Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing everyone and happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday!!

Please allow me to share the traditional Thanksgiving Prayer from Dear Abby:

Oh, Heavenly Father,
We thank Thee for food and remember the hungry.
We thank Thee for health and remember the sick.

We thank Thee for friends and remember the friendless.

We thank Thee for freedom and remember the enslaved.

May these remembrances stir us to service,

That Thy gifts to us may be used for others.


And a horsey Thanksgiving poem from yours truly:

I give thanks

for nickering sounds as I walk down the aisle

for the soft blow of air onto my neck

for the warmth and softness of his coat on my face

for the silky mane sliding through my fingers

for big horsey hugs.

Day 28 - I'm thankful for holiday gatherings and traditions.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

And they're off!

Photographic evidence of stirrup removal.
My stirrup leathers, that is! Up to this point, for No Stirrup November I've been just dropping my stirrups for various durations during my rides. And to be honest, riding without stirrups has been much easier in my dressage saddle than my jump saddle. I find my leg lengthening and riding with a deeper seat, though I know I personally need to focus on maintaining a light 3-point sans irons to develop a better lower leg in my jump saddle.

So last night I finally took the plunge and removed the leathers completely from my jump saddle. I even set up some ground poles and tiny little vertical jump. It was a little concerning since no one else was at the barn, and of course it was completely dark save for the arena lights. But all went well. In fact...I didn't fall off! I came close when Hemie spooked at a who-knows-what lurking in the darkness, but I made a great save.

Boy, are my legs feeling it today! Wowza!

On to other exciting things...

Check out Fly On Over's blogger holiday gift exchange. What a novel idea - love it!

Also, share some funny stories for Equinpilot's contest (we all could use more humor in our lives!)

And finally to catch up on 30 Days of Giving Thanks

Day 17 - I'm grateful for good books.

Day 18 - I'm thankful for delicious food, and for the privilege of never having gone hungry.

Day 19 - I'm grateful for being able to travel to beautiful places.

Day 20 - I'm thankful for good health and all my body parts so I can hike and swim and do all sorts of physical things.

Day 21 - I'm grateful for the smell of the ocean.

Day 22 - I'm thankful for our beautiful planet filled with so many creatures.

Day 23 - I'm thankful for my home.

Day 24 - I'm thankful for my wonderful family, and being able to see them often.

Day 25 - I'm grateful for my 2 doggies, Levi and Lucy! Sources of laughter and joy every day.

Day 26 - I'm grateful for a fully functioning kitchen and the smell of home-made cookies.

Day 27 - I'm thankful for my job.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Puerto Vallarta sunrise
I'm baaAAck! Hubby and I took a week long cruise to the Mexican riviera and had the perfect blend of fun and relaxation. I kept my phone in airplane mode to avoid international surcharges, and it is quite amazing to be unplugged from phone and internet for a week! Dealing with all the email is killer, but on the upside I have lots of great blog reading to catch up on. =)

Ponykins was super snuggly this morning, which melted my heart. I was afraid he'd be pissy and standoffish, which he was once before when I hadn't seen him for a few days. But today he snuggled quite a bit (but gave one little nip too, sassy boy).

As I free longed him I realized 2 things:

#1) He is quite a handsome horse.

#2) His body is looking really great...except for those darn ribs!

Even having rolled his coat has a great sheen. Overall his physique keeps on improving. He is gaining muscle, which is good, but the visible ribs still just bother me.

My trainer underwent some surgery while I was gone and is taking several weeks off to recover. In addition to completing No Stirrup November I'll be brainstorming some exercises so I don't do the same thing over and over while waiting to pick up lessons again.

Saturday, November 16, 2013


Firstly, check out Forging Fiction's Giving Thanks contest - all you have to do is share what you are grateful for! What a wonderful idea.

Videos from our last show are now up!  Here's the links to watch them on RideOn Video's website. They're not yet live on YouTube so I'll update this post to embed them later. **Updated, now click to watch**


Stadium Jumping

Cross Country

The start box.
Doggie in one arm. Me and Hemie in the other.
My trainer is awesome.
In case you missed it, click here to read our super-long show recap, and here for a few more thoughts and photos.

It really is eye-opening to watch your rides. Sometimes they are spot on to how they feel...other times, completely not.

