Busting at the seams

It’s no secret to anyone who met me that I might be a little bit of an overachiever. I have a ‘no’ problem – as in, I am bad at saying it. And this flaw leads to weeks like this one.

I love my job – I love publishing research, I love working with clinicians, I love presenting our data and using it to improve outcomes and quality. I have ongoing projects, I have one-off project requests that pop up weekly (daily?), I have large scale executive level projects and I have pet projects and ideas I want to dive into. I could also spend 80 hours a week doing my job and never get everything I want to done.

Like this!

This leads into education – I’d love a second masters degree or a doctoral level degree, but I’ve reluctantly filed those away. Doesn’t stop me from wanting to get a graduate certificate though – and I would be dumb to not take advantage of the free tuition I get working for a university.

Then comes life outside of the office. Horses, house, hobbies, friends, dating. I bought the house last year and I have an Excel sheet 56 items long of things I want to do. Some of that is limited by financial resources, but a lot is just limited by the time to do it all. Then along with the house, one of my favorite hobbies is refinishing furniture for the interior. I have three pieces sitting in my garage/living room right now waiting for me to have time (ok, and some warm and dry weather OMG) to finish them. Or uh, start them.

This is living in my living room while it awaits its makeover

The horse demands an obviously large part of my attention and time, and rightfully so. I love riding, I love competing, I love the push to get better and constantly improve, be the best I can. Even going BN, it also requires a base level of fitness from your horse to safely get around – meaning, I have to be more than just a weekend amateur to get the necessary conditioning in on an older horse.

As soon as I have a dressage lesson (last night, omg my abs) or a jump lesson, I’m reminded how much I need to be in the gym. My back sobs at me to get my core stronger, my legs scream that they need more, my cardio could stand to be better. My hip flexors are tight as hell and need yoga classes. My body condition overall loves seeing my chiropractor consistently.

Also snuggles

I try to be a person who does more too, because I have other interests. I’m in Junior League, because I wanted to be more involved in my community and it’s a great group of women – but it takes up time too. I have friends I try to stay in contact with (most live out of state so at least I don’t feel guilty not seeing them in person?) and I’d like to not die alone with my unfinished furniture, Jack Russell and yoga mat. Meaning, finding the time to date. Which means finding the time to shower (I mean, in addition to normal duh, I shower), do my hair, put makeup on. I love makeup and cute clothes, sue me. That means finding time for drinks or dinner or coffee or whatever.

Then there’s the ‘others’. I like reading, both books and articles. I try to stay informed on current events, science, world news. I have a list of podcasts, Netflix series and movies on my listen/watch list. I want to learn how to sew, I want to make my own browbands, I’d love to be a better cook. Or uh, cook at all. Other than like, grilled cheese and chicken fingers. And sleep. Of course I can’t be one of those people who happily functions on 5-6 hours of sleep. I need 8 to function and my body is really happier with 9.

And swimming with manatees and kayaking

The truth is there just aren’t enough hours in the day for it all. While I know this as a factual matter, it doesn’t make it any easier. I hate having to prioritize things even though I know it’s a necessity.

This isn’t a typical post, but it’s the frustrations I’m feeling right now. I’m figuratively busting at the seams and at least getting it all out on paper makes me feel better. Anyone else feel like they’re in this boat?

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It’s I-GG-Y

You might have seen on Instagram the little (ok, or not so little) secret I’ve been keeping for weeks – a chestnut secret to be specific.

After stepping Doc down (who is loving life as his owner’s kiddo’s horse) I started looking for another lease. Buying just wasn’t right for me right now for about 1000 different reasons, but in part because I really wanted something older, been-there-done-that, to keep learning and growing. It took four months, but thanks to a few people – ahem, Emily – I came across Iggy! He’s a total packer 18 year old Quarter Horse who has gone N/T with his owner, but needed a job now that she has a young one to bring up.

“Hai I Iggy”

I went down to Kentucky before Christmas and meet up with Emily and we went out to try him where he was a perfect angel. The footing was miserable, it was cold and wet and he hasn’t had a real job in a few months, but he happily came out and showed me all his fancy buttons and carted my out of shape butt over a handful of jumps. Jumps where I was unable to see a single distance, where I jumped so far up his neck I was between his ears and where my my entire timing was so hilariously off it was like I’d never jumped a horse in my life before. And what did he do? Took every joke in stride without much more than a, “I do the thing and then I get the cookies so it’s ok hooman.”

Needless to say I was smitten. It took a month and some to get arrangements worked out between transportation, the holidays and a stall at the barn, but he arrived Friday night! He’s the happiest of campers, totally chill and settled right in.

“Do u like my outfit?”

I’ve been on him three times at home now and each time he just comes out better than the last. We rode outside on Sunday and it was incredibly windy with things flapping around, horses leaping and galloping around their pasture next door and he didn’t bat an eye.

