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The Tribe Expands

Horse people can be a little crazy. Fortunately, I’ve been getting better at weeding those folks out and surrounding myself with knowledgeable, kind folks who make me feel important even though I’m not.

The Black Country fitter is one of those and I am so glad I found this saddle so I could add her to my network of people who are helping me succeed.

Everything about this appointment was amazing…from her early communication to her getting special permission to use a facility after hours to her hands on exam and expert advice. She even kept her cool when one certain Orange Butthead most certainly did not and did his best to show off his airs above ground. It was everything I wanted in a saddle fitting experience.

We me tat a schooling facility called http://The Vista. Wow is pretty much all I can say. This is probably the nicest facility I have ever seen. The driveway entrance had a red and white flag on either side welcoming all.

She services the entire east coast so even though she is based 2 hours away in Aiken, getting with her was looking a bit hairy. An unfortunate need to meet with the mental health counselor at Wyatt’s elementary school granted me a Thursday afternoon off and the ability to trailer down to her last night. I was a bit nervous about the whole ordeal. My experiences in the past left much to be desired and saw the fitter throwing saddle after saddle on the horse and asking me to ride and tell them what I thought. No measuring. No hands on. Really, the only benefit was being able to try numerous models without paying shipping.

I was pleasantly surprised when the first thing she did was palpate his back, watch him walk in a straight line and then took numerous measurements. She explained that she prefers to do all of this before looking at a specific saddle so as to remain unbiased. She asked me a ton of questions about my riding as well: which bend was harder, what was my natural leg position, did I tend to hit long spots or chip in while jumping, did he have issues in up or down transitions? I felt a bit like an imposter answering these. I’m no greatest gift to riding over here and I generally attribute everything to my lack of skill versus gear or horse issues, but I did my best: left bend was harder, I tend to brace with my lower leg in front when nervous or tense, I chip in all the time, transitions don’t seem to be an issue. She then wrote down everything she would want in a saddle had I been ordering custom before laying her hands on the saddle I brought with me.

Diagnosis? I was one lucky mother when it came to purchasing my used Wexford.

The grounds were perfectly manicured too. They have a grass jump arena, dressage courts, a derby field and too many xc fences for me to count.

The saddle had everything she wanted in a saddle for him, the tree size was spot on and the only issue was bridging in the center of the panels. She took the saddle off to work on the flocking. It was much fuller upfront and softer in the back and she wanted to remove all the flocking and level it out to start with a neutral saddle. When she got inside the guts she was surprised to find that it had recently been strip flocked with all brand new wool inside. She told me “You won’t have to strip this saddle for the next 10 years”.

Once she had evened it all out and fixed the bridging issue, we tacked up and I got on. I have a lot to say about Eeyore, but that will be a train wreck post for another day soon. Lets just say he was not on his best behavior Thursday night and I have a lot of opinions as to why and what to do next. But for now, we stayed on a circle and did walk and trot only because cantering was not an option or I probably would have died. In fact by the end, trotting wasn’t even an option. But…

The first go around she wasn’t happy with it. She said that the saddle was shifting left and that if my left bend is the harder side for me naturally anyway, the saddle could not shift left at all or it would make it harder. Centered or slightly right would be better. She also noted that I do have the bad habit of bracing my leg forward when tense or nervous and had a trick up her sleeve to help me with that too. Off the saddle came and she wen back into her van of wonders.

Since it was after hours, my little rig was the only one in the parking area. They close at 5 pm for schooling. they are hosting their first recognized event this fall having only done schooling shows in the past.

We tacked back up and I hopped on again. This time the saddle was more centered, felt more secure side to side and I stared at her with my eyes the size of dinner plates and asked why the seat all of a sudden felt twice as deep and more secure. She apparently had added more wool just in front of my seat bones to force me to rock my hips back under me, sit back and up and stop the leg bracing. I had zero idea that you could do all that with a minor flocking adjustment but there it was. My mind was blown.

She still wasn’t happy enough with the front flocking and thought it was just a smidge too left again, so off it came and she added more flocking to the front left panel. The last time I got on was short and ugly, but it confirmed the saddle was dead center on him. I felt like I was being pushed a bit too much to the right, but she assured me I was perfectly straight for the first time. I guess I will need to grow accustomed to being straight and even in my saddle for once.

