Tuesday, March 20, 2018


There are some things that I've been told I say a lot. 

"Simmer down!"

"Get your poop in a group."

"If it were easy, everyone would do it."

Allow me to explain. 

1) Simmer down!

When your horse (or your kids, co-workers, or significant others) starts getting wound up and a little frantic, sometimes they just need to be told to simmer down. What that means for the speaker of "Simmer down" has given an implied offer of help with whatever situation has caused the up-simmering. 

For example: Horse panics in the wash rack during a bath because "OMG BUBBLES". Get their attention by whipping out the "Simmer down!", and then soothe them to let them know that the bubbles are not really horse eating bubbles. Bubbles just eat dirt. Now stand your dumb ass still so I can rinse off the soap. Preferably said with love, but that's highly dependent on how many times the horse in question has stepped on you, stepped on the hose, or broken the cross-ties. 

2) Get your poop in a group. 

Essentially, this is the clean version of "Get your shit together". Around horses, it can apply to cleaning stalls, or sweeping up a fresh aisle or wash rack poop. Manure nuggets are much easier to clean up if the poop is in a group. It can also be helpful if a horse is losing it's shit. Then you can say "Hey! That shit you are flinging around in a panic? Get it together! Get your pooped grouped!" 

This phrase was shamelessly stolen from my bestest buddy Meghan. I don't know where it came from but I find it hilarious and use it liberally. In and out of the barn. Judge me. 

3) If it were easy, then everyone would do it.

This applies to riding, obviously. All those people who say "How hard can it be? The horse does all the work!" should really just suck it hard. We riders know the real score. 

So here is where it gets personal. 

I've been too sick to ride for quite awhile. The last time I rode was March 31, 2017. On that day, after trotting for less than five minutes I was gasping for breath. This has led to a frustrating and exhausting search to find out what exactly is wrong with me. 

There's a diagnosis. Maybe I can get better. Maybe I can't. I'm not going to get into it but what I know is this: I can't ride the way I used to. With me, it's always been 100%. I don't half-ass anything. It's full ass or nothing. 

I also am too weak to work. Or ride bikes with the girls. Or even walk around the block with them. It's pretty bad. For a week in late September 2017, I couldn't walk without help. Even with a cane I had people helping me to walk. It sucked. 

This thing that's going on with me? It's not easy. 

For me to be able to ride in the beginning when I was 13, I had to fight for it. My parents weren't really supportive about the whole riding thing, so I did it myself (which, at times, involved lying to my parents which caused hurt feelings..sorry mom and dad). If I wanted a thing, I just worked my ass off until I got it. It really made me much more appreciative of the things that I had worked so hard for, instead of being given them. I never took for granted any opportunity to ride. It meant so much more to me since I had to work my ass off to get that opportunity. And miles and miles in the saddle on different horses? We all know that is key to becoming a versatile, instinctive rider. I wouldn't trade that experience for anything. 

This health situation that I'm in right now? I can't work harder. I can't try to make it better. If I try and do too much I will just get sicker. So I just have to wait. And rest as much as possible. 

Macey still takes weekly riding lessons. That kid is turning into such a good little rider. She's not the best (I'm not so star struck about my kid that I don't see where she can improve), but she tries and she is getting better. She can now fit into my boots, and into my breeches (which are too big for her in the legs and seat but at her age I had a tiny teacup ass too). I'm so proud of her that I could burst. 

But it also makes me sad. And jealous. Yeah, that's immature of me. But it's the truth. I want my not-fucked up body back. I want to feel the horse move under me and be able to react to the movement. I want that connection. Also it would have been awesome to be able to ride with Macey someday. 

Right now, Phil has a new home. My awesome friends who just bought a farm took him in. They love him and are being so very nice to him. And, he's ridable. They have another horse on their farm too, and the two of them get along really well. I think Phil is really happy, and if I'm not able to give that life to him, I'm really very happy that someone else can. 

Kaswyn. My dear Kaswyn. I don't get out to see him as much as I'd like. I'm so exhausted most of the time, especially in the winter, that I'm lucky if I get out to see him twice a month. I know he's getting exceptional care, daily turnout in a very good herd group, and a staff that looks after him to make sure that his weight is ok and that he's acting normally. 

I had this dream that I'd be 80 and still trucking down the centerline. 

It's just not going to happen. If I ever show again it will be a miracle. That life is over for me. I'm still grieving for the loss of it. Some days are easier than others. What I found that I can't do is watch horse videos (sales, show, lesson or schooling) because I get too sad. Riding has been a key part of my life for almost 37 years. Giving it up is hard enough. Watching Macey take her weekly lesson is not easy, but I'm there for her. 

I still have Kaswyn. He's not going anywhere. I can't ride him anymore, but I think we've both accepted that. He's always so happy to see me, because he's my best boy. And I'm his person. 

Anyway. I don't know what my riding future will look like. My riding present looks sad. I'll just keep hanging on, hoping that things will turn around eventually. 

Thank you all for your continued support. I feel your love and it's means a whole lot. Now go hug your ponies and have some great rides. No time to waste! 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

I was due

I hadn't fallen off a horse since 2009. I was due for a fall I guess. I fell off Phil today. 

Let me say I'm fine. I'm bruised and I'm going to be REALLY sore, but I'm going to be okay. I was wearing my helmet and didn't hit my head. The most annoying thing was getting dirt in my eyes (which really sucks with contacts!). 

Here's what happened. We were just warming up at the trot and as we approached the corner, Phil stumbled. At the moment that he was jamming his toe into the dirt, he spooked. Not having his feet firmly planted in the ground, he fell to his knees, and crammed his nose into the dirt just for good measure. 

I had no chance to stay on. I went right over his shoulder and off the saddle to the left side, banging my inside right leg on the saddle on my way over and out. I landed on my right hip and back. Kinda hard. Nothing like a full body slam to make your day! 

