Monday, April 30, 2018

Two Years of Blogging

Today is officially the two year anniversary of the creation of this blog. Normally I'm one to get pretty excited about anniversaries and milestones, but my heart just isn't in it right now. That was probably pretty clear in my last post, and I'm still mentally sorting through some of the things I referenced then. The weather has continued to be nice (I guess Missouri finally decided to give us a spring!), and I've been spending lots of time outside, even if it's not necessarily riding.
New favorite summer drink? It's definitely on the docket for not-Rolex 2019!
I also got some super sweet stuff in the mail!
I'm not sure how to even write about this, so I'll just get it over with. Blanca (one of our pregnant goats), lost twin kids last Friday. I haven't had a ton of experience with animal deliveries (not since Cinna almost 6 years ago), but both DH and I have gotten a crash course in goats over the last year. When she kidded last fall, we just came home to the babies already dry and up and nursing. This year, we were much more in tune with her normal behaviors and were able to identify when she was close. She went into labor overnight Thursday, and what started as a seemingly normal presentation (two hooves and a nose) went south very quickly -- her twins were tangled and instead of two legs from the same kid, we had a leg from each. We called the vet out, but it wasn't in time to save the kids, and things are still touch and go with Blanca (although she does seem to be trending a little better every day). The silver lining of this is knowing how many good people we have in our corner -- I had friends to call at 2 am, another Facebook friend got on the phone with me to talk me through trying to reposition the kids while I waited for help, and even more friends have been checking in with me for status updates on Blanca. In a day and age where people are opting out of social media because of data breaches and vitriol, it was nice to see it used for good. Even if it was a tough reminder that farm life is hard, and you can't always save every animal. 
Blanca's kid (Bolt) from last year providing a little comic relief while I was on labor watch last week.
Our other doeling Rose, doing what she does best (being a nosy pest). 

Yesterday we finally started to get back into the swing of normal things a little, running some errands and spending some time with the horses in the afternoon. One of the items on my "horsey to-do list" this summer was to install a post to tie the horses to for bathing -- my current system is to attempt to ground-tie them near the hydrant, which works out about as well as you can imagine (in that it doesn't, haha). I was just going to buy a post from TSC and a tie ring, but when we were picking up a telephone pole from one of DH's friends (that apparently is destined to become a ridiculously large flag pole in my front yard, hooray), the friend offered me some of the smaller sections of pole he had cut up. He also had some of the old hardware from the poles, and one of the eyebolts appears to be the perfect size to tie a lead rope through.
I'll have to trim the excess bolt on the far side so none of my horses (cough, Cinna) stab themselves with it, but all in all it's kind of perfect!
Digging a hole for this bad boy probably won't be fun, haha. 
DH also (unprompted from me, yay!) pulled Trigger out for some light work. First he had to shed off some of the winter coat Trigger had been holding on to, so I'm sure the birds will be quite excited. I pulled Ruby out and clambered on bareback to walk around in a halter and lead while the boys worked. Ruby was her normal superstar self, which brought a smile to my face. I unclipped the lead and used it for a neck rope and we worked a little at the trot. She's such a fun horse. Once DH finished up he suggested we meander around the property a bit.
Bet he feels better with that fur coat off!
So we both headed out, bareback in halters, for a nice stroll. The horses were perfect, when when a group of motorcycles roared past. It was a nice way to end what was otherwise a couple of emotionally draining days.  If you slogged to the end of this disjointed and probably uninteresting post, I'll reward you with some GIFs from my last real work with Ruby!
One of the pixio beacons died at the end of the ride, which is why it's so zoomed out to start.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

300th Post

At not quite the 2-year mark (that's at the end of the month), I've made it to 300 posts! Considering my track record with starting and abandoning projects, that's a milestone I'm fairly excited about. I have lots of ideas swirling around in my head to write about, including more Pixio usage, but the weather has taken a turn for the nice, which means I'm outside more and at my computer writing less. So. Not sure when, or if, I'll have time to sit down and marshal my thoughts. Or sort through all the HD video I'm starting to stack up (#firstworldproblems).
Last night I considered using the 75-degree weather to start scrubbing a winter's worth of grime off the horses, but it was just TOO NICE so I cajoled DH into hitting "the trail" with me... which from the house means, just wandering down the gravel road a little bit.
Checking out the neighbor's cows.
Took the alta escuela for a spin! (SUMMER DAPPLES ARE COMING AND I'M EXCITED)
Tom was sunbathing. 
We did hose them off after we rode, and I made a lackadaisical effort at scrubbing her tail haha. 
The terrible twosome studiously ignoring us. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Success and Cavaletti

