March 11, 2012

Spring!...and a trip to Berlin

This was a fortnight ago.

Before you ask - yes, we do have snow left.
Still spring.

This was yesterday, and higher up in the mountains.
The snow is getting wet and slushy.

We have had two wonderful weekends in a row, with sun and two-digit temperatures (speaking Centigrades!)
Unfortunately there was some more snowfall in the week between, otherwise I believe we would have been almost bare now.

Taking a break and looking at the view
I was in Berlin during the week, and as a consequence Fame had had two days off when I saddled her up on Saturday.
I felt we both needed a workout, so we headed up the mountainside for some intervall training.
Fame did not much bother with the intervalls.
She just found that gear marked "Maximum  speed" and took off.
I had to pick her up in the curves as I definitely did not want her to lose her footing at that speed, but otherwise I let her go.
It was a wonderful spring day, and we needed to air out the winter both of us.

I took her down to regain her breath a couple of times, but she did not take much time and was eager to go. I concluded that she is in a good shape, which is nice as we have the winter season behind us.

Saw some wonderful ice formations on the way down.
Unfortunately the camera does not do the colours justice, they were lovely opaque blue-green-grey in reality.
Made me think of the scene from the Lord of Rings when Frodo, Sam and Gollum is climbing up the mountain stairs to Mordor and the Nine Ringlords leave the ancient castle (which had this kind of colour).

This week I was in Berlin for a conference with my work.
I will leave you with some pictures:

Morning view from my hotel window

Checkpoint Charlie.
I am standing at the former East-Berlin side, looking towards West.

The American checkpoint is still left as a memory.
I guess no-one wanted a memory of the DDR one...

This picture is taken from the American checkpoint while the wall was in place.
We are looking towards East Berlin.

Picture taken shortly before the wall was built.
Taken from East Berlin side, looking towards West.

Nowadays only a few parts of the wall is left standing.
Where it once stood is marked with street stones so you can follow its earlier placement.

Here is one of three places where it is still left standing.

Brandenburger Tor in the background.

Brandenburger Tor.
What amused me was that straight on the other side, the former East, there was a Kennedy museum alongside a Starbucks coffee shop.

Hey, there's horses on the top!

And below!

My colleagues had to try a bike for seven.
One pilot, sweat and hard work for the others...

The famous street "Unter den Linden".
Used to be the epitome of style, but ended in East Berlin after WWII.

...where you still have some traces left from the East, strategically placed .

The famous car from the DDR-period, the Trabi.
Max speed 112 km/h (70mph), and made of hard plastic.
Two-stroke engine with noxious fumes.
Did not cost more than $200, so everyone should be able to afford it. If you were on the list and allowed to buy that is.
I remember when driving through West Germany in spring 1990, I saw many of them on the motorway behind a dark cloud of exhaust. Inside there were happy people, finally able to travel where they wanted.
Now a cult object.

Potsdamer Platz.
Bombed to pieces at the end of WWII.
The occupied sectors converged here and thus the area became no-mans land during the cold war,
placed in the mid zone of the wall.
Pink Floyd's "The Wall - Live in Berlin"
was played here in 1990, one of the largest rock concerts ever staged.

Potsdamer Platz in 1982.

 The fomer War Ministry in Benderblock where Stauffenberg was shot after the attempt on Hitler.
It is now suitingly enough museum for the German resistance during WWII.

Auf Wiedersehen, Berlin!

February 01, 2012

Happy birthday! MEEEEEEE, happy birthday to MEEEEE.....

Thank you guys, how did you guess??

Now, the last years I have only wished for some small things as birthday gifts.
A couple of Grand Prix-horses.
An indoor arena.
Some millions to go with it.

No luck so far.
Last year I just thought the postman got lost, but as he finds the way with all the bills I have to face up to the bitter truth I guess.

I have to wish for something smaller.

A new car.

January 14, 2012

Want to join us on a winter ride?

I got inspired by Mugwumps "BraCam" and thought that I could try and make a video of Fame and me hacking out today.
I decided on the easy option though and just hold the phone in my hand while riding.
So do you wanna come with us?

Unfortunately hard wind and milder temperatures have made the trees lose all the snow, we don't have much snow  and we did not see much of the sunshine today either...but never mind, it was nice weather for a ride!

You'll just have to take it as is :-) such fancies as music and headings, the post as editor is vacant at the moment.
So please join Fame and me hacking out today!
Here we are heading down towards the creek:

Horses are by nature afraid of ice, just as they are on any insecure footing like bogs etc.
It's logical - a horse in the wild that gets stuck or hurt the legs by all likelihood ends up dead.
Two years ago, a rider from one of the other stables rode out on the ice on a lake at wintertime.
The ice couldn't bear the weight, and the horse tragically ended up dead.

So you have to build confidence with them over time, and on this day we had weak ice which is the worst.
Fame was a good girl though, and we found a way over.
Had to keep both hands on the reins going down to the water though.

Looking back on the water, I saw something floating? Oh no, my glove....
Not exactly the right time for a bath. What to do?
I just had to turn Fame, and see if I could get hold of it.
It floated merrily downstream, but luckily ended up on one of the icy part in the middle, and I managed to fish it up with the dressage whip. Yes!
And up on the other side...with a soaking wet glove. Nice.
Couldn't keep it on, and couldn't put it in the pocket either.
I finally decided to hang it as a tree decoration until our return.

So my next project was to try and video at canter.
Bear in mind that I was riding bareback, and my horse is an agile spooker.
So, halfway down the video you hear me squeak almost falling off as she spooks over a small darkish pine tree, silly girl.
I apologize for the video quality as the wind made a lot of noise and the camera man did some shaky footing.
Fame was actually a good girl and kept a nice controlled canter apart from the spooking. I believe she was a bit puzzled about what I was doing though.

We continued up, and did some more canter intervals at a higher speed, and this time I decided to be a bit more sensible and keep both hands on the reins and my concentration on the horse.
As usual I jumped off at the top, and walked beside her on the way down.
When I hack out I normally ride her bitless, either on a sidepull or as here on a hackamore.
I have exchanged the chin chain with a leather strap though, it is a softer solution which works fine.

Finally found a stone and was able to get on Fame again  so I did not have to splash through the creek by foot.
Found the glove as well.
It was frozen stiff, but I managed somehow to get it into the pocket of my jacket for the last part of the ride home.

Thanks for joining us!

January 11, 2012


Wonderful weather on Sunday, riding home from a training session

We are in the middle of January, and the best part of the winter lies ahead.
It took me some years, but I actually do like the winter!
I would be happy to shorten it though, to exchange November (when we often have sleet, rain, fog and darkness) and January (when it often is very cold AND dark) against two more months of summer.
That would be perfect!

The creek is still open

But from now on the temperature normally is stable below freezing point, and we normally have snow.
The days are getting longer, and in February we can get some marvellous days with azur blue skies and glistening snow.
I love, love, love a beautiful scenery and we get some amazing winter landscapes if the weather is right.
And I love the snow as it brightens everything up, and is super to ride on!
(Yes, it is cold and unpractical too, layers of clothes and a cold and icy car and icy ground and snow shovelling and whatnot, but the winter comes every year so it's better to enjoy it, right?)

I love the colours of winter too, the subtle hues of blue and grey, the instensity of the sprakling white.
Up here in the north the colour of the sunshine is much more white than further south.
A winter day with full sunshine is sprakling like a gem. It is so light your eyes hurt.

We had a wonderful day today, with a clear sky and full sunshine.
I had to drive home early, and remembered that I have a video function on my cell phone. So I took a video driving through the valley, and I was hoping to be able to upload it here.
No such luck, unfortunately.
(It is in MPEG-4 formate, I thought that would be OK? Suggestions anyone?)

...but the days are short :-(

Keep warm, and enjoy your winter everyone!