Saturday, May 30

Riding lesson

Greetings. Today’s lesson was all about balance and feeling the various muscles that are used to assist in balancing, such as the lap muscles below your shoulders. Also in not tightening my legs around the horse’s middle, since this can tell the horse to speed up. I noticed that I also lean forward a lot, which I’m continuing to work on. More leftovers from the prior mainstream riding center, since I struggled with balance and leaning forward at that place. I was on bareback a lot there, and thus my legs over time got tighter around the horse instead of being loose. The more relaxed you are the better. Brenda said at one point that in a riding class she took, she was prevented from riding bareback for just this reason, that the legs become used to being tight around the horse instead of loose.

After doing some walking around the arena in one direction, we turned and started going the other way. We worked on standing in the saddle when the horse was standing still. Well, perhaps standing isn’t the right word, it was more like rising up. Since I’m so tall, my stirrups have moved further down the horse’s sides, so when I stand or rise, it doesn’t feel like I’m standing. Rather, it’s like I’ve moved a few inches above the saddle. This led Brenda to talk about trotting and posting, and how rising up in the saddle will help when I start doing those things, and later when I eventually move to another horse after Paint.

We then started having Paint walk faster. Suddenly the arena got lots shorter. Brenda helped count the steps along the sides, but after awhile, I felt like we were constantly turning to the right and going in one large circle. The corners of the arena were blurring together for me and I was getting dizzy. I then stopped Paint and tried to explain this to Brenda. She seemed perfectly willing to take things at my pace, which is good. Later, at the usual time when I would dismount in the arena, Brenda suggested that I ride Paint back to the stall area instead of walking beside him. I initially was wary of this since part of it involved going up a hill. I mistakenly heard at the last place that you lean back when going up hill. Brenda told me that you actually lean forward, which I was much more comfortable with. The ride back went fine. I was sure grateful for the grab strap on the pummel of the dressage saddle though, especially on that uphill climb.

One other interesting thing happened today. Before I even started my lesson I went and was visiting the other horses in the stall area that I normally groom and saddle Paint in. Bullwinkle, the 18 hand horse, I was told was getting some hay to eat, then dipping it in his water bucket before he ate it. I quipped to Brenda that he was doing the cookies and milk thing. I then made my way down to First Choice, the other tall horse at this farm who’s stall is on the other end of the 4 stalls from Bullwinkle. After we convinced her to come over and see us rather than eat, Brenda gave me some peppermint pieces to give her as treats. After she ate the two pieces I gave her, she started licking my fingers, then my hand, then my arm. Then, she sniffed and licked my shirt, in front and on the side and in back. It was quite funny. Being the horse lover I am, I just stood there with a grin from ear to ear and in bliss, with this large animal essentially licking my shirt and my left arm and hand. Meanwhile, Brenda and one of the volunteers were cracking up. That was one of those moments that will stay with me for awhile and one I wish I had a picture of. Perhaps we can recreate it later and get one. It was sure fun though. Incidentally, Gucci has had an interesting time discovering where First Choice was licking me and the smells associated with that whole event. Until next time, happy trails.

Monday, May 25

HumanWare press release

Greetings. After reading the following press release, I'm left wondering why HW waited a month or so to put it out. Nonetheless, it confirms that the new age of digital talking books is here for NLS readers. Though I've heard of the new Talking Book players that are starting to be sent to NLS patrons, and though it sounds great and interesting, I'm probably not going to get one. After all, on the Stream, I can read and have access to any number of books at one time, which currently is 44. However, with the cartridge from NLS, only one book can fit on it at once. Plus, I get other options that someone using a regular talking book machine might not have, such as being able to play text and rich tex files, listen to music, put audio bookmarks on my various items, and more. At any rate, enjoy the following note from HumanWare. Though the stream is no longer the only player to play digital books, which is good, it was the first, which is pretty nifty.



Longueuil, May 25, 2009

On April 30, the National Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), a division of the Library of Congress in the United States, entered the first phase of its transition to a digital playback system, as well as releasing an upgraded version of its pilot download website. Beginning with the testing of 5,000 digital players by NLS patrons in their homes, NLS is preparing to launch full-scale production and distribution of 26,000 machines per month this year, ensuring continued access to reading materials for more than 500,000 registered users.

