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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Event Camp 2018: The wrap-up

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.

It was me, becoming an eventer.

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Cabin fever

Hello friends.

I’m alive over here. Still broken. Slightly less depressed over it.

Mostly bored out of my freaking mind.

Me talking to my ortho surgeon

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.

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Grounded

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.

Waving goodbye to half my show season…

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?)

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