Disparate thoughts and updates

Blogging

According to WordPress, and I have no reason to disbelieve it, it is 5 years ago today that I registered with them. Wowzer! I wonder if WordPress and I can make it to 10 years together.

It makes me think that there’s quite a lot of my life documented here – does anyone know how I could (easily and ideally for free) back up all the posts I have here? I’d be upset if something happened to it.

Lameness report

Drifter is moving much better. We’ve had a couple of little rides in walk (as prescribed by the vet) and while the first felt awful, as if all the legs were trying to go in their own directions, the second felt much more normal.

Clicker training

As an addition to my anti-boredom campaign for Drifter, I started clicker training him. We’re working on touching his nose to a target stick. I bought the clicker and did some internet reading before I started and somewhere read the advice to begin by getting familiar with the stick and clicker and treats before I got anywhere near the animal I wanted to train. Had my husband been at home I would have practiced with him, but as he wasn’t, I used the cats as guinea pigs. (Metaphorically.)

They didn’t really get it. The internet tells me you can clicker train cats but they didn’t really catch on. They did give me plenty of practice at handling everything and getting my timing right though and that was the point. They also gave me the feeling that I might need to be very patient with Drifter and not expect too much.

But Drifter got it, and got it really fast. It occurred to me that horses, unlike most cats, are used to the idea of being asked to do something, doing it and then receiving a reward. They’re also used to the idea that humans might want something both specific and apparently pointless and will keep you at it until you get it right. By the end of the first session (only a few minutes) he understood that he had to touch the black bit at the end of the stick to score the treat, and could target it every time it was in an easy to reach spot. He was more challenged when I held it up higher or lower, so we worked on that during the next few sessions. One thing that does confuse him sometimes is that the handle is also black and the same texture as the target at the other end. If my hand is closer to his nose than the end I want him to touch, he goes for the handle and then gets frustrated because he thinks he did it right. As long as I keep the handle further from him than the target, he gets it.

It’s also been really interesting as an exercise in how he sees. When I hold it in some places which seem easy to touch I realise that he’s ignoring it because he’s not noticed it. Practicing at the door where it’s bright he’s much more accurate than in the relative gloom inside the stable.

Unfortunately, since our time together once more includes exercise as well as entertainment, clicker-training is not so much of a focus. The best time for him to be interested in clicker training was just before the night-time hay nets were handed out. Now I tend to ride/hand walk at that time and when we get back he has a haynet, which he’s more interested in than my treats (my treats are deliberately small and lower calorie to avoid clicker training adding too many calories) so he’ll only choose participate with the clicker training if I make it really really easy. (i.e. the target is really near his nose!) While I could take his haynet off him, that would be a negative thing for him to associate with clicker training. I think it’s probably detrimental to try to train when he’s more interested in the hay, so we may just play with the clicker on weekends when the timing works better than in the week.  Another solution would be to click first, exercise later but that doesn’t work so well for me.

I haven’t really decided whether I’m going to take clicker training any further than being a game we play in his stable with a stick, but I’m impressed with how easily he picked it up so far.

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Blog makeover

After over 200 posts I thought it might be time for a new look. However, it’s not me that has to look at it, so I’m interested in what you think. Are there other changes you would like to see? (But do bear in mind I’m using the free design packages, nothing that costs money, so I am somewhat limited by that!)

I kept the links and widgets on the right-hand side to assist tablet or mobile using readers and have added some “share” buttons. In the past I felt it was arrogant assuming people might want to share my content, but since joining Pinterest with my crochet hat* on I realised some people might find it more convenient if I had them.

At some point I might look again at what exactly I have in my sidebar, but for now I’m off to do something else with my time, as a mixed load of wool I bought off eBay has just arrived and I’m eager to examine it. At first glance it looks much nicer than I was expecting from the seller’s photo, which is always a pleasant surprise.

Feel free to feed back if you have any opinions on the new look of the blog – otherwise I will be forced to take your silence as approval! 🙂

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*Currently a metaphorical crochet hat but one day it will probably be literal.

Loyal reader award!

loyal-reader

Once more I have been honoured with an award! This time for reading, not writing 😀 How lovely. Thank you very much to The Dancing Rider for nominating me. I consider her one of my loyal readers too.

Here are the rules for The Loyal Reader Award:

1. Display this award on your blog.

2. Thank the person who sent it to you.

3. Answer a rhetorical question of the author’s choosing. [I’m a bit unclear on whether this means I’m supposed to make up a new question, but I wanted to answer the same one the Dancing Rider did.]

