Thursday, December 19, 2013

Two under the seat

Well, I've ridden Phil twice now.  He's been absolutely fantastic.  Calm, willing, attentive, submissive.  I'm super pleased with the work that my trainer and her assistant have done while I've been off from riding.  My neck feels great, as does my right arm.  My abs are sore though cause they haven't been used in three months!  

I'm going back to work on Monday the 30th.  Hopefully my return to work will go as well as my return to riding.  I have the exercises, stretches, and cervical traction that I need to help keep my neck and shoulders in good shape when I return to work.  

Wish me luck!  

Happy Holidays to all. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

The current situation

Finally an update! 

I've been extremely lucky and the combination of my time off and intense physical therapy has improved my neck problems and has, for now, helped me to avoid surgery.  If I keep up with my exercises, stretches, neck traction, and physical activity in moderation I can stay relatively pain free.  I'm at the point where I am starting to return to my regular activities such as doing laundry, grocery shopping, and walking.  I will have pain if I overdo it, so I'm working on finding my limitations. I am planning on going back to work before the end of the year. 

I am also planning on easing myself back into riding my horses.  I have always said if I'm well enough to work, then I'm well enough to ride! My trainer and her assistant have been riding Phil for me and it's been great to keep him going.  But I feel like I can start with short rides and gradually work my way back up to longer training rides.  I do very much miss riding!  

I'm hoping I can hop on Phil tomorrow.  I'll do a full round of stretching and warm ups before I get on, and afterwards too.  My physical reaction to riding will give me a good indication of what I can handle and what I can't.  

As far as work goes I also have a plan for being able to work and not be in pain.  It involves stretches and exercises throughout the day, plus neck traction at night after work.  It will be a few weeks before that starts, and until then I'll continue to do exercises to strengthen my neck and back to be able to support me at work and hopefully stay free of pain.  

In the meantime I'll be trying to stay warm and getting my butt back in the saddle. 

Yeah I'm excited! Woohoo!  

Monday, October 14, 2013

Lots going on, and none of it very good

Hey there peoples,

I've been updating my situation on Facebook and Twitter, but I finally have the time to sit down a write a post.  Here's what's going on, and it's fairly sucky.  

For those of you who don't know, I'm an embryologist.  I work in infertility, so basically I get women pregnant and they pay me for it.  Kinda sounds like pimpin but it's not.  

Anyhow, using a microscope is required for being an embryologist.  In fact, using a scope for hours a day is not uncommon.  Human embryos and sperm are too small to be seen with the naked eye, so basically every kind of analysis and procedure needs to be performed under a microscope.  

After seven years I developed neck pain and severe headaches. I went to the doc and he said that he thought it was related to the fact that when I look through a microscope with my head tilted forward, it strains my neck and over the years has led to headaches and neck strain.  

I had to fight Worker's Comp to get them to approve the injury and treatment.  The problem was that the treatment didn't fix the "sprain/strain".  The pain was much less during the eight weeks of treatment, but the pain came right back.  

As I was fighting for more treatment to control my pain and keep me working, I developed two bulging discs in my neck.  It got so bad that I was having brutal headaches, plus stabbing, shooting, intense pain down my right arm, as well as tingling and numbness in my arm and hand.  I tried to work through it, medicate through it, but eventually it was obvious that I couldn't work like that.  

So now I'm on medical leave, and won't get paid until I fight worker's comp to pay me.  The fact is that they don't want to pay for ANYTHING, and are going to make it as hard as possible for me to get paid or get any treatment paid for.  The whole thing just stinks because I like my job, I'm a hard worker, but my job hurt me, so I can't do it, but I can't get any compensation for it until I go to court and a bunch of medical exams.  It's the most frustrating thing ever.  

Here's another sucky part.  I haven't been on a horse since the middle of September.  I can't ride, not even Kaswyn, because I don't trust that my right arm will react like I want it to.  When it's numb it feel like it's filled with sand.  That's not very safe when on a horse.  So no riding until, well, I don't even know when. 

My fears are that I won't recover enough to do my job, so I won't be able to help support my family.  I'm also afraid that I won't recover enough to ride again. Sure, they say I can have surgery, but that scares the shit out of me.  What if the surgery doesn't fix it? What if there are complications?  

So I'm just sitting around, going to physical therapy, doctor's appointments, and court hearings.  Not working and not riding.  

Right now I'm sad and worried about the future.  I think I need chocolate. 

And bourbon. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The problem with the whip

I've written before that Phil has a huge problem when I carry a whip to ride.  I think his previous training overused the whip, and probably used it as a punishment instead of an aide.  So this has made him super nervous about me even carrying it, regardless if I’m using it or not. 

