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!

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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.

Come what May – 10 questions

I’ll call this an unofficial blog hop, since I don’t have much of a following, but I needed a distraction. So without further ado, 10 questions for May. Repost if you like!

  1. What are your summer goals?
  2. Do you have any tips or tricks for fly control?
  3. How often do you bathe your horse?
  4. Do you have any upcoming travel plans? Equine related or otherwise?
  5. What is your favorite way to beat the heat?
  6. Do you do anything to prevent your horse from sunbleaching?
  7. How hot is too hot for you to ride?
  8. How important is sun protection for you riding or just in general?
  9. Have you ever gone swimming with your horse?
  10. And because shopping is always on my mind, what’s on your summer wish list?

 

My answers:

  1. Horse-related: To start riding in general would be the biggest one. Try to get up to walk, trot canter rides and if all goes well, take Dexter for riding lessons. Non-horse related: Get some answers medically, make time and set aside money for some weekend trips and hopefully get to spend time in the water somewhere.
  2. My horses live outside 24/7 and unfortunately live next to a bunch of cattle. Last year I did feed through garlic and I put up fly traps around their pen. I just bought some shoofly leggins (Dexter hates flies) and a fly sheet to try. As far as actual fly repellents, I don’t really feel like one works better than the other, sadly.
  3. My two have yet to be bathed this year. I would say they get a full bath 3 to 5 times a year.
  4. No horse related travel plans, but I’m hoping to visit my sister in Texas in July, as well as one of my friends and my parents in Alaska in August.
  5. I don’t really care to swim, but I love waterparks and lakes. I’m not a hot weather person at all, so trying to keep cool is one of my main goals.
  6. I’m going to try a fly sheet this year to see if we can minimize the sun bleaching. I’ve used coat sprays in the past, but I’m not able to apply them often enough for it to be really worthwhile.
  7. I won’t ride above the upper 80s, low 90s at most. Which makes it hard since I live in Kansas, but usually I’ll just ride after 7 to 8 pm when it’s slightly cooler.
  8. I am pretty fair skinned and tend to burn easily. I jumped on the Kastel bandwagon last year, so I will either wear one of those shirts, or short sleeves or a tank top and sun block. I hate being burnt.
  9. I have never taken Dexter swimming, but I’ve ridden him in creeks and a pond. Growing up, we used to go trail riding to a pond or to a creek that both had deep enough areas where you could swim with your horse for a few strides. It was always a lot of fun.
  10. I want to buy everything. Ideally though, I’d like to finally get an English saddle. I just about bought one off ebay to at least try yesterday, but it had sold by the time I got onto ebay yesterday morning. Probably for the best since buying a saddle would not have been in my best financial interest, but I really, really wanted it.

The Good Kind.

I’m only posting this update 6 months later, but better late than never.

Before visiting South Carolina in October, my friend who lives there (further known in this post as SC friend) asked if I wanted to take some jumping lessons with her trainer. Since I hadn’t taken any jumping lessons since 2014 and it had been over a year since I had jumped at all, I was hesitant, but excited. SC friend set up my first lesson for Sunday morning. We had arrived from the road trip on Saturday night, so I had just enough time to rest up.

We arrived at the barn and I was told I was riding Ember. She’s a large pony mare who can be a little grouchy and is typically used for kids’ riding lessons. We got tacked up and headed to the ring.

We we did a little flat work and then it was time to jump. I was feeling pretty rusty, but all of my skills were still there hiding just below the surface. It felt good to still remember how to ride.

We started off with some ground poles, graduated to some cross rails and eventually started adding a few verticals to our course. I had been warned before climbing aboard that Ember had a signature move of dropping her shoulder before the fence. No big deal, I did my best to ride upwards toward the fences and keep my leg on. That worked well until we were cantering to a little wall and I saw a distance slightly longer than what Ember was comfortable taking. I’ve really only ridden horses, so it wasn’t programmed in my brain that I needed a little bit shorter spot. Ember dropped her shoulder, I dropped mine and I gently fell off. I landed on the opposite side of the fence. Dusted myself off and got up. I can count the number of times I’ve fallen off and been able to just get up and walk away on a couple of fingers. Nearly every time I fall, I either hit my head or another part of my body hard enough that getting back on the horse is not the most viable option.

 

However, this time I got up and I got back on the horse. Plus, I finished the ride. I even jumped the fence I fell off over and jumped it well. This was a big day for me. So much of riding has become a mental block for me and I convince myself I can’t do more things than that I can do. I did cry during the lesson and when the trainer asked me why, I didn’t have a good answer. It was just everything. I fell off and I wasn’t hurt. I got back on. I had become so afraid of falling off that I really wasn’t able to ride. This was a big breakthrough. I had fun, I felt accomplished and I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to ride Ember.

 

I did get to take a second lesson in SC, but that deserves its own post.

