Thursday, August 18, 2016

I'm Still Alive, and I'm Starting School

I haven't been posting on the blog much because I still haven't found riding opportunities since I'm still not completely settled in yet(I don't move into an apartment with my family until October).  Once I do, however, I'm sure I will find riding opportunities.  There are many lesson barns in Sweden, and the landlord's daughter rides horses.  It's frustrating not riding, but I have enough keeping me busy these next few months.

On Monday, I start school.  I will be attending a school called Per Brahegymnasiet, which was built in the year 1283.  It is a beautiful old building that has a magical feel to it because of its age, as if it were Hogwarts.

There I will be studying full IB.  IB classes are international classes that are at an international standard; they are typically more challenging than regular classes.  All the classes will be in English, but I'm am taking a Swedish as a second language class as well.  In addition to that, I will be taking English at a Higher Level, History, Physics at a Higher Level, Advanced Mathematics at a Higher Level, and Chemistry.

I'm focusing heavily on math and science because I someday hope to study astrophysics or quantum physics at university and work as a researcher to discover new information about these fields of work.  Learning about how the world works truly fascinates me. I find these things - events that happen on the largest scale, way out in space, and the things that happen on the most minute scale within the atom - truly extraordinary.

I'm looking forward to classes. I'll endeavor to keep this blog active, even though I do not have horse information to post about.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

DIY Horseownership Stall Sign

Recently, I asked the talented Olivia of DIY Horseownership made a stall sign, which I gifted to Laura.  I've been wanting to get something for Laura to show my appreciation for all she has done, and something beautifully handmade seemed perfect! Laura loved her gift!

 If you haven't visited Olivia's blog yet, go check it out.  She makes many creative projects and also goes on fun adventures with her mule, Nilla, and her husband.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Swedish Tack Store!

Last week I was away from home at a summer camp for youth from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland.  It was an amazing experience and I met so many great people whom I consider to be friends(my first new friends since leaving the US).  I've also had several other exciting adventures, but nothing horse related has happened until last Saturday, when I visited a tack store!  There were several things that stood out to be about this store that makes it different than my experience in California.

Where I lived in California it was difficult to find a tack store because most of them were not in the main part of town.  A person had to go out of the way, to the industrial or agricultural area  of town where people buy tractors and farm equipment.  This Swedish one, however, was in a large shopping center situated in the main part of town.  It is much more accessible than the stores I've been to in California.

Another exciting thing about the store is that it carried mostly English riding supplies.  Of course I don't have anything against Western; I've enjoyed riding Western and have become more open-minded about different riding disciplines.  Nevertheless, I'm an English girl at heart.  My heart leapt when I saw gorgeous dressage and jumping saddles, English bridles and pads, and tall boots and paddock boots.  All these equipment seemed affordable too, and I think that were less expensive than some things I have bought online in America.  There were name brands too, including Ariat, Toulouse, and Horseware Ireland.

There was bling on a lot of things(helmets, saddle pads, bridles)

While there, I tried on some helmets(I need a new one) and looked at the affordable breeches and everything else there. I didn't purchase anything, but simply looking was great. I'll stop here when I need some horse equipment!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Greetings from Sweden!

I've haven't been posting anything since coming to Sweden, so I wanted to say that I'm doing well.

On June 5th, my family woke up at the crack of dawn and drove off to Las Vegas from what once was our home in Northern California.  The trip wasn't very eventful.  We stopped at a few rest stops along the way and that was it.  The one we stopped at for lunch was actually one we had stopped at many times before on various road trips.
A song from U2' s Joshua Tree album played on random shuffle so I had this picture taken.

In about mid-afternoon, we arrived in Las Vegas and checked into our hotel.  We stayed two nights, walking done the Strip each day to find places eat dinner.  We had been to Vegas before that, so we didn't go out of are way to see things, but we still did a fair bit of walking and I several photos.
Las Vegas

I find the Ministry of Magic!

