Riding/Horses

In Which Gem Redeems Herself Yet Again

Sunday was a whole other story and this folks is why I keep my Gemmie around. Well, that and nobody else would want her and I’d never forgive myself if she ended up in an auction or feed lot.

Anyway….

After a ridiculously disgusting Saturday (seriously weather yo-yoing from 79 Friday to 45 and raining Saturday then back to 75 and sunny Sunday is ridiculous. Take your meds please) Sunday dawned gorgeous. Just that morning I saw that RB is hosting a spring H/J show March 10 and I plan to be there so it was time to get jumping.

Nap time. Sunny 75 and with a gentle breeze. Had me wishing I had a hammock so I could join in. 

With my new found bravery, I set the jumps at 2′ verticals and set three in a generous circle with two on the long side and one set perpendicular on the short side.  I really like this placement for Gem. It allows me room for my newbie errors which avoids me inadvertently punishing Gem, but still keeps me honest and steering. By having it on such a large circle, it forces me to ride her straight away from the jump and then set up my turn which helps fight my really bad habit of only riding up to a fence and then leaving Gem hanging on the backside with no directions.

The third jump is just off screen against the far fence line and just in front of the near fence. 

Gem came out well behaved and listening. Sure she still wanted to go faster than I did, but she actually listened to my half halts and would slow down for multiple strides at a time. It felt good and rideable on the flat so I proceeded to the jumps and went right to start.

Gem was amazing. She locked on, never said no or tried to run out and while it wasn’t always pretty going over she did try her best.

After the first two jumps I settled myself and really focused hard on my own position. I paid attention to sitting back before the jump instead of leaning forward (a very bad habit I do for fear of not getting into two point fast enough once she does jump), sinking those heels down, shoving my butt back (while I two point nicely on the flat it goes out the window in favor of standing in the stirrups over jumps which isn’t good) and grabbing that neck strap. It felt good to know she was going over so I could focus on myself.

I had a creeper the entire time I rode. Now that the horses are out in the  big pasture, they have access right up to the arena gate. There is a back entrance right off the barn which avoids entering or exiting via the horse pasture. But it does allow little creepers to stand and stare hard at me the entire time. Thanks for the judgement Nash!

After a few go rounds of doing each fence individually I focused on doing all three in a row with the turns. Going right she nailed it every time, coming back to the trot between fences so we could make the turn. I praised that crap out of her each time, loudly telling her how amazing she was and giving her great big pats.

I may have over done it because it definitely went to her head. Shortly thereafter she began celebrating after each jump and began to get a bit harder to get under control on the back side.

After a really good go to the right where she hit every jump near perfectly, made the turns and listened I gave her a walk break. She was starting to have that sweaty horse smell to her and I wanted to reward her effort.

Then we went left and it wasn’t near as good. Left is her harder side as it is and by that point she was feeling pretty proud of herself which typically translates into her believing I am no longer necessary and that she has it from here. Plus she was also just about done with me.

She stayed with me going into the first jump but then took off after and it took me circling all the way back to the start to get her to trot again. Needless to say we didn’t make it over the other two fences that time.

We suck at selfies

The next time she listened well enough to make the turn to the center jump but then I lost her after when she yet again took off. I’m not ready to start getting after her after jumps since she is finally saying yes 90% of the time now. Instead I let her canter back to the start and tried again all the while praising her for saying yes and going over.

It took a few more attempts to get her over all three going to the left but once she did I quit for the day. I was really proud of her for going over, trying hard and the fact that the jumps were set at 2′. I was never brave enough to go that high before.

I texted Trainer and set up a jump lesson out at RB which will be the first time I’ve trailered there since early November or maybe late October. Its been a while. But I want to be able to work a more complicated course before we go to the jumper show there in March. My plan is to hit up as many classes as possible this time: cross rails through 2′ both the hunter and the jumper classes both to try and stave off boredom as well as to get us as many low key miles as I can. I really believe Gem actually deep down enjoys this jumping game after all. It gives her a purpose in the arena and I can really feel her start to understand and take to it. She gets super proud of herself once she completes a task she didn’t think she could and it is big confidence boost for us both.

