Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Monday, August 17, 2009

And now for something completely different...

Most of this year the Equestrians have been working towards the jousting type activities (working with the tilt, the double quintain, etc). So this past week we figured it was time for something new. And new it was!

Mounted Crest Combat (ohh, ahh!)

Every rider affixes a crest to their helm, and the goal is to knock off your opponent's crest using boffer (foam covered) swords. We used fencing helms - a couple of which were available on loan from the barrony. (Mistress Rossilin seems to own some of every equipment imaginable...) Anyways, we only had three riders participate so the three helms we had were perfect.

We started out the day just warming up wearing the helms. They were different, for sure. But I didn't find it terribly uncomfortable, once I removed the barett from my hair which the helm was sitting on. I did, however, rather object to the fact that the fabric lining / harnessing inside cupped your breath straight back into your face. That was rather annoying to me. Nesta, however, had a different objection and found it kinda dizzying to ride in - out doors. She said indoors where it was darker anyways didn't bother her much. How strange. Anyways, none of the horses took even a first look at the helms, so that was a bonus.

Then - it started POURING down rain. We're talking a full on downburst. We'd moved the 100 gallon stock tank away from the area where a lot of water funnels off of the barn roof - so I dragged it back in place. And it took less than 10 minutes I think, for that to fill up. Granted, it's a large roof, but that rain was just coming down.

So we were kinda thankful we only had three riders that day. We went inside, because the Crest Combat doesn't require a lot of space. Rossilin and Nesta fixed velcro patches to the helms and to the bottom of some floral cones.

We started with very basic exercises of riding past eachother at close quarters. Then simple sword crosses as we passed.

And immediately it was interesting to see herd dynamics come out. All three of the horses were from our herd, and Jordan is the undisputed alpha of our herd. And Shadow, poor Shadow, is pretty much the undisputed omega. Getting them to approach within striking distance was challenging. Just look at Jordan's ears here:

LOL - Shadow knew better. At least things did get better through the session, but we need a lot more practice to tell these guys that when we are doing THIS, they need to set aside their prejudices. Yeah, good luck to us.

Getting more and more into it, we started some actual trying to hit the crest engagements. Here Jack is demonstrating one of his early panic attacks. Two or three sword hits were fine with him. Five or Six -- woah, man... he was OUT of there! (backwards) But he caught on pretty quickly.

In all it was just way fun to do something so unlike anything else we practice.


Sunday, August 09, 2009

BART; Grand Canyon

After San Fran, our return trip was accented by a stop at the Grand Canyon. Not only had Joe never seen it - but I was astonished to find out that Dave never had either! The boy grew up in SoCal, and never made it over. So it was high time for a visit.

One of our first views:
(again, can click to get larger pic)

Prior to the trip, one of Lydia's things to do was to get up to see the sunrise some day. In San Fran, obviously, that wasn't very interesting. But out here it was a spectacular idea.

After a little breakfast, we still got an early start on the Bright Angel Trail. We didn't know how far we would go, but figured we'd hike down an hour, and allowed ourselves 2 hours to get out (as recommended by the guide).

(Can you find me in this pic? OMG, just as Dave took the first of two pictures here I started having a panic attack - being the heights wuss that I am. What was I thinking of getting out there? LOL. I totally had to tell myself Do Not Look Down!)

The first part of the trail is obviously the steepest. This shot really gives you the feeling of looking nearly straight down on the people below.

After an hour we were surprised we hadn't yet reached the 1.5 mile rest house yet -- so we kept going and found it within 15 minutes.

Heading up we were determined to just take our time and enjoy the hike. So much of the trail was still in deep shade there were lots of places to take a rest.

Thus we were amazed to reach the top, and look at our watch to find out we'd only taken 5 minutes longer hiking out than we had going in! LOL! We decided we sure were lollygagging our way down.


Saturday, August 08, 2009

BART; the City and other Wildlife

Continuing the story of our Vacation (part one below)...

Sunday morning was low key. The hotel was in Fisherman's Wharf, so we strolled down there for a while. By now we all had our trademark sweatshirt purchases!

At noon we had plans to meet up with other locals for Dim Sum - and had a grand time of it. We were in the neighborhood, so afterwards stopped in at:

That night Dean took us to North Beach for dinner. On the way we passed the club that Chris Isaak based his TV show at - so it was a little thrill to happen upon it.

