Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween!

Do you know what happens when I have a Spanish horse, a fun Baroque saddle pad and bridle, access to a sidesaddle, and Amazon Prime? That's right, a silly medieval princess photoshoot!
Yeah. This happened.
We snapped these photos after a long day at the hunter pace (recap coming) when I was running on about 4 hours of sleep. DH is obvs not a professional (by any means) and he repeatedly ignored my suggestions on settings, so I got a lot of blurry crap shots, and lots that made me laugh. But some, I think really accurately capture how truly lovely this horse is, the relationship we share, and how she's made me a braver and better rider.
Last Friday I threw a sidesaddle on her for the first time -- after a 40 degree temperature drop in less than 24 hours. She couldn't have cared less, and cheerfully packed me around the field while I sorted out how to balance with both legs on one side and equitation that probably would have horrified an actual sidesaddle rider ;) she also tolerated the clunky decorative curb bit that accented the bridle with grace (and a minimum of head tossing, because let's face it, nobody's perfect!).
The goats escaping their pen and running amok in the yard during the shoot did interest her though.
So in love.
Pretty sure the neighbors drove by and saw us taking this photo and think we are certifiably nuts -- which is probably not far from the truth! ;)
I think the most valuable lesson I've learned over the last few years with my horses is to just do what makes me happy. And this silly little photoshoot made me very happy. It's confidence-inspiring as a rider to take a horse from a yearling and raise her up into such a solid citizen that she doesn't bat an eyelash when I throw things at her like spending all morning at a hunter pace and all afternoon wearing a sidesaddle while I try to figure out how to deal with a dress (seriously, how did they ride in these?? haha). She puts her whole heart into anything I ask, and I'm trying to take that lesson and let her teach me to be less of a scaredy-cat about trying new things. New things like what, you might ask? Well stay tuned for the Hunter Pace recap, and photos of us.... *drumroll please*...... JUMPING THINGS. I know, I'm as shocked as you are ;) hahahaha.
Even if he's not a professional photographer, I think I'll keep him <3

Friday, October 27, 2017

Finally Friday

Still recovering from the productivity that was Wednesday! Getting both horses worked on a day DH also works was… dicey. He was annoyed that I left stalls for him to clean, poor guy ;) not like I don’t clean them like the other 6 days of the week, haha. Hopefully we can settle into some sort of semi-regular schedule as long as the weather is marginally cooperative. We’ll see. I am not the queen of consistency, as anyone who reads this blog regularly is well aware.
Goat King of the rock pile!
I worked Ruby first, since there aren’t lights up at the barn yet in the indoor, so I wanted to take advantage of daylight in the field (and more pole work, yay!). She came out all business as usual, and we did a lot of transitions and then trot poles. Her right lead canter depart on the lunge is fine, which further solidified my belief that the problem is me (duh, who didn’t see that coming?). I actually think I figured out the problem later in my ride with Cinna, but I’ll get to that in a minute. I got a good giggle out of the fact that the barn manager came out while we were working trot poles and pointed out that the course was set for a big world stock horse show, and what I was using as trot poles were actually their canter poles…. Oops? Nothing earth shattering about the work, just trying to get in a more consistent routine and help Ruby build fitness.
Working on those ground tying skills ;)
By the time I made it back home, we were rapidly losing light. We haven’t gotten the grooming area light installed yet (but that’s on the agenda for Sunday now that the days are getting so short!), so I had DH hold Cinna in front of the tack shed so I could use the decorative lights to see enough to brush her off and throw a saddle on her. It briefly crossed my mind that she hasn’t been ridden for anything other than trail riding in…. a very long time… but I decided to go ahead and just hop on without lunging. She came out a bit hot, but manageable, and I just asked for a nice business-like walk and let her eyeball the goats (who were grazing next to a light pole). She settled in to work right away, and we just did a brief W/T/C to knock the dust off the aids. Although funny enough, it took me about 4 tries to get her to pick up her LEFT lead canter. I’m broken. My poor horses. 

So shiny and clean after a bath last night!
I did have a revelation though while I was riding her (confirmed by the videos DH took) – Cinna is MUCH rounder than Ruby and if I don’t stay well-balanced in the saddle, I can get some slipping to the side. I noticed my saddle kept sliding slightly to the right, so clearly I was not weighting the left side of my body in an even fashion. My shoulders looked like they were in different ZIP codes when I reviewed the video…. Ugh. Hey, CR was right, your body lies to you! (not that I thought I was particularly even, but I didn’t realize it had gotten quite that bad). So, something to focus on in future rides! (and actually even at work, because I’m noticing I slump at my desk in an alarmingly similar fashion…). 

Stylin' in her new threads.
Cinna is less in shape than Ruby (and a bit hairier already), so we had a nice long walk to cool down. She’s getting a lot most trustworthy (aka I was reading emails while she hacked on a loose rein at the end) – not bad considering it’s only the second time she’s worked under lights (since June), and that she hasn’t been worked with any sort of regularity in… months. I love my horses :) they are pretty cool!

Less entertained by the fact that the belly straps are like a corset on her, even all the way out. Might have to return the pretty blankies :(

Last night was our last beautiful 80 degree day, so I tried to make the most of it! I came home and gave Cinna a thorough scrubbing (probably the last one of the year, wah), then the boys had their feet trimmed. After that I ran back up to the barn to snuggle Ruby for a second (and try on her new sheet). Hug your horses close guys -- a friend lost a dear horse yesterday to colic and I'm feeling extra obsessive over mine with the wild temperature swings Missouri is currently experiencing. 80s yesterday and 40s today make me super nervous. I do have a busy weekend planned with a haunted hunter pace and hopefully a photoshoot -- what are you up to? Anything exciting?
Slowly getting the nasty red tinge out of the tail. One bath at a time!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Tired Thursdays

The good news is, I got both horses worked last night!
The bad news is, after working both horses, doing chores, and making dinner, I was too exhausted to write about it. It's always something, right? Stay tuned! ;)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Daily Grind

Hey, do you know what today is? Wednesday! The week is half over! Thank God, cause it's been a doozy already.... ugh. Thankfully, after my super fun chill day Saturday with Tanya, Sunday was equally as relaxed -- my brother, wife, and two nephews came out to BBQ for lunch and to let my older nephew Jack meet the baby goats! (my younger nephew is only a few months old, so he didn't care so much about them, haha). Despite the weather being absolutely disgusting (drizzly and cold after Saturday's sunny and 80), DH set up a nice little area in the barn away from the wind and we used our propane heater, which actually kept things fairly pleasant! I won't spam you with kid pictures (because personally I find that super boring, even if I like the kid, which I usually don't, lol), but I will share this one adorable shot of him feeding Cinna a carrot. She was SO GENTLE taking it from him -- he's a bit too young to really grasp the "flat hands" thing but she was so cautious and didn't nip any of his little fingers. I have it on good authority that during his evening prayers, he specifically thanked God for both horses and goats ;) although not for his awesome aunt who is going to teach him to ride as soon as he's a little bigger? Huh.... weird..... haha.
Monday I had an off-kilter sort of day at work, so I was very much looking forward to getting out to the barn to ride. I zipped home, changed, and had just walked into the barn aisle when DH called and asked if I was almost done..... *cue much annoyance and mood change haha* he spent most of the day painting at my mom's house and she was going to take us out to dinner. I grumpily tacked up and just spend half an hour working on bend at the walk and trot in the indoor -- I'm holding off on canter for a bit until I feel like she's a little more fit, as I think some of our right lead canter depart issues are fitness related (I'm sure the majority of it is due to me being an unbalanced sack of potatoes, but it will only help us both if she's more fit when I go to work on it). Because I was frustrated (with my husband, not with Ruby), I ended up not taking any photos..... if you didn't document the ride for social media, did it even happen? It was too muddy from the weekend's rain to ride outside, which also annoyed me. Basically, I had a nasty case of the Monday blahs.
Pretty clouds.
Tuesday was another rough day at work. Thankfully, while it was grossly cool, it was also very windy -- drying out the field enough that I could ride outside when I got home. We took advantage of the poles set up again (several girls are going to a big world show soon, so the trail course is semi-permanent until they leave), but Ruby remembered our "canter after we finish the poles" and got a bit strong coming out the first few times. To the right she's gotten very bracey and tends to fall in on the circle very badly, so I was struggling to keep her between the aids and moving from my inside leg into my outside rein. So every time she started to fall in, I asked for a downward transition and then immediately to leg yield out. Then we'd pick up the trot until she fell in again, and rinse, repeat. It only took about one big lap of the field before she remembered that she could in fact move off my leg at the trot as well as the walk -- funny how that works, right? :) we ended on a good note, and then I made her try on a baroque bridle for a fun scheme I'm working on. She was unsure about the curb bit, but game to try for me! Love her.
She was uncooperative about a 3/4 view so you're missing the really fun silver disc on her face. But hopefully I'll have better photos soon!
The ring got dragged at home, so maybe tonight will be Cinna's turn! Or maybe I'll get SUPER MOTIVATED and ride Ruby, then come home and work Cinna under lights! Has fall arrived in earnest where you are? Are you dealing with trying to squeeze in rides in the ever-shortening daylight hours?