My trainer suggested at my lesson that I start carrying a whip because she thought I could really use a little more encouragement from behind in the leg yields.   I totally agreed with her, and so I started carrying a whip.

Phil thought this was a super stinky idea. 

For the first week or so it was like we were back to the beginning.  Phil was nervous, inattentive, and couldn’t begin to do things like be on the bit or control his speed.  It got really frustrating, but I figured he’d just work out of it.  However it didn't seem to be getting any better. 

I complained about it on Twitter/Facebook, and my trainer suggested that I use a jumping bat instead of a long whip just to get him used to me carrying something in my hand.  Well, that was a perfect solution.  The jumping bat that I have is so short that it doesn't even reach as far back as the end of the saddle pad.  Phil certainly knows I have it and he’s not as relaxed and steady as he was before, but he is certainly much better.  Plus I get the added bonus of some really nice leg yield work!  Once or twice I even tapped the saddle pad when I needed him to move his haunches a bit more and he was able to do it without losing his little mind. 

One other thing – I’ve been experimenting with some home made fly sprays.  I think I found one that really works well, except it loses it’s effectiveness on a sweaty horse.  At first I thought it smelled really stinky, but now I’m kinda getting used to it.  The first time I sprayed it on both Phil and Kaswyn they both turned their lips up.  Boy I wish I had my camera out because it was great!  Silly boys. 

Once I get a recipe I really like I’ll go ahead and post it if anyone is interested.  Of course I would come out with this at the end of summer.  Both my boys are shedding their summer coats already!!!

BOO end of summer, BOOOO!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Post Lesson Thoughts

Looking back at my lesson video, I have some things that are on my mind. 
First, I don’t like where my leg is.  I think it’s too far forward.  I used to ride Phil with my body very tilted forward to protect myself in case he bolted, and that made my leg slide too far back.  Looking back at old videos of Phil really shows how far back I was letting my leg go just by leaning forward and tilting my pelvis.  A few months ago when I was finally able to sit down on him and use my seat and really ride, my leg came naturally forward as I lost the tilt in my pelvis.  However, now I think it’s too far forward.  I didn’t notice this when I was just looking in the mirror and riding.  It took the video of the lesson for me to really see what was going on there. 
Second, what’s the deal with my left hand?  I had such a bad issue with my whole right side before, with it scrunching up, lifting my hand and shoulder, and being tight.  I finally worked on that enough to fix it, but now I’ve left the left side go.  Damn if that little booger didn’t teach me to let go of the left rein.  I think he prefers if I just hang on to the right rein and leave the left side to him. 
Lastly, my trainer brought up the point that I should be riding him with a whip.  Not to punish him, but to use it as an aide (like it’s meant to be used) when my leg just isn’t enough.  I had avoided the whip because it made him so anxious due to his past experiences with whips, but looking at the video I see that my trainer is right.  He is very lazy with the haunches in the leg yields and if I was able to tap him on the haunches it would get him to move off my leg much easier. 
Of course, now that I’ve identified these three issues, I can think about nothing else but fixing them.  I’m trying to pull my lower leg back, but I also need to be aware that my seat doesn’t get tense and tight at the same time.  That’s really hard to do!  Just the effort of pulling my lower leg back automatically makes me tense up to try and work HARDER, and that’s not going to get me anywhere.
Also I’m making Phil accept the contact on the left rein.  I noticed after the lesson that every time I asked for the trot from the walk, I was dropping my left rein and grabbing the right. Exactly like Phil wants me to.  When I hold onto that left rein he gets really fussy, and that why I probably started releasing it to begin with.  So now I hold onto it, and when he fusses I keep a hold of it and continue to push him into my hand. It’s easier going to the right, because then I can bend him right and use my inside leg to push him to the left rein that I’m now holding on to.  But going to the left is harder, since I don’t want to grab the left rein too much and overbend him. 
To make things even more interesting, I’ve gone and added the whip.  I’ve been riding with the whip every day since my lesson.  Phil is really handling it well, but sometimes I feel like I have that horse back that I had two years ago.  If I accidentally tap him, or if he swishes his tail and the tail makes the whip tap him, he gets SO anxious all over again. 
So, if you take into consideration me changing my seat and my left rein contact, and then you add in a nervous horse, my rides have been pretty challenging.  I get the feeling though that Phil will get over this fairly quickly.  Well, quickly in relation to the two years it took him to finally be really a rideable dressage horse.  I suspect in a month or so he will be much more used to the whip, which will make it much easier for me to change my seat and hand(s) like I need to.  
Oh, did I mention that I took him off of the SmartCalm Ultra?  Yeah, I did that a few weeks ago.  He was actually feeling a little lazy at times so I decided he didn’t need it anymore.  Depending on how well he handles the whole whip thing I may decide to put him back on it for a week or two.  I have a tub of it, so I don’t need to change up my SmartPaks.  I can just have the feeders add it in for the short-term.  They are pretty good at that sort of thing, which is great. 
The good news?  I think I’m getting better with my legs and left hand, and I think that just having the whip available makes the leg yields a hundred times better.  I know that it’s hard for Phil too, so I’m being very patient and giving him lots of reassurance. But as a dressage horse he’s going to have to accept the whip as an aide.  I guess we’d better start working on that now before the first winter schooling show.
Which, by the way, I’m SO excited to show this horse again!  He’s so much better now than he was last year, I just can’t wait!

