Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Treat Yo'self Tuesday: Black Friday Edition

I'm not really a huge black Friday shopper -- zero percent chance I have any interest in dealing with physical crowds, even for good deals.
And even though Amanda's list is famous throughout the blogosphere, normally at the end of November I'm pretty financially tapped out between holiday gifts for loved ones and the ever-present specter of real estate and personal property taxes looming over my head. So typically, I eagerly scroll through it, fill a few shopping carts, and then let my better judgement get the best of me, sadly sigh, and spend no money.
I know, I even bore bore myself.
But this year... Something caught my eye.
My precious 😍
I've been lusting after an Equisense for ages -- each time another blogger gets one and starts posting all the fun data, I get even more obsessed. The first few times I checked in on the store, the $400 price tag was a major obstacle. I may do a lot of impulse shopping (although I've been SUPER good this year), but I'm not a $400 impulse shopper. Or really even a $400 planned shopper a lot of the time, haha. Of course, since they're so new (relatively speaking), used ones don't come along very often. I did keep tabs on a few on FB, but most people still wanted $$$.
So as I scrolled through Amanda's list last Wednesday, the equisense deal stopped me in my tracks -- 50% off the first 50 sold on Black Friday. I hopped over to the store to see what the current conversion to US dollars was... Around $300 (IDK if they just went down in price or if the exchange rate is magically moving back into our favor?). Half of that was... Doable! Especially considering I made some decent money with my side hustle earlier this month that I had earmarked for lessons.....except the weather has decidedly NOT cooperated with that. So it was just sitting in my bank account, waiting for me to make bad decisions.
Equisense even helpfully put the time the sale would start -- 8 am CET. Which worked out to 1 am Friday here. DH ended up going into work Thursday evening and doing some Black Friday shopping of his own on the way home, so he got home late (making my decision to stay up an easy one lol). So I waited. And waited. And waited some more. Luckily, I noticed that they opened the sale a few minutes early and quickly nabbed my equisense in black -- and in the nick of time! They sold the first 50 in less than 10 minutes -- although the rest of the day they were 30% off, which was still a good deal!
I did get a chuckle at the email they sent promoting the sale after the best deal was already sold out lol.
Naturally, I was too excited to sleep after, haha. And then I got even more excited Friday morning to wake up to a text from DHL confirming delivery for MONDAY. From FRANCE. USPS needs to get it's shit together considering I'm still waiting for something I ordered from Stateline a week ago....
The packaging was super cute too!
Anyway, my fun new toy is all charged up, now I just need my arena to not be an ice skating rink! Six inches of rain over Thanksgiving weekend and then a blizzard and massive temp drop was not kind to it.... Haha. Although I've already begged the use of the indoor down the road if I get too impatient! I can't wait to play with it!

Did you get any screaming deals on Black Friday or Cyber Monday? Anything you're particularly excited about? 

Monday, November 5, 2018

Blog Hop: 25 Questions

Y'all know I love me some blog hops, and this one from Amanda does not disappoint! (And yes, I know the font/background color/whatever is all sorts of a hot mess, since I copied and pasted, but I have been fighting with blogger for like TWO HOURS to even get this post scheduled, so you'll have to forgive any formatting inconsistencies)

1. Why horses? Why not a sane sport, like soccer or softball or curling?
I'm entertained by that question, because I actually did play soccer for like... 13 years. I loved it, and I do miss it. But once I was an adult (aka actually in control of my own finances and able to spend my time how I wanted), it was horses, horses, and more horses. They're in my blood. I love the partnership I form with my horses and the parts of the relationship that have nothing to do with riding. Just being around them is therapy for me.

2.What was your riding “career” like as a kid?
Nonexistent? My mom sold her horse when I was born, and she kept in touch with the new owners, so I did get "pony rides" occasionally. When I was in middle school/high school she had a few other friends with horses so I got to ride and show occasionally (no lessons, just hacking and having my mom yell at me haha). I pushed really hard to lease a horse, but it didn't happen. So when I turned 18 I took my graduation money and bought the most wildly unsuitable horse I could find. 

Said wildly unsuitable horse still lives in my backyard, and a few weeks ago I bought him EIGHT FUCKING DOLLARS A BALE HAY so he better appreciate the fact that I bought him and that he didn't end up dog food....
3. If you could go back to your past and buy ONE horse, which would it be?
Classic, hands down. He was a CUTE little bay arabian I rode for a few years in HS and I LOVED him. He was sensitive and fun and actually for sale when I was riding him. Sadly, see "not actually in charge of my own time/finances". 
4. What disciplines have you participated in?
Western pleasure, showmanship, english pleasure,  speed events (barrels/poles), hunters, jumpers, dressage, and above all else - trail riding! 