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

My Friends are Awesome

I had a wonderful weekend, starting with a visit from a long-time friend, who also happens to be a professional photographer! We wandered around downtown, had lunch at a delicious cajun restaurant (omg the beignets!), and then came home to play with all the critters!
She was braver than me with gator and gumbo, I stuck to a Cajun Philly cheesesteak, haha.
I could have eaten these until I exploded. SO GOOD.
Although I had no intention of taking advantage of her mad photography skills, she had other ideas and happily snapped away while we were playing with the goats, the horses, and even my dogs! Below are a selection of my favorite shots from Saturday. If you're local, she's running a FABULOUS special on a mini session -- check out her work! If you follow me on social media, you may have seen some of these images already, but IDC, they're worth spamming you with again! ;)
Quite possibly the FUNNIEST PHOTO OF ALL TIME.
The sideeye though hahahaha.
While these shots absolutely enthrall me.... some of my other favorites were the "derp" moments! There might have also been a hysterical moment where I picked up one of the baby goats to let Cinna sniff it over the fence and it walloped her in the face with a tiny hoof... haha. She was unamused!
She's beauty, she's grace..... ;)
There aren't really any words for this old goofball. Love him.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Blog Hop: October 10 Questions

Yay, a return of the 10 questions posts! I'm a sucker for random knowledge about all you cool cats in the blogosphere, so hopefully you're just as interested in my random answers! ;) Thanks Liz for a fun bunch of autumn questions!

1. Most equestrians quote fall as their favorite season to ride. Are you one of those that does? Or maybe not; what is your favorite season to ride, if so?

Normally yes, fall is my favorite season to ride, but this fall has been a bit bizarre in MO – we’ve had lots of unseasonably warm temps and an astonishing amount of rain. Neither of which I am complaining about, it’s just made it kind of hard to get into the “fall” mindset! Although I think as of today I can safely say fall is here.
2. Do you clip your horse in the fall? Or maybe you wait a little longer?

I don’t typically do any clipping for winter – Ruby lives in an insulated barn and is regularly blanketed, and doesn’t grow too much of a winter coat. The guys at home get blanketed when its stupid cold or when its wet. Plus my riding schedule is never regular/intense enough to justify clipping, so mine stay hairy beasts all winter :)

3. Have any costume riding events in October on/near/around Halloween? What will your horse be dressed as? What about yourself? What would you dress as if money/time were absolutely no issue?

Yes! In the past I’ve participated in both a local rail show’s costume class (as a princess riding my unicorn). This year I’ll be attending a haunted hunter pace – I went last year and it was one of my favorite events of the whole year! I can’t wait to go again this year. We’re still hashing out costumes. But if money/time were no object, I would love to dress up Cinna in LOTR-type gear and get matching stuff for me – for any of my LOTR fans out there, the first time I re-read the books after getting into Andalusians, I realized that Tolkien must have had Spanish horses in mind when he wrote about the horses of Rohan. “Their horses were of great stature, strong and clean-limbed; their grey coats glistened, their long tails flowed in the wind, their manes were braided on their proud necks."

I will never not share these photos. God bless this horse.
4. Is your horse afraid of any autumn colors? Or maybe has a certain quirk that only appears in the autumn?

Haha not autumn colors, but Cinna can get squicky about the leaves crunching under her hooves on the trail the first few times we go out once the leaves have all fallen. Such a special princess.

5. Pumpkin spice. It’s everywhere right now. Find any natural pumpkin [squash] spice-esque recipes for your horse?

No, but that gives me idea for next year’s garden! Ruby will eat about anything you hand her, so maybe I need to locate something fun to try. Cinna is a bit more difficult, so I can imagine her turning up her nose.

Unimpressed with your pumpkin spice.
6. We’re getting to the end of the calendar year, and final few “big-bang” shows to look forward to?

Not really. It’s been a slow year show-wise for us (aka just the one little baby schooling show for Cinna in March). A lack of consistent riding means I have no interest in signing up for shows. Plus we have some big expenses coming up so I’m trying to cut back on anything non-essential.

7. Winter is coming. What are you doing to winterize your trailer/rig/car?

Just the usual – making sure regular maintenance is performed. I’d like to get the trailer in to the truck wash to get a good power wash out of the horse compartment, but we’ll see if that fits into the schedule. We also need to take the diesel back to the shop – something wonky is up with the batteries (they’re not terribly old, but the place we purchased them from won’t stand behind the warranty because they say the batteries test fine, even though they won’t start the truck about half the time?) so the truck needs to get looked at again and in all likelihood we’ll just end up replacing the damn things. Truck maintenance kinda sucks.

