Monday, October 23, 2017

Doing It Different

Possibly you remember last month, when I ran my first ever half marathon with, uh, "limited" training and had some takeaways

Don't worry! This is not going to be a fitness blog, because that seems like a super boring thing to write. 

That said. Since said race, I actually have been training (better late than never, amiright), so it was less of a terrible idea when Nadia was like "let's do a 10k!" 
i love medals. also stella needs to up her selfie game.
I hope most of you are familiar with blogger Nadia--she's a badass distance-running, animal-welfare-working, TED-talking, all-around-awesome person with her own super cool baby horse that is basically Zoe's super-talented little sister. 

Anyways. 

I love how connected all this is--last time I ran, I talked about emotional awareness for myself as a rider and how my (lack of) training affected me. And see, this time, I trained. It was not enough, but it was more than before. 
def wore blerch shirt
When I knew what to expect and I knew that I was ready to take it on, the whole race was so much smoother. 

And I know that sounds like a super dumb thing to say, because like... obviously? 

It's the same philosophy I used with Zoe--go slow. Do tiny increments. Set her up for success. Never, ever surprise her. Just simple, methodical horsemanship.
one toodle at a time
 The difference the preparation makes is monumental.

I can't overstate that.

Anyways.

Because a 10k is such a friendly distance (SO SHORT) and because I (omg) actually trained, I finished and only felt about a quarter like death so I was like OMG LETS GO PLAY WITH ZOE WHAT A GOOD IDEA.

And Nadia is like "but I have no riding clothes"
And I am like "soooooo?"
post race stretches!
Because one of the absolutely coolest things about Zoe is I can literally show up and put a bridle on her and we're off on a toodle.
and that's how we did a whole weekend in like half of one day
Because she knows I'll never ask more than she can give. 

And she knows that because I set her up to succeed every single day. 

d'awww

I have bigger goals for myself than just finishing a given run and I have bigger goals for Zoe than just "getting around" a show.

Our path to get there is slow.

Methodical.

And so, so deliberate.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

AND THEN WHAT HAPPENED


I've probably mentioned this, but in case you do something with your life other than obsess over my Zoebird, here's the background:

She's four. She spent six months last year being a driving horse, which is fantastic in terms of being low-impact while engaging her brain and showing her the world. However, as a baby driving horse, she was asked not to canter. And as a baby draft horse, cantering on her own wasn't a high priority. 

When she came home in July, we had lots and lots to tackle and one of those things was learning to canter. We started in the round pen. She could only do a few strides at a time. It was not coordinated. 

awwww babeh zozo

When she got more coordinated, we moved to the big arena! 
sunset lunging picture. yup. 
First I was just thrilled if she got a canter. Didn't matter if it was crossfiring, wrong lead, whatever. 

Then over the course of a few weeks, I upped my expectations to a WHOLE HALF CIRCLE and she had to do it EACH DIRECTION. 

As she got more comfortable, I upped the distance until she was doing 2-3 upward canter transitions each direction for a total 2.5 circles each way at the canter. 

All that was on the lunge line. 

And like.
safety first, kids!

Lunging a Zoebird is a real stupid thing. This is the horse I get on bareback with no prep to toodle and I don't want her to think running is a prerequisite to riding. 

Hence, we've been backing off the lunging but I want her to keep cantering and improving and building strength and muscle memory. 

Which means.

Prolly it's time to try that shit under saddle. 
good thing i don't have a shit ton of canter baggage.
HO SNAP
Soooooo. I seriously considered farming out the cantering process. 

But I have to do it eventually, and after several months of watching a Zoebird canter on a lunge line, I knew she wasn't going to be naughty. 

Last week, I was trotting around. I thought canter might be a good idea, so I asked Zoe to go. She went OH HAI BIG TROT and I was like HO SHIT DEATH NOPE. Plus we didn't have a media person, so even success would have been undocumented, which is clearly the most important issue. 
and then we went on the ditch bank and she was real wild
or like
not
But earlier this week, I was having a real nice ride. We'd done transitions and figure eights and Zoe was being a super lady.

And I thought.

What the hell.
plus media person obv
We got big trot, but instead of panicking, I giggled. 

And then I thought about farming out the process again. 

And then I thought let's do this thing.



If you're a video hater, here's the relevant still:
wheeee!
You can't really see it from this angle, but I have a stupid grin on my face because Zoe is so fun. You can see in the video that she sort of four beats and then is like SMOOSH GOES WOOSH (credit to AA with RA for my new slogan).

