camelot bonus reel: blogger meetup

One of the funnest things about Camelot has always been showing there with my friends.  We’ve been going to Camelot for years and years and years — seriously, I think my trainer first took students to a one day schooling HT there back in 2011.  My first show there was 2013 — from which I was summarily eliminated, but I had a ton of fun riding Quincy around bareback at night with my friends despite that.

This year, I knew pretty early on that Kate was bringing students, and Olivia would be coming, so it was for sure going to be a mini blogger meetup.  I tried to rustle up a few other locals, but alas none more were to be had.  No fear, both Kate and Olivia brought many incredibly adorable horses, which more than made up for it.

Sorry, Olivia. I suck at selfies.

But the highlight of meeting other bloggers was meeting Keith W. Matapouri of Post the Trot.  (Also sorry Olivia and Kate that meeting up with you guys wasn’t the best part of the weekend. I mean blogger meetup.)  In the time-honored tradition of the close blogging community, though, I’m going to refer to Keith by a made-up blogger name.  Let’s go with Kathy.  Kathy seems like a good, strong, blogger name.

I actually knew I was in the presence of Kathy even before we had been properly introduced.  It was just one of those things.  I don’t want to imply that I’m a stalker or anything.  But you know when you see something you’ve never actually seen before in person, you’ve only heard/read about it, but the second you lay eyes on it you know that this is that thing you’ve read about? It was like the first time I ever saw a gerenuk.  I’d never seen a picture of a gerenuk, I’d just heard of them, and then there was a gerenuk standing there in the scrub and I shouted KATHY GERENUK!!

Image result for gerenukthis is what it was like to spy Kathy

Alternately, you know when your dog jumps off the couch and makes that kinda subtle smile at you, and you know that you need to rush her outside right away because she’s about to start puking on the carpet (even though she hasn’t started heaving or gurgling yet)?

It was kinda like that.

Anyway, Kathyand I spent a little bit of time chatting after I introduced myself.  We had a fascinating and in-depth conversation about the appearance, function, role, and genetics of dapples.  Interestingly, did you know that nobody really understands dapples?  I mean the dapples that show up seasonally, not dapples that stick year-round on gray horses.  We think it’s genetic, it seems to be associated with nutrition in some cases, and some horses get to have dapples even when their nutrition is total shit.  So what regulates whether a horse gets the ability to get dapples (like, what gene even controls dapples REALLY?), if a horse gets dapples within its lifetime, and how big/bright/patterned/obvious those dapples are?

NOBODY KNOWS. It’s interminably frustrating.  Kathy understood.

Kathy also promised to take me horse boating sometime, so that’s pretty cool.

Image result for gerenuk(I did, actually, see gerenuk a few times living in Kenya. This picture is from MF Kinnard at Mpala, which was essentially right nextdoor to where I lived in Kenya. Like, as nextdoor as you get when you live on a 200 square kilometer conservancy.)

 

Advertisements

teamwork makes the dream work

Camelot’s August event was everything I hoped it would be, and then some.  I don’t quite have the energy for a full recap (I’m still catching up thanks to a sleepless Friday night and minor flesh wounds to both knees), but there are too many good pictures not to share some of them.  The short story is that we were successful.  But in reality, I’d categorize this as more of a wildly successful outing for us.

c/o Kate’s friend, Kathy. Thanks Kathy!

Thanks to my own stupidity and inability to ride down banks, I tweaked both of my knees on Friday afternoon while schooling the utterly enormous and incredibly inappropriate for the level 3′-ish bank that was flagged for the Novice course.  I suck at banks and we haven’t practiced them in a year, so we worked our way up to the big one.  Murray was fine going down the littler ones, but could clearly sense my hesitation and lack of desire to go down the biggest bank, so he stopped a few times.  I finally approached it with some commitment, then promptly lost my left stirrup. Murray turned a hard right upon landing, and physics was not in my favor.  I kept going straight.  As I slid over the saddle my right foot must have become caught up somehow, because my knee twisted on the way over.  I initially landed on my left foot, but promptly fell to my knee.

I lay there in the dirt, both of my knees stinging, while Murray stood next to me and judged me for my silly actions.  Eventually I gathered up the gumption to stand (stung knees hurt, yo!), got back on, and we schooled the bank and a few other fences with great success.


I love the Camelot standards. Thanks Kathy!

The whole weekend was really an exercise in teamwork, though!  First, Kate kindly hauled Murray to the show as we were short one trailer spot from my barn.  To my great pleasure, Murray happily walked right into Kate’s trailer, and then unloaded quietly once at Camelot.  Kate even had a pin of just the right dimensions to fix our own trailer woes, when the 3-horse we were borrowing was short a pin to keep the back divider closed.  I mean, if that isn’t a beautiful coincidence, I just don’t know what is.


a couple of fences at Camelot have glow in the dark paint!

After spraining said knees, one friend loaned me her horse’s Back on Track wraps, another drove to get me ibuprofen at a nearby gas station, and everyone pitched in to help fetch, carry, and lift while I limped around the facility like a pirate.  The good news that is NSAIDs and BOT helped my knee to feel pretty much normal by cross country time.  I don’t really know how I feel about Back on Track gear… part of me thinks it’s juju voodoo horsey pseudoscience.  The other part of my knows that the BOT treated knee was way warmer than the untreated knee, and it felt WAY WAY BETTER after putting the wraps on.  So… we’ll need to play with evidence based medicine for that one.

Kate’s Kathy and Olivia’s husband kindly got pictures of me during my stadium ride, which were so appreciated when I realized after stadium that in the course of bumping my camera around on my hip I had deleted every single picture from the entire weekend.  I felt sick when I realized that I had done that through carelessness and bad habits (of not turning off my camera or protecting my images).

picture credit to David on this one!

There was even some pretty solid team work getting my outfit together.  I’ve been admiring the Winston coats for a while, but they are solidly outside of my budget in even an off-the-rack scenario.  A couple of months ago L alerted me to a tack sale for an Oregon tack store that was going out of business, and they had a Winston in just my size for an amount that I could, somewhat drunkenly (and only if I don’t look up the email to see what the actual price is) justify paying for.  I hemmed and hawed over it, and Peony told me to do it (and buy a Samshield alongside to boot, but they had none in my size).  And Megan concurred. So I bought it.  It didn’t quite have the shiny buttons I wanted, so I headed to Etsy and found the brushed stainless buttons I needed, easily replaced the old ones on the front of the coat and voila!

 I adore everything about the damn thing, and having a really, really well-fitting coat is just so nice for me.

It was such a wonderful weekend to spend with friends from all different avenues of my life.  I can’t wait to do it again — maybe in April, guys?!

the best weekend

I had the best freaking weekend at Camelot.

I got to meet some super cool animals and their even cooler humans. (Stupidly forgot to take a pic with Skully or Meaty!  I am a fool.)

My horse was as brave as he knew how, never stopped being himself, and was  handsome AF to boot.

I rode my little heart out and made all new mistakes!  And I learned from them!

We went really, really, really fast.  Like, speed faults if we hadn’t circled for the refusal fast.

The jumps all looked tiny!!

Losing never felt so good!!!

adventureful weekend

I had a weekend filled with the most awesome pony adventures!  Full recaps to come later in the week, but suffice to say that I am planning to eke out a little sleep in on Monday morning (till a luscious 7 am, ha!).

We started with a dressage outing that can be described as nothing less than “epic”.


good pony gets all the sweet nothing whispers

For real, we knocked so many accomplishments off the list on Saturday: got in the trailer, went to a place, kept our heads, did the dancing queen thing with zero (ZERO!!!!) theatrics, got recognized for the fucking superstars we are. Even better, we got good feedback from the judge (verbal and written), and a flow chart in the comments.


we knocked out a 65% at T3 and 67.7% at 1-1

Truly, the best part is that I went into the ring with a game plan, actually rode (instead of just kinda steering and sitting like a passenger), and Murray took my suggestions and responded in a way that I could manage and work with, instead of with interpretive dance.  If we can pull that off this week at Camelot, it will be money in the bank.

On Sunday I took a ridiculously large number of selfies with strangers’ horses.  And by “strangers” I mean Olivia, David, and Kate.  Olivia arranged a really fun wine tasting trail ride for us out of her barn to honor the visit of Jen, and it was so insanely fun!  Literally every horse on the planet Earth is better at selfies than my horse is, so I am obligated to take them with any that I can get my hands on.

Olivia even let me ride THE MULE!!  Literally the first thing I did after I got on was take a between the ears pic, but I later got much better ones on the beautiful, winding, and sometimes terrifying trail that is, evidently, a part of Olivia’s and David’s daily riding routine.  I had played around in my head with the idea of bringing Murray down for a future trail ride, but I honestly have no idea what he would do with a trail that is only 4 feet wide in places with a fairly steep, hilly drop off on one side and the correspondingly steep hill going up on the other.  At least there would be plenty of grass for him to eat while he walked (which Nilla is a professional at)?

