Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Requiem for a Friend

Sometimes we aren't the final landing place for a horse. Sometimes we're just a stop along their way to where they were meant to be. 
hello handsome

That's what a friend told me the other day when we were talking about Courage. 

When I met him, he needed a soft landing and I needed someone to soak up the tears from the looming inevitable. 

I loved him. I wanted him to be my horse, the one that I trusted to take me places and do all the things. He was gorgeous and intelligent and good minded and oh-so-athletic. 

When I needed him to be quiet and put the pieces of a shattered heart back together, he was there. 

But when I asked him to be the horse I always wanted, he exited stage left. Repeatedly. He gave me one good season. One giant champion ribbon. One serious education in what it looks like when a horse tries his heart out for you, but he just can't do it anymore. 

I rode through his antics. I learned to work with his quirks. I gave him a solid education in life beyond the track. 

It was hard to understand at the time and it's only a little easier now. 
just another day
I cannot overstate what he did for me and how he taught me to think through every step. To ask hard questions. To become more than myself and go beyond what I thought I could do. It wasn't always fun. It was never easy. It was blood, sweat, and tears, but the person I became because of him is someone I'm proud to be. 
and i will always love this photo
I see now that in some ways, I did the same for him. He came off the track mentally broken. Failing at a demanding career. Discarded by the people who took the most from him. Wearing physical reminders that he'd never be the horse he once was. 
his last win
He was never going to be the performance horse I wanted, but to be the horse he is now, he needed an in between time to learn that he could try again. 

I felt like a failure when I admitted I couldn't make him be what I wanted and I couldn't make myself want what he needed. 
there were a lot of years to get here
But sometimes life isn't about me. It's about giving an old warhorse a chance at a life he earned a thousand times over. 

When I met his new person, I knew he'd hit the jackpot. He stepped off the trailer at his new home and landed where he was meant to be. 
not gonna lie, i'd like to live in his barn
His owner is a private person and I respect that. I get photos of him once in a while and they make me so happy for him. He's wild and woolly and goes on trail rides in the mountains and never has to jump a jump or do dressage again. 
it's a good look for him
No primping and preening and trying to make him what he's not. No more failing and disappointment for a hard knocking campaigner who gave his all. 

It's not that I failed him or wasted my time. It's that there were things we needed to teach each other before we were each ready to be what we really needed to be. 
forever summing us up
Happy trails, my friend. You deserve them. 

Monday, March 26, 2018

Buckwild Breeches Review

I've seen a lot of ads for Buckwild breeches and I even goaded Leah into trying them on at Rolex last year. I did not try any on--nothing murders the self esteem quite like trying and failing to squeeze into some horrific piece of spandex in public.

Then Roxie's mom was like "hey I have these kickass pants that I super hate because of their overly sticky silicone full seats do you want?"

yes. yes i do want.
They're a gorgeous shade of teal with plaid full seats that have super sticky silicone on them. They wear like yoga pants--soft, comfy, and simple. They're a higher rise, which I very much appreciate as a long-waisted person. I will say that they don't do a lot for smoothing over the lumps and holding things in place, but maybe the fun colors distract from that? I dunno. I love them. They make me smile when I put them on.

zoom zoom baby mare!
I've kind of gone back and forth on these, which is why I haven't done a write up until now. They're like $130 full price, which is in range for nice breeches, buuuuuut I'm pretty cheap about buying stretchy pants. Plus my first pair was free. Plus the lumpy issue. Plus since they aren't uncomfortable to wear, how well are they really going to hold up? (My brain goes strange places sometimes, but I bet you've thought that too.)

Then this happened:
rad. purple. pants.
Yeah purple with multi color horsey full seats plus a sale (and I was waiting for test results on teeny dog). #yolo
this seems almost indecent
I think I ordered Saturday morning and had them in my hands Tuesday or Wednesday.
I will say--I wear ~34 breech normally and I ordered the XL from Buckwild. They're a little bit big for me and quite stretchy. I almost could have sized down. Definitely don't size up.

one day i will get good pictures. one day.
I mean. They're a look, don't get me wrong. If you have very conservative sensibilities, these are probably not the stretchy pants for you. (But also if you have very conservative sensibilities, you started throwing up in your mouth when you saw this post title and maybe this isn't the post for you either.)

But also. They are so comfortable. They're super fun. They're a nice, lightweight fabric that will wear well in summer without being too hot. I really like the sock bottoms on these--comfortable without being uncomfortably tight.

look baby ZB!

They wear a bit like a dressed-up riding tight--there is a zipper and snap and belt loops, but the comfort level is pretty unbeatable.

Would I wear them in a clinic? Well. Yes. But also I have a rainbow bit and a steampunk browband and I believe in having fun and making my own traditions. YMMV on that particular issue.

Life's too short to be boring. Go buckwild!

Disclosures: my free pair had everything to do with having fantastic friends and nothing to do with the company. I paid the sale price for the purple ones and I don't regret a cent. I'd be surprised if I didn't end up with another pair of these.

