Thursday, December 28, 2017

2017 Goal Wrap Up

I'll confess to not even doing goal wrap ups some years because the results were not good. Ha. This year, I tried to check in periodically so hopefully we'll see some actual progress. Here goes!

Courage Goals:
1) Starting in February, keep him in work 3x a week--lunging, riding, groundwork.
Success! Definitely more grit than grace at the beginning, but yay for hitting bare minimums.

2) As circumstances permit, pro training (lesson or pro ride) 4x a month.
Ehhhhh let's go with "circumstances did not permit" and call this a success too. I took some lessons on him and he had some trainer rides.

3) 5 off-property excursions: trail ride, clinic, lesson, horse show, or just hanging out with friends.
My records indicate that we left home 3 times--twice hanging out with friends and once to hang out at a show. Plus one time when he moved to his new home. Yeah I'm counting it.


Horse Goals:
4) Get acclimated to riding second level movements whether on Courage or on school horses.
That definitely did not happen. I did ride two horses (one time each) that were capable of second level movements, but I am in no way acclimated to them. Rats.

5) Audit at least three different clinicians.
Well technically I audited one new clinician, loved her, got a new horse, and then rode with her. Since the point of this goal was to develop another trainer to work with, I'm calling it a success.

6) Attend (either as volunteer or competitor) at least three dressage shows.
BOOM.

Well okay I did not compete at horse show one, but I definitely showed up and volunteered and groomed so it counts.


7) Ride 10 other horses in a non-toodling capacity.
I kept a list. I rode:
1) Cocoa - adorable painty mare
2) Nikki - cool second level friesian cross
3) Bowie - fancy warmblood gelding
4) Royal - super cool OTTB dressage horse
5) Hampton - the one and only
6) Roxie - but of course
7) Zoëbird - YAY

I'm 70% there. That's not terrible.


Meta Goals:
8) Attend 1-2 top level equine sporting events (advanced eventing, grand prix dressage or jumping)
CAN YOU SAY ROLEX (aka now not-rolex)? I also hit USDF regionals and watched the FEI tests, so this one is in the bag.

9) Train for and complete either a 10k or half marathon, body-permitting.
Ha. Well. I ran the Beat the Blerch half marathon, then trained for and ran the Beer and Brats 10k. Then I got a stupid injury that I've been recuperating from, but this goal is officially HULK SMASHED.

10) Do core workouts 1-2x a week ALL YEAR LONG (body permitting).
0/10 epic fail here
I can't even go with "body not permitting". It's mostly just that I super hate core workouts.

Official goal count: 7.7/10. THATS PASSING, Y'ALL.
a passing frolic

I do like the process of breaking up goals by specific horse, general equestrian, and personal--it definitely mitigated the effect of epic fails on one front dragging down the whole list.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

2017 Year In Review

I love year in review posts. They're fun to read and putting them together reminds me just how much changed over the course of the year. This year changed more than most, but I think everyone is ending up in a better place. I know I am.

JANUARY


welcome to my personal hell
Hm a review of January postings reminds me it was a shit month full of post-car-accident recovery for me and lunging for Courage. 

There was definitely some epic-level shopping, including one of the more entertaining saddle-buying interludes I've ever had.

I did finally get back in the saddle at the end of the month. Mixed results (the SB code for "almost unmitigated failure).


FEBRUARY 




More of the same--recovery is a slow stupid bitch so I did a write up of vienna reins, which are actually pretty magical.

I also wrote a pretty in-depth defense of draw reins, which tells you exactly how shitty of a horseman I felt like every time I felt like every time I put them on. (Hint: very shitty. But also I am still alive. Trade offs.)

MARCH


I was totally going to post one of the last fabulous pictures of Courage jumping, but the most important post this month was talking about life lessons learned from pain and suffering and horses.

I didn't know it when I wrote the post, but it was the preamble to a lot of important events this year.