Iggs has this amazing personality I’m loving getting to know – he wants to be intimately involved in everything happening at the barn. Must say hi to everyone, must make sweet faces, must stick nose into everything. Must sniff and lick all dogs, must examine all walls, must investigate everyone’s stall. We quickly found out he likes facing other horses in the crossties, as facing him away will result in his bending himself into a U-shape to watch them, making tacking up slightly more difficult.

He’s a little guy compared to all the big warmbloods and Irish horses at the barn, only 15.0-15.1ish and cob sized everything (and i just had to buy a 20” dressage girth OMG), but cute as a button. And damn does he have a speedwalk in him! Plus new size horse means shopping for new size tack and every good tack ho loves an excuse to shop. (Even if Michele tried to sell me her XC boots while I still own her previous pair…) And having a jump saddle that doesn’t fit him (someone please buy it PLEASE I WANT TO JUMP MY HORSE)

Because of said jump that saddle doesn’t fit him I’m spending some quality time in my dressage saddle which isn’t a bad thing for anyone. (Um, except me. I want to jump my pony, ok?!) We’re getting to know each other and having the best time and I couldn’t wait to finally publicly introduce him!

Selfie game needs work but we’ve got time

So bloggers, meet Iggy! (And don’t mind me quoting every Iggy Azalea lyric until forever)

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Feeling a lot like Christmas

I can’t say I have any overwhelmingly fun news to share… yet. But at the risk of jinxing anything, things are happening and 2020 is looking bright and shiny and… chestnut?

And that’s all I’m saying about that

I did get to go down to Louisville last weekend though and in between trying not to be sucked into a mud bog and getting distracted at ALL The Pretty Farms (can we agree heaven has rolling green pastures and four rail fences? K) I got to see Emily and May!

OMG she is so much fun.

And it even gets better than that because I got to ride May. Emily was trying out my jump saddle (which fits them beautifully) and so when she offered me the chance to pop on the World’s Best Thelwell Pony, the answer was obvious.

On the ground she’s a snuggly little bug with the best manners. I wanted to pack her up and take her home to live in my living room. Under saddle, she’s so sensitive (in the best way) off the leg and smooth to ride. I love her. Emily popped her over a few fences to try the saddle and May is even cuter over fences than pictures show. I was being a chicken about the footing along with not being able to feel my hands (genius, gloves are a thing for a reason) so I just flatted her around for a few minutes. She’s so safe and comfy feeling – like a very sensitive athletic couch.

In non-pony news, my office moved to the children’s hospital which means we get All the Fun Things like full blown ballets in the lobby and therapy dogs in Christmas attire.

I shipped off my blogger Secret Santa gift today (sorry for the delay!), my Christmas vacation starts at 5pm tomorrow and I will soon be on a beach soaking up every last bit of warmth before Indiana beckons me home to its cold tundra of January.

Luce still being the best retired girl, shiny and happy at 22!

I may (or may not…) write more about 2019 in summary, but I can say while it wasn’t the year I planned on (like, at all), it ended up being a great year. I’m so grateful to have a wonderful family and friends, the greatest ponies in my life, my health, a job I adore and more blessings than I can count. Signing off for the year to say Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and have a wonderful New Year!

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Retired.

This… just sucks to write. And live. And just general suckage.

Doc’s retired from jumping as of Saturday morning.

Yup, still hurts to say.

What started as an appointment for, “Oh, I think he needs Adequan,” ended with “this horse will never jump again.” Well shit.

In the matter of an hour vet appointment, I managed to cancel two HT entries, a hotel room, an online order, a clinic entry, my team challenge team… nothing but ruthlessly efficient, I guess. And you know, cancel my optimism and dream of galloping through the finish flags at the KHP next month. Told you it sucks.

I went home and ate donuts and pizza and drank and watched TV and slept and tried to avoid looking at all the things all over my kitchen I’d purchased and was organizing to take to Kentucky. After 30 hours of wallowing, I pulled myself together, left the house and tried to be a normal person.

A hot shower, a good night’s sleep thanks to a hefty dose of melatonin, and a yoga class later, I feel a little better. Enough to think about what’s next without wanting to cry.

So next? Finding another horse that’s financially workable (horse shopping with a budget of… nothing is great fun), spending the winter getting to know a new horse, trying not to lose my mind in the meantime… Sounds like a party. A Halloween horror party maybe.

I’m not all doom and gloom. I’m so grateful for everything Doc gave me. I’m 100x the rider I was two and a half years ago. He’s the horse who took me through my first HT, who I jumped 3′ on for the first time, who taught me more nuances and feel than I’d ever imagined. I’m so grateful that we didn’t have the potential catastrophic injury happen on course. I’m thankful for the times he taught me how to let go and go for a gallop and just experience the joy of watching the world thunder by, wind in your ears.

