Wednesday, December 23, 2009

When it rains, it pours...literally

I'm just ready for the year to be over...a lot happened today and not very much of it good:

This morning (both within 45 minutes):
1.) A painter at a Baldwin & Shell (where my dad works) construction site got electrocuted and died. He was in his late 20's and has a child that is barely one year old...
2.) My grandmother was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. They thought she had possibly had a stroke because she was so weak; luckily (?) it turned out to be pneumonia - she will be in the hospital for several days, but will be okay.

This afternoon:
1.) Went with my mom to take flowers to my sister's grave. It isn't the going to the cemetery that bothers me, I just always feel so guilty when I leave...like I'm walking away from my baby sister - it just sucks. Some things never get easier and seeing her name on a grave marker is one of them.
2.) Grizabella (came home from vet this morning after getting a back de-claw at age 4) managed to open her wounds and started bleeding. Called the vet and she has to stay in dog kennel until at least Christmas...I just feel so bad for her. She is literally just sitting here looking at me through the bars - her eyes are dialated because of the drugs...

This evening:
1.) Found out that a girl I know at school was driving home from Colorado with her brother last night, they hit a patch of ice and hit a semitruck. Neither one of them made it. I can't imagine losing both children at the same time, especially right before Christmas...

Today was obviously a tough one. My heart, thoughts and prayers go out to those who lost loved ones in their lives this close to Christmas. I wish there was a time out for tragidy during the holidays, it just doesn't seem fair.

"Good night sweet prince and may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest" - Hamlet

Monday, December 21, 2009

2009: A Year in Review

Wow, I look back on the past year with tired eyes. A lot has happened this year, some good, some bad, some heartbreaking. Goals were accomplished and goals were forgotten. Below I just made a quick highlight of what happened this past year...

  • Found out that some people are just down right big fat liars
  • Found out that some people have your back no matter what
  • Played around at the beach to mend a broken heart
  • Played around on the cross country course to mend a broken ego
  • Lost a grandmother to cancer
  • Gained some new confidence
  • Kicked ass at some horse shows (both myself and students)
  • Got my ass kicked by a disease named after a pig
...and finally what seemed to be the theme for the year: I threw my heart in soul into something just to have it thrown back in my face and fail, but I picked myself up and moved on to the next big project a little smarter...

Goodbye 2009, God I hope 2010 is so much better!!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

RIP Cooper

While I was chipping away on my final exams this past weekend another battle roared on hundreds of miles away. Jennie Brannigan and Cooper were putting up their last fight against the injuries sustained in the freak show jumping accident at this past Fair Hill. After many ups and downs since the accident, including colic and acute founder, Jennie made the humane decision to let Cooper go.

I have followed Jennie and Cooper for the past couple years through blogs, magazines and the internet. The first thing that I found so addicting was not all their blue ribbons, but all of the pictures with Cooper's knees perfect and his ears forward. I can honestly say I have not seen a picture where Cooper didn't look happy to be doing his job - he just seemed like such a honest, happy horse; one of those that are a complete joy to ride.

My thoughts and prayers to out to Jennie and Brannigan Eventing as I know they didn't just lose a partner but a friend. Losing a horse has to be one of the hardest aspects of this industry - we all know it is inevidible but we still pursue our dreams because even if we only have a short amount of time (it is always too short) with our special horses, it is better than no time at all.

Good Luck Jennie - I know we will see more of you and thank you for sharing that big grey horse with the world!

Jennie's Blog
Brannigan Eventing

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Okay Let's Talk

I'm sure most everybody has seen the training pyramid before, or at least a version of it - but yet I see people everyday who are trying to achieve the upper levels without having a solid base. So let's talk about it...

Way back in the day Egyptians built pyramids primarily as tombs for the Pharaohs - this part really has nothing to do with horse training, but the next does. As far as history can tell a pyramid has ALWAYS been built from the ground up. I don't know of any pyramids that were assembled from the top down - do you? Most likely not. So, let's take that piece of knowledge and apply it to our pyramid here. Before you can have anything else you must have rhythm.

So let's define "Rhythm" as it applies to horses - Ability to move into the natural gaits with relaxation - physical AND mental. To have correct rhythm the horse has to have the correct beats for each gait: walk = 4, trot = 2, canter = 3 and rein-back=2. It makes sense to me - and obviously most trainers in the world - that a horse must have the ability to maintain an established rhythm (and gait) when under saddle before they can even begin to be truly supple.

I once had a dressage trainer tell me that when a horse is walking away from you it should be like watching Marilyn Monroe walking - hip swaying and all. To get this the horse must have suppleness, or flexibility. This happens in two ways: forward to back (longitudinal) and side to side (lateral). And by the way - a bend does NOT come from the neck!!! A true bend should come from the ribcage being wrapped around the rider's leg to make a bow shape with the horse's entire body. Only then - after the horse has an established rhythm and is supple can you begin to ask for contact.

Contact is when the horse ACCEPTS (not tolerates) the rider's hands, seat and leg. I see so many "riders" think their horse is round just because the horse's head is down and "on the bit." That is literally just the rider riding solely off their hands and so the horse braces against the bit in a headset that non-dressage riders seem to think is pretty. They are truly round when: the horse accepts and responds to leg and seat aids, the horse is moving UP into the contact from the HIND END, the horse's jaw is relaxed, the poll is the highest point and the horse's back is raised. Hopefully y'all are seeing a pattern here...Impulsion cannot happen until the previous steps are achieved.

Impulsion can be described as free-flowing energy initiated by the rider, causing the horse's back to swing, hindquarters to engage and forelegs to articulate. A good measure of impulsion is how far the horse steps up under its barrel and engages its hocks. Once again - the power must come from BEHIND. Riders should NOT have to constantly ask their horse to keep moving forward - you ask once and the horse keeps going at that pace until you ask for something different - impulsion should become a second nature to horses in training.

Did you know horses are naturally crooked? They have better sides just like people (right vs left handed). Asking a horse to be symmetrical and straight happens through working each side regularly. But guess what???? Before your horse can be straight it has to have - can you guess? - Rhythm, Suppleness, Contact, and Impulsion.

And what can then happen once all of it comes together? DING DING DING: COLLECTION!!!!! Great collection = rider feels as though they can let go and the horse would still maintain perfect rhythm and self carriage without any interference from the rider.

In my opinion there are many roads to Rome. If you ask 1,000 horse trainers how to do something you will get 2,000 different answers. I'm not saying what is the right or wrong way to get there as long as you get the basics down pat first. My dad is in construction so maybe that's why I understand the importance of a good foundation because it seems that the practice of getting a strong foundation before moving toward the more upper level movements went out with the Bush administration.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Itchy

Coaster is now clipped and all of that hair is now all over me...I'm going to take a shower!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Food for Thought

One of my biggest pet peeves are horse owners and riders that don't educate themselves on proper care of their horse. They take advice from trainers, friends and old wives tales but they don't invest in proper books, websites or even take some classes. Something people get all excited about is the percent of protein in feed. They think it is the BEST energy source for their horse - they don't know that it actually requires energy to break down the proteins so that the horse can use them as fuel.
It is my belief that most horses don't need much - or any - grain, they get their required nutrients from good quality hay or pasture. Coaster gets a pound and a half of a simple all around grain twice a day. When he is in the stall (at night) he is given about half a bale of a good quality mixed hay and then is out on pasture during the day. When he is worked I give him Ultium - the amount is based on how hard he worked. I love using Ultium because it has a high fat content, beet pulp, Vitamin E, C and Selenium - all the things that I think a performance horse needs. When fed in the right rations I've never seen a horse get "hot" off of it - even the most high strung Thoroughbred.
I guess my whole point of this post is that I wish horse owners would take the responsibility to educate themselves - they don't have to agree with me, just make an educated decision based on some sort of research, not just what somebody said.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Nice Hack

Today Coaster didn't meet me at the gate but stood really well in the crossties so I decided to just go out on a long hack. I hacked down the road past crazy dogs and killer cows to a city owned field that is mowed, flat and huge - basically the perfect gallop once we are in shape. It was good for both of us to get out of the arena and not touch the reins. He was a little stiff, which is understandable, but other than that we had a great hack out for over an hour.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Room Got a Little Brigher

Sunday: Coaster meets me at the gate, stands perfect in the crossties, doesn't move while I put on the polos, had a great ride with him really working over his topline and moving forward off my leg.

