Friday, February 5, 2016

Love Is In The Air

Valentine's day is just around the corner, in case you didn't know. Personally, I find it an incredibly dumb holiday and Bangor and I plan on making dinner at home, watching a movie and avoiding everyone else like true hermits. I'm excited.

All the advertising and valentine fervor got me thinking about things though.

You know, stuff, and things.

Everyday, I write down something that is meaningful, or something that I appreciate. Yesterday I wrote down simply, "Bacardi".

And no not the alcohol.

I mean my horse.

And then I thought back to a year ago today and how much I truly DISLIKED my horse.


I  don't think I have admitted this openly before, but I now realize I didn't enjoy him a year ago, when I'm honest with myself.

Fake smile (he almost killed me on this ride, literally)
I dreaded the thought of riding him and absolutely hated it, he was awful on the ground, shredded his blankets (still does), destroyed his hay and bedding every night, broke through fences, wouldn't load, wouldn't let me halter him, hated things on his legs, hated being brushed, hated being touched in general, I hated the thought of dealing with his attitude, spooks, bucks, bolts, rearing and general sass, and he was a giant pain in my ass. I didn't enjoy any of it. None.

Was not fun
I kept telling myself to just be patient and wait it out, but I rode him with tears in my eyes, everytime and I began to question if it was worth it. Over and over I questioned my ability as a caretaker, owner and rider and why this horse simply was not connecting with me. It was tragic and I hated it.

Perhaps it wasn't meant to be like I had hoped.

I knew it wouldn't be as magical or as easy as my love and connection with Yankee, but I have never met a horse I DREADED riding and almost hated. It was truly horrendous and I questioned everything I knew about everything. It was a relatively dark time.

Fast forward to a approx 6 months ago.

For the first time in almost 2 years, Bacardi nickered to me as I walked in the door.

My heart literally exploded with joy. He was recognizing me as HIS person. This was amazing. This incredibly hard headed, nervous, delicate, talented, wonderful gelding was calling out to me and it melted my heart.

I started to feel something for him. He wasn't just another pretty face in the barn he was MINE.

Then, he really started to improve under saddle.

Nothing magical happened, I simply moved to a different barn with an indoor arena.

Who knows if this was the answer, but it worked. Nothing changed besides the location. Same grain, same hay, same supps, same level of care.

I tried not to focus too hard on the fact that he was doing so well outside of my barn walls and let it be a positive thing.

Whatever flipped his switch, I didn't care. He was connecting with me, slowly but surely.

I no longer completely dreaded riding him and actually looked forward to it! I was happy in the saddle and not as frustrated. He was improving every ride and acting more like a real, adult horse.

And here we are today.

I wouldn't say that he is my heart horse, that will always be Yankee. But I absolutely have love for this big boy now and am HAPPY  & proud to own him, not bitter and embarrassed by it.

I literally never thought I had the capacity to love another horse like I love my Yankee, but its possible!  Now, I go to the barn on days when I don't even plan on riding or don't feel well, just to see his cute face and stuff him full of peppermints. I love visiting him and hearing that soft wuffing nicker he gives me when he sees my face...literally one of the best feelings in the world. The joy I feel on his back now is incredible, simply because I didn't think I would ever get to this place. I adore this horse completely and I can't believe it.

B is my valentine, who's yours?

(PS Bangor as my human Valentine)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

What Do Wednesday: Loyalty

Another Wednesday another lovely What Do. Hopefully I don’t drive off anyone this week ;)

I don’t know about you, but I take care of a lot of my to do list driving to and from work in the car, on the phone, making and confirming appts, checking status of accounts and fixing things. Its really the worst.

However, while on the phone today with Smartpak, trying to coordinate payment and shipping for two different horses in two different states, I began to appreciate the cheerful and helpful woman I was speaking to on the other line.

This got me thinking about customer service and how much thankful I am for good customer service when I run across it (not often). I’ve been in the industry for years now, first as a server, then with my old job and part of my duties at my current job. Customer service is key and a lot goes into it.

For me, I appreciate a cheerful voice and a can-do attitude. Smartpak has ALWAYS been that company whenever I have problems (generally billing, getting it to sync up, etc), no matter how slight, they are open 24/7 and always so willing to help.