She did look at the Bates as well and it was pretty clear from the start that there was a big pressure point right behind his shoulder where I had been seeing the dry spots after rides of late.

Don’t let his expression fool you. He was anything but sweet.

Overall she kept telling me what a great find this saddle was. I paid $1200 for it and she told me that new it would be $4,000 to get the same thing plus she had never seen one in this condition used for under $2,500. I guess if things don’t work out with Butt head I could at least make some money on this saddle.

As for the half pad debate: no half pad needed. In fact, she said I shouldn’t even need to buy a new girth now that it was flocked better for him and I still had one hole I could go tighter, but I’ll probably still buy a shorter one for my own piece of mind. She said that if he loses a bunch of weight this summer and gets more fit, I may need to get a half pad to help the fit of the saddle since right now he is pretty fat and the saddle is very wide, but as long as his shape does not change from where it is right now, a half pad is not only not needed but would be detrimental.

I’m excited to hop in the saddle at home and give it a real spin and see how it feels. With his atrocious behavior, I really could not get a good feel for it last night but I am optimistic things are going to be great. She wanted me to text her an update after a few rides and said we can always meet up again sometime to adjust as we both get more used to it.

Overall, I was so so pleased with her and her knowledge. She was just the type of professional I adore: kind, smart and willing to answer my one million insane questions without getting frustrated with me. I’m happy to add her to my list of support crew in this stupid endeavor.

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Educate Me!! – Half Pad Use

Ok, folks…I’m having a tiny bit of a mental melt down over here and need some information from you all.

A bit of background. Eeyore is extremely sensitive to most things in life that surround working. He is the Princess and the Pea personified and will not hesitate to inform me when he disapproves of something. I had tried so many girths on him including fleece, cool tech, chafeless and leather and all were met with an inappropriate amount of displeasure. I finally landed on a ridiculously overpriced EquiFit memory foam lined anatomic leather girth that he adores. No more pinned ears and trying to bite me when I tack him up. No more issues under saddle (well, no more tack related issues under saddle) and all is right with the world.

No relevant media, so here are more from the hunter pace. Eeyore had just tried rearing at the trailer and I had grabbed the dressage whip and smacked the side of the trailer. This was his response. If looks could kill.

He goes in a 50″ with the Bates and it was always a bit too small. Nothing major – I could get it on the 3rd hole from the bottom both sides without having a hernia while tacking him up but it always took a minute and required him to suck it in a bit and was difficult. I debated getting a 52″ but the price tag stopped me. 2″ and a little less grunting wasn’t worth it.

I’ve long drooled over several different half pads and see a lot of bloggers out there riding with a half pad under their saddle to help with shock absorption and comfort. I know which brand I’d buy and what color, but the deal breaker was my girth. If the 50″ was a struggle without a half pad, adding that bulk under the saddle would make it not usable and I couldn’t see shelling outing about $600 for a half pad plus a new EquiFit girth when things were going ok with my set up and I’m not jumping anything major over here. So no half pad for us.

KC on Eeyore!

Except…..

The Wexford, which I absolutely adore in every way shape and form, must have exceedingly long billets because the 50″ is now way too long. It is on the absolute top hole and uh…KC almost slid right off his side after he got super sweaty and shed a few ounces out on the hunter pace and the saddle slid right down his belly while she was cantering him. Embarrassing.

I now absolutely have to do something about this. But here is where my overly taxed and over thinking brain is getting fried.

I could purchase a new EquiFit girth in a smaller size and continue on with life as is. Or….I could spend that same amount of money on a half pad and keep my current girth which should fit with the additional bulk of a half pad. This has the added benefit of having a girth that would still work with the Bates since if I go the route of buying a new EquiFit I’d probably need to sell my current one to make up for it and then I wouldn’t have a girth that would fit that saddle at all. Ugh…my brain hurts.

Got a major sunburn during the ride and I love it. Bring on summer!!!!

But I’ve never used a half pad before and I’m not even sure I really need one beyond…wanting one really badly. Which is where you all are coming in.

If you use a half pad of any brand, why? Does it aid in the fit of your saddle or are you using it for concussive reasons? Or both? Do you always ride with one or just when you jump? Please educate me!!!!!

