The wrong horse

I’ve never had to admit I had or was riding the wrong horse. The more time that goes by since I sold Dexter, it’s becoming more and more apparent how wrong he was for me. Does that make him a bad horse? Absolutely not. He has a lot of fabulous qualities and I believe the timing was right to sell him when I did.

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I never wanted to admit he was the wrong horse for me because I felt like that would have been the same thing as saying that I had failed. That I wasn’t a good enough rider to ride him. That I wasn’t good enough to bring along a green horse. I kept trying to convince myself I could do it. That I could and wanted to ride him.

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Truth be told? I didn’t want to ride him. Did I have the skill? Yes. Can I ride a green horse? Also yes. Despite our 5+ years of being mismatched, many days I loved that horse more than life itself. He was my best friend. The best thing I could have asked for happened before I sold him: I was enjoying riding him again. Which made the decision to sell him even more difficult. However, as I continue riding new horses and overcoming my many riding-related fears, I’m reminded that I am a good rider. That I can ride. Most importantly: I’m enjoying myself. Being in an environment I am familiar with and on horses I am much better matched to has made all the difference.

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Do I regret my time with Dexter? Absolutely not. Many good things came from it. What I do regret though is letting myself be in a situation where I had so many fears. Where I let my fears determine my worth as a rider and let myself believe I couldn’t ride. None of those things were or are true and I can’t believe it took me this long to realize it.

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Moral of the story is: you are not a failure for realizing you and your horse are not a good match. There is a horse out there for everyone, but not every horse is a good match for every rider. Learn what horses are your “type”. I most definitely have one and chances are most other riders do too. Just because you can ride a horse, doesn’t mean you should. At the end of the day, trust your brain and your gut feeling. Always listen to your heart, but don’t allow it to be the final decision maker. Finally, enjoy the ride.

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Where to begin

It’s really hard to find a starting point when you can’t remember where you left off. A lot has changed in my life since I last blogged. I have a nearly 8 month old baby boy and I own zero equines. Say what? Let me fill you in a little bit on what has happened since however long ago it was that I blogged last.

On March 26, 2019 at 8:40 am, we welcomed our son Hunter Virlin into the world. He was born at 39 weeks and one day, so he was most definitely full term. Other than wicked morning sickness that lasted from weeks 8 to 18, it was a relatively uncomplicated pregnancy. Hunter was born very healthy with a ton of hair and has grown like crazy since then. I had some complications after delivery, so I had to rely on lots of help from my husband, as well as the nurses.

Being a mom is fabulous, but it’s also really hard. I love Hunter more than I ever thought was possible, but each day has its own challenges. My time is no longer my own.

I was able to take 9 weeks off from work which was very nice. Dexter (my horse), did not get ridden except for twice by a friend once I found out that I was pregnant. I was exhausted, then too sick and by the time I felt well, I didn’t feel like it was a good idea to ride a horse who hadn’t been ridden. Someone I got really lucky and a friend of a friend (a cowboy) took Dex for 3 weeks. Prior to Dex going to him, I was really excited to ride him when he came back home. However, the cowboy cautioned that he didn’t think Dex would be a good horse for me if I wasn’t able to ride consistently. So then I started having my doubts. My first ride back was on a school horse and Dex returned not too long after. My second week back to work I had planned to start riding Dex again, but I got bit by a dog the first night I had planned on trying, then slammed my pinky in my car door a few days later and gave up. Another week or so went by and I finally texted my friend to see if she could take Dex for a tune up.

Fortunately she had space to take Dex and got him going again. He was going well, so I began riding him. Then shortly after listed him for sale. We didn’t have any serious interest for quite a while, but the first person that came to look at him ended up buying him. I only say on Dexter 13 times this year, but I was so proud of both of us for overcoming some of our issues and having several very good rides in a row before he went to his new home. He is now the first horse for a 16 year old girl and he is doing dressage. He looks wonderful. I’ve been able to visit them once and she even let me ride him. It was wonderful to see him again, but after sitting on him again I knew I made the right choice to find him a new person. He really was just more horse than I am able to handle at this point in my life. He always handled my fears and anxieties well, but now that he doesn’t have to deal with them any longer, he is a lot more sensitive to them.