I have been a loyal customer for years. So many years, it began before  I had my own bank account. That’s over ten years people.

Smartpak started off with providing convenience in feeding supplements and soon evolved into a company that produced high standard brand of supplements at an affordable cost, in addition to a wide range of other supplements. Then, tack & apparel and now they have their own line of blankets with the no questions asked return policy.

For me, this is a win. I have counted on them to supply my horses with the supplements they legitimately need to stay healthy and I have never once encountered an issue. Simply superb company and they have a loyal customer for life.

This got me thinking about tack.

I am not really “brand loyal” to any tack simply because I can’t really afford the good quality brands that are worth remaining loyal to.

When I thought about it though, I do have some affordable favorites I tend to stick with, simply based on the fact that they work, I can afford it and it fits. For breeches, its Kerrits and Smartpak Pipers. For people boots, ariat. For horse boots, Majyk Equipe. For blankets, I prefer Amigo or Rambo. Saddle pads, hands down BOT & thinline half pads. Tack in general, I own mostly HDR tack, with some stubben that I’ve acquired with major discounts. So I suppose you could call me “brand loyal”. However, I have no particular desire to only remain loyal to those brands or products when it boils down to it, because I buy them all from tack stores, they are just what works.

Usually Smartpak.

My question this week is, are you  brand loyal to a certain store, or even, brand of tack? Why? (Like you legit cannot go without the product or company in your life.) Please tell me, what do!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Making of an Event Horse, Slow & Steady

First off, LOL to the fact I legitimately lost followers over my What Do Wednesday post last week. Seriously people? That was tame.

Moving on from that, I’ve had a lovely little break from school, so in the meantime I’ve been racking up OT, gym and training hours trying to get back n the groove of things after essentially being sick 4 out of the last 6 weeks.

I hate winter.

But I loved this last weekend!

It was a balmy 55*, which in winter feels like a muggy summer day almost, and I took advantage of the warmth and headed outside after a little bit in the arena.

Bangor of course came out too, and since he was there, I figured why not play around outside a bit and feel out our XC legs.

B got his massage Friday and I can tell you, I am a believer. I was going to do a whole big post about it, but I didn’t creep and take pics or videos while she was massaging him and reading a whole mess of text is boring AF. So I saved you there. I CAN say, it was incredible to watch. Literally improved right in front of my eyes. He was like a whole new horse on Sunday, for REAL.

We warmed up over some trot poles, in which he progressively got worse. I don’t know what it is about trot or canter poles that get him all tied up, but he clangs, falls over or knocks almost everys single one, no matter the spacing. I think its  TB thing because Yankee generally did the same thing.

Moving on from that, we jumped a single vertical on the centerline about 10 times through, raising it two holes each time.

It was great fun and he felt incredible. Completely on point, soft, and into it. Even nailed his lead changes like a pro, I was impressed.

Without further ado, here's a little video compilation I put together with the most infuriating video editing app known to man. It turned out alright though & I might have to suffer through making more

The galloping was incredibly exhilarating, yet scary. His stride is massive and he takes off like a wrecking ball. I've never had the guts to let him full out, because I think I would need a football field to stop him!

Also, this is a pretty big, yet casual deal....but that was THE FIRST XC jump we have done together as a team. I completely chickened out over the rolltops we have at our farm...they looked monstrous. But this cute little gate was fun and he literally attacked it with pleasure.

Holy knees! Also, check out those lead change in the video too! I counted four of them!

WHEEEE flying changes! We has dem!

I'm slowly coming to realize that this horse is not one to be rushed and I will never have an 8 year old going training or Prelim...but that's fine by me! Slow & Steady wins the race, amirite? WE have been together 2 years in May, he's only 7 right now, and this was our first XC fence together...HAHA. Wow. But still, its OK. He had a lot of mental issues to work through, and I think now he's in a better place both mentally and physically. 

Plus, now he LOVES jumping and he has incredible scope. I'm pretty sure this horse could jump 5ft with ease, but I am too chicken for that type of shenanigans now. Is chill, we probably won't grace a training level event for over a year  anyways. I'm happy to flit over BN and N fences for a while, considering Novice looks terrifying these days!

Overall, an amazing ride on an amazingly warm day. I have a lesson actually scheduled Saturday, and we will see how that goes!