APRIL

It's funny--I wasn't blogging a lot this year, but the things I did write hold a lot more weight I think. In Trouble in Paradise, I talk about the challenge of dealing with a tempestuous horse like Courage and in Reality Bites, I try to come to terms with fitting him into my rapidly-evolving life.

I definitely took advantage of riding other horses and trying new things.

MAY




Well most importantly, May was my ROLEX WRAP UP BLOG POSTS.

In non-Rolex news, my life was in the shitter and every dime was going to exciting vet bills to see if we could find a physical reason for why Courage hated being a sporthorse so much. (Answer: ehhhhhh not really.)

BUT THEN THERE WAS A ROXIECORN

And a premonition rumination.

JUNE




This is possibly the least posts I've made in a month since starting this blog over eight years ago (!!). In Well This Sucks, I acknowledged the factoid that the year had been building towards: I couldn't keep up with Courage any more.

And then I took the best piece of advice I've received all year and wrote Ruthlessly Exclude: The Journey.

JULY


July was a month of transitions--Courage landed an upgrade with an amazing human whose goals are more aligned with his. I continued to Ruthless Exclude.

And I found my Zoebird. 

I've basically been gushing about her ever since.

AUGUST


So many new adventures! I had to get ZB all new things, because nothing I owned fit her. We went on her first trail ride and it was awesome. I contemplated the cool things about baby horses who don't have baggage.

Most importantly, I was having so much fun.

SEPTEMBER

Apparently I was quite dramatic--started the month by memorably calling Alyssa a tiny penguin, then gave blogland a scare. Then I got it out of my system by running 13.1 miles for no very good reason.

I definitely wrote some training posts about Zoebird, but the most important thing was realizing just how much she changed my goals.

OCTOBER

I can't look at posts from this month without thinking about everything else going on in my life. I wrote Perspectives to deal with that a little bit. I also asked what made a nice horse.

In quick succession, Zoe had her first canter, first clinic, and I had my first fall off of her.

NOVEMBER


November brought a lot of ammy problems but more interestingly, Zoebird's first real opinion.

I think the biggest (ha ha) realization this month was just how much a baby mare can grow in a short amount of time.

DECEMBER


This has been a mixed month--Zoe and I are putting in the hours to build a solid partnership. Some of that is what you'd think (riding) and some of it is just the day to day "getting to know you" stuff.

As we head into the new year, Zoe is rocking a saddle that fits, a regular program with a trainer, and hopefully an owner who can get (and keep!) her shit together.


2017 was (again) not the year I expected on any level. Any year that ends one Zoebird richer is not a year I can complain about though. I'd say "I'm coming for you, 2018", but the truth is that I'll be over here toodling bareback on my baby mare and anything after that is gravy.






Monday, December 18, 2017

A Very Smooshy Christmas

Good news internet: I officially have a barn friend who is down for random photo shoots. (I guess that's bad news if you hate totally adorable Zoe photos, but I sort of don't believe that person exists.) 
d'awwww
I also have officially the cutest Christmas pictures of all time.
SMOOSH STOCKING
Prepare yourselves to be spammed.
oh and happy holidays! 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

SMOOSH VET

In addition to loaning me an entire pile of saddles to play with, Roxie's mom came to visit the other day. 
10/10 sharing this photo because my hair looks randomly amazing
Annnnnd while she was patting my beautiful Zoebird, she nearly got a chunk taken out of her. Which reminded me I'd been meaning to schedule the chiro vet.

So I did that.
and then we went through the magical light tunnel
it's a thing here ok
Anyways. Zoe is a fantastic lady but her entire life has undergone drastic changes in the last few months and her body doesn't really even look the same. It makes sense to me that she'd need a little support. 
she just wanted to play with the awesome giant horse lego
My chiro vet LOVED Zoe, haha. With Courage, you always had to be on your toes a little bit because he tended to launch in various directions to express himself. With Zoe, we just had to make sure she didn't get a chance to play too hard with the handy dandy standing block. 

