Celebrating Dee

Thank you for all the sweet and positive comments everyone left on my last post.  Now that I have a little distance I’m feeling a lot of peace about all things Dee related (as I hoped I would).  She was a fantastic ride, and did so much for me over the 9 months that I leased her from her family.

But.

I knew that regardless of college, or barn moving, that it was a short term arrangement, and the objective was that at the end of the lease everyone would continue to be friends, and I could continue to see Dee if I chose too.  Although it involves more of a drive now, I can say that all of those things are true.  As such, I am calling the lease a big success.

In the beginning the lease was all about:

  1. getting Dee fit
  2. seeing if I could manage my daughter along with more horse responsibility
  3. having something consistent to ride in lessons/shows etc.

Under item #1: great success — no other words necessary…just transformation pictures:

Item #2: You can read about some of my most upfront struggles, but generally I learned that I am capable of handling my half-lease commitments.  I should recognize that it won’t ever be as easy as it was pre-child.  (I know that’s an obvious “duh”, but worth noting.)  Dee served as my sounding board/ guinea pig for all things tiny human related.  Scared of this stroller?  Nope? Okay good.  Able to eat goldfish/cheerios and not my daughter’s little fat fingers?  Whew – a yes.

While she gave me the mostest of mare glares for some of my worst moments juggling everything, she was a rockstar and showed me that horses and small children can work.  With extreme planning and safety precautions…but what happens as the result is so worth it.

img_2848Hearing my little girl chattering at Dee, or having her bring us her “riding” boots at the house and say “dee – dee – dee” over and over again (her version of requesting to go the barn).  It’s the good stuff, and it’s worth the extra time I don’t get to spend in the saddle.  If anything it makes the time I do get even better.

As for item 3…When I first joined the trainer I ride with now, I came from a barn rat background where I had leases going every which way, riding sale horses, naughty school ponies whatever…It had been a very long time since I’d really ridden in a school program.  After O left, I had the baby and I worshiped the schoolies who brought me back to full strength.  However, my trainer doesn’t keep a huge string of lesson horses, as her business is primarily in buying/selling and maintaining her clients horses.  Lessons are mostly owners.

I have nothing against the cute horses that we currently have in the string, but I feel like I have no right to take their rides from the 9 year old who is doing up-down lessons.  That doesn’t seem right…and honestly I’d rather the little girl get her fix.  I’m not going anywhere, and I’m not in dire need of a horse fix all the time (at least not like a horse crazy 9 year old does).

Dee was a perfect fit for my situation.  She already lived at our facility – was barefoot – hardy – and pretty unflappable. Having something nice to ride every week was a huge load off my shoulders.  When you have that established you can really set some goals and objectives as a pair.  It felt so great to be a partnership again, and to feel confident in my riding.  I think it’s obvious as you reread my lesson posts that I was never let down by this little mare, and I feel good about not letting her down.

After looking at our unwritten goals for this lease, I feel so much pride and happiness now.  I can look back over the past months and be so glad I had this experience!  What an awesome little horse, I’m so glad I got to get to know her better.  Thank you so much to her family for sharing her with me!

My biggest takeaway from this lease though, is what I hope will continue to drive me forward.  It’s a thought that popped up a few days after she left.  There may be days where I’m dying to ride, or days I’m too busy to even consider riding, and that will be hard.  I know now that I will always make something work, and riding will always be there for me.  I don’t need to sell my soul for the future to get here faster – because riding will be waiting, whenever I am ready.  Dee helped show me that in some things you really have to continue to follow your heart.

As for the next chapter?  I have a post coming about that, but I will tell you I’ve already bargained for some awesome hacks on friends horses in the next few weeks.  That should keep me occupied for a bit!

 

 

Hair Do Redo

Dee is the easiest of easy keepers.  Fluffy and fat, she rocked it out this winter living outside.  (She’s also barefoot which is really neat.). But anyway, she has been losing giant tufts of hair the past two weeks, but not in an organized way.  So she’s been looking a bit…ragamuffin?

Dragging a tufted hair Dee along with the baby.

 

I mean, I think she’s always cute but…she got a bit of an upgrade this week.


Ta da!  See!!!  Ugh-dorable.  Also note the absence of several hundred pounds.  Now that she’s been in consistent work and without her fluff, I think she’s really looking like her super sporty self. 

Smile Dee!


I am also enjoying the ability to groom her without covering myself in 10lbs of hair.  A big shout out to Dee’s momma for taking some time to turn her out so lovely!


We snuck in a really great ride in our front field tonight. I badly needed a break from the real world, and taking a cute shaved pony for a ride was just the thing.  

Feeling Green

With envy that is.

I’ve been struggling with jealousy lately.  While I love my current situation with Dee, I would be lying if I didn’t admit to being envious of all those horse owners out there.  I felt ashamed of this post for awhile, seeing as I’m quite spoiled.  Yet seeing friends, on and off the internet, out doing all kinds of things, and having adventures has been hard.  Obviously I think it’s great for them.  But it makes me yearn hard for something I cannot have right now.

