A tale of two companies

As I’ve alluded to the last few weeks, new horse has meant new purchases because he doesn’t fit into anything. Like… that lovely Devoucoux monoflap? Yeah. That one.

I bought it because I was in talks with Devoucoux about how we could make it work, it was a great deal and I was confident in it. Needless to say, it’s been… an ordeal. I’m not going to publicly say all the things I’d like to say but I’m not quite a happy camper. And am faced with now selling the saddle I’ve owned for uh, two and a half weeks. AWESOME.

IT’S SO PRETTY ITS NOT FAIR

Unfortunately, despite it not being a great fit for Iggs, it’s the perfect fit for me and I’m obsessed with it. Meaning as much as I’d like to pack my toys and go home and never touch another Devoucoux… here I am shopping for a different one.

Seriously, is there anything less fun than saddle shopping? (Yes, there is, don’t answer that question)

On the plus side, I went out on a limb after doing all the reading and e-mailing back and forth with the Horse Bit Bank and ordered the Bombers Happy Tongue Loose Ring. A++++++ in customer service for Horse Bit Bank, by the way. They responded to all my emails and questions promptly, shipped it quickly, helped me ensure it fit properly and have overall been a pleasure to work with. Saddle companies, TAKE NOTE PLEASE THANKS.

I’ve now ridden Iggy in it twice and it’s safe to say we both love it. He’s so much happier and consistent in the contact and we had some of our best work last night. So much so I’m actually already considering ordering the Happy Tongue Beval as our jump bit. And I’ll 100% order from HBB again. Iggy was never bad, per say, in his french link loose ring, but he also played and played and played with it, liked to either toss his head or go behind the vertical, and just didn’t seem totally… happy? As opposed to our rides where the head tossing was a minimum, he was so easy and happy to push into the contact, and (thank God for the sake of my sanity) the free walk involved no “CLANK JANGLE CLINK CLANG” the whole way.

Looks sharp in his new breastplate courtesy of Remus and Michele (although the Remus hair seems to have brought the attitude with it…)

We’re off to lesson with Kira Connor this weekend while my trainer and half the barn and everyone I know is at Pine Top (ITS FINE I’M NOT JEALOUS AT ALL REALLY IT JUST HASN’T STOPPED SNOWING BUT IT’S GREAT REALLY PROMISE). I’m looking forward to finally having a formal jump lesson on the Iggster (is it weird I want to read that as hamster and now that might be his new nickname…?) and getting a good baseline of where we’re at right now.

Happy Friday, thank God for that.

Continue Reading

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?

Continue Reading

Pony Club

You know what I love about Iggy? He’s little. Holly sized. Fun sized. Cute and snuggly sized. Doesn’t-hurt-your-ankles-to-dismount-in-winter little.

You know what now drives me bonkers about Iggy? He’s little. So little. Too little for all the things, little.

Why has this frustration come about?

Two things: pony dressage reins and 16″ girths.

I said it. I thought I was bringing home a normal, albeit on the smaller side horse. Instead I brought home an oversized Labrador Retriever. You know what you get when you google 16″ girths? Dog harnesses.

Or when you find an actual option for horses, they’re either $200 or made of questionable material and a lack of roller buckles (WHY?). And none of them come in brown, meaning I may be going XC in a very appealing combination of brown saddle/black girth this spring. Much fashun, so style.

Don’t get me started on pony length dressage reins.

(Actually, Nunn Finer makes pony length reins in their soft grip which is what I like and will probably buy, but they’re also the same price as the horse ones which seems wrong for 12″ less material…)

Trying to take conformation pics was a struggle…

My saddle pads are… mostly do-able on him, although he could probably wear a pony size pad too. Cob size bridles abound in my tack box. (Yet his cob halter doesn’t fit in the throat???) Thank God 74″ and 76″ blankets are at least relatively easy to find.

Does this mean I can join the ‘cool ponies who do cool things’ club even if mine technically doesn’t measure? Current members I know of are Jen and Allie, but I feel like membership is welcoming.

Continue Reading

A Weekend of Ponies

It felt so good to have a pony filled weekend in my life again. Of course it wouldn’t be an Indiana weekend without experiencing multiple seasons in 72 hr stretches, but nonetheless it was a great one.

Friday morning started off at the super pleasant temperature of -3° F, aka a ‘feels like’ of -16° F aka too freaking cold to exist. (Canadians, shhhh.) It also started with wrangling all the things as I loaded barn things, work things, dog things and ‘I live in Antarctica’ things to get out the door by 7:30am. First stop was the vet clinic (my vet is a mixed practice, so one side sees Finn the JRT and the other sees Iggy the Small Unicorn) to drop Finn off for a dental. (This was preceded by re-scheduled bloodwork due to my dog deciding the vet is TERRIFYING the week before and needing to be drugged to get in the door… the same dog who went to work with me at a vet’s office for a year…) I got him inside, dropped off, and planned to be back for him around 2-3pm.

My lead rope was frozen into this abstract sculpture Friday morning

From there, off to the barn to meet the large animal vet to give Iggy a once-over, just to establish him as a new patient and get a baseline. There were also two horses seeing him for injuries and about a dozen getting health certificates to leave for Pine Top next week. This also happened at 9am just as everyone was turning out, feeding, breaking ice in buckets and did it mention it was negative degrees. To say it was moderately controlled chaos is an understatement. Iggy handled the whole thing with aplomb, barely opening his eyes as he dozed in crossties. We got a report of “healthy, but out of shape” so like… same. More conditioning for everyone, coming up.

Of course while I’m at the barn in the midst of this, the small animal vet calls – Finn’s bloodwork has come back and it’s… concerning. He had some iffy numbers about 6 months ago, but since it was a snapshot in time, we decided we’d repeat later and decide then. Well this was the repeat and not only were things still not great, they were trending worse. Scratch the dental and instead we got a referral to an internal medicine specialist (who we’ll be seeing next week). This meant back to the vet to pick up the dog (who decided he was traumatized by the entire situation… this is my eyeroll).

So abuse, much torture

Saturday and Sunday were, thankfully, far less eventful and far warmer – mid 40s and sunny which felt amazing. Tim Bourke was in town teaching a clinic at the barn, so I hopped over to watch some lessons both days before riding. He’s a great teacher I’ve always enjoyed riding with and even auditing I got some really good things to take home (I guess I can’t say take home if I was home?).

OMG i have a leg! And dirty boots that need to be cleaned.

Iggy was a perfect unicorn because of course he was. Despite being stuck inside due to ice that turned into soul sucking mud, he was more than happy to go to work. He’s a little more out of shape than I initially realized, so we’ve got some conditioning to do, especially in his hind end. I realllllly want an Equicore system after Jen wrote about it, but with Finn’s vet bills TBD it’s not exactly in the cards right now, so I’m going to DIY some version based on Amanda’s.

For fun on Sunday, one of the juniors in the barn and I decided to stick Iggs. Sure enough, he’s just as little as we thought – right at 15.0h, maybe a touch over. No wonder I’m out here buying cob things and 20″ girths!

SO LITTLE

Our workout plan (…for both of us) starts tonight and I feel like he might not be quite as happy about it as he was when I just came and shoved cookies at him… The price of playing XC buddy.

Continue Reading

Behind the name

While I’m hinted at the origin story behind the blog’s name before, I realized I never actually put it somewhere for people to understand. So, in a fit of boredom (omg -6 degrees is TOO COLD PEOPLE) I finally wrote something up. It’s under About, but can also be found here should you find yourself curious.

My lead rope was frozen into this piece of sculptural art this morning…

With that, here’s to hoping for a warmer weekend so I can actually like, ride my horse? He’s had his feet done, seen the vet (just routine), has a new saddle, made friends in turnout (would love to know why his friend Freddie thinks licking his muddy legs is fun?) and now it’s time to kick spring off. IEA is going to be here before we know it!

Continue Reading

Finding the fit

Going from Doc to Iggy has been a change for a multitude of reasons. Some are normal, like the change in gait and style going from one horse to another. Others are physical – going from something 16.1h to something barely 15.1h. And some are personality.

Like going from this…
…to this

Yeah, it’s been a change.

