Monday, 18 August 2014


Curmudgeon!  You haven't written in forever! Where have you been!

I am sorry, I know I should have called, or written, or kept in bad...oops...

I keep on saying this. I know you probably feel that the words mean about as much coming from me as they do when said by your self absorbed asshole friend from high school.

The one who routinely calls you when she wants to talk about her daughter's Mensa worthy intellect (incredible, really, for a 4 year old) or something else freakishly positive and brag-worthy. Yet is strangely mute-absent when you phone to talk about any positive event in your own life and says "I am sorry, I know I should have called, or written, or kept in bad...oops.." to explain why she never returns your calls...

But really I am. The problem is that I have been working on my transitions.

Actually, on second thought - you should count yourself lucky, I think, that I have not come on here to whine about each and every transition looking for your support and validation (as that other self absorbed friend from high school does, the one who wants to explain to you in detail how her slow descent from prom queen to crack whore status has nothing at all to do with her own personal choices, and everything to do with the world around her in general).

Anyway - it really is true, I have spent the last 6+ months transitioning many elements of my life.

Now as dressage riders, we all know the importance of transitions. Equisearch tells me they are "the secret to balanced riding".

We all know they should come from behind (No, not in a kinky porn way. Stop it). And downward ones should be light as a feather dropping to the ground. Maybe a leaf. (Under no circumstances should they be like a coconut or other large fleshy fruit dropping to the ground). We need to prepare-prepare-ask. To jump-jump-sit. Or any other triad of words that lights your fire and implies something other than falling into a heap of horse and rider unpredictably. Transitions must be energetic and instant. But not abrupt. And above all, your timing must be..*impeccable*.

(Great. As if anything in my life is or ever was impeccable).
I found this helpful guide. I have no clue what it means, however I am sure I have executed all of these transitions. Within one dressage test. At training level. 

So, you may now ask - what are these transitions I have been working on, and how successful was I with my impeccable execution?

Well, first - I no longer live at the idyllic (on the surface) 1/2 acre "country in the city" property that I have called home for the last 16 years, surrounded by quaint gardens and rolling lawns and quirky retired schoolteacher neighbours. I have transitioned to a small condo in my hometown.

This transition was executed with the kind of elegance and poise that one observes when watching an eight year old ride a sour school horse from walk to canter. While clinging to the horse's face and flailing their little legs around in some attempt at stirring up some forward momentum at the same time. Actually, I think this is called the trot-trooot-trrrrooot-geeetttt GITTT - cluck - cluck - cluck - GITTTT - cluck - cluck - GITT UP THERE (insert cracking longe whip and running coach here) CANTER transition. I executed this well, in a long and dragged out, painful to onlookers fashion.

What Curmudgeon! Your place was awesome! Who would give that up!

Yah, yah, I know. It WAS idyllic for the first, oh, 14 years or so. The problem was the final 2 years of the 16, that I spent mowing these lawns, and weeding the gardens, and shoveling the length of driveway that it takes to reach the back of a 1/2 acre lot during the never-ending winter of 2013/2014...all under the watchful (read - spying/prying) eyes of the quirky neighbours. One day I woke up with the nearly uncontrollable compulsion to slowly turn that lawn mower in their direction and run unpredictably right at them (perhaps while growling GITTT - GITTT!), and mowing them all to pieces. And hopefully taking down that fucking lemongrass perennial that someone gave me in 1996 without warning me about its impending non-stop invasive attack on all things soil covered in my yard on the way.

(Did you ever see the youtube video where the seemingly placid beaver casually turns and attacks a man's genitals?  (No, this is not a sick Canadian porn joke. It really happens) Well, kind of like that.  Imagine this beaver is pushing a lawnmower and that the person behind the camera is giving the beaver random, unsolicited advice on some aspect of its life. That will give you a pretty good idea of how I was feeling).

These neighbours are all in their late 70's or early 80's now, so I could easily tip them over and hold them down with my foot while making a few passes with the mower.

So far I am liking things in my old hometown, which is now nothing like my hometown since I haven't actually lived there since I was 18. But as I run through the streets (No, no. I realize the place is a little shiftier than when I left but I am not being chased. Usually. I am training for a marathon), now and again some tiny piece of the past shows itself and I feel like I am home.

For example - the Sword 'n' Shield with the grammatically incorrect Foxxes Den for ladies and Bottom's Up Cabaret for the gentlemen is long gone (Somehow "Foxxes" was spelled just so wrong it seemed artsy but I never got over the apostrophe in Bottom's. Did one of the dancing ladies within actually manage to purchase the club using the power of her impressive booty alone, such that her bottom actually had possession of the the "Up Cabaret"? ).  Where this all stood, there is now a clean and shiny looking Days Inn. If Sword 'n' Shield were a horse, we could say it has executed a transition of sorts.

I never cease to be amazed what you find when you Google random things.  Photo credit SSTUDIO Samuel Bietenholz 

But Sonny's Drive-In remains frozen in amber. Transitionless.
I actually never, ever ate here because urban legend when I was a kid indicated that they made their burgers out of cats. If they are still in business after all of these years, it must be a very delicious cat recipe so I think I should at least stop by and give it a try.

"Why Curmudgeon - why did you finally break into canter and start running after 16 years" you may ask?

Well, if you have read Eat Pray Love, or suffered through it in the form of a Julia Roberts movie, I am sure you can figure out transition #2, as it is really kind of a cliche for middle aged women these days. I will not be eating in Italy though (see above - Sonny's is in walking distance and I will save a lot on airfare). Being an atheist, I will probably skip the pray part altogether (although I must admit I do sometimes pray that that the loser in the condo next door will turn down her music and find a way to stop her dog from whining...). Love is yet to come, however I was contacted by a Peruvian millionaire on Match.Com and that is pretty close to Brazilian businessman as per the book. He had a faint aroma of catfish about him right from email #1 so I decided I was not ready to live the life of a South American princess just yet. Maybe next week.

Transition #3 - well, you know a bit about this one. Are you familiar with the application of the pulley rein to stop a horse that is madly running forward towards a cliff, or a barn door that is low enough to swipe off your head, helmet and all?  That is pretty much how this went down. WOAH - WOOOAHH - WOAAAHHH - please WOAH and make it STOP...

Ms. V has - finally - officially been sold to a new home. After 3+ years of trying what seemed like everything, and feeling as helpless at many steps of the process as the rider above feels while whipping around the arena applying that pulley rein, and with just as many railbirds yelling out advice (Soften inside! You are pinching with your seat! Sit back! Have you tried Parelli?)

It is a wonderful home where I know she will do well, and be loved - and it has been about 4 months now and I have heard not a peep from the new owner, and when it comes to horses, I am a big believer that no news is good news.

Hopefully I am not jinxing myself by typing these very words.

So, now you are back up to speed on today - and all I can say is that transitions are more difficult than they seem.  I guess I would have known this had I just done a search on COTH Forums*.  Apparently Podhajsky said you must do many - 50 a day or some shit like that - in order to master them. Whew. I am worn out after just 3 major ones.

But the good news is - sitting in the sun and drinking coffee on my balcony, with not a blade of grass that I am responsible for mowing anywhere in sight - I now have ample time to continue on with the story. Where were we again? Somewhere around 2007?  Level 1? Oh yes, it is all coming back to me.

And yes, transitions really were something of a concern at the time then as well.

*COTH - Chronicle of the Horse Forums