Dressage looked pretty good to me (well, for the first minute and 15 seconds, then it went downhill fast). For that first minute, I thought we looked like our typical show selves. That is to say, not nearly as good work as we do at home, but with some good moments and a clear indication that we were both *trying.*  Getting the performance at shows to be more consistent with our work at home is an ongoing issue that only more shows will solve.

Stadium doesn't look as good as it felt, possibly because I was so stressed going into it that I was elated simply because we didn't have any shenanigans. However, we could have been more forward, and I could have actually cared about our leads. Things to improve on for the next show.

Cross country looks pretty right-on to how it felt, except for one thing: the speed. I felt like we were galloping. We weren't. This doesn't actually surprise me, since I always think we're going faster at shows than we actually are.

Time to give thanks...

Day 15 - I'm thankful for kind friends willing to horse-sit.

Day 16 - I'm grateful for show videographers and the lessons learned from watching rides!

Well I'm off on my trip! Radio silence for a week but then I'll be back and ready to finish No-stirrup November strong!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Screwing up your horse?

First of all, some thankfulness.

Day 14 - I'm grateful for wonderful fall weather, perfect for evening rides.

~ ~ ~

I'm going on a vacation soon, and have asked a friend of mine to ponysit while I'm gone. She's been horseless for a few months, but has been riding her whole life. Like me, her eventing experience is limited to lower levels over just the last few years, but she's an excellent horsewoman and a reliable friend.

However I think being horseless has hurt her confidence, as she half-jokingly said she'd be sure to coordinate with my trainer to be sure she doesn't "screw up" Hemie's training.

Horse. Sitting.
Which is an interesting and uncomfortable notion, that I'd love to get others' opinions on: the idea in general that a temporary rider could materially affect a horse's training.

Several years ago, a friend was asked to ride a trainer's stallion at the California Equine Affair breed exhibition. She agreed, and got one practice ride on the horse at home the week before, which went fine. At the exhibition, the poor stud was very distracted and hot, and their ride didn't go smoothly. The trainer was extremely upset and dissapointed (after all, her goal was presumably to show the stud to advantage in hopes of getting some breeding bookings). She yelled at my friend that she had "undone years' worth of training." To which I mentally rolled my eyes. It was simply a tense ride, not some major incident.

On the other hand, each time we interact with a horse we are "training" it, even if just ground manners. Plus there's plenty of anecdotal examples of one terrible jump accident creating ongoing mental issues for horses.

What do you think about this notion? And does it affect who you let interact with your horse?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

In the Dark

Darkness is my pony-time reality now that daylight savings time has begun. Or ended. Whichever.
It's dark now before I even get off of work. I'm not gonna lie - it does make it challenging when facing this question at the end of a long work day:

Left or Right?

Its in the winter that I really struggle with the 35+ minute commute to the barn each way. But c'est la vie - there aren't a ton of alternatives and I do love my barn.

Because he's killed too many little buckets, I guess.

By the way, this is how Hemie says goodbye to me in the evenings:

Nom nom nom.

Goop all over his face!  I give him a kiss on the neck or rump while trying to avoid face contact. I'll admit - sometimes he slimes me.

And to catch up on my thankfulness.

Day 9 - I'm thankful for a smart, brave horse.*

Day 10 - I'm grateful for good friends and fun double-dates.

Day 11 - I'm thankful for my wonderful doting husband.

Day 12 - I'm thankful for productive, low-stress days at work.

Day 13 - I'm grateful for an inspirational and loving sister.

*On Saturday we did the big log jump after the down bank into water! Such a good pony!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Spirit Update

First of all, check out Equestrian At Hart's Contest! This is definitely one I'd like to win.

Spirit is a mare who will have a special place in my heart forever. I really appreciate the opportunity I had in riding her, and even though she wasn't the right eventing partner for me, I enjoyed her personality and have nothing but fondness for her and her owners.

Green on green, but both game!
For those who are new readers, Spirit is the beautiful grey paint mare I rode for over 2 years. She was 5 when I started riding her, which started out as a favor to my previous trainer who was injured and needed help "putting miles on the babies." It turned into much more, though ultimately we parted ways when I adopted Bohemian.

Her famous sideways ears <3

Spirit went to another trainer's barn to be tried out for their lesson program. After a few months, she came up lame and the trainer said it was navicular. Her owner was very concerned, and asked me to check on her and also ordered a full work-up from the most respected lameness vet in our area. Visiting her was emotional for me, but overall a positive experience. She was indeed ever so slightly off, but had a good attitude.

