Friday, January 15, 2016

I Am Older

Unabashedly I am announcing that today is my quarter century b-day and while I still have to work a half day, I don't even care.

Here in my household, we celebrate birthdays more than we celebrate Christmas.

I'm not even joking.

Birthday's are a big deal and always have been to my family, and each family member who has an upcoming birthday is always treated like a king or queen a week or two prior.

BIRTHDAY WEEK, not day. Thats how we roll.

My b-day week kicked off wonderfully at a horse show and the gift of another class from my dearest Bangor, Destroyer of Worlds. He gets me.

Mostly for the week I've been getting away with stupid shit, getting to eat whatever I want and not feeling guilty about it and skipping the gym/sleeping in, also without feeling guilty about it and wearing slippers at work and no one noticing. Its a big week guys.

The only downside has been the temperature, therefore leading me to no horsey rides or visits to the barn and a slightly large amount of homework. I went out last night briefly ( more later on that ride), but otherwise The Beast has been stuck inside and not being ridden...ooops. Therefore, I have a wonderful weekend planned with my S/O, mostly revolving around my 4 favorite things; netflix, coffee, horses & food.


S/O also surprised me  by shipping a brand new Horseware IRE blanket, medium weight, to my house. It was like the Christmas I didn't have, but better because BIRTHDAY.

I may or may not have sent him a link to it, along with this sports bra I also like, but he chose correctly.

Bangor wins. He gets me.

Honestly, I don't think he knows how much this blanket actually means to me, but I am really excited about it. Now, I only have one more to replace and one to try and fix on my own!

ignore psychopath horse who wouldn't stand still
After I received the precious in the mail, I went out to Walmart and bought a ridiculous amount of luggage tags. They were a dollar so I literally cleared out their stock. That night I meticulously labeled them and then stared at my genius.

Just a few for example purposes
I know, I didn't invent this use for luggage tags, just really excited about getting my blankets labeled. *shivers*

muddy fucking rags

Adulting things that make me happy.

I also bought a new whiteboard from walmart with extra stickies, hoping that works for the time being. I'll need to lock away my markers, since there seems to be a marker gnome in our barn, but hopefully I can get notes to our workers across a bit better with COLORED markers and a larger board.

In addition, BFF extraordinaire gifted her Precious (aka Baby Jesus saddle) to me as a loaner until I can find  saddle that fits B and myself to purchase. I am DEAD. This is such a huge gift, just to trust me with such an expensive and glorious hunk of animal skin. It fits me gloriously, so I am hoping it will fit B. 

such pretty very wow
Baby Jesus fit Jackie's horse Isis very well and she is built quite similarly to B, so here's to hoping! I love having a BFF who's into horses and also loves me lots.

Quick update on Bacardi...he was a fuckface last night when I rode, but I'm not even mad about it. Poor fellow has been stuck inside with no turnout an he was losing his marbles. Just standing in his stall and crossties he was breathing fire...

is that...HAY, you have human girl?

Hoping he's a bit more settled today for my BIRTHDAY RIDE YAY!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

What Do Wednesday: Winter Riding

I don’t know about most of you, but winter has officially hit (finally?) and in full force. We were lucky and actually had legitimate weeks of winter with low 50’s-60s and I was questioning life in general. Not to worry, winter is back to normal. This last weekend was our first real snow and temperature plummet (-10* windchill) and it has not really let up since then. Bacardi is snug as a bug in his (torn up) rugs in the barn ready to settle for a long winters nap. Yesterday was special getting to work on time and this morning it was brutally cold with a windchill of -15*. Ridiculous.

Getting to work is questionable but necessary, but doing other things like running errands, gym time and riding time always get shoved aside when the roads are bad. I live out in the BF of nowhere and its especially treacherous just getting into town where all the cars tend to pile up because people can’t drive. I adore my Honda Pilot for many reasons, but the handling in snow and ice has to be one of my favorites. But that doesn’t mean I willingly want to put myself at risk for stuff and things.

In MO, we had no choice but to get ourselves to the barn because we were on self care board. Usually, I was the person to volunteer to drive there and take care of all of the self-care beasts since My SUV was a muthafuckin badass in the snow. Here though in OH, I don’t even want to attempt to leave my warm and safe house, especially after what happened this weekend driving a truck and trailer on snowy roads.

What I’m trying to get at here is that when its truly wintery outside, I don’t go see my horse, or even ride.

15* feelings
It makes me feel like an asshole, but I hand over my hard earned money nowadays to get him cared for when I cannot be there. I still feel for the barn workers, since I’ve been in their place, but I do not envy them. Horses gotta be fed, regardless of the weather.

Speaking of, shout out to the workers at our barn, as they are wonderful and perfect. Blankets changes, leg wrap removal, you name it, they’ll do it. Love them.

This week I had actually planned on giving Bacardi half the week off because I have a group project for school (seriously WTF though, this is graduate level work, not high school, whyyy why why why) and he worked his bum off on Sunday at the show.

However, even if that wasn’t the case, he would still be getting most of the week off. I sure am glad I decided against the dressage show this weekend or I would really be feeling nervous about it.

The snow doesn’t even play a massive factor in this type of decision it’s the FREEZING cold.

Lets not judge the mud, it was too cold out to thoroughly groom all the places
While we have a gorgeous, well maintained and generally warmer than outdoors indoor, when the temp drops below 10* I find it completely pointless to even  attempt to ride.

Most people I’ve discovered from a poll on my Instagram have their lessons canceled if it drops below 25/30*, but here in the north, that would be a waste of a winter. We have a little more gumption and hardiness when it comes to the cold.

My rule of thumb is if I can’t feel my toes, or am having a hard time tacking up because my fingers are frozen or my legs are so cold I can barely creak around, chances are my horse won’t appreciate being ridden. Also if the air hurts my lips and throat when I walk outside, chances are my horse won’t appreciate being ridden.

Damaging the windpipe and lungs on a horse in the cold is a real concern for most riders and they tend to take it a little too far by stating “NO RIDING BELOW 30*”.

Thirty degrees? That’s almost balmy.

For us up here, we are used to this and our horses are used to this and taking off a full 4 months because its below 30* is insane (if you have an arena, riding outside in a frozen field is not fun, I can attest to that).

For me, even if its below freezing but above 15* I still want to do SOMETHING. Anything. Especially if he has been stuck inside because of weather. Gotta loosen up that body somehow.

I try to keep the warm-ups long, the workouts easy but the brain movement high. This means doing lots of fundamentals that we all don’t school as often as we should. Like halts, walk work and lateral work at the walk and some trot.

You can still have a productive ride and barely trot and not canter at all.

For myself and my horses, I would never jump when its below 20*, or even do much canter work, since that’s just too cold to even unstick my young old person joints and ride properly. Plus, the ground is cold and it just seems too jarring and he air is cold and its all just COLD. But some fundamentals never hurt anyone and riding time is still accrued.

So dear readers, what do you do? Where do you live and what are your practices for riding in winter? I am especially interested in those from the south, like TX and SC, and those from the extreme north, like Canada. FEED ME YOUR SECRETS. I must know.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Snowflake Series II: Batshit Crazy

 Yesterday was...interesting. Eventful would be a better word, plagued with vehicle and rig issues only exacerbated by the weather. I had hitch troubles, got stuck twice, almost got T-boned and my 4WD wouldn't turn off, so I had to drive home going 30 MPH so as to not fuck up the truck beyond help. It was stressful beyond all coping.

I need to watch the weather more carefully apparently, because I was the only one unaware that it was supposed to snowstorm the whole day, and if I had known that I don't think I would've attempted this show. I don't mind winter, but when it comes to hauling other riders horses I get very nervous with wintery weather.

To start, loading the horses was miserable. It had rained all night and then began snowing sideways by 6 AM when we were loading and as I was walking Bacardi out to the trailer I couldn't help but think how fucking insane this was for all of us to be doing in a snowstorm on a Sunday.

Regardless, of all that, I had took it upon myself to braid his tail up like a polo point since he took the liberty to shit all over it the last time, brushed the excrement off his butt (thanks B), wrapped his legs and off we went.

What a nice thoroughbred booty

patiently waiting
Bacardi was great and walked right in and we were all loaded up with  the EME crew's ponies and off we went in the sideways blowing snow before the crack of dawn. Luckily at this point it was still 40 degrees but the temp plummeted in the hour between when I arrived to the barn and when we shoed up on the show grounds. Literally by 11 degrees in one hour.

The horses were saints and stood in the freezing rain and blowing snow while we threw on saddles and sprinted into the barn aisles. We crammed 10 horses into the host's barn aisle while we booted up and bridled out beasts. In the 15 minutes it took us to do all of that, the horses were coated with almost an inch of snow. It was literal insanity.

Horse people are fucking crazy.

Bacardi handled it like a champ and acted so chill it was slightly disturbing, haha. Like, why aren;t you being a crazy horse?

We crammed all of us into the warm-up ring and he popped over everything with ease, save one refusal at a flowery oxer and I exited the ring to chill by the heaters. Yes, heaters. It was nice.

Also,  Bangor (my S/O) got me starbucks and it made me happy.

While the wind and snow whipped around us, we were all warm and dry inside. Love that host barn!

So majestic. My heart.
Yet again, because of weather and whatnot, we had about 10 minutes to memorize our courses. I signed up for the entire 2'6 division which is a power and speed, and then 2 classes with different courses AND a jump off for each.

Bacardi ROCKED the Power & Speed. I could've kicked it up a notch, but he was still a little distracted. He felt great though, and I was like "fuck yeah, my horse showed up today!". We cleared fence 11 and I slowed him down overjoyed with a perfectly clear round.

It was then that everyone starting screaming, "FENCE 12 FENCE 12 you MISSED it!!" Whereas I then proceed to be very confused and yelled back "WHAT FENCE 12???"

Apparently there was a fence 12 that I completely didn't see on the sheet and I missed the last fucking jump on a perfect round.


See video HERE. (lol watch until the end)

I still ended up 3rd because he was quick, but looking around confused for what seemed like over a minute didn't exactly help our time, haha.

Second course was...nonexistent. I had memorized the course perfectly and was yelling it to my barn mates while they were riding.

When it was my turn, I started with the jump -off instead of the actual fucking course.

Course TWO that I failed to do correctly. COOL.

No video for that since it lasted all of 15 seconds.

I was legit actually really mad and steamed in a corner for about 5 minutes like a spoiled brat.

To be fair, its $20/class and I am not rich and I was annoyed I fucked up twice in a row and didn't even get to do the second course.

I got over it quickly though and memorized my next class, which was a different course and a different jump off.

B was exceptional and nailed it. Despite being a bit sassy and flipping his head a little, we cleared everything and made it to the jump-off. He LOVED it when I let him gallop in-between fences and despite taking the longer routes because I forgot the third fence for a split second, and he's not some tiny pony that can whip the turns (yet).

I was pleased, and we ended up second out of a large class.

Video HERE and HERE (jump off)

After that I was a little bummed we had only jumped in 2 classes. We had come all this way to practice and my S/O could see I was a little upset. In true gentleman fashion, he offered to buy me a class in the 3ft division for my birthday, since its my birthday week.

God, he's perfect.

Don't worry, he didn't actually hate his life entirely 

I was overjoyed to be able to take my horse in the 3ft division. I chose the class I had royally screwed up by jumping the jump-off instead of the regular course.

It was pretty funny when my time came to go, I kept saying, "rollback left DO NOT JUMP 4" over and over, and I think I was so concentrated about not missing fence 2 that I rode like ass to fence one and we pulled a rail.

Video HERE.

Minus the rail, Bacardi was more than game and I was so so so so so so happy (SO HAPPY) with him. Every mistake was fully mine and he was really on point all day. Terrible weather, rushed tacking up, crowded ring, crowded waiting area and more crappy weather...he was a star and handled it with grace. He also nailed every lead change, which I wasn't even trying for but thats a win! If you stare really hard at my shitty ass grainy video's you might be able to see it.

How to make a 17.1hh horse look me

"Did I do good? Do you have treats, can I has them?"
Only "complaint" I could have at all was his head flipping near the beginning of each round and semi-awkward transitions, but I wasn't angry about it. I was riding aggressively and he was excited. He was in my hand and listening, so I was happy.

Overall, a great show day and another Snowflake Series in the books. Our EME team did amazingly well. Two of our riders were Reserve Champions in each division and another of our riders ( an ten year old who kicked ALL our asses-shes in the pink) was Grand champion in the 2'6 division.  I love my EME barn family!

Just a few of our EME riders
The drive home was, horrific, freezing, white knuckle terrifying, but that is behind us.

I wrapped B for the evening and blanketed heavily since the low tonight it absolutely awful. He will get a few days off then we will work some more on dressage for a while.

Just happy with my horse, and thankful I made it through the shitty weather and that my thoughtful and sweet S/O (Bangor, Destroyer of World's) was there to support me. All the accolades!

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