4. Send on the award to everyone you consider a loyal reader.

The Question: If I am a tree, will I become a book or furniture?

The Answer: I will remain a tree. For hundreds, possibly thousands of years. Why would I need any more future than that? It’s all very well having goals, but sometimes we all need to be who we are and not try too hard to be something else, despite the pressures of society and modern life.

Like the Dancing Rider before me, I want to say that the readers I’m naming are restricted to the ones who I know comment and/or like posts regularly. Those of you who are quiet and retiring are no less loyal but I have no way of knowing who you are. If you are one of my loyal readers please accept the award regardless of whether you are named below. And thank you all for reading. It means a lot to me.

Not all of my readers have their own blogs, but I hope they feel free to print the award and keep it in a more traditional way if that takes their fancy. I’ve named them first – they’re the ones without links.

Both of my parents

Julie

Heather

Sarah

Becky

Liz at Libro

Satu

Mellchan

Soapy photo girl

Braith an’ lithe

A dressage story

The Katie Chronicles

Thank you for reading.

The WordPress Family Award

wordpress-family-award2Following on from my last post, which touched on the social aspect of the blog network, I am proud to announce that I am a recipient of the WordPress Family Award. Thank you very much to thecasualphilosopher for nominating me.

I would like to pass the award on to:

  1. http://girlonthecontrary.com/ GotC has thousands of followers and hundreds of comments on her posts but takes the time to respond to the individual comments. Hers was the first WordPress family that welcomed me and taught me what kind of comments atmosphere I’d like to have on my own blog.
  2. http://raisingmyrainbow.com/ This is a blog about a family. A special family. With a family structure of commenters and readers supporting that family and their choices.
  3. http://thehorsewrotehistory.wordpress.com/ This blog belongs to the first of my horse-blog-family members.
  4. http://mellchan.wordpress.com/ And this to a horse-blog-sister across the pond
  5. http://healthyishappy115.wordpress.com/ This young blogger has a supportive blog-family that I’m proud to be part of.
  6. http://anaturallifeforjetandwalle.wordpress.com/ When your family is also your herd this is the place to be.
  7. http://incaseimgone.com/ A mother doing the best she can with the cards life deals her. Thought provoking.
  8. http://ikescenterlineadventures.wordpress.com/ These herd-mates are into dressage
  9. http://braithanlithe.wordpress.com/ Quite simply, this blog just feels like family to me.
  10. http://machomojave.wordpress.com/ Because all families need an agony aunt who is also a miniature horse. True dat.

I’m aware some of these blogs have already received this award, but the nature of family is that relationships go both ways – there can be no daughter without a mother, so just because they are already recognised as family by someone else doesn’t mean I can’t recognise them too.

Thanks again casualphilosopher!

The century

Working

 

Welcome to my 100th blog post.

Pull up a chair, grab a beverage and snack of your choice, and gather round me, readers, for you are the reason I’ve made it to 100 posts instead of abandoning this blog.

I have blogged at unpredictable intervals, giving you no idea what to expect for me in time, length of post or subject matter, but you have continued to read and comment, both on the comments form and, those of you who I know in “real life”, in person. Some of your comments have been so kind and helpful, some have made me laugh and some have made me look again at myself and my subject matter. I started this blog for myself, with my habitual introvert’s attitude that no one would read it, but I continue it for all of us.

In the years since I started this blog I have become better at social interactions, both actual and virtual. Connecting with people (on timescales shorter than a year) was not natural to me and my small-talk is still somewhat awkward, but I’m getting there. The 12-19 year-olds who I share a livery block with are my victims as I practice my stuttering social skills and in some cases, they are a mirror to me. They’re not sure who they are yet, most of them and they wear their hearts on their sleeves. One girl is perfect at putting everyone at ease, always helpful and happy to answer questions; one is constantly silly; another is unquestionably spoilt yet easy to get along with.* Another reminds me most of myself. She is socially ill at ease and sometimes makes others uncomfortable, yet she of all of them is making the most effort with me – a greater effort because it doesn’t come naturally to her. She is my closest mirror, yet with all of them their thoughts and emotions flash across their faces in a way I have reason to believe I also share. I don’t understand my feelings and emotions, yet one who watches my face can tell me what I feel, though I don’t know it myself – is it the same for these teenagers? I have stated before that I have only in the last few years started growing up – am I on a social and emotional level with these girls over a decade younger than myself? It seems likely to me that I am.

This blog is the story of many things, but one of the main plotlines is my attempting to reach adulthood. When I commenced this blog I was attempting to do so in a vacuum, but now I see that we are herd animals and social awareness and skill have a great deal more value that I have placed on them in the past. I need both role models and peers to learn to be a more integrated member of the herd. The teens are, unknowingly, helping me with that on the livery yard and you, my readers and fellow bloggers, have been helping me in the virtual herd that is the internet.

Perhaps, when you pulled up a chair in the first paragraph, you thought this bedtime story might be less intense, but over-intensity is still one of my personality traits. I’m working on the small talk, you see, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Some-when I might learn to balance, but I haven’t got there just yet. Perhaps by my two hundredth-post? Maybe we’ll get there together.

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*She reminds me of Jane Austen’s description of the Bertram sisters (Mansfield Park): “Their vanity was in such good order that they seemed to be quite free from it, and gave themselves no airs.”

An award?! For me?!

versatileblogger111

Unlike a good many people in this world, I didn’t have an acceptance speech ready because I didn’t ever expect my blog to win an award. But as I’ve probably written before, “you never know what life’s got in store for you.”

Many thanks to Mellchan for nominating me for this lovely award. If you’d like to see her blog, which I thoroughly recommend, particularly if you have horsey interests, it lives at http://mellchan.wordpress.com/

According to the rules of the award, I should tell the person who nominated me 7 things about myself.

  1. I love complex board games and boxed games (i.e. board games that don’t actually have a board). Current favourites are Dominion and Ticket to Ride (Europe).
  2. I need to see green growing things regularly. When it snows and I can’t see greenery or when I go on holiday somewhere not-so-green I feel unsettled by it after a couple of days.
  3. I’m rather lazy. This is why I have a dark coloured horse, so as not to show the dirt.
  4. I’m far more scared of spicy food than is reasonable.
  5. This is my first blog award and I’m very, very pleased.
  6. Earlier today I encouraged my cats to go out in the snow by throwing treats out into it. They were really confused at first because the treats sank in and disappeared, but as soon as one figured out he needed to smell for them and then dig a little, the other caught on pretty quickly.
  7. I love reading in the bath, but sometimes this does lead to wet and wrinkly books. Oops.

So now I pass on nominations for the award. I’m aware that some of the people I’ve nominated have already received a nomination from others, but I decided to go ahead and nominate them anyway. Some of them are blogs I’ve followed for a long time, others I’ve only found recently, but all of them are worth recognising with an award, so here’s the list:

  1. http://raisingmyrainbow.com/
  2. http://healthyishappy115.wordpress.com/
  3. http://thehorsewrotehistory.wordpress.com/
  4. http://incaseimgone.com/
  5. http://ikescenterlineadventures.wordpress.com/
  6. http://horselistening.com/
  7. http://cobbeledroad.wordpress.com/
  8. http://girlonthecontrary.com/
  9. http://braithanlithe.wordpress.com/
  10. http://reflectionsonriding.com/
  11. http://anaturallifeforjetandwalle.wordpress.com/
  12. http://lifewithlumi.wordpress.com/
  13. http://librofulltime.wordpress.com/
  14. http://imissyouwheniblink.com/
  15. http://dampsquid.wordpress.com/

On blogging about nothing

One of my favourite children’s authors, Diana Wynne Jones, wrote a book in which one of the characters (Quentin) has an arrangement in place to cure his writers’ block:

What I had to do, he said, was to promise to send him every three months two thousand words of any old thing that came into my head … I always write really idiotic things that nobody would want to publish … last year I sent Mountjoy a solemn discussion about what to do if rabbits suddenly started eating meat. This time it was about old ladies rioting in Corn Street.*

This book was first published in 1984, a time before blogging. To me, this regular imperative to write something, anything, has strong resonance with blogging. I wonder how this fictional character would be different had blogging been available to him and his author. Would it have been enough for him to have had a blog? Would a self-imposed deadline have been enough to get his keyboard clattering? The character, stuck in a world before online publishing, assumes that his random creations would not merit the expense of publishing and so wouldn’t be worth putting before an audience, but I think these days many people subscribe to blogs which discuss exactly that kind of bizarre topics. Doesn’t his material seem rather tempting, from that snippet? Wouldn’t his blog offer novelty and escapism, qualities prized in the online communities?

Of course, no matter what the benefits, there’s one thing you just can’t blog without and Diana Wynne-Jones premonitorily covered that in her author’s note:

“All power corrupts, but we need electricity”**

*D. Wynne Jones, Archer’s Goon, HarperCollins, London, 2000, p. 30-31.

**ibid., p. [8]

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net