Monday, August 05, 2013

Lesson on Phil 8-2-13

First things first – I’m sorry to those of you who don’t have Facebook or Twitter and are missing my short updates lately. I would love to have more time to write, but I don’t have the time right now to do lengthy blog posts. I even found lately that I’ve fallen into the habit of coming home from work (or the barn) and fiddling with my phone like a zombie until bed, while my kids watch videos. Craig and I have recently instituted a rule that we’re going to give the girls a limited amount time on electronic devices and then we’re all going to unplug and play games. So far it’s been a lot of fun, and I’m glad we’ve started this. In a few years when the girls are teenagers they’ll think we’re too lame to hang out with, so we’d better spend time with them while we can.

So I’m sorry about not being able to post more on this actual blog. Right now my updates are limited to 140 characters. I seem to be able to get that done more often! So follow me on twitter @Dressage_Mom or on Facebook (there’s a link to the right of this page over there somewhere, or just search for “dressagemom”) to get the latest.

Ok, on to the lesson!
Here’s the written run-down (or if you just want to watch, skip down to the video). We did a little warm-up then my trainer had me do four loop serpentines, but instead of rounding the serpentines she had me try to make the turns more square. During each turn, she wanted me to step into my new inside stirrup and encourage Phil’s new inside hind leg to step through and bear more weight. Just this simple exercise brought to light that, while I may have fixed the issue with my right side being too tight and forward, now my left side is too loose and giving. Even so, the exercise was helpful and Phil was very compliant.

After that we did some leg yields. He’s getting the idea of them, but he doesn’t always want to come off my leg when I ask. I’m still not riding with a whip because it upsets him too much, but it might be time for me to start carrying it once in a while. I find that I could use a little tap here and there to reinforce the leg when he doesn’t listen. There were times when he came very nicely off of my leg and really used himself well.

Next we did a fame lengthening exercise where I let the reins out and Phil followed the bit down and stretched his frame out. The leg yields get us both all jammed up (and me twisted at times) so this really helped him to come a bit more over his back. I did this at the posting trot, and then at times I sat a little to get him to carry me while his back was up.

After a little walk work, it was onto the canter. We worked on some counter canter, and then we did one flying change each direction. The first one was really disorganized and he got a little frantic, but he worked it out. The second one was much better but it freaked him out a bit because I really had to give him a poke with the spur to give him the aide to change. But it was clean and after a moment of “OH MY GOD” he came right back and got to work again.

So, a side note: There was a dog in the arena for my lesson. This is a nice dog, and he is a rescue dog. He’s a herding dog who, until this home at the barn, hadn’t lived around livestock. His instinct is telling him that he really should chase and herd the horses, and when he was first adopted he would bark and run at them a lot. He’s gotten a LOT better in just the few months that he’s been at the barn, but sometimes I think he just loses his head and comes after them. Well, that happened in the canter work, and he ran after Phil and barked. A few months ago Phil would have lost his mind and never gotten it back. Now, with his new attitude towards working, he was able to deal with it and go right back to work. I was so proud of him! I think it helped that I had it in my mind that he was going to be fine. And so he was!

Next we did some shoulder-in to ten meter circle exercises. The shoulder in to the left is pretty good, but then the circle after it going to the left isn’t that great. My trainer wanted me to have him push off from the shoulder-in onto the circle, and exhibit a bit of power in his gait. The shoulder-in right isn’t as good, because my left side/rein isn’t solid enough for him. We did get the circle on the right a little better though. Something to work on for sure!

Then we did more frame lengthening/stretching exercises, but this time at the sitting trot. He gets a little jazzed at the sitting trot, because he’s anticipating doing a lengthened trot, so I had to be very careful about how I handled this exercise. Phil was great about it and at the end his trot was fantastic. He finally made a solid contact and it felt great! Then we did some more leg yields and they were really good!

Then onto his favorite – trot lengthenings! We did a few of them, with my trainer adjusting my seat and his speed. In the middle of these, the dog ran after Phil again. He was less upset than the first time, and got right back to work with minimal drama. At the very end, he did a beautiful lengthening! It felt fantastic!