It's cute. It's fun. It's SUPER to ride.
AND BRAKES EVEN
I should probably have a cooler wrap-up than, "it was real fun and I can't wait to do it some more", but that's where it's at.

Ms. Zoebird.

The wonder baby. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Sisterhood of the Traveling Tack

Some of you remember my amazing old man horse, Cuna.
hopefully you forgot my over-editing-photos phase
He had a very complex head--big, soft eyes, teacup muzzle, broad forehead. It wasn't until the last few months of his life that I finally found a bridle I really liked on his face. It wasn't even that expensive--a Mark Todd model from the UK that is now discontinued.


It's a lovely piece. I did put it on Courage once or (maybe) twice, but it was so wrong for his face that it wasn't even funny.
nope
Unfortunately, there was an era before google photos and the truly horrible shots are lost to the internet. It also didn't really fit him at all.

So I had this bridle. And it was special to me. But I also had no particular use for it.

And then a friend of mine got her own horse.
The lovely Ms. G
And see, this friend is someone who has meant a lot to me over the years and was really more of a co-owner with me on Cuna than anything.

It was only right that the bridle went to her.

Life changes and my friend ended up horseless.

But when I saw her last, she handed me a bridle bag and said to try it on Zoe and that if it didn't fit, she wanted it back.
awwww
It fits.

I'm rarely weird and sentimental.

Today, I'm weird and sentimental.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

SB Selling Stuff

I have a whole pile of things I've been meaning to list for a while. I'll do my best to provide descriptions and sizes. If you want anything measured, just ask. I will definitely do discounts for multiple items, consider offers, and combine shipping. Prices do not include shipping. I only do US shipping because customs forms scare me. Contact me through the comments or fb if you're interested--I am not the best at checking blog emails.
Cob size turnout halter by Kentucky Leather. Havana with brass.
Tried on, never used. $40 
SOLD

Royal sports warmblood length reins--inside rubber with hand stops
Black leather, hook stud ends, have martingale stops. $20

Western bridle with browband and split reins.
Western "horse" size, so runs smallish. $40
SOLD

Red Barn cob size Capriole bridle
Padded crank and monocrown.
RUNS LARGE, fits more like horse. $120 with inside rubber reins
Peacock Leather Cob size halter
Black with sparkle purple padding, stainless hardware.
Jaw not adjustable. Barely used. $60

Royal Sports clincher bridle. Regular cavesson, padded monocrown.
Black with brass clinches on nose and browband.
Horse size (runs large-ish?). Includes flexible rubber reins. Does not include bit. $60

Ocala Tack Shack blue padded race noseband
Havana leather, diamond cut outs. Nice quality.
Horse/cob size. $35
SOLD

Uisce Saddlery blue padded cutaway noseband.
No crank. Cob size. Black leather, stainless hardware. $35
SOLD


Pagony dressage front boots. Brown.
Average horse size. $30

Majyk Equipe gen 1 dressage front boots.
Medium (average horse). Used a couple times, no sign of wear. $35
SOLD
Barnsby Diablo jump saddle - 18" M tree, minor cosmetic scuffs
Havana leather. Stirrups not included. $450
SOLD
Invictus half pad - white, not shimmable
fits under my 18" saddle
$140
Let's make a deal! 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Zoe Dilemma

A strange phenomenon I've noticed since partnering with Zoebird is people telling me that they want one just like her, but nicer. 
mmm but she's so pretty
Like in those words. To my face.

It's actually a super rude thing to say no matter how you stack it up.

A different version of myself would be bugged about it. I'd think up some sassy answers that pointed out the obviously shitty nature of the comment without actually descending to their level and then I'd giggle about it while they figured out exactly what had just happened.

But see.
all smiles!
I just took my first lesson on my baby horse.
so curvy!
And if you're counting, that means aside from her initial training rides getting started, it's been all me for well over a month now.
all me looks like bareback and toodling
And not only has Zoe been a shining ray of positive energy in my life, but she's also such a game lady. Toodling bareback on a cold windy day? She's your gal. Taking a lesson and working harder than she's worked in her life? Sign her up!
lil workhorse!
Plus, I know the subtle implication of "like Zoe, but nicer" is that she just isn't fancy enough to pull down solid dressage scores.

But you know what I see?
mmhmm
I see a little mare with a walk that over-tracks several hoof prints without even trying, a jaw-dropping trot, a supple back, a developing canter, and a can-do attitude.
plus "cute as shit" should go on her CV
I mean. She's not a "10 mover" and we're not going to win for steering around a training level test, but she's going to be a force to be reckoned with in every arena we show in.
gotta try every option
And she's sharp as a tack, with a calm, willing mind. 
nose in, nose out
She never says no. She just keeps trying. She puts a smile on my face every single day.

