I recovered from my nice strep session this weekend more or less and had grand plans involving a large (fun) purchase, riding my horse, finishing my Christmas shopping and other general life things this week, capping it off with our big Christmas party next Sunday.
Then I totaled my car Monday night. (If you don’t care to read my pity party, feel free to just know I’m okay and skip this. Doesn’t offend me.)
Rewind. I handle new employee orientation at my job and Monday night we had an evening session meaning I didn’t leave until about 8:15pm. I’ll spare the details (aka I’ve spent all day on the phone with insurance and don’t really feel like typing it out… again), but it was… not good. Bye-bye front end of cute Cadillac. I’m sore af, bruised the heck out of my ribs and managed to bruise one very specific spot on the outside of my right foot (???), but no major injuries. I hit my steering wheel hard enough for it to bruise and knock the wind out of me and nobody can figure out why my airbag didn’t go off, but I guess we’re just lucky it wasn’t worse. (And that I didn’t have TunaDog with me, since he comes to work with me relatively often.)
Within 45 minutes of looking at my car this morning, insurance was like, uh, yeah, that’s totaled. Cool guys. So, Merry Christmas, I get to buy a new car which was decidedly not in the budget this winter. What was in the budget? Clinics, lessons, saving up for event camp next summer…
I’m just pissed. So so happy not to be hurt of course and I know it could have been way worse, but pissed that all my fun horse money just flew out the window. Riding is my therapy, it keeps me sane, it has been the only thing I’ve really thrown myself into since I moved to Indiana. I left all my friends and family behind and I happily spend all of my time at the barn, at work, snuggling with TunaDog or sleeping basically. It’s not like car = never riding, but it definitely throws a wrench in my plans.
Plans like working all winter to successfully go BN in 2018. Like clinics with the trainers they bring in and consistent lessons with C. And that didn’t become impossible, but it sure as hell just became a lot harder.
I have some longer term plans (like 6 month range) that will help with the budget, but the next few months are are going to get pretty tight (plus it’s cold and I hate cold). Yay.
I’m currently finishing out the remainder of my 24 hour strep throat quarantine from my living room couch, where the extent of my human contact has been listening to my neighbor’s Christmas party downstairs. One, which I am invited to, but you know, strep throat isn’t really a great hostess gift. Or so they tell me.
Instead, I decided, what better time to throw a hodgepodge of reviews and things I currently like at you? Strep throat is not on the list, FYI. 0/10, do not recommend.
The consequence of a Cyber Monday Amazon Prime ‘One Click Buy’, this weird little rock has become my favorite new obsession. Horse people = dog people, more or less and I am no exception. The downside to adorable Bluefin Tuna Dog (his formal name), is that he sheds like nothing I have ever seen before. Like the entire barn in April. Like my blonde hair when it sees a black cashmere sweater. Like a drunk fraternity boy losing his clothes en route to a pool at 1am.
His hair (the dog, not the fraternity boy), embeds itself in my furniture and makes itself at home. Forever. Or so I thought. Until I discovered the Fur-Zoff. You basically just… brush? with this thing and the hair all pulls out and balls up and you basically have a brand new looking couch. For $10.
Paper Pony Co. Pretty Pony Notepad
I love notepads and stationery, so when I saw this one from Paper Pony Co. it was a no brainer to add this to my office supplies. I wasn’t disappointed either. Not only did it come packaged adorably with this nice note, she even included a cute postcard and stickers.
The notepad itself is high quality and on nice, thick paper. It’s only 50 sheets, but it’s 4″x6″ and has 10 lines with extra room around the margins.
Now reeealllly not related to horses. But if you’re like me, you have to go to work to pay for the horses. And between the months of December – March, that means tights come into play. Let the record show: I hate tights. HATE. I find them itchy, annoying, they roll or fall down, they snag… the WORST. But I discovered Heist Tights recently and um, all of my feelings changed. These are the best tights ever. They’re soft. They don’t roll (I swear!), they don’t fall down. They’re downright comfortable.
They come packaged adorably from the UK and their customer service is super happy to help make sure you have the right size. I’m not posting photos of myself wearing tights ’cause uh, no, but take my word here. I’m a 30 in breeches (44 Italian), about a 10 US in regular pants and their 12-14 fits me perfectly. I have the 50 and 80 denier in a low rise (think midrise breeches) and love both pairs. These are for sure a work winter staple.
I’m still waiting on a few Black Friday purchases and will happily review when they’re here.
We got our first snow this morning and I’m happily enjoying watching it out the window, baking bread and not going anywhere. It’s super pretty so I’m trying to bottle up this feeling when it’s still snowing in like, April or something and I want to cry/move/die.
I’ve already halfway thrown in the towel on effort, as reflected by my Wednesday ride this past week where I decided I was too cold (it was like 35 and omg am I becoming a midwesterner because I literally was like, oh that’s not even that cold, HELP WHO AM I) to put on a saddle. So bareback it was. Everyone else at the barn had the same idea, leading me to make the joke we were like the No Saddle Club.
I think I’m a lot funnier than I am, by the way.
All that to say, we got our best trot we’ve probably ever had for the longest amount of time, so I’m pretty sure I’m not getting my saddle back anytime soon at this rate.
So I miiiighttt have done some Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday damage this year.
My UPS man realllllyyy hates me right now.
What did we make out with? A lot of things are still being made/in transit, but the first go-round delivered.
I like these a lot – they’re super pretty. But they have the same downfall all my breeches have: the size that fits me everywhere else is a littllleee tight on the waist. Not enough to send them back, but uh, these won’t be fat day breeches.
These were an insane price from RW, so I figured I’d try them out. (Apparently I am turning into Stacie.) And they’re lovely for the price. But, I ordered a 7.5 Regular, my normal size, and they’re huge. Because of course. So I’m trying to debate exchanging for the 7 Slim vs just returning because do I really need a 4th pair of boots?
I needed a new crop, but I really didn’t want a boring black one. I also don’t have the budget for a fancy custom one. This ended up being a great compromise from RW. It has navy! So maybe it won’t grow legs and leave me…
I also ended up with a new pair of Roeckl gloves since mine no longer have any grip on them.
That’s just the RW box though… there might be 8 more packages coming… Bonnets, browbands, saddle pads, oh my!
It’s obviously holiday season (if you missed that, you might want to consider exiting your cave because good food) and with that comes travel. All the travel.
I’m currently home in New Mexico for Thanksgiving until the 27th, quickly followed by a trip December 1st-4th and back home December 20th-28th. Leaving very little time for other things… like riding. On one hand, it’s the off season, there’s nothing big on the calendar looming and it’s nice to have time with my family (I am apparently a weird person who loves nothing more than hanging out with her parents). It’s beautiful weather here, the dog is overjoyed to have my parents’ big property to run free on and I reallyreallyreally love having someone else responsible for my meals. Like, really. Like, I got home Saturday night, but my parents were actually out of town until Sunday afternoon, so instead of going to get food or something to feed myself Sunday, I just waited for them to get home to get dinner. As my mother put it, I was lazy-hungry – too lazy to be seriously hungry. Truth.
The flip side is that the off season is the time to get good. It’s always been the time of year of torture – this is our chance to fix stuff, improve, put the work in that will pay off come springtime. So being gone 23 days in fiveish weeks? Puts a bit of a dent in that plan.
Instead of coming up with fun ways of trying to die on horseback, I’m just trying to keep up some semblance of fitness amongst all the pie and potatoes and birthday cake (five weeks = three immediate family birthdays). Instead of spending all my spare time at the barn, my life looks something like work, pack, airport, fly, airport, unpack, laundry, work, pack…
It’s not like these couple weeks are going to torpedo my goals for 2018 or set me back months and months, but they have a little bit of a sting. I want to be at the barn, working hard, putting in the blood, sweat and tears (k maybe not the blood). I want to come out at BN in 2018, ready to kill it. I want lower dressage scores and clean jump rounds and to meet the goals I set for myself.
But while 17 year old me would have focused entirely single mindedly on these things and let that little sting become something more, there’s a great thing about age – you grow up. And 25 year old me? Yeah, I can’t wait to get back. But I’m also not going to rush through the holidays and cease to enjoy the time with my family. There’s no expiration date on my goals, I’m not Cinderella, the clock isn’t going to strike midnight and turn Doc into a pumpkin.
So if it’s a little quiet around here, there’s your why. I’m probably at about 30,000 feet, on my parents’ couch or otherwise somehow entertaining myself. I’m going to enjoy these 23 days, feel lucky that I have a family to spend the holidays with and after they’re over? Well then the real work starts.
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.
We left off at a high of 36 degrees and a very pissed off dog who promptly went back to bed as I left. I actually entered two consecutive divisions; our local farm that runs these shows makes it super affordable to do two and if we’re already there… why not?
My dressage ride times were 9:15 (Starter) and 11:10 (BN), so we were tacked up and walking by 8:30 aka my hands were already goners by like 8:38. Aside from Doc feeling very appalled that he was not allowed to graze during our walk, things felt pretty good. As much as I could feel anything, that is. Starter rode BN Test A and BN rode BN B, so I was mainly focused on remembering to turn the correct way at C.
And success! At least of the ‘not forgetting my test’ sort. Still didn’t really get that whole ‘connection’ thing going and my circles were all more of the 15m oval variety than the 20m asked for, but improvement is improvement and we managed a 36.3, which is our best score to date.
Second test, I went in with the instruction to stop, “trying to ride pretty” and to actively ride. What a thought, right? Turns out it even works. We even had moments where we did real dressaging. Miracles, I tell you. The best part? An even better score of 35.5.
By this point, I was only semi-frozen as we’d hit a heat wave of 28, making it downright balmy out. Just in time to go jump.