Many many hours fighting with technology later, guess who finally successfully video'd a ride?! Friday was rainy and pretty gross by the time I got home from work, so I didn't worry about riding. I was mostly focused on decompressing from a fairly stressful week-- mission accomplished! Saturday dawned rainy and gross again, but thankfully the sun came out in the afternoon. After a visit to a friend to see some cute kittens and baby goats, I came home refreshed and ready to ride and play with the Pixio some more! (It didn't hurt that we also picked up some landscape timbers to use as cavaletti, yay!)
Cute lil bottle baby Boer
Yasssss poles. I need to paint them white so they're visually a little more different than the sand, whoops. Baby steps!
I set the poles, got Cinna all tacked up, set all the electronic bits and pieces out, and I was ready to go! I turned the camera on, but I was having some technical difficulties with the new SD card that arrived Saturday morning. I didn't want to mess with it again while I had Cinna tacked up, so I just switched the camera to record to internal memory, and resolved to deal with the SD card stuff later. Unfortunately the difficulties meant I didn't get any recording of our first two walks through the poles, so you don't get video of the excessive amounts of wiggling and tripping that went on, lol. But she's a smart cookie, and she figured things out quickly!
Abstract art ;) or, EquiLab tracking of our ride, haha.
I was pleasantly surprised that she didn't seem to notice (or care?) about the Pixio beacons and the camera in the corner. Considering how sensitive she can be to even the tiniest changes, I'm a little shocked she had no reaction, but no complaints! After reviewing the video, I think I'm going to have to switch the camera placement -- the setting sun interferes a bit with the visibility, so I need to move it to the other side of the arena. Which of course means that most of the background is going to be the barn and my muddy drylot, but whatevs I guess... haha. I typically ride in the evenings so that will probably continue to dictate where I put the camera. Although if I do summer hours, riding will happen more in the morning, so maybe I'll just have to move the camera around based on when I'm riding. Mostly I'm just talking this out on the blog, sorry you get to read my mental gymnastics.
I laughed because it's SO TRUE.
We worked on the buckle and with contact (I'm not gonna say on the bit, because she's not, not even a little bit). We actually did some trotting on the buckle, and it was nice to feel how she let me influence the tempo. We cantered both directions without any histrionics, although the damp sand making her work a little harder might have helped me out there ;) we walked and trotted the poles, and after some initial confusion and run outs, she tried very hard to be steady through them.
First attempt on camera. I decided to regroup at the end and start over, haha. 
Next attempt was much better!
At any rate, it was a good, productive ride. We're just plugging away at the basics, so I'm sure for anyone watching, it would be like watching paint dry. Pretty sure DH is less mad about the Pixio than he would normally be about a frivolous horse-related purchase because now it means I won't be obsessively annoying him to come watch me and take media. I'll still want photos periodically, but at least with HD video every ride, I'll have enough to obsess over. Going through video from even just a half-hour ride took ages!
Due to where I set the camera, apparently all the best moments above a walk are tracking right, haha. 

Neither of us are very fit (thanks shitty cold winter and then ridiculously wet spring), but we had a nice 30+ minute ride with some good moments.
I also have no idea what happened to the lighting in this one? Oh technology. I love to hate you. 
Sunday morning was devoted to further tinkering with technology. I needed to update the firmware on the Pixio, and then download some files to make my SD card compatible with the camera. I was able to test it set up in my living room (I put the tracker on a dachshund, lol) and I think I finally have everything functional the way I want it now! Little bit of a learning curve, but I think it's going to be worth it long term to be able to review my rides. Even just spending an hour or two going over Saturday's easy ride, I identified about 2349834571 things I'd like to work on. And despite Mother Nature spitting a little bit of snow on us yesterday, I feel pretty confident that spring is actually here, so hopefully more consistent work is in our future!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Voila! But also, Frustration

