Walking Horses endure in the name of winning disgusts me to no end. Please read the article posted below and share with everyone. The more people who know and cry out against this crap the better!!

Photo courtesy of the HSUS
Yesterday morning I was fortunate enough to attend, via conference call, HSUS’s press conference regarding Jackie McConnell and their undercover investigation into his use of soring to win in the TWH shows.  I know how informed all the readers here are so I won’t bore you by rehashing the circumstances and certainly won’t go into what soring is – there are a variety of resources on the internet for those who remain blissfully unaware. The press conference was not the harbinger of epiphanies nor a great and much-needed overhaul of the industry.  What it did tell us, though, was that McConnell has a history of horse abuse, dating back to 1979.
I’m sorry, what now?
Yup, that’s right.
Here are few other interesting tidbits I gleaned from the conference call:
  • The TWH industry claims a high compliance rate with regards to the Horse Protection Act (HPA)
  • This is only the second case in 40 years of enforcement of HPA
  • At the 2011 Celebration (I believe that was the show, if not, it was another large national show – my apologies, my notes were a bit rushed) 100% of horses tested, tested positive for foreign substances on their pasterns
  • The HPA does NOT cover anything that happens at the stables – it only covers transportation and the show ring.

One last thing that I learned, during the introduction of the press conference, an HSUS representative mentioned that they feel there is a lack of deterrent with regards to soring.
Ya don’t fucking say.
There are a number of contributing factors as to why soring has become so pervasive within the industry – and yes, I am one of those people who don’t believe it’s just a few bad eggs who are torturing horses for a blue ribbon.  I do think a lot of it is because it has been allowed to occur, relatively unchecked and with far too lenient repercussions.  Judges and registries are turning blind eyes.  Speaking of judges, WHY ARE THEY REWARDING THE BIG LICK “GAIT”?!  (Unfortunately I haven’t had enough time to properly research the judging of TWH shows but fear not, a second post is forthcoming!)
For those of you so inclined (read: with an iron stomach) here is the video footage, as released by ABC The Blotter, of HSUS’s undercover investigation into McConnell: clickyclicky
Now, after watching that, please read this.  It’s the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association’s (TWHBEA) response to the video.
-Well, Marty, since adopting your “zero tolerance” policy, how many members have you kicked out? Because, according to HSUS, in 2011 100% of around 50 horses that were tested, tested positive for substances on their pasterns.  So either you’re committed to your “zero tolerance” policy but have secretly adopted a “look waaay the hell the other way” policy too, or you’ve buried yourself and your organization behind so much bureaucracy so as not to be able to put any of your policies in to action.  Honestly, how ineffectual can a governing body be?!  No really, I’m asking you, since you’re apparently the reigning expert on the subject.
-”Tennessee Walking Horses DO NOT have to be sored to walk.”  No shit, Sherlock.  But they DO have to be sored to perform the Big Lick movement which is held in such high estimation at the proverbial Holy Grail of TWH shows.
-According to this report by HSUS on their undercover investigation before a class, McConnell would spray paint a horse’s pasterns to cover scarring so that it would pass inspection.  I’ll have to get me some of that spray paint that masks not only sight, but the sense of touch as well.
-Now this is an interesting read and greatly illuminates the TWHBEA’s typically bureaucratic stance.  There are a lot of points within that document to be discussed, however, I think I’ve made my feelings on this organization clear already.
-Interestingly enough, for a zero tolerance organization, I found NO information regarding soring (how to identify it, why it’s wrong, consequences of soring to horses/to people, etc.) on your website.  You’d think that for an organization so opposed to something as to claim a “zero tolerance” policy, they’d have some information about what they’re protesting on their website.
Why, if you’ve condemned the practice of soring, have you not condemned the big lick movement! It’s not a natural gait!  The running walk of the TWH is meant to be, and naturally is, a ground covering stride – not some gross, epileptic, German Shepard-looking abomination!
Here is a great video from 1999 wherein a TWH without massive hoof pads (the TWH/hoof pad post is also forthcoming!) competes against the Big Lick-eres.  It really highlights the difference between a natural, properly trained, running walk and the hideous deformity of the Big Lick – from the way the horse moves, to the rider’s position and movement in the saddle, to the horse’s expression.  Check it out – it’s worth a few minutes of your time.
If you’re duly horrified by everything you’ve seen here today, please check out For The Tennessee Walking Horse as they’re compiling a list of people who you may share your outrage with.
——–
*update*
This was just emailed in:
Here are the important guidelines to follow.
1. Write your own letter. Don’t copy and paste mine below–it’s just an example. Even just a few sentences is enough.
2. Copy and paste the video from this link into each letter. Be kind enough to warn them that it is graphic footage. If you’d rather send the Nightline story since it’s not as graphic (but still hard to watch), choose this link.