Monday/Yesterday: Coaster doesn't meet me at the gate, is a jerk in the crossties, moves around while I put on the polos, and acted ridiculous when I rode him - we are talking the attention span of a gnat and back to the not moving forward/bracing/being a jerk.

Tuesday/Today: Coaster meets me at the gate, stands perfect in the crossties, doesn't move while I put on the polos, and had a great ride - forward, submissive, moving off my leg...

So when I realized this pattern I felt kind of dumb for not realizing before I even put the saddle on Monday that something was wrong. I really think he was just a little stiff/sore. I should have read his behavior prior to me even putting my foot in the stirrup that something was off, but I had a friend out to watch me so I was preoccupied with showing her how much progress he has made - which of course she didn't see because it was a ridiculous/frustrating ride. Anyway - he was back to his new dressage self today so I'm happy...now it's onto the homework, ugh.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Back In the Bit

After focusing on the basics for the last couple of months I decided it was time to put the bit back in and see what I had. Wow is all I can say. Coaster is actually submitting to the bit and moving through his back. I need to find a new dressage saddle as mine really doesn't fit him...oh well, if only money grew on trees. Since Coaster and I are both out of shape for serious dressage work, I'm going to take it slow - get it right on the walk, then get it right on the walk/trot transition then worry about the trot and so on. I just need to focus on getting my leg as tight as it needs to be - I'm so out of shape it isn't even funny.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

It's Always Something

I always feel that right when I'm getting back on track with my horse something has to happen. A shoe is sprung, a stone bruise is formed - whatever it may be there is always something going on (I guess that's just the joy of horses)! I went out last night to ride only to find that Coaster was sore on his left hind. I'm guessing he slipped in the wet grass and strained something because he is still sore. Ugh. I went ahead and scratched the Dressage show this weekend so that I could get my money back (closing date isn't until tomorrow) rather than risk either a.) not letting whatever injury happened heal or b.) losing my coveted $30 entry fee (I'm a poor college kid remember!).

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Over the River and Through the Woods...

Today we went on a Treasure Hunt Trail Ride for Misty River Hounds - it was so much fun!! I actually rode Coaster in a halter the entire 2 hour ride. It was very much a through the river, over the mountains, through the cows (yikes!) and across the field type of hunter pace. He was great - completely responsive to the halter the entire time - even when galloping!

I'm thinking of going to Opening Hunt on Nov 7 and riding in second field. I don't want to ask him to jump on all that crazy terrain, but I think it would be fun to go and gallop the hills. It will also help with our confidence level all around, and get us both in shape. I just worry because he is so flat footed and this fixture has some seriously rocky places.

On another note, I'm doing a dressage show in Oklahoma next Sunday. We are doing Training 4 and 1st Level 1...in a halter. Do you see the current theme in my training right now? I really just don't trust myself to not go back to old habits that resulted in hitting that dang tree (my shoulder STILL hurts every morning!). I figure if I can successfully do a dressage test in a halter and score well then it will be super easy when I put the bit back in his mouth. My current number one goal: to be able to school Training Lvl XC in the halter - successfully of course!!!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Impressive

I am so impressed with Coaster. I've ridden him the past seven days - bareback in a halter and he's been doing wonderful. He is actually starting to go round in the halter - which is crazy because I had such a hard time with him in the bridle. I will try to get some video soon to post. I'm just so excited that he is actually getting a top line just using halter!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Today I Was Smiling