My first round was actually one of the best rounds I’ve ridden to date – things felt really, really good, which is always the best feeling. Minus the small place where I, um, got lost going to 8, nearly rode past it and had to trot it like a snail to get there from the weirdest distance ever. This course also featured the sailboat jump, the site of our first rail at 18″. We got kind of a weird distance to it here and we’re now just convinced Doc thinks the entire jump is stupid and not worth his time, because he made sure to give it a nice whack for good measure (it stayed up). Seriously, we have a sailboat jump vendetta.
Second round was my BN round, the same course except 5 was now an AB combo. Not nearly as pretty of a course, but we were instructed to get a good distance to the damn sailboats, and we did. Maybe at the expense of um, everything else? But we did!
We pulled the rail at 3 because I can’t ride and basically made my horse jump from underneath it like the fantastic rider I am and then I got lost to 6 because I’m an amateur who can’t remember things and all my brain cells were frozen by this point.
The best part of all this? In August we showed at this same series and I remember looking at the Starter course and thinking they all looked big. Three months (almost to the day!), I went out and didn’t think a single jump on the BN course felt big. That when Trainer C asked what I thought of the Novice course, I was able to say it looked… not that big. Crazy stuff, right there.
It’s amazing that I started riding this horse four months ago. Four months ago, I hadn’t jumped a course in 10 years. I said that Starter looked big. And this weekend?
We came in 2nd in our first BN CT. Sure, it’s just a CT, we still have an entire phase to add next year (2018, we’re coming!), but I’m pretty damn proud of that. I also feel very proud of surviving (maybe even thriving a little bit?!) a horse show in literal freezing temperatures. It might even feel like a greater accomplishment, but I’m not admitting that publicly.
That’s ending the show season on a high note. (Approximately a 2’7″ note, more precisely.)
Since we’re now into November, I’m knee deep in Chrome tabs trying to get my Christmas shopping done (uh and birthdays because every member of my family is born within four weeks of each other between Thanksgiving and Christmas, COOL GUYS). Those gifts aren’t much fun to talk about unfortunately – “Dad, what do you want for Christmas?” “I don’t know… socks?”but luckily, I tend to get distracted. By tab shopping (the online equivalent of window shopping) for myself.
Some things I’d love to see underneath the tree…
Obviously I love this. It’s navy, classy, but blingy at the same time. This will come home with me sooner or later. Not a matter of if, but when.
Don’t ask me what color combo I want, because the answer is… all of them. And those rose gold buckles? Be still my heart.
And in ‘things that won’t happen’, we have this pair of Animo whites. WITH SPARKLES. But like, classy butt sparkles. These say, “I’m here to show, but I also like to drink champagne.” Which, I mean… my life. They also come in schooling dark colors, which could totally find their way to me too.
Moar. I have an addiction. Look at those colors though… Heart eye emoji x 100.
So either of those above would totally work, considering they’re my colors. But really, all of them. Don’t let me play on the online customizer, I go into a saddle pad trace and don’t come out for hours. Apparently some stores include them in Black Friday sales (anyone care to confirm if they can order custom color ones?) so these may not even need to wait for Christmas.
Not horsey exactly, but horse people are dog people. Fin has a horribly annoying habit of destroying dog beds. He leaves everything else alone, so I don’t complain too much, but I’m also really sick of picking up dog-bed-fluff constantly. I saw these at one of the veterinary conventions this summer and was intrigued. Fin loves a bed he can hide in with sides, so I think this one is pretty perfect. While not cheap, they’re not too bad when you consider the cost of replacing beds…
I really like my Royal Riders, especially since changing to the rubber pads, but they’re hard to get back if I drop (…lose) a stirrup. Regular irons make my knees scream and jointed irons turn my lower leg into a swingset, so I think these might be a good option from reading other’s reviews.
Love that it’s waterproof, windproof and gross-barn-proof (my backpack got shavings dumped all over it this weekend, it was GREAT). I love BOT products and I think this would be great for helping Doc and I both deal with winter (neither of us are fans) and loosening up.
There’s a few other things that aren’t so much Christmas wishlist items as they are on the ‘to be purchased when I can afford them’ list. Those are a new pair of Roeckl gloves, some additional winter base layers, a pair of insoles for my brown tall boots and new hairnets.
I’m planning on doing a larger yearly goal breakdown (oh, it’s gonna be a total GOST table ’cause that’s what happens when your LIFE IS STRATEGY), but wanted to do some short-term goals between now and the end of the year. Mainly because it’s now dark and cold and the blankets on my couch are really soft so I need to do…something.
Improve dressage score at final show of year (Nov 11)
Do not go off course/fall off at final show of year
Confidently get around BN course, however that may be
Find something to stop grazing muzzle rubs on smooshy nose
Work on not periscoping head around, and instead taking the comments from our last dressage test: “lower neck to connect through back”
Work without stirrups every ride, increasing time
Ride bareback at least 3 times
Workout at least four times while home for Thanksgiving
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.