December 29, 2008

"Santa's the BEST!"...

...those are the words that the Little Brat exclaimed as she came down the stairs on Christmas morning and saw her one and only hope and desire made a reality!

Let's back up a little though....the morning didn't begin so sweet and happy.....you see, when I awoke and went to her room to ask if she thought Santa came, the conversation went like this...

Mommy, excited: "Good Morning baby, do you think Santa came last night?????"
LB, matter of factly and a bit put off: "NO, HE DIDN'T"
Mommy: "WHAT? Why not?"
LB, pout, pout, yell: "Because there is no snow outside....Santa only comes when it snows!"
Mommy, dumbfounded: "I don't think so honey, go check your stocking and see if he filled it" (it hangs off her mantel in her room)
LB, upset and impatient: "UGH, IT FELL OFF!!"
Mommy, encouraging: "Maybe it was too heavy after Santa filled it to hang back up??????"
LB, angry she has to repeat herself: "No, Santa did NOT come...it is NOT snowing!"
Mommy, desperate: "It doesn't have to snow outside for Santa to come."
LB, stern and unyielding: "YES IT DOES!"
Mommy, defeated: "OK then, let's go downstairs and get some breakfast"

This brings is to the first statement in this blog....because once I got the stinker to the stairs and started down, she could actually SEE the bicycle and helmet beside the tree and the LOOK on her FACE was PRICELESS!



Here she comes on a test ride!

She's really movin' now!


And there she goes!

Oh my, I better run and catch her before she starts down our Mt Rushmore-esque hill to the barn!


Hope Santa was great to you this year too!

Happy Trails,
Leah

December 27, 2008

Woodie Update: Coming out of Fancy's Shadow...


Westwood Story, or "Woodie" as he is affectionately called around the hacienda, has taken a back seat as of late to little Ms. Fancy....partly because he has been laid up with a suspected suspensory injury (got his shoe hung up in the fence and pulled it off with enough force to remove half his hoof in the process!), and partly cuz she is so cute and shiny and NEW! LOL

Well, after 5 months of questionable soundness, it seems the "Woodster" may be back on track to health and happiness! I pulled him out last weekend and put him on the lunge line to test the waters after more than a month confined to a private stall and paddock...You see, he likes to play....and he plays hard....and it just wasn't doing the big guy any good in the recovery department! So, we moved him to private digs, and I sure am glad we did!


I pulled him out again yesterday and today and "knock on wood", I think he is looking dang good! So, he is officially back to work....he'll spend the next few weeks on the lunge line at the walk and trot only....Until we know without a doubt he's ready for work...after that, we'll graduate to adding the canter on the lunge line and by the end of January I hope to be back on this pony, riding again! Woohoo! I sure do miss riding him around....5 months is WAY TOO LONG to be out of the saddle....and he thinks so too....look at the expression on "Boo-Boo's" face...he is so happy to have a job again....even if it is just hamming it up for the camera, for now.




I thought it would be neat to compare these most recent pics with a pic of the big boy when he first arrived at Westwood as a long yearling....OMG, look at those ears! I think he may have grown into them now tho, thank goodness! Boy, has he grown! It's hard to see the difference when you see him every day, but he is really growing into quite a handsome man....he is a late May baby, so he won't be 4 until next summer....he still has a lot of maturing to do...I can't wait to see the finished product! He's a keeper!



Happy Trails!
Leah & "The Wood-Meister"

December 26, 2008

Fancy Update: More Ground-Work!


It's been over a month since I posted my last update on sweet little Fancy....she was coming along really well up until the Thanksgiving Holiday, when we shipped off to California for a long weekend...then, upon our return, I had to attend job related training for a week....in an effort to cut down on the personal time off I took for training, I opted to work long hours the week after that....which led us to this past week, last minute shopping and Christmas! Time flies when you are busier than a one legged man in a butt whoopin' contest!

I made a little time yesterday to pull the little lady out, clean her up, and see if we could pick up where we left off...she's handling really well on the lead, so I added the saddle and bridle just before the Holidays hit us...she accepted them like a champ! She acts like she's been lugging that saddle around all her life....

After I saddled and bridled her up, I took her to the arena for some work on the lunge line....this is the most direct means of getting the horse some exercise when they aren't far along enough in their training to ride...