New to the NLS program is a state of the art online component, called the Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) site. This new site for blind and physically handicapped patrons of NLS now provides better than ever access to digital audiobooks and magazines. The BARD digital books and magazines are in the ANSI/NISO Z39.86 2002 format, the specification for navigable digital talking books. Readers may press buttons on the NLS digital talking-book player and compatible players to jump from chapter to chapter, section to section or page to page. This ability to quickly navigate the book structure, combined with the high-quality human recording, make the new digital NLS download books one of the most significant advancements in the provision of talking books for blind and low vision people.

"The high quality navigable digital books from the new NLS BARD service represent a major advancement in access to books, magazines, and electronic braille for Americans who are unable to read print due to blindness, low vision, or physical disability", says Gilles Pepin, CEO of HumanWare. "With BARD, NLS brings its library into the home of its patrons. Not only do NLS patrons now have access to thousands of digital books but they can find their book of interest and download it in minutes independently and from the comfort of their home computer."

HumanWare manufactures the popular Victor Reader Stream, a DAISY NISO compatible digital talking-book player designed in collaboration with the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), which several thousand NLS patrons already use to play the new digital NISO books. The NLS digital books on the BARD site are protected by encryption and compatible digital book players must be authorized by NLS for eligible patrons to play the books.

The ability to press buttons on the Victor Reader Stream to easily jump between chapters, pages, or magazine articles, like the NLS digital talking-book player, provides a rich audiobook reading experience never before experienced by audiocassette readers. For reference books such as cookery books the user can even enter a page number from the table of contents on the Stream telephone-style number pad and the playback will move immediately to that page. With the NLS player, Victor Reader Stream, and the NLS BARD books, users now have immediate access to thousands of books and can navigate them just like they would navigate the equivalent print book's structure.

The new BARD download audiobook and magazine service is available free of charge to eligible blind and physically handicapped individuals in the U.S. and to citizens living abroad, who have access to a computer and high-speed Internet connection, and who have a free NLS digital talking-book player or own an authorized compatible digital talking-book player such as HumanWare's Victor Reader Stream. To learn more about the new BARD service visit

About HumanWare

HumanWare is the global leader in assistive technologies for vision, including products for the blind and visually impaired. HumanWare's products include BrailleNote, the leading productivity device for blind people in education, in business and in their personal lives; the Victor Reader product line, the world's leading digital talking book players; and myReader2, the new version of HumanWare's unique "auto-reader" for people with low vision. For more information visit

Saturday, May 23

Riding lesson

Greetings. Since I haven’t ridden in a couple of weeks, this week’s lesson was all about feeling the rhythm of the horse, paying attention and counting the foot falls. Not so much knowing which feet were hitting the ground at any one time, but feeling all 4 foot falls. At the last place I rode at, the instructor asked me several times to pay attention to which feet were hitting the ground at any one time as well as keep track of the foot falls. Brenda however said that not even she keeps track that much. The more I learn about Brenda and her ways, the more I’m convinced that the instructor at the last place I was at, though she was certainly well meaning, didn’t really know what she was doing, and was trying to be both the therapist and a riding instructor. Anyway, as I told Brenda today, I’m glad to be at a therapeutic center in general and at her center in particular, and glad for the opportunity to ride several horses, and not just be limited to one.

Another aspect of my prior riding came out today as well: my one and only fall at the other riding place. Brenda said that this explained a lot of my troubles, after I told her of the experience. She asked me why I had not told her before, and it honestly never occurred to me. I suppose I should have, but there were no questions in the application packet about prior experience, and as I say, it never occurred to me. I think that the questions deal may change though; after my experience of holding this information, Brenda said while laughing that she might come up with an additional questionnaire for those that have ridden before about their experiences. Though she was joking when she said it, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if she did do this.

