Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hospital Cafeterias

When I did my dissertation, which involved interviews at over 30 medical schools, I had this idea for a side project "guide to hospital cafeterias" It was amazing to me how many of them had not a single healthy option anywhere in sight. The best that I remember (15 years later) were Stanford, Cleveland Clinic, and Pittsburgh. I was reminded of this when I went off to our cafeteria today and discovered it had changed (name and presumably management) since the last time I was there. The salad bar looked better. The soup relatively unchanged, the pastries better, the hot food potentially better, but hard to tell. Interestingly, all the nutrition information signs that had been posted in the former cafeteria version were gone, so I'm back to guessing about what should be healthy (lentil soup and plain yogurt made the cut). There were also a lot of food displays, but I couldn't figure out if they were just for show. Most notably, there were cupcakes for sale on a table. I have less than zero interest in cupcakes, but on the table were large bowls filled with raspberries, blueberries, and nuts. I wanted a bowl of those, but wasn't sure they were actually available. The other downside was the $1.09 price tag per piece of fruit. Really??! $1.09 for a single banana, tangerine, apple or plum. On the upside, if you wanted to spend the money, there were blood oranges available, but I am pretty sure they are 4/5 for $1 at the terminal. Seems it would make more sense to make the less healthy food more expensive. I rarely eat in the cafeteria anyway, far preferring the food carts. And lest you think that means hot dogs, at Penn the food carts are quite the gourmand paradise. We have the usual chinese, burgers, etc, but also Mexican/Indian (nothing like the chole kulche - chickpea curry - quesadilla), Organic Vegetarian Middle Eastern, and a Creperie. Less expensive, healthier and much less crowded dining options, plus as my office has no windows, it is an excuse to get outside when the weather is at all decent.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sally rocks Full Gallop and Tag jumps more

Sally was riding 3 intermediate horses at Full Gallop today. To write the end first, in case readers are only interested in the bottom line, she finished first, second and third. The Sally Cousins eventing team is quite a macine behind the scenes. Three horses meant 9 rides in a space of 3 hours and 12 minutes. Psychology qustion for the day- does one experince and/ or tolerate the cold differently when in the south where it is meant to be warm? It was cold, 28 degrees and dark when we arrived. It warmed up to mid-40s and sunny over the 5 hours we were on grounds.

We were back at the farm by 12:30 and I had another little jumping lesson on Tag. He was very good and bravely jumped the little gate. I can feel all the scope in there. Luckily, he is very quiet about the whole thing, though his engine definitely clicked more firmly into gear once we stareted jumping. I am excited to see what Sally does wiyh him over the next two weeks and psyched that the philly weather forecast is quite good.

And speaking of working out

A very brief comment on the results of the high performance training fitness test. Did you notice all the winners were the younger team members. No Karen or Phillip anywhere. I am guessing not a lot of upper level riders beyond some age point really evev want to use their knees for umpteen squats, but I could be wrong. Still, it shows even top athletes have to contend with the toll of getting older.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tag jumps

Not that Tag hasn't jumped before, but we have not jumped together for over three months and I haven't jumped at all for almost two months. We had a little jump lesson with Sally. Other than a touch of excess exuberance after the first jump, he was very good, quiet and well behaved, though mostly just trotting over the little exercise. More tomorrow after Sally does her gang at Full Gallop, finishing all 3 phases befor 11am.

On the non-horse front, if you want to start a business, consider a fitness center in Aiken. The Gold's Gym is absolutely packed. 60 people in Zumba and over twenty in the 5:45 am classes. It could be just some combination of the new year's resolution crowd and winter folk, but if at all consistent, Aiken could really use another gym