We walk, jog, and lope in both directions until she relaxes and brings her focus to the task at hand....she was feeling a bit froggy today! Must be this wonderful weather and all that time off!

After I lunged her, I wanted to get some ground driving in...ground driving is a way to work the young, green and/or unbroke horse from the ground, yet simulating the give and take you would be using on the bit if you were riding in the saddle....it introduces the horse to giving to a pull of the reins.
Long reins are attached to each side of the bit...in this case, I simply use 2 cotton lunge lines...I run the reins thru the training rings on the saddle..some people use the stirrups in the absence of training rings....I like the reins positioned up higher, closer to where my hands would be if I were riding her....


I start with the 'outside' or 'indirect' rein draped over the top of the saddle and take her to her familiar lunging position...this is the FIRST TIME she has been ground driven, so I want to help her transition smoothly by starting her in a familiar and comfortable position before I ask her to do things she has never done before....it's just a way to build her confidence and trust in what I am doing....it promotes more immediate response and compliance down the road if she trusts me...


After we get going in the lunging position, and she has gotten the hang of guiding off the pressure on the bit, I move behind her and ask her to change directions....I take her both ways and then zig-zag all around the arena once she starts responding better....


She is doing really well today, after having so much time off and on top of that learning new things! That's enough ground driving today...I will lengthen the amount of time I spend doing this as she gets more comfortable with it....

I decide to do some saddle work to start getting her thinking about having me up in that saddle....I start with making a lot of noise and movement on the saddle....if she were going to take exception with any of this, best she do it with me still standing on the ground! She seems not to mind one bit tho...what a good girl!


Next, I park her next to a mounting block, and climb up on it...she stands like a good girl...she is really taking all this in stride....


I position her so that I can lean all my weight on the saddle....if she was going to take issue with the foreign weight on her back, or uneven distribution of weight affecting her balance, or sight and sound of something being up on her where nothing has been before, this is where she would let me know! As you can see, she doesn't budge...she turns her head around to say hello and let me know she is feeling good about this whole experience today.....

Finally, I do a little work with her over poles and just to cool her down and take her back to a familiar place in her mind....to build back up her confidence again after having gone thru so many new experiences today....she is a veteran over the poles!

We walk over them....


Walk thru them....


Back out of them.....
And add a large piece of plywood just for good measure.....



Ahhhhhhhhhhhh....all done! Stay tuned for our next update the first week of January....that will be my last update before she heads off to finishing school to learn how to be a reining horse!

Happy Trails,
Leah & Fancy-Pants

December 25, 2008

A Christmas Song for you...

As we get ready to hunker down for a Holiday at home with close family, we wish you and your family the best the season has to offer! Don't forget the 'reason for the season' and enjoy your many blessings...IF you've been nice, that is!

Please enjoy this snippet of Holiday Cheer, brought to you by a young and talented aspiring vocalist, Randi Mae Roehl. (Please try to ignore the obnoxious hacking at the end.....I'm not well....and I'm sick too)

video

Merry Christmas!
The Roehl Family

December 24, 2008

The Ice Man Cometh....

Be that a man with an ice pick? Or be that a man happy to see me?


Be it a man not too happy about breaking ice first thing in the morning, that's what it be! Can you feel the chill????

Temps have finally dropped here to well below freezing for several days and nights in a row now...made it as low as high teens night before last even! For many, that means pulling on your favorite pair of cozy sweats and cuddling up with a warm cup of yummy cocoa in the comfort of your home...not around these parts tho! There be ice to break! Can you hear it a callin'? It's that shrieking sound coming from the water troughs....you don't hear it??? Really??? But it's so LOUD! I. MUST. GO. TOWARDS. THE. WATER. MUST. GO......

About this time each year, and on and off for the next few months it becomes a twice a day chore, breaking ice....the horses, dogs, cats, fish, goat, and every other God loving creature that calls this place home counts on us to get it done! So, first thing in the morning, and again when we get home from work, we break ice....we use broken rake handles, shovels, axes, our feet and just about anything else that will effectively shatter the layers of ice on top of all the water troughs for the animals to get access to that precious liquid than lies below....

We do it every day, and we do it for the animals....I would like to take a moment to thank God for only making us do it 1 season out of the year, and not a day more....if I never broke ice again, it would be too soon! It makes my hands ache...it hurts my back.....it's cold and unloving....it's not fun!

