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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ironically for a blog named for mares, there’s another important guy in my life (sorry mom, he has four legs too). Fin (formally Bluefin Tuna Dog) is my Jack Russell Terrier/Corgi mix – colloquially known as a ‘Cojack,’ which I think sounds like something that plugs into a television. And today is Fin’s 7th birthday!
He came to me January of 2017 (literally on New Year’s Day) from the Carolina’s Russell Rescue. He had been surrendered by a family who said he was, “aggressive because he barked at and chased squirrels and rabbits.” Yeah.
I took one look at his giant, oversized ears and fell in love. I call them his radar ears. He’s almost perfectly half-JRT, half-Corgi – colored like a Jack, body/tail/ears of a Corgi. Personality swings wildly between the two.
He’s the best snuggler, the worst co-worker (I work from home, he sleeps on the couch), and yeah, we love to chase squirrels. Who doesn’t? Fin’s interests include: destroying stuffed toys, eating a variety of vegetables (carrots, squash, plain lettuce, spinach, green beans), stalking squirrels, rolling around in the grass, lounging in his swimming pool, playing with his Doberman best friend and going to Starbucks. Basically the bougiest dog of all time, right?
For a dog who should be the dream horse person dog, he despises them and does not get to go to the barn or any horse shows. Fine by me. Less fine when at my parents’ house and he is forced to see Lucy and Sancho the Mini Donkey.
Fin is the world’s biggest wimp and in our time together has overcome fears of the broom, the pantry door, my purse, the kitchen timer, the bathroom and most brilliantly, the hardwood floor. Yes, the floor. We are still working on all types of weather events and precipitation.
He has more coats and jackets than I do, courtesy of the clearance room at Farmhouse Tack.
If we’re being honest, it’s Fin’s world and I’m just living in it. Happy birthday buddy!
I guess my parents’ didn’t teach me super well, because while I won’t go get in a van for free candy, if you’re like, “HEY wine and ponies and puppies!” I’m like, OKAY LEMME BOOK MY PLANE TICKET. True story.
Also the story of how I basically sent Olivia a text like, “here’s my flight, THANKS!” and showed up at her doorstep. Okay, so more like outside in passenger pickup at Dulles, but basically the same thing.
But I don’t even care if it breaks every childhood stranger danger rule because we had SO MUCH FUN. I knew we’d be great when she picked me up and was like, “Sooo… we can go home… or we can go to the barn.” Uh, duh. Barn. Where I got to meet the cutest snuggly gigantic horse ever, Frankie!
Guys, he’s giant. Like, I don’t think anyone understands this, because you see Olivia on him and it’s like okay, sure he’s big, she’s tall, k. Nope. I’m like the size of one leg. Minus some draft horses, he’s legitimately the largest horse I’ve ever met in my entire life.
She schooled the humongous horse, we snuggled him and then she fed me Thai food.
AND THEN SHE TOOK ME TO WEGMANS.
If you are not familiar with Wegmans, you are missing out.
Saturday, first we stopped and she introduced me to Wawa. WHAT. Insanity. Gas station, but like… amazing. Coffee. Breakfast carbs. Ordering via computer to reduce the amount of actual human contact I have to endure.
Then we went to Middleburg, hereby known as Heaven on Earth. Seriously, the cutest town ever. All the pony things.
I made her try on Animo breeches, but they didn’t fit her (the shame, I didn’t start an addiction to $400 breeches). I sat in approximately 90382 saddles, of which I made her get 85% down for me while referring to her as, “tall friend.” (I’m seriously so sweet and nice of a person, right?!) I fell in love with every saddle I sat in that was more than $3000, because #champagnetaste #tapwaterbudget. We didn’t buy anything.
We drooled over properties for sale that cost more than I could dream of. I mean, it comes with 890 acres though? That’s a lot of bang for your buck.
I even got to dabble in my not-so-secret old lady habit – antique shopping! In which I played the enabler and made her buy a gorgeous copper pitcher and bowl. They’re totally practical purchases though – you can put things like sangria in pitchers and candy or carbs in bowls.
We went to a winery. Where there was a mini-donkey just roaming loose. Uh, hello did I mention heaven on earth?