In some ways, an expensive change. Like, jump saddle doesn’t fit, so just bought a new one of those (!!). Full size bridles and halters are too big – two new cob sizes coming up. Then the weather decided to tank this weekend (high of 11 anyone?) which I didn’t notice until Tuesday, which led to ordering a 280g blanket liner with 2 day shipping from Schneiders. Because you know, my horse wears a 76″, not an 81″. (Also kudos to them – I ordered it at 2:30pm on Tuesday with 2 day shipping and it showed up on my doorstep at 11am this morning. That’s Amazon Prime fast.)

Look how pretty she is

And the personality differences are stark. Doc was like a benevolent king – he did not have time for your silly antics, he was in charge, but he was kind at heart and takes care of his people. Iggy is like Kimmy Schmidt meets Phil Dunphy, with an addition of 4th grader not taking their Adderall. He wants to MEET EVERYONE, stick his face in EVERYTHING, EXPLORE ALL THINGS and be in your pocket. It’s mostly cute, so long as he remembers his manners, but it’s also the cause of what I have learned is my new pet peeve in life: the damn horse plays with the french link in his bit as soon as he’s on a loose rein. Just… for funsies. Like it’s a fidget spinner, at the ready.

Mostly I notice it while grooming. Compared to the other horses in the barn (a lot of Thoroughbreds, some Irish, some warmbloods, a few QHs but all much chunkier), he looks like someone dropped off a hunter pony at an event barn by mistake. I’ve had other riders think I was someone’s child on him, his tack is all smaller than anyone else’s and when I accidentally put someone else’s 81″ blanket on him this week, he hilariously swam in it like a kid wearing his dad’s clothes.

Tell me he doesn’t look like a pony

This has become a general rambling, but all to say he’s settling in splendidly without missing a beat (ok, so we had a small come to Jesus last night that I am scarier than being in the dark), we’ve had some fun rides as we get to know each other, I’ve gotten to shop for ALL THE THINGS and will have some mini-reviews coming shortly and we should start lessoning here in coming days.

Unrelated, my mom sent me this saddle pad, which I distinctly remember being my favorite around age 10. Kinda want to lesson in it just to see what my trainer does…

As my trainer put it once he finally arrived – I guess good things do come to those who wait.

Continue Reading

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)

Continue Reading

Longest 10 Days

We’re 10 days into 2020 and it’s been… a year. Already. Could we just chill and have a drink here for a second and not jump headfirst off a cliff? Apparently not.

First things first, I came back from vacation to a box from Genny for Secret Santa! She knocked it out of the park too. The Charlie Mackey book I’ve wanted, a snuggly navy hat, an adorable keychain charm and the best smelling hand lotion (that mayyyy be already partially gone) – it’s like she knew everything that would make me happy and sent all of them.

But then the new year came and with it, brought a gross disgusting virus that laid me flat out for four days and had me hacking my lungs up. Lovely. Luckily, I recovered from that in time to go pick up the cabinets for the kitchen island I’m building – had a whole plan how I was going to prime and sand this weekend, lay out the island next week… Well.

In unloading said cabinets (yes, ALONE I KNOW IT WAS DUMB OKAY), I managed to get two of the three done. And then promptly dropped the third and caught my right middle finger between it and a metal pole. After cursing a lot, I went inside and watched it gradually grow larger and turn fun colors all night. But, I mean… it’s a finger, right? I was out of tape at home so I figured I’d just ask a nurse at work the next day to tape it.

Not so straightforward seeing as one of the docs I work with looked at it and went, “Uhhh you’re not taping that, you’re going to a hand specialist like.. tomorrow.”

Oh.

Sure enough, I can’t do ANYTHING STRAIGHTFORWARD.

Normal people break their foot – maybe an easy to fix bone, a toe, etc. I break my foot (circa 2016), I break a weird ass bone and end up in a boot for 5 months.

Normal people break a finger, they buddy tape, go about life. I break a finger, I end up in a massive splint contraption for 10 days before finding out if I need surgery to fix the fact that my finger is now crooked. Awesome.

Mix in we’re also working on a scar on my chin and that appointment happened Wednesday afternoon so I have a bruised face.

I am well on my way to being in pieces by February.

But at least my health insurance deductible might be hit by then?

(HAHA I haven’t even mentioned the bunny I found and how I fostered a damn RABBIT with a Jack Russell in the house…)

GO HOME 2020 YOU ARE A MEAN DRUNK

Continue Reading

A decade gone by

It’s hard to believe it’s the end of 2019 and with it, the end of a decade! Emily did a fun ‘decade in photos’ look back that seems to have caught on and I’m nothing if not a copycat.