My trainer says she is very happy with where he is now. She likes everything she sees and thinks work on the things we worked on in the lesson. Except the flying changes. She suggested I wait until our next lesson so we can work on them together. And that’s just fine with me! Also I should continue with the shoulder-fore at the canter work, and even add a little leg yield at the canter.

I hope I can have another lesson next month. My goal is to show him next year at recognized shows, and hopefully get to Arabian Regionals. If I can get someone to take me, I want to hit the Chagrin Valley Farms winter schooling show series. I think that would prepare us very well for next year’s show season.

I think Phil looks a lot better. What do you think?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A little clarification

So, I'm not closing my blog or anything.  

The reason why I started with the tweeting is that I felt a little disconnected from my blog because I couldn't easily update on the go.  Since I'm rarely at a computer and able to write a post, even a short one, I haven't been updating as much as I want to.  Blogger does not make it easy to create a mobile post, so I tried Facebook. That didn't work out so well either, so now I post on Twitter.  Which posts automatically to Facebook.  

So if you don't have twitter, but have Facebook, then go ahead and friend me and you'll get every silly tweet that I make.  

I still plan on making lost posts to the blog when I get something substantial to write about.  For instance...


Yeah I'm really excited.  Phil has been a total star lately and I can't wait for my trainer to see just how far he's come.  I think he's ready for the next steps in his training.  Now that he can actually make a connection with my hand (it's not 100% solid, but it's getting there) I can really start to get some training done.  Transitions, working with shortening and lengthening the stride, strengthening, all those things feel like they are ready to happen.  I just want to make sure I do them the right way and not screw this horse up.  He's so wonderful and talented.  I simply must do right by him.  

So expect to get a rundown on my lesson when I get a chance to bang it out.  I do have to work this weekend, so I'm not making any promises about when that post will make it here. There may or may not be video.  Stay tuned to find out!  

Friday, July 26, 2013


Things need to change a little bit around here.  I hope it will be for the better.  

I now have a twitter account.  Come follow me - @Dressage_Mom.

Why am I doing this finally, you ask?  My answer is kinda lame but here goes - 

I used to have more time to sit down at the computer and bang out a post.  Unfortunately I just don't have that kind of time right now and my blog has suffered because of it.  However, I always have my phone on me, so I thought maybe I could use Facebook on my phone to keep updated.  The problem with that is, well, quite frankly the app sucks and the web based interface doesn't support photos.  

So I'm going to give twitter a try.  It will be short updates of what's going on with my horses and such, but I think it will be easier to deal with. And I can post pics of my lovely boys. Cause everyone loves horse pictures, right?  

Gimme a follow and lets see how this pans out.  Do I want feedback? Of course I do!  

Friday, July 19, 2013


I don't know what's going on with Phil, but I think I like it.  

He's been really fantastic lately.  I've really been able to actually ride instead of constantly trying to reassure him and talk him out of his anxiety.  The horses have been getting out more, and on grass, so maybe that's the reason. Or because it's been really hot.  I don't really care, actually.  I'm just happy that he's been improving.  

He's letting me correct him without losing his little mind.  He's letting me use my seat and leg to push him into my hand and establish a more steady contact.  I'm able to walk him around the arena, both indoor and outdoor, on a loose rein and not be afraid that he's going to spook and bolt.  It's been fantastic.  

One other thing - I rode him bareback yesterday.  I really only wanted to hack him a little, because it was screaming hot outside.  Since I know that I have a tendency to over-work him when he's going well, I decided that using a bareback pad would keep me from riding too much or too hard.  

Phil was wonderful.  It was great to really be able to feel his back.  It's amazing how much more swing he has in his back than Kaswyn.  We didn't do that much, but we did walk, trot, and canter.  One thing I noticed bareback that I didn't feel with the saddle is that the left lead canter feels weird.  I didn't canter all that much so I can't quite put my finger on it, but if I had to guess I think he's pushing his shoulders right and getting crooked.  Not surprising, since I don't seem to be very good with crookedness unless it's really really severe.  

Anyway, I'm super happy with his progress.  He seems to be trusting me more and more all the time.  It's great.  

 And Kaswyn. Oh sweet Kaswyn.  I just don't know what to do about him.  One day he's good, one day he's not so good.  He is always in good spirits, and I get whinnies and kisses, but when I give him a little lunge to check how he looks - well I never know what I'm going to get.  He's so confusing! We've been doing a lot of walking and hanging out, grooming and treat eating. It just bugs me that I don't have answers.  Maybe I never will.  

Stay cool people and drink water! 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Kaswyn's situation

It's taken eight years, thousands of dollars, and many tears, but I've finally faced the facts and accepted this:  

Kaswyn is retired.