My wonderful friend who helped me sell Dexter as well as re-home my pony was very generous and let me borrow her mares once Dexter was sold. Once the days got shorter and I couldn’t get there early enough to ride in daylight, I had to find another evening option for the nights I can get away for a bit. An old friend and trainer offered me her Thoroughbred gelding who I get to ride indoors and is very tolerant of my anxieties. I also got to ride a medium pony on Wednesday which was fun, but eye opening. I thought I was in okay shape, but after riding him I am reconsidering that.

Being a mom as well as an Equestrian is tough. I miss Dexter terribly, as he owned half of my heart, but I will 100% not miss winter horse care. At this point in my life, it is so nice to show up to the barn and ride and not have to worry about anything else.

 

Blog Hop: GIF Name Game

Hillary over at Equestrian at Hart posted about looking up GIFs to help choose a name for her new horse. I decided to try it for my horse and the results were pretty entertaining.

Dexter did not come with that barn name. His name was formerly Spencer, but I really didn’t like that name, so it quickly got changed. The options were narrowed down to Dexter (my pick) and Diesel (my husband’s pick). At the time, I was binge watching the TV show Dexter, so that name was fresh on my mind. If you haven’t seen the show, Dexter Morgan is a serial killer. Which as a general rule I’m not a serial killer fan, but he’s a really fascinating character. Spoiler Alert: Diesel just never was a name I liked for this horse and Dexter won.

Without further ado, my favorite Dexter GIF. Dexter is intelligent, but a complete dork. I like this one because my Dexter frequently takes terrible pictures:

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Dexter is registered Appendix Quarter Horse. His registered name is Please No Autographs. Which for as terrible as some Quarter Horse/Appendix names are, I like this one pretty well. Google doesn’t like when I type in Please No Autographs. It keeps getting corrected to No Autographs Please. I have always been a Spongebob fan and this GIF is no exception.

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2018 Equestrian Blogger Gift Exchange

This was the 6th Annual Equestrian Blogger Gift Exchange and my 4th time participating. This is one of my favorite times of year, one because it’s the holidays and two I have a lot of fun with the gift exchange. Tracy over at the The Printable Pony organizes. It’s such a great way to bring the blogging world together. Thank you, Tracy!

This year my gift went to Ashlyn over at Pembrokes and Ponies. She hasn’t done her recap yet, so I’ll let her give details on the gift I bought. I had a ton of fun shopping though. I hadn’t read her blog before, but I had fun reading about Diesel, Diablo and Gracie.

My gift came from Michelle over at Cruisen in Stilettos. This was also a new-to-me blog, but I had fun reading a few of her past posts and getting to know her and her horses a bit.

I also must mention how on the ball she was. I got my gift about a week after the matches were sent out. All of the gift I had purchased hadn’t even arrived yet. Michelle got me a really pretty little wooden box from a local gallery that I love. I love keepsake items and this one is no exception.

The packaging was also really pretty and it had a very nice handwritten note inside.

Thank you again, Michelle!

2017 Equestrian Blogger Gift Exchange

This was my third year participating in the gift exchange. It’s always a lot of fun getting introduced to new blogs and new horses across North America and sometimes across the pond. The fabulous Tracy of the Printable Pony puts this on every year and I can’t imagine it is an easy task. This year there were 55 bloggers who participated. Thank you, Tracy!

This year my gift went to Jen and Connor at Cob Jockey and this year my gift came from Sarah at a A Soft Spot for Stars. In the gift exchange questionnaire, I mentioned that I had been pining over a horse holster and that I loved being warm in cold weather with socks, hats, etc. I also mentioned that blue, pink and purple were my favorite colors.

Sarah was seriously on the ball. Her gift arrived on December 12th! My gift didn’t get mailed until the 19th. I felt like a major slacker.

She sent me an adorable card, along with a purple horse holster and some fabulous Horseware socks that I want 10 more pairs of. I haven’t had a chance to use the holster yet (Thanks, winter), but the socks are just awesome.

Thank you Tracy for organizing and Sarah for the fabulous gifts!

A look back on 2017

As far as this blog goes, one would have assumed I died sometime after June. That, however, was not the case.

2017 wasn’t a bad year, but it did bring some shifts to my perspective about horses, people and life in general.

2017 brought some loss, some joy and lots of horse time.

I kept track of all my rides, lunges, etc on my phone throughout the year and I rode/lunged 46 times. For a lot of people this would be their rides in two months and I completely understand that. It’s not a lot of rides by any definition, but we had some hiccups that caused my confidence and desire to get back in the saddle to take a major hit. So just getting back on at all was a huge deal.