So yesterday unexpectedly reached 90+ degrees (yes, snow on Monday, 90 degrees on Thursday. Because THE MIDWEST). After work my farrier had an appointment to trim the geldings, and my mom came over for dinner. Between everything going on, I knew I wasn't going to pull it together enough to ride. Especially since I was still trying to figure out the Pixio -- I know in time using it will be super quick, but for right now, it's still a lot of trial and error. Also, Ruby still has some winter coat so asking her to work in 90-degree weather seemed kind of unnecessary, haha. I am not ready for it to be this hot yet! (I know, like a month ago I was bitching about the cold but like.... seriously. Are we just not doing spring this year?)
You know what that green light means? IT'S WORKING.
I finally got all the electronics set up and dialed in, followed Jen's handy instructions, and voila! We were recording! I tossed Ruby out in the arena loose and strapped the tracker to her halter. She wasn't super interested in running around (mostly she wanted to stand at the fence and squeal at Jack and Cinna), but I did get some footage. I'd love to SHARE that footage with you, but I can't get it off the flipping camera and it's making me crazy. I know part of the problem is I'm pressuring myself to figure all this stuff out with like NO time devoted to actually reading and following the instructions, which is kind of the opposite of my normal type A-ness. But I've been waiting so long to get it and I just want it to work RIGHT NOW. We're supposed to have shit weather all weekend, so I'm sure I'll have plenty of time to play with the software and the videos then. But in the meantime, I'm frustrated. I know it's not rational, but I am, and I'm just gonna throw it out there. Here I am, having the written equivalent of a temper tantrum.
In lieu of actual Pixio footage, here is my phone, recording the Pixio, recording Ruby.... haha. I wasn't sure if the glare would let you really see it tracking her, but I think you can get an idea?

I also understand this is like the most firsty of #firstworldproblems so I need to just chill the eff out. So. I'm going to try to enjoy my Friday, and I fully plan on cocooning myself away from the impending rainstorm this evening with a bottle of wine and my computer, and I'm gonna figure out the video thing if it kills me!
Enjoy yesterday's #TBT of Topaz sharing her feelings about supplements with me... lol.
Anyone else want to share their first world problem with me so I feel less like a spoiled, petulant child? ;) I promise I'll get my shit together, and eventually, I will definitely share some Pixio video!

*Last minute edit* okay so after I grumpily wrote this post, I tried ONE MORE TIME to transfer the videos, and it worked! But of course then I was out of time to DO anything with the videos haha. So. I'm less frustrated now, but you still don't get video 🤷

