Ventura County Wildfires

All photos courtesy of the LA Times.

Unfortunately, shortly after I posted on Friday my trainer’s ranch, Rancho Sol del Pacifico, sadly went up in flames. They lost everything, including some stallions, as I understand. There is a fund currently available for donations via Meghan Holt’s Facebook page if you feel so incline to donate. Just about everyone in the Iberian horse community knows the Holts. It’s truly a tragedy but considering how quickly the fire moved I think they are fortunate they were able to save any of their horses.

Smoke from the fire as horses are evacuated to the coast in Malibu, CA.

Valeria is safe for now. She is a few miles north of the closest threat. As long as the winds don’t shift she should continue to stay safe. I can’t say the concern for her safety doesn’t keep me worried when I should be sleeping. Currently the Santa Ana winds are blowing southwest. It’s awful for the firefighters and extremely dangerous but at least it’s pushing the flames towards the coast rather than inland where it won’t meet any opposition.

Valeria is the blue dot.

If you’re a Facebook friend I’m sure you’ve seen all the lost/missing horses I’ve posted that have either been set free or evacuated without an owner. It’s truly devastating to see the horrors from last year’s fire, during the same time, repeated. However, with the nature of these rapid spreading wildfires, I don’t think we’ll ever be fully prepared. Most people let their animals go just to give them a chance at survival as the flames overwhelmed homes and barns. One report said a man let all his exotic birds go because he couldn’t evacuate them. I did see a few strange birds in the sky earlier today, so I believe some made it. Hopefully they’ll find their way to the LA Zoo (which also evacuated animals on Friday due to a fire that broke out near them, however it was quickly extinguished and now all animals have returned).

Augie, whose owner Hilary had to leave him with rescue workers as she evacuated. They were eventually reunited 24 hours later.

I’m leaving the San Fernando Valley due to dangerous levels of smoke in the air. I’ve been battling some asthma flare ups and lung distress in the last month. All this smoke isn’t helping me improve. My weather apps lists ‘Smoke’ as the weather for Burbank and the air quality was somewhere above 160 making it dangerous to breathe.

Alpacas and horses left at the beach while owners were forced to evacuate.

In light of all this, I have re-evaluated bringing Aria north until I have my own truck. I have a trailer but always borrowed my parents’ truck whenever I want to haul. For evacuation preparedness, I think I need to have the whole rig available first before I bring Aria into this fresh hell that is the Los Angeles fire season. So far all these fires seem to move too fast to appropriately respond with proper evacuation measures but I’d rather have every option available to me, even if it all happens so fast all I can do is lead or ride her out of danger in the end. This is one more reason I want to move back to San Diego. Not that SD doesn’t have its share of life threatening wildfires.

A pair of donkeys found running loose in the fires.

I will be making an effort to volunteer in the coming weeks as all these displaced horses will still be in their temporary homes at the evacuation facilities. I’m down the street from the Los Angeles Equestrian Center and the Hanson Dam Equestrian Center which have both taken over 300 horses collectively. I don’t think most of them will be returning home any time soon and after the initial flood of volunteers has dwindled, those poor horses will still be there. That’s when I think volunteering will be most important. I had meant to get certified in fire evacuation through the local sheriff and fire departments last year so I could officially go behind fire lines to help evacuate horses. I don’t have a great excuse for why I didn’t, other than life in LA seemed to get in the way but since this fire disaster has happened back to back and I plan to have a horse up here, I really want to ensure I am able to get to my horse and other horses who are in need. It almost feels like a necessity as I read all these articles about owners who were forced to leave their animals behind hoping and trusting that rescue workers would care for them.

Horses at the Sea Wall in Malibu, CA

I hope these fires are doused quickly with as little additional damage done. The reports grow more depressing by the hour but our brave responders are doing their best against Mother Nature. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone effected by these fires.

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Changes in LA

I’ve been in LA working for Universal officially a year now and as I got close to my one year anniversary I decided to do some self reflection. In all that glorious self awareness (haha…) I decided to put my horses’ needs and my health needs before my wants and desires.

My flabby girl. ❤

In doing that I have officially put Valeria on the market. Last weekend I hauled her up to a well known Andalusian trainer for consignment. We’re both hoping Valeria will have a new home by December, especially since it seems like the trainer already has an interested client.

Beautiful Somis, CA. Retirement goals.

However I woke up today to blazing fires evacuating the area around where Valeria currently is, so…fingers crossed the fire goes along it’s merry way and leaves my girl alone. So far the trainer says the horses are safe and not in danger of the fire.

Those aren’t clouds hiding behind that hill.

I’ve also decided to move out of LA to an area with better air quality. It will increase my commute time by double but this smog is killing me–literally. Luckily the area I’ve pick is a true horse community and I will be able to move Aria up for some much needed TLC and riding. She’s really been suffering without the daily fly prevention care.

I do have to consider if keeping Catalina is reasonable but she still has 3 years or growing to do before I have to worry about her future. Three years is plenty of time to move back to San Diego but in the mean time I’m making short term and long term plans.

I’m looking forward to what 2019 will bring for my equestrian life. With all these changes, I’m excited. And you bet I’m going to have an awesome picture of Aria and I riding by Disney Studios. 🙂

Speed Update!

Hey Everyone! It’s been a while but I just wanted to let you all know that the horses and I are doing fine but it’s been so busy at work that I’ve had no time to blog.

Here’s a few pictures from the last few months.

Someone is teething.

Post ride selfie.

Lagging behind on trail because we are both out of shape!

The moose is larger than mom.

And has really started to level out nicely for 1.5 years. Fingers crossed for a little bit more withers to make her uphill but not banking on it because mom is downhill and dad is level.

Had a trailer loading accident.

And we think Ben has a kicking accident (omg his feet–we also had to find a new, more reliable farrier).

And I treated everyone to a view of my newest digs…Which may change next month, making 4 desk/floor moves in one year. Sadly, lots of layoffs last week adding to the craziness at work.

Here’s hoping my work load lightens up soon (haha, hello Holiday movie releases) and fingers crossed that another studio likes my resume because I’m ready for change already.

Spring Riding Update

Quite a few weeks ago I scheduled a lesson with R because I felt Aria sitting around week after week with just the occasional trail ride was pretty horrible. I was a little worried she was regressing in her training because I was having behavioral problems with her.

Aria is quite a bitch when she’s in season. She bites, kicks, charges, body slams, snakes, and in general has a bad attitude about everything regarding other horses. Add very little riding to the mix and it becomes difficult for me to get her to focus and be respectful of other horses. I think it doesn’t help that initially I laughed at her bad behavior. Sorry, I’m That Parent.

Seeing my enabling and error-filled ways I knew we both needed a lesson before everything escalated into a Come To Jesus moment. I loaded her up and hauled her north to her favorite place, Trainer R’s riding academy.

R worked with her on the ground of a line for most of the lesson. He could see several problems that weren’t from regressed training, just from Aria being spoiled and a bully. Alpha mares. Gotta love ’em. Basically I got a 101 on how to stop being a doormat.

Which is interesting because I didn’t even realize I was losing certain battles when I was riding. Due to R having back surgery during Aria’s last two months of training I never got to spend time working with R and Aria together. He did an excellent job of seeing my weaknesses and providing me with tools or solutions to fix the problems. I’m so glad he’s a patient but firm teacher because I had been riding without the eyes of a trainer for quite a few months and it took me my whole portion of the lesson to actually execute a proper circle. Round circles have always been an issue for me when I don’t have walls to encourage the shape.

We worked a lot on just the proper way to ask for a bend and a turn. I had setting my inside rein without giving on the outside. No wonder Aria was giving me shit. I’ve been riding like shit! Unfortunately I’m not really in a place where I can take regular lessons so I’ll just have to settle for them when I can logistically work them out.

R did send me some pictures from my lesson, which are above. I’m sad about two things.

1. Aria has lost all her wonderful muscle.

2. I’ve gained about 20lbs at my new job.

Bad news all around because we’re both out of shape. I definitely need to hit a gym and make better food choices (aka stop stress eating) because extra weight isn’t helping her out of shape back and I’m not thrilled with where my leg is when I ride. I look like I’m sitting in a chair.

All things considered I’m just happy to ride when I can, but I’m also hoping I can ride with some morsel of aptitude. Haha!

Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom

Shameless plugging:

Go see my movie this weekend. 😉

Unfortunately I haven’t ridden in a few weeks now and I haven’t been to San Diego to do all the horse things I want to do. Work and family have been all consuming lately. Hopefully I’ll have an update that’s less a picture of a t-rex that I help build and more of a few horses and rides!

A Peek Into My Day

I’ve spent the last 6 months working on several properties (coughJurassiccough) and luckily have had the pleasure of giving some anatomical input on Spirit models and art.

Seriously, it’s like these people have never seen a horse before. I’ve pulled out my phone to show them how horses look (plus then I get to share all my horse photos! Win-win!!).

What I still can’t wrap my mind around is how the Breyer Stablemates go for $3.99 (blister pack OR blind bag) and the Just Play figures, bling bag only, are $5+!

I mean…look at the quality difference:

Chica Linda sporting that clubbed foot that’s so in fashion.

I don’t know about all of you but I know which one I want to spend my money on.

The majority of our product is pretty nice (I mean, look at that sexy T. rex) but these little Spirit figures really bug me. Interestingly enough the larger toys look great because Breyer designed them and then sold the designs to whoever is producing them now.

Flaca is pretty cute for a floofy horse with a tongue-in-cheek name.

And of course I’ve watched the whole show for work purposes. It’s not amazing but it’s definitely the horse show I wish they had on tv when I was a kid.

Anyway, I really wanted to share those awful little figures with people who would get how bad they really are. Hope you enjoyed that little slice of my life.

If you want to see something else I’ve worked on in the last couple months, just google #AmazonFindsAWay for a pretty fun Jurassic promo with Amazon where they’re delivering the largest shipment ever. I’m pretty proud of all the Jurassic stuff coming out that I’ve helped produce.

Baby Aria Pictures

Bored in LA last week I decided to stalk Aria’s previous owner on FB and found a wealth of 2yo Aria pics!

Her mane was definitely longer than it is now. I need to up my mane care game. Like…Valeria has a gorgeous long Andalusian mane now and I don’t know how to maintain it from 150 miles away beyond Cowboy Magic once in a while.

Last but not least I found the Craigslist photo that made me inquire. Can you believe how ugly she looks here? Luckily her previous owner followed up with professional photos via private message.

I’m supposed to have a lesson tomorrow (YAY!) and plan to write about that as soon as I can.

Right now I’m just praying for Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom to hit theaters so I can catch a break on my current Dino workload.

Growing Up!

Holy cow. If Catalina doesn’t reach 16h I’ll be shocked. Valeria sticks at a conservative 15.2 last time I checked.

She’s living up to her nickname, Moose, at 1 year 2 months old.

I’m horrified by the rubbed out mane. It was so beautiful. RIP mane.

The Saddle Search Continued

When the awesome deal YOLO Treat Yo Self saddle failed miserably I was ready to buckle down for what would inevitably be a real bitch: finding a saddle that fit Aria and fit me.

Honestly that baroque saddle was lovely but not only did it leave the most horrific looking saddle marks it was also pretty uncomfortable in the leg department. I was already kicking my current saddle to the curb for that exact reason and no matter how good of a deal it was, for that price I wasn’t going to accept an ‘okay’ fit.

My butt demands a beautiful leather glove type fit dang it!

I was pretty bummed but I shipped the saddle back to the owner and then immediately searched for my next saddle. This time while I wanted a baroque or alta escuela I decided to be a bit more practical and look at only dressage saddles.

I found one that was in the same price range AND brand new. I’m not the biggest fan of brand new but I’ve also never shopped for a saddle over $300 before, so I figured a quality saddle brand new wouldn’t be difficult to break in.

I hemmed and hawed over it, reached out to the rep and asked several questions. Ultimately the answers came back pretty clear that this would not be the saddle for Aria. It would have the same issues of being much too big and wide as the first saddle.

It’s surprisingly hard to find Iberian tack that fits a tiny Iberian potato like Aria! Everything is built so big and so wide, though we have wide pretty covered because she takes a 7.5 gullet. Not bad for a 14.3h tater tot.

Keeping in mind that she will fill out again with more riding and with her much broader in the shoulders I stuck to flex tree saddles. The next saddle I found was one I had been eyeballing for a long time. It was a little more expensive but I inquired anyway.

They did have one in stock in 7.5. The rep asked me to take several measurements of my current saddle that fit Aria perfectly (go figure). All measurements seemed to check out perfectly. I thought about pulling the trigger. After all, if it didn’t fit I could return it and only be out the shipping cost.

But it was new, so that meant if it didn’t work out I was stuck with an exchange or store credit. I have terrible luck so I prayed this one would be a match because otherwise I might be stuck with store credit for a manufacturer my horse simply can’t wear.

I sat on the idea for a couple days. I rode in my current shitty saddle a few more times. I finally gave in and confirmed I wanted to try the saddle for a Treat Yo Self Redux.

Now begins the nightmare of acquiring this saddle. I had a 7 day trial policy on the saddle. I tried to coordinate the saddle arriving on a Thursday or Friday so that I could drive down to San Diego and have the whole weekend to test it.

Haha.

That SO didn’t happen.

The saddle was scheduled to arrive on a Thursday. I was cool with that. Then there was a delay due to snow storms that postponed it to Friday. I was okay with that too because at least it was actually in California Thursday evening. Then 8pm on Friday rolled around and I checked the tracking number.

Strange, it returned to the shipping facility at 7:30pm. UPS delivers until 8pm. I called up customer support right away. I couldn’t get a person on the phone. I set out a tweet and an email to customer support inquiring about my shipment and went to sleep. When I woke up the next morning I saw that the saddle was on the truck again. By 11:30am on Saturday it was flagged as undeliverable due to a bad address.

Now, I knew this wasn’t true because I had a copy of the receipt. I literally blew up UPS’s twitter account. I also blew up their support page. I called them a few times but due to it being a weekend no one was there to answer calls. Someone on twitter got back to me and said they would let the facility know the address was good and would try to deliver it Sunday morning.

A second twitter rep replied that they don’t ship on Sundays or Mondays so the saddle wouldn’t arrive until Tuesday. Cue me blowing up their twitter DM (they had asked me to follow them by this point). The saddle rep also blew up their phone lines from her side of the country.

I was resigned to wasting my weekend on a saddle that never showed up and would have to drive back down again the following weekend to try it. The saddle did eventually show up on Monday morning. Woo! That first rep must have pulled some strings because it was originally due by end of day Tuesday.

I had to wait a whole week and actually cut out of work early just to drive all the way to San Diego the night before for an early morning ride on Saturday. That night I opened the box the saddle was in just so I could smell the leather all night while I slept. Lol

The next morning I was saddling Aria before she finished breakfast. I took her on a nice hack to build up a solid sweat but I didn’t want to work her too hard if it wasn’t a good fit. Surprisingly the markings came out pretty decent.

But you know, there was still that dry spot on the right side. I personally felt it was my crap seat but I still consulted all my blogger friends for their opinion.

I should also mention (for anyone paying attention to the spoilers in the first picture) that this was also Valeria’s first hack off property! But more about that in another post.

I let the saddle rep know that the saddle had a weird spot that all friends suggested I could just shim. But I was planning to give it one more ride the next day and really pay attention to my seat.

The next day rolled around and I hauled out for a long, serious business kind of ride. I added a little more padding just to give some extra cushion if that spot on the right because problematic again. I really shouldn’t have worried because 1.5 hours later I pulled off the saddle to the most beautiful and even sweat marks I had ever seen.

Before I even unbridled Aria I messaged the saddle rep and told her to consider the saddle sold. Aria didn’t appear sore or in a foul mood (she’s a mare, her mood is already surly due to being in season, so I guess…she wasn’t even more surly?) the next day. Which was great because the saddle fit me great and was very comfortable, making me feel really good about my posture and leg position.

I really thought I would be trying saddles for a while. I guess the shipping nightmare absorbed all that bad juju and the saddle gods took pity on me. #blessed, am I right?! Lol!

I’m now the proud owner of this beautiful saddle that truly feels like a Treat Yo Self purchase.

In case you don’t know me well enough, take that #blessed with a humorous and sarcastic grain of salt. 😉