To cope, I then spend hours trolling dreamhorse.com and equinenow.com, sometimes Facebook, to find this mystical animal who I suddenly need so badly.  By the time I find something that might work (heavy on the “might”), I’m rooted firmly back in the real world.  It’s not the right time for us to buy.  Too much going on in work, at home, and well everywhere.  And I know that.

Knowing and accepting are two totally different things.

 

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So you’ll have to forgive me for wishing I was out there.  Wishing I had a show season to map out, clinics to go to, and plans to make for the next move up.  Maybe it’s my stupid knee, which still hurts and is keeping me from the saddle, or the fact it’s been raining for almost 3 weeks, but I’m bumming hard over here. Even my husband (happily horseless in KC) seems sympathetic to my funky mood.

I set up a much needed lesson tonight.  I need to clear my mind, as much as Dee needs the workout (probably way more).

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Steering is Important

This past week I experienced an embarrassing lesson in steering.

When people ask me how old theirs kids should be before they start riding, I always answer with a “when they can understand steering”.  So by that note–I should not currently be enrolled in our lesson program.  Palm to face.

Cutest Hony around.

In our last lesson we were working on a course full of twists, turns, pace questions, lead changes…all the wonderful things that require both lots of steering and use of your eyes.  This is what I get lessoning with the jumper girls.  It was going okay, our first attempt I neglected to ignite any kind of momentum from Dee.  So we chipped here, chipped there, chipped everywhere!!  Gross guys, so gross.

Off we went to try it again, with Trainer  making my reins long and loopy.  I was instructed to not touch them during the course except to open them.  For a hot minute, I actually felt like Dee was going to run away with me.  (Pause for laughter…we just actually had the correct amount of pace to navigate our funky course.)

Having “no” reins, made such a huge difference.  We nailed the distances this time, with Dee really stretching down, and even though I felt like I have zero control, it forced me to really sit up and support.  Voila better riding!  This is why trainers make the big bucks.

We gave Dee a minute to catch her breath, and off we went to polish our efforts a bit.  Here’s a lovely diagram of the chaos that was this course.  I’m super proud that I remembered which jump I was supposed to be at.

Exercise from March 2017 with 1 stride

So many twists.  My hunter heart was terrified.

I did good things over jumps 1-3, landing the leads, and not creeping up on my reins.  Except that after jump 3, when we turn to jump 4, I forgot something very important.  It is vital to steer AROUND solid objects.  Even this handy little horse couldn’t make the turn I asked for, and I connected my left kneecap to the wooden standard on a jump in our turn.  The whole jump (one we weren’t jumping) toppled over and instantly my whole left leg went numb.  It hurt.  A lot.

I really wanted to go finish the course, but trainer made me stay put.  After a few minutes, my foot and calf were still numb and we could see the swelling through my breeches.  My lesson looked pretty over.  Off I went to Urgent Care to be sure I didn’t crack anything.  After a very long night I was dubbed “pretty banged up” and sent home with painkillers and instructions to not ride until I could do stairs/run/etc. without pain.  I know it happens plenty of times, but that doesn’t make you feel any less like a total goob.

It hurt way worse than it looked. So annoying.

And here I am at a week plus from that date and it is STILL sore. I still can’t do stairs very well and I haven’t tried to ride.

So please, humor me, has anyone else ran themselves into a jump instead of around it lately?

Moving Right Along

We’ve got a horse show tomorrow, but I’m still riding the high from some great lessons lately.  So regardless of what happens, I’m feeling like the improvement is there.  Here’s some little clips of lessons lately…keep an eye out for:

  • Staying down and soft on the backside of the jumps.
  • Keeping Dee’s shoulders up on approach.
  • Attempting to keep my elbows in, less “chicken dance”.
  • Making a decision on distances and sticking with it.

Here we go.

I struggled at first (and struggle at the end of the other clip) with getting to this single at an odd stride.  But this one was my best ride, and really using my outside rein to keep her body straight.  Yay!

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She is adorbs.

 

Full course, complete with ugly last jump (you can see the second I waffle on my choice & pull).  Also-enjoy Dee’s pre-jump grunting! Ha!

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Eating these bigger oxers up lately. 

So there we are!  Happy with our overall picture and excited for what’s next.  Wish us luck!

 

More like a Hunter

Lately our lessons have been less like a marriage counseling session-and more like a team effort.  I know what buttons Dee has, and usually how to push them.  She has responded so well to being in a more intense program and is fit as a little bay fiddle.  Lately I’ve been riding with two jumpers, but feeling more and more like we look like the hunters we are supposed to be.


Lead changes? Sure.

Comfortable jumping a large variety of obstacles?  Sure.

Getting the step?  Hells yeah-Hony has a great stride.


We’ve been spending a lot of time working on making a decision and then smoothing it out.  Making a choice is hard-making it look like you did it on purpose is even harder.  

And guys, we’ve been jumping things with a little more height and I have to say that I’ve so missed that little moment, where you collect them back before jumping forward?  You jumping people get it, it’s just this perfect little launch sequence.  Plus Dee is such a little boss that I get to do what my hunter soul truley desires, which is to stick my butt up over the fence’s arc and pose.  Ha!

We’re working hard, and things are coming together.  December horse show-I’m coming for you!