Finally being chill while still managing to give me major side eye to make sure I’m still paying attention to him

I do have an appointment with a Black Country rep on Thursday evening to evaluate the saddle and re flock it for me. I’m going to ask her all these questions and since there is a 0% chance of me getting a new girth before Thursday (the only tack stores that carry it are over an hour away and close at 6 pm which makes it impossible for me to get there on a weekday), I’m kinda stuck with a too long but works ok for now girth for the fitting anyway. I will be picking her brain regarding the use of a half pad with this saddle for him. Don’t worry! I will be working with a professional, but I also love the hive mind of the blogging community so please chime in here and educate me on your own use of a half pad and the reasoning behind it!!!

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FENCE Spring Hunter Pace

Nothing beats a sunny day on the trail with friends. KC and Bette met me at a gorgeous nature preserve in NC for a hunter pace yesterday and it did not disappoint. I was a bit worried how Eeyore would handle the controlled chaos of the parking area and spent a lot of time Saturday night debating on hauling him tacked or not. Dusty eventually told me “treat him like the good boy he is and tack him up at the ride like you prefer”. He was right. If I want him to be the way I want, I need to start treating him that way.

He loaded up and was ready to go without a fuss. I swear he wasn’t grouchy about it. He hates me taking pictures because it means I’m not giving him attention

I planned my arrival an hour before our agreed meeting time so that I wouldn’t feel rushed in registering and tacking up. He was surprisingly pretty nonchalant unloading though I think having horses in every direction really helped him. The only time he lost his cool was when others were mounted and rode off in the distance without him.

Teaching him to wait patiently at the trailer was not quite as hard as I thought

Unfortunately Bette had some trailer issues and ended up pulling in just over an hour late. Eeyore was keeping it together as best he could but by then he was pretty hot and bored with the whole thing and most of our neighbor horses were out on trail. I ended up taking him into the field a few times to do ground work and help refocus his brain.

He is weird and uses his front legs to scratch by crossing one over the other and rubbing. I didn’t even know horses legs could do that

Once KC and Bette arrived and got checked in, it was time to hit the trail! Being a hunter pace, we had no clue how far the trail was or what to expect. This was the first time on these private trails and all I could see was an uphill start.

Eventually he settled enough to eat his hay bag and glare at me

The start was backed up a bit with large groups of riders and I got a bit nervous about how he would take other groups riding off. He wasn’t perfect but after I parked him beside Bette on Mason he was ok enough while we waited our turn.

Big boy got to learn all about being in the back. It will take some time for him to learn spacing, but you can only teach that by doing

Then it was the count down and we were off! It felt like we should kick them into a gallop with the count down and all, but I wanted Eeyore to learn to control himself so I had asked KC and Bette if it was ok with them for us to walk and they were cool with it.

Eeyore prefers to lead on trail and is brave and bold however he makes bad decisions regarding flying forward to join other groups of riders so he got to spend a lot of time in the back

The trail itself was a gorgeous mix of wide mowed grassy paths and winding wooded trails. We found plenty of opportunity to open them up in long canter stretches and Eeyore was a very good boy throughout. He was a bit bargey when another group passed us and moved out ahead but really at 8 years old and with his last trail experience being in October (7 months ago) I’d say he was darn good.

Riding on the buckle!!

We chatted about life, horses and future plans as we wandered along. There were several pretty scary bridge crossings that were basically elevated cement platforms with moving water underneath and no side rails and Eeyore went over each without hesitation even leading over a few of them. Really he never said no except at the very start when he was in the lead and saw the first ribbon.

The paces around here have some of the most beautiful views of any trails I’ve ever ridden

By the time we hit the mandatory hold, he had the wind knocked out of his sails a bit and was really hot and tired. We waited in line at the water trough and he drank some good deep drinks while I poured water over him with my drinking cup. Only a few people were obnoxious and rude and we managed to get out of there without me killing anyone so that was another win in my book.

Gorgeous views everywhere

We all got ready to remount and tackle the last section of trail and I wasn’t thinking much as I grabbed the saddle and got ready to swing my leg back over Eeyore. KC had asked to ride him and the plan was to switch at the hold. Well, she had not forgotten that even if I had and politely pointed out that I was mounting the wrong horse. Hahahahaha!!!

I’m not sure I could have stopped KC from riding Eeyore LOL! She looked good on him

I happily handed her his reins, kicked Bette off her gelding making her ride KC’s borrowed mount Finn (also owned by Bette so it wasn’t like I made her ride an unknown horse so I could steal her saint of a gelding though I might still have done it LOL) and we all left the hold on different horses to finish the ride.

A different set of ears for me

Eeyore was a really good boy for her, not a surprise – she rides fantastically, and we found plenty of places to open up so she could experience his lovely canter. For his part, my new ride Mason was a saint and I surprised myself at how comfortable I felt on a strange horse in strange tack cantering down the trail. Not that long age and I never would have done that.

A happy day out on the trail

The hold had been at the 2/3rds mark so we didn’t have much more to go. The trail got pretty steep and I wanted KC that Eeyore has zero sense of where his feet go and sorta just relies on gravity to get him to the bottom of hills not really caring if he ends up there in a heap. She did get to experience this though it was made worse by some idiots coming flying up behind us without warning.

I did threaten to send Eeyore back with KC and steal Mason but he doesn’t jump and I’m still hoping to do xc some day so that ruled that out. Plus uh well Bette owns Mason and so me stealing him and giving KC Eeyore wouldn’t really work our for Bette. 🤷‍♀️

He was too tired at the end to care about being on the trailer with no other horses around. Also, I had debated which saddle to use and ended with the Wexford. Besides needing a smaller girth it worked really well, was comfy even after all those hours and he was not reactive anywhere at the end. It’s a keeper!

We arrived back safe, sound and while hot and thirsty, happy. Eeyore got a bucket of water with Cool Down in it back at the trailer which is my favorite way to end a hot ride for my horse. He drank deeply from am offered bucket and dug into his hay bag before dozing off while I got everything put away. He was pretty tired but happy and I’m hoping he learned a thing or two during that outing.

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Life Lessons

Having the right equipment makes life easier.

I remember back in my competitive whitewater days, I had a very old, very well travelled closed canoe that I purchased for $75 and fondly named Fugly. That thing was old school and even after spending many a summer evening covered in resin and fiberglass, that boat never did fit me right.

The first year I attended Jr. Ntl. Championships in South Bend Indiana was with Fugly. You can see why I named her that.

Then one day my coach convinced me to stop being a tight wad with my money and buy a boat better suited. My eyes were set on the Junior National Championships for a second year and the thought of showing up with Fugly again wasn’t appealing. We found my Norma Jean, a smaller, newer and more streamlined vessel that I still have to this day.

Norma Jean. A better fit to my body type and size.

The first time I took her in the water it was like coming home. All my technical flaws didn’t magically go away, but some did and it was easier to execute everything. My turns between the gates was quicker and better timed. Upstream gates were more easily ducked under saving precious seconds. She cut through the water cleaner.

It was my first lesson in making sure your equipment is the best suited for your own body type and athletic style in your chosen sport.

Because I’m now down memory lane and miss this dog with every fiber of my being after four years without her, here is Bones enjoying the river inside the kayak

Last night I threw the Wexford up on Eeyore. For a brief moment I debated riding in the Bates since it had been nearly 10 days since I last rode him and after that much time he is usually pretty expressive. Then I thought that would be the perfect time to test this thing out and see how secure it really was. Sure, it may leave a few questions as to his comfort but by now I’m pretty familiar with his attitude and figured I could tell the difference between “I always assume I’m fully retired after any time off at all and now I’m angry that I’m back to work” and “Ouch! This is pinching me! Take it off!”

The ride went about as expected. He started off pretty amenable to life, coasting around at the walk and trying to look at anything and everything that would avoid having to pay attention to my requests up on him. Typical Eeyore stuff.

The fit was really lovely. The flocking needs some adjusting but the bones of it fit him nicely

What I did notice right off the bat was that my lateral aides were not only easier to use but were also getting through to him louder and clearer. My legs naturally dangled straight down and I wasn’t fighting the need to constantly bring them back to use them. I always tend more toward my legs being forward and braced so it wasn’t necessarily a Bates issues but it also wasn’t being corrected in it either. In the Wexford I never had to remind myself to bring my leg back under me.

In fact, at the walk at least, he gave me some of the best bend on a 20 m circle to date.

Until he realized this was going to be work and flipped me the bird that is. I have his number on that one though. Typically I will let him canter. A lot of times once he gets moving and gets his initial ADD knocked out of him he settles into “OMG I’m going to die! Can’t breathe. Can’t move” mode and life gets good again. Not always though. Yesterday he needed more of a reminder of who is boss here so after we careened around a while fighting each other, I made him do rapid fire transitions between walk, halt and trot randomly and allowing only 3-5 steps in each before changing.