5. What disciplines do you want to participate in some day?
I still would really like to try endurance, but I don't think it's in the cards with where I live and the (lack of) availability of rides close to me/footing. Working equitation also looks fun, so hopefully it picks up in my area. 

6. Have you ever bought a horse at auction or from a rescue?
Not directly, no. Both Jack and Jasper were purchased out of bad situations. 
From this....
To this. Funny how much better horses look like when you... feed them?
7. What was your FIRST favorite horse breed – the one you loved most as a kid?
Definitely arabians -- thanks Walter Farley! I also went to some sort of performance as a child where a black arabian was doing a liberty act and I was MESMERIZED. I am pretty sure I had my Arabian Legends book memorized.

8. If you could live and ride in any country in the world, where would it be?
Spain beach ride photo stolen from Les Googles. 
9. Do you have any horse-related regrets?
I wish I could have started riding regularly a lot younger and had formal instruction, but it wasn't really within my control as a kid. I'm happy with where I am now and the future possibilities though. 

10. If you could ride with any trainer in the world, ASIDE from your current trainer, who would it be?
I mean, if we're dreaming big, Steffen Peters? 
SP on Legolas at the 2012 Olympic Selection Trials, photo by moi. 
11. What is one item on your horse-related bucket list?
Riding Andalusians on the beach in Spain -- see photo with number 8!

12. If you were never able to ride again, would you still have horses?
Absolutely. I spent a few years not riding and playing "owner" with a trainer riding some of mine, and I liked being the trailer-driving photo-taking doting person standing on the sideline cheering. If I couldn't physically ride, I'd still do that. Or just run a home for geriatric horses who just want to be snuggled every daycare (roughly half of my current herd, lol). 

13. What is your “biggest fantasy” riding goal?
Biggest fantasy? Riding a GP dressage test on a horse I trained (or ideally, bred AND trained). 
Horse I trained, check. Horse I bred and trained, check. Future GP mounts? Haha doubtful, but they're mares, so I can have another go with the next generation ;)
14. What horse do you feel like has taught you the most?
That's hard to say because they've all taught me so many different things and so much of it is intertwined. Right now I'd have to say Cinna - it was because of her that I learned so much about breeding/foaling/young horse raising, and now she's teaching me a lot about riding sensitive dramatic Spanish mares that have OPINIONS. 

15. If you could change one thing about your current horse/riding situation, what would it be?
Can I have unlimited dollars for an indoor arena and daily lessons? That would be cool. It would also be nice to be in an area with more showing opportunities. 
Fuck puddles. 
And wind chill. 
But most of all fuck snow. 
16. If you could compete at any horse show/venue in your home country, where would it be?
It would be cool to ride a dressage test in the KHP arena :)

17. If you could attend any competition in the world as a spectator, what would be your top choice?
Aachen or the Olympics, I think. I had a good time spectating at Rolex, but that was way more about the company than the competition. 
Bloggers = the best
18. Have you ever thought about quitting horses?
Absolutely... haha. Not really in a serious way, but it's hard sometimes not to look at the large percentage of income I spend on them and fantasize about a nice house in the suburbs and regular vacations and things that normal people do. But my life would be so empty without my horses. 

19. If you could snap your fingers and change one thing about the horse industry, what would it be?
That's a hard question for me. I think snapping my fingers and eliminating all horse abuse would be great, but ya know, unlikely. In terms of a change that actually could happen, I wish people would stop breeding crappy backyard horses from everything that has a uterus and then not training the babies and ending up dumping them at auction. 

20. What’s the dumbest horse-related thing you’ve done that actually turned out pretty well?
Accidentally buying a yearling from across the country when I already had like 6 other horses... lol. 
Can never turn down a chance to share this photo of the baby yak. 
Turned out pretty well for me though, TBH.
21. As you get older, what are you becoming more and more afraid of?
Catastrophic injury. I'm not as bouncy as I used to be, and I ride sensitive, athletic horses.

22. What horse-related book impacted you the most?
Hmmmm. You know, I don't know that I can pick one. I have a ridiculous library of unread horse books and I'm still struggling to find the time to read what I have. 