I've tried literally everything.  Nothing has worked.  Since I moved Kaswyn to this new barn he hasn't been sound.  I've tried more treatments that didn't work, and now I'm to the point where I just don't want him to hurt.  I'm afraid that he does though, and I want to figure out what I can do to make him more comfortable.  

I have him barefoot, getting trimmed every 4-5 weeks.  He's on Equithrive, a natural anti inflammatory, and he is back to being in standing wraps on his front legs when he's in his stall.  When the weather got warm his front legs swelled up a lot.  This made his left front neurectomy scar extremely painful.  The standing wraps take care of the swelling very well.  The guys who work at the barn are really super about getting the wraps on and off every day, so he may just need to stay in them from now on.  

I know that, regardless of all that I'm doing, Kaswyn isn't quite right.  Another rider at the barn noticed that he was resting his butt against his stall wall in an effort to take weight off of his back legs.  I suspect that the pain in his front leg from the swelling made him put too much weight behind and he has hock or stifle pain.  

Keep in mind that I've been riding him at the walk, for up to 15 minutes, occasionally trotting or cantering to check his soundness.  He has not been in any kind of full work.  After I walk him we do shoulder stretches to keep his shoulder from locking up.  That's been it.  

So he is retired, not even really in light work.  He's just walking only.  But I think he hurts so I might have the vet out and check his back legs.  Something tells me it's back end pain, as a result of front end pain.  I may change his supplement depending on what the vet has to say. 

Regardless, I'm not trying to "fix" him anymore.  I just want to reduce his pain and give him a good life.  Right now with a few hours a day on good grass and the rest of the day napping in his stall, then treats and hugs from me, that's a pretty good life.  I just need to manage his pain.  

I'll update when I call the vet.  I don't know why I haven't called yet. Just a wussy, I guess.  I don't want any bad news. 

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Plans change

It's been quite a while since I've updated about Kaswyn and Phil.  So lets get this started!

My training with Phil has been terribly inconsistent the last six months.  I attribute this to two things - the cold winter and studying for a test.  

Okay, the winter really wasn't all that bad, but I hate the cold.  It sets off my asthma and if it's 25 degrees or under I really can't breathe well enough to ride.  Also I'm kind of a whiny baby about the cold so if it's really cold I tend to blow it off and just not go out to ride.  

The test I studied for was a certification for work.  I took it in October but I failed it.  I HATE failing at anything, so for six months I studied my butt off, and sometimes studied instead of riding.  I took the test three weeks ago and have been trying to catch up since then.  I should know this coming week if I passed it this time or not.  I sure hope so cause I don't want to have to go through six more months of studying since they only give the test twice a year.  Fingers crossed!

Anyhow, the last three weeks I've been really consistent with riding Phil, and it's been paying off.  Since the weather has been great, the grass pastures are open and he's been getting turnout with Kaswyn for 2 - 3 hours a day.  I think that is really helping by taking some of that nervous energy away, which gives him a chance to concentrate when I ride him.  I'm hoping for a lesson in the next week or two.  

I really feel like he's turned a corner on his training.  I can finally ride him with more authority and less fear that he's going to be a nervous boy.  He seems like he's really getting the idea of being on the bit and moving forward into my hand.  The easier he is to ride, the better my riding is, which makes him easier to ride.  So it's been really good.  

I was going to ride him today, but I dropped an ironing board on my foot.  It's painful and swollen so I decided to stay off of it today and not ride.  It's difficult because of all the success that we've been having lately, but I have to take care of this foot.  Right now I can't even really walk on it, and I'm taking pain meds.  I might even have to take tomorrow off of work, which I don't want to do either.  But I don't have a choice, really.  I know Phil got out today, and will get out tomorrow, so I'm not worried about that.  

Kaswyn's story is more complex, as always.  I'll hit you up with that next time....

Thursday, May 16, 2013

And the winners are...

I gotta say it was really hard to pick winners. I stayed away from any jokes that I got duplicates from. Sorry guys, I loved the book/bible joke but I got it 3 times so I had to skip it. Also the long face joke. :)

Alyssa Freden wrote:

How do you tell when a dressage rider is dead?

The wine bottle is still full.

mydandylonglegs wrote:
Here's a comic for you:
(Actually lots of the cartoons on this page are funny! Check it out! DM)

MyLittlePonies wrote:

A Preacher wanted to raise money for his church and, being told there were fortunes in race horses, he decided to purchase one and enter it in the races. However, at the local auction, the going price for horses was so steep he ended up buying a donkey instead. 