Though it did not look to me like she was getting the same level of care that she got when having her own personal human (moi), she still had bright eyes and was all snuggles. The vet work came back negative, and the conclusion was that her paddock was too hard and she was just a little stiff. Her owners moved her to a backyard boarding situation closer to their home.

Myself on Spirit, next to Spirit's owner K.M. on Spirit's dam Lucy.
Greater LA Paint Club's St. Jude's Trail Ride

In April this year Spirit went to a local gymkhana and schooling show and did very well. You can see that in the year since I'd been her person, her coat lightened up considerably!

The rider in these photos is a family friend of the owners who has her own horses and therefore doesn't ride Spirit regularly. I believe her owners would like Spirit to have her own person again, but I don't know how actively they are looking. Its a shame, because she's an eye-catcher of a horse who likes to have fun at these types of little shows and could make some girl or woman happy. It's the kind of opportunity every young horse-crazy girl would want, but at this point in my life I don't know of any!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Pony Therapy & Giving Thanks

This week ended up being hectic but not in the way I had thought. Instead of traveling for work I was stuck in bed with a stomach flu. I'm still nursing some ginger ale, but overall I'm feeling much better.

Last night I finally got out to the barn. I was prepared to cut my lesson short if I was feeling weak, but the fresh air and pony lovin' had healing properties and I immediately felt much better.

I had a Carly moment - check out Hemie's new next door neighbor!

Snowflake!!! How stinkin' adorbs is he? 

Hemie and Snowflake had some neck arching, squealy cuteness but I was too slow on the camera draw. Oh well.

Lots of bloggers and peeps on Facebook have been doing daily thanks for the month of November.  I've never done this before and I've been on the fence about doing this since I don't blog (or FB) every day.

But that's okay - I've decided to do it anyway. This month I'm going to be more purposefully thankful every day. I got the final push from L of Viva Carlos who also is doing it even though starting late. It's never too late to be grateful, I think.

Now to make up for my fence-sitting, here's my catch-up on what I've been especially grateful for each day this month:

Day 1 - I'm thankful to have a house with a guest room so friends can stay with me when visiting from out of town.

Day 2 - I'm grateful for beautiful fall weather - perfect for a beach wedding.

Day 3 - I'm thankful for lazy laid-back mornings with a country breakfast.

Day 4 - I'm grateful for unexpected late birthday gifts.

Day 5 - I'm grateful for Netflix (very important when sick in bed).

Day 6 - I'm thankful for my compassionate husband who steps up when I'm feeling down.

Day 7 - I'm thankful for pony therapy! The best medicine.

Day 8 - Today I'm thankful for good health.

Monday, November 4, 2013

No-Stirrup November

Yesterday I clocked in my final score for the 2-Point Challenge - made it to 4 minutes (up from 2 at the beginning of October). Not as much improvement as I'd have hoped, but it was still a good exercise to participate in. Thank you to Viva Carlos and Equestrian at Hart for hosting this challenge!

After the 2-point I did some no stirrup work, starting off No-Stirrup November!

Viva Carlos!

I'm starting to see the light at the end of the hectic-life-tunnel. This past week has been quite busy - Halloween was my birthday (the big 27!), hubby's birthday, and that night I picked up a friend from the airport who is staying a few days. We went to a wedding this past weekend, and I'm traveling for business this week. Ugh. Next week should be back to normal I hope!

I'm starting to ruminate on our show season for next year. This year it was all about quantity - we did lots of shows, most of them of the smaller, local variety. At this point I think we need to go to more bigger shows. Since they cost so much more, that means being very strategic and selective, to ensure we are maximizing my show dollars. 

In the meantime, right now I'm thinking this winter is going to be all about me: namely, developing my skills and addressing my weaknesses as an effective rider. Equitation is not really the correct word - I mean more working on my floppy lower leg, proper hip angle, waiting with my shoulders, etc. 

Our (sporadic) lessons since the show have been taken up a notch by our trainer. The jumps are higher, the questions tougher (rollbacks!), and the dressage is more demanding. Laurie is calling it "back to basics" to really make sure our fundamentals are square. I'm enjoying the challenge, and will enjoy more when I'm feeling back to my regular routine of riding.