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Comedy of Errors

So. Yesterday did not go according to plan. #storyofmylife, am I right? But that's okay. It was still productive, and I still have something to write about, so I guess you win some, you lose some! In the category of winning some, yesterday a long-awaited package arrived.
Prepare yourself. GIFs are coming.
My very own Pixio. A good friend was selling hers and I couldn't resist the chance to snag it. I've been lusting over one forEVER. Especially after getting to mess with Jen's when I photographed her in the KPG clinic. So anyway, I digress. It arrived last night, and clearly the only thing I had planned for the evening was to set it up and ride with it!
This is where it spent most of the evening.
Which, spoiler alert, didn't happen. I did set it up, and I did ride, but no media. *sobbing* my friend shipped it all to me in a super cute backpack with everything carefully tucked into it's place. I promptly dragged everything out, and started trying to put it together..... yeah. I maybe should have printed out Pixio's handy little user manual and done some reading. That might have alleviated some of my problems. But I was WAY TOO EXCITED and just dove right in. After spending 30+ minutes trying to attach both the Pixio and the camera to the tripod, I finally gave up in defeat and texted my friend. Turns out I was trying to use a base that wasn't intended for the video camera, she had just thrown it in there as a freebie (which explained why I could not for the LOVE OF GOD get it to fit haha). Then I realized I didn't have the necessary micro sd card. All the memory cards for my camera were too big. Whoops? That meant another half an hour frantically googling and playing with settings until I figured out how to set it up to record to the internal memory. So finally I thought we were ready to roll, so I grabbed Cinna and tacked her up.
Isn't this backpack for real the cutest? All the chargers and everything are tucked into it, so all I have to do is pull out a plug and find an outlet, and everything can charge neatly!
My excitement was apparently a bit too palpable, and she fed off that and lost her marbles. When I was bridling her, she barged over me and took off, sans bridle. Thankfully, DH was in the arena and she made a beeline for him, so I was able to contain her. Then we spent 10 minutes trying to CATCH her, which she thought was the most fun game imaginable. I was.... less amused.
Whoa there wild steed. I'm not sure you can see it well in this photo, but I had put a bonnet on her -- it didn't budge an inch in the shenanigans. Props to ITBF!
Clearly things were off to a SUPER GREAT START. Arghhhhh. So we caught her, I finished tacking up, then I walked around the arena placing my beacons. No sweat, I got this. I pulled up Jen's handy "how to set up the Pixio" post, and worked my way down the checklist. It took me a minute to get the tripod and camera adjusted and zoomed in on the necessary beacon, but finally I got everything squared away. Cinna was already tacked and waiting, so I pressed the power button on the Pixio. *crickets* I pressed it again. Still nothing. The battery was dead. Ughhhhhhhhhhh. So I plugged it in, and went out to ride Cinna, so the evening wouldn't be a total waste.
Handy little tripod legs wrapping around the fence!
We ended up having a nice ride, once we both calmed down and took a few deep breaths. I didn't ride super long (mostly because I was hoping I could still play with the Pixio haha) but we had the nicest canter transition on her to date -- tracking right I just thought canter, and she did! We also worked on some circles and changes of direction where I just hooked my fingers through my grab strap and focused on my body, and let her do whatever she wanted (within reason) with her head and neck. I was a bit shocked at how well it went, especially since I left the arena gate open (DH had gone inside and I thought he was coming back, but he didn't). She never once made a dive out the open gate, and was very easy to direct with my body, even with my hands in a stationary position. Is she getting a little trained? Funny how that works ;)
Working nicely even with the gate open.
After I had her cooled out and untacked, DH was starving to death, so I had to take a break go to make dinner. I plotted the whole time about how I was going to make him come back outside with me after dinner, and I was going to toss him up on Trigger as a test dummy while I continued to play with the settings. We pulled the horses in for the night and I went to check the charge on the Pixio base -- and by then it was charged, but the tracker (for me to wear) was not. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, but I admitted defeat. Pixio video was just not meant to be last night. But I plugged every conceivable piece of equipment in to charge last night, so we should be good to go today!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Spring, is that you?

I'm afraid typing these words will jinx it and make it snow this weekend.... But it was in the 50s yesterday and the forecast today through the weekend is in the 70s. Spring? Are you here for real? Pull up a chair, stay a while!
The horses were super stoked about it as well apparently, judging from all of last night's shenanigans, haha. I didn't plan on riding after work, I just wanted to get some general barn stuff done. I've been working on purging my tack room of unnecessary stuff, so I photographed a bunch of it so I can list it locally. I still had some daylight, so I grabbed Ruby and started cleaning off some of her remaining winter coat and general nastiness that was built up.
Of course while I was doing this, Cinna decided to come over and make herself a pest.
She is turning into quite the ham, and it cracks me up (when it's not super annoying). Once I convinced her to go be annoying somewhere else, I was able to finish up with Ruby and head to the arena to let her stretch her legs a bit. She was pretty excited about that, as you can see.
Once I let her blow off some steam (and Jack and Cinna were participating on their side of the fence, haha), I decided to hand walk her through the woods. I'm still working on building her confidence on our trail (since for whatever reason she's great on trails everywhere else but a total spaz at home), so I figured a low key hand walk would be perfect.
What are those cows doing?
It was a nice way to spend the evening. She was super relaxed, and stopped several times to hang out and get scratches. I worked her multiple times over some small muddy patches -- last time we were out there she wanted to fling herself over them, and I haaaaaate that, so we practiced lots of stepping carefully in and out of any area I pointed her at.
Of course we had to stop for a snack on our way back to the barn, then I let her graze while I picked things up and tidied the tack shed. It was nice to spend time with Ruby not linked to any expectations or goals, just hanging out with my best bay girl and enjoying her company :) I have some exciting packages due to arrive this week and am hoping to have some fun stuff to share with you guys in the near future! In the meantime, I hope you're also experiencing some lovely spring weather!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Tack Review: Horse Holster