Talking about the rhythm of the horse and feeling its hips when it was walking and while I was riding was quite interesting. Hearing Brenda describe what the hips were doing, moving up and down, and then propelling the horse forward was very interesting to me. We did do some standing and stretching in the saddle, but thankfully the horse was standing still this time so I didn’t get dizzy. Brenda talked with someone recently who said that my dizziness might have had something to do with a certain part of the brain that gets out of whack and can throw one’s sense of balance way off. I feel like she and I are better communicating about things after today’s lesson. I have a high tolerance for pain and discomfort, and well pretty much everything else I suppose. I guess that’s one of the things that makes me a good teacher, since I have a lot of patience with people. Anyway, this high tolerance also gets me in trouble too since if I tell someone that my leg hurts, it doesn’t just hurt—it might feel like it’s about to fall off. This was another thing that I had to explain to the last riding instructor, that I’m not sure she fully got. Anyway, I encouraged Brenda to keep asking me if I’m all right, since sometimes my high tolerance can kick in and I may not be telling all.

On the way back to the barn, she mentioned that I might could groom Bullwinkle, the 18 hand plus horse that they have, after a lesson in order to better get to know him and get a sense of how tall he is. She happened to mention that he might be the next horse for me, but only after we get all this initial balance and basics of walking ironed out with Paint. I liked the idea of grooming him and will hopefully be able to do it soon.

During our lesson, there were some deer that showed up and were wandering around outside the arena. Apparently deer at this farm are not uncommon. One of them even jumped the rail of the arena and had to be shown the door. I took my cane this time since I felt it wasn’t fair to Gucci to have her cramped in the floor of the front seat area of my driver’s jeep for 40 minutes each way, and that’s without me wearing my boots. Plus, I was a little curious of how the horses would react to my cane. There ended up being no reaction from the horses, except for Paint. He didn’t react negatively though. When I was leading him down the path from the barn to the arena, using my cane in my left hand and tapping it back and forth, apparently Paint was quite fascinated with this and kept moving his eyes with the motion of my cane.

That’s all for today’s entry. My next lesson will likely be next Saturday. Until then.

Monday, May 18

Shop for stuff and support a guide dog school

Greetings. I received the following information through email. Though I Usually don't help support other guide dog schools, in these economically trying times, if one school benefits it can benefit others. Plus, I do endorse creative fund raising, such as an application for the iPhone that benefits a guide dog school, or in this case, a website whose profits will go directly to the school. Also, before anyone questions me on this, though this post has the label of "Seeing Eye," note that this is the generic label I give to any guide dog related item and doesn't necessarily connect with The Seeign Eye guide dog school, at least not in this case. Enjoy and happy shopping.


Hello Fellow Pet-Lovers,

As you may know, I am a volunteer Puppy-Raiser with Leader Dogs for the
Blind and I am proud to be currently raising my fifth puppy.

Leader Dogs for the Blind is a non-profit organization that relies solely on
charitable contributions and donations for its operation. Recently, Leader
Dogs had to layoff 10% of their staff in order to make ends meet.

My personal contribution as a Puppy Raiser along with financial help from
the Willoughby Lions Club, has not been enough to help the school meet their
goals of issuing Leader Dogs to the blind at no cost to the individual blind

I am attempting to raise funds for Leader Dogs for the Blind by opening an
On-Line Pet Store. Please consider making your pet supply purchases from
this web site as net proceeds will be donated to Leader Dogs for the Blind.

There are a lot of interesting and unique items available for dogs, cats,
fish, birds and even ferrets!

Thank you in advance for your support and please feel free to pass this
information on to your favorite pet lovers!

Linda (Linde) Lindeman-DeCarlo and Future Leader Dog, Augie

Book About Service Dogs Needs Your Stories

Greetings. I've received the following note in my email inbox several times and thought it worht posting here. If you have a story and would like to contribute, either submit your story or get in touch with the person below and she can help put your story into words. I usually don't endorse spreading something far and wide over the vast WWW, but this is one thing that I can endorse. It looks like a good project and like it will be a good book when it comes out. Enjoy, and please excuse any formatting errors.


Book About Service Dogs Needs Your Stories

Let your voice be heard! Kathy Nimmer, a blind high school English teacher
and writer from Indiana, has launched an international effort to gather true
stories of people with disabilities and their service dogs, to be included
in an anthology that Nimmer will seek to publish in the mass market
commercial publishing industry. The project, entitled "Two Plus Four Equals
One," will celebrate what happens when two hands plus four paws combine for
one magical union. The web site,
has been set up to promote the project,
receive prospective submissions, gather contact info from individuals who
have worked with service dogs in any capacity, and field inquiries about the

Nimmer, now working with her third guide dog, wants to hear from you. Start
thinking of incidents involving you and your dogs, things that were funny,
scary, surprising, disappointing, empowering, sad, or simply memorable. The
book will include nonfiction stories, anecdotes, tributes, and poetry.
Explanations and samples of the four genres can be found on the web site.
And, you don't have to be a seasoned writer to take part! There is an
interview option where Nimmer will talk with you and write something for you
about your dog experiences. Submissions will be accepted for consideration
through September 30, 2009.

For purposes of this project, "service dogs" are any canines trained to
assist people with disabilities, including those who are blind, deaf, or in
wheelchairs, as well as those with other medical conditions including (but
not limited to) autism, epilepsy, and muscular or balance impairments.
Nimmer is hoping to hear from people with disabilities, as well as those who
have raised or trained service dogs, or simply witnessed service dogs in
action. If you fit into any of these categories, it is time to let your
voice be heard!

As members of the disability community, you are the best resources for the
dissemination of information about this book that Nimmer is hoping will
change public perceptions of the disabled and their working dogs, so spread
the word! Go to

or contact Kathy Nimmer with questions or suggestions at

Kathy Nimmer: Teacher, Author, Motivational Speaker

JAWS 10 update final release

Greetings. Freedom Scientific has today released the final version of the JAWS 10 update. This final version includes the following changes:

  • Resolved an issue in Internet Explorer 8 where the JAWS Scripts that control reading and navigating the address bar with INSERT+A and INSERT+A twice quickly had stopped working. These commands are very useful when you want URL information without moving your Virtual Cursor from your reading position on the Web page. These scripts continue to work correctly in Internet Explorer 7 and Internet Explorer 6.
  • JAWS correctly reads and speaks the column and field titles in Access 2007 database tables. For example, when you press INSERT+TAB while focus is in an Access table cell (field), JAWS will now announce all field information such as the column name, the field contents, and any other associated tutor message. Previously, the column name information was not mentioned, or it was necessary to press ALT+TAB to leave and then return to the application in order to hear the complete field information.
  • When you use the UP ARROW or DOWN ARROW to navigate by line in the Virtual Viewer while in Access 2007, JAWS now speaks each line. Previously, JAWS would only speak the line of text when you pressed INSERT+UP ARROW to read the current line.
  • The 64-bit version of JAWS 10 now correctly tracks focus when running Microsoft Windows 7.
  • When you select text using SHIFT+LEFT ARROW or SHIFT+RIGHT ARROW, such as in the File name edit field of the Open dialog box, JAWS now announces each character as it is selected. Previously, JAWS would just say the word “Selected” without announcing the character.
  • When composing a new e-mail message using Outlook Express 6, JAWS will now announce the words “Edit, type in text” when you move into the message body using TAB or CTRL+GRAVE. Previously, JAWS would say “Edit, read only.”
  • When talking in a Freedom Scientific Webinar training session, you can use the ALT+L command to lock and unlock the Talk key. This command now functions correctly with the Webinar conference software plug-in that you must install the first time you attend a training session.
  • Resolved several HTML issues when using JAWS with Libera System 7 Framework™ solutions software.

I expect that this is the version they will take with them to the summer conventions to demonstrate and give away at their various FS training sessions. If the pattern for the past few years holds, then this is probably the last major update to this version before we see beta testing and distribution later this year of JAWS version 11. As always, you can get this update by either downloading a copy from the FS site or by choosing the "check for updates" item in the JAWS Help menu and then following the prompts. Enjoy.

Thursday, May 14

New airport relief area for guide dogs added

Greetings. I'm back logged on some potential posts, so you may be seeign more on this blog over the next day or so. Anyway, I received this information a few days ago and thought it worth posting here. Though I don't see myself going to this airport anytime soon, it is good to know about the relief area. Enjoy.


Nashville International Airport (BNA) recently opened a pet relief area for its customers' service animals. This area is located on the north side of the third level, which is the ticketing level, of the terminal.

Please share this information with colleagues, friends and family who may be interested. Thank you in advance for helping us spread the word about the new pet relief area.

Interesting iPhone app

Greetings. This came to my Inbox today and thought I'd put it here. I wonder how many people will ultimately buy and download this application, especially when most iPhone apps are $1 or less. Time will tell. Enjoy.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009, 4:54pm CDT

Apple approves new guide dog game for iPhone

San Antonio Business Journal - by
Tamarind Phinisee

San Antonio application developer Joseph Dolan has created a new interactive
program for
Apple Inc.
that will benefit
Guide Dogs of Texas.

Guide Dogs of Texas raises, trains and provides guide dogs to visually
impaired Texans to enhance their mobility and independence. It is the only
dog school in Texas and is a member of the International Guide Dog

Dolan created a downloadable application called Pocket Puppy Raiser that
allows users to interact with a virtual puppy on the Apple iPhone. Users can
a sleeping puppy's belly until its leg shakes, pet the dog until it licks
the iPhone screen or play a game of tug-of-war with the pup. Apple approved
Puppy Raiser on May 7.

The application costs $2.99 per download and proceeds will be split among
the iPhone App Store, Dolan and Guide Dogs of Texas.

Dolan, a graduate of Texas State Technical College, developed the
application upon the recommendation of his mother, Michelle Pelletier, who
works for Guide
Dogs of Texas as a puppy raising program manager.

Dolan says he plans to upgrade the Pocket Puppy Raiser to reflect the
different tasks guide dogs perform as they grow older.

"I'm thinking about starting the dog out as a puppy, and then as it gets
bigger and becomes a guide dog it will take its owner for a walk on the
and stop at a crosswalk for traffic or for a walk to the Alamo," he says.
"It will be a challenge, but I think I can do it."

To download the app, go to iTunes and search "Pocket Puppy Raiser."

Comparison of USB Flash drives

Greetings. In going through my round of blogs, RSS feeds and podcasts today, I came across this story from Ranger's Twitter feed called Small wonders: the 2009 Ars USB flash drive roundup. Though it does get technical at times, even for me, it does give you an overview of the current flash drives on the market and how well they stack up against each other. In other words, it would be good to read this before buying that additional flash drive. Enjoy.

Saturday, May 9

Gucci's devotion

Greetings. I got a glimpse into Gucci's devotion today. I'm sure she's shown me other signs, but this was one of the few that have been noticeable by me, for whatever reason. It happened during my horseback riding lesson, after I had dismounted and was collecting the horse's lead rope and her leash and tryign to get things organized. I was still feeling a little dizzy. (Refer to the entry on today's lesson for more on this). And I didn't have a good grip on her leash. Sure enough, it slipped from my fingers. Other dogs, when the pressure from the leash lessened like that, might have darted away to have some personal sniffing time. Thinking back, I'm not sure that Gucci did this. I just remember calling her name in a slight panic, since as a blind guy and guide dog owner, you never let go of the leash or release the dog from the leash, unless you want something unpredictable to happen that is. In reality, Gucci might have just turned slightly to look around, but when I called her name, she turned back and took a step toward me, well within my space. I had a hand on her instantly and then one of the riding volunteers handed me her leash. I can't help but think back to that moment of panic for me though and hear Gucci saying in her own doggie way, "I'm here, don't worry." She likes being near me in my apartment, likes being in the same room and not too far away. She'll even follow me if I go from one room to the other in her attempts. She enjoys being near me in my parent's house, after she's done a patrol that is and determined the house to be safe. But this morning's experience was just another indication to me, even more so upon reflection, of that good old German Shepherd loyalty. Or, perhaps it has nothing to do with her breed. All that matters to me is that she was right there and had this attitude of, "I'm here, don't worry," verses running off like other dogs might have done. Thanks Gooch, I can't tell you how much that meant to me.

Riding lesson

Greetings. Today when I arrived at the farm, Paint was already in cross ties ready for me to groom him, which I started doing as soon as I got Gucci tied to a wooden post nearby. Shortly after I started grooming, Brenda came out and chatted with my driver for a few minutes than came over to me and we chatted for awhile. It seems like I always notice something about a horse when I’m grooming them, be it something with their body structure or something else. Today it was the overbite that Paint had. When I asked Brenda about it, she said it was mainly due to Paint’s age and the fact that he’s older. After a few minutes talking about his overbite and folding his lips back, I think Paint got a little tired of having his mouth messed with because he started pulling his head back. This is a gentle horse that wouldn’t hurt anyone, but we got the message.

Soon after I finished grooming him, I tacked him up with the riding blanket, spongy saddle pad and saddle, and then it was time to put on the bridle. I had alittle trouble getting the straps in the right places, but Brenda helped me, at least this first time. I have a feeling that this is another thing I’ll be doing on my own very soon. We then walked Paint down to the riding arena. One of the volunteers tied Gucci to a nearby rail so she could see me and what we were doing.

This lesson was more on controlling the horse with my thighs and calves. We practiced stopping and starting the horse with my legs, thighs to stop and calves to start. Brenda showed me how to get Paint going if the squeeze with the calves didn’t work, which was to give him two light kicks with my left foot. After doing this for awhile, she then asked me to do something which I wasn’t sure about: standing up in the saddle. We did a few rounds of this when Paint was standing still, which wasn’t hard. I even found myself lifting up a few times without being asked or prompted to do so. Each time I stood up, both when Paint was standing still and later moving, I put my hands on his mane, and gradually got used to simply lightly resting my hands on the mane, which was a weird feeling since all of the weight went to my legs and feet in the stirrups. Brenda then threw out the idea of me to stand up a little when Paint was moving, which I reluctantly did. One of the times that I came down though after rising up a few inches, I was leaning a little to the right, and that made me dizzy. The dizziness continued for awhile and didn’t really stop until after I had dismounted and we had walked a little ways. Standing in the saddle is preparation for later activities, such as posting while trotting. We also talked of paying attention to the horse’s movements, such as in his shoulder and when his left front leg was forward, then when it was back, and forward and back, etc. Brenda said this would be important later when we were posting. I got the feeling that posting wasn’t that far away in the lesson structure.

I had a little trouble dismounting since my right knee has been giving me trouble in the last few months. It can hurt at different times. I wear a flexible brace, but there are times when the brace doesn’t relieve the discomfort. Swinging one’s right leg back and over the horse when the knee is really hurting can be a trying experience. Since this current therapeutic riding program uses volunteers, verses the last center I was at that didn’t have them, though it wasn’t a therapeutic center, I took advantage of that and got one of the volunteers to help get my right leg started in the swinging motion. This helped me in the dismounting process. I felt a little awkward asking for this help since it seems like something I should have no trouble with, but I’m glad I did since it helped having someone else propel that leg. Once the leg got to the horse’s rear, I was able to carry it the rest of the way and dismount. Brenda observed that though tall horses are nice, when being not far from the ground is a plus when dismounting, which I agreed with.

Then it was just a matter of taking Paint back to the cross ties, brushing him off, and then making the way back to the car for leaving. I should say that when going from the cross ties area to the arena and back, Gucci’s not in harness. Last week she behaved herself pretty well, but today, she was wanting to sniff everything along the way. There were times I had to snap her leash and pull her forward in trying to get her to pay attention. Perhaps next time we’ll try that walk in harness to get her attention back on walking/guiding, rather than sniffing. I’m not sure when that next time will be, but sometime in the next week or two. Until then.

Friday, May 8

Labels, labels everywhere

Greetings. For the astute Wayne's Blog reader, you might have noticed some aditional links. For the longest time I've added labels to my posts but didn't have an area that displayed all of those labels on my blog. Now I do. I should say here that a couple of years ago when Labels were first introduced, I took several hours one afternoon and labeled many of my posts. There were a few from 2005 that I didn't get to though. If you happen to be looking for that handful from 2005, then you'd probably be better served by going to the archives and bringing up the year/month combination, rather than trying to find them through the labels. Not sayign you won't find them, but just that it might take awhile. From 2006 on though, I'm pretty sure i've got everything labeled. So, from now on, or until I decide to change it which likely won't be anytime soon, you can view posts from any of the labeled categories. I try not to come up with a label that ends up only containing a few posts without just cause. There are a few, such as Petra, Metallica, and some others, but those are either works in progress, or they deserve their own labels, even if they don't contain many posts. Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 5

CNET reviews the Stream

Greetings. Imagine my surprise when going through my daily round of blogs, posts and RSS feeds today to find a review of the Victor Reader Stream done by a CNET reviewer. The article is called An audiobook player designed for the Blind. Apparently you have to have an account with the CNET site or have a Facebook account to post comments. Otherwise, I would have made the following comment: Though the $349 price tag might seem expensive, it's relatively cheap and affordable in the blind community, where many hardware/software products made for the blind cost many times more than that amount. For instance, if you want to use your computer with a flexible and up to date screen reading software package, plan on spending around $1,000. Suddenly, that $349 price tag doesn't seem so much. Also, I think that shipping is included in that price, for what that's worth. AS the article notes, the price is comparable to similar mainstream MP3 players, such as the iPod. There's no indication on when this article was published, but it looks to be fairly recent going on the date of the one comment currently there. It's great to see a mainstream site like CNET review blindness products. Hopefully this will bring even more exposure and users to the Stream family.

Saturday, May 2

First riding lesson in awhile

Greetings. Here's the first of hopefully many new and exciting entries to come. I've started horseback riding again, this time at a therapeutic riding center. Those interested in therapeutic riding can check the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association website. Among other things, you can view a list of riding centers in your state or area, and in many cases visit their websites to read more about what they offer individually. This was how I found the center that I'm riding at. It's good to be back at a therapeutic center and "back in the saddle again." Enjoy.


This is a journal that I’m starting and will hopefully keep up after each of my riding lessons at the therapeutic riding center I’m now attending. The owner/instructor, Brenda, asked me to do this, so I could keep a record of what I worked on and remind myself of it later. When she said this, I think she meant that I was supposed to just write a few sentences on what I learned and covered that day. Me being me though, those “few sentences” are turning into their own journal.

Today’s first lesson had me being introduced to Paint, a paint colored horse standing about 15.2 hands high. Shortly after I arrived and was shown to the area in front of several stalls where I would be grooming Paint, or any horse I would be riding, he was led in and I helped hook him up to some cross ties, so that he couldn’t wander off. I was shown where a tack box was and told to start grooming. I did a lot of grooming at the last riding center I was at, so I quickly started asking to what extent I was to groom. After a few questions and answers, Brenda said, “It looks like you’re going to be our grooming expert.” I learned that they just do a simple groom with the curry comb and a brush, and that’s about it. I was glad to hear this since I had done lots more extensive grooming at the other place, and there were times when this got tiresome. After all, I’m there to ride, not spend the whole time grooming.

Anyway, after grooming Brenda brought out a dressage saddle to show me. The dressage saddles are much more cushioned than the western or English saddles. This helps the saddle absorb the weight of the rider, which is good in my case. They also help to assist in balancing the rider. After riding in a dressage saddle, I like it lots more than the other two types I’ve used.

Our lesson consisted of me walking Paint down to the arena, mounting him, and then riding around in various directions in the arena. During the lesson, my balance was spot on. I was somewhat surprised since it has been several months since I’ve ridden a horse. I suppose balance on a horse is like balance on a bike in a way: you never forget how. Anyway, one other thing about the dressage saddle is that there’s a riding strap around where the hand hold would be on a Western saddle. Brenda admitted that even she uses this strap, so not to feel awkward about holding onto it. She had me at one point raise each of my arms over my head to stretch out the muscles in my arms and back. We talked about the position of the legs and thighs and how to make the horse speed up or slow down mainly with the legs, but also with words. Over all, it was a good lesson.

When done, I dismounted in the arena and helped lead Paint back to the cross ties and give him a quick brushing before we left. My Seeing Eye dog, Gucci, was tied to the rail of the arena and was able to see me during the whole lesson. There were a couple of times that we passed near her when riding and she had a look on her face like, “Hey wait a minute, don’t leave me here. I want to come too.” Someone was available to walk with Gucci to and from the arena and hold her when I was occupied with Paint.

Paint will be the horse I’ll start out with, but not the horse I’ll stay with. I’ve learned that he’s a good walking, balance and beginning trotting horse, but that at some point, I’ll be moved to another horse. I’m secretly hoping for one of the taller horses, but then again, I was grateful for the shorter distance when I dismounted today. I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to go since my attendance may depend on transportation and drivers, but for now at least, my next lesson is next week at 8am. Until then.