Monday, March 19, 2018

Some Things About Blogging

I've seen several posts lately about the dos and don'ts of blogging. It's interesting, I guess. See, I read it a little differently--we're all here for different reasons and to achieve different goals. I cannot presume to tell you what to do to write a good blog.

I can tell you what I do and why.

1) I'm very personal and honest about what I'm going through with horses.
I started blogging years ago. I'd just gotten my first horse. I was an adult ammy student with a tight budget and almost no local horse friends. I figured there had to be other people like me, so I googled "horse blog" and started reading. And writing. And here I am.

For the record: this is a completely fabulous idea. I have met so many amazing people and forged some incredible friendships and the impact it has had on my actual life is stunning. Ex: met Roxie's mom through the blog. She sourced ZB for me. WUT. ZB IS BECAUSE OF BLOGGING. (Oh and I wanted a ZB because Karen and Roxie's mom let me ride their horses. And we all knew each other because of blogging.)
and sass

[Talking about the ways online bloggers became amazing real life friends would 1) take forever and 2) be extremely personal so I'll probably leave off on that right now, but just know there are incredible people all around us.]

Because my goal is to connect with other horse people, my style is a little different. I don't give a flying f*** if I'm an influencer. I find brand ambassadors in poor taste. I'm not worried about SEO and metrics and building a brand. I'm here for the people, not the money.

I'm not here to shit on the people who are--more power to them. Just not my jam.

Given the prevalence of readily available media anymore, a picture is probably worth like 53 words, but they still matter. I hate to throw walls of text at people. I have a cute horse and a smart phone and boom. Y'all get more ZB pictures than you know what to do with.
recently i stole a camera

3) I make it easy to comment. 
Real talk: I love comments. Partly because it tells me I'm actually hitting my goal of connecting with other humans, partly because I'm vain.

Here's the thing though: I can only remember like one thing at a time. If I'm reading a post and someone says something I want to comment on, I write that comment in my head, but then the topic changes and I forget the comment because I'm reading and then it changes again and I forget I had a comment, and then I'm on something else entirely and by the time I get to the comments, I don't remember what I was thinking anyways.

Maybe y'all are hella better about that than me. Much respect if so. I try to keep things simple and stick to one topic. Plus I allow anonymous comments. And I'm sorry wordpress people but if you require a wordpress account to post a comment, I can't do it.
my ambition level every day

4) I keep things about my one horse. 
I only have the attention span for one horse, so that's pretty easy. If you want lifestyle advice and breezy socialite thrills, you're probably not going to find that here. I don't art. I barely craft. My skincare routine is take a shower. I blog for horses, so I write about horses and if you don't like horses, this is a very odd place for you to be.

I try to write a blog that I like to read. I'm not much for detailed training wrap ups (except when I am), but I know some people LOVE those and read every detail.

I used to be a really good blogger--I had a solid mix of personal and topical posts and I posted every day and did all the things. Now I'm kind of an average blogger who's doing well if I get two posts out a week. The way I do things isn't the one true only or right way to do them.

It works for me. What works for you?

Friday, March 16, 2018

#nailedit: Training Breakthrough

I maaaaaay have mentioned the other day how I broke my horse and she completely forgot how to turn right. I possibly did not mention how toodling in a western saddle while giggling hysterically also completely broke the rest of the steering.


I did some actual riding and I fixed my horse AND found a new secret way to do it.

Here it is:

1) Pick up your outside rein. Bend your elbow, close your fingers, HOLD A CONTACT, and alllllllmost think counter bend.

2) Apply your inside leg to keep your horse's body straight and connected.


I was so proud of myself for figuring this out.

And then I was like "wait inside leg to outside rein... have I heard this before somewhere?"

Nah it's totes new material.
i will distract you with how cute we are

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

ZB: The Wild West Saga

The last month I owned Courage, I went on a western kick and bought a bridle and a saddle. The saddle of course fit ZB somewhat like a banana boat on the top of a hill.
pictured: rocking chair
So obviously that was never going to work.


The bridle. Omg. I was super duper in love with it and I'd LITERALLY JUST BOUGHT IT and the advantage to living where I do is that custom western stuff is super accessible. 

I took this bridle to a shop that's like a mile from my house:

And one highly custom throat latch later, I had this:
well and upgraded slobbers straps #hosgonnaho
Of course, given the saddle situation, the western bridle was mostly relegated to bareback days. 
i said mostly


The other day, I walked into the tack room and was greeted by this glorious sight:
I tracked down the owner, got permission to play with the saddle, and. Well. 
me: the light is perfect
me: ZB strike a pose
See, once you have the set up all ready, it's time to get on and ride. 
boom. western zb.
Here's a wee secret about me: I am completely terrible at riding western. 

It's never been a part of my daily life. I super admire those people who just effortlessly sit there and flow with the horse and look like they were born in a stock saddle, but those people are so not me. I'm an obsessive detail person who is like HOW DO I WESTERN

The best feedback I've gotten was this: 

"Just. Stop. Doing. That."


"Whatever the hell that is." 



I think it's best described as some sort of hunter perch with my hands singing a discordant duet of FALLING FREE FALLING. Who knows. Props to ZB for being a major sport and just letting me do whatever the hell that is.

Maybe I'll figure it out. Maybe I won't.

The important takeaways are these:

1) ZB is stinking cute as a western pony.

2) We look super legit as long as I don't get on

uh possibly we have our own way of doing them

Monday, March 12, 2018

I Pay A Trainer and I Like It

I am totally "that amateur" right now. My trainer rides my horse. I'm not there for it. I don't know what they do unless I ask (I don't require neurotic updates since I don't actually think my horse will kill said trainer). I barely know what she eats. I don't document every detail of every day and track patterns and obsess over every moment.

When I go to the barn, I mess around. I don't even always hold on to the reins.

I spend a lot more time toodling and feeding treats and watching ZB knock shit down than actually "training".
can you even? you cannot.
Part of me justifies it by saying I don't want to fry Zoe or push her too hard. She's still a growing baby and no one wins if she thinks work hurts.

Even when I have grand illusions of showing up and like "training" or something, I'm easily sidetracked by finding a western saddle that actually fits my 55 gallon drum of a horse and then staging "Old West" looking photos in the dressage arena. (Note to self: walk 100' to the sagebrush next time you're in this mood.)
Needs windmill 
Like right now--the biggest thing Zoe is struggling with is body awareness.

I haven't started her in a 12 step program. We aren't obsessing over cavaletti and jumping small fences and whatever. I'm not freaking out at all. At. All. 

We're planning to do a bunch of trail riding this summer. 

I figure that will help her. 
photo by Courage Has Opinions
I did actually get my rear in gear and "do dressage" one day this weekend. 
omg baby mare!
Let me tell you something. 
um hellooooo
Being "that amateur" is freaking awesome. 

Her good moments are lovely. Her bad moments are sane. I get to enjoy the progress right now without being the one putting in long hours in the irons.

It's hard to explain. After 4 years of having to read every muscle twitch and ride every day and be on my A game for every moment, it is unbelievably relaxing to just... not.
hair goals
Every day, Zoebird is the horse I always wanted. She takes the stress out of horsemanship. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

On Rider Issues

I'm guessing most of you remember Courage.
110% solid sex appeal
Beautiful. Tempestuous. Not an ambi-turner.

He had this sweet move where we'd go to turn right and he'd drop his shoulder and bolt left.

For better or worse, I stayed on. HOWEVER. The mechanics of staying on with those G-Forces involved putting all my weight in the left stirrup and staying to the LEFT OF CENTER every time we thought about turning right. (You'll notice this biomechanically compounded the not-turning-right issue. I never said it wasn't a shitshow.)
plz send your hate mail directly to my spam folder
Which, whatever. We dealt with what we dealt with and I owe y'all a post on C and how he's doing and some final thoughts, but that's a story for another day. 

The point is that now I ride my glorious ZB who is the champion of the entire world. 
champion of outfits too

Fun facts: baby mare is a-ok with turning either direction. Canters on both leads. Has zero baggage about racetracks or pressure or whatever. See again: champion.

Now, I had someone else put the first 10 rides on her because I knew my brain wasn't up for it. AND. She gets twice weekly training rides by my trainer because again. I want her to be started well and not just haul around my baggage for me. 
and clinics!
I had to have a laugh the other night though. I was riding with a barn buddy in the indoor. 
not this night. a night we actually put on saddles. 
We walk/trotted around to the left and ZB was KILLING IT like the champion she is. 

And then we changed direction. 

INSTANTLY she was overbent to the right with her left shoulder popped out and completely unable to turn right. 
photo by Courage Has Opinions
I tried changing a number of things with my hands and reins and that didn't really help at all. 

I had to just stop and think about it a while. 

ZB is TOTALLY FINE for my trainer, which means it's a me issue. 
return of the dik dik
And oh yeah, the way I survived the HARD BOLT LEFT was to get all my weight to the left.

If we're keeping track, ZB is super round, which means my weight left means my saddle slides left.

It didn't even matter how much I told myself to step into the right stirrup--I'd just drop my weight into it, brace against it, and twist my saddle ever farther left. 
you're making dik dik jesus cry
I find the timing here interesting. This problem hasn't really cropped up for us until right now. I'd wager it's because we're stepping up the work. Zoe is performing at a similar level to Courage when he stepped down, which means my subconscious is kicking defense mechanisms into high gear from sheer force of muscle memory.

It's frustrating, because my conscious brain isn't even slightly rattled. I'm building a new thing with Zoe. She's an incredible force for good in my life and I enjoy every moment with her. 
also hats are itchy. fyi.
I have a plan. I have a trainer. We're going to fix this. 

But omfg body. GET ON THE BUS. 

Monday, March 5, 2018

The Most Important Thing

When Zoe and I embarked on this adventure together, I was told one thing. 

If a draft mare loves you, she'll do anything for you.

But if she doesn't, she won't give you the time of day.
a thinking picture
I've let that shape my thinking in how I approach ZB every day.

The little lady is talented and has a fantastic work ethic and is delightful to be around. I don't doubt for a minute that she'll hit all the performance goals I set for us.
plus toodling
We have a lifetime to do those things together.

We only get one shot at our first year together.
I don't just want to be the person who shows up at the barn and pushes and pushes and pushes to hit some arbitrary performance goal.

The whole point of having a Zoe was to have a horse that could be fun every day.

And then to have fun every day.
I haven't put a saddle on Zoebird in upwards of two weeks. I haven't even looked at an entry form for a show.

We spend a lot more time hanging out than "working".

But the other night we were wandering around the outdoor arena in the the dark together.

Zoe had a good spook and took off towards the gate.

I said, "hey lady".

And she turned.

Trotted up to me.

And all was right with our world.
finding our footing
There are so many places to go and things to do. 

And we'll go to the places and do the things eventually.

But right now, it's just about us becoming us. 

Thursday, March 1, 2018

30 Things Blog Hop

Thanks to Amanda for starting, Liz for making it cool, Leah for forcing me to brainstorm, T for 100% agreeing that publishing lists on the internet is ill-advised, and all of the above for being awesome anyways.
why yes i did order this

Without further ago, here are 30 indispensable facts about me that you were definitely dying to know.

1) I am deeply suspicious of lists that reveal personal information on the internet.

2) I've read War and Peace for fun. Twice. And Moby Dick. And Atlas Shrugged is next on my list because of Jen. (See also: nerd.)

3) If I had my life to do over, I'd be a professor at a university or a heavy equipment mechanic, with job prospects, job security, and pay grade inclining me towards the latter.
meet dik dik jesus

4) I hate fish. Alive. Dead. All of them. 

5) I never wanted to be a vet.

6) I never wanted to be a horse trainer. 
wish i'd trained her to do this

7) I was a ballroom dancer in college. Still miss it.

8 )  If you think horse people have drama, you haven't met dancers. 

9) I've never played an organized team sport in my life.

10) I've always wanted to win a belt buckle but never participated in a sport that dispensed them. 
me RN

11) I think pie is overrated.

12) Same with cake.

13) I once made my own costume to go to a fantasy movie premier. There are pictures. 
guess that might not surprise you

14) My first car was the same age as me.

15) I like to drive down roads just to see where they go.

16) My favorite music is female-fronted symphonic euro-metal. 

17) I don't read non-fiction.
31. my favorite animal is dik diks

18) I love cheese and pasta.

19) I got married so young people thought I was in a weird cult.

20) I didn't join a weird cult until much later.
pictured: the cult as dik diks

21) I don't read horse blog posts about dogs. But I do like dogs.

22) I actually don't like cats.

23) Cats also don't like me.

24) I always hated teeny dogs until I got one and now I'm obsessed with him.
no one can even in the face of Teeny

25) I rarely read books written in the last century. That's how you can be sure all the shitty ones got filtered out.

26) I rarely watch tv that's more than a couple years old because I want to be entertained RIGHT NOW and have no patience.

27) I hate watching videos. I'm a fast reader. Don't waste my time.
i am one self important dik dik

28) I delete more friends than i add on Facebook, but consider myself relatively extroverted. Relatively is probably a key term here.
32) and i regularly consider changing this gerenuk to my profile pic
29) The only constellation I can pick out on a regular basis is Orion. Sometimes the big dipper, but I always see Orion first.

30) I live 30 minutes from a ski resort and don't ski. I mean, I did ski a couple times, but there are only so many dangerous, time consuming, expensive hobbies a girl can have.
ZB conquers all
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