Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Much Needed ZB Update

I haaaaate blog posts that start out by apologizing for not blogging, so I refuse to do that to you guys. 

HOWEVER. 

Things have been happening. 
always toodling
blogger meet up!
riding lessons!
definitely my latest zany idea in progress
Plus the weather here has been to-die-for (too soon?) and so my evenings have been out doing all the things vs staring at my laptop typing away. 

There's a lot going on. Most of it doesn't belong here. 
WHAT R ON ZB
But some of it does. ZB continues to be the loveliest lady no matter what I cook up any given day. I can throw frisbees off her, hack out alone in the rain, or take trips and come home knowing that she's still going to whinny at me and be foot perfect to play with. 

I mean. She definitely has her things. 
yeah i'm growing out her mane

In a last ditch attempt to make me focus, my trainer has started semi-mandating weekly lessons because otherwise she knows I just fuck around and screw things up. Which like. She's right. And it's true. And I like lessons. And lort knows I need the help. 

Plus I don't actually have any lesson media (sorry!), but GODDAMN little lady is coming along nicely when I remember to sit up and ride. I even had a moment of being like "LETS GO TO A SHOW" right up until I remembered how much work that is. 
also my corgi stole the mrs pastures and just strolled past me like this
BRB DYING
Some days we work hard and put in the time with ground work and dressage and concentrated "training".

But a lot of days, I need to just not.
oh and a new photo editor

I hang out and breathe her horsey smell. Play with her mane. Groom her gleaming coat. Watch her munch on her favorite weeds and marvel that a creature like this is here with me.

Some things are good. Some things are not good. 

But we're here. 

Together.

Monday, June 11, 2018

ZB Hits the Mountains!

I board at a fabulous barn with some ladies that inspire me.

And they like trail riding.

And when I got a mid-week text like "let's go to the state park!", I was like "...but the bugs are super bad there waaaaaah" and found an alternate location.
I also found coffee because humaning is hard
Fortunately, they were all on board for an excursion to the mountains. 
ZB always up for an adventure
It's such a different world for me--I can't get my head in the game for horse shows, but I was thrilled to go hit the trails. We haven't hauled out since last fall, but I know I could count on ZB. She's just such a champion. She loads and hauls like a champ, then gets off the trailer like a pro and yet again, led the way for the first chunk of the ride. 

Lil lady has a motor on her. 
tasty bush
Even when we hit some challenges that I didn't quite anticipate, ZB's "NOT R WANT MUM NO" response is to stop and stare at something.

Not lose her shit.

Not buck me off. 

Not leave the county. 
and the skies were completely stunning
We kept everything calm and easy and went out for about two hours over a variety of terrain, including a couple water crossings, plenty of rocks, and lots of different grades up and down. 

It was Zoe's first time in the mountain and OMFG YOU GUYS I COULD NOT BE MORE THRILLED. 
i adore this mare
She led. She followed. She saw dirt bikes and mountain bikes and runners and heard guns and saw wild life and dealt with all of it like an old hand. 

She's still learning how to cross water (cross your fingers for a legit training post tomorrow!), but she made a good effort at everything we tried. 

The best part is just how much fun she is for every step. 

So honest. 

So game. 
goal: ride in the mountains = achieved!
I mean. It isn't even just the riding. It's how Ms. ZB shows up and tries no matter what. Hauling to a new place? 

No probs. 

Tying to a trailer for the first time?

She's got it. 
BOOM
I know basically my whole blog now is like ZB R PERFECT AND I SUPER LOVE HER, but I can't even apologize for it. 

I took my baby horse to the mountains. 

She exceeded expectations and those expectations were already irrationally high on account of how lovely she is. 
remind me i need to break in my new latigo so we can go full old west
I mean. I always say that some day the little lady will have a bad day, and I won't even be able to get mad at her, because she's so freaking perfect most of the time. 

But yeah. 

It hasn't happened yet.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Shindig

Last weekend, I took my pilfered camera to the big recognized dressage show that's local to me.
this blog is about me and my horse but since i took these pictures, i give myself permission to use them
I love hanging out behind the camera because I can take everything in while staying completely invisible.
i am trying to keep pictures anonymous though

I watched people ride beautiful horses. 

Looked at the fancy ribbons.

Enjoyed the flow of well-ridden tests. 

And I'd be lying if I said I wanted to do that right now.

Honestly, just being there made me nauseous. 
PROTECT DOGGO FROM BOOM BOOM SKY
I'm struggling to put into words just how much I enjoy letting ZB be my safe space and my happy place. I show up and just enjoy every moment with her. 

There's no pressure. It doesn't matter if we accomplish something today or tomorrow or next year or ten years from now. 
outfits always matter
I love her bold curves and zero-shits-given attitude. My hearts melts when she whinnies her daily greeting. 

She makes every day a fun adventure.
she is her own lady
Objectively, I want to show again. 

Someday.

Not today. 

Not tomorrow. 
matching sparkle hats!
From now until then, I'll just be enjoying my best lady. 

Monday, May 21, 2018

No One Can Even

Many moons ago, I bought a sprenger mechanical hackmore off of blogger Alanna for a song. When it showed up, I realized it was roughly moose sized (which had I actually read the ad, I probably would have noticed) and yeah, it was never going on a petite Courage face. 

But guess who is moose sized?!
best baby mare!
and yes this is the smallest adjustment
I spent all day Friday watching fancy dressage horses do their thing and yeah, showing still sounds nauseating to me.

So I went back to the barn and threw the new-to-me hack on ZB.
old SB would have been horrified by this look
We did a lap around the outdoor arena, during which I established that ZS Zoebird gave exactly the number of shits about it that you would expect.
SMOOSH JUMP
And yeah. Then we just headed down the ditch bank in evening light for our first solo excursion. 
<3
If it looks magical, it was.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Happy To Be Wrong

I've always watched people having fun with their horses and thought that couldn't be me because somehow I was stuck on this idea that the horse I needed to be competitive in the show arena wasn't the same horse that made me laugh back in the barn. 
dramatic spring skies

And for some reason, I was more focused on the competitiveness than the fun thing.

The whole point of Zoe is that I was really sick of that mindset.

I didn't get two shits if I ever showed again.

I just wanted to have fun.
ZB R SMOOSH DOGGO
Now I have this incredible baby mare who whinnies at me every day when I show up. 

She's game to try every day no matter what we're doing.
best evening plans
She has this beautiful attitude where she's calm and brave and sees new things as fun adventures instead of scary predators. 

Her response to changes in her home environment is to march over and stick her nose on whatever it is and smoosh it. 
her days of fitting through a people door are limited
It's funny how much she's changed my entire attitude. 

She's the most talented horse I've ever had the privilege of owning. I'm closer to my 10 year goals that I have ever been in my life. 

And they matter less to me than they ever have. 
hullo hing leg
Don't get me wrong--I still want to show. I want to get my bronze medal on a horse I trained myself. I want to run one recognized event above BN. I want to have a great outfit. Get a 70%. Know I belong. 

etc
SASS DOGGO
But right now?

It's rather terrible content for a blog, because I enjoy every damn day. I have such a good time. I'm not freaking out and struggling. There isn't really a compelling story line because honestly, everything actually is awesome. 
selfie game even on point
I'm really excited about the lessons we're taking right now because each glimpse at the potential ZB has makes me even more excited for our competitive future together. 
d'awww
But I'd be lying if I said that was the thing I enjoyed most about her.

It's the every day laughs in the barn that make this entire relationship worthwhile.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

We Take a Lesson!

ERMEGERD BEBEH MARE
One of my (many) favorite things about ZB is that she's pretty damn resilient. With Courage, I had a strict protocol for how many times I had to see a trainer work with horses EXACTLY LIKE HIM before I'd even consider riding with them and since most sane people don't ride horses like him, well, it got complicated.

But with Zoe? I found out a barn friend was organizing a clinic with a trainer I'd heard of but never ridden with and I was like "hey cool sign us up!" because I knew that hey, whatever happened, ZB would be fine.

Plus I definitely need lessons.
had to get an outfit shot
Anywhoodle. I'd never met this trainer before, but she got out of the car like OMFG I NEED THAT OUTFIT FOR MY HORSE so I figured we'd get along.

Funny joke.

Actually she was like "this horse is not a super baby. She can go to work." And then expected me to like ride and shit? Pro tip: riding is hard. Especially if all you do is toodle and goof off and you are a lazy ammy.

We took a lot of LOOOOOOONG walk breaks and yeah they were a lot more for me than for ZB. (Thanks to trainer for getting ZB in shape and trained and stuff!)
Really important takeaways for me:

1) Because of her conformation, it is WAY more important to get ZB up in front and then come onto the bit vs pulling her head down to the bit. This is feedback I have gotten from every single professional who has laid eyes on her, but it's always worth reiterating.

2) Because of her disposition, it's VERY important to put LEG ON for a correction and then take LEG OFF to immediately reward. She's not a hot horse, so she needs to be sensitized to the leg. This is not rocket science, but since she's also my first not-hot horse, it's a different way to ride.

3) Effective position matters--ZB is such a different shape to sit on that my lower leg likes to just creep waaaaay back, which tips my upper body forward, which throws me out of balance. Nope. Leg at the girth. Toes forward. This engages my seat bones and keeps me balanced and actually makes a big difference.

4) Take the time to be correct--when Zoe leans in, I like to steer her out with the outside rein for an immediate correction. It takes a couple strides longer, but she is educated enough now to ask her to step out with my inside leg/seatbone (especially now that my seat bone is engaged thanks to #3).

5) The seat is an aid. This is a funny one for me--I used to have kind of a hot seat, so when I was riding hot jumpers, I spent a lot of time training myself to remove my seat from the equation or letting it be neutral. Now I'm riding a not-hot horse and the seat is an aid, so it's time to learn to use it correctly.
#outfitgoals
By the end of the lesson, I definitely thought I would die of exhaustion. However. I went in needing feedback on how to ride my baby mare and that's exactly what I got.

Can't wait for next time!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Terrible Fives: Baby Draft Mare Style

So last year I get this absolutely fantastic baby horse who is the champion of all things baby horse. She's calm and honest and straightforward and adorable and sweet and fun and brave and yeah basically I think she's perfect.
can you even? you cannot.

But anytime I said, "she's four" to other people, I straight up got the JUST YOU WAIT FOR THE TERRIBLE FIVES.

Which like. 1) Whether or not I'm having fun with my horse does not impact the amount of fun you can have with yours, so chill TF out about that. It's not like there's a finite fun pile and my heaping portion is taking away from yours. 2) While horses certainly start to push boundaries once they understand them, the whole point of ZB is that she's not evil or fried, so while yes, some resistance is expected, it's not like she's going to turn into some horrific hellion harpie.
well i mean. this aside lol. 

Now my baby mare is the dreaded five. She's been in training for a while and she's starting to really understand what we're asking her and where the boundaries are.

I've gotten a couple texts from trainer lately indicating that ZB has been less than 100% foot perfect. Which is still like 95% foot perfect, which I think is pretty damn good.

But hey. After spending most of a week out of state, it was time to hop on and reassess what was going on.


If you're not a video watcher (like me!), here's the relevant stills:
R LOOK AT CHAMPION BABY MARE
Her good moments were really super. 
R SHOW MOM HOW ZB R CANTER CHAMPION
Yup. 

She was cracking me up. She juuuuust figured out how to put the pieces together in terms of canter being an expected behavior under saddle so now she's like "HOKAY MOM I R CANTER LIKE GOOD BABY" and then after 1-4 strides she's like "R BERRY TIRED PLZ TO STOP NAOW HOKAY". 

But like. Constantly. Before I snagged this video, I couldn't get ten strides of trot without popping into the canter. Also #babyhorseproblems, we can't really canter and steer yet. 
R NEED COOKIES NAOW
I mean, when your baby mare "acting out" is just her being proud of herself for learning something hard? 

That's basically the cutest thing ever. 

Oh and this is what her good moments look like right now:
omfg baby mare champion
I was going to write a sarcastic comment here about "too bad she's not more fancy", but again after almost a week out of town, I came home and got on my baby mare with zero prep and had a super excellent ride and yeah... ZB is the best. I adore her. That is all. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Oh the People You Meet

I always say that my favorite thing about blogging is the people you meet. 
and the shared love of Teeny
A while back, Leah forced me to be friends with Teresa because it was inconvenient for her to have to keep up with both of us separately (or maybe she thought we'd hit it off? I guess I didn't ask). We have since all hung out with each other (notably when I invited Leah to Karen's house before even meeting either of them in person) (or when I showed up at Teresa's house literally two hours after she moved across the country), but not actually all at the same time. Yet. 
YOU COULD BE HERE, LEAH #justsaying
Anyways. Point is, I totally crashed T's party last summer and had a perfectly brilliant time, even if she was tired to the point of being incoherent and her horse randomly got the world's worst abscess (tm). And because she is a super nice person, T was A-OK with me coming back to her house this summer. So I did. (Again with the "I show up at people's houses" thing. It's real.) 
and then i used my stolen camera to take pictures of them
This time around, Gatsby was not sporting the mother of all abscesses and I actually got the privilege of watching T work with him, both at home and in a lesson. And on the trail WE WENT ON A TRAIL RIDE OMFG (details later).  
loving the reflections here
and the outfit. 10/10 i am plagiarizing that.
Point is, a lot of adult amateur life can be kind of lonely--we aren't always surrounded by people who share our passions or goals and we can't always make our schedules work and obligations to real life are well, real. I know Gatsby through T's blog and through our messaging, but hadn't seen him in almost a year. What's more, Teresa is always riding him and doesn't have a handy media person, so she hadn't really seen him go either. 
also her house is basically a storybook
It was so fun to take the opportunity to capture this pair as I saw them. They're goofy and real and high achieving and funny and curious and personable. I also definitely gave T a hard time about her screenshots--she really wasn't catching what her little guy is capable of right now, especially as he gets stronger and more balanced.
white kickboards are apparently the secret to indoor photography
Gatsby today is 100% a product of Teresa's hard work and unwavering belief in him. She's an incredible horseman and an incredible human. 
and he has an incredible tail, even if i cut her head off
AND THEN WE WENT TRAIL RIDING. 
and verily, it was awesome
Even on the trail, I was impressed by the calm, consistent way the horses had been handled. Because the trails were bad.ass. but the horses were just super the whole time.

In conclusion. Blogging is awesome because you meet awesome people. Look for ZB updates soon!
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