Day in the life

These are fun to read from everyone else, so I thought I’d add mine! For reference, I work from home most Wednesdays and Fridays, but occasionally other days during the week as well, just depending on meetings and current projects, etc. I’m in a business strategy/HR type role in the veterinary industry, so I’m pretty flexible depending on the time. My projects come and go, so certain times are crazy (um, last week?) and others are a lot slower (late summer this year). I’m also on call essentially all the time to deal with various HR things, so while I’m getting better about turning off my phone/e-mail, I’m always aware of it. I’m lucky enough to only be 20 minutes from my office, but I’m a solid 45 to the barn without traffic.

Doc gets Mondays off typically, his owner/Trainer C rides on Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday and I ride Wednesday, Friday, Saturday. This is all a little variable depending on C’s job, so I occasionally will pick up a Tuesday or Thursday.

Other things obviously vary – sometimes I have to work early or late (hi 7am Friday meetings!), sometimes the dog comes with me to work so I have to run him home if I’m going to the barn, sometimes the weather epically sucks and I go home and eat cookies. Such is life.


Click to zoom
Things change a little bit in the summer when I have more light in the evenings or it’s really hot, but this seems to be the consistent schedule for now. Of course, I’m already planning on moving to a new house in the spring because I apparently hate settling in and I’m sure everything will change… again.

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CAF November Combined Test

We left off at a high of 36 degrees and a very pissed off dog who promptly went back to bed as I left. I actually entered two consecutive divisions; our local farm that runs these shows makes it super affordable to do two and if we’re already there… why not?

Proof of survival/regal Saddlebred pose

My dressage ride times were 9:15 (Starter) and 11:10 (BN), so we were tacked up and walking by 8:30 aka my hands were already goners by like 8:38. Aside from Doc feeling very appalled that he was not allowed to graze during our walk, things felt pretty good. As much as I could feel anything, that is. Starter rode BN Test A and BN rode BN B, so I was mainly focused on remembering to turn the correct way at C.

And success! At least of the ‘not forgetting my test’ sort. Still didn’t really get that whole ‘connection’ thing going and my circles were all more of the 15m oval variety than the 20m asked for, but improvement is improvement and we managed a 36.3, which is our best score to date.

Helllooooo 7.5 free walk

Second test, I went in with the instruction to stop, “trying to ride pretty” and to actively ride. What a thought, right? Turns out it even works. We even had moments where we did real dressaging. Miracles, I tell you. The best part? An even better score of 35.5.

An actual moment of dressaging!

By this point, I was only semi-frozen as we’d hit a heat wave of 28, making it downright balmy out. Just in time to go jump.

I’m not cut out to be a midwesterner, plz send more clothes mom

My first round was actually one of the best rounds I’ve ridden to date – things felt really, really good, which is always the best feeling. Minus the small place where I, um, got lost going to 8, nearly rode past it and had to trot it like a snail to get there from the weirdest distance ever. This course also featured the sailboat jump, the site of our first rail at 18″. We got kind of a weird distance to it here and we’re now just convinced Doc thinks the entire jump is stupid and not worth his time, because he made sure to give it a nice whack for good measure (it stayed up). Seriously, we have a sailboat jump vendetta.

Horse iz so cutes

Second round was my BN round, the same course except 5 was now an AB combo. Not nearly as pretty of a course, but we were instructed to get a good distance to the damn sailboats, and we did. Maybe at the expense of um, everything else? But we did!

When your rider basically rides you into the jump and you only manage to knock ONE rail down vs the entire thing

We pulled the rail at 3 because I can’t ride and basically made my horse jump from underneath it like the fantastic rider I am and then I got lost to 6 because I’m an amateur who can’t remember things and all my brain cells were frozen by this point.

Hello, crappy video screenshot

The best part of all this? In August we showed at this same series and I remember looking at the Starter course and thinking they all looked big. Three months (almost to the day!), I went out and didn’t think a single jump on the BN course felt big. That when Trainer C asked what I thought of the Novice course, I was able to say it looked… not that big. Crazy stuff, right there.

This felt totally do-able and great

It’s amazing that I started riding this horse four months ago. Four months ago, I hadn’t jumped a course in 10 years. I said that Starter looked big. And this weekend?

