Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Year in Review

OH YEAH IT'S TIME!! It's officially my most favorite blogging time of the year!! Year end wrap ups. I like to do a little write up for each month and link to the posts that really refined that month for me, with a goal of creating an overall picture of what we did and how the year went.

Here goes!


It was cold and horrible, but we were in our second month at a dressage barn with an indoor. I was catching the bug and accidentally bought one of the only dressage saddles I've ever ridden in that actually fits me in Oops I Did it Again.

It fit me, it fit my horse. It was meant to be, right?
first time in black tack

I also worked through the emotions of having Courage as my own horse without a lot of supervision. I've struggled bonding with him because I got him at a very difficult time and he isn't an easy guy, but I was starting to see what a cool horse he could be.

In My Little Bay Horse, I hashed it out about as clearly as I ever have.


In February, the weather got mildly better, which was good. More importantly, I wrote one of my favorite TSB posts of all time: The Ammy Manifesto.

It struck a nerve (in a good way) with riders and readers and bloggers. I was inundated with comments and messages and in-person thanks from horse people in all walks of life. 
so majestic
I also accidentally kicked myself into novelty stirrup overdrive in the Old Cripple Woman Here post wherein I discovered my complete inability to ride in regular fillis irons.

This is relevant because it marks possibly the only time I've had an actual justification for buying pretty shit.

I didn't make a lot of noise on the training front--things were trucking along the way only intro/training dressage horses do--slowly and painfully boring-ly.
flexy is almost novelty


March was such a mixed bag. We started the month with our first-ever dressage clinic, which was a stunning success. Courage was good for both days and we started to move towards "actually doing something like dressage" instead of "just trotting with his head down", so that's cool. Clinic write up was called "Dressage Fun" and it was nice and vanilla and peaceful, even if it marked ground breaking moments in my understanding of Courage and how to ride and train him.

Of course, it couldn't all be smooth sailing. That sped us right along to memorable posts like Sunshine and Roses and LAUNCHING IN TO ORBIT and Dressage By Memes, both of which pointed to some serious trouble in pony paradise. We tried bodywork and it helped, but Courage was having a serious case of the 'tudes and riding through it was possibly not the most fun I'd ever had.
of stolen internet fame
As a confirmed tack ho, I medicated in all the best ways. Acquisitions are documented in Friends are the Worst, which was a funny post to write and still makes me laugh to go back and read.

I maybe couldn't ride, but I was building a banging wardrobe.


April started out with a bang. In Failsauce, I chronicle yet another lesson-gone-bad (sorta forgot how many of those there were), complete with epic fail pictures. Courage was not convinced he had to horse and he was doing his best to talk me out of it.
moments we never forget
I tried to keep myself motivated and focused with the Ultimate Trotting Picture Progression Post, in which I did a trotting picture of every month of Courage's post-track career to that point.
old picture

I also got myself into lessons (Guess Who Can Still Jump) with a jump trainer to try and get another perspective on how to ride with Courage. Even now, looking at those pictures makes me REALLY want to jump.

And of course, I made the rash and impulsive decision to sign up for a fancy clinic with a $$$ clinician. What could possibly go wrong?


Don't answer that.


This month was not so good.

We canceled all our normal plans to do the big, fancy clinic. First Courage missed a schooling opportunity, then blew a leg up, then COMPLETELY DECLINED to get on the trailer to even go to the clinic at all. In Disappointment, Tears, That Stuff, I talk about what pinning all my hopes on one day turned into.

The follow up post, When in Doubt, Wine. Also Pie, was equally raw and emotional. Courage and I were capping off difficult months and bad rides with severe disappointment in ways I never expected.

I really don't even know how to condense down the events of May--there's a lot of gritty, hard stuff I had to sort through. In Surprise! Dressage Clinic, we had a good ride and a terrible ride and made some progress. We started hacking again. It was not fun. It was not even very safe. It was bad.

I seriously questioned why I had Courage and I reflected that he is the sort of horse that tests people. I had to figure out if I could pass the test and if I wanted to.

Finally, I made a plan and to take Courage to his first show of the year. It was a make-or-break moment for us, chronicled in Here Goes Nothing.
forgot how bad this month was. pic is still badass.


Can we have a round of applause for May finally being over? That month was SO BAD. June started out with our first show of the year. I made good decisions, stayed on the horse, and didn't get disqualified. Then we did another show! 

We even lightened the mood with my Updated Guide to Showing on the Cheap. Showing as an adult has some critical difference from showing as a kid. This is an important thing to figure out in your adult show career. 

We capped off the month with our first ever (locally) recognized dressage show. The post is called A Series of Unfortunate Events for very good reasons, but the show itself was so critical. It taught me that even on our less-amazing days, Courage and I were turning in to a capable team.

What's more, we knew how to overcome obstacles. ALL OF THEM.

And yes. All my June pictures have satin in them. DEAL WITH IT.


July was a fun month. We putzed around after our pretty intense show schedule in June and I used the down time to think things through. Yup. That meant I came up with the wild and crazy goal of earning my Bronze medal on Courage in Well Here Goes. It was quite a switch from our jumper pursuits, but I explain that in Why Dressage
just gotta trot
The transition was complete (mostly). Halfway through the year, I threw most of my goals out the window and decided to pursue a whole new discipline. We certainly didn't stop jumping, especially as we celebrated our two year anniversary together in Two Years of Courage.


My most favorite thing about August was this post: A Fundamental Shift. Courage and I have always had such a weird hot/cold on/off relationship. It was one simple ride in August where I finally felt Courage start doing things to try and please me, and it was paradigm-altering. I followed it up with Finding Our Way Together as we .
still love this
Of course, it wasn't all sunshine and roses--I was struggling with my position and riding and trying to tackle a whole new discipline FOR REALSIES.
story of my life
Oh and Courage proved that he is also the perfect pony ride horse, as long as it isn't indoors in December.
um how cute is this?


September brought us dressage clinics and fall weather, which is a bit more motivating. In Possibly the Best Dressage Clinic Recap Ever, I talk about some major breakthroughs we were having. There was also the Ultimate Dressage Position Fix, which actually is a fantastic cross-discipline application device.
fix it
More importantly, I wrote one of my favorite thinking training posts while I reasoned through some issues Courage and I were having in Under Pressure--Language, Responsibility, and the Intelligent Animal.

Plus there's always the awesome things blog hop, which just makes me happy to look at.


October brought Epic Pony Weekend, with our first course jumping of the year, some awesome dressage-in-a-field pictures, our last event derby of the year, and some kickass free jumping pictures. I also got Courage's dressage saddle professionally fitted (complete with uber-professional sparkles) to start getting ready for next year.
so perfect
On the training front, I started to buckle down and get serious about first level. Some of that was funny, like discovering my European Princess Thoroughbred, and some of it was serious, like my About Face on Video. I also had to work through feeling like I wasn't trying hard enough with my nice horse in Not Confident, Not Proud.


This month opened with one of my all-time favorite posts to write, EVER. Why Barn Friends are the Best Friends was me reflecting on the awesome women in my life and how grateful I am to have them.

the best
 There was a lot going on, though. Courage and I won our first-ever tri-colored year-end champion ribbon and I love it in all it's gaudy over-the-top-ness.
I talked about Why I Kept Courage when things were hard this year (which was a lot). We also rode in an absolutely fantastic clinic that majorly changed the way I ride and gave me visual media for Socially Awkward Equestrians United.
yeah try to explain that to your non-horsey friends


December is not over yet (THERE ARE A FEW HOURS LEFT), but there's only so much we can do as we meticulously work our way through the beginnings of first level. We celebrated One Year of Dressage early in the month. We also talked about Spooking Theory and the Hot Horse and Light. Bulb.
pictured: not ideal
Our 2015 Goal Wrap Up showed surprising progress despite our many set backs,
plus adorable
 2015 was not the year I expected or thought I wanted, but it's the year I had. Courage and I are a stronger, better team with improved focus and increased confidence. I'm excited for what 2016 brings!
here we go!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Trials of the Somewhat-Difficult Horse

Before moving to our current ammy-focused, mostly-dressage barn, I never had to wonder about what to do with my horse when I was out of town. I had lots of young, brave, riding friends who liked saddle time, and I'd just ask them to pop on once or twice.

and this was after he stood on his back legs and waved at the sky
crossfit legs mean go!
But now ammy-focused dressage-barn, which is great. We fit in well. We're learning and advancing and that is great.


Courage is not always the easiest horse per se. While I was out of town recently, I wanted him to get out of his stall for a bit. I was thinking about which fellow boarder to ask for help, but it kept going like this in my head:

"heya would you plz lunge my horse? sometimes he kicks the walls and squeals and leaps and tries to rip your arms out in between standing on his hind legs and pawing the sky"

"he's way better to ride than to lunge...."

"and yeah you've seen what he does under saddle, sooooo nevermind..."

He's really the sort of horse you have to pay people to handle unless you have a bunch of young eventer friends. Whoops.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Teach Me Tuesday: Horse Accessories

If you're horsey enough to read a horse blog, you're pretty horsey. So. How does that look around your house? I'd venture that most of us aren't in exclusively-horsey relationships, so what does that end up looking like? Do you pretend your barn clothes are around-town clothes? Deck out your house out with horse-themed art? Keep a pony in the yard to greet the neighbors? Buy saddle for the dog?

My husband isn't horsey. We have one awesome horse painting by Alyssa that is/will be hung on the walls and I most definitely wear nice horsey clothes around until they become confirmed Barn Clothes (you know, when you can't wash the hay out any more).

I wanted to print out a GIANT horse poster and hang it behind the couch in the living room, but he nixed that. Can't imagine why, haha.

How does everyone else do it?

Monday, December 28, 2015

It's a Pony Christmas!

Uni Pony approves! 
OH BOY CHRISTMAS PRESENTS!!! I hate to do a swag brag, but I want to properly thank all my wonderful pony friends!

For example, many thanks to Alyssa for making C-Rage into a Christmas unicorn pony just for me.

Lindsey and Alyssa and I had our annual poor-folks-who-loves-ponies gift exchange.

Alyssa got me a cool bridle charm, a custom vinyl cut out of C and I, and a super cool Hammer & Clay ornament.

camera decided to focus on midgets instead of mug
And then Lindsey got me a super cool custom coffee (I guess you could put other things in it) mug with some of my favorite pictures from this year on it! (and I got them cool pony things too, but that's for them to tell).


JenJ (who not only keeps my haffie PADDYKINS for me, but also is an awesome person) was my blogger secret Santa. She sent me a GIANT box.

obv needed a brocade saddle pad. yes.

love it!! (back when we could see the ground)
She re-covered a sweet dressage saddle pad and trimmed up a matching bonnet! I hadn't even told anyone that I was secretly making eyes at brocade saddle pads. It's beautiful.

OH AND THEN because I have the best friends ever, another friend drove across several western states-worth of ice to come to town, and not only brought me hand made pony-shaped delicious cookies, but also came to play with Courage in the dark on a cold winter night AND got us a treasured gift card to a major equine retailer.
you can't tell but it was pitch black outside and freezing
And apparently my complaint about my family never getting me pony things was ill-founded. My super awesome SIL took my tiny adorable nephew to a tack store.
this kid has taste. the hairy one is not SIL.
 He picked colors and they came out with a fun purple halter and matching brush!
so relaxed in purple
AND THEN because I wasn't already spoiled enough, my dad remembered me pointing out a Breyer horse that I thought looked like Courage in terms of conformation and color. He bought it, had my mom get on facebook to get the markings just right, and even consulted a long time friend of mine to make sure they had it, then custom painted a Courage, just for me.
basically perfect
 If you know me, you know I love presents and surprises. It's not about the money spent--it's about that little extra thought and effort to let someone know you care. I'm enormously grateful for my friends and family. They are truly an embarrassment of riches. :-)

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!!!

From us here at SprinklerBandits!!

PS Many thanks to Redheadlins for braving the cold and driving snow to do outfit consulting and picture taking!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Insights from Outside: The Horse Husband Speaks

My non-horsey (but supportive) husband does not come to the barn. I have told him that he has to come watch me show when I start doing something interesting, but given my recent discipline change, I think that's (still) a long ways off. As it stands, he's seen Courage in person one time, but listens to me talk about him way more than a reasonable man ought to listen to his wife talk about another guy.
his dog demonstrates how interesting it is
Which brings us to his commentary on the horse world, based on what he hears from me:

(The day Courage came home) "What do you mean you got a horse? I thought that was just an idea, not something that was happening."

(Walking in on me watching freestyles): "This music is way too dramatic for what that horse is doing."

(Same as above): "I am having a hard time taking dressage seriously when the song is Dancing Queen."
Trogdor does a dressage impression
(When he saw the sparkle Charles Owen for the first time): "Don't you think that's a little bit much?"

(To Alyssa at my birthday party): "You gave her a belt that didn't have sparkles on it? Don't you know how to use a hot glue gun?"

(You have as much context as I do): "All horse girls are bitches. Except Alyssa. She seems nice."

Who else has non-horsey gems in their lives?
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