So then Phil was loose, and I had the wind knocked out of me. My friend Cindy was in the arena lunging her horse, and she said "Hey! Are you ok?!" I was making a really bad noise because I was trying to breathe and also tell her that I was fine. I got to my feet and was dreading trying to catch Phil. Then the most amazing thing happened. I called him and he trotted right up to me. 

So this is a big deal. I can only assume that Phil has been punished for dumping riders in the past, and he was probably really scared about what would happen next. But, not having anyone else around that he trusted, he came to me. I got back on, and rode for another 30 minutes or so. He was tense, but really pretty good. But I didn't punish him at all. We just worked. Business as usual. 

When I was grooming him after the ride he was all over me. Seriously, this horse has never ever been so affectionate to me. Trying to grab my clothes, rubbing my shoulders, neck, and back. I have to wonder if some wall between us was smashed down today. I really do hope so. I would love to continue growing the trust between us. 

Yes, I'm very sore and bruised, but I still entered the schooling show on November 6th! Woohoo! I'm planning on doing a bunch of schooling shows this winter. We're making great progress on the connection issue. Maybe now we have made some progress on trust as well. 

Right now though... ow! 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Good start..

I rode Phil today, for the second time after a two week break, with no stirrups. It's not a super great ride because my legs were bothering him due to the whole no stirrup thing.

Here's the video proof! Macey was doing the video work! 

Phil 06/21/16 right

Phil 06/21/16 left

The left video is kind of short because I ran out of storage on my phone. Oops! In spite of everything, Phil was fantastic. I'm pretty happy with him!

So I have faith that we will be able to bounce back and have a decent go at the schooling show on July 10. 

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

They say owning horses will make you broke....

Things have been going really well with Phil. He's getting the idea of connection and is really starting to be able to keep his concentration while we are working. Sure, he sometimes gets distracted and might even spook a tiny bit, but overall I can keep his attention or get his attention back very quickly if he loses it. He's learning very quickly and seems happy and relaxed about it. 

I was so excited about his progress that I entered a local schooling show. I signed us up for Training level test 3 and First level test 2. I had a lesson planned, had a trailer ride to and from the show, plus friends to hang out with. I was ready to take Phil to the show coming up this Sunday. Our first show in years! 

On Monday after I had another great ride on Phil, Macey helped me hose the mud off of Kaswyn. I led him back to his stall, and it just happened to be feeding time. Kaswyn has a horrible habit of running into his stall if he thinks there is food in there. He certainly thought his grain was in his stall, so he began to rush into his stall. I began to stop him, and at that second he stepped hard on my right foot. At the same time he was trying to stop, so he slid forward, making his foot scrape and slide over the top of mine. 

At first my two smallest toes were numb, but the rest of my foot was certainly in pain. I carefully handed Kaswyn off to Macey, and she led him into his stall without incident. 

My main concern was that I had possibly lost one or both of my toes because they were numb. I carefully took my boot off and hobbled into the tack room. Fortunately fellow boarder Donna grabbed me a towel and an ice boot so I was able to get ice on it quickly. It didn't look horrible, but it was really painful. And my baby toe had weird numb places on it. Also, when I wiggled the end a little, there was a grating sensation. 

So off I went to Urgent Care (after picking Lily up from camp!) for some x-rays. Sure enough, it was broken. 

What that means is:

No schooling show.
No lesson. 
No riding. 
No walking without the lovely shoe that they gave me.
4 - 6 weeks of healing, then I can get back to it. 

I'm hoping I can make the July schooling show. The good thing about owning an Arab is that you don't have to re-teach them things. I have confidence that Phil will pick up things relatively quickly once I start back to work with him. In the meantime, I get to rest and keep my foot elevated. 

Honestly, I'd rather be riding. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

You say it's your birthday......

Phil turned 11 today! Birthday pics right here! (Thanks Z for the hat!)

Also here is a shot of his sexy bod! He really looks great right now. We're making some progress on training too. 

Schooling show in June. We're working hard. I'll post video when I can. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Proof that horses don't understand economics

Kaswyn says "This doesn't matter because blankets are free!"

Saturday, July 25, 2015

A Familiar Feeling

Phil and I have been putting in some great rides lately. We had a fantastic lesson three weeks ago and, as usual, my trainers instruction has helped in huge ways. 

Before the lesson I had been concentrating on keeping Phil's neck loose, since his first instinct is to tighten the neck whenever he is resistant or stressed. To do this I was moving his neck left or right to alleviate the tension. 

During the lesson my trainer told me that it was time to just hold my hand still and firm and just push him into my hand. If I kept moving my hand and his neck around it would be really hard for him to establish a steady contact. Makes sense, right? At first Phil resisted but my trainer told me just to be firm. And after a few minutes, Phil relaxed his neck and established contact. THIS IS HUGE! My bit evading horse, making contact? So wonderful! 

My trainer also started work on the flying changes. She gave me an exercise to begin training his mind and body for the change. We are to head across the diagonal at the canter and as we approach X, circle ten meters. Then we are to continue to circle and shorten the stride until Phil is coming through and on the contact. Then, walk and simple change at X. 

After a few tries, Phil knew exactly what we were doing, so he started anticipating, but kind of in a good way. Then she had me just ask for the flying change instead of the simple change. It really stressed him out but he did one clean change each way. Until the next lesson we will just work on the simple change exercise so he gets it in his mind that he's supposed to change leads. 

Today, though, something amazing happened. Halfway through our canter work, something felt familiar. Phil was cantering over his back, neck loose, mind and body relaxed, with a good jump, all with a steady but light contact. 

He felt like Kaswyn. It was amazing. 

Who is awesome? This guy! 

Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr