Thursday, May 23, 2024

#til Check Your Tack, Fam

ZB and I moved barns at the beginning of December. I was trying to juggle a lot of travel commitments around winter weather, so I ended up moving her as a big winter storm was blowing in so I could be in town as she settled in vs out of state. 

Which is fine. 

We moved to a really lovely little place that fits our needs and goals. We gave up the luxury of an indoor, which meant there would be limitations on winter riding. 

Which again, is fine. 

I'm at a really cool place mentally where I can enjoy my horse every time I'm with her and there's no stress around what she should or shouldn't be doing or what anyone else is doing. I knew that winter/early spring riding was going to be weather dependent. I'm fine taking extra time doing stuff. I'm not riding 5 days a week and all is well. 

All of that, fine. 
she free jumped herself

This spring has been weird though. I've felt a little out of balance and disconnected. Things aren't quite clicking and I'm second guessing myself. I added a gut supplement and did a lot of ground work and everything I did was telling me that my horse was fine but my confidence was absolutely shot for some reason. 

That isn't fine. 
um hello shiny

I'm not about brute forcing things and I don't have a readily available trainer right now so I've just been kind of feeling it out. I needed a breakthrough. 

So I saddled up on a nice spring day, put my foot in the stirrup, felt the smack of my boob hitting the saddle horn a split second before my feet hit the ground and found myself staring at my slightly confused horse from next to the mounting block. 

there are a lot of buckles in there

This is a reminder to check your stirrup leather and make sure EVERYHING IS STILL ATTACHED before you try to get on. 

More importantly though--I'd been feeling a little out of balance and like I wanted my stirrups shorter, but western stirrups are a PITA to mess with and I'm not riding that hard so I just hadn't and figured I'd get used to the length that had obviously been fine before. 

And that meant I didn't change them. 

everyone say hi to this adorable muppet

Standing in the dusty arena seemed like a good time to address it, so I dutifully shortened that stirrup, then shortened and checked the other side.

And then I got on. 

I felt confident. Centered. In balance. 

I pushed the reins forward and trusted my horse. I owned my own balance. 

Since that day, I've been taking the leaps forward that seemed to be missing. 

also who thinks i need new stirrups

Just wait until you hear about the day I realized I was a Horse Training Goddess (tm). Full disclosure that one did not go the way I expected either. 

Friday, May 10, 2024

Hos Gonna Ho

The problem with ZB is one of her best features—she fits in zero off the rack things so impulse buying is dead.


Plus y’know—most high end western stuff is designed to last like 700 years so it’s stiff and ugly colored until you put a couple years on it out in the sun and dust and rain. 

So yeah I went full commit on the western schtick. Roxie’s mom told me what saddle to get, I found a 6” bit on eBay, grabbed a pair of reins from the feed store, and that was that. Well then I added the largest breast collar from the feed store too and the quality isn’t great because I bought the largest soft pre-oiled option that feels nice to start with and gets worse from there. But it looks fine for now. 

winter scruff

I love to scroll horse stuff on the socials and I’d cut a bitch for a nice French bridle but even I can’t justify $700 for a non-custom bridle. 

But you know what is way cheaper


Yeah random western stuff. 

they see her rollin

I obviously spent way too much time trying to run down what was trendy for what discipline and how much it cost and you can FOR SURE spend all the dineros you would like when it comes to that. But like. For me. 

I’m not showing. I don’t have a discipline. The world is my oyster. 

shout out past me for buying sunflower slobber straps

And while I visually LOVE straps, they’re goddamn annoying to put on.

Plus you know how it is in the winter—you aren’t riding a ton, you’re shopping for presents, the algorithm is feeding you shit, your impulse control is at an all time low, etc. 

she's so damn cute

anyways that’s the story of how i decided i couldn’t live without this super minimalist headstall that i then immediately decided i needed to buy a noseband for because it was too minimal which then transitioned into switching over to a mecate set up but i obviously bought this STUNNING custom size sparkle piece and anyways hook a sister up if you see a deal on high end reins.

this headstall is what dreams are made of


Some things never change. 

google decided you needed this photo and who am i to argue with our AI overlords?

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Bet You Didn’t See This Coming

 I’m still here. 

I mean, not really, inasmuch as I’ve mostly adapted to short form social media and instead of chronicling the very-personal-to-me horse things, I do some content creation for other outlets and let my relationship with my horse be mine to own. 

I’m forever awed by the friendships I made through blogging and the people I still trek across the country to see. There is so much value I think in taking the time to reflect and write and grow as a person and a trainer and let that growth inform our steps. 

The TL; DR of life since I was here last is I did a career pivot so I could be home more and moved ZB to a barn that’s further from my house but closer to my goals. It’s a really calm, quiet little place with excellent care and trail access right off the property. I’ve accepted that I have zero drive to compete in any event and I’m realizing just how much I enjoy connecting with my horse and learning together. 

Also—after spending 6 years with ZB at the same barn, I opted to move her to the new place literally the day before a pretty epic winter storm and we’re in the midst of the wettest spring in over 120 years here, which means instead of worrying about training, I’m just taking things a day at a time. 

The queen herself is (gasp) 11 this year, which is fucking insane. She’s had a couple “wild” moments as we’re learning the new place and olden days OTTB-riding me would have been shocked to learn what that looks like these days. There was some jigging. Also a spook at a spooky object. She still plays with legos (aka the mounting block) and anything else you leave around her, she’s still the smartest, kindest, most honest creature I’ve ever had the privilege to be around. 

One thing I learned rather quickly was that there is a learning curve to riding your horse away from the barn when their friends might be running the fence line and screaming like complete idiots. Also if your horse isn’t spooked by traffic but you are, you’re going to start doing desensitization but to yourself. Fun fact: it would be easier if it was the horse. I’m fucking terrified of traffic. 

I’m the problem it’s me.

I thought my tack ho days might be behind us, but rest assured—I still can’t resist a pretty leather strap and I would cut a bitch to know where to find a nice 6” bit. 

All that to say—hello.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Barn

I found myself off my usual path the other day. And 3 minutes from a cowboy tack store I'd never been to. I thought I'd pop in and see if they had the teal boots I so desperately need to complete ZB's western outfit game.

i really love this picture
sure could use teal boots

They did not. Which is fine. But since I was already so far off the beaten path, it made sense to go just a little farther to see if the next tack store had said dream boots. 


They did not. 

But what they did have was the purple version of my beloved teal reins. 

You see these reins? They are the shit. Soft and sturdy with little hand stoppers to hang on to. Nice weight, happy colors. If I'm being picky, I'm a purple person, not a teal person, but teal is a really lovely color and ZB looks amazing in literally everything but snooze-fest-navy. 

And yeah, I was looking at them in purple. 

Now I know buying purple reins is the opposite of solving the teal boots problem but here's the thing: when has a little detail like that even slowed me down when I decide to go full tack ho? 

Fact: it has not. 

So then I had purple reins and I was headed back in a more usual direction when I drove past A THIRD TACK STORE that does like fancy custom cowboy shit and that I have never been to because A) it's far away from me and B) while I love playing cowboys, I'm not going to drop $$$$ on a legit set up to toodle around in. 

But on a day like that, why wouldn't I stop? 

she's in as long as there's snacks

Even with the purple reins, I was trying to stay on message. I got a little bogged down debating what local friends I might be able to talk into producing a couple babies so I could justify the ADORABLE child's western saddle I found but even with that, TEAL BOOTS GODAMMIT. Teal. I already have the fancy matching pad. Let's go. 

Do you know what I saw on the shelf at store #3?

o hi

Funny story. 

Purple boots. 

And hey! Guess who just happened to have two thumbs and matching reins? 

I did browse the whole display but there was simply no teal to be found. None at all. 

i mean everything is her color but HELLO
So uh. 

TL;DR I still don't have teal boots but now I need a purple saddle blanket. 

Oh and in a strange twist that I wasn't going to include but here we are, apparently these conchos are a thing that exist and that can be added to any headstall you own. And can be made in any color you want. 
I mean.

So stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Breathe, Ride, Repeat

I don't have a lot of cool things to say right now. Some parts of life are very good and some parts are very stressful. The ZB parts are very good. My little lady is probably mumbleover16handsmumble, is like sitting on my favorite couch, and is constantly getting compliments from other boarders for her gung-ho attitude and general perfection. 

when you hit the sunset light just right

My current focus is trying to break in my western saddle properly. Kinda. I can't really claim to be super focused. Due to not-ZB things, I'm trying to keep hobby stress low right now so messing around playing cow pony is about where my brain is at.

a nicely cherry picked moment

Did you know she's turning 9 this year?! 

where does the time go?

I really wanted to splurge and treat myself on fun teal western boots that were new and off the rack. Isn't that the whole point of having an adult job? You pay board and can afford to buy nice things at stores, LOL. 


Then every other animal I own decided that they'd like a pricey vet visit in the month of March so I guess I'm doing that instead. 

I actually don't think she cares at all.

I'm having a hell of a time figuring out how to transfer dressage training in a snaffle on the contact over to western pony on a loose rein in a curb. 

Or at least. I thought I was. 


We "work" 1-2 times a week and all other rides are 30 minutes flat footed walk to build baseline fitness. It's been unseasonably warm and she's still A YAK so we're easing in. It's really fun right now. She is trying SO HARD and keeps experimenting with her balance and frame and trying to find the right answer. I feel like we had a good breakthrough last week so now I'm just working on my timing for rewarding her try. 

we actually have these really nice balanced moments in a slow jog on a loose rein
they aren't long, but they're so good

I've spent a lot of time on walking days just breathing and letting time slow down--the feel of her back swinging underneath me, the spring grass starting to come in. I'm so lucky to have a horse like this and she matters more to me than anything other goals right now.

ever unconventional

It doesn't matter what tack she's wearing or how it looks to anyone else. I'm just enjoying the ride.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

On Employment

When new people at the barn meet Zoebird, they tend to ask the same question:

What does she do? 

Really not sure why "wear cute outfits and have lots of fun" isn't considered a polite answer. 

We have this stupidly cute pink outfit for dressage that we put together. LACE ACCENTS. Yes. I need a shirt to match I think. 

it's ok i'd be jealous of me too

Then we took another ride on the western train and are building this awesome teal outfit.

Plus there's this I-need-to-decide-if-i'm-going-purple-or-teal bareback outfit
can you even with her cute level? 
you cannot.

Oh and the things she does in these outfits are like:


Also hella fun.

It just cracks me up to classify "what we do". 

today we're jumpers because it's a figure 8!

today we're dressage because sparkle browband!

now ruggedly western ranch horse maybe even wearing a saddle!

dramatic sunset pictures are always in style

wow let's take another moment with this great outfit
ZB is such a smart lady. She doesn't need endless repetition. She needs fitness appropriate to the job I am asking her to do. She needs clarity and direction on what her job is. No matter what tack she's sporting or what we're "doing", I expect her to be calm, soft, and willing to move her balance forward and back when I request it. 

lol what a cute horse!

I really love this outfit

I would love to get some lessons in this year. I really want to go on some field trips with ZB. We'll see if I make it happen (cross your fingers for SB gets to live in town for the first summer in a couple years). 

yup loving this color on her

With where we're at right now, I'm working on keeping a slightly open throatlatch with her nose poked out while moving forward in a level balance. I'm really enjoying using my pivo to keep me accountable here--she can't learn to go forward in a balance on a loose rein if I'm hanging on her face. 

is my horse

I find small things we can be successful at. Like. Eventually, I'd like to have a walk/lope transition on a loose rein in a level balance maintaining a steady rhythm. I don't have that today, so I focus on the balance and rhythm I want doing transitions from walk to trot (/jog, calm down).

So what does she do? 

IDK wear cute outfits and have fun, I guess.

pictured: tiny dog not having fun
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