I know normally I run tack review posts on Thursdays, but we're gonna mix it up a little this week! A few years ago, I ran across a Facebook page advertising a product called a Horse Holster. I was intrigued, because I try to make it a habit to carry my phone when I ride (because I frequently ride alone), but it can be tricky, especially when it's too warm to wear a jacket with pockets. I find most breeches pockets aren't really comfortably large enough for the smartphones of today (minus one pair of FITS summer tights I have with a huge thigh pocket). I checked out their site immediately, but found the initial selection of colors a little lackluster. I "liked" the page anyway, because I hoped eventually they'd expand the color options. And sure enough, a few weeks later I saw an ad for TEAL.
Fresh out of the packaging!
Obviously, I had to have one. This was shortly after I destroyed a phone on a trail ride -- it fell out of my jacket pocket and Ruby stepped on it.... ughhhhh. So I forwarded a link to my dad as a possible birthday idea, and he came through like a champ! I got it in May of 2016 and immediately put it to good use. Ever since then, I've used it on probably 90% of trail rides and probably upwards of 70% of my arena rides. It's especially key when I'm using my bluetooth speaker! Honestly any time I don't use it is almost always just because I forgot, not because I made a conscious decision to not use it. It stays put while I ride, and has never damaged my saddle in any way (the two most common questions people have for me haha).
Wearing it on a ride with Cinna this spring.
So what is a Horse Holster? From their website:
Big or small, it fits them all! Fits ANY & ALL phone/case combos, plus room for other items!
Special Features:
- Zipper pocket for keys, money, ID, etc.
- No slip strap included for extra support
Stock photo from their website -- when I got my first one, the no slip strap wasn't available yet, but I do have them on my spares.
2 Leg Sizes for Strap: *sizes vary per person *Leg strap is elastic and will gain 1" to 2" after being worn.- All leg straps are 2"W
- Thighs 16" to 24" (~pants size 0-8)
- Thighs 24" to 32" (~pants size 8+)
*Longer leg strap will still fit thighs as small as 22"
Material: Flexible, water resistant neoprene; leg strap includes elastic
And of course on Ruby.
I loved mine so much that when I saw they were having a sale on factory seconds last fall (with some zipper issues), I picked up 2 more (one black, one teal) for myself and DH. I don't really use the zippered pocket, although I can see where it would be helpful if you wanted to carry an ID or keys or something. The new ones have wider straps, bigger/stronger velcro, and the new "no slip strap". We haven't actually used them yet (mostly because we didn't do too much trail riding this winter, plus I didn't see the point in starting to use the new one when my old one still worked fine), but hopefully we will break them out on some adventures this summer!
My original (sorry, the flash didn't go off so it looks a little washed out). Also I had just washed off a dirt stain so any discoloration is from it being damp.
Original on the left, newer one on the right. You can see the wider strap, and the no slip strap at the top.
The original -- you can see a little pilling underneath the black velcro at the top. Still 100% functional! Also apparently I missed some stains on the strap? Haha.
Yeah the original on the left was still really wet for my impromptu photoshoot, haha. But a better comparison of the strap widths.

Original on left, new on right -- you can see the difference in the velcro sizes. Also the newer ones have way stronger velcro.
I was a dutiful wife and got DH's in black (since I figured he might object to teal). Also, I thought it might be useful to be able to tell them apart, haha.
Rocking it at the Haunted Hunter Pace last fall hopping over some logs.
Price: 4.5/5
As of writing this review, it looks like most color options are priced at $29.99. My first one was a gift, but I feel like they were a bit cheaper then. Maybe like $25 for the original style? If you sign up for their email list or follow their Facebook page, sometimes you can buy a factory second for much cheaper.
Quality/Durability: 5/5
My 2 y/o one still looks great -- there is some pilling on the underside where the inside sometimes misses the velcro, but it still looks perfect from the outside. It's machine washable, although I've only hand washed mine after some muddy trail rides.

Color Options: 5/5
Current options include black, blaze orange, blue, green, burgundy, navy, pink, purple, red, teal, and several patterned options!

Overall, if you like to have your phone on you while you ride, I highly recommend one of these!