Thursday, 31 December 2015

Big Changes for Henry

If I had a dollar for every time I said “This horse is driving me nuts!” about Henry…  I would have bought a horse trailer already.  

Who me?

He licks everything and is constantly untying himself and getting into trouble.  It’s painfully obvious that he needs to have a job.   I had been putting it off sending him for training for financial and timing reasons but I can’t put it off any longer.  

I have booked him in for training on February 1st

I gave his notice at the barn today and booked the haul.  I have a good friend (who knows Henry and his antics well) who recommended someone for him.  His rates are a bit more affordable than Mystic’s trainer so I’m going to go with my friend’s suggestion.

After training there will be big changes. 

I have offered the ride on Henry to Coach D.  She lost her competition horse last year in a freak accident.  She has mentioned several times that she likes quirky horses.  I sent her a few videos of Henry’s two grandsires tearing sh*t up on cross country and I think she was pretty excited!  We are going to play it by ear.  If once he’s finished training they aren’t a match, that’s totally okay.  It would be wonderful to for him to have a job and be ridden by someone I trust. 

If it doesn’t work out I will be listing him for sale. 

I love the little weirdo so much.  It’s not fair to him to sit in a field and go bonkers when he needs to be doing something.  Selling him would be extremely hard for me (as I’ve mentioned before when I’ve waffled about it on my blog).  He reminds me a lot of Blue; they were both quirky odd ducks.

It’s hard to admit that sometimes the best thing for your horse is a different owner.  I’ve done my best but I think he deserves better.  He deserves more time, patience and one-on-one attention than I can give at this point.

In January I will be working with him as much as possible.  I want to give him as much of a job as I’m able to before he goes off to school. 

I hope I’m doing the right thing here.  My gut tells me that it is.  But my heart wants to go cry in the fetal position. 

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Wash, Rinse, Review

I’m really proud of what I accomplished in 2015.  It wasn’t my easiest year but it was one of my best.   I just want to skim over some of the especially big moments from the year!

My friend sent me this, and it kind of became my motto for 2015

I had a rough start to 2015.  I gave up on eventing (for the millionth time) and moved Mystic and Apollo back to the safe haven of my previous barn.  I was incredibly bummed out.  To be honest I had moments where I seriously thought about getting out of horses all together.  I didn't really share that on the blog, but it was pretty obvious my enthusiasm was dwindling.

Somehow I persevered.  I started chipping away at my skills with dressage lessons, got an equine nutritionist on board and continued an endless search for a saddle for Apollo.

In the spring things started turning around.  I found Apollo a temporary saddle.   We started ditch riding and getting back in the groove.  I booked Mystic in for training in the fall.

When summer rolled around I was able to go on a trail adventure with a good friend.  Apollo blew my mind with how well he stepped up for me that day.  I started to have fun when I was riding again (not worrying about lameness with every step).  

I ran two 5ks in the summer also!

In September Coach D joined the team.  She pushed me way out of my comfort zone but is the most positive human being alive.  I started to feel like maybe I didn't suck as much as I thought.  D immediately loved Apollo and encourages me to get him a proper saddle and a real job.

In November I rode Mystic for the first time.  Which is pretty much a dream come true.  I felt safe on her and like I belonged there.  This alone could have made 2015.

In December I found a unicorn – a saddle that fits Mystic....and Apollo.  I even jumped things on Apollo!  (And I was so happy that I will almost cried).

What a year!  The fact that I now have two sound horses who are going so well under saddle makes my heart want to explode.  I had a lot of support this year from my husband, family and good friends.  There was a lot of tough moments but I’m really proud of myself – I didn’t quit (even though I wanted to...a lot).    

I will be doing a detailed goal-planning post for 2016 shortly J  

Friday, 25 December 2015

Happy Holidays!

Wishing everyone a happy holiday season from me and my herd!  

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Flyin' Shoes

Apollo and I had such a great weekend!  We hacked out on the property on Saturday (because it was warm-ish).  He was a bit spicy and forward but was quite good.  