Satin!

We came in 2nd in our first BN CT. Sure, it’s just a CT, we still have an entire phase to add next year (2018, we’re coming!), but I’m pretty damn proud of that. I also feel very proud of surviving (maybe even thriving a little bit?!) a horse show in literal freezing temperatures. It might even feel like a greater accomplishment, but I’m not admitting that publicly.

That’s ending the show season on a high note. (Approximately a 2’7″ note, more precisely.)

Let’s not forget that Auburn win either, kay?!
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How to go to a horse show

How to prepare for your first CT at BN:

  • Have giant work project take over your life, including 10 hour Saturday and Sundays

  • Temperature drops out from under you, making it miserable to go outside
  • When you do make it to the barn, have horse decide he hates you and will only go backwards

  • Back around round pen 45 times until horse decides that also sucks
  • Now you can’t go forwards OR backwards
  • Have saddle rep come out to try saddles
  • …where horse immediately decides he CANNOT HORSE NO

  • Repeat, inability to move
  • Trainer has to get on while you’re supposed to be trying saddles… twice
  • Hallelujah, horse can trot
  • Canter is still iffy
  • Remind yourself that you can trot BN and horse can get over all of them
  • Hyperventilate a little bit

  • Second work project goes from being nice, casual easygoing thing to HUGE PRESENTATION
  • …on the Thursday before your Saturday show
  • Cue anxiety that manages to keep you awake despite Benadryl AND melatonin

  • Sleep is for the weak
  • …or those without crippling anxiety issues. That too.
  • Horse decides he can horse again, but only likes to canter in dressage test
  • NOWALK NOTROT THOSE DUMB, HORSE ONLY CANTER, I IS FAST SADDLEBRED, I CANTER BEAUTIFUL

  • Give up mentally

  • Look at show day forecast: high of 36. Sob.
  • Consider buying stock in hand warmers
  • Figure out how many layers of clothing you can wear and still ride effectively enough not to fall off
  • Get look of pure disgust from dog when you take him out at 5:30am on show day and it’s 15 degrees outside
  • Wait until brain cells are frozen enough that you cannot be nervous, or frankly, care

Recipe for success, right?

Outcome to come tomorrow. Spoiler alert: I am alive.

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Holiday Wishlist

Since we’re now into November, I’m knee deep in Chrome tabs trying to get my Christmas shopping done (uh and birthdays because every member of my family is born within four weeks of each other between Thanksgiving and Christmas, COOL GUYS). Those gifts aren’t much fun to talk about unfortunately – “Dad, what do you want for Christmas?” “I don’t know… socks?”but luckily, I tend to get distracted. By tab shopping (the online equivalent of window shopping) for myself.

Some things I’d love to see underneath the tree…

StyleStock Navy Blink Stock Tie

Obviously I love this. It’s navy, classy, but blingy at the same time. This will come home with me sooner or later. Not a matter of if, but when.

ManeJane Belt

Don’t ask me what color combo I want, because the answer is… all of them. And those rose gold buckles? Be still my heart.

 

Animo breeches

And in ‘things that won’t happen’, we have this pair of Animo whites. WITH SPARKLES. But like, classy butt sparkles. These say, “I’m here to show, but I also like to drink champagne.” Which, I mean… my life. They also come in schooling dark colors, which could totally find their way to me too.

Tailored Sportsman Ice-Fil

Moar. I have an addiction. Look at those colors though… Heart eye emoji x 100.

Ogilvy Baby Pads

So either of those above would totally work, considering they’re my colors. But really, all of them. Don’t let me play on the online customizer, I go into a saddle pad trace and don’t come out for hours. Apparently some stores include them in Black Friday sales (anyone care to confirm if they can order custom color ones?) so these may not even need to wait for Christmas.

K9 Ballistics Kevlar Deep Dog Den

Not horsey exactly, but horse people are dog people. Fin has a horribly annoying habit of destroying dog beds. He leaves everything else alone, so I don’t complain too much, but I’m also really sick of picking up dog-bed-fluff constantly. I saw these at one of the veterinary conventions this summer and was intrigued. Fin loves a bed he can hide in with sides, so I think this one is pretty perfect. While not cheap, they’re not too bad when you consider the cost of replacing beds…

Lorenzini Stirrups

I really like my Royal Riders, especially since changing to the rubber pads, but they’re hard to get back if I drop (…lose) a stirrup. Regular irons make my knees scream and jointed irons turn my lower leg into a swingset, so I think these might be a good option from reading other’s reviews.

Back on Track Exercise Sheet

Love that it’s waterproof, windproof and gross-barn-proof (my backpack got shavings dumped all over it this weekend, it was GREAT). I love BOT products and I think this would be great for helping Doc and I both deal with winter (neither of us are fans) and loosening up.

There’s a few other things that aren’t so much Christmas wishlist items as they are on the ‘to be purchased when I can afford them’ list. Those are a new pair of Roeckl gloves, some additional winter base layers, a pair of insoles for my brown tall boots and new hairnets.

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Nov/Dec Goals

I’m planning on doing a larger yearly goal breakdown (oh, it’s gonna be a total GOST table ’cause that’s what happens when your LIFE IS STRATEGY), but wanted to do some short-term goals between now and the end of the year. Mainly because it’s now dark and cold and the blankets on my couch are really soft so I need to do…something.

Horse/Riding

  • Improve dressage score at final show of year (Nov 11)
  • Do not go off course/fall off at final show of year
  • Confidently get around BN course, however that may be
  • Find something to stop grazing muzzle rubs on smooshy nose
  • Work on not periscoping head around, and instead taking the comments from our last dressage test: “lower neck to connect through back”
  • Work without stirrups every ride, increasing time
  • Ride bareback at least 3 times
Hang out with Lucy aka feed Lucy cookies because she is obviously starving to death in retirement

Life/Personal

  • Workout at least four times while home for Thanksgiving
  • Put money away for saddle fund
  • Read a book instead of binge watching television
  • Snuggle with Lucy horse at my parents’ house
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TAAHH Blog Hop: First Horse

Since I’m still having fun writing about all horses of my past and present, TAAHH’s blog hop seems the perfect place to introduce Coorina.

My first time on Coorina, circa… 2000?

If you ever read the old blog, you may have read the story of my riding accident. Probably will share that one again one of these days, but the short of it is I was 9 years old, trying a horse to buy and he bolted through a fence – and I went through a fence post. It was a relatively gruesome injury and I lost absolutely any trust and confidence I had in horses.

That’s when Coorina came along. She was a APHA mare owned by my aunt and uncle who had purchased her as a yearling in Iowa. They showed her all the way through the levels, including a Reserve World Championship in Western Pleasure by the time she was a 5 year old. When it became apparent I needed something that’s main interest in life was sleeping and eating, they knew she would be the perfect match. To this day, she is the laziest horse I have ever known in my lifetime.

I was a very tiny human.

She came home to live with us and took me from lunge line lessons, to walk-trot, showing at schooling shows where I would only go in the arena if my mom or trainer could come in with me, all the way through showing at the World Show level.

Looking back, I realize she was also probably one of the nicest horses I’ll ever ride. Mare could move, but she was also built practically perfect and that face – I can’t tell you how many times we were asked if she had Arabian in her. We won a bazillion (accurate number right there) halter classes, including some really awesome satin that any kid would have loved despite having to do nothing but stand there and look pretty (her favorite).

This is not to say she was perfect – she hated going hunt seat (probably because she was all of 15.1) and she was a mare. When I first started riding her as a terrified kid, she wouldn’t put a foot out of line, but as I started getting more confident or if others rode her, she was not afraid to express her opinions. Opinions about everything. Didn’t want to trot in showmanship that day? Didn’t do it. Learned how to grab the shank of her curb bit so she didn’t have to listen to me. Refused to do more than one lead change approximately every 20 minutes without turning into a witch. When Lucy came home, she made it very clear that she was in charge and Lucy better not try her. She was essentially a Real Housewife, if we’re being honest.

But, she also let me shimmy up the side when my trainer insisted I had to learn to mount without a mounting block (seriously, did you see how short my legs were? I was like a monkey gymnast). She’d also go on essentially no rein at all, draped to the ground.