Also, the month is coming up fast and I don’t have any hours entered for the volunteer challenge. It’s going to be an easy random drawing with no names in the invisible hat. If you’ve volunteered in February get those hours submitted!

Riding/Horses

Working on Halt

Was it fun to go back to the very basic of basics and spend 45 minutes fighting to get a true halt? Nope.

Did I have moments day dreaming of selling her and riding a better behaved horse? Yup.

Did I deserve a shit ride that night? Probably.

Wyatt caught his first fish!! A decent size bass too. He was so excited!! Of course now I will never swim in our pond ever. 

Friday night was the first time I rode Gem in two weeks. Not smart and I know that. Between the rain and the flu and then Wyatt stealing Wednesday night from me, it was the first shot I had.

Beyond the two weeks off, it was dark, the wind was gusting hard and it went from 50 and raining Thursday to 79 and sunny Friday. So many reasons to have a tense and unhappy Gem.

I rode anyway and should have had low expectations given all the above and nearly a decade of experience with her. Instead I planned to jump. I even added a third jump and jacked it all the way up to 2′ (I know I’m a wimp).

Followed 20 minutes later by a blue gill!

As soon as I got on I knew that plan was screwed. She was jigging instead of walking and the moment I asked for trot she tore off at a gallop. Sigh.

Now, the bright side? A year ago I would have slid off her in defeat. Not now. Instead I changed my plan. If she couldn’t be trusted to walk or trot we would work on halting.

She has been amazing at halting for several months now. Friday night? It all went out the window and it was like we went back in time 12 months. She would walk through my aides. When she did finally stop moving forward she would swing her big old butt around to face wherever she wanted, mostly the gate, and then back up.

It was annoying.

 He watched while Dusty filleted them

I hung in there though and kept persisting. Once she stopped moving and right before her butt swung around, I praised the ever living crap out of her. Then we walked quickly forward before she could do something stupid. Repeat.

For 45 minutes until she finally halted three times in a row and didn’t move a muscle until asked to. Then I called it quits, went inside to cook dinner and wished I liked alcohol. I could have used a hard beverage.

And then scarfed down not only his bass and blue gill fillet, but then Dusty’s blue gill fillet as well. He was so proud that he caught his own lunch. I tried them both and thought the blue gill was pretty tasty, but did not enjoy the bass. 
Riding/Horses

3 Day Adventures with Horses Blog Hop: 3 words

Three Day Adventures with Horses posted a great idea for a blog hop: What three words best describe your horse?

Opinionated

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Working wasn’t on my social planner for today

Anyone who has met Gem for even the briefest of moments immediately comments on how opinionated the mare is. Not only does she have an opinion about everything, but she also feels the need to express it. Oh, and she is always right by the way. It wouldn’t be so bad if she didn’t always seem to have the opposite opinion as I do. The jump is scary – it is the same plain cross rail you have seen a dozen times.  I need to be going 10 mph – no you don’t Gemmie we are in an arena. You are stupid – no, I’m not Gem and that is just plain mean anyway. It doesn’t help that she is so dang smart as well, but it would be nice if she just went with the flow a little every now and then.

 

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Still not in the mood to work

Honest

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While she won’t make up for my mistakes, she also isn’t dirty. Here I stuffed her at the jump last minute. She said no. 

Gem tells it like it is and I never have to worry that she is being overly dramatic. A hang nail doesn’t cause her to be three legged lame. On the flip side, she also isn’t so stoic that she will keep going with one leg missing. I can 100% trust that when she tells me something is wrong, that it is. This fact was really helpful in the endurance world. I never spent time second guessing or stressing if she was off physically, mentally or metabolically. She’d tell me if she was.

She isn’t mean about anything and won’t pull a dirty trick, but she also won’t hand me anything either. I’ve had to work for every tiny minuscule improvement I’ve gotten from her.

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Aloof

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Road block last summer while mowing the pasture. She never even glanced my way. Never came up to say hello.

In your pocket, she is not. It took me three years to get her to open up even a little bit. Most days she still stands in the pasture and watches me walk to her. Some times she still runs and hides behind a tree. Rarely, she meets me at the gate with a nicker. She tolerates grooming and if she could roll her eyes I am sure she would every time I give her my bug hugs and lots of kisses. Mostly I annoy her with my affection. She isn’t a goof ball, she isn’t nerdy. She is just…all Gem all the time and I love her for it.

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Still my favorite equine

This was a lot of fun!

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Riding Nash

I was bound and determined to ride Gemmie last night. It was gorgeous out, dry and the best part? Daylight!

Except then I saw someone fishing on our pond and had to go talk to them and let them know we bought the place and it wasn’t ok to trespass. See, we need a perimeter fence. I’m thinking 20 foot tall razor wire. Too much?

Then Wyatt wanted to ride which I’ll never say no to. I had to put the new bridle together which took way too long to figure out. Those pieces were so small! He looked super sharp in his new pad and bridle though so it was worth the effort.

Wyatt’s favorite color: neon green and black

By the time he was done riding it was pitch black and I lost motivation to tack Gem up by that point. Instead I just hopped on Nash. In Wyatt’s 14″ saddle. It was a tight squeeze.

If you all thought I was bad at taking pictures, look at any from the Hubby. They are all either blurry or out of center. 

It was my first official ride on Nash and he was a snot. Nothing terribly bad but he took a bit to convince that I did mean what I asked for. He walked great and halted with the barest breath, two very important things with Wyatt, and really wasn’t that bad.

But when it came to trotting….yeah I couldn’t get him to do it. I think I got one or two steps total. And my legs were killing me from pony club kicking the crap out of him. Ugh.

I was smiling the entire time. Even squeezed into a kids saddle

I think most of it was the saddle. I couldn’t really ask well and the first time he finally did trot I was so out of balance in the tiny saddle and super short stirrups. As soon as he felt my balance off he slammed to a halt, again just what I want for Wyatt, and then refused to trot again. So it’s a work in progress. His canter looks amazing and I really really wanted to ride it. I may need to get a crop.

He is a pretty good boy having not been asked to do anything for many months

I’m hoping that once I get in my own saddle and work with him more that he goes a lot better. If not he will earn himself a ticket to boot camp, but I don’t think it will be necessary.

Smile for the camera Nash!

He is a fun little guy and he is smart. Even when he was being a snot I just laughed. I have no fear with him and while I don’t think it’s good for me to ride him too much or too hard due to size I do think he is a huge confidence booster even for me. We will see what all we accomplish in the future, but I really want to do w/t/c and maybe some 18″ jumps with him. He should be ok with me on him for that.

As for Wyatt he is dealing with his own fear issues and getting better every time. Nash stops so well and takes so much effort to go above a walk that he has no real risk of getting run off with. Wyatt’s biggest issue is that he is 5 and everything he does is full force. He is really hard on Nash’s poor mouth and Nash responds by stopping and/or throwing his head around both things that frustrates Wyatt. Hopefully he learns to be easier on the reins soon. Otherwise he is enjoying walking around and is getting the hang of steering and stopping.

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Seems Like Forever

Since I had a decent horse post to publish. Ugh. Rain has been my nemesis lately and while the arena drains amazingly well, the constant downpour is not fun to ride in. And I do this for fun.

Add on top of that both a husband and a kiddo positive for the flu (anyone want to guess who was a bigger baby when sick?) and you have one great equation for lack of horse time.

Hopefully everything gets back on track soon as Gem does so much better with twice weekly rides at a minimum. I’ve got some plans coming up I’d like to actually participate in, so the viruses and weather better start cooperating.

Today it is supposed to be 70F and tomorrow 75F but then the rain comes back for the weekend yet again. It is really killing me.

In the meantime, we managed to open up the left side of the property into one large 15 or so acre pasture for the horses. I’m anxious to see it green up as part of it is fescue and the other is Bermuda which is my least favorite southern grass. Fescue needs to be planted in the fall though so until then we have to live with it. Right now we have some really beautiful fescue greening up throughout.

The horses weren’t complaining though. I missed most of the happy shenanigans with full on racing and galloping. I promised I wouldn’t inform the blogosphere that one bay mare got outrun by one tiny little roan pony. By a lot. I may have laughed at her.

