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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.

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How Do I Extend My Rides?

Sounds like a silly question, I know. Just ride longer! Ah…but there is more to it than that.

A rider I respect probably more than anyone else told me when I first got Gem to go into every ride with a single goal in mind. End when you reach it. If that takes two hours, so be it. If it take five minutes, ditto.

It stuck with me and is something I’ve always done with Gem whether that was out on the conditioning trail (pick my set pace and distance and even if everything felt amazing and was going super don’t be tempted into adding on just for the sake of adding on) or in the arena. I pick a goal for that ride and end when I reach it.

But….

Lately it has turned into really short rides. The jump school I did was only 20 minutes total. She was being so good and jumped everything I asked that it seemed redundant to keep asking her. What was the point? She wouldn’t be learning anything at that point and it only left room for her to misbehave or for her to answer the question wrong and it seemed counter productive to keep going.

The thing is that I want to ride for more than 20 minutes. Not only for our fitness levels but because I love riding.

So what do I do?

We are working on the basics right now. Bend, straightness, easy jumps to convert her from her old default of always saying no to her new one of always saying yes. Not too long ago she wasn’t jumpable because she wasn’t rideable. For her to go into it and not say no or be squirrelly a single time was a big huge deal.

I’m trying to meld my belief of stopping once the lesson is learned with my want to ride for longer than it takes me to tack up.

Part of this rambling issue is also my fear of pushing her. She is so fun to ride when she wants to be. Once she gets pushed past that point it is really no fun at all and honestly pointless since everything goes right out the window and she is no longer rideable.

Like in the lesson. The first half she was awesome and we got a lot accomplished but then she got tired (see the whole issue above about only riding for 20 minutes) and she shut down and the entire second half was fighting her and trying to get her to just trot nicely once again. No fun. Not productive.

So when I’m on my own and she is acting the angel and everything is unicorn farts and skittles, I don’t feel the urge to push beyond that and ask for more. I save that for the lessons. Of corse this means Gem is super fit for riding for 20 minutes only. Not useful either.

I guess after all that rambling I’m just trying to figure this new behaving and rideable Gem out. I want to ride for an hour. But I also want that hour to be productive and not turn into a major fight.

I go into the ride with a goal: ride an exercise from the jumping book or jump through a small course or whatever. On days Gem is being a saint, she gets it on the first few tries and then I stop. What else should I do? Add in another exercise? Work her more even though we have accomplished our task for the day? Since everything right now is centered on straightness and bend it seems odd to accomplish that one way then turn around and ask her to do it another way.

Any and all suggestions are welcome! I’ll ask Trainer next time I see her, hopefully at a xc school this weekend if the ground dries out enough and the course is open, too.

Thanks!!!

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First Ride Under the Lights

It was 58F and a bit humid when I got home Wednesday night from work. Having just come off nearly two weeks below freezing it felt darn near summer like. There was no way I wasn’t going to ride!

Feeding the horses took 1/5th the amount of time without having to de ice water buckets and I found myself turning on the arena lights to ride for the first time.

Exercise #2 is a single ground pole set in the middle of the arena and used as the center of a figure 8. You are supposed to mark the center of the pole or use a striped pole (which is what I have) to use as the target for going over the pole each time. Then you ride various sized figure 8s in both directions over the pole. Goals include proper bend, symmetry and proper geometry. The main focus was about learning to look several strides ahead so that you were looking at the pole many strides out (they didn’t specifics how many) and then looking ahead once you were at the pole instead of at it. This was to be done at the walk and trot.

And you thought a picture of exercise 1 was the most boring I could put on here. I win!

I dressed Gem in the dressage gear this time and we headed out. The darkness played in my favor as she had nothing to look at outside the arena and was forced to focus on me.

The exercise was less exciting than number one and I tried to mix it up as best as I could but it was still pretty repetitive. Repetition is not good for Gem which made this exercise harder than the first one. Gem did super well though and we even started to have a baby amount of bend which is way better than the mostly counter bent way of going we perfected on Sunday.

After a while I decided to canter her for the first time in the arena. This is a big space and I am a wimp, so I’ve been avoiding it but it felt like as good a time as any. She picked up the correct lead no issue but then decided she was having fun and wanted to play. She spent the first two circles flinging her head from side to side and threatening to throw in a few happy bucks. 19 year old mare won’t grow up.

Just as she was settling in and I was preparing to canter a 20 m circle over the ground pole, Wyatt came over and wanted to talk so we meandered to the gate and chatted with him for a while before he disappeared into the night again. This house is so amazing for his independence! With our house pretty much in the middle of the 30 acres and fenced in on three sides with the pond the fourth, he has the freedom to go explore and play without me up his butt all the time. It’s great for everyone.

He left and I turned Gem back to work mode. Typically once she believes we are done and I ask her to work again she becomes a hollowed out pissed off mare, but this time she got back to it although it did take a few circles to get her to relax again. I asked her to do the figure 8s a few more times and then called it a night.

It was only 20 minutes of work, but yak like Gem on a 58 degree night was starting to get that horse sweat smell and was breathing a bit harder than she should after only 20 minutes of effort. Fat mare is out of shape just like her owner. Anyway…these short but more frequent rides have been going super well for us so I called it quits and grabbed Nash after putting her in her stall to dry out before going outside for the night.

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2017 Blogger Secret Santa

This is the second year I have participated in the Printable Pony’s Blogger Gift Exchange and both years I have been a bit generic with my ideas. When you need basically everything because you are too cheap to buy any non necessities yourself, it is hard to break down the list. I basically said “I need it all…go for it” or something along those lines.

I was getting a bit nervous when it was into January and I hadn’t received anything. With moving before Christmas, and giving Tracy my rental address, I was worried it may have been returned or left outside the old house and stolen. I was so relieved to stop by the rental after work one day and find it!

The return address was a name I didn’t recognize and there was no card inside to give it away, so I want to thank all of you that chimed in and helped me figure it out!!! My secret santa is a new to me blog,  TBA (Thoroughbred Adventure),  and now I am obsessively back reading her blog to learn all about her.

To the goods:

Goodies to uncover!

The box was full of great goodies for both Gem and me. The socks are lucky socks and I hope that they work in the future!!! I’ll be trying them out the next time I ride for sure.

Next up was a hardy looking hoof pick. I hadn’t heard of this brand, but hey if it claims to the the ultimate hoof pick who am I to disagree? 🙂 Truth is, I’ve been using the same cheapy plastic pick with brush for 8 years and it is dying a horrible death. This came at a great time.

For Gem, she added Mrs. Pastures treats. I’m a stingy, horrible mom who never gives treats. This is going to be a good surprise for Gem and I am sure she will devour them.

Last, she added in a couple human treats. I failed to get a picture because I ate them immediately upon seeing them before I had to share (and by share I mean give most of it to Wyatt) with the kiddo. It was really tasty with a mix of caramel, chocolate and pretzels. I have no regrets on that decision.

Thank you Amber for the gifts!!!!

One last reminder: the 2018 Volunteer Challenge is closing at midnight tonight, so if you want in on the goodies leave a comment on any post and I’ll add you to the list. The full list will get posted next week.