In another story that’s too long for this post, she also had a Peter Stone model made of her, which landed us an article in Young Rider (anyone remember that magazine?!) Every once in awhile I see a Coorina model on eBay or Facebook and it never ceases to make me smile that my beautiful mare had an actual model horse made of her – talk about every kid’s dream.

When I started to get ready to move up to the 14-18 divisions and look for another horse (what would be Lucy), Coorina went back to my aunt and uncle to have babies. Her first was a filly by Real Bonanza, Sadie.

Baby Sadie

In typical Coorina fashion, one of the first days they were turned out, they went to bring her in for dinner and Coorina came loping up to the fence (the only time this mare willingly moved at a speed faster than sloths was when food was involved), stopped about halfway to the fence and realized… she had completely forgotten little Sadie. Because in dinner vs baby, those maternal instincts were having a real fight for first.

Sadie did not get her mother’s diva personality

After Sadie was weaned, Coorina actually came back to us and became my mom’s amateur horse for a few years, where they were ridiculously successful because my mother can ride circles around me without trying. It’s fine, she likes chasing cows now and I like pretending to event, we’re all good.

She tried to eat a plant during this class and still was Top 5.

Coorina’s second baby was Sonny, a gelding by Mark This Spot. For a mare who was a prissy western pleasure princess (she is literally known as The Original Princess Pony), both of her babies ended up being badass cowhorses.

This is Sonny showing about a month ago
Sadie a few years ago, she’s in foal for next spring now!

Even once retired, Coorina was the mare I would hop on bareback in a halter and lope around like we were in the world show pen – she was that fancy. We lost her November of 2014 to some type of cardiac event. I was in my first semester of graduate school and it completely devastated me. I remember just laying on the floor of my apartment, unable to pull myself together. This was the mare who gave horses back to me. I have no doubt in my mind I would not have stayed with riding after my accident if it wasn’t for her.

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Learning to breathe

I have been avoiding taking a dreaded bareback lesson for basically weeks now. It’s not like I didn’t ride Lucy bareback all the time, I think it was mostly I knew it would be hard and I didn’t want to work hard. Should probably find a new hobby if that’s the case…

Last Wednesday night was cold though. (If you would like to comment in any other way than commiserating with me, DON’T. I was cold. STOP MAKING FUN OF ME.) It was only 45 when I got to the barn, the sun was going down and when C said, “bareback lesson?” I basically just didn’t have the fight in me (it was frozen). I also figured that was fewer straps for non-glove hands to do, closer to body heat and riding in the indoor meant soft footing if I decided to just bail and fall off.

Turns out, I… enjoyed it?

Yeah.

I mean it was hard, don’t get me wrong. My butt is sore two days later, my hips are like, “hey girl can you go back to yoga plzzzz?!” and my abs are having fun reminding me there are muscles there even if I pretend to ignore them and cover them in ice cream 87.5% of the time.

But it was also fun. We worked on using my breath and hips to change the pace of the horse – something that if you had told me before my lesson I could do, I would have said, “sure” and rolled my eyes. BUT I DID IT.

(From here, this is record for my own knowledge base so beware stream of consciousness and boring.)

Essentially we worked on the swing of my hips at the walk following in the figure 8 motion of the horse’s steps. Keeping my arms at a 90 degree angle, so I’m maintaining my own arms, not letting them be dead weight, and pulling my bellybutton to my spine without dropping my collarbone. Letting my ears drop away from my shoulders (story. of. my. life. it’s a miracle I still have a neck), and using my core to balance and follow. NOT clamping my leg down or letting it creep up and get shorter.

To increase, we added energy to breath, maintaining the same pace and rhythm (four count in through nose, four count out through mouth), making it louder and actually using it to lengthen my spine, making me lighter in the seat. It sounds ridiculous, but makes a lot of sense in context of yoga classes I’ve taken. Breath + hips added pace, all the way through to some really nice upwards trot transitions.

Downward, we quieted the breath. Still the same four/four, but this time being quieter and adding weight to my seat, sitting down. At one point, I got really nice trot-walk-halt transitions through nothing more than seat/breath. Not a single touch on my reins or a ‘whoa’ or anything. Crazy.