I wanted a leisurely stroll through the picturesque snowy property.  Apollo wanted to go DASHING THROUGH THE @$&@%$#&%@ SNOW.  We compromised and did some walk-trot sets and went in and out of the deeper snow.   He originally tried to tackle the deeper snow by bouncing through it like a deer.  It was kind of hilarious...I laughed so hard I almost fell off. 

Kinda like this...

On Sunday D came out and gave us a lesson.  She was really happy with how the Verhan fit both of us.  She agreed that it’s a touch wide for him and a bit short in the flap for me but that overall it’s about as good as we’ll ever get without going completely custom (which we have tried before...).  I’m still on cloud 9 that I can post the trot properly!  I keep meaning to do more rides in the treeless saddle because I know Apollo really likes it.  But I haven’t ridden in it once since I bought the Verhan.  #sorrynotsorry

There were four dogs playing in the arena as I rode (mine, D’s and the two resident barn dogs).  Apollo didn’t care at all. I  feel lucky that my boy is a cool cucumber.  J

D said that because I had a proper saddle now that she’s going to make us jump stuff. 

We did a pattern that either started or ended on a cross rail.  We even did a bit of leg yielding and canter work.  Which were both rusty but not horrible.  I got to practice my half halts quite a bit!

Apollo was so pumped when we headed towards the cross rail.  His ears pricked up and he locked onto his little fence.  I’m normally such a weenie about jumping but I really had fun jumping him.  D said that my position looked solid and balanced.  #thanksverhan

Our "course", a cross rail, three ground poles in a straight line and a fan

Various paths through the course.. :) 

D is really keen to for me to take Apollo to events this year.  She really likes his attitude and way of going.  There’s a schooling show at the end of February that she’s planning to go to – and she wants to bring us!  

Crossrail, glorious crossrail 

My mind is kind of blown right now.  A year ago I had no horses to ride.  I was paying for three and riding none.  I was pretty bummed out about riding.  What a difference a year makes!  A sound happy Apollo and a new saddle that fits us is the best Christmas gift ever!

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Blog Giveaway: Spirit of the Season - We Have a Winner!

Congratulations to Olivia from DIY Horsemanship!  She donated to Neigh Savers and recently posted about the Neigh Savers Annual Holiday Party.  I had a slow night at work so I decided to do the draw there.

Entries all ready to go!

Christmas cookie tin to shuffle the entries!

Awkward filming of the draw!  (I didn't look over the edge of the cookie can until I had drawn one)

Super festive in the tiny Christmas tree at work!

Olivia please shoot me an e-mail at dreaming900 (at) hotmail dot com and we can get your awesome bracelet from Straight Shot Metal Smashing (and a few other goodies) on the way to you soon.  Thanks Beka for all your help!

Thanks to all who participated! :)  I had lots of entries this year - it's nice to hear about so many people helping out charities (especially over the holidays).

Friday, 18 December 2015

Saying Thank You

How do you say thank you to your coach/barn owners?  Christmas coincides with the end of the year and I feel like it’s a good time to say thank you for the previous year.

I normally just give cards (usually with a candy cane, ooooh!) at Christmas time and that’s about it.  I’m pretty cheap and I don’t usually decorate much or give gifts (besides family).  But this year I have been in the Christmas spirit in a big way.  2015 was a really awesome year and I guess I’m just happy and less Grinch-like this year! 

I bought us a beautiful wreath for our door, chocolate advent calendars, and we sent out Christmas cards.  I’ve decided to something special for Coach D and my barn manager as well.

Best smelling wreath in town!

I am so grateful for Coach D.  She cheers me on but also pushes me outside my comfort zone with every ride.  There is no way I would have felt as confident and calm for Mystic’s first rides without her help.  She allowed to me to pay for some of my lessons with blankets/tack I wasn’t using as she knows my budget is a very tight.  She had to put down her heart horse this year (just before we started lessons).  I found a nice picture of them on cross country and had it made into a sun catcher.  I’m going to give it to her tonight – I hope she likes it!  I received wonderful customer service from Equiglas Equine Stained Glass and will be writing another post on them in the near future. 

I’m also doing a DIY gift basket for my barn owners.  I know what kind of beer they like and I know they like Italian food so I’m going to put beer, wine, chocolate and some Italian food into a gift basket for them.  I bought this adorable cowboy boot wine stopper too!

I was actually planning to give Coach B my romph riding breeches because they’re still a bit tight and she’s thinner than me.  But I wore them last week so I’ll have to come up with something else.  She’s a DQ so something with bling is a must!  Any suggestions? J

I’m curious to hear what others do for their barn family for the holidays! J

Only one day left for my holiday contest, make sure you enter! 

Sunday, 13 December 2015

TRM November BlogHop: 25 Questions

Yeah I'm late to the party as always, but I still want to answer the 25 questions from That Red Mare! :)

1. Mares or Geldings? Why?  Both!  I've always had geldings but I sure love my little mare.

2. Green-broke of Fully Broke? Ha... good question.  If I had to buy a new horse tomorrow I would buy a fully broke horse.  I'm enjoying the learning process of bringing along green horses but a finished horse would be nice too.

3. Would you own a "hotter" breed (ie. Arabian, Trakhener, etc) Sure, as long as they have a brain!

4. What was your "dream horse" growing up?  Probably the Black Stallion, he was pretty awesome.

5. What kind of bit(s) do you use and why? I ride in a french link and also go bitless quite often.

6. Helmet or no helmets?  100% helmets.

Every ride. Every time.  Even when you look like a bowling ball.

7. Favorite horse color?  Nothing looks classier to me than a dapple grey.

8. Least favorite horse color?  I'm not crazy about palominos and buckskins.  But I think that feeling is the result of knowing quite a few recently that were nuts.

9. Dressage or jumping?  Both!

10. How many years have you been riding?  On and off for 23ish years :)  

First helmet!

11. Spurs/whip or no spurs/whip? I'm not against the use of them but I'm terrible at remembering to hold a whip and I've never ridden in spurs.... so for now I say no spurs/whip.

12. Your first fall?  Riding a horse named Cricket in a hay field with my dad in the winter.  I was about 8 years old.  She took off for home and I couldn't stop her.  As she ran into the yard I was pretty sure that she was going to try to jump a fence to get back in with her herd, so I bailed into the snow.  

13. When was the last time you rode and what did you do?  I rode Apollo yesterday (in my new saddle!) and we did walk/trot work over poles.  Working on our fitness!

14. Most expensive piece of tack you own?  My custom made DK saddle.... no comment.

15. How old were you when you started riding?  7 years old!

16. Leather or Nylon halters? Leather is nicer but I'm cheap... so I have more nylon than leather in my collection.

17. Leather or synthetic saddles?  Either.  I only have leather saddles now but I'd be open to a synthetic again. I rode in a wintec for a lot of my high school years and being able to hose it off was pretty awesome.

18. What "grip" of reins do you like?  I like leather laced reins.  The thinner the better!  I ride with thick rubber reins in my dressage lesson and I hate them.

19. English or Western? English.  Saddle is lighter and you can jump stuff.

20. How many horses do you currently own/lease?  I am owned by three horses.

21. Do you board your horse? Self-care/full board? Home board?  I board all three.  They're all on pasture board so hay is provided but I'm in charge of blanketing and grain/supplements.  I hope to have them boarded at home one day!

22. Have you ever had to put down a horse that you loved?  I did.

I sure miss my old boy sometimes.

23. How many saddle pads do you have?  I could always have more!  Probably 15-ish.  Only about 7 I actually like/use.

24. Slant-load trailer of straight haul?   Slant-load.

25. Why do you ride? I love it more than words can describe.  Even when I'm afraid/terrified/exhausted I will never quit.  Riding makes my heart happy.


Saturday, 12 December 2015

I Did a Verhan-y Bad Thing

So.  I bought Apollo a saddle.  I can’t help but feel a bit guilty.  The holidays are coming up and I’m trying to save my pennies for a trailer (note that there is a whopping $35.00 in my trailer savings account right now).   Apollo has a saddle...it’s a treeless monstrosity.  I will never sell it because he loves it so much but I can’t ride him in it more than twice a week.

I started researching Verhan saddles a bit after seeing two that caught my eye at a local tack consignment shop.  Most riders who had them seemed pretty enthusiastic about how much they loved them.  Although there was one comment about how all the riders at a stable referred to the Verhan saddle as the “riding hysterectomy”. 

