Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Soul Searching

Coach D has been encouraging me to make goals for my horses.  If I have goals we can create a road map.  

And I’ve been struggling with deciding what I want to do.  I have always been interested in eventing and figured that’s where I’d end up.  But honestly even jumping tiny jumps at the eventing 101 clinic… Solid fences kind of freak me out actually.  I thought maybe Henry had potential to be pretty competitive in the eventing world (because he loves water and is sort of athletic…when he wants to be), but now I’m honestly not interested in doing much above the first two levels.  

If I had some specific goals prior to purchasing Mystic and Henry, I would have purchased horses that aligned with those goals.  But I figured I’d try a few things and see what my horses enjoyed…then focus on that.  Which is just the kind of soft mushy plan that leads to nowhere.

After some soul searching, these are the thoughts I have for each horse.


I would really like to get him out to some starter level events.  If things continue the way they have been I hope to get him to one in mid-September.   After just getting the bill for Henry’s x-rays…I don’t know if this is realistic.  We will keep working at things and see where everything is at then.  I think doing the majority of the close-ish events next summer at starter level would be a reasonable goal.  

At some point the big pony will require more maintenance joint-wise and I don’t think I can ask him to move up the levels of eventing much.  I will listen to him when he tells me that we’ve reached the limit.  At some point I’d like to transition to more of a dressage and trail focus with him.  

Goals for the next year: Starter level events (this goal is the ground hog day of my life)

Big picture goals:  Eventually I’d like to transition his focus to dressage/trail riding/husband horsing but I’d like to event him as long as he’s having fun/up to the task.


Now that I have a sound Henry with clean x-rays I feel a bit better about making plans for him.  I have a great body worker on board and will closely monitor if he takes any further off steps (so far so good!).  I’m going to take RK’s advice and try to focus on the hunter ring for Henry.  I contacted a previous instructor, ST, who I really really liked and she’s going to give us lessons on Saturdays starting in September (pending splint setting).  She has quite an extensive background in the hunters (which I kind of forgot about) and is a super positive coach.  I took a few lessons with her on Mystic and I’m excited for her guidance with Henry.  

I’d like to keep up with Henry’s trail riding and obstacle training that RK gave him a wonderful foundation for.  At some point (budget permitting) I’d like to send him up to RK for a month or two for more trail miles.  

Goals for the next year:  Some schooling shows and trail miles.

Big picture goals:  Okay this is a bit out there.  If Henry and I do enjoy the hunters, I would love to save up and head to Thunderbird one day.  I don’t know a lot about the hunters at this point so setting a specific level/height for us is not on my radar yet.


Mystic is honestly the easiest horse to ride in my herd.  I love riding her!  She will move forward (unlike H) but she’s not hot (unlike A), she is pretty much perfect. 

But… I do not enjoy jumping her.  Which is really too bad because she is incredibly honest.  I think conformation-wise we are a bad combination for jumping.  I have a very long torso and she has a shorter neck.  I have never felt like I found the correct balance spot when I jump her no matter what I do.  I know that we both need more jumping miles for me to really say this for sure but honestly…I kind of already know in my heart that we aren’t a good jumping team.  

So with that in mind I have decided our focus will be dressage.  I already have fallen in love with a dressage saddle for her (which is 4 times my budget…hoorah).  For some reason when I saw the saddle it clicked that dressage was what we should be doing.  I’m very sad that Coach B lives so far away from where Mystic is currently boarded because I would love to have her help us.  Once I have the saddle situation sorted out (I think this will require a bit of time) we will go hunting for a coach.

Mud monster! She would be so mad if she knew this pic was online haha 


Goals for the next year:  Lots of trail miles for sure!  Buy a dressage saddle and find a coach.

Big picture goals: I'd like to do first level with her, and see where we can go from there :)

I am hoping that a trailer will be in the picture soon, and that will help the herd be a bit more mobile to meet our goals :)

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Hiatus Explained

Be warned in advance that this post contains uncomfortable (for me, maybe also for you!) details regarding mental health and menstruation.  Two scary M’s!  

Deep breath.  

So although there were a couple of factors that lead to my time off blogging, there was one big one.  Premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

A less scary M! Molly the barn dog :)

I have probably had PDD my entire life, although I only recently got this official diagnosis.  I’ve always had a few days a month were I don’t cope very well and feel very anxious.  But in April it got very bad.

Maybe you’re thinking “Oh like PMS? That’s not so bad.”  And I probably would have thought exactly the same thing.  Until the last few months happened and I spent 5-7 days before my period arrived in a severely anxious/depressed state.  I had what can only describe as an “anxiety attack” before one of my lessons on Mystic - I couldn’t breathe at all and it got to the point of me nearly throwing up.  I was not coping well.   

I am a really silly happy person.  And for those 5-7 days where I felt completely terrible I still behaved like myself.  But it was completely exhausting.   And I got any kind of bad news or anything didn’t go exactly as I planned I would be a complete mess.  Only in May I finally told my husband how tough of a time I was having.  He had no idea.  He said the only time he saw me act differently when was when I got really anxious about trailering Mystic to the Eventing 101 clinic.  Because usually I’m alone in my car driving when I'm upset. 

I decided that this wasn’t working for me and I wanted to make some changes.  I focused all my energy on helping myself feel better. Hence the blog silence in May!

I have switched to different type of birth control that my doctor recommended to help balance out hormonal issues.  I have taken a few CBT sessions to help give me better coping skills on the tough days.  I have decided to limit my driving and riding time a bit during that difficult premenstrual time frame.   My brain really goes into a negative spiral when I’m driving a lot (which I have to do when I see the horses).  And I worry about losing my temper or freaking my horses out with my out of whack emotions (I haven't but I do worry that I will).  I’m also working on getting more sleep, exercise and eating better.  

This is a big part of the reason I decided to move Mystic home from a busier boarding stable.  That barn is also really far away from my house and since driving can be tough on me, reducing my drive time was a good idea.  I also prefer a less busy atmosphere, if I'm having a shitty day I don't need to feel embarrassed (because I'm usually alone).

Anyway, sorry if this was a bit of TMI post to read.  I just wanted to be honest about what's been going on behind the scenes. Things are actually going really great right now and I'm feeling a lot better.  So that's where I was in May :)

Sunday, 14 August 2016


Thank you everyone for all the supportive comments pre-xray and the celebratory post-xray comments!  I can move forward with making some real plans for Mr. H :)

I was able to squeeze in two lessons with Coach D before I left for the music festival (my liver/circadian rhythm are still recovering from a wonderful 3 days!).  My lesson schedule has been so sporadic due to time/budget constraints lately, so I don't usually end up doing a proper re-cap.  But I had two pretty cool lessons that I actually remembered to make notes about on my phone after, so here goes!

Lesson #1 - Apollo

Apollo had a fair bit of time off after our show (his human was sick).   And we haven’t had a Coach D lesson in a while.  I thought we’d be doing a flat lesson for sure and re-establishing things there.  So when I got a text from her asking me to haul some jumps outside.... I was a bit shocked.

But I found myself dragging three jumps out to the front lawn.  

We did start on the flat.  I have a hard time getting him consistently in a contact so she gave me some tips and exercises to help me.  She correctly accused me of not regularly asking him to take a contact so I can’t be surprised that things are hit-or-miss.  

We did this really neat exercise where I did a leg yield in the trot to the wall, did a 10 metre circle and then departed into our canter.  I got the best canter out of him EVER to the left.  And left is his trickier direction!  I didn’t even know that canter lived inside my horse... it was pretty cool!

Then we went outside.  Coach D promptly cranked up my teeny tiny three jumps to a more respectable size.  As far as I can remember I have never jumped Apollo outside.  Which is embarrassing as I have ridden at lots of barns with outdoor arenas/jumps.  

We trotted in and then cantered all three.  He clipped a rail a few times but was very honest about going to the fences.  I was smiling ear to ear and thought we were done.  

And then she cranked them up more (to maybe 2ft....whoa).

We trotted in and cantered all three and he cleared them by a mile.  I really wish I had asked her to take some pictures/videos for me because Apollo felt really great.  
She does this wonderful thing at the end of the lesson where she gives me her thoughts on everything in the lesson and gives me homework.  It really helps cement things in my brain.  It's kind of like Jerry's Final Thought.