He figured that since he had it, he might as well go ahead and enter it in the races, and to his surprise the donkey came in third. The next day the racing sheets carried the headlines, "Preacher's Ass shows" 

The Preacher was so pleased with the donkey that he entered it in the races again and this time he won! The papers said, "Preacher's Ass out in Front" 

The Bishop was so upset with this kind of publicity that he ordered the Preacher not to enter the donkey in another race. The newspaper printed this headline, "Bishop Scratches Preacher's Ass" 

This was just too much for the Bishop and he ordered the Preacher to get rid of the animal. The Preacher decided to give it to a Nun in a nearby convent. The headlines the next day read, "Nun has the Best Ass in Town"

The Bishop fainted. He informed the Nun that she would have to dispose of the donkey and she finally found a farmer who was willing to buy it for $10.00. The paper states, "Nun Peddles Ass for Ten Bucks" 

They buried the Bishop the next day.

Olivia wrote: 
What do you call a promiscuous pony? 
A Little Whorse

Jenny Jesperson wrote:

One day a man passed by a farm and saw a beautiful horse. Hoping to buy the animal, he said to the farmer: "I think your horse looks pretty good, so I'll give you $500 for him." 

"He doesn't look so good, and he's not for sale," the farmer said. The man insisted, "I think he looks just fine and I'll up the price to $1,000." "He doesn't look so good," the farmer said, "but if you want him that much, he's yours." 

The next day the man came back raging mad. He went up to the farmer and screamed, "You sold me a blind horse. You cheated me!"

The farmer calmly replied, "I told you he didn't look so good, didn't I?"


So there are your winners! Please send me your full names and addresses to so I can get your goodies out to you. 

Thanks and well done everyone! 

Contest results coming...

So I had some technical difficulties, but I'm now sorting through all the jokes that y'all sent in.  It was great fun to get them all, and now I just have to go through and decide which ones to choose.  

Thank you all for playing along.  Winners coming soon!  

Thursday, May 09, 2013

That's more like it

Now I'm getting the jokes rolling in!  Yay on you guys!  

Keep em coming.  :)

I have long posts to write about both Phil and Kaswyn.  But I'm tied up at the moment with this work thing until the 19th.  So after that, expect horse-type updates.  There is just no way I have the energy to get into that right now.  

I'll get there though, don't worry!  

Wednesday, May 08, 2013


I know I haven't posted as much as I used to, but I haven't gotten one joke for the Absorbine give-away.  And I have five try-packs to give away! 

Nobody has any jokes?  You don't have to make them up yourselves.  Look one up!  Steal one from your trainer!

Send me something, people, please!  Comment here, go to my Facebook page, or email them to  

Friday, May 03, 2013

Make me laugh and get some free stuff from Absorbine

You guys all know how much I love Absorbine stuff. 

Well, Absorbine is letting me give away 5 limited edition Try-Paks of Absorbine goodies. The ShowSheen Try-Pak offers 4 oz. travel sizes of their best-selling ShowSheen Hair Polish, plus ShowSheen Stain Remover & Whitener and 2-in-1 Shampoo& Conditioner. 

To win one of these free Try-Paks, send me a horse-related joke. It can be a joke, cartoon, or photo, whatever you think is funny and has to do with horses and riding. Send them as comments on this post, post them on my Facebook page, or email them to me at I'll pick the winner on May 14, so you have 10 days or so.

Make me laugh - just remember to KEEP IT CLEAN! Good luck!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Strap what on?

I rode Phil and Tuesday and he was being pretty cooperative, considering the thunderstorm and rain that rolled in a few minutes into our ride.  Since I was able to concentrate on something other than him, I was thinking about my position.  I tried to envision two fantastic riders that I've seen and keep my position like they do - my trainer and Courtney King-Dye.  This would prove to be ironic, considering what happened during the last part of my ride.  

There was a bit of hair that kept falling in my face.  It was really starting to bug me, and I kept pushing it out of the way.  After moving it out of my face for the third time, I realized I was touching my head.  I should not my able to touch my head if I was wearing a helmet. 

I completely forgot to put my helmet on.  

Before I had kids, I only wore a helmet (I actually just typoed there and wrote helpmet... interesting) when showing.  After I had Lily almost ten years ago, I decided that I owed it to my kids to wear a helmet.  Of course after Coutney's accident many more people are "strapping one on", especially in the dressage community.  I'm sure most of you have heard of this fantastic organization, inspired by Courtney's accident - Riders 4 Helmets.  If not, go take a look.  

Anyhow, since I decided to wear a helmet while riding I've never knowingly decided not to wear one.  Twice during the winter I got on Kaswyn without one, and that was purely a function of "I already have something on my head so I'm good to go."  Too bad it was a winter hat that would have done nothing to save me from cracking my skull.  