Even if we did have the worst left drift of all time

But I’m also heartbroken I won’t get to have the feeling of taking a horse I trust so intrinsically around a Novice XC course. Of galloping down to a line that scares the hell out of me, only to feel entirely weightless and unable to contain the cheer of excitement on the other side. That I won’t be showing off how damn smart and athletic and funny my big red Saddlebred is at any more events. He may have “just” been a lease, but I love him as much as if he was my own.

And now, we see what’s next.

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Chaos and Oxygen

We have been doing a lot of cheering for Auburn!

Long time gone around here, still alive though, promises. Turns out things like uh, buying a house and moving into said house, trying to keep breathing and working insane hours put blogging into the back seat.

Long story short, riding has been iffy. My allergies decided to actually attempt to kill me this year and two inhalers later and a few doctor appointments, I think I’m finally at a point where maintaining O2 sats isn’t questionable. I took a week off of everything – work, riding, all of it, to move into the new house. Helpful, but it’s still 75% chaos and I need another 3 days in the week to get it all done. It’s getting there though! Mostly unpacked (minus my office hahahhahah don’t open that door), fence for Finn the Dog goes in this weekend, and things are locateable for the most part.

Inspired by a handful of other bloggers, I joined a local CrossFit gym that I love. I’ve been going consistently and having a blast right up until my lungs revolted. Per doctor’s orders I’m not allowed back until we get my breathing situation figured out, which I would protest, but like… air. I like it.

We did a CT/Derby two weeks (I think?) ago at a local farm to get out for the first time this season. We had our best dressage test we’ve had, by far (although the score was about where we averaged last season), but the wheels fell off on the jumping. I couldn’t stop riding backwards to ev-er-ey-thing. Pull, pull, pull, pull, pull. Everything felt like I was being run off with (I wasn’t), I never found a good rhythm, I couldn’t see a distance to save my life. Doc about had it with me and we had three stops on course, all my fault. It was… ugly.

We had a lesson two days later and I got on ready to just quit riding. There was more than a little bit of self-hate going on and in the span of 48 hours I’d basically convinced myself I was horrible at this, my horse didn’t deserve this and I should just quit now.

Because I’m never dramatic at all.

My trainer saw my face and said, “nope, no lesson” and took me out on the track where we just hacked out for an hour. Which ended up being pretty much exactly what I needed… along with a drink or two, a crying session and some motivational sports psychology reading.

We had our best dressage lesson last Monday and we’re entered to go to our first full HT of the season this weekend. Things seem to be finally settling down and getting back into a semi-groove. Here’s to hoping I can catch my breath (figuratively and literally) soon.

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Back home again in Indiana

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.

Unrelated photo of First Mate Finn over Christmas

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?!

In the interest of keeping it real around here, this about sums up 2018

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.

This feels like a good omen for the year

Keeping up here is definitely on the 2019 goals list, so stay tuned for things to come!

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2018: In Photos

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’m forever using this photo for everything and I don’t caaaarreeeeee

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 book or article

Getting to sit on my mom’s show horse

Let Your Daughters Grow Up to Be Horse Girls from Lauren Sprieser for COTH – a perfect reminder of the blood, sweat and tears that has gone into this sport, but also the passion for just being around horses.

Favorite horse ridden/groomed/cared for other than your own

#cookielady

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)

Favorite horse meme or funny picture

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In which water takes a defining role

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).

#CFB

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 love that this dork of a horse so much

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!

HAHAHA.

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.

The river was so high and moving so fast that day!

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.

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All quiet on the (mid)western front

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.

Seriously, he tolerates me, he likes C, but he LOVES her 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.

N jumped this to a rolltop as a combo, BN jumped this alone, S just came down the hill.

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.

Enjoying his vacation by refusing to stand up when he sees me and instead making me hold his head up… Um plz stop taking lessons from Frankie 

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.

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The barn that raised me

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.)

Yes, dis my barn. Why you so interested?

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!)

Lucy looking semi-feral and wondering where more food is

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).

Can we take a moment and acknowledge my horse’s stupid perfect tail?

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.

Naptime is v important when retired. Also, NM in winter is not the prettiest unless you really love brown.

Sancho in his turnout, Lucy’s bigger one in background. Also, I’m totes a fashion blogger in this outfit.

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.

Door into barn in white, tack room on left, cookies in bottom left corner

 

Do as I say not as I do. Don’t ride your 20 year old retired horse around bareback without a helmet in her turnout. Also do not canter her while sitting backwards, you will fall off and nobody will feel bad for you.

And finally, our lovely trailer which doesn’t go much of anywhere these days. Arena opposite grey wall on the other side.

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.

But I do totally miss all my tack rooms.

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