23. What personality trait do you value most in a horse and which do you dislike the most?
I value a good brain and a work ethic - basically a horse that wants to be with you and wants to please. I don't like lazy, standoffish horses (Trigger gets a pass on that because he is SUCH a good husband horse). 
Even though he low-key hates both people and actually working, he gets a pass because once you actually let him know he has to work, he's totes fine and you can put LITERALLY ANYONE on him.
24. What do you love most about your discipline?
I love how dressage done well can improve the horse and their way of going. The OCD part of my personality really likes the precision and attention to detail. And let's be real, I also love the bling ;) and I like that with individual scoring you can continue to compete against yourself (even though I'm a closet satin ho). 
Sparkles 4 lyfe
25. What are you focused on improving the most, at the moment?
Improving myself so I can stop holding my horses back. 

Friday, November 2, 2018

Lesson Recap: Pushing from Behind

Monday night ended up being a LOVELY evening, and Ruby and I had another very productive lesson with DT. (side note: having DH and DT is probably confusing... hrm. Maybe I'll ask her if I can use her actual initial. I'll worry about that later). I had just enough time to get home, get changed, head out to the barn and get Ruby ready. I also had time to set up the Pixio, but the base was dead. Of course. Despite being fully charged after the LAST time I unsuccessfully tried to use it. I think T might be on to something when she claims I have some sort of faulty electromagnetic field around me that shorts out electronics...... *rolls eyes*
I don't actually know what I'm doing with my arms here but I'm clearly having a good time, ha. 
I was mildly apprehensive about the lack of structured riding between lessons (a 2.5 hour trail ride in a sidepull didn't feel like it counted), mostly because I don't want to waste DT's (or mine I guess) time. There's no point in her coming out and having to teach me the exact same lesson every time, I should be working on concepts between rides and making progress on my own. I just really wanted to squeeze in another lesson on the last night day in a gross 10-day forecast. But not to worry! Apparently the daily yoga and hip stretches did help me loosen up a tiny bit, and I made a concerted effort to sit up straighter and received kudos for that.
Obviously so much to improve, but for once I actually am fairly well stacked (for me anyway) head to hip to shoulders. 
We started off with some really good exercises to focus on independent body control - finding my seatbones (which was central to the first lesson) and then putting each arm out to the side and following it with my gaze, but not letting my legs and seat change. Once I made a little progress with that, we moved on to rotating it completely behind me and still not letting my legs and seat change. Definitely lots of work to be done there, but it's a good exercise for those days I'm short on time but still want to be productive!
I thought ahead and turned the lights on before we even started, which was a good thing, because we lost the light SO FAST. 
It's truly bright enough in there for decent photos, DH just can't work the camera in manual settings, lol. 
After spending some time working on my position at the walk, we moved on to the trot. The goal of the day was getting Ruby to shift more weight to her hind end - the pre-pre-pre-precursor to collection (you know, like REAL dressage riders do, lol) while I also maintained my new "building blocks". Lots of inside leg to outside rein, serpentines, and rider bobbles, but we were able to string together some nice sections. Especially towards the end, we were able to get 5-10 good strides where Ruby was super in between my aids and rocked back and motoring (as much as a training level horse can, of course! no delusions of grandeur here).
We touched on the canter lightly towards the end of the lesson -- true to form, we had no lead issues while DT was there (so clearly just her watching makes me magically ride better haha). We worked on me keeping my butt firmly in the saddle, and following with my hands (but not TOO much, because then I wasn't actually, you know, able to shape the canter at all). The up transitions felt pretty good for where we are right now, but there's lots of work to be done on the downs. Ruby wants to root really badly and hollow, and I let her get away with that enough times that it's an ugly habit we are going to spend some time working through. During one of the walk breaks, DT and I went over her tendencies to try to use dropping her head down in a fake stretch as an evasion. I had a picture of it, but of course can't find it now, but it's a thing I've let her do and now I get to undo it (horse training is fun ya'lll).
We ended on a good note -- a decent upwards transition and a downward that took me a little while to find but that I didn't let her get hollow through. After a nice bit of walking around, of course Ruby got copious amounts of peppermints and a nice rub down. It was another productive lesson and I smiled like an idiot through a good bit of it. Ruby is so fun when we can make things click like this and I'm enjoying having a bit of motivation again! And it's good we got in a few lessons while it was nice, because the rest of this week has been wet and/or cool and wet, which is basically my least favorite. Hard to stay motivated when my arena is in puddles, ugh. But it's Missouri, if you don't like the weather, wait 10 minutes, so eventually we will dry out again! And the lights mean lessons after DST are still possible - yay!