Sorting it out in Aiken

After a 12 mile run on Sunday morning, followed by brunch at New Moon Cafe (during which I think I sold 2 ipads and met someone who breeds trakehners here in Aiken), I headed out to ride Tag. We had the proverbial good news and bad news. The good news, Tag was great. Totally his normal, quiet self. Perhaps a bit less willing to keep his nose down, as there are so many interesting things to look at, especiallly after so much time in the indoor. We did wtc around the jump field, no worries. The bad news was that the "emergency" saddle did not fit him at all. Nor did it fit me at all. In fact, it is good he was well-behaved as I doubt I could have stayed in that saddle through any bad behavior. So, back to the drawing board. Megan Pappler kindly offered the loan of her saddle, so Monday, I tried it out, but also too narrow. Last attempt was an old county profi at a reasonable price from oak manor saddlery in Aiken. It fit acceptably well, just needing a bump pad to raise the cantle. It is also comfortable enoough that I can imagine riding a green horse over his first xc jumps in it without immediately picturing all sorts of dire outcomes. Jumping lesson Tuesday, so we will see how it works in real use. Where did I put that neck strap?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A non-horse post to address the coth forum challenge. I want the equivalent of dreamhorse for cars. On dreamhorse, you can enter search parameters like height, sex, price, breed whatever and it will find all the horses that mztch all those characteristics. I have spent a lot of time on autotrader, vehix, edmunds and msn auto and they don't work like this. I am looking (although Henry would tell you I have been looking for 6 years and just like car shopping, not car buying) for something with the following characteristics:
1. Hatchback
2. Short exterior length for city parking
3. Good gas mileage
4. Reasonable price
5. Good safety profile
6. High long term reliability
7. Good handling
8. Manual transmission

Looking for all of these thing in endless reviews and car comparisons, the currwnt short list includes the vw golf tdi. I currently own a golf and it does well on all parameters, maybe a little pricey. Going tdi ups the mileage. Mine has been super reliable, but mixed reviews on that. Other options are the volvo c30, but car & driver thinks it is a dog, and I admit to being a car&driver groupie; and finally the nissan juke, but who knows anying about it? If anyone has thoughts or opinions on these or other options, I would love to hear them.

There is also e problem of model creep. In 2005, I was pretty sure I wanted e rav4, but en Toyota redesigned it, makin it both undesirably longer and less fun to drive. The Matrizx was a thought, but no manual transmission. Briefly considered the scion xd, but underpowered and lacking in safety features, ditto thhe suzuki s4. You begin to see the dilemma, but at least car shooping is really fun

Sporting Days and Tag arrives in Aiken

Various impressions of the day are in order, not a chronologic recounting. Chilly and rainy on and off. It seemed that every time, the rain stopped, the wind kicked up and the temperature dropped.

One of the dressage judges got the plan confused and did not arrive this morning. Doug Payne arranged his rides on his seven (yes, really) horses to step in and judge two divisions. Go eventers!

Best volunteer of the day was 7 year old Mia, our stadium score runner, who showed up about two horses before the end of the sheet through the entire day, never slacking, always cheerful. By afternoon, she was hanging out with us and doing the judging. Good at it too.

It was great to see Betsy and Jeff Minton. Betsy was my scribe for the bulk of the day and Jeff did a stellar job as stadium announcer. Looking forward to being able to hang out with them a some more during the Aiken adventures.

Ted Curtis stepped in after Texas snowpocalypse cancelled Tag's ride to Aiken. He is a private pro hauler. Apparently, it was snowing moderately hard in Alabama this morning, but he said it let up soon after leaving the farm. Ted was very complimentary of Tag's behavior and demeanor. Said he marched right onto the trailer like he did it every day (he has not been on a trailer for 3 months) and was perfefectly quiet in the back. They got to Sally's place a bit before I did and when I arrived Tag was happily sttled in a stall munching some hay. I am looking forward to riding him tomorrow. We will see how ADD he is out in a field instead of a dressage arena or indoor. Time to be an event horse

Friday, February 4, 2011

And more saddles than horses

Remember the post about how I've ended up with 5 horses? As if that isn't disconcerting enough, I have so many saddles, I am not even sure of the count (but we'll get to that). It is a new year's resolution to get down to 2, 1 jumping and 1 dressage. Meanwhile, if as you read this you think "I would love to have that saddle," then please contact me and we'll see if we can make it happen. All are 17.5 seat, variations of medium tree.

