Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Minnesota Madness

Nah, there wasn’t really any madness, I just seem to like the alliteration lately. 

Hubby got me to the airport in plenty of time for my flight, so I started in on one of the two paperbacks I’d brought.  I left Bangor on a 6:30ish flight, connecting in Detroit.  By the time I got to Detroit I had finished the first of the two paperbacks I’d brought in my carryon.  My layover in Detroit was only 30 minutes so I had to zoom from one terminal to the other.  I took these pics near my departing gate, once I determined that I had a moment to spare. 

Detroit, unlike Bangor, is a real airport... it has more than one place to eat, and it has a TRAIN that just goes up and down the length of one of the two terminal buildings!  There’s also a tunnel under the runway between the two terminal buildings, where they play relaxing music and a light show. Sorry a couple of the pics are blurry.

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I tried to get bumped from my flight to Minneapolis, because I knew I’d have a lot of time to kill before Steph got home from work, and because I wanted the flight voucher.  But they didn’t need any volunteers.

The flight to MN went well and I just about finished the second paperback.  Funny story from the Minneapolis airport... on my way to Baggage Claim, I was walking briskly along one of those walkways that looks like a giant grocery store conveyor belt (see tunnel pic above), and as I zoomed past a woman standing along the side, I glanced at a baggage tag on her backpack.  I got three steps past her before my brain registered what I’d seen... I could have sworn it was the logo from The Visible Horse demo that Susan Harris does.  It was only a little over an inch wide, so it was really quite surprising that it caught my eye.  I thought about it for a microsecond, then took three brisk steps backwards.  As I peered at her back, I explained to the woman that I was just looking at her luggage tag... “is that the Visible Horse?”  She looked stunned, and said yes, it was, and I was the first person to ever notice it.  Turns out, it was Susan Harris herself!  I introduced myself and stood next to her the rest of the way to Baggage Claim.  I had to call Steph and tell her what happened, of course, and she said “please tell her I said welcome to Minneapolis!” and before I knew it I said “you can do it” and held the phone up to Susan’s ear.  Of course Steph didn’t just say that, so there I was feeling foolish, holding the phone up to Susan’s ear for almost a full minute before I muttered “sorry, she doesn’t realize I’m holding the phone up to your head”.  Susan took pity on me and took the phone.  But she wasn’t on the phone much longer, and soon we arrived at Baggage Claim and said our goodbyes. 

P4230333I finished both my paperbacks by the time my friend Steph’s mom picked me up at the Minneapolis airport at 1pm Central Time.  (I was starting to think maybe I should have brought more than four books!)  Cheri dropped me off at Steph’s house and I took a nap while I waited for Steph to get home.  The dog (Stella) and cat (Jerome) kept me company.

When Steph got home, we just relaxed for a while until her other two houseguests, Dana and Meagan from “Herbsmith”, arrived.  Then we all piled into Steph’s truck for a trip to the Mall of America for dinner and a little shopping.

The Mall of America, unlike the Bangor Mall, is a real mall... it has more than one floor, and it has an AMUSEMENT PARK!

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We had dinner at Famous Dave’s BBQ.  We chose the variety platter... it was served on a GARBAGE CAN LID!  Sorry the first picture is so blurry, the waitress was in a hurry.  The second pic is Dana and Meagan.

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We all ate WAAAY too much.  After dinner we waddled around the mall doing a little shopping.  There were some neat Chinese drummers playing in one of the atrium areas.  I did take a video of it but the sound didn’t come out well enough to bother sharing.


Steph had to work Friday morning so I slept in.  We got to the MN Horse Expo in the early afternoon.  It was cool and cloudy.  We hit the 4-H tack swap first, hoping to find some good deals, but we didn’t end up buying anything.  The prices weren’t that good, and we didn’t find anything just right anyway.

I went to Dale Myler’s seminar to learn the Myler brothers’ theories on bits and bitting, and found it fascinating.  His first point was that if you don’t have the horse’s mind focused on you (and relaxed/calm) then his whole body will not be relaxed.  His second point was that all the ways horses evade the bit (head up, nose toward chest, tongue out the side, tongue over bit, mouth gaping open, tongue stuffed into throat) all have one thing in common... the horse is avoiding pain that the bit puts on the tongue.  He showed a whole series of pictures and I was amazed at how many of them showed the horse’s mouth gaping open with no tongue in sight.  (Side note... I observed horses for the rest of the weekend in demos and warming up on the road running through the expo grounds, and found that probably 80% of them displayed at least one of the bit evasion methods listed above.)  Almost all the Myler bits are designed with a curve in the mouthpiece that the tongue fits into.  (I always thought the curve stuck up into the roof of the mouth, but it doesn’t, it just goes up and over the tongue.)  His “after” photos showed horses that were much more relaxed, and those pictures were taken on the same day (many within minutes of the “before” photos).  I will never put a horse in a non-Myler bit again!

I renewed my resolve to buy one of their Combo bits to try during the first loop of my endurance rides... I really think it will help.  (The Jim Warner hackamore works but I feel like I have to haul on him too much during those first 12-20 miles.)  The combo will give a pre-signal when I use just a little rein (ie nose pressure) and then with increasingly more rein pressure it will, in turn, give signal to the poll, jaw, bars, and finally the tongue.  Dale says ideally I’d get the Combo with a MB36 mouthpiece, 3-ring shank, and rawhide nose, but since that mouthpiece is only available on the Combo if you have it custom made by hand, he said the MB43 mouthpiece was the best compromise.  I’m saving my pennies...

Friday night we went to the rodeo!  It was my first rodeo ever.  I like to watch it on TV though, so I was sure I’d enjoy seeing it in person. 

Saddle Broncs (by chance, the first three were white):

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Then came the steer wrestling.  WOW.

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Then there was some barrel racing.  I could never do that...


Right before the bull riding, we really got a show from John Payne, “the one-armed bandit”.  Make sure you take the time to watch these...

I didn’t get any pictures/video of it, but he also had his horse spin around in circles on top of the trailer... I think before the buffalo got up there but I’m not sure.

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Then we had some bull riding!  Not too many guys got their 8 seconds.


After the rodeo, we headed home for a couple of drinks and bedtime.  We were zonked!

On Saturday we slept in and got to the Expo just before noon.  We were supposed to meet up with a bunch of folks from the HorseCity online forums, but only “Pepper’s Dad” and his wife showed up.  That was fine with us, we enjoyed the visit.  In the photo below, it’s Darrell (“PD”), then me, then Steph, then PD’s wife... I’m sorry, I don’t know her name.  The dog is Steph’s 5yo Doberman, Stella, who was an angel all day long despite the hordes of people demanding to pet her.


We did most of our shopping on Saturday.  Fabulous deals were scarce, but we did each get trailer door organizers for $16.  I also found one of those low wide “Tub Trugs” tubs to use for my shower tub in the trailer.  Some of you may recall reading about my disastrous attempt last summer to use a Rubbermaid storage tub.  I look forward to trying this one out!  I bought a few other things, like Thrushbuster, dewormer, a fly mask to use while riding, and a CAUTION HORSES sticker for my trailer... but none of them were really “a great deal”.  Mostly we both just went crazy because of the huge crowds!  It was TOTAL MADNESS!!

Here’s Steph with her friend, Nashville country singer Templeton (Tempi) Thompson, and Tempi’s husband Sam.  Tempi rode (and sang at the same time) in Friday’s rodeo, but we missed it because we were in line for tickets.  Bummer!


Here’s Steph with her friend Margo, who was working at the Saddle Up booth.


Saturday night we were exhausted so we went back to the house and relaxed on the couch with bean dip and chili.  Yum yum!  Steph was expecting a few friends but nobody came, so we had more food for us.  Well, Dana and Meagan did eventually come home, and we all had a nice visit before bed.

Sunday morning it was drizzling when we left the house.  We had to be at the Expo by 8:30am to staff the Minnesota Distance Riders’ Association (MnDRA) booth, but we were a few minutes late.  Must have coffee and apple fritters, you know.

The rest of the day was much less busy than the day before, probably because it was raining CATS AND DOGS for most of the day.  I’m surprised we didn’t get hail... we did get high winds, thunder/lightning, and a torrential downpour.  Running between buildings wasn’t much fun, so we stayed for quite a while in just the one building with the most vendors.  By this time though I was DONE with shopping and browsing, and just wanted to sit down for a week.  I did manage to find a really nice bridle for my neighbor’s new horse, though.

We went back to the house earlier than we’d planned... maybe around 3pm.  We lazed around for a few hours and then headed to Steph’s boarding barn around 6pm for a thorough grooming session.  Jake really enjoyed it!


On Monday morning, we rode!  Steph rode her friend’s horse Amigo, and I rode Steph’s Morab gelding, Jake.  We just rode out from the barn through a residential neighborhood, then onto a straight/wide dirt road.  We probably did about 10 miles out and back, if we had to guess.  It took me a while to get comfortable on Jake, partially because the saddle is so different from mine and partially because I was riding him in a sidepull.  It was only the second time I had ridden him and I was a little nervous.

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We finished our ride and returned to the house with plenty of time for me to finish packing my stuff and get to the airport for a leisurely dinner with Steph at an airport restaurant, and get to my plane an hour before boarding.

In Detroit they offered me the chance to get a $300 travel voucher if I was willing to get bumped from my flight and stay overnight at their expense, but I just wanted to get home.  It was already 9pm, and I would have had to fly out before 7am and connect through Philly instead of going directly to Bangor.  No thanks, not for that kind of money.  Why couldn’t they have needed someone to get bumped from the Detroit-to-Minneapolis flight last week???

Louis picked me up at the airport at midnight and we were home and crawling into bed at 1am.  I had a headache so bad I was nauseous, and it was still bad in the morning so I stayed home.  I feel better now.


  1. Sounds like a great weekend! Did you get to go through the tunnel with all the weird colors in the Detroit airport? I wish I could get a non-stop flight into Bangor, that would make my life sooo much easier.

  2. Yep, and I have a picture of it but it's blurry so I didn't post it. Love that tunnel... the music is very relaxing.

  3. I love the video's and pictures :) Sounds like you had a great weekend time - I knew you would!!

  4. OK there you go, the tunnel pic has been added. I also remembered a few other details, so I added them too.