Finally home again and not dying (thanks bronchitis, you were SUPER FUN) – so far, 2019 has consisted of taking down the pony Christmas tree, watching football and half-unpacking my suitcase. And complaining I should have stayed in Florida where it was warm and not raining. I did come home to a secret santa gift (hi Emma!) so update to come soon on that.
I’ve been musing over goals for 2019, finally ready to have a normal, consistent year. I now have a horse I’ve been riding for a year and a half, a great supportive trainer, a new job (!!) to support said pony activities, an apartment I love and (knock on wood) no broken bones or lingering injuries. Can we just say, it’s about freaking time?!
2018 was uh, not, my year. To say the least. It had a few high points (event camp, new apartment, first BN) but it was definitely a low year. But I figure that means ’19 can only go up.
Keeping up here is definitely on the 2019 goals list, so stay tuned for things to come!
We’ve already established my love of 2018, but in an attempt to end things on a positive-ish note here, I figured I’d steal Amanda’s idea and talk about some favorites – with photos!
Favorite show photo
I mean, this one should speak for itself, but I’ve never seen another photo perfectly capture the absolute joy I find in riding. Having that moment of absolute pure happiness en route to finish our first BN HT is a priceless moment I will treasure forever.
Favorite non-show photo
Captured by a barn friend on a quiet fall afternoon, I love this moment she caught. This horse has been the bright spot in a dark year and while the competitions were amazing, some of the moments I’ve needed most this year were these – quiet hacks just between us.
Favorite thing you bought
My beautiful custom boots with navy metallic snakeskin accents… that didn’t fit. Yeah, I’m a little bitter. Know anyone who is an 8-8.5 wide calf who wants a killer deal on gorgeous boots? Then they too can have the best purchase of 2018…
So instead I’ll pick my Majyk Equipe half pad I still haven’t reviewed okay I’m sorry I know. It’s been awesome, still looks like the day I bought it and got Doc’s stamp of approval – no easy feat.
Favorite moment on horseback
So this was actually captured about six strides after the very first photo here and they’re both probably my favorite moment, but.. whatever. Coming through the water, over that jump and crossing the finish line at that first BN is a feeling I won’t forget for a long, long time… and is probably a Top 5 Life Moment for me.
Favorite moment out of the saddle
Is this absurd? Yes. Do I love it so much? Yes. Sharing a bag of Goldfish with my favorite red horse at event camp, surrounded by great people and having a great time – it’s a good memory to reflect on.
Favorite “between the ears” photo
This doesn’t look like anything special – boring arena, boring tack, not even an interesting saddle pad. What’s not pictured is that this was my first ride back after being cleared to ride following my back fracture. While I may still be dealing with lingering issues, not having to get rads every 4 weeks and being limited to doing nothing is much appreciated. Nothing like a bad injury to make you appreciate your health and well being.
Favorite horse ridden/groomed/cared for other than your own
I have a total soft spot for Doc’s neighbor in the barn, Neil. Neil’s a retired hunter who enjoys taking my things and hiding them in his stall, mugging for cookies and being generally adorable. He’s one of my favorite horses (& his mom is one of my favorites too!) and he and Doc miiiighhhttt have a brotherly war over cookies going.
Favorite funny picture of your horse
This isn’t funny of my horse per say… more like ‘why am I publicly sharing this’ – oh wait, because I’m shameless. Yes, that is me chasing my horse down who decided to exit stage left while setting poles. And yes, my friend videoed me chasing him rather than you know, help me.
Favorite fence that you successfully jumped or movement that you conquered
This jump was at event camp, during a SJ lesson where everything just… came together. Perfectly. (Well, as perfectly as anything does with horses). To have less than two weeks back on a horse, one jumping lesson (over crossrails) and to show up at camp and jump around this two days later? Yeah, definitely a favorite. (Also, I’m conceited and I think we look athletic and like real jumpers)
The end of summer brought some low key weeks with it (as if all summer hasn’t been low key, but…) around here. Doc and I went on a nice long trail ride with a friend a few weeks ago (where we played in the water), then Finny the Dog and I packed up and spent a week with my parents at their house in Florida (next to the water) where we did a lot of iguana stalking, crab chasing and reading. I’ll let you guess who did which.