Wither clearance was spot on too. I’m a bit worried t may be too snug around his large shoulders and fat deposits but again, some flocking changes should help and weight loss would be even better

That got his attention real fast and soon enough he was once again pliable. He never fully settled but again it had been 10 days and I gave him some leeway there.

What I loved though was that in the Wexford my posture was naturally and easily more vertical. The Bates always has me slightly forward which made getting out of the tack to jump easy but made things like sitting the canter really hard. Plus I naturally tend to tilt forward in a defensive fetal position so it isn’t necessarily the fault of the Bates but again it wasn’t helping either.

Post ride. Looks the same as pre ride. That folks is a big deal. Even with the anatomic girth the Bates tends to slide forward a bit during the ride and always gave me some ruffles hairs when I took it off. This saddle has an after market customization that includes a point billet and a rear v billet that keeps this thing exactly where you put it.

In the Wexford, my legs hung down and my back sat straight. In fact, I was so vertical I worried I wouldn’t be able to get out of the tack to jump. When we did canter, I wasn’t magically relaxed and flowing with him but I also wasn’t posting and fighting to just get my butt down and in the seat either. I was connected and being connected allowed him to lift his front end up and slow down so I wasn’t feeling like we were going nowhere very fast.

I did manage to pop him over a few jumps and liked how I could follow him better to the base and didn’t feel like I was already half way up his neck before take off. It wasn’t hard to get out of the tack either.

Overall, I’m as in love as I remember from my trial last fall. The structure suits my anatomy and helps ease some of my natural flaws and tendencies without creating new issues. I’m not all of a sudden a Grand Prix rider but I’m also feeling like I’m not fighting my tack either.

Having the right equipment matters. I learned this decades ago but can’t seem to remember it.

I’ll ride again today in it to try to see how he goes and if he has any sore spots from yesterday. I’m trying to get in touch with the BC rep in the area to have it checked and the flocking redone as well but I think we have a winner here folks!!!

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Dental Surprises

You know what you never want to see when you go home mid morning to meet up with the equine dentist?

Blood. You don’t want to see blood

The appointment was originally set for Friday, but they rescheduled to Tuesday which ended up being better as I had taken it off to study for today’s Medicine Boards. I started off at Panera downing 60 oz of unsweet tea in 2 hours and taking many, many pee breaks. At least I was hydrated? Anyway…. around 10:30 am I headed home for a mental break (I had arrived there at 730 am) and to meet up with the dentist.

As I walked into the barn, she must have seen my jaw hit the ground and immediately said, while her arm was up his mouth and blood was pouring out of it, “This is ok. There is nothing wrong.”

Her assistant had blood speckled on her sweater, she had it all over her arm and Pete’s chin and lips were stained red.

Now I had been fully prepared to learn some interesting things about Eeyore since I knew his mouth was a bit jacked up and he has a history of being expensive any chance he can, but Pete? I was not prepared for that.

This equine dentist is amazing and I absolutely adore her. As she finished up she was muttering something along the lines of “Dusty says go ahead and distract. Sure, says the small animal vet with dental suite, X-rays and general anesthesia” I laughed.

The offending infected tooth now removed

Beyond that one tooth, Pete was great. No wave, no hooks, no ulcers, and a mouth that looks younger than his age. He got his sheath cleaned (I always pay anyone who sedates the boys to do this for me) and a good bill of health. He will be on antibiotics and a probiotic for the next two weeks as well as but for the next couple of days, but after he awoke he was already eating hay happily so I think he is no worse for the wear.

Then she moved to Eeyore. When I got him he had a known missing upper front tooth (he has 5 instead of 6 with no signs that 5 formed at birth or after) and a sideways upper front tooth as well. Also, while Gem and Pete have gorgeous white teeth, his are black and gross.

She sedated him, he fell immediately into a deep sleep and she looked at his mouth remarking “You should have named him Cleatus”. She also noted the missing tooth but, much to my surprise, she also said that the sideways tooth was a broken off at the gum line tooth now. Damn wood chewing. She was pretty positive it will grow down and eventually be normal though.

He got so little drugs and was swaying. Big Guy is a light weight.

