Friday, October 30, 2015

All the Giggles

It's Friday, which means my brain is pretty much reduced to corny comebacks and cute animal pictures. Hence, MEME TIME. 
can't have that
he's a remarkably tolerant kitten
pretty much my life
i took this and it still makes me laugh
best expression of... i don't know what
bonus dog is a wee smidge inappropriate
some things need bad grammar
possibly i send this to people when LOL would suffice
My apologies to Carly for forgetting to take more "epic" riding screen shots before deleting videos off my phone. Next time, I will also wow you with my equestrian brilliance. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The European Princess Thoroughbred

every princess sparkles!! 
Does anyone else remember when I did a Teach Me Tuesday on those funky dressage wraps a few months back? Blog reader Liidia explained that they are designed to spread pressure very evenly and eliminate any possible pressure spots. It's apparently a European thing, but it seems to be catching on here.


Of course, I promptly bought a set.

Now before you're all "OMG SB YOU ARE THE WORST" (which I am, but that's immaterial), know that I sucked it up and bought knock offs. Of course everyone wants the Eskadron liners, but they're $50 for a set and that's a lot to spend on something you don't know how to use.

So instead, I bought the Roma knock offs, which are not nearly as cool, but can be had for $20 shipped. (And yes, that is a link to horseloverz, and no, I do not recommend buying from them. I did it and I regret it.)

At any rate. I got my knock offs, ran out to the barn, put them on, and yeah...

There is obviously a technique to this that I needed help with. Let's face it: those look like bad standing bandages, and that's super insulting to someone who actually wraps GOOD standing bandages.

Ouch. Mega embarrassing.

Needless to say, I took them off, stuck them in my trunk, and pretended they didn't exist until I could talk a fancy friend into coming out to teach me how to use them.

kind of a princess
Before we can go farther, let me explain something: Courage is SUPER weird about his back legs. He used to completely shut down and not be able to move if he had hind boots on. The one time I tried putting full-height XC boots on his back legs, I had to take them off because he kicked the wall so hard I thought he'd hurt himself.

justification for an extensive wrap collection
When I wrap his hind legs (in polos to ride--lord knows you can't leave this animal alone with hind bandages), he wrap-dances so hard that I have to warn spectators to stay back so they don't get kicked. When I put his hind Back on Track polos on, his hooves come nearly belly high. It's bad.

After the first ten or so steps, he's capable of walking like a normal horse again, but he does this every.single.time. I wrap his hind legs. Oh, and he's so narrow behind that I wrap/boot his hind legs for every.single.ride to prevent turning them into hamburger.

note added thickness of liners
With that in mind, my friend came out to teach me how to use the liners. As per the usual, we wrapped him in his stall. As per the usual, I warned her to stand WELL BACK as I lead him off so no one got clobbered.

As per the usual, I leg him forward with a wary eye on his hind legs.



drumroll please....


For serious. Not even a hint of wrap dance. Just stepped forward, tracking up, calm and smooth as can be.

I never thought I'd see the day. For real.

so fancy
We went ahead and rode him, and he felt absolutely fabulous (which is starting to be his normal, omg), but about every three minutes, I just started laughing.

Who knew my little cheapie OTTB was secretly a European princess horse.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Empathy Through Accounting

Who can forget the glorious fail pictures of Courage and I attempting to learn dressage this spring?

At the time, I was supremely frustrated with Courage. "Turning right" was the specific issue, I believe, and some days, we simply COULD NOT do it.

baby steps
Enter this fall. I'm doing some continuing education for my job. You know those people who always want to go back to school? That's not me. Didn't miss, didn't want more. But here I am. I'm taking Accounting right now. Probably a lot of you have taken it, which means you know that it's not rocket science.

It's actually quite simple, except that it's basically a whole different language. I'm a reasonably intelligent person, right?

Some days are easy. Some days are so frustrating and hard and confusing that I just want to gallop sideways into the fence and never try again (that was not a good day).

I have to laugh as I flounder my way along. To someone who knows what they're doing, my work is ridiculously simple, much like turning right.

But getting mad and yelling is never the answer. If I don't understand, I have to back off, go slower, start over, or approach the problem from a different angle.

I've been known to walk away or take the rest of the day off and try again later, because it's just not working in my brain.

And you know what?

It's working. No, I'm not a bonafide CPA overnight. That would be silly.

Instead, I'm learning to trust the system a little. Believe that if I study hard enough and do enough practice, I will get this. I'm by no means a master of the concepts and that upcoming test is a little intimidating.


At least now, I know I can get there.

Like Courage.

Doing dressage.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Teach Me Tuesday: Satin

There's a lot I could say about horse showing and skill sets and the like, but the most important part is this: how important are ribbons (and/or prizes) to you in the horse show arena? 

I mean, I know, I know, we're not here for the ribbons.

Arabian shows have the best ribbons
But if I do well, I totally want ribbons. The more and bigger, the better. I display them. Love them. Look at them all the time. I haven't really addressed what to do with excess ribbons (as if there is such a thing!!) because I haven't won enough to make it a thing.

How do you feel about ribbons? Do you love them? Boycott shows that don't have them? Throw them away as soon as you get them? Never pick them up?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Best. Nameplate. Ever.

Do you know what the "nameplate jinx" is?

It's when I put a nameplate on any piece of tack, no matter how innocuous, and then instantly can't use that piece of tack ever again. Once I thought I beat the system, and then my horse died. NOT EVEN KIDDING.

I've never been all that wild about monograms, particularly because my initials spell something I DO NOT need emblazoned all over anything. Really. I've tried to get over it, but it's not ok.

after reflock and dye. still needs something.
I've just come to the conclusion that if I like my tack at all, I need to enjoy it in perfect anonymity.


Oh yeah. I made joking comment on facebook while my saddle was getting working on about how it was sad that there weren't any sparkle options. So of course, my saddler PMs me and is like "but there ARE sparkle options".

um wut

Yes. I want need that.

in my messy car
Yesterday, I ran myself out to audit a fancy clinic at a fancy barn, and while there, I picked up my saddle.

Let me tell you--it's striking in pictures. It's freaking perfect in person.

It made my day. And my week.

Of course, my only option was to go straight to my barn and take it for a spin.

Sad story: when I showed up, most of my barn-dressage friends were there riding/watching a lesson. I tried to tack up quickly and go ride with them, but by the time I was ready, all but one had left.

Sad for them.

I proceeded to have an absolutely fantastic ride. I can only conclude that Courage likes the sparkles as much as I do.

PS The process is still somewhat experimental, but the future is promising. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Life Lessons From My Corgi

Fellow blogger Amanda recently talked about what it's like having a corgi in her house for the first time. I laughed, but I've had a corgi for almost 7 years now, and I thought I could give you a slightly different view. My (husband's) corgi is an incredible creature.

and tile floors. he loves tile floors.
If you just met him, you know he's charming, personable, and good looking.

If you've known him for an hour, you realize he's eerily intelligent and always has an agenda.

If you've known him his whole life, you realize the only reason he hasn't taken over the world is his distinct love of naps and vacations.

Without further ado, here are the most important life lessons I've learned from my corgi that also help improve my life.

1) Don't hold their long, ugly legs against them. 

Lewis is a quintessential corgi and he thinks the rest of us are strange, unfortunately-gangly-looking creatures. It's a bit like being friends with giraffes: you like them, but they definitely look weird. Despite all that, he's willing to look past our physical abnormalities and scandalous lack of butt-fluff. It doesn't matter what we look like on the outside--we can still be friends.

2) Size is mostly about attitude. 

One of my favorite Lewis stories is how the day he came home (at 11 weeks old), he barked down the neighbor's full-grown Rottweiler. It never bothered us again. We see him as big for a Corgi, small-to-medium for a dog. Lewis knows that physical size is almost completely irrelevant and he runs the neighborhood accordingly.

3) Pugs aren't worth the trouble. 
neither are kittens

While Rottweilers sometimes need to be barked down, nothing can induce Lewis to treat Pugs, Chihuahuas, Pomeranians and their ilk as real dogs. They are irrelevant, nasty snappers and he completely ignores them in all but the most extreme circumstances. Don't let the petty bitches get to you.

4) Go after what you want. 

When Lewis goes to my parents' house, he barks at the refrigerator to remind them he gets a treat for showing up. When he's at a picnic, he finds all the children with food in their hands, wags the stubby, and takes the food. He doesn't waste time begging or winning people over. He knows he's worth it, he drives a hard bargain, and he never comes away empty-handed.

5) Lighten the load. 

Walks are not Lewis' favorite thing ever. When he does have to go on them, he makes sure to dump off any excess crap he's carrying at least once, and sometimes up to four times. Not only does this make his job easier (as he isn't weighted down by things he doesn't need), it makes the issue of not liking walks someone else's problem. You want to make Lewis work? He'll make sure he isn't working alone.

6) Do a barrel roll.

When Lewis is in the midst of a rowdy game and chase-and-bitey-face with my other creatures, they aren't above body checking his blindside. That could be catastrophic to a long-ugly-legged creature, but Lewis knows just to tuck the drummies, do a barrel roll, and land running.

And finally

7) Know your people.

No matter how awesome you are, you're going to have down days and things you're too short to comfortably reach. Keep your people tight, know your pack, and always pay attention to who needs to give you belly rubs now.
and who you can make stick their nose on a snake first

Living with a Corgi is an experience unlike any other. It's not so much having a dog in the house as it is sharing your home with another functional adult who just happens to be a lot better looking than you are. They're more human than most people. I always laugh when people debate whether dogs go to heaven.

Dogs go to heaven, indubitably. Corgis, on the other hand, are free to choose their own destiny. The moment you lump corgis with dogs, the Corgi has already won.

Noted: Lewis wanted me to include #8: long bodies have more belly rub acreage, but I pointed out that it wasn't helpful advice to short-bodied people with short-bodied partners.
one more for good measure

Thursday, October 22, 2015

In Defense of Eventing

photo courtesy of Alli and Dino
I'm very lukewarm about eventing in general. It's certainly not what I want to do right now with this horse and the national/international scene has made a lot of choices that I find questionable at best. My top 2 favorite eventers of all time are both out of the game right now--Andrew Nicholson suffered a broken neck earlier this season and William Fox Pitt sustained a traumatic brain injury (of uncertain extent) at a young horse competition in the past week.

photo courtesy of Alyssa
These aren't young, reckless, first timers making stupid mistakes. We're talking about some of the best riders in the entire world of any discipline, and the sport is THISCLOSE to killing them.

And that's scary as hell.

I'm violating my own personal rule here (when you have something to say about eventers, remind yourself not to say it), and going out on a limb.

Eventing is reckless. Dangerous. Directionless. Ever-changing.

It offers all the dangers of climbing a sheer rock wall in the wilderness, with none of the safety equipment and adds a vastly-increased risk of head trauma. It involves making a fragile prey animal hurl itself over fixed obstacles at speed while the rider attempts to hang on to anything that keeps them more or less in the saddle. "Style points" refer to desperately clinging on in an inevitable sticky situation instead of any particular definable attribute that you could possibly train for.

photo courtesy of Lindsey
It's a terrible idea, a horrifying concept, and a sport embraced by many around the world.

When I heard about WFP's injury and the hour-long course hold while they stabilized him enough to move him to a hospital, I was tempted to lash out eventing for taking away yet another one of the "good ones".

And yet.

photo courtesy of Carly
Why is safety the most important thing to us in a fragile world where no one makes it out alive anyways? Why does it matter whether I limp sideways into the grave at 93.5 years old with no memory of who I am and who I used to love and who's gone on before versus sliding into it sideways, doing the thing I (hypothetically) love the most?

Eventing is a high risk, hugely irresponsible sport that I could not conscious-ably participate in on a high level. It is sport that you cannot make man or beast do unless they truly, deeply love it.

photo courtesy of 900fbpony
Hats off to you, eventers. May you have the time of your lives, every time. (AND FOR GOD'S SAKE, SLOW DOWN ON THE KILLING PEOPLE THING. I want WFP back. Nicholson is kind of a dick, so I can go either way on that one.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Why Horses

I have a problem that I suspect most of you share: horse obsession. It colors my waking hours--how soon can I get to the barn, could I ride here, why isn't this golf course a cross country course, do you think they're calculating the year end points right? It's not that I can't focus on my job and my non-horse life and be a productive human being, because I certainly do all those things.

It's just the thing that drives me to be better, try harder, do more, and most importantly, always keep on learning.

I come by sportsball honestly
But why? Why do I (from a totally non-horsey background) have that equine fire?

I distinctly remember that as a little girl, my favorite color was pink. My favorite animal was pigs. Because pigs were pink. Obviously.

Then one unforgettably traumatic day, I got a book on pigs from the library. In fact, very few varieties of pigs are pink. They're mottled and multi colored and ugly and I found myself sitting on my bed (in my room with pink walls and a Beauty and the Beast mural), trying to pick a favorite animal. There were no poignant pink animals left, so I had to find a new criteria.

living the dream
I remember sitting there, not more than five years old, and saying to myself, "Well, I want something I can ride."

Thankfully, that translated as horses to my young mind instead of camels or elephants or reindeer or the like.

And here I am, decades later.

Why do horses captivate my imagination and dreams and plans so thoroughly? Why didn't I ever "age out of it"? 

I don't know, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Let's face it--the rest of you are here with me. How did you get here, anyways?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Teach Me Tuesday: Your Tack Area

mmmm bridles
The one unifying theme of horse people is that we acquire a lot of stuff. I have stuff in my car, in my house, in my garage, and at least one barn. Ok fine two. Possibly three.

Stop judging me.

At the barn, I keep a trunk (that desperately needs to be reorganized), plus a couple of saddle racks and bridle hooks. The racks just hang on a peg board and aren't cool, but I like to customize my trunk with stickers that make me seem cooler than I really am.

It's an inexpensive and simple way to express myself and it makes me smile every time I see it.

How do you organize/customize your tack area? Any good tips?
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