Jumping saddles:
This is easier. Saddle #1 is on consignment at Malvern Saddlery's A Bit Less, but I will be pulling it out next week to send on trial to a friend in California. It is a Devoucoux Oreka, a show-jumping saddle made for only a few years. It is black (all my tack is black) and I bought it after I sold the Albion I had for Tobe as that was a narrow saddle and Keebler needed a medium. I got a decent deal on it and it is comfortable and fits a lot of horses. Am now selling it because, while comfortable, it does my position no good and more importantly, does not fit Tag well. In addition, I'd rather have wool-flocked.

#2 Having made that decision, with Tag down in Alabama, had some time to shop. Started looking for County and Black Country saddles. They are expensive new and hard to find used (especially in black). I went to the Walsall Master Saddlers site and started emailing saddlers with what I was looking for. Ended up with a steal of a deal on an all buffalo Ryder Saddlery Vantage http://fryso.com/products.asp?cat=3&pro=6. Glen was actually the saddler who made the original Albion prototype saddles and since I loved the older Albions, I figure this will be excellent. It would be coming over from England for the trade show held in Valley Forge Convention center at the end of January, all set

#3 Or so I thought until last week, I received a call from Glen that for family reasons, he would not be coming over but would ship the saddle at no additional charge. So the saddle is heading for Aiken, but I doubt it will get there this weekend, so I jumped on line to try to find an inexpensive "bridge" saddle. Thought about borrowing (and Hilda kindly offered her saddle), but with shipping etc and worrying about trashing someone else's saddle as Tag learns to go xc for the first time, I decided might be better to get something. Found a Courbette Pandur that was temping (great saddle if you like those old Courbettes, and only $350), but ended up with another Walsall made saddle. This one a Rosewood (no I've never heard of it either), but it looks great. Under $400 is getting it to Aiken today. Hopefully it fits Tag well enough.

Then there are the dressage saddles:
1) Bond Street saddle with memory foam. Bought in 2002 because I thought it might help me sit Gizmo's trot. In fact, it did, but he didn't love it.

2) Laser CM Ultimate adjustable dressage. I rode Gizmo in this saddle and then rode Tobe in it and started Keebler with it. At this point, I was working hard on my dressage and realizing it didn't help my position, so I started shopping for a saddle that would. Meanwhile, I lent the Bond Street to Jeff Kibbie for his horse Loki.

3) Devoucoux, Monoflap Milady, excellent deal from England. Comfortable and fit Keebler pretty well so I should be done.

4) CWD bought from a charity auction, good deal on a nice saddle, but I don't like the way it fits me so it was intended for sale. Don't love the way the Devoucoux fits Finn so consider other saddles

5) E. Jeffries, bought online for Finn. Then I decided to sell Finn and it doesn't fit Tag.

6) Hulsebos WB4, ebay find. Fits me, fits Tag. I figure I am done and then....

7) Ride Feivel, JD and Taldi all in Jessica's County Connection. Absolutely love it. Go looking on line and put out the word on Facebook. Turns out Lynn has one and is willing to trade. Hey, I have at least a couple that I know fit Keebler so I send her the Devoucoux and the Bond Street. She settles on the Devoucoux. I have

7a) Lynn's County Connection, but my horse isn't here, so we hope it fits Tag and as a bonus, she may be able to find someone in her barn to buy the Bond Street.

The rest of the dressage saddles will go to Skylands saddlery to be consigned as soon as I have a moment to do that, but if anyone needs a saddle.....

Thursday, February 3, 2011


That is really the only word for today's lesson on Taldi. What a wonderful guy. The real wow part of the lesson was the medium trot - a real medium trot with elevation and shoulder swing and extension of the frame and legs, so cool! We also did (or really Taldi was kind enough to do, despite all my flopping about) 3 loop serpentine with counter canter, half pass in trot and half pass in canter to flying change. I'm looking forward to riding Tag in Aiken this weekend, but it will be rather different