As for the dark color? She said that it is genetic. Some horses have teeth more easily stained by the chlorophyl than others and can be born with dark teeth. Other than that though, his mouth was quite good. No ulcers, no hooks, no wave. Pretty mundane and routine for once! She also cleaned his sheath for me finding several large beans and a lot of smegma. She recommended Excalibar Sheath Cleaner used once a month as well as sticking the hose up his sheath after every ride to keep it clean up there. With his breeding and skin color he is at high risk of penile cancers and apparently studies have shown that smegma contact on the skin increases mitotic activity and the risk of cancer sky rockets. Guess I’ll be very familiar with his junk very soon.

He should have a tooth where you can see his tongue. Along the top row you see his last tooth, move back and that gap should be a tooth

Last was Gem and I am a bit disheartened by her. She was amazing for the dental as always. She needs elephant doses of sedative, but will stand nicely even fully awake so she was given just enough to take the edge off and they did her mouth. It was over quickly and she had some hooks and the earliest stages of maybe a wave forming but that is all for her dental appointment. Unfortunately the vet was pretty concerned that she may have Cushings given her breeding, age and some recent new ridges in her front hooves (thankfully no founder or laminitis) and so we are proceeding with testing and she was pretty sure she will end up needing prascend. The nice part is that Dusty is a vet and the prascend company is running a promotion for free testing through Cornell I believe, so that won’t cost anything (we will be pulling blood on Pete and Eeyore too because why not?) and she also gave me a $35 mail in rebate on the meds too should we need them.

Barely sedated and she stood like the wonderful mare she is with a hind hoof propped and let them do their thing without budging an inch. I love this mare.

I’m bummed for Gem. It isn’t something I wanted to hear or something I hoped she would get in her early 20’s but here we are. She said that the meds make it 100% manageable and she shouldn’t even need a muzzle even with all the grass we have, so that is a positive but ugh. Poor Gemmie. Dusty will get the blood drawn and send the test off by the end of the week so we will have results soon and then I will be conferring with the equine vet about what all I need to be doing to keep her healthy and sound for another decade.

Oh! The dentist is also certified in equine chiropractic and acupuncture so I made an appointment for her to come do Eeyore mostly because I trust her knowledge and opinion 100% but also because he deserves it.

We had been on an every other year cycle for dentistry for the horses and she said Eeyore and Gem could remain on that but Pete will need yearly due to his now missing tooth so we will end up just doing everyone every year from now on. The only maintenance required for the year is the Coggins on all three and Dusty will do that for me by the end of the month. After that we will be good to go for another year!

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A Lot Has Changed In A Year: Me Addition

Facebook reminded me that yesterday marked 1 year since bringing Doofus home. Its been one heck of a year full of ups, downs, sideways, doubts and moments of redemption. Typical when talking about a year with horses.

I had had Gem for so long that most of our time together was predictable. We were so in sync by the end of our partnership that I could think something and, as long as she agreed with the something I was thinking, she would do it.

One of my favorite days with em…at the completion of our one and only CT June 2017.

Bringing in a new horse was…well…new to me. I sorta expected to pick right up where I had been with Gem only a whole lot farther because I chose a much better trained and more advanced horse. Ha! HAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHA. Everyone done laughing yet??? Me neither.

Flash forward to today and we are both much changed. I’m not where I expected nor wanted to be at this point, but I think I am where I need to be with him right now given the rest of my life. Today I want to celebrate the changes in myself that have occurred thanks to the Big Orange Butthead over the last 365 days.

July 2018 – the first riding pic I have of us after bringing him home. He was sorta kinda sound in the boots at this point after having ripped half his hoof off a few weeks prior.

Let’s start with fear. With Gem there was always, no matter if it was riding down the same trail I’d been down a million times or riding at home in the arena, a steel ball in my stomach. She was never bad in the way of bolting, bucking, rearing shenanigans, but that mare could twist her body in a way that would make a contortionist envious. She was athletic enough to do it at the last second too which made fully trusting her pretty hard.

Now H’Appy isn’t a perfect saint. He has his opinions and has a naughty streak in him that Gem lacked. He isn’t afraid to pop those front feet off the ground in protest of real work. Yet, looking back now I can’t recall the last time I felt that steel ball in my stomach. I don’t 100% trust him yet, but I am also not fearful when I ride and am more apt to be aggressive with him in getting my way than I ever was before.