Now on to the other half of the property. This side is much harder to combine, but we are working on it. The surveyor just finished up so we know exactly where we can run new fence line and now the debate commences in which to do first: change over the interior fencing that I hate or put up the antisocial, stay the poop off my lawn, perimeter fence.

Always something. I love it. Stay dry fellow east coasters!

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Hello Fresh

I was not paid by Hello fresh for this. I pay them, in fact, to get my food. They don’t even know I exist beyond getting my money. This is all my opinion and should be taken as such. Your experiences may vary. 

Food is my down fall.  Coming up with what to buy makes me want to poke my eyes out with a blunt object. Actually shopping for it is my own personal form of Dante’s Inferno. Did you know that you move the same object seven times before you eat it?? Shelf to cart –> cart to register –> buggy to car –> car to inside the house –>counter to place it is kept –> back onto the counter to use it –> then onto your plate. Ridiculous!

At the end of 2017 I began looking into my options for a healthier, fresher way to eat. Paleo? Keto? Whole 30? Stop caring and become fat? Nothing was hitting the mark for what I wanted which was a way to eat better and spend more time at home (less eating out which is something I waste a crap ton of time and money on every month) all while increasing our food range in regards to flavors and meals. Not too much to ask, is it?

Who doesn’t like receiving a box every week?

Finally I hit on the meal kits which have flooded the market. I did a bunch of research, asked my friends for their experiences and landed on Hello Fresh. Mostly because their menu options were more regular food items that I could envision my son eating. I signed up for the family plan which has a minimum of four servings per meal and began at three meals a week, then switched to two meals a week because this farm didn’t come with a money tree.

I’ve been using them for over a month now and have to say I love it. I was skeptical as I am wont to be in general, but it has surpassed my expectations. A quick run down for those who don’t know how it works:

  • Every week you get to choose what meals you want. The family plan is the most limited in terms of options. I get roughly 5-6 meals to choose my two from. The menu is set for 3 weeks in advance, so you don’t need to remember a specific day, but you do need to choose by the Thursday the week before or it defaults for you.
  • You also pick the day of the week Mon-Sat you want it delivered. I chose Monday to make the beginning of the week better.
  • I come home from work to a lovely big box filled with my week’s meals on my doorstep. Yum!
  • There is a nice Hello Fresh app that makes all this super easy
Neatly organized inside the box

What I like about the service:

  • No shopping!! Well, that is not 100% true because I only get two meals a week, but it does limit my shopping significantly. I wish they had a 4 meal a week option because that would eliminate all my meal shopping.
  • The meals come in separate bags in the box with the exact ingredients needed for that meal. When I want to make the cheesy hamburgers with onion jam, all I need to do is pull out the brown bag labeled with that meal and grab the meat. The bag contains the exact amount of garlic, peppers etc…
Each meal fully contained in its own brown bagThe food has all been extremely good tasting and fresh.  I was a bit worried that the meat would be poor quality and the veggies near out of life, but so far that hasn’t been the case at all.

 

  • Easy to cook meals. I am not a chef. I don’t aspire to be a chef. The meals on the family plan with Hello Fresh have been simple, do not require a bunch of cooking tools I don’t own and the cook times have been spot on.
Easy to read, large recipe cards
  • I can replicate the meals on my won. Aside from a few meals that have some generic “southwest spice packet”, most of the meals have been with regular ingredients that I could easily make on my own outside of the service in the future.
All the ingredients needed inside the bag. They do not supply butter, oil or sugar. 

Some of the cons:

  • No left overs. The meals are filling and nobody leaves the table hungry, not even my husband who eats enough for four. There aren’t many meals with left overs for the next day though so I do end up having to plan more meals for the week versus cooking on my own where every meal can last two or three days.
Food pictures gross me out, but I can’t not post them after writing all about food. So here you go. Mega turkey meatballs. 
  • Needs more veggies. The meat portions are spot on, but they are pretty stingy when it comes to the veggies. More of them would be nice. For instance, when the meal comes with a salad all it is is spring mix lettuce. No cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers etc…Veggies aren’t that expensive and it would level up the meal.
  • Speaking of salad, they need a new “dressing”. A squeeze of a lemon and olive oil isn’t a dressing. It is gross. I make my own dressing anyway and substitute that, but for the price they could have you make a vinaigrette or something edible.
  • Chicken and pork only. This is a family plan problem as my friend who does the classic has seafood and steak options that I don’t.
Cooking away
  • Prep time lies. While the cooking times have been spot on, the prep apparently assumes you are a chef. 5 minute prep time, my butt. These meals are being toted as taking only 30 minutes to cook, but mine take about an hour. It is going a bit faster now that I am in the groove, but yeah…double the prep time in reality.
  • The app/website is finicky. Every time I update it, it kicks out my log in and then claims I don’t exist. I then have to call the company and have them fix it.

All in all I am really enjoying the entire experience from choosing the meals to receiving it to the cooking and eating. Wyatt has enjoyed all the meals except the BBQ chicken which I figured he wouldn’t as he doesn’t like BBQ sauce. We are full, there is sometimes enough for me to take for lunch the next day and it makes me happy to see my box and cook something real. I am learning a lot of new techniques and Wyatt is enjoying a mom who actually cooks.

The delicious finished product that Wyatt chowed down on. 

I’d highly recommend trying it. My cost is $8.75/serving/meal which is probably a bit higher than if I bought it all myself for some of the meals, but way less than eating out which is what we are using this as a substitute for. Try getting fajitas at a restaurant for $8.75 and have them be half as tasty as the pork ones I made at home.

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Sucking it Up and Getting it Done

When I first started endurance I jumped in head first and learned as I went. My first 25 was funny in hindsight. I showed up having had no dedicated conditioning. In fact, I had never even ridden Gem solo on trail at that point. Most of my “miles” were riding three days a week in the arena at the barn.

So there I was. Wintec AP saddle. Leather girth. AP cotton pad. Leather bridle and reins. No electrolytes. No clue what her heart rate was.

But I did it. Rode all 25 miles, fell off at mile 21 when she spooked because I was too tired to stay on, but we completed. Took 8th place in a big field too. Of course I had no clue that meant anything because the ride did awards for up to 6th only.

This little black bunny randomly showed up at our house last week and is living under our shed. Its curious where he came from because he is obviously a domestic bunny as no wild ones are big and black. But our house has a 1/4 mile driveway and is in the center of the 30 acres so he would have had to hop a very long way to get to our shed.  I’m worried about the little guy though. 

The point is I went out there looking like an idiot and completely clueless, did the thing and came away much more educated because of it. I traded the leather bridle for a nylon halter bridle. Bought electrolytes. Learned to take her heart rate. The next ride went better. And the next after that better still.

For some reason this hasn’t crossed over into jumping and eventing. I’ve tentatively put dozens of shows on my calendar and then talked myself out of every single one of them. I’ve convinced myself we aren’t ready. Maybe we aren’t. Probably we aren’t. But I’ll never know unless I go out there and do it.

Pete watching me through the trees as I cut that tree down with the ax.

There are a ton of schooling series going on right now. In fact, winter is my best shot at low level, low stress schooling shows. I saw another one pop up in my news feed and decided to do it. They offer an 18″ amoeba level three phase and it is only 2 1/2 hours away in GA.

Sure we are going to look green. Sure we are going to be out of place. Sure there is a 75% chance we will get eliminated in xc due to refusals. But I won’t know if I never try, so I double checked that Dusty was off that weekend and signed up. They are hosting an hunter pace on Sunday as well and I really want to do that in addition to the HT Saturday but logistics are killing that a bit. It is just far enough away that driving back and forth two days in a row doesn’t make any sense yet it is too close to home to justify a hotel for an overnight stay. Technically I could do what I did for endurance and sleep in my truck, but I have done that in the winter before and it sucks. No interest in freezing my tail off all night and then riding a hunter pace in the morning. It is worth it for an endurance ride, but not for that.

It started pouring buckets overnight Saturday and didn’t stop until after lunch Sunday. Sunday morning it was a nice icy mix too. Yuck. It did give Wyatt some great puddles to play in Sunday afternoon though

So…we will see if we die at the end of the month or not.