And I guess I'm left with the question:
and sometimes she gets it right
How exactly would she be nicer? 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Training the Not-Hot Horse: The Unexpected

Small observations about Zoe-keeping that definitely caught me by surprise:

1) When there are no withers to keep your ass in the center, riding bareback requires actual skills and muscles
not pictured: skill or muscles. Plus Zoe and Lewis the Corgi.
pictured: both skill and muscles
In my defense, bareback riding hasn't been in my repertoire for many years, but now I have a horse that is safe, comfy, and fun. I'm working on it. Let's just say that.

2) It's almost impossible to keep her from putting her smooshy nose on everything--it's a part of her favorite game called "PUTS IT ONNA GROUND".
doorknob ONNA GROUND
I mean. Her smooshy nose is a major selling point so I'm not complaining. My barnmates might be less thrilled come winter and taking turns in the indoor.

3) It's nearly as impossible to pry visitors off said smooshy nose.
SMOOSH

I mean really.

4) She's a bit like keeping a buffalo in the barn--wooly coat, tape fences optional, and corner feeders are made to be removed when dinner isn't fast enough.
Courtesy of Courage Has Opinions

I'd say she's not my BO's favorite, but Courage definitely had his own set of challenging quirks that made him not-barn-favorite either. Let's just say she has be managed more like a force of nature than a horse. 

5) Zero-shits-given is Zoe's approach to life, which is fantastic and exactly what I need. It does require some mindset adjustments on my part though. 
hacking through the scary corner like NBD
I have a set of coping mechanisms I developed to deal with Courage's various antics. While they were useful at the time, they keep getting in the way of me riding Zoe effectively. Next up: putting weight in the right stirrup and breathing on windy days.

Zoe is such a fun horse to work with. I look forward to continuing to learn about her.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

App Review: DressMyHorse

As a founding member of a tack ho cult, I place a very high priority on outfit selection. Thus, when Horse & Hound did a write up the of the "DressMyHorse" app, I promptly mocked T for downloading it, then downloaded it myself to play with.

Full disclosure: it is a free app. I also got it for free. (Noted: search your app store for DressMyHorse with no spaces. Searching for Dress My Horse gets you some very bizarre results).

This app purports to allow you to try different looks on your horse without actually buying them. In theory, it's a boon for people like me who are HORRIBLE at visualizing the outcome of outfits.

In practice, it's SUPER IMPORTANT to remember that LIGHTING MATTERS.

To use this app most effectively, you really need a left side photo of your horse looking straight ahead. Zoe likes to look at me, so my photos are slightly skewed.


There are several manufacturer collections of outfits uploaded to this app. You can scroll through the available items, select what you want to try on, then upload it to the image of your horse (or several boring stock image horses) and voila! Well, not quite "voila" yet. You have the option to rotate and resize the different pieces to get them to match your horse's photo shape.
look book previews

Plus, once you put together an outfit that you like, you can save it to your "lookbook" and/or camera roll to discuss with your friends.
rotating and resizing the tiny boots is hard, ok? stop judging me
From the look book, you can send images directly to your friends and add items to an online wish list.

The actual operation of the app is a bit slow and clunky. Things take a bit to load and it's really hard to move boots around on tiny horse legs because your fingers are covering everything. That said, once you resize a certain collection, it seems to save the settings. 

For example, I dressed Zoe in LE Mieux Apparel:
fanceh
But then every time I did a different Le Mieux outfit, it automatically put the polos on like that. It's not perfect, but it's good enough to give you an idea of how it will show up. 
Now the real question: how does this pan out in real life? I actually have access to two of the outfits I put Zoe in (because tack ho), so let's look at them side-by-side from look book and real life:

Benetton blue Le Mieux and white boots

annnnnd IRL
And the plum set!

Plum Le Mieux set
















you'd never know i took both pics #fail
So I mean. It's not perfect. But the more I play with it, the more I enjoy it. It's super fun to try to put looks together and try things on. I thought I would hate it and instead I've spent waaaaay too much time on it.

To be more useful, this app needs access to more than just a couple fall lines, but if you want to entertain yourself for a slow hour on the cheap, it's fine. I wouldn't pay money for it, but it's fun to goof around with.
In terms of "does this app actually accomplish it's purpose", well, if the purpose was to convince me that Zoe NEEDS a peacock Le Mieux set AND shiny pink open fronts with an outrageous pad?

Yup, it totally worked. 
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