Because it looked SO FUN. 
ugh fun police
Aside from being a little bit cranky to tack up, Zoe has been great. I appreciated the vet taking the time to talk about managing draftie type horses. Vet also took her time going over Zoe. She described everything she found as pretty basic stuff given the level of work Zoe is in and her overall training development.
tongue stretch!
You wouldn't think I could find a way to brag about how my baby mare is the best at chiro adjustments, but this is me we're talking about. It was so fun to watch Zoe's brain work. This was her first bodywork appointment, so a lot of what we were doing was unfamiliar. She just sort of let the vet mess with her and then relaxed when she figured out it didn't hurt. 

I wasn't expecting any surprises, but it was nice to have a trusted vet sign off and say "yup everything looks great" after a few basic adjustments. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

#Zoefabulous

I can be a little bit partisan about my horses, as in I always assume they are the best and get a little defensive if people imply they are other than perfect. This particularly applies to the special ones (Cuna and now Zoe).
SMOOSH

Example:

Me: How is training going?
Trainer: Well her steering isn't very good so we worked on it...
Me: 11/10 I can get this horse in and out of more places than any "fancy dressage horse" in this barn right now.
Trainer: ummmm ok?

Cough.

Possibly a recounting of actual events.
what no it doesn't count as me having 5 saddles in the tack room if i don't actually own all of them

However.

I also think that 1) a horse that can only be ridden by one person isn't really trained and 2) all people should appreciate just how fabulous my Zoebird is.

Hence, the past week has been marked by this:




Zoebird has been #Zoefabulous because who are we kidding, she always is.

And that's not me being partisan. It's just the truth. Ha!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Saddlessssssss

I sort of doubt Roxie's mom quite knew that she was adopting myself (and now Zoe!) when she initially was like "come ride my Roxiecorn!"
the Roxiecorn herself!

Hahahaha but now she's stuck with us. Joke's on her.

See, all my horses ever prior to Zoe were 50% thoroughbred or more. Which is fine. It just means that the same general sorts of things worked for them.

Pro tip: approximately 0 of those things work for a Zoebird.
i mean i guess if you duct taped like 3 ottbs together, you'd almost get this wide
And you know. Because I'm way too ocd to let things be "just ok" and must always tweak and get them to "quite good actually", I can be a little high maintenance.

I mean. Y'all ought to be REAL DAMN IMPRESSED that I have gone this long with a black bridle and brown saddle.

Anyways. My saddle doesn't fit. My back up saddle isn't something I want to ride in every day if I don't have to.
a very cute 4

HOWEVER my baby mare is four and basically just doubled in size in four months and, oh, I know NOTHING about saddles wider than like medium narrow.

That makes buying things kinda disingenuous, given her rate of change, as well as expensive because I have no frame of reference for what I'm looking at.

But also I can't just not have a saddle.
i'm really not a great bareback rider

Naturally I texted this entire monologue to Roxie's mom and then started sending her saddles I found for sale online like I DONT KNOW WHAT ABOUT THIS.

Lucky for me, she is a total hoarder who basically still owns every saddle she's ever liked. Also lucky for me, she was willing to loan me a few to try on Zoe. (There is a rather hilarious story about picking them up that involves me mocking her geography skills but karma getting revenge whilst I steered (with no brakes) my motorized toboggan through a mountain pass in a snowstorm, but that's another story for another day.)

She sent me this to-die-for totally gorgeous brown Albion in xtra-super-duper wide, then a slightly wider basic black saddle, then the super wide Roxiecorn saddle.
i really need to get a pic in better light
but then i might never give it back
Three options. Then I can try them all and play with them a bit and at least start to get an idea of what I'm looking for with my baby mare. Makes sense.

Ha ha ha.

First night at the barn, I just reached in the car and grabbed the closest saddle. It was black. I thought it was the less wide one. I set it on Zoebird.
the problem with the dark is bad pictures

And um.

You guys.

It looked real good.

I threw some fittings on. Lunged her. Sat in it. Really liked it. Puts me in a good place. Fits her really well. Maaaaaaybe needs a thin little half pad, but seemed pretty ok without it.
look! riding media!