We got home just in time for football season to kick off with a big Auburn win (yes, this is not horse related, I do not care, it’s my blog). And then for it to start raining (water from the sky).
And basically never stop. I was pretty sure I needed to trade my car in for a boat this weekend. Instead, I lessoned Saturday morning, came home and drank pumpkin spice chai while watching college football all day. Not a bad way to spend a gloomy Saturday.
Lesson itself was good, but not great. We were just figure-8-ing over a cavaletti in the middle and I just could not. At the trot my body decided I was a walk-trot beginner. I tried (in no particular order): throwing myself and horse at the pole, getting behind the motion, acting like we were jumping 3’6″, falling on his neck and bouncing around like a disaster in motion. Cool, cool.
I earned myself a lunge line lesson for that one. Yup. Reins taken away, two point on a circle, stand up, back to two point, figure out how to actually, you know, carry your own body. Weird idea.
So I’m like, cool, got this now. An exercise that most 11 year olds can do, but whatever. We’re cruisin now. Let’s canter!
Off the right lead? Great. I can do this. Look left, come around the circle, remember to sit up… and miss the cavaletti. Veer right.
Repeat 509349534 times. (No, literally it felt like that many times). FINALLY, I manage to not dive at it, sit in my right seatbone, keep my outside leg on and tap on the right shoulder and we, you know, canter over a 12″ cavaletti. Big accomplishment here guys!
By this time, by back is done. While it’s healed and I’m medically allowed to do whatever I want, I’m still so weak through my core that I can feel it get tired much easier/faster than it used to. A year ago, I would have pushed through it, but these days I’ve had to accept that it means it’s time to cool out. Riding through it either leaves me hurting for days after or just becomes unproductive. No point in really continuing to practice doing things wrong. So Doc got lunged over it to the left to prove to him that uh, he could do it, it’s just his uncoordinated minion who can’t.
It finally stopped raining (insert hallelujah hands here) and was sunny and beautiful today. I’m (hopefully!) in my last week or two of funemployment, so I’m trying to take advantage of all the gorgeous fall weather we’re supposed to get here. Wouldn’t you know, I had an amazing flat ride. So much power and roundness from his hind end, really good canter work and some lovely transitions. I guess someone was as happy to have sunshine as I was.
I’ll be out of town for a bachelorette party the last XC schooling date in September here, but the tentative plan has us doing a CT and (finally) a HT in October, so I’m ridiculously excited and hoping things can fall into place. It’s been a non-existent show season and I’d love the chance to at least get out once before winter sets in and I have to hibernate.
If you think the blog has been quiet the last few weeks, it’s because it has. Because life in general has been quiet. First, we had an easy week post-camp where we did a lot of toodling, some bareback hacks and general summer activities. Doc took care of his favorite human, C’s son.
Then, we did some dressaging – good, solid work, but not the most thrilling to write about… “Cantered on a 20m circle. Stop collapsing left. Trot transitions. Trotted on 20m circle.” NYT Bestseller, right there.
I volunteered and jump judged at IEA Leg Up Horse Trials last weekend and had a blast. They only ran three divisions (Starter, BN and Novice), so we were done with XC by.. 1pm? I hung out and helped set SJ courses for a while and was still home by 3pm.
I had this cute little combo, of which you only see A. Unicorn was double clear XC, obviously.
I had the fun jump of the only refusals of the day, but everyone got over and had a good time.
Doc promptly ripped off his shoe and half his front foot with it and earned himself a week of vacation, along with his nice case of scratches. Cool story, bro. I spent my birthday washing legs and slathering on Desitin, although I did turn him into a couch while we grazed out front of the barn. Because nothing says cLaSsY eVeNtErS like running shorts, tennis shoes, tshirt with who-knows-what on it, bareback grazing in a halter in the driveway.
Just keeping it real around here so nobody starts thinking I’m fancy or something.
As of this morning, Doc has shoes on, my accomplishment of the week involved finding a brand new Patagonia Capilene top at Goodwill for $3, I am still interviewing for jobs and therefore have negative horse budget or fun budget or any other budget. But we’re going XC schooling Saturday, I’m now closer to 30 than 20 but still got carded this week and I only had to pull one stick out that Fin the Dog managed to get stuck in his teeth like the genius he is.
It’s a glamorous life we lead. I’m just going to keep pretending I’m on summer vacation.
I was lucky enough growing up to have my horses at home, right in my backyard. My dad built my mom and me a little two stall barn with a tack room and wash stall, later adding on a third stall and hay storage area. We also kept a lot of our daily tack in the trailer and just walked over there to tack up, so needless to say, there was no lack of storage space. (Sidenote: this is also why I never had a tack trunk and never understood them.)
These days, it’s just Lucy living her best retired life at home along with her mini donk Sancho. My arena is still there, but has seen better days. But the last time I was home, I snapped a few photos of the barn and thought they’d be fun to share (because I love seeing photos of other people’s barns!)
New Mexico means sand and sand means dust and dust is why our barn will not ever look like some east coast (or uh, anywhere it rains) barn. Luckily our barn stays relatively cool in the summers (perks of no humidity) and moderately warm in the winters (not that the horses take advantage).
Both stalls open out into large paddocks and then Lucy’s actually opens into a big turnout. She paces in a stall and will walk the fenceline into a ditch in the paddock, so she just has free roam which helps to curb it… some. She’s still a pacer at dinnertime, but she’s also 20 at this point and we’ve given up. We refer to her being out in the “field” but again… New Mexico. There is no grass. It is dirt.
Opposite Lucy’s stall is our grooming/wash stall – it has cross ties and then shelves for collecting dust organizing.
The aisleway leads to the second stall (really the first one because you pass it when you walk in…) and the tack room.
There’s the mini tour of my home barn, in all its glory. Sometimes I really miss having it all right there, but mostly I love being at a barn where there are other people and horses and friends to talk to and ride with. I spent so much time growing up riding completely alone or in a private lesson, that I really craved that social interaction.
It’s so surreal to me that I’ve been riding this horse a year. A year. With a three month break so really more like nine months. For years I was the most nervous rider – I wouldn’t go on a trail ride, even on my dead broke QH. The slightest thing was enough to make me want to get off, much less my horse deciding he didn’t have brakes that day. I had reason to feel this way, but I thought that would be why I’d always be a QH rider or maybe if I got brave, I’d go do the hunters.
An eventer? Me? Never in a million years.
And then this week, here we were. Galloping around, having the time of our lives. Trusting the hell out of my amazing chestnut opinionated Saddlebred (who got like 59053809 compliments this week and deserved every single one of them). Feeling like I’ve found my place. Where I can be brave and do hard things and challenge myself a little bit more every day.
There’s a line in the Auburn creed that says, “I believe in a sound mind, in a sound body and a spirit that is not afraid, and in clean sports that develop these qualities.” The last line of my RoadID says “& a spirit that is not afraid” because sometimes I need that little reminder. (And I just love that line, okay?)
My friends may tease me (lovingly) that I went to pony camp and that I’m always at the barn, but this makes me the best version of myself. It makes me braver, it makes me grittier, it makes me happier. And it may be dressage or jumpers or endurance or western pleasure for you, but for me right now? It’s eventing.
It’s a reminder that I can do hard things.
2018 has been a year of hard things. I broke my back. I left my job the beginning of June, under less than ideal circumstances. I’ve felt lost and sad and useless and I’m simultaneously overqualified and underqualified and I’m “not the one” and I’m ‘just not the priority’ or “it’s not you, it’s me”. But this week was a week where a group of people I’d never met stepped up and cheered and said, “Yes, you can!” and celebrated when I did.Where people laughed at antics, cheered when you conquered something (hey, I see you coffin jump), never let you leave the barn without a, “Have a great ride!” Where I was told, “You are enough, you are good, you have this” and I believed them.
It may seem deep and emotional for a week of pony camp, but the things this week taught me run a lot deeper than the barn. I did this week on my own – I hauled myself, unloaded, tacked up, fed, hooked up the trailer, hauled home, parked (!!) the trailer. Things I never had to do all by myself because I had the world’s greatest horse show mom. But at the same time – I didn’t do it on my own at all – I did it surrounded by a village of people.
I got through grad school knowing I could do hard things. And then somewhere in the last two years, I lost myself a little bit. I settled. I stopped challenging myself. I didn’t know what I wanted – in my career, relationships, living situation, hell, I didn’t know what I wanted for dinner most nights.
So it may just be a stadium oxer or a blue rolltop in a field, but this week it was a lot more to me. It was the stretching of muscles that haven’t been used in a while, the getting back out there, the getting back on the (literal and figurative) horse. It was deciding what I wanted and going after it, full steam ahead, teeth gritted, not afraid of a little blood, sweat and dirt.
I’m alive over here. Still broken. Slightly less depressed over it.
Mostly bored out of my freaking mind.
Still on the human version of stall rest, although I’ve upgraded to light tack walks. (Aka I’m allowed to walk the dog and lift things less than 5lbs) My pain is 90% gone, although if I do too much during the day, I pay for it later.
I officially withdrew from Event Camp today, which sucks. In all though – the absolute earliest I could be cleared to even sit on a horse is the end of June. Now go jump around and ride competently two weeks later? It just didn’t seem to be the wisest choice. In true equestrian fashion, I thought about just ignoring medical advice and riding anyways… but came to my senses relatively quickly. I have one spine and I’m gonna need it to last like, another 70 years here. Permanent damage at 25 because I wanted to ride my horse a month early? Not really worth it.
So, that’s where we’re at. Hanging out in Indiana, waiting for spring to appear (…Bueller?) and trying not to die from boredom.
I’m re-evaluating my pain tolerance levels after today’s ortho appointment went something like…
Doctor: “When did this happen?”
Me: Uh, the 17th… Doctor: “And you went to the ER?”
Me: No, I just drove home. Doctor: “And since then what have you been doing?”
Me: …Going to work? Doctor: “You realize most people with this injury are laid up in bed in pain, right? And you drove home and went about your life?”
So, uh, oops? I always thought I had a low pain tolerance, but I guess that might not be so accurate? But kudos, Dr Ortho, for making me feel like a badass.
That’s the positive part.
I’m officially grounded for minimum 3 months.
That’s the not-so-positive part.
Best laid plans and all.
No riding, no lifting anything heavier than a milk jug, no running. Also, apparently no hiking, skiing, rock climbing, skateboarding or gymnastics. No worries there doc.
For three months.
Also add a suuuuppperrr fashionable back brace for those three months, a veritable pharmacy in my bathroom, an MRI and re-check x-rays every 4 weeks, hoping to avoid surgery.
It’s a bucket of fun over here, lemme tell ya.
And of course he felt the need to remind me three months is just for it to heal – to be back at 100% will probably take longer. Just to dig that knife a little deeper.
OH! I’m also supposed to move into a new place May 10th. Hahahaha, c’mon, laugh with me now. Yeah, that’s going to be great since I can’t pack anything.
To add some perspective, I’m really really glad this wasn’t worse, I know I was lucky, I have health insurance, I have a job I can continue to do… I am grateful. But I’m also throwing a pity party because UGH I WANT TO.
In the meantime… I guess I now have three months to occupy myself with low impact activities.
(And how does one recruit a grocery shopping helper when she needs more La Croix? Look pitiful?)
It’s winter and if you’re anything like me, your skin is not really feeling the endless weather cycles, heaters blowing and wind chapping going on. I won’t do an entire deep dive on skincare all at once – I could talk for days and nobody wants to listen that long. However, after offering suggestions and advice to a few people, I figured doing a fun little beauty series might be well-received. And if not… well it’s fun for me and it’s my blog.
The nine products below are my basic routine right now, more or less. I’ll sub in a different product I have if my skin calls for it that day, or I may supplement with something else if I’m not loving a specific ingredient, but this is the basic foundation.
I try to keep my morning routine as short and sweet as possible because I like to sleep in until the last possible second.
Drunk Elephant Vitamin C Serum: Vitamin C helps protect against sun damage and other environmental factors, helps improve healing, reduces discoloration and overall brightens. It can be used at any age and comes in a few different forms, L ascorbic acid being considered the best. The important thing to remember about Vit C is that light and air will cause it to lose efficacy so make sure whatever you buy comes in a dark bottle and is stored in a dark place! Personally, I like Drunk Elephant’s serum, but when I run out, I want to try one of the other brands out there.
I have dry skin and if I don’t put some type of moisturizer on drier spots, I will look like the face of Mars all day. Not cute. The Belif Aqua Bomb is lightweight, sinks in easily and works under makeup or alone. My skin is super sensitive to ingredients, but this one plays nicely!
Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen. If you take anything here – wear. sunscreen. It’s the single most effective, proven way to slow aging, prevent wrinkles and uh, you know, prevent skin cancer. That detail. I have an entire thing of sunscreens, but right now I like this tinted one from MDSolarScience.
My nighttime routine is a little more in depth – I figure it’s more important since I’ve been outside all day, have who knows what on my face and I don’t particularly want to go smother my face around in it on my pillow all night. Great visual, right?
Finding a cleanser I liked has been one of the hardest things, but I’m on my third jar of Clinique’s Take the Day Off balm. It’s unscented, doesn’t dry out your skin, but still leaves it feeling clean. It doesn’t irritate my eyes and it doesn’t leave any oily residue. I will buy this forever and ever (and it lasts close to a year!).
The Drunk Elephant product I will repurchase is their AHA/BHA Night Serum. I use this one every other night and I love this serum – the combo of an AHA and BHA together really work well with my skin as a chemical exfoliant. A gentle chemical exfoliant is one of the great things you can use on your skin – it helps clean up all the dead, dry cells and reveal smoother, firmer skin underneath. It can diminish the look of lines and wrinkles and help even skin tones. There are a ton of AHAs and BHAs available out there at all price points.
On nights I don’t use the Drunk Elephant serum, I use a prescription strength tretinoin cream. Tretinoin is a retinol, which is one of the only things that has been scientifically proven to help with anti-aging. You can buy it OTC, but don’t get sucked into expensive creams and serums – either get a prescription (mine is 0.025% and the tube costs me $5 and will last years), or go for Differin, which became available OTC in the last few years.
At night, I need a heavier moisturizer and IT Cosmetics Confidence in a Cream is one of my all-time favorites. It’s just heavy enough, but not overwhelming and doesn’t have any scent that is bothersome (it also lasts forever!). I also love Avene products and Cetaphil.
I love ending my routine with an oil – it feels luxurious and relaxing and it makes me happy. This Origins oil came highly recommended, but I’ll be honest… it’s nothing special. I’ll be swapping this out for rose hip oil when I run out.
These are my top six ‘as needed’ products.
Bioderma Micellar Water is my ‘need to rinse with more than water, but not washing my entire face’ solution. It’s also perfect for touch ups, wiping off makeup mistakes, you name it. I actually keep a small bottle in my riding backpack for post-barn.
Cosrx Acne Patches are tiny clear miracle stickers. If you put this on a pimple that has come to a head, it will literally suck all the gunk out of it overnight. It’s the human version of wrapping your hoof abscess in a diaper and duct tape and vet wrap, but easier.
Sometimes when I feel truly disgusting, nothing else will cut it. Spent 12 hours at the barn and now covered in gross from head to toe? One Love Organics Brand New Day is this super fine powder that you mix with a little bit of water and it turns into this amazing microdermabrasion paste that will seriously make you feel like you got brand new skin.
Sunday nights are ‘me’ nights. Hair mask, face mask, bad television, puppy snuggles, don’t interrupt. I, like any good beauty junkie, have a bunch of different masks, but this one is one of my favorites. After a week of stress + barn + life, Herbivore’s Blue Tansy mask provides just enough to send me into the week feeling new. It doesn’t irritate my overly-sensitive skin, yet has AHAs and BHAs, along with Aloe Vera. It has a slight cooling effect that feels amazing post-horse show or long barn day too.
I turned 25 and suddenly my skin went on a full revolt. Like Boston Tea Party style. Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion is my savior. Dab some a blemish overnight and things are drastically better in the morning. Not great for daytime use because it’s definitely pink, but worth looking like a chicken-pox-kid overnight.
Finally, my holy grail, all time favorite, best product EVER. Aquaphor. This stuff saves my life on the reg. My #1 lip product, clears up dry patches like no other and calms irritated skin. I have the mini tubes stashed quite literally, everywhere. Pro tip: don’t buy the special ‘lip’ ones – just buy the mini tubes. Same thing.
This sounds like a lot, and it definitely is, make no mistake. Do you need every step here? Nope. Can you use every step here? Totally.
Was this interesting at all and would anyone be interested in more beauty/skin type posts? It’s basically my favorite topic outside of horses, but I don’t want to bore anyone to death!