I know what happened to make me forget to helmet up.  When I gathered all my equipment together I ended up hanging my helmet up on a hook that I usually don't use.  Out of sight, out of mind I suppose.  Or just a break in routine got the better of me.  

Once I realized that my head was bare, I ended the riding session.  We were almost done anyway, and thankfully nothing dangerous occurred.  

When I got back to the barn to get Kaswyn ready for a walk, I put my helmet on top of his bareback pad where I was sure NOT to miss it.  And I put it on.  See, I can learn!  

Everyone, please wear your helmets.  You never know what might happen.  You wear a seatbelt, right?  Just strap one on.  

(I love this shirt from Riders 4 Helmets. But it's sold out! :(  I love all the merchandise actually. Go here to visit their store!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I want to say it's over...

...but it's Ohio and I just don't believe we're quite done with winter yet.  

However, Sunday was nice enough to ride outside.  Not in the arena, but down the driveway.  It's really long and pretty straight, and right down the middle has really good footing!  

So Phil and I did our ride up and down the driveway.  Walk, trot and canter, and he was really good!  No big spooks or silly business.  It was great - a little chilly, and no sun, but just a light wind and no bugs.  I think Phil really liked it.  Look at that view.  What's not to like?  

Yeah, we're ready for winter to be over.  

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Thinking about stress

Well, I'm more than thinking about it.  I'm living it.  

Work has been just horrible for me as far as stress goes.  Long hours, with both mental and physical exhaustion.  Because of this I have missed many days of riding and of course I don't like it.  

On Friday, here is where I stood:  I hadn't ridden either horse in a week.  The work day had been insane, and I just didn't have it in me to go out and ride.  But it was more than just being physically tired.  I realized I may have a little bit of a problem.  

I didn't want to ride Phil.  

The thing is this - riding Phil is not 100% fun right now.  It's worlds better than it was when I first got him, but it's still stressful.  He's still tense and there are many things that still set him off and cause him to throw his head in the air and leap forward.  Most of the time it's something I can handle, but a collection of circumstances had made it so that I really didn't want to get on him.  

First, I hadn't ridden him for a week.  When he has more than one day off, Phil seems to take a step back as far as relaxation goes.  After a week...sheesh.  I really wasn't looking forward to it.  

Second, I was stressed out enough.  Did I really want to get on a stressed out animal?  Would it even be a good idea?  

Lastly, it was raining.  The roof on the arena is metal.  Phil doesn't like wind and rain.  See where I'm going with this?  Why would I want to add more stress to my life?  

I chickened out and didn't ride on Friday.  

Saturday, I worked, but after work I decided I needed to ride.  I got Phil ready.  It was raining and he was spooky when I was just lunging him.  Maybe I could just lunge him? And blow it off again?  

Nope, I couldn't do it.  I got on him.  As were were walking around and I was trying to relax, it occurred to me - both Phil and I have stressful jobs.  I still love my job, and I think Phil likes his.  So I was going to have to help Phil through his stress.  

Amazingly, we had a pretty good ride.  Not the most relaxed ever, but certainly not the worst.  

I guess we make a good team.  And, not surprisingly, I was much less stressed after my ride.  Kaswyn was a god boy too.  I have to remember that even though I might be stressed about riding, that it's still good therapy for me.  

So if you're stressed, go get on your pony.  That might help.  

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

An error in judgement

It's April.  

I have a grey horse.  

I wore dark breeches and a black shirt today.  

See where I went wrong?  

Well, you can't really see it because I didn't take a picture but GOOD LORD there was a lot of white hair on me.  

Now, I'm not saying I made an error by buying a grey horse, even though I swore up and down that I'd never buy a grey horse.  I guess I just need some lighter colored breeches.  

Time to go shopping.  And shed out that hairy beast!

Monday, March 25, 2013


This won't be a happy post, obviously.  

I'm very sad right now.  This moment.  Today.  

I've experienced grief and loss. 

And although I'm not the crying type, I've cried a lot.  It makes it hard to write anything.  

Sometimes I feel utterly alone. 

No matter what I do, it's still not right.  

But tomorrow I'll get up and go to work and try to make it through the day.  Because I don't feel like I have a choice.  

Thursday, March 07, 2013

No, there is too much, Let me sum up... Part 2

The next two categories- Phil and Kaswyn.  

I've had some ups and downs with Phil.  Some nights he’s pretty good, and other nights he just can’t focus.  I always have to stop and think “Is it something I’m doing?”, and sometimes it is.  But most times it is not.  I have to remind myself that he still is dealing with his other training issues, but sometimes I get frustrated. 
Today was one of those “I can’t pay attention to where I’m putting my feet, much less what you’re asking me to do.” days.  His reaction to any little noise that he thinks he hears is to come off the bit and speed up.  Sometimes he just downright takes off.  It’s annoying and impossible to get any good work done. 