All I'm saying is that it's a good thing we have such a good looking herd, like him and her and her and them and him and these guys too! Otherwise, I may just opt out of this whole ice-breaking craziness all-together!

Stay warm out there!

Happy Trails,
Leah

PS...I just felt it necessary to add that I did not just get up this early to poke fun at the old man and his ice-capades, I was out there working my own fingers to the bone too ya know! On my BIRTHDAY no less (hehe...I knew I could sneak mention of that in here somewhere!)...I can prove it! See that bucket of muck just behind the ice-man? That's MY job....and it's full....see? So there!

December 23, 2008

Farewell Banjo....

It's been almost a month since our precious Banjo went missing...we fear the worst, and that he may never return....not knowing what happened to the sweet little man is the worst part...I pray he is alive and well somewhere, and that some day he makes his way back home....




We think about you every day Banjo, and will always carry happy memories of the time we shared with you...turns out I got you fixed about a month too late, cuz it looks like you are going to be a daddy come January....Fiddle thanks you for that ;) (...and I thought I was fat when I was preggers!)

Stay warm little buddy, wherever you are....
Leah

December 19, 2008

Holiday Office Lunch....

It was a special day at the office yesterday! Our Multimedia Group packed up and made a trip to one of our favorites, Pancho Villa, for a Holiday lunch...all but one of our team members was able to make it, and we had a great time! Since many of my co-workers are scheduled to be on Christmas break next week, our ring-leader, I mean co-worker, also decided to honor me with the Mexican Birthday song and dance (my birthday is the 24th) .....thank you, special co-worker....




That's not the end of the story though...you see, I had a feeling that this debacle was in the works, so I took measure to also tell the servers it was this special co-workers birthday too....so, as soon as they finished with me, they proceeded to 'honor' her as well....





I also want to note what fine photography was done by one of my other co-workers...she managed to get us BOTH with our eyes wide shut! That takes skilz! Thanks for the memories!

Happy Trails....and many many more!

Leah

December 17, 2008

So, Daddy got a call from daycare....

....and it seems the Little Brat has been acting out as of late...defiance, rebel rousing, calling for a toddler revolt against authority, etc....I don't know WHERE she gets her strong headedness...really, I don't!

Anyway, JR gets a call from Daycare to alert him to the fact that LB decided to climb up on one of the activity tables and perform her personal rendition of the electric slide....from what I hear, she was having a grand ole time....as were the rest of the kids in her class laughing and cheering her on...what can I say, the girl likes to express herself!

Problem is, when the teacher asked her to get down, she pretended she didn't hear and continued to boogy down with her bad self....they wanted to know 'what to do' cuz she wasn't listening...well, it's safe to assume they did eventually get her down and under control...after all, she wasn't still up there when JR went to pick her up....we had a talk with her about listening and respecting her teachers and hopefully they aren't in a position to have to make that call again....but I can't help but giggle at the thought....3 1/2 yrs old and already behaving like a 13 yr old....what in the world are we in for?!?!?!

Here is a short clip of the Little Brat doing the jig recently at the airport on our way to Thanksgiving in California....I wonder if her Daycare shuffle resembled this....

video

Happy Trails & child rearing,

Leah

December 16, 2008

If a dime goes in....


do 10 pennies come out?


Randi ingested her first non-food product this weekend....we are using the 'wait and see' method for now, per popular advice....not so much looking forward to the 'see' part....what a parent doesn't go thru for their precious little punks! Just when you thought you had the brightest baby on the earth....



Happy Trails,
Leah

December 14, 2008

Beautiful Horses: KNIGHT

How many of you have read the book or seen the movie "The Black Stallion"....I am not sure any horse crazy little girl has missed it! I remember reading the book, and then watching the movie, and wishing for a Black Stallion all my own! The first thought that entered my mind when Knight came to our barn to board with us was "I finally have my very own black stallion!", except that he's not a stallion, he's a gelding (missing those important things make make a man virile!).....it doesn't matter though, he's just as beautiful as any story book steed, and has a personality that belongs center stage on the Ringling Brothers Circus Tour! He's a hoot!

Knight is an Arabian and will be 4 yrs old in 2009....his current owner bought him as a weanling and has raised him up with lots of love...Turns out though, that what Knight's temperament and abilities are most suitable for, his owners are not! That can happen sometimes when you buy a young horse, unsure of the path they will be best suited for as they grow up....Knight's owner has made the difficult decision with a heavy heart to try and place him with an owner that can help him reach his full potential....with his charisma and endurance, he would be wonderful as a 3 day eventer or endurance prospect. His movement and striking appearance set him apart from his peers....I am confident he is headed for a very bright future!


For more information about Knight, please contact his owner at: julie.skamangas@yahoo.com

Working with horses like Knight are a definite high point to having a boarding business....you never get tired of looking at these beautiful horses!

Happy Trails,
Leah

December 12, 2008

Home-made Christmas Gifts...

I get it....we're in a recession....I'm all about being thrifty, and I LOVE a heart felt gift just as much as the next person....but if any of you send me these "slippers", you can consider yourself a candidate for my 'special friend' list....'special friends' are honored with a 'special gift' from me at the most inopportune time and with the least amount of forewarning.....



Happy Holiday Shopping,
Leah

I've been skooled!

I am HUGE proponent of continued education...That is, education as it relates to my job and function in society....my calling in life has always been training....growing up, I could be found training my siblings to do as I want (I'm the eldest of 4...total A-type too...poor kids), training my dogs to obey, and training my horses to perform...as I entered the 'real world' beyond HS, I continued to gravitate towards training....training new hires on my fire fighting crew, helping with remediation in boot camp, training subordinates in the Marine Corps, and so on....it seems everything I have done in my life, I have eventually ended up training....it's no wonder I have made my choice of career Training Development....it just makes sense!


Of course there are always other perspectives on how a person gets to where they are and why....my husband believes I just like to boss people around...tell them what to do....I say he is a goober and is over simplifying my enormous capacity for encouraging others to do what it is that is in their best interest to be doing :) SO THERE!


Anyway, I just returned from four full days of professional development. ASTD offers a variety of courses for educators and others working to support education of all types....the classes I attended were the E-Learning and Advanced E-Learning Instructional Design programs....they were AMAZING! I expected traditional classroom instruction....that was not the case at all, and fitting considering the content was based on making your training more LEARNER-centric vs CONTENT-centric....we learned what our instructor set out to teach us, and SO MUCH MORE! The class was presented in an instructor led, open discussion forum type format....we were provided guidance, demonstration, and challenges, and we did the rest!


My fellow participants included business owners, CEO's, consultants, programmers, subject matter experts (SME's), writers (like me), project managers, graphic artists, and so on....because this 'training' was more knowledge based than process based, it was a learning experience that touched us all....


I will gladly and enthusiastically attend more of these type classes in the future...Hopefully I can go at least once a year to help stay on top of industry best-practices, tools, and technologies. This instruction truly challenged the way I have always gone about business, inspired me to look at development from another perspective, and also provided me affirmation for many of my own best practices based on my own experiences.


I can't be truly honest with you all unless I reveal the negative side of this experience as well though...it's not all sunshine and roses.....there WAS that horribly long, exhausting, endless, dreary drive up to DC each morning, and back home.....even though the last two days of class were a bit closer to me in Alexandria, I was still faced with much too much of this....


and this.....


There is always a down side....

Happy Trails....and TRAINING!
Leah

December 07, 2008

It's Christmas Party Time!

We aren't a froofy bunch...we don't have lots of fancy clothes, wear lots of expensive products, or spend lots of money pampering ourselves on a frequent basis....once a year though, we make an exception! It's PARTY TIME, and we look forward to it every year....our companies put a lot of time and energy into throwing us a Holiday party each year, and we enjoy them to the fullest extent...I bought me a fancy dress (although I will wear the same one to both parties), JR got a dapper new tie and shirt (although the suit he has owned since we met), I got my nails done (drats...broke a nail on day 1 feeding horses!) , highlighted and up-do'ed my own hair, bought me some shiny new makeup and looky there....aren't we a mighty presentable couple after all?!?!?



One party down, one to go! We enjoyed ourselves at my company party last night, while the brats had a 'parentless' party of their own at the house....I would guess close to 800 were in attendance at this shindig in northern VA! It was a circus! Good food and good friends were in abundance though...looking forward to JR's comparably smaller party this coming weekend that is also closer to home....It will mark an end to our party season, and return to our normal, boring, plain selves...sigh.
Happy Trails,
Leah

One week missing...

