I Had Forgotten

Since having my daughter, I've been in a consistent riding program. That all ended about a month ago when work priorities took over (for better or worse). After a week or two, I feel like my obsessive "must ride something now" kind of waned.

I was incredibly busy, and horses suddenly seemed like the one thing totally not worth it. Usually I have those moments while waiting on a vet bill, or after I couldn't catch my horse for an hour–the usual equestrian doubts. Having these doubts while just sitting at my house was a bit scary.

As I mentioned before, I'm attempting to revamp my priorities and get some time back for my goals outside of the workplace. Horses are the core of those. So back to lessons I went-no excuses.

Tacking up Cooper today, I actually felt anxious. Cooper had been inside for a few days because of all the rain, so naturally he would be a wild stallion right? (Spoiler alert-nope) Stupid thoughts. Sending my toddler with her grandpa, I swung up and warmed up the giraffe as usual.

The lesson was incredibly hard, a technical ride. Cooper was feeling spicy, but I don't mind a little play as long as it's not stupid. By the end I openly admitted that I was exhausted.

But then as soon as I loaded up the car, gave the kid some snacks, and headed home I could actually feel the buzz. Better than champagne, I kept thinking over my ride; how I could do better, what I can do in the gym to get my fitness back and so on. I realized that in the weeks away I had forgotten how much I love the smell of the barn, the satisfaction of patting your horse after your ride, or the sheer joy of sharing the place you love the most. Essentially I forgot that I do belong with horses, and on horses. It is a part of who I am, and while life is an insane roller coaster I am so lucky to continue to have horses in my world. So next time I forget, and am having all these insane-o thoughts about horses not being worth it, I should reread this post. Because they are.

Work Life Balance

I love my job.

I love the amazing opportunities I have to travel, work with great people, and create my own little identity within the cubicle world.  My company constantly places among the top 20 places to work in the US, and I’m definitely spoiled.  They give us gifts, awesome work life extras (gym, on-site day care, pharmacy, even car detailing), but lately I had felt myself really, really getting drawn in.  What I was doing was way overboard, added to the fact that May-July are huge travel months for me didn’t bode well. I found myself in a situation where I was spending what time I had at home, stressing and thinking (or emailing) about work.

From a recent Florida trip

But then…vacation happened.  Seven days of not being in the office.  Seven days of not feeling the need to be on my phone all the time, I didn’t open my laptop once, and I let the work I delegated actually stay delegated.  By the last few nights, I stopped grinding my teeth at night, slept great, and really took time to enjoy my people.

I know that busy seasons will always be busy, but this was a major wake up call for me.  As a people pleaser, I tend go far beyond what is necessary…at the expense of my work – life balance.  I need to be reminded that it isn’t worth it.  My career isn’t going anywhere, but I’m missing out on other things.  I had had to cancel several riding lessons, dinners with friends, and other things that I love.  It’s not my job’s fault, they support my personal life plenty, it is mine for not managing my priorities better.

Horse dress for the win.

So I’m updating my work life balance.  Back in lessons this week, back to being present for my family and friends, and back to myself.  I feel really good about this wake-up call and even better about my decision to stop being so neurotic about work.  And hey, maybe I’ll actually hit publish on the 5 drafted posts I never managed to complete.

I doubt the giraffe missed me, but I’m ready to ride!

It’s back to my normally scheduled horse topics next, but who else besides me gets badly wrapped up in their careers some times?

It Was Okay

In honoring my last post about having realistic expectations, I showed up to my lesson with Cooper in an optimistic mood.  I told myself that he was the best school horse for me, and that I should be very glad to have something that will take care of me today.  I also noted to a riding buddy that he was not my type of horse but that I need to know how to ride him.  Not everything was going to go around like O or Dee did.  Horse #2 may be more like him.  I should be prepared.
I got the big giraffe all tacked up (so cute in his green extras) and headed to our lesson.  Warmup was abbreviated to avoid the heat, and we started popping over a little x.  There were a few ugly ones, usually when I pulled without leg support.  While it was irritating, my trainer just had me keep coming around until I understood that the horse was going regardless, and that he prefers a nice release…so I should probably try that sometime.

Forest green on a chestnut!

We laughed (while I tried to recover from our 1000 attempts) and decided that while he goes around a bit like a giraffe, he really needs someone to be soft and offer a big release. My reaction is to whoa and try to get his head down, but he wants me to kind of toss him the reins.  It really does boggle my brain.

We moved into some courses and while there were a few moments where I should’ve left the horse alone to do his job, it wasn’t totally ugly.  We might of even had a few nice fences…dare I say it.

Super attractive.

At the end of the ride I agreed with my trainer in that he is not the hero in my horse love story-but he has a lot to teach me.  I think after this ride, the biggest win is that I could be grateful, and that I wasn’t obsessing in a negative sense.  I went out, rode, and it was okay!  It’s a step in the right direction both in riding Cooper and mentally handling my riding.

 

Realistic Expectations

This post is inspired by the thoughtful comment that EquiNovice left on my last post, while I was lamenting about how I have been crying my way through recent lessons.  She mentioned that managing your own expectations were some of the hardest part about not being in a consistent riding program.  That was a huge ah-ha moment for me.

From an outsiders perspective, if you had been watching my last lesson on Cooper you would’ve seen a woman who is struggling to not pull on a more forward horse.  You might have seen a few awkward frog hop jumps, and heard said woman shout some angry words (bad habits die hard).  But generally, there was nothing catastrophic happening.  No one fell off.  No refusals.  No galloping away wildly.  Just ugly jumps and some flowery words.

But.

That was not how I saw it.  I went from owning O, to riding some sale horses, a few schoolies, to leasing Dee.  99% of the time I felt very confident on these animals.  I knew I was capable of riding them and looking (within reason) okay doing it.  Obviously there were challenges, but nothing significant that stands out to me now.  They helped me, and I felt good about myself as a rider.

The cleanest horse alive finally got some dirt on him.

When I hopped on Cooper those first rides, and it went so badly, I was honestly confused.  I’d seen much less experienced riders take him around without a single issue.  Why was I struggling so much?  My expectation is that I should not only be able to ride this dude, but also do it well.  Yet everything I did seemed to set him on fire. Our flatwork has improved, buuuuttttt I still manage to turn him into Seabiscuit over fences.  I couldn’t even stop him in a straight line.  Even with my confidence at a high I can feel how hard these rides have been on me mentally.  All because my expectations for the ride were “ruined”.


It made me question buying another greenie – was I even capable of bringing it up correctly?  It made me wonder what I was even doing riding?  I mean, after 15 odd years of riding, I probably should be able to direct my horse over a cross rail.

Please note that I am not saying I’m God’s gift to horsekind – but I truly felt I should be able to ride better than I have been.  Maybe Cooper and I just don’t mesh.  Maybe it’s because I have not been riding consistently.  Maybe it’s just been an unlucky few weeks.  In my opinion, it’s probably a combination of all of those.  Regardless of all of that, I’m trying to spend some time before my lesson really resonating on the idea that I am only riding once a week right now, and I’m in this for the fun part.  I must alter my expectations.  

I don’t need to be expecting to be the exact same rider I was in the past, when I was doing more.  That is going to lead me down a dark path every ride!  I just need to be able to learn, and manage my personal standards for my riding.    Maybe then I can learn to enjoy my rides more.

 

SaddleBox Subscription Box Review

When SaddleBox reached out to see if I’d like to try and review the Saddlebox for June, I happily accepted!  The pretty blue package arrived very quickly and was stuffed full of good things!


List of items from June:

  • Epona bath sponge
  • Pretty horse molded soap (currently living in my spare bathroom)
  • Bridle Bites Horse Treats (a SaddleBox original product-already devoured)
  • Epona love curry brush
  • Herbsmith SoundHorse herbal liniment
  • The Horse Lover’s Guide to Massage
  • Peppermints (already devoured)
  • Spurrs Big Fix – Filly Cream Moisturizer

So far the only thing that I haven’t really been sold on is the LOVE curry brush.  I don’t know what to do with it.  It says it tackles tangles and provides massage, but is a curry brush?  The horses I tried it out on last week were not a huge fan of it on their bodies, but it works fine as a tail brush.  I do love the moisturizer, even if not sold on the name; and all things edible were immediately gobbled up by my friends horses.

The Horse Lover’s guide to massage is sitting on my coffee table, and I hope to actually try out some things before I judge one way or the other.  It’s really interesting stuff though, everyone always wants to keep their horses more comfortable.

Some SaddleBox Info:

Overall I think it was a really fun mix of products for horse and owner, with the added bonus that it is affordable and you subscribe on a monthly basis.

You can check out SaddleBox on instragram too, where they sometimes show off upcoming products for their boxes!

 

 

 

Still Here, Just Busy

The months of June and July ended being some of the craziest I’ve ever set up.  I’ll be in 7 different cites in 61 days doing my day job.  Add that to my trainers travel, and pretty much I’m in a non-riding holding pattern until things calm down. 

Getting business done.

Airport sign wins!


I’m squeezing lessons in when I can, but full disclaimer, I continue to struggle.  It’s been a long time since I cried during lessons twice in a row.  Or maybe I’m at 3 in a row now?  Anyway…

Chestnut boys!


Essentially riding hasn’t been fun lately.  I’m not giving up, but it’s been nice to get away, see somewhere new.  Hopefully when I get back in the saddle next I’ll be in a better spot mentally and ready to deal with the hard lessons.  

Third Lesson Not the Charm

Since he is apparently going to stick around the blog a bit longer (no one seems to ride him on my lesson days) the red giraffe, formally known as Cooper needs a bit more of a bio.

I like him in purple!


Cooper was purchased by my trainer in 2016 (I think) from his home where he was doing the equitation stuff at some of the rated shows.  I actually rode him right when he arrived and where I sort of blundered through our ride.  However, he was perfect, and didn’t put a toe out of line.  After joining the lesson program, a teen rode him and fell in love; so while he is technically a lesson horse, he only “teaches” randomly.  He’s a OTTB standing 16.2+ but all withers.  Very giraffe-like in appearance, but has fabulously easy canter to ride.  He’s quiet, but can get a little heavy.  Until last week I carried a stick just in case I needed back up.

Don’t let the sleepy giraffe fool you.


My first lesson was all peaches and cream.  Second lesson is discussed here.   Third lesson, this past week, oh HOLY HOT MESS. Cooper’s teen has been traveling this month, so his 5-6 days a week of exercise has ended up being more like 2 times a week.

Everything was so exciting!  Trotting circles, passing the broken arena door, the barn cat – the whole thing was pretty exhilarating to Coop. Points to my Roeckl’s for still sticking with me after the giraffe just went around and around.  I was also in tights for my lesson, which I almost never do (it was so humid) and I felt like my butt just slid everywhere in my saddle.

3 legged giraffe! 🙂


We made it through our warm-up, and at the trot, I actually had a few moments where I didn’t have to peer around his giant head to steer.  Yay?  I did have a big issue with the “whoa” this week.  It wasn’t much there.  Half-halts were turning into pulling fests, and I was losing ground.

We were both sweating extensively by the time jumping came around.  And even then, I couldn’t regulate his pace to save my life.  By the 2nd or third try to quietly canter a 18″ single I was pretty angry.  I know, anger has no place with horses and all that.  BUT.  It wasn’t that I was necessarily mad at him, but I was so angry that I couldn’t ride him. Sure, I did call him some…names…but what was most difficult to swallow was that I could not ride this mostly level headed, lesson horse who I have seen less experienced riders waltz around on.  Enter internal self-esteem tear down.

Was he rude?  Yes.  Was he dangerous?  Definitely not.  Was I so embarrassed and angry and wanting to scream?  Absolutely.

It’s been a long time since I felt as bad about a lesson as I did last week.  I know there were good moments, but it really did shake me up.  Change is hard you guys.