So today I decided to put him on a 12 meter circle, and make him keep his head down.  This point was non-negotiable.  Speed up, slow down, even look to the side, I don’t care, but the head’s gotta be down.  No ears in my face, no dropping his back out from under me.  Head down, forward motion, at the gait I choose.  It took a good 20 minutes before he got the point.  Just go with the head down.

Then I went large, and made four ten meter circles along the long side, one in each corner, and one in the middle of the short side.  So lots of ten meter circles.  But the message was the same.  Head down, moving forward. 

By the end of the ride he got it.  He was even making steady, light, consistent contact with my hand.  Now we just need to repeat it.  Every day, for like, ever. 

He is certainly better after the Tildren.  In fact, he’s so much better that today he almost, for the first time since he was four, bucked me off.  And not in a fit of anger or stupidity.  He just felt so good cantering down the long side that he struck out with a foreleg, tucked his butt under and scooted, then threw his head down and bucked twice. 

Now, I’m still riding him very carefully in a bridle and bareback pad.  So he really almost unseated me. He had me grabbing mane and yelling "Hey, hey HEEEYY!!" Afterwards it was kinds funny, but for a moment I thought I was going to be brushing arena dirt off my butt.  We’re only up to 20 minutes total, walk trot and canter, and it’s looking like two things can now happen.  One, I can add another 5 minutes, and two, it’s time for the saddle. 

Still, even though he wants to go and in general feels good, he still is a bit uneven, like he’s still protecting that left front.  I asked the barn owner today to watch him go, and he said that it looked to him that he was hesitant about taking that left front off of the ground.  So I’m not sure what that means.  He suggested giving him bute for three days and then he’d watch again to see if there was any change. 

I get the feeling that it’s higher up, like in his shoulder.  I've been doing shoulder stretches with him every time before I ride, and he is a little crabby about the left shoulder.  I think I need to have the chiropractor take a look at him. 

Back to his feet, though - Kaswyn is now barefoot.  Before I pulled his shoes, this is what the left front looked like after 7 weeks of growth. 

And this is the right front. 

Obviously he grows two totally different feet.  My blacksmith said that as soon as he’s reset his feet start to get uneven again, since on one foot he grows a lot of toe and the other he grows a lot of heel.  So I've been thinking that I should keep him barefoot and have him trimmed more often, like every 5 weeks.  Which is something I wouldn't really have been able to do with shoes on. 

Here is the left front, barefoot, after the shoes came off. 

And the right front.

So I will just have to wait and see how the saddle, chiropractor, and barefoot thing goes.  In the meantime, Mr. Hyper McBuckypants needs to try to contain his joy so that I don't eat dirt.  

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

No, there is too much, Let me sum up... Part 1

It’s been so long since I've posted and so much has happened.  Let me sum up.  Our categories are:

Work, Family, Phil, and Kaswyn. 

Lets cover the first two today, shall we? 

Work has been crazy nuts.  We keep losing staff, and we have jobs open.  However we just have to find the right people for the jobs.  I still love my job, but we’re all overworked and over stressed.  9 hour days are normal, and sometimes it’s 10 or 11.  I’m trying really hard not to have it affect my life at home, but that’s almost impossible.  Some days I don’t go out to the barn because I’m so exhausted from work that I just want to go home and go to bed.  It’s going to get better once we are fully staffed, and the new staff are fully trained (which takes at least a year).  But right now, it’s tough. 

I’m also studying for a certification test that I need to take in May.  My boss had hoped that I would have time to study at work, but that is just not happening.  So I’m trying to study at home.  More on that later. 

Craig’s new job is great.  He loves it, and it makes him very happy.  It also has him working more hours than he used to, which means I've been taking up the slack with the girls.  We've been calling in friends to help pick up and shuttle the girls around when we’re both unavailable.  It’s been tough for everyone, and I was feeling like the girls we just being moved around from place to place.  I felt that we needed to sign them both up for an activity that they would like so they could have some fun. 

Lily picked karate, and Macey picked gymnastics.  They each meet once a week.  So, twice a week I try and leave work by 4:00 (which admittedly does not happen as often as I’d like), pick up the girls at aftercare, go home, do homework, feed them dinner, and leave by 6:00. The classes are until 8:00, so I take my laptop and study while the class is going on.  As soon as class is over, it’s back home and to bed with the girls.  Those two nights are pretty hectic, but I think it’s worth it.  

Lots of people ask how I do it all.  Well, right now I feel like there just aren't enough hours in the day.  Of course, something had to give, and obviously it was blogging.  Sorry about that.  I'll try and post more, even if it's just short posts.  

Updates on Phil and Kaswyn on Thursday!  

Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr