Post Vancouver Resting

Sorry I’ve been MIA. The day before I was to return from Vancouver I ended up in the emergency room and had to postpone my flight. Who would have thought picking up jeans off the floor would lead to 3 weeks of rest?? 2017 has been a bit of bad luck for me, but I won’t let that keep me down! 

Vancouver from Stanley Park.


Anyway, while my back recovers I’ll try to post but the medication I’m on makes me a little loopy and I’m afraid I’ll just post gibberish (I’m using my spare moment of clarity to write this). Haha. 

Gastown. Lots of animation studios in this area.


Other than the one incident, I had a great time watching the city have an existential crisis over snow and a salt shortage. They were not prepared. The snow and cold weather was a real treat and I loved spending time with my friends. Hopefully I can share more of my vacation with you in a later post (We are boring people but hey, maybe it’s worth sharing anyway!).

Dobbson Street. Warnings like this were common.

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Digger Was Digging

His grave. Just kidding. Sort of.

Saturday’s lesson was awesome but not because it was good. We were going to work on test patterns but due to timing it ended up being a group lesson. Digger hadn’t been out in a week, I hadn’t been to a lesson in two weeks. I was doing my best to piece together a working frame but Digger had other plans, like not listening to any cues. He was a heavy, rooting freight train so I spent the whole lesson a lot of time halting him and backing him up any time he didn’t want to work at a reasonable pace.

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What Digger thought we were doing for the lesson.

His focus was everywhere but on the work I was asking him to do. I really had to get on his case because he was blowing off half halts, ignoring my cue to back up, refusing to turn on the forehand, not slowing his pace when I squeezed with my knees, refusing to pick up the trot without heavy application of the cue plus a cute little crop. After about 20 minutes of fighting him I just didn’t have the energy for the come-to-Jesus moment he needed.

This blasé attitude towards me is what I think led to a pretty wild spook. It didn’t seem like too much in the saddle but I think he reared and sunfish-ed himself into a bolt just based on P’s reaction to it. Truth be told, for a slight moment I thought I would come off because I didn’t think I’d be able to stop him from tearing off across the property. We were working in an open area, so there wasn’t a nice little arena rail to keep us caged in.

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So this is how I die.

In the end I never did get anything accomplished during the lesson, and I wouldn’t even say we ended on a high note (although I did manage to keep my arms from popping off!). Towards the end P asked if I wanted to canter and for the first time since I started lessons with her I declined. I had no business cantering Digger when I couldn’t even control him at the trot. I didn’t want to push my luck.

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What I envisioned would happen if we cantered.

But, all wasn’t lost. Really bad rides like that give me a bump in confidence. When I can survive a beastly horse and not quit because I’m afraid (though fear probably did play in to why I didn’t want to canter) that’s a big bonus for me. There was a time where I would have dismounted and not continued the lesson. Personal growth for me!

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Why am I so sore today? Oh, right.

Sorry for the lack of media and short post. Next time I promise to have more. I’m off to Vancouver tomorrow, so I may be silent until next week. Hope everyone has a good week and weekend!

Be A Girl. Be A Girl. Be A Girl.

You know the scene in The Incredibles where Frozone is asking his wife about his super suit? That’s me and Valeria right now.

Me: Don’t mess with your bandage.
Valeria: Why? *nibbles at bandage*
Me: Why are you nibbling at your bandage? I just told you to stop.
Valeria: Why do you need to know?! *rip!*
Me: Mare! Stop eating your bandages!!

I actually think I cheerfully called her a son-of-a-b**** as she ripped her foot out of my grasp while I was trying to apply the extensive bandaging she’s been prescribed. Don’t try to understand my cursing logic. It clearly doesn’t understand that she’s not a male or a dog and it doesn’t want to.

Overall we’ve been having fun. I’m teaching her better ground manners (seriously, hers are atrocious) and she’s getting back at me by using her ample whiskers to tickle any part of my back or sides that are exposed while I’m leaning over her foot. We are making progress though! For instance, I don’t need to sedate her to apply the bandages. Apparently the vet (I was at work and did not attend) had to sedate her twice to stitch the wound and then wrap her up. I’m pretty sure it’s because every time the vet has come to see her, she’s gotten a shot or a palpation. Talk about a rocky relationship.

But as long as Valeria let’s me rub her big hippo belly and speak into it “Be a girl. Be a girl. Be a girl.” I’m happy. We have to give the foal ground manners, so we can give them to Valeria at the same time. They’ll be in horsey kindergarten together. lol

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This is terrifying.

Alternately I think Valeria’s last line in our conversation could also be “Stop trying to tell me how to live my life!” because, no doubt she is in full teenager mode. Full, pregnant teenager mode. Sob.

😉

When It Rains…

…it pours.

Just kidding. I haven’t had a slew of bad luck or anything but it has been raining an ungodly amount for California. I’m glad. We really need the water to help fight this 63 year drought (I’m trying to exaggerate but some quick research says I might actually be surprisingly close). Being cooped up has clearly gotten to the horses because even with turn out they still manage to hurt themselves.

At least the vet had teal duct tape.

The first time I tried to take the picture. Carrot?

Luckily it wasn’t more than an inch and a half but I still wanted some stitches because of all the mud. Plus the laceration involved the coronet band which is a high movement zone so I felt it was better to be safe than sorry. Apparently it was an old injury, which is really strange because I see my horses every night and spend time brushing them for this exact reason. I even have pictures from Monday night (stitches happened yesterday morning) that I’ve included in this post. Not that it’s a big deal. Cuts and scarring are going to happen. That’s just the nature of horses.

No sense of personal space. Carrot?

On to a totally different topic, I’m discovering that WordPress might not have been the best platform to go with for blogging. I know it’s super customizeable but I find the mobile app really clunky and even the website leaves a lot to be desired if you don’t want to get into html coding. I’m also having a hard time keeping up on comments I’ve left on Blogspot and Blogger pages. I’m using Feedly to follow blogs (which is great!) but it’s not very mobile friendly when you visit the actual blog to comment. I’ve had several comments get deleted because it randomly refreshes the page as I’m typing. If you ever want to see me silently rage, that would be the best time for optimum humor. Haha.

Oh look. Poop! Carrot?

Seriously, I couldn’t get a good picture on Monday. Carrot?

What’s the best way to keep up on conversations in the comment section? Should I get a Blogger and Blogspot account for notifications rather than use my Google sign-in?

So much mud! They were filthy… and also that lip: Carrot?

Valeria’s First Ride

My lesson was cancelled this weekend because of rain at the barn but we didn’t see any rain in San Diego, so I used my spare time to do neglected house/barn chores. In the infinite wisdom only the boredom of cleaning can provide I decided that I would try riding Valeria. After all I purchased her without trying her which is potentially a horrible move. I was told she was broke and that her previous owner, two owners back, used her as a trail horse for his father. We’ve all heard that before, so I was skeptical but optimistic.

I brushed Valeria down, threw an all-purpose English saddle up on her, which she took in stride but I find the Spanish breeds don’t seem to mind anything if they trust you—

Ben is so grumpy about sharing the turn out with Valeria for the night but their stalls are just miserably wet.

Tangent: When I purchased Aria I was under the assumption she had been ridden a couple times. My sister got up on her, my sister is all of 87lbs soaking wet, because we didn’t want to put too much weight on a 3 year old’s back, and she spent about 15 minutes flexing and steering and walking/trotting. Then we find out that Aria had never been ridden. If that doesn’t give you a clear indication of what Spanish horses are capable of when they don’t have a reason to be afraid, I don’t know what will!

—and then proceeded to put weight in the stirrup and jump around like an idiot around her sides like I was mounting and dismounting. No issues, but I wasn’t sure if it was no issues because she’s just a cool green bean or if it was because she’s actually broke. So I stepped into the stirrup, leaned over the saddle and she started walking off. Awesome, she was probably broke because unbroke horses in my experience stand like a rock or boot scoot away.

Internal cheering happened but not for too long because she was walking off with me and I was laying like a sack of potatoes on her back. A couple tugs on the lead line (yes, she’s in a halter) got no response so I slid off and she pivoted to face me like ‘why did you fall off?’ Because you weren’t listening to me you hippo! But she seemed amiable to keep going so I grabbed my bridle, bitted her up…something that needs serious work because she buried her face into the ground, and then I swung my leg up over the saddle and we marched around the arena for a bit. I expected her to feel wider considering her current state of pregnancy but she was pretty slim and surprisingly she felt very tall for being shorter than Ben.

He warmed up to her the next day though and they started sharing hay piles.

After a couple laps and some fun circles and serpentines I got off because I wasn’t thrilled with the saddle fit but want to try one more thing before putting her away so I ask my sister to climb on board and instruct her in a few cues like turn on the forehand which Valeria performed rather sloppily. She either knows it and is rusty or she’s just really smart (this is completely possible because I was starting to doubt how broke she actually is since we couldn’t get her to trot even using a makeshift crop out of bamboo that grows on one side of our arena—necessity being the mother of invention and all).

Overall it was a successful session and I’ll probably do a few more with a better fitting saddle until the end of January before she becomes a bit too big to be carrying additional weight. But ultimately I think I will probably put in a lot of ground work on her before I deem her safe to ride. Unfortunately I don’t have any media from this ride because I’m not crazy enough to snap photos while working with an unknown horse even if they seem to be chill about it all.

My sister’s adorable 24yo Quarter Horse mare, Reece, dreaming (listen with sound!). Hope this makes up for the lack of ride photos!

First Lesson Of 2017

I probably should have prefaced yesterday’s post by saying that I have an excellent vet that answers all my questions (even on her day off) but it was still nice of everyone to tell me to check with a vet. That’s always the best advice and sure enough she gave me all the answers I needed. My foal insanity is fully in check.

No lesson media. Have cats instead.

As I mentioned before I managed to squeeze two lessons in during the New Year weekend because I had Monday off. Love those federal holidays.

Monday’s lesson was not as good as Saturday’s lesson. I think there were a few factors involved that caused both myself and Digger to give a less than stellar performance. First, I think I might be one of the only people that rides Digger at a level that makes him work his butt off so he was probably just as sore, if not more, than I was. I also think he’s a little weak in the back end because most of his lesson riders probably don’t get him to collect or engage his hind end as much as he should. I can’t really explain the feeling but it’s kind of like one of his back legs sticks/gets left behind and then he fumbles a little to catch up. It was most noticeable at the trot and after 20-30 minutes of warming up for practice tests (to include a lot of backing up to help his back end) it went away. He was also being very dainty about the mud, like he wasn’t sure the footing was very good for faster speeds (it totally was, he was just BSing to get out of work).

I’m 100% sure he had serious misgivings about the bit in his mouth. One Saturday I rode him in a broken Pelham with double reins. This time I rode him in a solid Pelham with converters—and let me just go on the record and say that I think converters are pointless and completely muddy up the whole purpose of a double rein bit, but I digress—which he clearly didn’t like and spent most of the ride putting his tongue over the bit and trying to grab the bit between his teeth.

The tests went okay. I rode Training level 1 first…or maybe we only did Training level 1? Now I can’t remember. I know our free walk, while not as swinging as Saturday was at least straighter. Our geometry was not great. I had 20 meter eggs. My prep for each transition was better though and I managed to get him pretty deep into the corners. We did almost run P over during one of the working canter circles despite my outside spur being applied very generously to prevent the blowout.

Overall it’s wasn’t a shit show lesson. Even though it didn’t go as well as Saturday it was nice to see that we could both work (if not the greatest) with disagreeable tack, sore muscles, and questionable footing…Not questionable, Digger is just lazy. Does anyone else have a bad ride and come out at the end of it feeling accomplished that you rose to the challenge of riding the horse you had that day?

Baby Fever

Extra post this week to make up for the lack of posting last week. But also because I have to get this out. It’s been rattling around in my brain for a while and last night got to a fevered pitch.

I am totally freaking out about this foal.

It’s not like this is the first foal we’ve had but I know now how ignorant I was back then and it’s been over 15 years. Plus Valeria is due in early March and our winter autum/winter has been very wet. I would have preferred a May baby.


I have so many questions/concerns (but also will concede that I might just be crazy). What temperature is too cold? Do I need to blanket the baby? How wet can baby get before it’s too wet? How cute will baby look with wet curls? How do I keep baby warm because I keep picturing baby standing in the rain with mom shivering!? Because my horses always stand in the rain at the worst opportuned moments!


I’m not sure why I’m so overly concerned about the weather but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve questioned if an 10’x24′ shade with walls is large enough for a 24’x24′ stall. I’m irrationally freaking out over really stupid stuff. Nevermind all the nutritional junk I need to educate myself on.


Right now Valeria is eating 20lbs of alfalfa a day plus free feeding on bermuda grass. She has become so large recently that I may have to upgrade her from land hippo to wooly mammoth. I’m not 100% sure the weight gain is all baby and I may have actually pushed her into the category of obese by feeding her so much but her top line was starting to look ugly and embarrassing.


Oops tangent. I meant nutrition for the baby. I don’t want to screw up baby joints. Especially on a baby born with an expensive price tag, because I don’t know that I’m keeping this baby. If it’s a colt, I’m 98% sure I’m selling because it deserves to prove it should keep its balls and I’m not equipped to house a stallion (otherwise cut those suckers OFF). If it’s a filly, I may be keeping it because she will probably be a nicer horse than her dam.

I don’t know. Am I courting hysteria yet? I’m afraid to go online searching for answer because I think it will breed more crazy. 

The baby fever is strong but perhaps not in the most productive way. Someone help me…

2017 Goals. Sorta. Maybe.

It seems like equine bloggers are really good at setting goals and achieving them. My hopes and aspirations are usually a much more abstract brush stroke that consist of ideas and thoughts that I might consider pursuing rather than a categorized list. Probably because I’m lazy.

2017

Although when I do decide to pursue something, I definitely fall into the all or nothing category. I don’t believe in half-assing anything. So I thought I might make a few broad stroke goals for 2017.

  1. Compete in a rated dressage show.
  2. Compete in a working equitation show.
  3. Be more creative (play my instruments more or start drawing again).

That looks pretty good for now. Let’s call them a short term goals. I have no clue if I’ll even like showing. I don’t like being in the spotlight but I want to push myself out of my comfort zone. My motto this year is fake it ‘til you make it, which served me well when I was working in the make-up/prop industry.

The last thing I doodled over a year ago and I didn’t even finish it.

I do have a few long term goals that I never really like to commit to paper because failure to complete the big goals can be demotivating. So move to a new place, get a new job that pays better, and lose weight are all amorphous wishes that I chip away at slowly.

I spent 2012-2015 putting all my energy into others and I felt really good about giving back. Then I spent 2016 hating myself for not prioritizing what was important to me. 2017 is definitely going to be the year where I focus on what I want and making sure I’m my number one priority (hence jumping back into equines full tilt).

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My excitement level.

I’m really excited to start focusing on horses again and I won’t even feel guilty that putting my horses first is wildly selfish. But before I buckle down and spend all my spare time with my hooved beasts I’m going to take a trip up to Vancouver to see my BFF and a few other friends I miss.

EDIT: Screen grabs = win. So much for using MS Paint to crop.

New Year’s Eve Ride 2016

I hope everyone had a good New Year weekend. I managed to get two lessons in this past weekend! We squeezed rides in between rain, which was really lucky for me because I drive almost 2 hours one way to get my lessons.

Saturday’s lesson was really productive. I rode Digger, which was nice after not riding in almost 3 weeks because he’s a really chill ride compared to Hail Mary. She was really spooky that day, so I’m secretly glad someone else had to deal with her reactiveness. Of course the flipside for that is that Digger likes to pull your arms off and get really heavy in the frame. So we worked on that for a bit until he was lighter and then practiced Introductory test B.

It went pretty well. I was the first one in the dressage ring that day so it was really easy to see how I was tracking. I have to admit, my geometry was pretty awesome and I was able to follow those lines for all the subsequent retests. Go me. We had a wobbly line during the free walk and my downward transitions were not clean. I also had an issue making it to X up the centerline at a working trot because Digger super anticipates the halt, which means I spend the last few strides trying to keep him moving, so my prep for the halt is non-existent.

After going through that test several times P asked if I wanted to try Training level test 1 just to change things up. I was game, even though it required the elusive canter seat I’ve been searching for. I expected it to be a total mess but also wanted to see what training level required because P really believes that you school a level above what you show and there isn’t a Flail level test, so I really needed to start upping my game.

P called out the test as I went along and I was so focused on just getting my transition, keeping a good rhythm, keeping Digger light in my hands (hahahahaa…), making sure he was round and pushing deep into the corners that I didn’t notice that I was actually sitting my butt down in the saddle when we were developing the working canter. I actually sat the canter for the whole test. TWICE. Like…holy cow.


Maybe the key to my dressage success will be not knowing where the letters are (I know A and X!) and always needing a test caller. Granted my reins got a little too long and Digger wasn’t always as round as he should be, nor did he free walk in a straight line (probably because I didn’t establish enough contact to funnel him through) but I’d say I didn’t do all that bad for my first time running that test.

I wonder if it’s typical for equestrians to over think certain aspects of riding as much as I seem to do. Does anyone else find that the less they think about certain things the easier they come?