3. Name calling, nasty remarks, and angry words (except expressions such as “I could not believe what I saw in this video”) do not help. A person is immediately turned off by being “yelled” at online or in a letter. Use rational words and think through what you’re writing before sending it.
4. If you’re going to write a form letter, be sure to individualize it when you put it in email form by putting such things as Dear Their Name at the beginning, and pointing out you understand their position in the community (such as a Senator or House Rep). Also make sure your subject line is clear as to what you’re contacting them for, such as National Celebration Corporate Sponsorship or Enforcement of the Horse Protection Act.
5. It’s okay to point out that the industry is continuing to support this abuse by posting statistics, such as how many HPA violators hold high positions in clubs and associations and are allowed to show their horses even after multiple violations. But be sure that you back up any of this with facts. Feel free to contact me or ask on our Facebook page if you need help with that. You can just avoid that in general by talking about how you understand how widespread the abuse is you want to see an end.
6. We have also learned from government officials that they don’t like electronic petitions without real handwritten signatures, nor do they want to read the exact same letter from a bunch of people. Each letter needs to be individual.
It’s also important to thank those who have already taken the steps to end soring. I’ve included those folks in the list as well.
Here is my example letter to Ford to ask them to pull their sponsorship. Again, DO NOT copy and paste this letter. Please take the time to write your own.
XXXXXXXXXXXXX
Now for the list. If you have any suggestions, feel free to contact me or post them on the Facebook page.
USDA Contacts
Current Sponsors of the Celebration
Ford – https://secure.corporate.ford.com/footer/contact-ford/contact-us-email?contactMainTopic=PublicAffairs
Cracker Barrel – http://www.crackerbarrel.com/contact-us/
Potential Sponsors of the Celebration
Keystone Light – www.keystonelight.com You will have to enter your birth date for legal purposes.
HIOs
Send your emails to the all the major board members: president, vice president, committee leaders, etc. Or choose all of the email addresses…the more the merrier!
When writing to the HIOs, request that they ban McConnell the same way they banned Barney Davis. The HIOs immediately banned Barney Davis BEFORE he went to trial, but they have not banned McConnell. It’s clear who’s the money maker of the two for them.
Also, ask them to start putting together stronger penalties. Perhaps a 3 strikes and you’re out policy–three HPA violations (not rulebook violations) and you’re banned for life. Ask them to stop trying to placate the public and pretend these are isolated incidents and actually start working to end soring. We all know soring is the main way of “training” these horses–it’s high time it ended.
KYWHA – http://kywha.org/contact-us/
PRIDE – http://pridehio.com/wordpress/contact-us/ You can copy and paste all the email addresses into a single email.
SHOW – http://www.showhio.com/contactus.htm
SSHBEA – http://www.sshbea.org/contactus.html
WHOA – http://www.walkinghorseowners.com/about-whoa/ Scroll down to see the email addresses.
TWHBEA
Ask them to stop supporting the HPA violators and giving them high positions in their association. Ask for changes in the by laws that anyone who has violated the HPA more than twice is not eligible to be on the board or an officer for life. Ask that their Horse Protection Committee, which has HPA violators serving on it, to get active within the breed and actually protect the horse.
http://www.twhbea.com/contact.php
Executive Director – Ron Thomas, rthomas@twhbea.com, 931-359-0580
Executive Assistant – Diane White, dwhite@twhbea.com, 931-359-0581
President – Marty Irby, martyirby@msn.com, 615-796-5334, 931-233-0112
Senior Vice President – Margo Urad, murad@kandsins.com, 214-763-7379
Trainers Vice President – Wayne Dean, fredad@wildblue.net, 931-359-4808, 931-359-7326
Equine Welfare Vice President – Dr. Linda W. Montgomery, 615-210-4038
Find your local board representative on this page: http://www.twhbea.com/association/bod.php
The Celebration
Ask them to ban McConnell from the show grounds.
http://twhnc.com/ email: twhnc@twhnc.com
Your Congressmen
It’s best to write to the Congressmen in your state first. On the Senator and House Reps links listed below, a short and easy search will take you to your Congressmen’s pages, where you can use the contact forms to contact them. On some Congressmen’s pages, they will only allow you to contact them if you live in their zip code. But zip codes can easily be found online at MelissaData for Tennessee and Kentucky.
White House Contact Page http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments
Senators – choose the Find Your Senators option in the top right corner: http://www.senate.gov/
House Representatives – choose the Find Your Representatives option in the top right corner: http://www.house.gov/
HSUS’s Page for Congress Contact Information concerning the TWH: https://secure.humanesociety.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=5399&s_src=twhlanding
Find Your Federal Legislators: http://action.humanesociety.org/site/PageServer?pagename=electedOfficials_federal
Thank Yous
ABC Nightline – http://abcnews.go.com/Site/page?id=3271346&cat=Nightline
HSUS – http://www.humanesociety.org/forms/contact_us/contact_equine_protection.html
Pepsi – For pulling their sponsorship from the Celebration: http://cr.pepsi.com/usen/pepsiusen.cfm?date=20120518

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ride with me...

My newest Horse Nation post here. Enjoy :)

Monday, May 14, 2012

I really needed a 3 day weekend...

It was the Prineville Grasslands endurance race this weekend. Which means I took Friday off and packed up the camper (not as good getting it packed solo as I was with company, but I made do), packed up the horse, packed up the dogs and headed off to the race.

Once there, I was actually able to get the panels down and the corral set up by myself. I did bruise my shoulder up a bit but it didn't take as long as I thought it would. All in all, it took me about an hour to set up camp. Then Flash and I went and got vetted in and waited for Hutch and her sister to show up. Her sister decided to ride Leo (Hutch's new endurance horse) in the 25 with me. And Hutch crewed for us.

I had a hell of a time getting to sleep on Friday night. So much going through my head. I hate it when I get like that.

At 4:30am I got up to give the horses their pre-race grain. Then tried to go back to sleep until 6:30am. I think I dozed a little here and there. At 6:30am it was time to get up and get saddled and head out to race. Hutch's sis and I decided to wait and go out with the last riders.

Horses are ready. Riders not so much...

Start of the race...

Once we got on the trail, the horses were super amped up. Leo took off at a very fast pace and Flash and I hung back a bit with another rider who was looking for a group to ride with. After a few miles we caught up to them again and the 3 of us ended up riding the whole race together. Although at times we had more company...

A caravan of horses heading up the big hill...

Gorgeous views on the way up...

Steep, but a very cool trail to ride...

The first half of the loop was 14 miles and seemed to take a while. There were a lot of steep trails both up and down so we ended up walking a lot of it. We also had some green horses that needed to learn to take their time. Since we left so late I wasn't worried about finishing in the top 10 and didn't mind the pace.

Once we got to the vet check the horses were catching their second wind, but I was getting tired and hungry. Hutch had peanut butter sandwiches there. At first I turned them down because I hate peanut butter. Hate. It. But then I decided to have a small bite and ended up devouring the whole thing and it tasted so good!! I guess the body knows what it wants when it's working hard.

Doing the trot-out at the vet check...

After we left the vet check it was a 12 mile ride back to camp. The trail had one small climb and then it was mostly flat or downhill the rest of the way. We ended up doing the 2nd 1/2 way faster than the first part. And came in with plenty of horse left and with all of us smiling.

 Success!! And we finished middle of the pack...

For this race I decided to not camp out Saturday night and instead packed everything up and headed back home. Because it was such a nice day, I had been eating dust most of the ride. I was so happy to be in the shower... and it felt so good!!

On Sunday, I went to meet a friend and do some hiking. Unfortunately the lake we wanted to hike around was still closed so we ended up hiking a dusty road instead. Definitely not as much fun but the company was great. After we parted ways, the pups and I were hot so we went to the river to cool off...

View of the river from the top of the trail...

Let's get down there, mom!! We're hot!!

The pups found something way more entertaining than swimming in the river...

But I decided to go for a dip. Man, it felt great on a hot day...

After all of that, it was time to get home and get some rest. We were all tired after a long weekend. However, Noelle was having some difficulty finding the "sweet spot" on her bed...

Meh, not quite the spot...

Still not right...

ARGGG...

This is a little better...

Ahhhh... perfect.

It was a good weekend. Next race is Sunriver in 5 weeks. We'll be trying a 50 on that one. Can't wait!!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

"Sweaty" yoga - part deux...

That's right, folks. I went and did it again. And I kinda liked it...

Except for the part when I bent over and all of the sweat that had pooled in my bra rushed into my nose and almost drowned me.

That part I definitely didn't like.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

It should be called "Sweaty Yoga"...

I did the unthinkable last night. I tried Hot Yoga...

I've been putting it off after reading this account of what a Hot Yoga class is really like. I must say, I was a little bit intimidated. Well, OK. A lot. I was a lot intimidated.

But I decided to press through my reservations and just go for it. Well, actually VH kept pestering me and wouldn't let it go and I couldn't put her off any longer. It was time to do it!!

*do it, do it, do it, do it*

I showed up in what I deemed to be appropriate attire... soccer shorts, sports bra (in a tasteful black) and a t-shirt. Everyone else around me was in actual yoga attire... very short, tight yoga shorts; very tight yoga tops; very tight, good-looking bodies.

Oh crap...

Right away I knew I was out of my league. First of all, the only thing tight on me was my ponytail. And a few minutes after walking into the hot room I had to loosen that up as well.

The heat didn't really bother me, but I realized right away I had too much clothing on. The t-shirt only lasted about 2 minutes. Good thing I had on my tastefully black sports bra. And even though my whole body was a pasty white color, I didn't care. If I could have ditched the shorts and done it in my underwear, I would have (unfortunately for me I was wearing a very ugly pair that would have scarred people's eyes and left permanent damage).

More clothes = more heat = bad. Good tip for next time.

So first up was breathing exercises. You were supposed to breath in through your nose (which was not feasible given the smell in the room) and then make obnoxious noises while exhaling through your mouth. Mostly I was just panting. I don't think the teacher was impressed. And of course I was surrounded by perfect yoga people doing exactly what the lady on the podium was telling them to do. Show offs...

Then came the poses. Mostly they consisted of putting body parts where body parts ought not to be. Like your heel up your ass. Or twisting your arm out of your socket and grabbing some part of your leg. Mostly I just tried to kind of put the corresponding body part in the approximate location... while looking in the mirror and focusing on not falling over.

As a side note: after looking at myself in the mirror that much (with very little on) I've decided that I need a tan. Or at least some self-tanner. I am the color of the underbelly of a halibut. Nothing looks good that color. Not even the halibut...

Then it was time to lay on the mat and do poses on the ground... which was pretty gross because by this time my towel was completely soaked in sweat. Also, I have no idea what those poses were because once I got on the ground, sweaty towel and all, I really didn't move again. But I did make it to the end of the class without fleeing the room in terror. I count that as a win.

Once I was outside breathing actual air again I was told by several of the over-achievers that it gets easier as you continue to do it. Easy for them to say... they're not trying to heave all my flab around.

However, I will give it another try. Why? I don't know...

Monday, May 7, 2012

More Sunday fun...

Crossing a deep canal on a short horse...

Not sure Flash was totally thrilled, but I thought it was a hoot :)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Random river exploration...

I decided today that Sundays will be for random exploration of a place I haven't been before. Good idea, right?

Check us out, mom...

We look awesome...

And we look even more awesome now...

Big bridge...

Checking out the wildlife on the river...

This way, mom...

Let's go swimming...

We see fishes...

Almost a wrong step...

Wonder where this road used to go?

Big rocks...

Beautiful day on the river...

Random picnic table out in the middle of nowhere...

Did we mention how awesome we look?

The road (trail) less traveled...

Think I'm going to start making this a habit...

Friday, May 4, 2012

The folks at the DMV hate me...

I am divorced. No really. I am. However, I didn't actually have that paperwork until just recently (that's another story for another day).

While I was waiting for that paperwork (for many years, it turns out) my driver's license expired. Well, it expired last October, but who's keeping track of these things? Anyway, I didn't want to get a new driver's license until I could get it in the proper name... my maiden name.

So last week, with paperwork from Idaho in hand, I went to the Redmond DMV. After waiting for what seemed like years it was finally my turn. When I got up there I handed her the divorce decree, a piece of mail that showed my current address and my birth certificate. She looked over the decree and then proceeded to tell me that I would not be getting a license in my maiden name because the State of Idaho had failed to fill in the line where it says Maiden Name.

Holy shit. Are you kidding me? I argued. I pleaded. I almost cried. This woman was completely unfazed by any emotion I threw at her. She was a pro...

So I walked out with no valid ID.

This morning, I decided to try again. This time I decided to go to Bend in the hopes that they may be a little more understanding of Idaho's tragic oversight in the paperwork.

I arrived promptly at 8am and was the 3rd in line. So far, so good. When it was my turn I approached the desk and was greeted by a very unpleasant 450+ pound man. The stool he was sitting on was completely engulfed by his butt. There had to have been 18" to 20" hanging over on each side.

It was totally like this...

Anyway, I handed him all the paperwork and told him I needed a driver's license. He perused the paperwork and then looked up at me and asked me if I had forged the divorce decree. Um, no. I didn't. See right there? That shiny sticker that makes it all official?

Well, you can buy those stickers anywhere, don't ya know.

Actually, no. I didn't. And why would I want to forge paperwork? It's not like I'm assuming an alternate identity. I'm going back to the name on my birth certificate. Yeah, that certificate right there. The one I just handed you.

*sigh*

Finally I just gave up and decided to just get an ID in my married (but not legal) name. And then he started to give me shit about that because it had expired so long ago. In my head, I totally lept over the counter and kicked him. On the outside, I totally kept my cool and just politely nodded while he ranted about my expired ID. Whatever dude. Just point me in the direction of the test-taking machine and turn me loose.

So, I am now the proud owner of a valid ID in the wrong name (according to Idaho).

I swear that the people who work at the post office and DMV are paying penance for wrong-doings in a former life. They must have been very bad. Even a dung beetle has it better off than those people...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Hard decisions are, well, hard...

*sigh*

You all remember my new motto right?

If you don't like it, change it. If you can't change it, get rid of it.

It's a good motto. And in theory an easy one to follow through on. In theory.

The reality is much more gut wrenching and, well, hard. Very hard.

But you should be proud of me. When faced with a situation yesterday that absolutely fell into this motto's parameters, I did the only thing I could. I got rid of it. Utterly and completely.

It was the right thing to do because no one deserves to be treated like that. But it was so very hard...

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

New 'tude...

My new motto... if it's not working, change it. If it can't be changed, get rid of it.

That should simplify a few things...