Favorite Moments of 2017

 

img_2963Looking back over 2017, I feel like it was a whirlwind of great successes and my fair share of flops.  Since I wasn’t very goal orientated, I thought that it would be more fun to take a look back at my favorite moments of 2017. In no particular order….

  1. Dee and I headed back to the ring, and even won some pretty ribbons.Link to video.
  2. I celebrated having an awesome and fun lesson crew by dressing up and having a ball.  
  3. A certain giraffe horse taught me that I have to have manage my expectations.
  4. And finally I revealed that we are adding a little boy to the family in 2018!

Looking back over my “options” for favorite moments, I discovered that really horses were not at the forefront of this years activities.  And that’s okay.  While I love riding, and love horses, it also feels very good to have a more complete work / life balance.

What were your favorite moments of the year?

Difficult Decisions

When I was pregnant with my daughter I was still riding my mare, and while I knew her very well she wasn’t the most trust worthy creature at that time. I mostly flatted her (which she was great for), but lessons were few and far between. Soon after she went to the ranch and I was left horseless. Trainer kindly set me up with some trustworthy beasties who took great care of me.

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After finding out about baby #2, my trainer and I had several discussions about my plans for the next few months. In the end, I opted to continue jumping for the time being. I was feeling fit, in a great lesson situation, and most importantly I was riding schoolmasters. We did decide that I wasn’t feeling safe on Giraffe horse. But with him off the list, the rest of the schoolie string were old partners who I trusted. Nothing is 100% in horses, but it’s what I felt comfortable with.

So until 13 weeks, I had been jumping around baby sized jumps and going on short trail rides. It isn’t exactly on par with the 3 foot jumper courses my lesson-mate is schooling, but it has kept me in the loop. I hope it will help me get back on my jumping game even more after baby.

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I will admit that the first week as a flatwork only lesson was a welcome adjustment. I had been traveling a lot the past few weeks, and I could feel the jelly-leg curse coming on.  Plus, my self-perservation is pretty high right now.  It’s hard knowing how shaky I get as a rider, so quickly nowadays.  My big grand plan is to keep lessoning – flatwork for a few more weeks, but I’m taking it one day at a time.  Trainer is keeping me on my game with lots of crazy pole exercises so that’s fun!

Anyone else taking a break from jumping this winter?  Feel free to commiserate with me people.

I’ve Been Cheating

On my saddle that is.

My brain malfunctioned several times in the past few weeks and led to my saddle being left in the kitchen – while I was off to the barn.  Since my friends either took pity on me, or find my spastic tendencies entertaining, I was able to snag a few rides in new to me saddles.

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Saddle in high school days

Remember that my saddle and I are in a serious, long term relationship, the longest that I’ve ever had.  It was a secret gift purchased by my mother, unbeknownst to my poor father.  The Devoucoux biarritz has been a constant in my riding life ever since.  It fit my large and lean TB lease mare in high school, and managed to work for my round as a barrel appendix mare..and almost anything in between.  Dee doesn’t count, that mare is a hard fit!

 

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Fits this round mare. 

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Just not this one.

 

The first time I showed up saddle-ess to ride,  I walked right by my saddle at home and arrived to ride big red horse before I realized my mistake.  I borrowed my lesson – mate’s Beval Stamford.  I was pretty sure I could survive the ride, but did not think it would fit me.  She is all of 5’4” (sorry Julie – just guessing) and I am 5’10”…but after I dropped her stirrup leathers (children’s leathers by the way) 9 holes or so, I managed to get my foot in the stirrup.  I was so, so impressed.  It was really comfortable for me, and feel like I fit the saddle much better than I thought!

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Not good picture, but okay fit!  

The second time that I left my saddle (I am a creature of habit), I was riding at the same time as lesson-mate, so I begged a different friend for a ride in her Antares.  Formerly my trainer’s saddle, this rider and I have similarly sized limbs, so I didn’t have to adjust as much.  Climbing up, I started to feel guilty…because it felt awesome.  With just a slightly higher seat and longer knee flap than mine, it really held me in place while big red horse and I hacked around.

In hindsight, I had some kind of illusion in my mind that since my saddle had worked for me for such a long time, that I somehow would be ruined for any others.  And for a long time, I think maybe I was.  But now I’m an adult, with different proportions than 15 year old me.  The idea of saddle shopping gives me nightmares, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the diverse options I had tried, and how well they worked.  Maybe when that scary day happens and I have to find a new saddle, it won’t be as bad as I thought?

Anyone else want to tell me good stories about their easy saddle shopping?  Or perhaps how many times their barn family put up with them saddle swapping?

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Because bareback walks are all about all I can manage without a saddle!  

 

The Obvious Fears

Adding another human to the family was not a lightly taken decision. My husband and I both travel for it work, we are both passionate and competitive in our respective hobbies, and double the responsibility. But when it’s the right thing, you make it work. This is what felt right to us. And we are so, so excited for this little boy’s addition!

If you’re wondering, yes, this baby is the reason behind my three year plan scramble.  It started out as a way to provide tangible plans to my spouse, so he could breathe easier knowing what the heck I was trying to do.  I find myself now treating it as a road map of ideas.  It’s kind of fun!

All gushing aside, I am very nervous about the riding aspect.  I know that it will be hard.  Getting my daughter to the point she is now at the barn (reasonably controlled) was a long education with lots of roadbumps, and now I essentially get to start over again.

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From my daughter’s announcement

I also know that I cannot do what I did during recovery with O around, which was essentially pressure myself to do as much riding as possible (she was for sale). That led to a lot of sore rides, and frustration on my part at my own limitations. I am confident that I have an entire barn full of people who are there to support me; plus my family being nearby never hurts. And I thank god, very freaking day, for having quiet, safe schoolhorses I can ride now and get back on after baby gets here.

There’s a large part of me that is so excited to “start over again”. To share those moments at the barn with my son. I can only hope that he’s as responsive to the horses as my little girl is. And if he’s not, I will figure something else out. Because if there’s a will, there’s a way.  And dammit, I have a 3 year plan to enact!

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The Challenge: A 3 Year Plan

My husband is an engineer.  My mother is an engineer.  My uncle + misc. family are in engineering.  Huge shock that I ended up working for an engineering company, eh?

But regardless, I usually speak their language.  Which essentially means, I can follow a lot of processes, and not be offended when they triple check things.  Twice.

With that in mind, I was challenged by my husband to come up with a 3 year equestrian plan.  Yup.  I did just put “plan” and “equestrian” into the same sentence, which is a rookie move for sure.  But as mentioned above, he is most comfortable seeing an outline of what I’m looking for, what makes me happy, and approximate timelines.  Bonus points if I manage to put some numbers together too.

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I know that anything can happen with horses, but I also know that if he took the time to ask, he will take the time to understand.  So I need to come up with something.

So question today.

What would you include in a three year plan?

So far on my list I have:

  1. Local lease prices for what I would be more interested in
  2. Local (ish) pricetags for what I would be interested in
  3. Short list of what I would be interested in, so we are on the same page
  4. Basic PPE prices
  5. Annual “have to” vet costs (known)
  6. Insurance options for horse 2
  7. General cost for boarding
  8. General cost for training rides, lightly scheduled during our busy seasons
  9. Half lease options for months I tend to travel a lot (this one is pretty far out there, but you never know)
  10. Backup plans for horse if it breaks itself and needs to be a field ornament

I’m sure I’m missing millions of considerations, as with all living money eating equines, but this is my jumping off spot.  What do you think I should add?  

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Updates in Life

I hope everyone is enjoying time with family, eating too much food and sleeping it off afterwards. Bonus if you get time with the horses in your life!

My husband and I are spending the day lounging and visiting with family. And of course…charging all the devices so we can destroy Black Friday. He hates to shop last minute, and I love to get presents as soon as possible so that I can geek out and wrap everything. Different reasons but same shopping explosion!

A rough look at my personal shopping list:

  • New helmet for me
  • Helmet for tiny equestrian
  • The new sports tek pants from riding warehouse

  • Tights for tiny equestrian
  • New tan breeches for me
  • I also have a total crush on the new equestrian belts from C4 (review coming soon!)

http://www.c4belts.com/belts/equestrian-belt-collection.html

I would also like to thank everyone who voted for me in Horse Junkies United’s blogger contest. I was really honored and excited to be a part of the final five, and ended up being the runner up! Such a cool experience!

So happy turkey day, and happy shopping days!

Banding Together

This past week a big announcement came down the pipe. The barn I’ve been with for the 5 years is undergoing a large change. We are leaving behind our 46 stall barn facility to join a private farm’s already existing organization. Both groups will continue to train with respective trainers and do our own programs, but for the first time in a long time we will be sharing home turf.

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Throwback #doubleDee picture of current place.

Major perks are the fact that the facility is owned by established and immersed owners. They want to continue investing into the facility; the grounds and care is top notch. Not to mention our staff, who know the horses best, will be coming with. Being in a smaller facility could be nice too-the current place has a lovely giant indoor, and a nice outdoor, but it is also a lot to manage and I know it’s stressful for our people.

My biggest “sad moment” was realizing we were going to have to give up hosting all the local horse shows. The new place just isn’t big enough to deal with the onslaught of people. There is still several very nice local places, but nothing is easier than living at the show facility.  This is us getting that little extra shove to get out of our comfort zone, and it’s probably a good thing in the long run.

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Spoiled by our giant indoor arena.

The second stomach clencher was that yes, the drive is going to be longer. I’m not exactly sure how much further but when you’re a hot mess of a schedule anyway–every minute counts!  Obviously not excited about that, but there aren’t a lot of options closer to my home either way.

As a future boarder (God willing) I know that what pricked my ears up was the pasture board. It is double the size of our current situation! Plus a nice shelter, and is already set for hay and feeding stations. Big win there.  We’ve also been told that there is a fantastic outdoor riding space.  Both an arena, and a flat, grassy space where we could easily have lessons or move jumps out for when the weather is nice.  This makes me really excited to try it out.

I do think that this, with any big change, will bring pressure and priority changes within the organization.  We are a tight crew of riders, parents, staff, and trainer — but things like this do tend to divide.  So far, I have been really proud of the groups ability to all band together and make this happen.  Fingers crossed everyone stays positive as we continue on.  Move date is tentatively scheduled for one month from now!

It’s probably bad, but I’m weirdly happy to not have to move a horse.  Tack is way easier to maneuver.