 

of Love, Loss and Horses

It feels a little weird to post this for all of the internet to see, seeing as I didn’t even post this on my own Facebook page, but here goes.

I can’t remember how much of this I have posted about and honestly I’m feeling too lazy to go back and look. So I’ll do a quick recap of the last 3+years.

In February of 2014, I found out I was pregnant. It was scary, but I was coming to terms with it. Shortly after finding out that I was pregnant, the pregnancy ended in a way that no one hopes their pregnancy will: miscarriage. In the process of all of this, I found out that I had a uterine birth defect. After a painful medical miscarriage, lots of tests, an MRI, a referral to a specialist and a few months later, my first surgery was scheduled for June, 2014. The defect (a uterine septum) was not fixed after just one surgery. Second surgery was scheduled after some more imaging for September 2014. Although no additional imaging was done, the surgeon told us she was confident that she got everything.

Fast forward to July of 2015. I found out I was pregnant again. 13 weeks roll by, I assume everything is fine. Though in the end that was not so. Fetus died at 8 weeks. My body realized at 13 weeks and 3 days that something was wrong. I began to miscarry. In the process of this, my regular OB/GYN noticed the septum was not completely gone. Frustrated does not begin to cover my feelings at that point. A D and C and some blood tests later, I was referred back to the specialist. Same office, different doctor, as the first one left. By this point it was December, 2015.

New Doctor was extremely nice, apologetic and seemed to want to find answers. More blood tests and more imaging later, I was placed on Thyroid medication (hypothyroidism) and my third surgery was scheduled for January, 2016. Imaging showed we were all clear. A few personal crises later, and after several months, I still wasn’t pregnant. Specialist decided to try some fertility drugs. What started as one drug, quickly turned into four. Many dollars, lots of imaging, several needles and lots of pills later, I was pregnant again (March, 2017).

Up until the 6 week mark, things were looking good. I was released from the specialist’s care. Fast forward to 10 weeks pregnant. My first official sonogram. No heartbeat. For a minute, I didn’t feel like my heart was beating either, but in that moment we had to figure out what our next steps would be. Funny thing was that I had just switched doctors and hadn’t actually met my new doctor yet. He wasn’t in the office that day, so we met with the on call doctor. He recommended a D and C. That was scheduled for the next morning (April 25th).

Two weeks later, physically I feel fine. Mentally and emotionally I am a wreck. It seems like the more time that passes, the worse I feel. It’s my third miscarriage, I should be used to it by now. But I’m not. Each loss is subsequently more difficult than the previous loss. I don’t know how or why but it is. I just want to feel fine and I don’t.

I finally had a breakdown last night. I got no sleep and neither did my husband. My trusty dog didn’t leave my side. I debated on calling into work today because sitting at my desk crying just seems counterproductive.

Answers? I have none. Normal pathology was fine. We’re still waiting on genetic/chromosomal testing and for my local OB/GYN to get lab results from my specialist.

I’ll somehow find a way to be okay, but for now I’m just here. Sometimes functioning, but more than likely not. I’m sad, I’m angry and I just want to feel better. Right now though, I don’t and I don’t know how long it will take for me to feel better than I do now.

So far I haven’t mentioned horses. Lately, I’ve had no mental strength to do anything. My house and my desk reflect how I feel and right now that’s not very good. So for now, my horse comes when I call him, I kiss his nose and hope that someday soon I’ll find the strength to ride him. Because we all know that horses are the cure of so many ailments. Whether those be mental, physical or emotional.

Until next time…

Long Road Trip.

I promised this post months ago, but looking back at my blogging of 2016 (or lack there of), it’s probably not much of a surprise that I still haven’t posted about this.

One of my friends moved to South Carolina in October. Months before her move, I told her that I would road trip with her. Originally she was moving to Virginia, but that fell through and she needed to move ASAP. Coincidentally I have a good friend who lives in South Carolina that I’ve been dying to visit who knows my friend that was needing to move. I told SC friend about other friend’s situation and they talked, SC friend got other friend a job and the ball got rolling. Due to the fact that I have a sometimes stupidly busy job, my window for being able to go on a several day road trip was pretty slim. Luckily the stars aligned, my friend got all packed up and we were on our way to SC.


For those that don’t know, I live in Kansas. So we went through: Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina and finally made it to South Carolina. Most of the road trip was pretty uneventful, but we went to a really neat ice cream place in St Louis (Crown Candy Kitchen), visited Keeneland on our way through Kentucky and saw the mountains and beautiful fall colors on our way through Kentucky and Tennessee. Once in North Carolina it was pine trees as far as you could see. I’d never been past Kentucky, so seeing Tennessee and the Carolinas was new for me.


So SC friend (one of my best friends) moved from Kansas last February. I don’t know how it’s nearly been a year already, but I miss her pretty much daily. I’d been wanting to visit her, but couldn’t really afford the plane ticket, so I was really excited to get to go and see her.