On Tuesday afternoon, we headed to the airport so we could wait for our flight, boarding the plane around 6:00 in the evening.  Each seat had a screen where the passenger could watch movies(not so unusual, but awesome) and even track the flight of the plane(location, elevation, speed, etc).  I watched two movies, but I also enjoyed tracking the flight of the plane.  Though I tried to sleep, I only got a few winks of sleep.  I have trouble sleep when traveling in cars, and apparently airplanes too, and once it was light out, it was impossible to sleep.  Nevertheless, I was to excited to feel very tired. Once the plane began to land, I admired the landscape from above.  The dark, snowtopped mountains and fjords of Norway were particularly stunning.
I'm leaving on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again

Around 3:00 in the afternoon, we landed in Sweden and took a train south toward Småland, where my grandma lives.  We took a short train first, and then transferred to a train that we rode for several hours across the countryside.  It was a comfortable train, equipped with tables and Wi-Fi, and it went at a speed of 200 kph.  However, getting to the train, boarding, and unboarding was difficult.  Between the four of us, we had seven large bags, four hand luggage bag, and a small purse. Each of the large back was filled to the limit set by the plane: 20 kilos, or 44 pounds, if you prefer.

When leaving the second train in Nässjo, we had to pile everything by the doors several minutes ahead of time to make sure we got off with everything. After the train ride, we were picked up and taken to a very small town south of Jönköping.  Since arriving, my family has gone on at least one walk a day, exploring the area.  We can walk to the grocery store, a cafe, and a small train station from where we're staying, but we mostly just explore. I now know the community very well.  I have even found a hiking trail that leads to a lake.  The path is about 8 km, there and back.
This picture was taken at 10:00 PM

Since it is summer, it does not get fully dark.  At midnight, it is twilight out.  The sun is down and a few stars are out, but it is light enough to see easily.  Distant objects don't even appear as silhouettes. It was strange at first, but it's nice.  I'm.but looking forward to winter lightning, though, when it gets dark in mid-afternoon.  In Stockholm, there will only be 3 or 4 hours of daylight during the winter solstice.


An old farm we drove to 

After living in the drought-ridden California, it was amazing to see dozens of lakes in one area. This is the one we walked to.

This area of Sweden, Småland, has many of churches

I went to my first Midsummer Celebration!

Eksjö, a historic Swedish town 

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.

I won't have any riding opportunities any time soon unfortunately, but hopefully I can once I get settled into a more permanent place.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

A Wonderful Ride

It seems unbelievable, but my time of leaving for Sweden has almost arrived.  The move will be bittersweet, because I'll miss the friends that I have in America, and I'll miss being a working student for Laura.  It has been so wonderful to know her, work with her, and learn from her.

On Wednesday, I had my last lesson with her and my last ride in America for a long time. I was given the privilege of riding my choice of mule.  I chose to ride CR Moxie J, the mule who won Dressage, Western Dressage, and English Pleasure at Bishop Mule Days last week.

The only way I can think of to describe what it was like to ride him is amazing.  He is the most trained animal I have ever ridden, and as such, he wasn't just a pushbutton lesson horse like many of the animals I have ridden.  He has the most amazing gaits I have ever ridden.  When I set him up properly and rode him in front of my leg, his walk was loose and free.  He's a big mule, so I was able to ask for large trot strides.  Perhaps his most amazing gait, however, was the canter.  The transition to the canter was always smooth.  All I had to do was making a kissing sound, and he would roll into the canter.  His strides had a lot of bounce to them, and they felt almost effortless to ride.

As I rode, I focused on keeping my body balanced, since any unbalance could affect my riding. When that was in place, I asked for forward, rhythmic gaits. I tried to keep an elastic connection between my hands and the bit, giving to Moxie slightly when he gave to the bit and became soft and round.  It was so amazing when he did so.  Because of the soft connection and roundness, I could allow him to stretch when I took a few moments to walk and catch my breath.  He stretched so nicely; it felt great.