We started back up with our riding in June and it was rough. I fell off at the canter once and proceeded to nearly fall off several more times. We started working with a trainer, my farrier’s wife. We’ll call her RS. She was willing to come to our place, which was a huge deal for me because traveling caused more anxiety than we had at home.

Dexter got several rides from RS, who helped me believe that Dexter was more broke than I believed and that I am a better rider than I tell myself.

I also road tripped to Colorado at the end of July to visit my best friend. My trusty companion Tank went with me.

Things got better before they got worse again. Dexter was looking sore behind, dumped me at the canter again and so I set up a long overdue lameness exam.

We also traveled to Alaska for vacation. I got to spend 10 days with my mom, Dad and some friends. My husband went caribou hunting.

I also got to ride twice. Once on my good friend’s dressage mare on a trail ride, the other time on my trainer’s 4th level dressage horse. I’ve never felt like I knew how to ride less.

The lameness exam happened after a 10 day vacation, so things were not as agitated as they had been while he was consistently working. Lameness exam revealed nothing, other than that he was not lame enough to do further diagnostics. Between vacation and the lameness exam, I had picked up a new saddle. I don’t know a lot about western saddle fit, but it looked like the old one could have been restricting his shoulders. Turns out I was right. One night I lunged him without a saddle and then put the old saddle on and lunged again. He refused to move forward with the saddle on.

Luckily there is a store about an hour away that has a ton of used saddles. The owner helped me pick one out and I traded my old saddle in. Dexter looked way better in the new saddle and while I thought I would miss the old saddle, I haven’t missed it one bit.

I also visited my sister in Austin the weekend before my 30th birthday and had a blast.

I also took Dexter to a local show and while I only showed him in hand, I got on and rode him in the arena. That was a huge step for me, particularly since I was by myself.

We had a few lessons in the fall, but once we lost our daylight, the lessons stopped. Rides are sporadic on the weekends because I can’t get much done outdoors during the week, so everything gets crammed into two days.

The weekend before Thanksgiving, I shot my second deer. A nice 10 point buck, this time with a crossbow.

We had one lesson over Thanksgiving weekend where I also fell in love with a Tad Coffin saddle I had on trial. Dexter has never moved better. We still have the western saddle and probably will have it for a few more months, but I now know what I want to buy, so will be saving money for my very own Tad in 2018.

I had a few conversations with my trainer about how I felt I should have accomplished more in 2017, let alone in the 3+ years I’ve owned my horse. She quickly stopped me and reminded me what I have accomplished. It may not look like much on paper, but retraining my brain has been hard. It’s still a work in progress, but I’ve reached some pretty big milestones for me.

I don’t like making goals for a variety of reasons, but I have some things in the back of my mind that I’d like to achieve this year. The main goal: continue to make progress and have fun.

If at first you get bucked off, get back on again

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Dexter went back to work this week. I lunged on Monday and decided that I would get on him after a quick lunge on Tuesday. He seemed okay, so we walked and trotted, then stopped for this picture since my husband was sitting out there watching. Approximately 90 seconds after this picture was taken, I asked for a left lead canter.

And….

He took off bucking. He has crow hopped before both under saddle and on the lunge line. He’s attempted to buck under saddle and thrown in some pretty big bucks on the lunge line. However, this was a first for taking off bucking when asked for the canter. I wasn’t expecting it, but even if I had been, I’m not sure I would have stayed on.

So as I’m falling through the air, I’m wondering how terribly I’m going to land this time. Much to my surprise, I didn’t hit my head, or otherwise injure myself in a way that would prevent me from getting back on.

Dexter didn’t go far and so I grabbed him and went back over to the mounting block. For once, I wasn’t scared of him, I was just pissed. Once I got back on, we walked and trotted, did some halts and then I asked for a canter. He was a bit winded, but once he cantered nicely to the left twice, we quit.

I woke up stiff yesterday and didn’t want to get back on him, but I did. Aside from breaking my lunge line (second broken item this week), he was pretty good. We just walked and trotted due to an ATV interruption, but he was listening well. He’s not scared of ATVs, but I don’t want to push my luck this week. You know the hearing something you can’t see thing, that tends to be really scary sometimes. Even if they hear said noise EVERY DAMN DAY.

The moral of this story: a picture almost never tells the entire story.