Monthly Archives: May 2016

Double E

Double E used to be the toughest course of study at Texas A&M in the engineering school. When you met an Aggie that was an EE major, you automatically knew he was brilliant and tough. That was electrical engineering. I have, however, come to use the term in a different way; extinction, and enhancement. Extinction of behaviors that are instinctive, but not helpful in training a young (or old) horse, and enhancement of behaviors that we wish to see more of in our equine student.A “for instance” might be, in the round pen, when I “encourage” our pupil to gallop around the outer wall of the pen, frequently turning him back the reverse direction until he gives up his fear, and faces us, licking and chewing, in his submission. We are working to extinguish the instinctive “fear and avoidance” response by using flight inhibition – the round pen.

Enhancement is accomplished when I ask for forward movement with a cluck of my tongue as I am walking beside him, doing “in hand” work, and associate the clucking sound with a tap of the stick as a reinforcer. Then, I quit tapping the instant he moves. After multiple repetitions he moves forward after hearing the clucking of the tongue, without the reinforcement of the stick. We are enhancing a nice soft “go button” which is certainly a desirable behavior.

Memorial Day

Coming from the generation that grew up in the fifties, I learned to honor and revere our parents who had come back victorious from a war in Europe and the South Pacific. When it became our turn, we were subjected to dishonor by our homeland after a confused military action in southeast Asia.
This Memorial day I am looking back even further, to Alexander The Great, Genghis Khan, and Napoleon. I wonder about this thing called war.
This day we remember our fallen, whom we know only from their stories and the recollections of loved ones, and we honor them for their unselfish service to their country. We owe them, we thank them for the fact that we are still a shining example of freedom and personal liberty. From my heart I honor them, from my head I question why they had to give their lives so, in fact why we have to have wars at all.
Somewhere I remember some phrase about beating swords into plowshares, yet, we continue to have to reforge plows into swords. I guess the theme song for this day in my mind is “Last night I had the strangest dream” by Bob Dylan.

Horses, Pliates, Yoga, Ballet, and Knitting?!

Decades ago, I remember hearing a story about a pro football player; I believe it was Roosevelt “Rosie” Greer, who took up knitting. Another player began taking ballet lessons. Aside from my mental picture of a six foot six muscular athlete wearing a tutu, I began to realize that these guys were reaching for something. They wanted more out of their sport than a gladiatorial event. They wanted ART, and a level of athleticism that was beyond the ordinary. Seeing Jim Brown do a forward flip to avoid a tackle, I realized that they had attained that goal. Another thought that came to my mind was that those guys needed to find some peace and beauty in a world dominated by “hurry up”, drugs, money, and rock ‘n’ roll.

In the same way, I’m beginning to see more horseman include things like dressage and classicism in their horsemanship. Some add in a dollop of Pilates, and yoga and even drumming, to get to a new level of horsemanship. They are reaching for a tranquil, harmonious, rhythmical relationship with their horses; one which replaces force with understanding,  demands with requests, and hurrying with dancing. Lately I’ve been singing old songs to myself as I ride, matching their rhythms with beats of my horses hooves. Try it, you’ll like it!

The California Omelette

Seems kind of strange for a Texan to talk about a California omelette, but I’m here to tell you, it’s about as good’a “eatin’ food” as there is! We were living in Denver, Colorado for a while, and there we discovered this dish delish! What makes it California is that it has avocados in it. But, we have avocados here in Texas, too!

First thing you get up in the morning, you fry up some bacon, crisp, then chop up some bell peppers, preferably the red or yellow ones, and start them sautéing in the olive oil. Then 26start rolling tomatoes around in the hot oil, so the skins come loose, and pull off the skin, throw it away and mash the tomatoes. Finally, throw in minced onion and let the sofrito (or súga, a s the local Sicilians call it) cook down on low heat to a coarse sauce. Now chop up some avocados, get out a package of goat cheese, and veggs. In a small bowl, crack the eggs, and add a dollop of water, a couple of shakes of salt, a skift of turmeric, and whip it all up. Into a skillet with a good layer of melted butter on medium heat, pour in enough egg mixture for one omelette. When the egg just barely sets, flip it and quickly add a tablespoon of the sauce, several slices of avocado, the bacon, and the goat cheese. Fold the omelette over the ingredients, and flip it one more time – then slide it onto a hot plate.