The most recent shot from video I have been able to get

Which leads me into my style of riding. Gem taught me to be defensive. See above regarding her contortionist ways and add on the fact that she held a grudge like no other. I tended to be a bit passive with her in order to not escalate things. With H’Appy, I am learning how to apply pressure fairly and consistently and how to demand that we do the thing now and not when he decides to comply. It isn’t always pretty and my timing isn’t always perfect, but it is getting better and better all the time. The mere fact that I am willing to dig in a force the issue when I have already asked nicely a time or two is a big, big step for me. In the past I’d sorta wimp out and decide to do something else instead. Now, when I want a 20 m circle over there I do it even if it takes 3 times to get it done.

I’m also starting to really hone in and focus on my own riding. With Gem, it was often times a task of mere survival and compromising certain things (like leg on which she never learned to tolerate) to get through. With H’Appy, while some days he comes out a piss ant for no reason, I still can calm him down within 10-15 minutes of working and then start focusing on my hands, my elbows, where my legs on, am I breathing, can I soften?

Last, I’m finally in a place where I feel adventurous again. My youth was spent exploring the country side on horse back riding over mountains, swimming across rivers, and galloping through fields. No place and no task was met with a no from me. With Gem I learned to pick what activities would suit us and was more than happy to attend certain events, like a xc school, and watch from the sidelines or focus on tasks on our own. It was ok at the time, but now I’m finding that with H’Appy even though I’m not quite sure how he will react in certain situations. I want to do the things and figure them out as we go. This may change as I start taking him out and figure out his behavior but for now I have the urge to do all the things and see where we land once again.

Overall, even with all the blips and speed bumps we have encountered this past year, I’m really excited to see the changes I’ve made to my riding and my mental space while riding. It has been a fun ride, most of the time, and I feel ready to jump back into lessons and get this party started for real!

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When The Universe Speaks, Only A Fool Doesn’t Listen

I’m about to give up on wordpress and move the blog elsewhere. I write all posts on my cell phone through the app and now it is having some mid life crises with my images not letting me center some of them and not allowing me to edit. I’m frustrated and blogging is supposed to be an outlet for me. UGH! Sorry for the rant, but this is ridiculous and I can’t spend any more time trying to fix this post so sorry in advance for the wonky look. 

Or… How I Can Justify Anything If I Want It Badly Enough

Or…How Consumerism Helps With The Stress Of Medical Boards

Or… The Husband Needs To Run More Often

Ha!!!

Friday morning started off innocently enough. The alarm went off at 6:30 am, I stumbled to the shower mumbling something about early retirement looking good these days, and turned the water to “melt your skin off” levels.

And that is when the day stopped being innocent.

As the water was warming up I glanced at my phone and saw that someone I didn’t know had messaged me around midnight. Who does that? Aren’t most people old like me and asleep? I opened it and stared for a while:

My ISO as had been out there and silent since November. 6 months of nothing but crickets.

Uh….

I mean, not really. I have a lovely Bates saddle that I bought brand spanking new in December. It fits us both well enough. Though truth be told I’ve been a bit worried about some dry patches after our hot rides of late and sitting the canter has been exceptionally difficult and well….

Being a responsible and proudly frugal adult….I asked for pictures, about a possible trial and where she was located.

No harm in asking plus I figured with the late hour of the message she was likely a west coaster. I had zero interest in paying exorbitant shipping fees on a saddle I don’t need. She’d respond with a CA address and that would be that. I could carry on with life as normal.

Except….

She was in GA. And the pictures looked good.

Well darn.

Still though. It was a 3 hour drive to her and let me repeat this again: I don’t need another jump saddle. I have 3 already.

I got around for work, sent the kiddo off to school and tried to go about my morning.

Something kept bothering me though. I had been looking for 6 months for this saddle. New it would cost over double the asking price used. Even if it didn’t work I could resell it.

I didn’t last long before I texted the Hubby

img_5509
I last almost 2 hours from receiving the message on FB to texting Hubby. Not that bad.

Gotta love a Hubby who not only knows when you are scheming to spend money but also then responds with a resigned “just buy it”

You see, we just so happened to be going to Atlanta for the weekend so someone…not me I assure you…could run his first 100 mile race. The seller was only 20 minutes from our hotel.

Fate. Destiny. I don’t know what you all believe but I could not pass this up.