Riding in a close contact saddle with a dressage pad...whatevs.

I was willing to give them a try because it sounded like they were made for wide horses that have an actual wither.  Apollo has huge round shoulders and I’ve been able to find about 5 saddles out of a million that are wide enough for him.  And 3 of those 5 saddles were clearly made for a wither-less creature.  The DK (which I’m trying not to rag on these days) is okay but was made for a horse that’s more slab-sided (like princess Mystic) and the billets were in the wrong place for Apollo.   Mystic is actually wider than Apollo, which you wouldn’t know to look at them.

I asked my husband if I could borrow his credit card to take the saddle on trial.  Not planning to purchase it but wanting to see if it was worth saving towards.   He said “You can buy it if you want...” (love this man).
I put the Verhan saddle on Apollo’s back and I heard angels singing.  It fits pretty darn good.  Not 100% perfect (it’s a touch wide if I was being picky) but 95% perfect.  Nothing a slightly thicker pad can’t fix.  It also fits Mystic quite well. 

Mare finds this saddle suitable.

The seat is is a bit hard.  No getting around that.  I can see the “riding hysterectomy” thing (my first ride I was only wearing leggings....ow).  If I wear my full seat breeches it's actually quite comfortable.  It’s so nice to be able to sit/post the trot like a human being. 

So I justified this purchase to myself like so: 
-              I rode Apollo for 4 years bareback because the DK was for sale and I couldn’t afford a replacement.  I think I have done my time in saddle limbo. 
-              I will be able to pay it off quite quickly as I just got a raise at work. 
-              It also fits Mystic (traveling pants saddle, I love you!) so I can get more use out of it. 
-              If I want to get Apollo fit I need a proper saddle. 

My life has been taken over by treating Mystic's recent puncture wound (it's minor but I get really fixated on treating wounds).  I have a bunch of half written posts that I hope to get posted shortly.  

Heal pleeeease.

Don't forget to enter my blog giveaway contest, only 7 days to go! :)

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Blog Giveaway: Spirit of the Season

I've decided to do my Spirit of the Season blog giveaway again this year :)  Last year T won a sparkly halter!

This year Beka of Straight Shot Metal (and the Owls Approve) is going to make a Equestrian Handstamped Cuff Bracelet for the winner!  I ordered one for myself with Mystic's show name (which I am super excited about!).

The contest this year is pretty much exactly the same as last year, just a few days shorter (because I'm so slow getting this post up!).

How You EnterIn the next 14 days volunteer for a charity (doesn't have to be horse-related) and either comment on this blog post or make an entry on your own blog about it.  If you've done any volunteering earlier in December it's OK to use that also!  If you aren't able to volunteer you can also make a donation (even for a dollar or two!) to a charity of your choice and make a comment or entry about that.  

Entries will be distributed as follows:

- Volunteering and a blog comment: 2 entries
- Volunteering and a blog post on your own blog: 4 entries
- Donation and a blog comment: 1 entry
- Donation and a blog post on your own blog: 2 entries

I'm not high tech (sorry!) so I will seriously will be drawing names from a hat.  Apollo and I will be announcing the winners via video on December 19, 2015.  

I know that not everyone celebrates Christmas - but I hope everyone can see the value of donating time/money to a charitable cause.  If you have any questions feel free to ask! :)

Monday, 30 November 2015

Promised Land

Mystic and I had solo ride #2 last night!  


I convinced my husband to join me.  I was a bit nervous to be riding a green horse alone....and I also wanted pictures.  Considering that we had to get up really early on Sunday to take our family Christmas photos (in the freezing cold on the snowy barn lawn) he’s pretty much a saint.

Mystic was ready to go to work the moment I put her saddle on.  I can tell that she’s really enjoying having a job.  I lunged her for a few minutes and then hopped on.  She stands like a rock and is very patient waiting for her cue to move out.  

I forgot my half chaps so I had to ride in my stable boots.  I ride in them a fair bit but in this particular saddle my legs were getting pinched at the trot.  I did a few laps of trot in both directions but mostly walked.  I did lots of big circles and figure 8s.  I rode her with the halter underneath the bridle (like last time) and I am not so great at managing reins/leadropes in my hands at the same time but I muddled through!  

Much muddling

I am still on cloud 9 with Mystic!  For such a green horse she is such a good girl.  She willingly moves into a trot and stays there, but doesn’t get racy.  She also is happy to transition back down to a walk.  She isn’t a complete plug, she tried to drift towards the exit and away from my jump equipment a few times but was easy to correct. 
I actually have to keep reminding myself that she’s a green horse.  I stupidly dropped the reins and took off my vest last night while we were stopped last night (wtf is wrong with me? Not good green horse etiquette!).  She stood like a rock.  I feel so safe on her.  When Apollo had thirty days under saddle I did not have to remind myself that he was a green horse!  He bolted quite a bit and was always looking for things to spook at.   

The trainer took Mystic on her first trail ride last Thursday and said she was quite good.  A little nervous at first but she settled after a few minutes. 

Going forward in January/February Mystic will have three trainer rides a week and two rides with me.  That feels very manageable at this point.  I’m waiting to hear back from the trainer about booking lessons and what Mystic’s ride schedule with her will look like.  

Tomorrow I will be rolling out my Spirit of the Season blog giveaway...! :)

Tuesday, 24 November 2015


I rode Mystic last Friday morning.  (spoiler alert: it was amazing)

Before I get into the details I just want to touch on how strange this whole “sending a horse for training” thing has been for me.  I was really hoping to be more involved in the process.  The trainer works with young horses during the day (when the arena is quiet – fair enough!) but I wasn’t able to get any time off work.  

I’ve been in charge of everything in Mystic’s world since she was 6months old (3 years!) and now for the past three weeks someone else has been handling her and teaching her new things.  This just feels weird to me.  I knew I didn’t have the skills to continue her training and I’m not able to be there for her training – so I had to trust the trainer.  

I’ve been spending a lot of time with Mystic in the evenings still.  Mostly just grooming and feeding her.  She seems happy and she’s lost a few pounds (which she needed to do).

I was invited to watch the trainer work with her on November 11 as I wasn't working for the holiday.  I didn’t fully know where she was at with her training when I planned that visit.  I was really nervous driving out to the barn that day.   

These were the kind of things rolling around in my mind:

“Did I do enough to prepare her for her training?”

“What if she’s really bad/scary/dangerous under saddle?”

“Am I going to be riding her today?”

“Squeeeeee!  I’m so excited!!! :D”

Mystic had her first ride off the lunge line that day and she was very well-behaved.  I had nothing to worry about after all!   Everything was going so well with Mystic :)

Quick video of the trainer riding Mystic...with my terrible filming skills.

Everything has not being going that well for me otherwise.  I've been really struggling to balance things in my life lately.   I had a rubble-ish lesson with coach D again last Wednesday and came home in tears.  And I wasn't really upset about the lesson.

I'm exhausted from working 50-60 hours a week, managing the care of all my animals, trying to be a decent wife/daughter/friend, working on improving myself as a rider and trying to get into better shape.  Trying to do everything I want to do is really hard.  Maybe impossible.  I had pictured Mystic's training and my life in general looking a bit more like the montage in Dirty Dancing where baby learns to dance.  But sadly no...

After my rough night on Wednesday...I got a text on Thursday morning from Mystic's trainer telling me how well she was doing.  And she asked if I wanted to ride her on Friday morning.

Well.... Ok let's go for it.

So on Friday morning I hit the road with my husband at 6am so I could ride Mystic before I went to work.

Ready to go! 

The trainer rode first and then I hopped on.  It was a pretty surreal moment.  Even though she felt different than any other horse I've ridden I didn't feel nervous or unbalanced on her.  I kind of felt like I'd been riding her forever.  I expected to be riding a baby noodle horse.  She was much smoother and more forward than I anticipated.  I don't think I could have asked for a better first ride.  I'm also happy to report that I didn't look too tall for her!

 Prepare for a media explosion!  Thank goodness my husband was there to cheer me on and take pics/videos. :)

All the hard work I've been doing felt completely worth it once I got to ride my sweet pony. :)  I am so happy with the wonderful job the trainer has done with her.