I looked under the flap to check which saddle it was.

cough.
well that's real wide
Yeah the Roxie saddle. The uber wide one.
why am i surprised?
i shouldn't be surprised
Of course, the fun thing with babies is that if they're not done growing at 4, they're probably not done growing at 4.5 either.

But.

At least we have a starting point?

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Bootcamp Begins!

I'm naturally a very driven person who tends to be a little high strung. Which, whatever. That sort of personality is why I can have a horse as an adult--self aware enough to work on my own, motivated enough to make it happen when things are hard.
and i use dik dik pics as emojis

I aspire to be honest in this space, so without saying anything negative about past four legs, let's just agree that the level of explosiveness I have dealt with in the winter especially took it's toll on me.

In a twist I hadn't thought about, I really don't ride in the indoor arena at all except in the winter after work, when I am usually alone. And the weather is bad.

Which means I'm addressing demons I'd completely forgotten about.

With a four year old.

Who has limited buttons.
sometimes you gotta gallop for SEVERAL STRIDES

That has made the past couple of weeks interesting in that WOW I did not realize how far behind the curve I am mentally.

I think the whole thing shows up in an even more ridiculous light because of how completely and utterly non-plussed Zoe is by all of it. Like. I mean. The indoor arena footing got redone. There are now dressage letters on the wall and (gasp!) a black mark where a tractor tire grazed the wall. Most other horses in work are apparently losing their shit over the offending mark.
it's over there somewhere

And has ZS Zoebird so much as batted an eye?

No.

She has not.
oh look a mildly interesting tarp billowing in gusting wind
whatevsies

What's more, I'd say she's been foot-perfect indoors, but that would be leaving out just how incredible the little lady is. Not only have her feet been perfect, but she's totally willing and on-task and just... wonderful.

I mean, I gush over her, but that's because she's pretty freaking amazing.
also totes adorbs

Anyways.

I certainly have my issues to sort through and I will, but they're the sort of thing that take time and patience and repetition, which again, is fine. It's just not the best for advancing Zoe's training, because she already understands how to toodle around on a long rein while mom remembers how to breathe.
meme via Courage Has Opinions

I was planning to stick Zoe in pro training starting next month, but our trainer had room in her schedule to start this month. It's turning out to be a great arrangement--Zoe gets competent, focused rides twice a week by my trainer. I ride on the weekends and as I have time during the week. If my brain needs to toodle or do groundwork or whatever, it's fine because I know the training is still happening.

And the less pressure is on me, the more I'm able to pull it together and actually have a good time. I'm learning that when I ask Zoe to go, she puts her little head down and just motors and you know what?
closest thing i have to riding media right now haha

It's pretty damn fun.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Baby Mares: They Grow

dust. the season before mud.
I've been in absolute tack ho hysterics lately because it seems like nothing I own fits Zoebird anymore. Which like. Babies grow, I get it. But also she is four and sure people TELL ME that drafties grow through their seven year old year and yes, I've formed her life/training plan around letting her growing body develop, but also like the horse is four. How much is she really going to change?

Cough.

I'll just wait for y'all to quit laughing uproariously.

Okay. So. I was cleaning up my phone pictures the other day and I saw this:
is a baby!
That's a baby Zoebird the first day I ever met her. Look what a leetle beebee she is! 

Annnnnnd here's Zoebird playing in the round pen last week:
VA VA VOOM
And like. That isn't a fat horse you're looking at. Mare is solid. She's muscle. She's pretty fit. She was in great shape when she came too--nice weight, glossy coat, all that. 

It's just that in four months (I counted), she doesn't look like the same horse anymore. 

You can see it under saddle too:
one of her first rides
I think that was like... first few days of August? 

Annnnnnnd here's October: 
mmhmmm
Oh and if you're wondering what a curvy girl looks like without all the tack, well, brace yourself:
that's real round
IN FOUR MONTHS

boss corgi needs more coffee
So uh. 

That existential scream you just heard was definitely someone else saddle shopping. 

Definitely. 
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