8. Do you have any autumn traditions you/your horse follow?

Rumchata hot chocolate at the tack auction on Friday nights? In past years I normally would be frantically tallying points to see where we were for year end awards, and squeezing in more shows wherever I could, but that’s just not on my radar this year.

9. October in many places marks the beginning of deer hunting season. Does this affect your riding at all? Do you wear blaze orange or modify your schedule to accommodate the season?

This is less important to me since the barn moved. At the prior facility, we had access to awesome trails, but it was limited during hunting season. The new facility doesn’t have trails. My trail at home is still fine to ride on because it’s bordered on one side by pasture and doesn’t get close enough to the other boundary to worry about hunters (although I do usually still make it a point to wear very bright colors if I’m on it during hunting season). I do have to pay a little attention to some of the trails we haul out to though, some of them are closed during deer season. It’s hard for me to remember the dates because we don’t hunt, so sometimes I get all excited and have stuff planned out only to realize we can’t go because of the dates. Boo.

Cinna trying on a sheet, since fall has arrived!
10. What are you most looking forward to goal-wise as the final months of the calendar year approach?

Hmm that’s a tough one. Probably just a fresh start for 2018. A lot of this year was spent in flux trying to find a new balance for the new “normal”. I still don’t feel like I’m there yet but some progress has been made. Maybe my new normal is that there will never be a normal again, and I just have to continue to adapt and work with the external forces I have.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Silence is Golden

Well in this case, the radio silence is for a fun reason – I’ve actually had a chance to ride this week! Multiple times even 😉 Ruby was not amused… haha. But making it to the barn to ride in the evenings also means I have no computer time to format and schedule posts, hence the quiet. 
I do have a baby goat who likes to try to give me heart attacks.
Tuesday we rode mostly in the indoor. After a lengthy loose rein (or maybe no rein, because I was on my phone multi-tasking by answering emails, haha) warm up, we got right to work. Knowing that I have a lot less riding time, I’ve gotten more purposeful about the work we’re doing when I can squeeze in a ride. Tuesday we worked on a lot of changes in bend – serpentines, circles, diagonals, teardrop shapes, and quarterlines. There was plenty of giraffeing (because OMG WORK), some counterbend (since that is my specialty apparently), and some tension – but there were also many moments of pleasant work. We worked a little bit at the canter, but mostly just focused on lots of trotting. Nothing groundbreaking, but I feel like we’re taking baby steps at getting back into regular work and maybe ready for some lessons again. Maybe? Shhh, let's not jinx it.
Wednesday I was determined to ride again, and I got down to the barn early enough that I rode outside instead. We have several girls heading off for Color Breed Congress next month, so there was a pretty intricate pattern of poles and obstacles set up in the field, which I had a lot of fun with. Using some of the poles and not others gave me a chance to sneak in some lateral work, and I played with asking for canter transitions right after we got through the poles and got some shockingly lovely upward transitions (and some that were less lovely, lol). This was also the ride that made me realize our right lead canter transition is kind of MIA. In the indoor, the arena is small enough that she kind of has to pick up the correct lead, but out in the field… ummmm less so. So, clearly I know what we’ll be working on for a while. 
Might be hard to see, but pole-utopia! (especially since I didn't have to set it up, OR tear it back down!)
Towards the end of the ride I just rode big easy laps around the field at the trot, and whenever we were in a good place, I’d ask for canter, canter 10 strides, and then go back to trot. Over and over again. To the left, the canter work was excellent, and the trot was so-so. To the right, the trot was great, and the canter was… nothing to write home about (minus one super lovely transition using the poles that led to 10 strides of nice floaty canter that I couldn’t replicate again, oops). Not only did Ruby actually work up a sweat, but I had to clean green foam off her boots, bonnet, and my breeches (I’m not going to ponder too hard how she managed to get foam in all those locations haha). We were finishing up about the time some big machinery came in to work on the water line, so we hung out to watch it for a minute (I’m all about the desensitization). I debated hosing her off, but the temps were dropping into the chilly range, so I just gave her a good scrubbing with my cactus cloth, make her stretch for her cookies, and settled her back into her stall.
"Tack two days in a row is overrated." - Ruby
I was really hoping to ride Cinna last night (and take advantage of the beautiful weather!), but we had to go pick DH's car up from the shop -- where it was unceremoniously towed earlier this week when it refused to start. Adulting is stupid expensive, and I would like to not. Can that be arranged?
I did hop on Trigger bareback to check some fence before we picked up the car, so at least I SAT ON a horse.
Thankfully it looks like Missouri has finally settled in to fall, and the forecast looks decent for the forseeable future, so I'm going to keep squeezing in rides wherever I can. Maybe even a lesson? IDK guys, let's not get too crazy yet.