Thursday, June 22, 2017

Ruthlessly Exclude: The Journey

Emma wrote a post about why we do what we do. It's good. You should read it.

It's a topic I have put a lot of thought into lately for pretty obvious reasons. See, left to my own devices, I consistently pick horses like this:
hot, short coupled, fancy

hot, short coupled, fancy
See also: short coupled, scopey, hot Hot HOT, difficult.

They're talented horses. Athletic horses. Hell, if I could ride them, they'd go a long ways.

Yeah.

If.
mmhmm

Here's the thing: I grew up a barn rat and rode anything anyone would let me. I've worked for three different trainers. Subconsciously, I think of myself as that sort of ride-anything-go-anywhere sort of rider.

But like.

I'm not anymore. I'm not as young as I was. I have a lot of mental and physical baggage. I work a full time office job. I'm a one horse ammy and I need to start thinking like one.
moar naps

Admitting that is just the first step.

The scary part is what comes after. Because if I admit yeah, I'm not god's gift to riding and no, I'm not going Grand Prix (nor do I actually want to), then the next step is like. What do I want to do? Why am I here in the first place? What is it about the whole "horse thing" that keeps me coming back for more?

There's not a wrong answer.
such attractive
Here are some of my personal answers:

1) Horses are my outlet. The barn is my place to go where the real world isn't a thing anymore.

That means I need it to be a place I can relax and have fun, not a place where I'm struggling and pushing myself.

And that means I need a horse that's just as happy to toodle as I am.

2) Horses are also my way of understanding the world and being the best self I can be.

That means I need to have goals I can work towards. Not impossible, imaginary, pie-in-the-sky "dreams", but real life goals.

Which means I need a horse that shows up to work and wants to do the job I have in mind.

3) Horses are my addiction. I can't change my addictive personality, but I can channel it in productive ways instead of letting it destroy me.

That means that I need a horse that I want to spend time thinking about. One that's pretty to look at or fun to be around.

Which means the horse isn't a tool or a means to an end. The horse is a personality unto itself that makes my life more worthwhile.
this. this was good.

When I put those things together, the horse I see meeting those needs in my life isn't the short-coupled, hotter-than-shit, upper-level-prospect. I've certainly learned a lot from my horses--some hard lessons, some fun lessons, a lot of growing up lessons.

And those things are all (mostly) good.

The phase of my life where I worked for trainers and rode everything in front of me is over. Permanently. I love my ammy life and I love saying no to riding the stupid horses and I love having one horse I can bond with and obsess over and dress impeccably. I like going to local shows. I like riding in clinics. I like trail rides and photo shoots and zany adventures and random open shows.

I said I wouldn't horse shop until later this summer/fall. Definitely not until things with C are settled. I don't like having two horses.

But on the advice of Roxie's mom, I put together a list of must-haves for Horsie #4. Ruthlessly exclude, she said. And she has a Roxiecorn. So she knows. "Ruthlessly exclude" means setting realistic parameters for #4 and committing them to writing, then immediately ruling out all candidates that do not meet the parameters.
pictured: roxiecorn in action

So of course, I'm casually poking around. WHICH IS TOTALLY NOT HORSE SHOPPING.

"Ruthlessly exclude" has taken me down a very different path then I've ever been before. It has involved falling down some very interesting (and adorable) rabbit holes. It's simplified the process by removing that which shouldn't have been there in the first place. It's pushing me to find new solutions.

My situation is not settled (though there are potentially exciting things on the horizon), but giving myself permission to ruthlessly exclude has had the interesting side effect of letting me see the possibilities of the future. It isn't what I ever thought I would want, but the closer it gets to reality, the more right it feels.

The future is exciting, guys.

Stay posted.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Well This Sucks

We've been not talking about Courage for a long time now, so let's talk about him.

First things first--it's been a process, but I think we've hammered out the maintenance that will work for him and he's sound in work and ready to go. Vet doesn't foresee any limitations in terms of dressage/trails/whatever on the flat. Trainer is putting rides on him and says he feels really good.

(Btw for those of you keeping track--while Alli definitely got the prize for best comment on my last post, the neck twist was a chiropractic issue that has been handled. Quite simple.)

But.

Courage is an all-or-nothing sort of horse.

And while for a long time I've been able to appreciate that or laugh it off or make memes about it, now is not that time. I'm wading through a lot of personal shit and there isn't an end in sight and I can't make it stop.

But it means I can't bring my A-game to Courage.

And that doesn't work for him.

Right now, I need horses to be simple and fun. I need them to bring me joy, not force me to wrack my brain and push myself constantly.

Courage isn't a bad horse. He's a really cool guy in a lot of ways. He never quits trying. He's smart, he learns fast, he works hard. He's gorgeous and photogenic and good to have around.

Believe you me, I wish I could keep making this work. I adore him and he's done a lot for me and I wish there was some way I could keep trying.

It's taking all I've got to deal with life shit and there's nothing left over to deal with Courage.

That's not his fault. It's not my fault. It just is.

Of course, there's this whole giant blog about him and I've been quite public about our struggles, which probably won't help the re-homing process. I don't believe in back editing/deleting that stuff though, so it is what it is. I haven't posted ads at this point because he's a particular kind of horse and he needs a particular kind of person.

So if you or someone you know wants a gorgeous, fabulous horse with some quirks, talk to me. Obviously, there will be full disclosure of all vet records etc. Nobody needs surprises.

I'm not quitting horses and there will be another eventually, but my #1 priority is finding Courage the right place.

And once more, his stupid name is strangely relevant.
Courage

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

WW: Old Horse, New Tricks



You're just jealous of his sweet new head twist.

(And yes. He's seeing the vet. Again. BAI MONEY NICE KNOWIN YA.)

PS Wanna play pin the diagnosis on the OTTB? Leave your guess in the comments. Winner gets a prize of my choosing.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Custom Portable Drying Rack: Another SB Blog Non-Crafty DIY

I dunno about the rest of y'all, but I read these awesome crafty write ups and am like damn ladies. You so fine. I'm just over here being average.
you too can do a craft

Because they're like Step One: get some shit (ok yes tracking so far i can do stores) and then it's like Step Two: use this other shit you have sitting around (hard pass i don't have those things and NOPE not going back to the store) and I sometimes keep nodding along like oh yeah that makes so much sense even I could do that.

Funny joke no. I could not.

I am the best at ordering things on the internet. Like pizza. If that was a craft, I would be the craft queen.

But it is not.
now all i can think about is pizza

So if you're more like me than you normally admit out loud and/or if you super need a drying rack for your shit, you're in the right place. I promise you simple step-by-step instructions and BEST PART you don't even need any supplies. Best. Craft. Ever.

1) Get a beverage. Dehydration is a real thing and so is pacing yourself and not trying too hard. You can choose an appropriate beverage for your lifestyle choices and situation. I went with the biggest iced coffee I could find to get me jazzed up for crafts.
pro tip: if you bring your corgi to the coffee drive thru, the annoying barista will talk to him instead of you
#winning
2) It kind of goes without saying that you need wet stuff to put on your drying rack and that if you're building it outside, the weather should be amenable to drying. On my particular test day it was 90f+ with no humidity and I had just scrubbed all the boots I keep in my tack trunk but didn't want to be THAT BOARDER who clogs up the wash rack with their shit.
pictured: not the rack you will be building
3) Get some twine. Now this is where it gets tricky. I'm going to throw in some safety warnings here:

3a) Do not take twine off of bales still in the hay stack, particularly not ones which might create a booby trap for you BO. That is dangerous and mean. 

3b) If taking twine out of the garbage, make sure to check for various critters before just jamming your hand into a dark hole you can't see. I take no responsibility for said hand getting bitten by snakes or rats or cats or whatever varmints are around your place. 
pictured: not a varmint

My particular twine came from the trash because my barn is fab about not leaving loose twine on bales.

3c) There are different colors of twine. You can use any color.

3d) If your barn does not have twine, you should probably give up now. Otherwise you have to buy string and that's a downer.

4) Find an out of the way place that is reasonably close to your stall where no one has an excuse to tamper with your shit that you are ok with having water drip all over. This step might be harder in a super fancy barn that's like "indoors" when you're inside it. My barn aisle is dirt so I can drip away.
pictured: drunk horse in barn aisle

5) Tie the twine to a fixed point. If you have scissors, you can hard tie it. If you do not have access to blades, do a quick release.

6) Tie the other end of the twine to a different fixed point. You end result should look like a loop of twine hanging between two fixed points.
yeah that's impossible to see. it's a feature.

7) Hang wet shit on drying rack.

8) PARTAY GIRLFRIEND YOU DID IT. Pat yourself on the back and enjoy your beverage.

9) I mentioned this rack is fully custom and portable. If you want to level up, you can braid several pieces of twine together in your colors or hang multiple loops. If you need to move it, you can just take it wherever. If your BO complains, you can even wear it like a necklace and just prance around with your wet boots dripping on you as kind of a "statement piece".

WHOA FASHION ADVICE.

You didn't see that coming.
And there you go. I know there's kind of a lot of steps but I wanted to cover my bases and over-prepare you guys rather than let you get to the middle of the project and realize that you needed more information to proceed. And hey! If you successfully complete this project, take a picture and send it to me!

Or just have a sip of your beverage and don't. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Premonition Rumination

We're still not talking about Courage, so let's talk about not-Courage. 

One of my goals for this year is to ride other horses. Initially that goal was because Courage and I weren't getting along and I needed perspective. Now Courage and I are getting on just fine.

But.

While I'm not giving up on Courage, it's time to start thinking about what the future looks like.

I once had a friend tell me that the best way to do that was to pick a custom breeding and buy the baby in utero and then let it grow up while riding my current horse.

She's right.

BUT.

You have to know what the hell you want out of horses for that to be a super good plan.

And I don't.

I'm doing dressage right now because my horse can't jump. I like dressage well enough, but I'm not married to it as a sport, so I don't really need a "dressage horse". I'd like to do a recognized event above beginner novice at some point in my life, but realistically, I don't have the guts to go past training, which means I don't need a purpose-bred event horse. I like show jumping and I'd probably be fine with hunters, but I don't have the $$$$$$ for the A circuit and our local scene isn't enough to make a super hot, scopey horse make a lot of sense. Plus I like other things like trail riding and toodling and goofing off and playing dress up and randomly going to open shows.

And then there are practical considerations.
d'awww
The adorable painty mare I rode was an absolute love and she would toodle and trail ride and dress up with the best of them, but her sporthorse-competitiveness tops out a bit below where I'd want to be. Possibly she'd be more competitive in the western world, but I know nothing about that and don't have a burning urge to find out.
fanceh!
The friesian cross mare I rode was wicked cool, but I know a lot about what went into making her that way and I don't think I'm the person who could have done it. She is absolutely an amazing horse and I respect that, but I know myself as a horseman too well to think I could replicate her.
goofy the baby
The warmblood gelding was a super nice guy, and again, I'm flattered that I was able to snag a ride on him. But. Again. The brain match for me was not good. I don't always mesh well with warmblood types and that is not a knock on them, just a realistic thing about me.
western pony!
And I mean. I love Courage. And I have ridden a lot of thoroughbreds. And yeah, I get along well with them. But. I am ready to do something different. I would like a horse that gets tired eventually. I am too old and amateur-like at this point to really think starting over with a track horse sounds like a fun idea and you couldn't give me a thoroughbred that didn't learn a work ethic on the track. No thank you.

I noticed when I was hanging out with Roxie's mom that I said I hated a lot of things.

Like Arabians. Except I don't actually hate arabians--I just am not interested in mindlessly reactive, hot, tiny horses. Obviously, there are nice arabians. I even know a perfect one. But. The perfect ones are not for sale. And they're still tiny.

I also have a reputation for hating draft horses. Which is only sort of true. What I mean is that I don't do well with mindlessly non-reactive giant ogres that don't give a shit about me. Which is not all draft horses. But they do have that reputation for a reason.

And then we can look at horses that I have ridden this year and absolutely adored:
HAMPERSAND
ROXIECORN
There's one thing these horses have in common: their amazing owners have put YEARS OF WORK into making them the cool horses they are today.

Oh and the other thing is that the raw material they started with suited their personalities really well.

And the third thing is that they didn't pay through the nose for them.

And the fourth thing is that they're actually both draft crosses, albeit of very different stripes.
ON NOM NOM
Oh and then Roxie's mom said something about Cleveland Bays and that made my little horse nerd brain go DING DING DING because I have known some of those and they are cool horses and she knows a breeder.

So that little wheel is turning in the back of my brain too.

I don't know how serious I am about looking. A lot of it depends on that one thing we're not talking about.
it's pretty tho
Talk to me, adult ammies. How did you end up with the horses you have?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

I RIDED A ROXIECORN

I dunno how many of you follow I is Roxie, but you should. I've known Roxie's mom for a couple years now. A couple weeks ago, I was texting her about Courage's ongoing situation (let's... not talk about that today) and was like WAH EVERYTHING SUCKS AND IM DYING and she's like "come ride my Roxiecorn".

obviously
And as Karen knows, you really shouldn't invite me to your house and offer to share your horse unless you really, actually, for real mean it.

Because I show up.
and so does Roxie
I really don't think photos can quite capture all of Roxie's glorious bigness. Also she is basically perfect. 

Roxie's mom rode Potato and I swung up on Roxie. 
and

OMG YOU GUYS

the pony giggles are real. 

I'm a tall human-sized-human but Roxie makes me feel like a tiny child. And also she is perfect at trails. We followed. We lead. We walked, trotted, and cantered. 

And the whole time I had my hands in the mane, reins on the buckle, and giggled like an idiot because Roxie is SO MUCH FUN. 
The scenery was to die for, the weather was perfect, and the company was impeccable. The tree jizz was a bit over the top, but meh. It was just nice to have trees I thought. 

At one point I was even like OMG ROXIE'S MOM TAKE A PICTURE OF US.
IS A ROXIE
And that was just day one! When we were plotting day two, Roxie's mom mentioned that she had a unicorn horn for Roxie that she'd never used. 

Which like. 
yup
Obviously. If I'd known in advance, I so would have dragged a princess dress along and made everyone play dress up, haha. 

ROXIE JOMPING
Instead we played with Roxie bareback. And then I got a turn!
Roxie's mom trying to get ears up

Roxie not impressed
I was super sore from the day before and also haven't been on a horse bareback in like two years, so opted not to trot, but it was so fun to toodle around on a giant Roxie! 
And then many cookies were fed to the glorious Roxiecorn. 
favorite shot
All in all, it was a super fantastic weekend and I will definitely be back to harass Roxie and her mom again. 
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