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January 11, 2012

A Day In The Floridian Life

I'm up between 4:30 and 5:30, depending on the morning. Good mornings, it's 5:30. Bad mornings, I get a lot of office work done. I've never been a good sleeper.

Breakfast, brush my teeth, out the door. My Haygain is on a timer, so it starts and stops itself. Brilliant. At 6, I feed my delicious smelling, warm, steamy hay, which everyone promptly inhales. Grain's at 6:30. I clean stalls, fill water buckets and get ready to ride Fender at about 7:30.

I ride Fender first because he's anhydrotic—he doesn't sweat. I treat him with beer (Natural Light, the nastiest beer on the planet, but he's not picky), which works really well, and even though he's never been in distress EVER, even the ghastly last summer where it was 100*+ for weeks, I figure it's best to ride him in the cool of the morning. Fender gets one of four workouts: trot stuff (shoulder-in, half-pass, half-steps, medium and extended stuff, maybe some cavaletti), canter stuff (half-pass, changes, the gigundo pirouette exercise Steffen suggested for us, general adjustability work), detail stuff (halts, rein backs, walk pirouettes, corners, centerlines, transitions), or forward-and-floppy stuff, when he's feeling pooped.

Fender gets rinsed off and if there's time, I ride either Ella or Midge before the other has a lesson at Michael's at 10. I'm still working out the kinks in the schedule, but unless I skimp on one horse (which isn't always a bad thing—they can't all three work hair-on-fire every day), I haven't yet figured out how to get all three done before lunchtime.

I can get to Michael's in eight minutes, door-to-door, though this relies on there not being any SPOOKING OR LEAPING, which has yet to actually occur. So I leave 15 minutes, plus a little warm-up time. Midge's lessons have been breaking down test pieces: the tricky passage lines of the I2 (Midge says turning left in passage is still a little hard), the trot half-pass zigzag of the Grand Prix, the canter half-pass zigzag in just about everything. At home, I'm trying to keep him really rideable and fluffy; there's a tradeoff in making him strong and keen enough to produce the test, and that is that he's a little hot to trot and muscley, so we spend a lot of time working on slow and swingy.

Ella's been SUCH a star, and so we're alternating between snaffle (thinking about the details, crispness of transitions, really through in the neck, really off the hand) and the double (fluid and connected, weaving all the pieces together with grace, like a test). Ella's biggest focus is still strength building; even though she feels terrific, I want the work to all be really easy at home, almost so easy I can take it for granted, before we go to a horse show. 

Both redheads get iced after working, because I'm a paranoid nutcase. And all three get sprayed down with a mix of Sore-No-More and apple cider vinegar. The vinegar helps change the pH of the skin, making it less hospitable to the microbes and nastiness that Florida grows. 

11 is lunch hay, and 11:30 is lunch grain. I get a little lunch myself, top off water buckets and hit the gym. I've gotten the clear to s-l-o-w-l-y start getting into very weenie light jogging again s-l-o-w-l-y (YES, Dr. Drew, I HEARD YOU, I will not try and take on the world by next Tuesday!), which has motivated me to get everything else into gear. Some days I swim, some days I bike, some days I lift, and two days a week Damien, my personal trainer for the next three months, does his best to cause me tremendous physical pain. So far, he's been very successful. He's also preposterously good looking, which is why I haven't punched him yet. Not that I've ruled that out as an option.

I'm back in time to throw the kids out at 3, when I can clean stalls, add bedding, scrub out water buckets and sweep up. They get fed dinner al fresco and come in at 6. I took the afternoon turnout time for Fender—it's cooler then than midday, and I'm squeamish about his sweating. They get their night check hay, and Ella, my hard keeper, gets a little night check snack between 8 and 10, depending on how fabulous my night plans are ("fabulous," that's a pretty funny joke), and we do it all again the next day!

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