UPDATE: If you're a budget-fun-colors-breeches type (like me), you're probably comparing them with Smartpak Piper breeches. In short, the Pipers have a more substantial fabric that smoothes over lumps much better. HOWEVER. The Pipers also have that killer crotch sag (wtf why can't they can't just fix that) and even the mid-rise pipers give me a MAD muffin top. Not attractive. The Buckwild breeches hit me in a much more flattering place and I'm happy wearing them around rather than constantly trying to bury myself in layers and creatively crop photos.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Some Things About Blogging

I've seen several posts lately about the dos and don'ts of blogging. It's interesting, I guess. See, I read it a little differently--we're all here for different reasons and to achieve different goals. I cannot presume to tell you what to do to write a good blog.

I can tell you what I do and why.

1) I'm very personal and honest about what I'm going through with horses.
I started blogging years ago. I'd just gotten my first horse. I was an adult ammy student with a tight budget and almost no local horse friends. I figured there had to be other people like me, so I googled "horse blog" and started reading. And writing. And here I am.

For the record: this is a completely fabulous idea. I have met so many amazing people and forged some incredible friendships and the impact it has had on my actual life is stunning. Ex: met Roxie's mom through the blog. She sourced ZB for me. WUT. ZB IS BECAUSE OF BLOGGING. (Oh and I wanted a ZB because Karen and Roxie's mom let me ride their horses. And we all knew each other because of blogging.)
and sass

[Talking about the ways online bloggers became amazing real life friends would 1) take forever and 2) be extremely personal so I'll probably leave off on that right now, but just know there are incredible people all around us.]

Because my goal is to connect with other horse people, my style is a little different. I don't give a flying f*** if I'm an influencer. I find brand ambassadors in poor taste. I'm not worried about SEO and metrics and building a brand. I'm here for the people, not the money.

I'm not here to shit on the people who are--more power to them. Just not my jam.

Given the prevalence of readily available media anymore, a picture is probably worth like 53 words, but they still matter. I hate to throw walls of text at people. I have a cute horse and a smart phone and boom. Y'all get more ZB pictures than you know what to do with.
recently i stole a camera

3) I make it easy to comment. 
Real talk: I love comments. Partly because it tells me I'm actually hitting my goal of connecting with other humans, partly because I'm vain.

Here's the thing though: I can only remember like one thing at a time. If I'm reading a post and someone says something I want to comment on, I write that comment in my head, but then the topic changes and I forget the comment because I'm reading and then it changes again and I forget I had a comment, and then I'm on something else entirely and by the time I get to the comments, I don't remember what I was thinking anyways.

Maybe y'all are hella better about that than me. Much respect if so. I try to keep things simple and stick to one topic. Plus I allow anonymous comments. And I'm sorry wordpress people but if you require a wordpress account to post a comment, I can't do it.
my ambition level every day

4) I keep things about my one horse. 
I only have the attention span for one horse, so that's pretty easy. If you want lifestyle advice and breezy socialite thrills, you're probably not going to find that here. I don't art. I barely craft. My skincare routine is take a shower. I blog for horses, so I write about horses and if you don't like horses, this is a very odd place for you to be.

I try to write a blog that I like to read. I'm not much for detailed training wrap ups (except when I am), but I know some people LOVE those and read every detail.

I used to be a really good blogger--I had a solid mix of personal and topical posts and I posted every day and did all the things. Now I'm kind of an average blogger who's doing well if I get two posts out a week. The way I do things isn't the one true only or right way to do them.

It works for me. What works for you?

Friday, March 16, 2018

#nailedit: Training Breakthrough

I maaaaaay have mentioned the other day how I broke my horse and she completely forgot how to turn right. I possibly did not mention how toodling in a western saddle while giggling hysterically also completely broke the rest of the steering.


I did some actual riding and I fixed my horse AND found a new secret way to do it.

Here it is:

1) Pick up your outside rein. Bend your elbow, close your fingers, HOLD A CONTACT, and alllllllmost think counter bend.

2) Apply your inside leg to keep your horse's body straight and connected.


I was so proud of myself for figuring this out.

And then I was like "wait inside leg to outside rein... have I heard this before somewhere?"

Nah it's totes new material.
i will distract you with how cute we are

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

ZB: The Wild West Saga

The last month I owned Courage, I went on a western kick and bought a bridle and a saddle. The saddle of course fit ZB somewhat like a banana boat on the top of a hill.
pictured: rocking chair
So obviously that was never going to work.


The bridle. Omg. I was super duper in love with it and I'd LITERALLY JUST BOUGHT IT and the advantage to living where I do is that custom western stuff is super accessible. 

I took this bridle to a shop that's like a mile from my house:

And one highly custom throat latch later, I had this:
well and upgraded slobbers straps #hosgonnaho
Of course, given the saddle situation, the western bridle was mostly relegated to bareback days. 
i said mostly


The other day, I walked into the tack room and was greeted by this glorious sight:
I tracked down the owner, got permission to play with the saddle, and. Well. 
me: the light is perfect
me: ZB strike a pose
See, once you have the set up all ready, it's time to get on and ride. 
boom. western zb.
Here's a wee secret about me: I am completely terrible at riding western. 

It's never been a part of my daily life. I super admire those people who just effortlessly sit there and flow with the horse and look like they were born in a stock saddle, but those people are so not me. I'm an obsessive detail person who is like HOW DO I WESTERN

The best feedback I've gotten was this: 

"Just. Stop. Doing. That."


"Whatever the hell that is." 



I think it's best described as some sort of hunter perch with my hands singing a discordant duet of FALLING FREE FALLING. Who knows. Props to ZB for being a major sport and just letting me do whatever the hell that is.

Maybe I'll figure it out. Maybe I won't.

The important takeaways are these:

1) ZB is stinking cute as a western pony.

2) We look super legit as long as I don't get on

uh possibly we have our own way of doing them

Monday, March 12, 2018

I Pay A Trainer and I Like It

I am totally "that amateur" right now. My trainer rides my horse. I'm not there for it. I don't know what they do unless I ask (I don't require neurotic updates since I don't actually think my horse will kill said trainer). I barely know what she eats. I don't document every detail of every day and track patterns and obsess over every moment.

When I go to the barn, I mess around. I don't even always hold on to the reins.

I spend a lot more time toodling and feeding treats and watching ZB knock shit down than actually "training".
can you even? you cannot.
Part of me justifies it by saying I don't want to fry Zoe or push her too hard. She's still a growing baby and no one wins if she thinks work hurts.

Even when I have grand illusions of showing up and like "training" or something, I'm easily sidetracked by finding a western saddle that actually fits my 55 gallon drum of a horse and then staging "Old West" looking photos in the dressage arena. (Note to self: walk 100' to the sagebrush next time you're in this mood.)
Needs windmill 
Like right now--the biggest thing Zoe is struggling with is body awareness.

I haven't started her in a 12 step program. We aren't obsessing over cavaletti and jumping small fences and whatever. I'm not freaking out at all. At. All. 

We're planning to do a bunch of trail riding this summer. 

I figure that will help her. 
photo by Courage Has Opinions
I did actually get my rear in gear and "do dressage" one day this weekend. 
omg baby mare!
Let me tell you something. 
um hellooooo
Being "that amateur" is freaking awesome. 

Her good moments are lovely. Her bad moments are sane. I get to enjoy the progress right now without being the one putting in long hours in the irons.

It's hard to explain. After 4 years of having to read every muscle twitch and ride every day and be on my A game for every moment, it is unbelievably relaxing to just... not.
hair goals
Every day, Zoebird is the horse I always wanted. She takes the stress out of horsemanship. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

On Rider Issues

I'm guessing most of you remember Courage.
110% solid sex appeal
Beautiful. Tempestuous. Not an ambi-turner.

He had this sweet move where we'd go to turn right and he'd drop his shoulder and bolt left.

For better or worse, I stayed on. HOWEVER. The mechanics of staying on with those G-Forces involved putting all my weight in the left stirrup and staying to the LEFT OF CENTER every time we thought about turning right. (You'll notice this biomechanically compounded the not-turning-right issue. I never said it wasn't a shitshow.)
plz send your hate mail directly to my spam folder
Which, whatever. We dealt with what we dealt with and I owe y'all a post on C and how he's doing and some final thoughts, but that's a story for another day. 

The point is that now I ride my glorious ZB who is the champion of the entire world. 
champion of outfits too

Fun facts: baby mare is a-ok with turning either direction. Canters on both leads. Has zero baggage about racetracks or pressure or whatever. See again: champion.

Now, I had someone else put the first 10 rides on her because I knew my brain wasn't up for it. AND. She gets twice weekly training rides by my trainer because again. I want her to be started well and not just haul around my baggage for me. 
and clinics!
I had to have a laugh the other night though. I was riding with a barn buddy in the indoor. 
not this night. a night we actually put on saddles. 
We walk/trotted around to the left and ZB was KILLING IT like the champion she is. 

And then we changed direction. 

INSTANTLY she was overbent to the right with her left shoulder popped out and completely unable to turn right. 
photo by Courage Has Opinions
I tried changing a number of things with my hands and reins and that didn't really help at all. 

I had to just stop and think about it a while. 

ZB is TOTALLY FINE for my trainer, which means it's a me issue. 
return of the dik dik
And oh yeah, the way I survived the HARD BOLT LEFT was to get all my weight to the left.

If we're keeping track, ZB is super round, which means my weight left means my saddle slides left.

It didn't even matter how much I told myself to step into the right stirrup--I'd just drop my weight into it, brace against it, and twist my saddle ever farther left. 
you're making dik dik jesus cry
I find the timing here interesting. This problem hasn't really cropped up for us until right now. I'd wager it's because we're stepping up the work. Zoe is performing at a similar level to Courage when he stepped down, which means my subconscious is kicking defense mechanisms into high gear from sheer force of muscle memory.

It's frustrating, because my conscious brain isn't even slightly rattled. I'm building a new thing with Zoe. She's an incredible force for good in my life and I enjoy every moment with her. 
also hats are itchy. fyi.
I have a plan. I have a trainer. We're going to fix this. 

But omfg body. GET ON THE BUS. 
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