Coach D’s Final Thoughts:  She loves Apollo.  She really wants me to get him out and doing stuff.  She thinks he’s quite athletic and agile for a horse of size and he really likes having a job.  She wants to ride him a bit to help give him more education about taking a contact and where to put his body when he’s jumping.  I’m totally on board with that as my current strategy for jumping is currently this “point him straight, add leg, hope for the best”  I think he would be tidier with rails if I set him up a better.  She wants me to make some goals for him.  She is really impressed at how much my release, elbows and hands have improved while I’ve been working on things on my own.  Usually my hands are closed now.  Go me!  My homework is to be more precise about what I’m asking him for and to not put up with his choosing the speed/gait and also figure out what our goals are.

Lesson #2 Mighty Mare

I was in a bit of a time crunch so we did a shorter lesson at Coach D's place.  

She decided to get the most out of a shorter lesson time I would ride without stirrups....

So I did!  And it was not as bad as I thought it would be.  We did walk-canter transitions ad canter-walk transitions.  Mighty Mare is a very well-schooled dressage horse, she has taught me so much and we have really been in sync lately.  Walk-canter transitions feel pretty amazing, especially with no stirrups!  Coach D was happy that my position didn't change when the stirrups disappeared, but honestly I love gripping with my knees without stirrups so NOT doing that was my main focus.

Beautiful Mighty Mare

Coach D thinks riding a super well-schooled horse helps me learn the feel that I'm looking for with Apollo (I agree).  I'm really happy that I've had a few lessons where I really click with Mighty Mare.  I have ridden her a few other times where I just couldn't get into sync with her and now it comes a lot easier to me.

More notes on my "goals" for all three horses coming tomorrow! :)

Saturday, 13 August 2016

August 10 Questions

Where has August gone?!  I have lots of things to report, and many half written posts in my drafts folder.  Thanks L. for these questions to get me back into the groove :)

For example... Henry is back to work! 


1. What is your biggest source of caffeine that gets you through the day? (drink, not just brand)  I have just given up for the millionth time my energy drink habit.  I would easily have two a day (usually red bull, NOS or full throttle).  Now it's just coffee for me :)

2. Do you honestly think your trainer is the best trainer for you?  Yes. I have learned so many valuable lessons from all my coaches over the years (even the shitty ones).  Coach D is exactly who I've needed this past year.  She has been very patient with me and kind to my horses.  I will likely always take lessons from more than one instructor, just to work on different skill sets/have variety but she will always have a special place with me and my herd.

3. One token of advice a fellow rider/trainer/horse person told you that you still remember to this day?  Listen to your horse.

I also LOVE this: 


4. If riding meant costing your family so much money that they'd basically be on the poverty line, or making your family terribly unhappy (if they were not supportive or understanding etc) would you still do it?  Maybe I'm a terrible person, but yeah I would! 

5. (Girls) would you ride while pregnant?  I have given this some thought.  I kind of waffle on it.  I feel like riding for the first month or two isn't a big deal. I just don't know if I could live with the guilt if something did happen...  Undecided!  Not currently a concern.

6.  How do you tell when a horse likes someone/has bonded with you or someone else?  They're all a bit different but they are all suckers for food, their affection is easily earned!  XD

7.  Are horses capable of loving, in your opinion?  I'd like to think so, but I don't know.  I'm happy enough if they associate me with positive things (carrots/brushing) and will walk over to me/whinny when they see me.  That's enough for me!

8. If you could have one horse from your past come back for 5 minutes, who would it be, why, and what would you do with them in those 5 minutes? Blue! I think about this way more than I should.  I would take him for one last gallop across the hay field, do a tiny jump and spend the remaining moments hugging his neck. Damn I miss that horse *eyes currently full of tears*

9. Should a trainer also be a friend, or should it be a student/teacher relationship?  This is a great question!  When I was younger I think I really wanted to be friends with my trainers.  Now if a friendship develops then great - if not, all good!  I do have a few friends who also teach, and I think it might make our relationships a bit weird if they taught me - but I'm open to the idea.

10.  One piece of advise/training you were given by a trainer or mentor that you look back on now and view it as incorrect?  Cartoonish see-saw dressage hands.  *shame*

Now to work on finishing the rest of my posts :)