The two of us have a fairly light week of riding planned before we go to Camelot on Thursday (with potentially more blogger meetups!!).  I’ll squeeze in a jump lesson and a dressage ride, and hope not to break any of our newfound talent in the process.  And there is potentially RAIN in the forecast for dressage day?  Inconceivable!

cruising

It’s Spring in Davis, and that always means one thing: WIND.  The Spring winds are awful and persistent and awful.  Last week it was gray and windy, and this week it is hot as balls and windy, but sandwiched in the middle there were a couple of days of beautiful, 72* weather and no wind.  So friends and I took advantage and hauled out for a hack.

Our journey wasn’t without drama.  Murray decided that post-Twin he was never getting in a horse trailer again, or something like that.  The trailer we used for that 5 hour haul was on the small side, and Murray and his big ego don’t do small-horse trailers, I guess.  On the way home he flat out wouldn’t get into the second spot (which is actually bigger, but appears smaller and harder to get in to), and only got in to the first spot after my trainer took a hold of him.  I was a little worried about it on Thursday, but since we were using a different trailer that Murray likes (normally), I tried to play it off like I was super cool.  Alas, Murray wasn’t buying it, and would get two front feet on and then pause and wildly back up when I asked him to come forward.  I’m not really willing to let him slam his head on the top of the trailer, so I’d let him.  He was so not on board with the trailering game that he wouldn’t even eat a carrot out of my hand, which is pretty clearly not a happy Murray state to be in.

Eventually my barn manager got him on, but not after standing for about five minutes with his hind feet out of the trailer, stretching his neck as far forward as possible to be with her, little toes pointed.  I can’t remember exactly what precipitated it, but eventually he bunny-hopped his little feetsies into the trailer and off we went.

We joined a friend at WSS, and the three of us cruised all over the property.  Murray is always pretty good in groups on trail, as long as nothing too exciting is happening.  Too exciting is defined as a gait above a sedate walk, or doing anything other than eating grass when other horses are achieving said gaits.  That was awesome for my friends, as their ponies needed a little mellowing out away from “home” (though she boards there, my friend’s horse is not totally comfortable in the wide open spaces just yet).  In his own way, Murray was a great teacher for this.  Want to trot? Eat some grass.  Worried? Eat some grass.  Don’t know where you’re going? Eat some grass. Feeling a little queasy by the vast expanse of the unknown and your sudden realization of your own miniscule existence in the universe? Eat some grass.


solution focused, this one

We walked all over the cross country course, and would have gone through the water were there any.  We even cruised over toward a many-mile (I think like 12 miles?) perimeter trail that goes around several neighboring properties and is part of an easement agreement between all the owners.  I would be totally game for that trail some time, just maybe not on a weekday when I have work to get to at home.

We cruised for nearly two hours, and were probably past due to head home, really.  Though we did nothing but walk, I felt like it was a good notch in Murray’s fitness belt, since the terrain undulated gently, in addition to a couple of nice hills.  Plus, how often do I walk my horse around for more than ten minutes, even?

I would like to do more hacking out this year, and add in some trot and canter sets.  I think I can find a mile long track on the perimeter to canter, which would be a fantastic fitness exercise.  But we will see – real life and real jobs have a habit of getting in the way of these things.

island time

I went to Hawai’i for a week.  I intended to post but then I didn’t write anything in advance, and I thought I’d write while I was there, but that didn’t happen either.  Shocking.

the milky way, several shooting stars, and a little moon aurora from partway up mauna kea
the little red glow in the bottom is the lava pool at kilauea

We went to the actual island of Hawai’i.  It was beautiful, in an unfamiliar kind of way.  The whole island is lava flows from several rather large volcanoes (as are all the Hawaiian islands), and it’s very strange to see the jutting, rocking A’a lava flows across the island.  They look like someone did a terrible job of discing a field, but of course, you can’t really disc lava.

I wish we’d had time to go to the Hawai’i botanical gardens — I’m such a plant nerd.  The plant life in Hawai’i was already amazing, so it would have been extra neat to see it all collected in one spot.  Next time.

lava tube coming out of the kilauea eruption

What we did get, before we even left, was a rather alarming wake-up call.  We stayed overnight at my in laws’ place (it was a family vacation so we were all driving to the airport together), with luscious plans to wake up at 4:30 in the morning and drive to the airport for our 7:20 flight.  At 3:15 in the morning, MIL knocked on our door and I bolted upright in bed, afraid we’d missed the wakeup call.

“You don’t need to get up right now,” she said, “but the toilet’s been overflowing for hours and the hallway is full of water. Your carpet will probably be wet.”

there are thousands of feet of waterfalls in the more heavily-forested regions of Hawai’i
this one was in a valley over from the Waipio valley

I mean, there’s no response to that really.

The house is on septic, being out in the boondoggles, and the leachfield on the side of the house where our bedroom is situated has been struggling this winter. The heavy rain and waterlogged ground just don’t drain the water from the toilet and shower away the way it should.  It was actually two plumbing problems at once that caused the issue.  Someone used the bathroom late at night and didn’t notice that the bowl was filling.  Normally this would never crest the bowl of the toilet, but the tank also malfunctioned and kept running. And running. And running.

Boyfriend’s sister got up in the middle of the night to pee and thought, at first, that she’d stepped in puppy pee.  But when she put her second foot down on the carpet she knew it was no pee spot.  When she opened the door to the hallway, an inch of standing water greeted her.

We spent from 3:15 to 4:20 mopping the hallway and drying off anything that we needed for the trip.  We still made it to the airport, and fortunately there’s nothing left of the incident but a vaguely mildewy smell that should go away soon.

Nothing like country life, amirite?

#sunrise on the peak of Mauna Kea

A post shared by Nicole Sharpe (@nicolegizelle) on

dissertation vacation

I told my friends and colleagues that I was taking my Dissertation Vacation over Christmas and they shouldn’t expect to hear from me until I returned from Oregon in the new year.  Everyone seemed to understand immediately and agree it was a good idea (and a few even said they took a few months on theirs, though others didn’t take a break at all).

Jumping forward in time (we will go back shortly), my secret Santa gift was awaiting me when I got home on Wednesday evening!  Micaylah sent a package with a big toy for Jelly, a darling set of studs and matching necklace for me, and cookies for Murray.  Murray will get his cookies when I go to the barn on Thursday, but Ellie got her present immediately.  Because she deserves it.

img_20170104_183111

She loved it, obviously.  And I love it and so do my roommates, because it has a quiet squeaker!!!! Ellie will go to town on squeaky toys for hours and hours minutes on end (we have never let her go as long as she wants).  Most squeakers are loud and obnoxious and this one is pretty quiet – but still entertaining enough that Ellie wants it. The newspaper also does not have stuffing (major requirement of my boyfriend’s as he doesn’t find cleaning clouds of fluff up from the floor very appealing), and I can already tell it will last.  Micaylah wins for puppy toys!  And the way to my heart is 100% by treating Ellie (but not too much, because then it’s like you’re trying to steal her love from me, and that is unacceptable).

img_20170104_183153

So, back to vacation.  I went with my boyfriend to see his family in Oregon where we ate a lot of food, drank a lot of beer, I played a lot of pokemon, and packed on the pounds.  Like a lot of pounds.

I spent most of my time sitting in front of fireplaces and heaters, only opened my laptop a few times, and read a lot.  I got most of the way through one book (Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson, only giving it like a 6/10), and finished another (Taming the Truffle, Ian Hall, 9/10 if you’re interested in growing Truffles).  We went snowmobiling and the snow was PERFECT for playing in — soft and fluffy and not too deep.  About a foot of dry powder, but not so dry that you just fell through.  Boyfriend and his step brother (a fair bit younger) had a great time throwing me around in it, I did not object, and managed to dump them a few times myself.

#whitechristmas

A post shared by Nicole Sharpe (@nicolegizelle) on

 

It was seriously lovely to be able to relax and not worry about not working on my thesis for fifteen days.  I still have to re-analyze data and prepare for publication, but at least the first big deadline is behind me!

img_20170103_221928

We also spent a few days in Portland hanging out with my friends from graduate school.  Almost everyone from my lab has ended up in Portland in the last three years — so perhaps I was just looking into my future?!  Food was central to our Porland detour.  We made a crown roast of lamb for NYE, a crispy roast pork shoulder the next night, and fried chicken for our last night in Portland.  I failed to go to the zoo (oops), but did spend lots of time

wp-1483593271096.jpgFried chicken – gluten free on the left, regular flour on the right. I 100% recommend Bob’s Red Mill GF mix for fried chicken — it was so crispy and delicious! The difference in color is a little unfortunate, the brown rice flour just doesn’t golden up as well as AP wheat flour.  I will probably do a 50/50 mix with regular flour for added crunch for my own fried chicken in the future.

img_20170102_145051Lompoc brewing.  If you look carefully, you can see standing rings in the surface of the dark beer (LSD – Lompoc Special Draft), because our table vibrated the entire time we were there. This bemused us mightily until I realized that the family on the other side of the booth had a portable compressor of some kind.

I did not get to meet up with Megan (boo, sadness), as we couldn’t quite get our schedules to sync up.  Portland was just too big and interesting for both of us!  However, based on past experience, I rate Megan 10/10, will hang out again.

img_20170103_143703

Now that I’m all rested and rejuvenated I’m ready to attack 2017!