Sitting the trot was definitely the challenge of the lesson. It was really hard for me to sit. I would immediately go to clamp down with my legs, which made them shorter, made me actually bounce more and pissed off my horse. Go figure. By relaxing my leg (counterintuitive!) and tilting the front of my pelvis up, Doc actually (kindof) raised his back, got round, and I was able to sit it. At one point we even got a, “You look like a real dressage rider!”

Basically the best comment EVER.

I’m super sore, but have a total new appreciation for riding bareback as more than just toodling along on my horse. I have a feeling there’s going to be a lot more bareback rides in my future this winter.

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Grids and pep texts

Last weekend would end up being the last of our super nice, gorgeous fall weather lessons apparently since I promptly had to turn my heat on on Monday.My usual Saturday lesson was moved to Sunday morning, so after a ridiculously easy hack on Saturday afternoon it was apparent that Doc had been planning on having a lazy-watch-Netflix-couch-potato weekend and I was very rudely interrupting this. Nothing like having non-horse friends in town watch you look like an idiot who can’t get your horse to do… anything. Like trot. Even going out on the track and letting Doc go full out (aka where he usually runs away with me at least once because OMGSOFASTSADDLEBRED) didn’t do it.

Sunday’s lesson ended up being grids, probably further cementing thoughts of, “seriously she spends how much time riding and still looks like that?”

Above video is case in point, where I came around the corner to see everything has been moved up and went WHAT THE HELL THOSE LOOK BIG and Doc said, um I don’t think she wants to do this guys.

We haven’t done grids together before, so this was a new experience for me. Doc, per his usual self, took care of me through them. And yes, I still managed to drift left. Like, here’s an exercise where you literally don’t have to steer Holly and I still manage it. At this point it’s going to be on my headstone: Here lies Holly. Drifted left over an oxer. RIP.

All being said and done, it felt (pretty) good. It’s so comforting to have a horse who I know will get me through (even when I underpower him oops I’M SORRY I FELT LIKE I WAS GOING FAST).

Please ignore the point where I just fall over on my saintly horse’s neck

With that, entries for the last show of the season went in today. CT at 2’3″ starter and gulp… CT at BN. My reasoning being that it’s a schooling show and if I get in there and want to trot everything or just not everything, then I can do that.

Olivia also inspires much confidence. Pep talk (text?) of the century guys (there’s literally no sarcasm in that statement).

Well, Trainer C miiiiight kill me, but I also get to do two dressage tests and GOD KNOWS I need help on those. I’d just like a score less than a mid-life crisis here. I guess we’ll either end the season really high or really low. Aim for the moon, land in the stars basically = aim for BN, chicken out and jump 2’3″ right???

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Octoberfest Charity Combined Trial

The days leading up to and after last Sunday were gorgeous, which means that obviously Sunday was 100% disgusting with rain, wind and overall grey dreariness. Perfect day to go horse show!

When Doc came off the trailer, we all went, “Oh boy, we got two hour Doc.” As in, the amount of warm up he was going to need. Then he realized it was gross outside, there was a hay bag in front of him and it was not, in fact, nearly that interesting, and quickly became 15 minute Doc. I got on way ahead of my 11:15 ride time and we went over to dressage warmup. After a few laps around, I got the ‘balance dressage whip on top of wrists’ instruction because apparently jazz hands aren’t welcome in dressage tests. Rude. I finally got my stuff together more or less, we headed back to the trailer to wipe some of the mud off (a recurring theme of the day) and I changed into a show shirt. Back to the show rings we went, where I promptly realized I had managed to get filthy. This is why I can’t have nice things.

My groom extraordinaire/horse show mom, J, went back to the trailer to grab my quarter zip and I say thank yous to the world who made this a casual dress schooling show. Outfit change complete, we were ready to go show.

This was a better moment

In the ring, we turned into a giraffe. Maybe a llama. Gir-ama? And damn, did our test reflect it. Literally we had the exact. same. comment. the entire way down. “Needs to lower neck to connect through back.” She could have written it once and then drawn a line down with “ditto”. Despite that, it was still worlds better than our first test back in August. Transitions happened in the right place, circles were (mostly) round and I didn’t get lost. I mean, was our score anything to write home about? Not at all. We still have a lot of work to do. But for the second test we’ve ever done? I’m okay with it.

After a quick tack swap, we popped over some warm up jumps, hoping to get in my round before the ominous looking sky decided to stop playing nicely. Crossrail, vertical, oxer, got a, “YES, go jump the entire course like that!” So, obviously, I did not.

One and two went well, at which point I promptly couldn’t find three for a solid 10 seconds. Thankfully, it appeared and we stayed on course. Down the bending line to four, we took our favorite long spot, came around to five where I actually semi-rode, down to six, annndd pull off that patented left drift to seven!

Seriously, why am I incapable of jumping straight?! Eight on the course map shows it out in a line from seven, but when it was set, it was to the inside of seven, so you had an awkward line there, but of course Doc was like, yeah, k.

Over nine, and then past the gate to 10. Almost every horse, including mine, thought they were done after 9 as they came by the gate. I had to seriously add some major leg to convince Doc we had one more jump to actually go do.

HAHA you mean you’re not supposed to leave from the next county over?

Overall, no rails, not the prettiest, but still better than where we’ve been. On the plus side, everything looked tiny. Nothing induces confidence like that. We ended up third in the division and got a lovely pretty ribbon we have no photos with because of the nasty weather. With the gross weather, xc schooling got rained out (my luck is the worst), but we loaded up as the sky decided to open back up and got outta there. I was home by 1:30pm, which is insane to me. Ride times are miracles.

Not perfect, but getting better and what else can you ask for?

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Sun Safety – Important Year Round!

You didn’t think you were just going to get ponies around here with a name like Marescara, right? If you don’t care about non-four legged parts, skip on through, but let’s be real I spend way too much money on assorted beauty products not to spend time talking about them.

In an effort to keep it pertinent to horse people (hah to start), let’s talk about sunscreen. I am a sunscreen nut and will yell at you if you’re not wearing enough/not wearing it/don’t care. Don’t want my friends getting skin cancer, okay? Not so much to ask. Luckily we’re living in 2017 and there are options for everyone out there.

Image result for sunscreen gif

Some of my current favorites?

 So a lot of these are on the higher end of the price spectrum. That’s because I have the world’s most sensitive prone to epic freakouts skin (um, see allergic to my helmet?) and these are what have worked for me. You can definitely find great options in the drugstore or Target. Personally I like the Clarins, MDSolarSciences and Coola for day to day wear, I love the Shiseido for riding and being outdoors and I keep a tube of Neutrogena in my barn backpack.
There are a few things to look out for when you’re deciding on a sunscreen:
Broad Spectrum: Traditional SPF only covered UVB rays – definitely important, but UVA rays are what are known to cause wrinkles and aging. Broad spectrum (or multispectrum) are going to cover both UVA/UVB.
SPF > 15: Most of us are fine wearing SPF 15 (obviously this isn’t medical advice – consult with your doctor if you have specific concerns!) and don’t need the crazy SPF 85 out there. For example, SPF 15 filters out 93% of UVB and SPF 30 filters out 97% – not a huge difference. SPF itself means the multiplication from when your skin would normally burn in minute – eg. if you normally burn in 10, SPF 15 should protect you for 150 minutes.
Water/Sweat Resistant: We ride horses. We sweat (or idk, maybe just me). Resistant does not mean water or sweat PROOF. It means the SPF is effective for 40 minutes in water. In other words, if you’re sweating at a horse show, trail ride or on multiple horses a day – you absolutely need to reapply!
Not just when it’s sunny: You’re like, great Holly, maybe write this in April when we’re about to spend all summer outside. Guess what? Even on the cloudiest of days, 80% of UVB rays still come through. UVB are the burn-causing ones, but both cause skin cancer. So it doesn’t matter if it’s 35 degrees and grey as all get out – put it on.
Use enough: Your face needs about a nickel-size amount alone – and 2 oz. for face and body if that’s exposed too. Don’t forget those sneaky areas – back of neck, upper arms, ears, nose, that exposed spot above your gloves.
UPF Rated Clothing: An average cotton t-shirt only provides the equivalent of 9 UPF protection. By looking for clothing with UPF ratings, you can protect your skin. Kastel provides a ‘high’ level (they don’t give a specific number), Tailored Sportsman sun shirts give 50 UPF, and Bette and Court tops have a 30+ UPF rating, to name a few. It’s an easy way for extra protection.

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