The food was fantastic at this Italian Restaurant... unfortunately we absolutely froze our asses off sitting outside! The wind picked up and was nearly the end of us. Haha. Oh well - never again, I'll say.

One of our goals, enumerated before the trip, was to get out and see some redwoods. Many people recommended we go up to Muir Woods, across the Golden Gate in Marin. Well, all those people were right - it really is a spectacular tiny niche of forest. By chance I had noticed that this weekend was supposed to be one of three weekends of the year where admittance to the park was free. At first I cheered -- and then though, UhOH! Not wanting to brave even bigger crowds than normal, we opted to make our visit to the woods Monday morning, and I'm glad we did.

Leaving the woods we drove up the coast past Stinson Beach aways to find lunch in a cute bar/restaurant.

And finally circled around back to the city:


Friday, August 07, 2009

The BART, part 1

A few months ago friends and we were lamenting not having gotten together for a long time. Dean, whose been back in San Francisco for over a year now, suggested we could come and stay at the hotel he works for. And voila, BART - the Big Ass Road Trip - was born.

Lydia and Joe live in Illinois, Terry in Detroit. Lydia and Joe were interested in driving through the west, since they hadn't spent much time there before. And what do you know? Colorado is more or less on the way from IL to CA! So they came to town for a few days, and then we hopped into the van and trekked it with them.

This was about 7 weeks post surgery for Dave, but still both his Surgeon and PTherapist were a bit concerned with the adviseability of him sitting in the car for long periods of time. "I can't talk you into flying?" were the surgeon's words. Well, no. We're all very happy to say that in the end, Dave's back did very well and caused little trouble. Course it was very handy that Lydia's dad let them borrow the minivan and there was room for him to ride in style!

So the first 2 days were little but driving. Hey! The Wyoming State Sign:

(ok, 45 minutes down - just 17 hours and 15 minutes to go)

Reaching SF just about dinner time (after a 1.5 hour delay sitting on I-80 outside of Reno due to a camper trailer accident) we checked into the Hilton where Dean had arranged for a swanky adjoining suite of rooms.

We walked around and somehow ended up here that evening:

Saturday morning we headed down to the Ferry Building where the farmers market was going on. Our friend Misch also lives in the city and had a free couple of hours so she met us down there.

The farmers market was quite the happening place! The fruit stands had gorgeous fruit, and the permanent vendors inside the building had quaint little shops. We found (gasp) another choclatier...

Leaving there, we headed towards Union Square, as Lydia and Joe were interested in looking in on some pottery studios. We happily tailed along, but Misch wasn't free all day so we had to bid her adieu.

We got Cream Puffs at Beard Papa's and Sushi at Dean's favorite restaurant. (Only to find out the next day that was his favorite in his neighborhood...) Was yummie none the less. Looking at the map we figured we needed to just pop straight back to the hotel, in order to meet up with Terry. Alas, though Dean tried to guide us on an 'easier though less direct route', we opted to take the direct route, which happened to be up and over many large hills! Wow, we did ourselves in with that little section of our walk that day. But it did allow us to stop in at a few choice places:

Grace Cathedral

The doors of the cathedral are a recreation of Ghiberti's Gleaming Gates of Paradise, and are just stunning.

And Lombard Street:

Google Maps says our walk was over 6 miles. We were pretty tuckered, returning to the hotel -- and whom did we see sitting in the lobby? Terry! However, we really were out for the count, so hugged her hello and crashed.

Dinner that night was a special event -- what other than a Drag Show? When in San Fran... right? We went to Asia SF, and I have to say it was fantastic. The food was amazing -- you chose between a few fixed menus for your table, and they brought out what seemed to be tons of plates of sorta CA-Asian-Fusion type food. Very, very good. The girls were all lively and friendly. Through dinner they ran a couple of shows, with the girls lipsynching and dancing. It all was impressive.

On a whim, the others (who made the dinner reservation while we napped) said we were celebrating Dave's Birthday. The first he heard about it was when one of our servers came over to verify who Dave was -- and told him he'd be getting a blow job shot later. Oh... OK

Yes, there are more pictures. And No, they are not going up on the blog! ;-D