...and the area has been searched time and time again....

We miss you Banjo...please come home soon! It's getting awful cold out these days, and we have a cozy little spot waiting just for you!

SANTA TIME!!!

Some people take their brats to see Santa at a mall, or at a department store, and wait and wait and wait in line for an eternity just to get a little 1 on 1 Santa time of their own....round' these parts we get full dibs on Santa almost exclusively to ourselves at our annual county holiday parade...the parade starts at 2pm, so we be sure to arrive no later than 130pm and await his arrival by the big red fire truck that serves as his 'ride' in the parade....I guess his reindeer are still getting conditioned for the world-wide trek they are scheduled to perform in just a few weeks time...we stake out the place like groupies, and its always worth the wait!

This year, LB was the first to greet him! As he approached the fire truck, the mauling occured! Before poor ole' St. Nick could even get his hat on! LOL....Regardless, Randi got some 1 on 1 face time with the special guy and made sure to let him know her most special secret wish, "a bike and a helmet"....the word has been passed, now all there is to do is wait and see if she was naughty or nice!




Santa is always the last entry in the parade each year...I thought it was pretty neat when he drove by, heard the Little Brat screaming "SANTA SANTA SANTA", and acknowledged her by responding "Hey, I know YOU little girl!"....Boy, I don't think we can top that! I did notice that she must have thrown off his whole preparation though, as he was still missing that red cap!!!

Santa gave Randi a cute little pin that she displays proudly in this pic on her scarf....




This is such a great time of year, and such a great place to spend it....


We wish you lots of love and magical bliss for you and yours this Holiday Season!


Happy Trails,
Leah

December 06, 2008

The Spotsylvania Christmas Parade is...


...is a family tradition!


Every year we start preparation WEEKS before the big day...my local 4H group has ridden in the Equestrian Division annually, and it takes a lot of time to get all the decorations planned out and created for both our riders and our float kids....this year is very different tho...I handed over the reins for our 4H Group to one of our most senior families this past summer....for the first time in years, all we had to do was show up and watch! What a wonderful experience THAT was!


Little Brat, Middle Brat and I headed out in the freezing temps to downtown Spotsylvania....after finding a good parking spot, we walked down the Parade route to the Courthouse Cafe', where we sipped on some hot cocoa until the Parade was ready to start...at 2pm, we grabbed a couple hot cocoa's to-go and crossed the street for a front row view of all the cool Parade entries....


Here they come! WOOOHOO! Kicking off the show was the color guard and MIA/POW representatives....they were SHARP!



Then the JROTC marched by smartly...



We call this group the Karate Kids....they were ready to rock!




These girls twirling flags were spectacular....

















This was one of my favorite displays...ALL the local High School bands combined to play together in the parade...I think there were 4 or 5 in all! I t was grand, and although they nearly ran us over, they were our favorite entry!















What? No, I can't explain this one either......















And what parade is complete without an Elvis appearance?















This baton twirler wins TWO grand prizes for her talent...HOTTEST and COLDEST chick of the Day! Those are flames on them there baton ends! And she is wearing little more than underwear in freezing temps!!! Oh my! And did I mention the snow flurries?!?!? Someone get her a robe! A Fireproof robe, that is...














One thing about Spotsylvania is that we have a lot of pride....that includes pride in our waste management services....yes, that is a trash truck IN the parade....and the sign behind it? It says: "The Cherished Sounds of Christmas Morning"...really!















Here comes my ole' 4H club now, The Jolly Ranchers! Hi girls!














Here's there float....they are rocking out!















And here come their fearless riders! The parents walk between the horses and the crowd to keep the horses and riders safe, as well as the spectators, in the event they are spooked....




The llamas finish out the animals on display...SO CUTE!



Santa brings completion to the parade festivities...all-in-all it lasted about an hour...can't wait to come back and do it again next year!



Tyler scoops up LB and off we go to the warmth awaiting us in the truck....just wish we had parked a little closer!!!!
Happy Trails,
Leah
*sorry about the text/pic spacing on this post....it got whacked somehow, and would take too long for me to can and start over, so we'll just look past it this time...k? Thanks!*