Basically we just played with the donkey for like 10 minutes and then we finally tore ourselves away to go drink wine. What a rough life we lead, right? It was also like 9839 degrees and I wore all black like the displaced Southerner genius I am. Not.
AND THEN. We went to the barn. And I got to ride Frankie.
If I didn’t mention he was giant before…
So giant. Also had to put Olivia’s stirrup leathers on the very top hole.
Other than being impressed by his size though, there’s so much to love about this horse. He’s so freaking cool guys. I ride like a very small sack of rice on a horse and he was like, “Yes, of course, I would be happy to!”
When I asked for fancy things, he did them. When I just wanted to toodle around on the buckle and pretend he was a western please horse, he was all about it. I made him neck rein. It’s really a miracle anyone lets me ride their horse guys. I’m a total weenie and felt entirely comfortable on him, like you could ask me to go do anything and I would have been like, SURE.
It’s so so cool to see how far Frankie has come since Olivia has gotten him and you can tell it’s been a lot of hard work, but man, he sure makes it fun. I totally would have horsenapped him, but he’s like, slightly too large to fit in a carry on bag. (I totally had him on my side though, I fed him ice cubes because I ignore rules because I was trying to win him over)
And then we went home and ordered Chinese food and sat on the couch because we are the same person.
Sunday, Olivia had a lesson (recapped here) and my main takeaway was a) she can remember a lot of jumps in a short period of time (I take like 8 years to learn a course) b) her assistant trainer is super awesome and c) she’s seriously a fantastic rider who does not give herself enough credit. Her leg does not move when she drops her stirrups. Her upper body doesn’t do any of the bizarre things mine does. She’s great at making adjustments mid-course. No wonder they’ve done so well this year – she’s got it.
We finished out the day pampering Francis (he was less than impressed with getting his mane pulled), watching her assistant trainer perform chicken surgery (just a small leg procedure), and cleaning tack (she cleaned, I sat and watched her like the super helpful friend I am).
It was basically the greatest weekend and I can’t wait for her to come visit Doc and me in Indiana!
I manage to end up with a lot of bruises. Mostly from really stupid things. Half the time, I can’t remember what they came from. September, however, was a particularly moronic month for me, so obviously the correct response is to share it with the entire internet, RIGHT?
Upper right arm/elbow + outside right knee: Doc is crosstied in wash rack, I’m carrying small bucket with ACV rinse. He steps on the hose, I push him off, he instead steps on my foot. Proceed to, “OW GET OFF MY FOOT” and manage to trip myself backwards. Our wash rack has a 6″ or so lip on the front of it, like a curb, which in my tripping, I fall over. Doc spooks (aka pulls back like, “THIS GENIUS AGAIN”), knocking bucket out of my hand, which goes flying. At this point, I’ve landed on the curb, horse is hovering above me and bless his sweet, wonderful, sane heart, realizes nothing is going to kill him and he should freeze before he kills the small human beneath his large feet. I am soaking wet and accumulate an upper arm bruise that looks like I got socked, along with the outside of my knee. Can’t raise arm fully for three days. Praise the Lord for heating pads.
Inside left knee: So I have a pair of Monacos that have been straight hell on Earth to break in. Everyone who is like, “oh so easy to break in, so comfortable!!” YOU. ARE. LIARS. Or mine are just defective. Anyways. I try to make myself ride in them once a week or so (and they’re getting there, I will admit), but they still haven’t dropped enough to fasten the snaps at the back of the knee. No big deal, I think, I forget to do the snaps on my schooling boots all the time. Well, post-lesson, I discover the snap somehow migrated between my knee and saddle and has left me with a quarter shaped disgusting colored bruise on the inside of my knee. Cool.
Outside right knee/lower thigh: Leaving the arena on Tuesday, stopped to grab my water bottle off the arena rail. Doc decides he’s done and leaving right now, thanks, nevermind to the small human on board and proceeds to turn my leg into the post. Thanks buddy.
Honorable mention goes to the 4″ scratch up my left calf I do not know the origins of and the cut on my lip courtesy dropping my phone on my face.
On the plus side, I did not fall off the mounting block this month.