2010

I was in my second semester of undergrad and my mom was showing Lucy as an amateur. This is the year of her second suspensory tear and we pretty much retired her at this point to hang out at my parents’ place full time with Sancho the Mini Donk. I did go hop on a friend’s horse at Auburn once, but there’s no photographic evidence. I was burned out beyond belief at the end of high school and was thoroughly enjoying being a “regular” college kid.

2011

Still didn’t ride much (at all). Hopped on Lucy a few times over the summer before my sophomore year of college, but mostly was still being a college student. Went to Pinto Worlds to watch Coorina’s baby show (and win a world championship!)

2012

I spent my summer hacking Lucy around and riding my aunt and uncle’s horse, Harry. Interned at the Pinto World Show in one of the most awful and sleep deprived experiences of my life, but learned for once and for all I had no desire to go back to breed show life. Found my college major and went back to school for junior year in the fall as an officer on sorority exec board where some geniuses trusted a 20 year old with a half million dollars.

2013

Finished out junior year, still no ponies in my life at school. Came home for the summer and interned, lost 22lbs and took my favorite photos ever with Lucy. Turned 21, went to Vegas, enough said. Back to school, football season, the best day of my life, the Kick Six, lost a national championship by 13 seconds. Living with my best friends in the world in the best townhouse in the best city.

2014

Lane was my first OTTB and such a good boy. I also rode all summer in too long stirrups.

Did some more college senior things, interviewed for grad schools, got into grad school, put two deposits down and changed my mind on a school at the last minute. Oops. Graduated. Went home and rode a family friend’s OTTB, Lane. Moved to Chapel Hill and started grad school in August. Found a barn to ride at and started riding consistently for the first time in four years.

2015

Went XC schooling for the first time and get bucked off, but also fall in love. Decided I want to event. Started half-leasing Skylar who was spooky and scared me half to death 75% of the time. Did… grad school things. Interned in Chapel Hill over the summer, started second year of grad school, stopped riding as applying to fellowships and flying all over for interviews took over my life.

2016

Travel in the spring, watch UNC lose a national championship to a buzzer beater, compete in a case competition at Minnesota, break my foot in a Minnesota bar, graduate from grad school in a boot and move to South Carolina to start fellowship. Spend what feels like the next 7 years in a walking boot (5 months but STILL). Didn’t ride once all year, but start volunteering at Tryon for events, including working at AECs. Found out Lucy tore her deep digital flexor despite being retired and doing… nothing. She stays retired and happy.

2017

My left drift means I don’t get to jump without guide poles until I learn how to not take out standards

Adopt Finn the Jack Russell! Refinish my first piece of furniture, go on a girls’ trip to NYC, volunteer at The Fork, go to DC for a wedding, finish fellowship, move to Indiana, immediately find a horse. Start leasing Doc! Complete our first CT together in August, visit Olivia in September, fall off Doc for the first time in October. Do our first BN CT in November, buy my County and head home for Christmas!

2018

If you think I’m ever going to stop using this photo, you’re wrong

Stuck inside until March thanks to the coldest winter of my LIFE. Immediately fall off the middle of March and break my back. Out of the saddle until June, but back in it just in time to go to Event Camp! Have some of the best rounds of my life, go down to the Hoosier Horse Park and spend all day getting run away with. What can you do. Go on lots of trail rides, spend all summer conditioning and complete our first BN HT in the fall, finishing on our dressage score.

2019

Start my new (fantastic) job and readjust to my commute. Jump around BN a few times. Have an amazing week at Event Camp where we jump Novice height and some Training questions, but cut short by some funky steps. Back by the end of the summer where we have an amazing time schooling XC at the HHP including jumping a N/T trakehner. Find a dressage saddle after 10 trials. Ready to go to Team Challenge in KY when we get the news that we’ll have to retire him from jumping. Cry, drink, and in the end, say thanks that he’s still happy and healthy and nobody got hurt. Start looking for a new horse and end up taking a trip to Lousiville and making phone calls to vets, barn owners, hauling companies and send lots of fun text messages… to be continued.

Continue Reading

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!

Continue Reading