I worked on a lot of circles.  At one point of the ride, after I had ridden each gait many times,  I rode each 20 meter circle in the arena one after the other(not a serpentine; I stayed on the same rein in this exercise).  I started at the walk worked up to doing the exercise in the canter.  When I kept a soft connection and the right amount of bend in Moxie's neck and body, things felt extraordinary.  It was amazing how effortlessly Moxie could do things.

I'm so happy that I had such an amazing last ride in America on an amazing mule.  I'll miss riding mules when I go to Sweden.  They're such amazing creatures, and I hope to tell European equestrians about them.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

San Francisco Trip

I apologize for being MIA these past couple months; I've been terribly busy getting ready for moving overseas to Sweden.  I have been out to the barn, helping Laura get ready for Bishop Mule Days and watching her ride with her trainer, who rides FEI horses.

On Friday the 20th, my family went to San Francisco to get our passports finalized.  We took the BART from Colma into town. While in San Francisco, we wandered all around town. Below are some of the photos that I took while there.

 Fishing Pier
Bay Bridge viewed from Pier

The things below here come from Fisherman's Warf.

This is the Sorting Hat.  I found it in the Mechanical Museum, where there are many old arcade games.   Most of the games are mechanically operated and are from before the days of video games.  I also played a mechanical bike race game with my brother(you had to twist nobs to move the bikes) and won.  My brother played Pong with my dad and was defeated by many points. I watched a mechanical galloping horse, but I haven't uploaded the video.   It was very exciting to see the museum, and I highly recommend going there next time you go to San Francisco. 
From right outside, by the WWII submarine and ship. 

WWII ship called the O'Brien.  My dad told me that many of those ships split in half and sunk because of a design flaw(the ports were squares, not circles).
 Then we to the Norwegian Church, where my parents were married 18 years ago.  It has a marvelous view.

Of course we went to Lombard Street just after, and I took a picture.
We then walked back to the BART station, returned to our car, and headed.  Except for spending about an hour getting our passports, another hour in the Norwegian Church, and about 20 minutes eating lunch, we spent the entire day walking or standing.

Moss Beach, near Pacifica

My parents lived in Pacifica before I was born, and my mom worked in Half Moon Bay.

Dune Beach, not very far from Half Moon Bay

Friday, April 8, 2016

Donkey Days 2016

Last weekend was an exciting weekend filled with donkey riding in the annual Donkey Days clinic taught by JoDe Colllins.  I rode a green jenny named Flo, who was a sensitive and willing.  She willingly tried many of the obstacles, even though some were new to her.  As I rode, I noticed that I was better at guiding Flo through the obstacles and asking her to do what I wanted than I had been the last time I had ridden a donkey, which was a year ago.  It goes to show that I have learned a lot in the past year, and that I have really fine-tuned my riding skills.  I was able to keep my hands in front of me, rather pulling them out to the side to turn. This kept my aids more effective.  I also tried to use my leg to ask Flo to do certain things.  Over the weekend,  the other clients and I worked on several obstacles courses.  Since I had practiced some of these obstacles last year, I was prepared to take them on.

Pool noodles
I first rode through some pool noodles.  Flo was hesitant to try at first, but I was instructed to  ask her closer one step at a time.  With donkeys, patience is required.  You cannot force them through something if they decide they do not want to do something, because once they decide to tune everything out, they are impervious to everything.  Flo did not get to this point.  I asked her closer to the noodles one step at a time, until she leapt through.

I next went over a tarp with the same process, and then the cavaletti and a small wooden box,  and finally a ramp. Everyone tried more obstacles on their before we went on a trail ride down a dirt road. On the trail ride, Flo really started walking out, taking huge walk strides and staying near the front of the group. I didn't need to apply leg or really use many aids at all.

Tarp obstacle

Pole bending

 The next day also included a variety of obstacles and ended with a trail down a different road.  It was fun to ride a donkey; they are so very different than horses.  If you would like to learn more about them, look at the AMA website, or you can ask me and I can try to find out the answer.