I walked outside for a study break around four thirty this afternoon and realized just how pretty of a day it was - it was a perfect 70 degrees with just enough cloud coverage. I went back inside just long enough to change into barn clothes then hoofed it back to the truck where I rolled the windows down and cranked up the music all the way to the barn.
My horse - who is perfect by the way - met me at the gate. I was worried he wouldn't recognize me, but that was a non-issue. I had only planned to stay out there long enough to give him a good grooming (I still had a ton of studying to do) but once again I decided it was too pretty of a day to not be on my horse's back.
He was an angel. I rode him bareback with the halter walk/trot/canter in the field and he was a complete angel. (Though I imagine a lot of it is he is so out of shape running or bucking or any other sort of misbehaving would just take too much energy!) I don't know many horses that can go with that long of a break and be completely safe yet responsive to my cues. I pretty much had a light, floppy hold on the lead rope at all times - he was riding completely off my body. Which is actually really impressive seeing how out of shape I am, I'm surprised I was able to give clear enough signals!
I wasn't able to ride for very long, but it was enough to give me my second wind. Tomorrow after class - I plan on getting back out there as soon as I can to ride again, hopefully with a big smile on my face again!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Being Responsible

It sucks!! It is the first actual sunny day in what seems like weeks. Am I out riding my horse? Am I even out there to groom and hang out with him? No - I'm stuck studying for the two tests and two quizzes, working on horrendous math homework and preparing for a wretched group project - all of which are due in a three day span. I guess I should be happy that there isn't a research paper thrown in there as well!

I guess it's all okay though - with all the rain Coaster's feet are the softest I've ever seen them. To make it worse the barn is undergoing a HUGE remodel so he doesn't even have a stall at the moment, which means he is out 24/7 in this mess we call Arkansas weather! It will be okay though, I just tell myself to keep breathing and it will all be okay. I just can't wait until I graduate in May and can spend the rest of my life working and playing with horses. I will go out tomorrow no matter what though. I bought some Crossapol - which is the best hoof hardener I've found on the market - and it should come in today. It works so much better than Tuff Stuff. I found it when I had my other Thoroughbred who had the feet from hell - if you looked at them cross eyed a shoe would fall off, taking half the hoof with it causing him to be off for a week. I may miss the horse, but I sure as hell don't miss the feet!!!!

Hope everyone is having a great fall so far!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Summer's Over Forever?!?!

Several things hit me today:

1.) I haven't posted in awhile.
For this I apologize. My grandmother was diagnosed with a terminal illness at the beginning of July so I've been going home at every chance I get so I can spend as much time with her as possible. Due to this, I haven't had a lot of time to play with my horse, which is the main reason for this blog. And to be honest, not much as happened that's blog-worthy lately.

2.) Today is my last day of summer vacation; most likely forever.
I'm graduating in May. Classes start tomorrow. Today was my last day of summer vacation, because let's face it - summers don't exist in the "real world". This gives me some seriously mixed feelings...for as long as I can remember all I wanted was to grow up fast, but lately I've felt rather nostalgic for the days of high school and early college. I'm going to miss the constancy of school life; especially the part where I don't have to worry about making car payments or how I'm going to have health insurance...

3.) This is the first summer since before 1994 that I haven't even stepped foot on the boat...
No lie. For my entire life summers have revolved around the lake and boat...even the summer after my sister died I was on the lake. I have not even SEEN Lake Ouachita this summer, much less been on the boat, put on a swim suit or gone swimming...if this is what growing up is about, I don't like it!!! I'm hoping maybe I can go over for a weekend soon, but seeing as I have classes 5 days a week this semester (nothing will ever beat last semester's schedule of only T/Th classes!) and then my grandmother's illness, I really just don't see it happening...

4.) And finally...I am seriously worried that my phone may be smarter than me.
Seriously. I've always had one of the flip phones that were super easy to figure out, but when I went home about two weeks ago my dad surprised me with a late birthday present: a PINK Blackberry Curve. [Yes, I said pink! I'm super excited about the color!] I've had the phone for almost two weeks now and STILL haven't figured it all out; evidently this isn't that uncommon with Blackberrys. [How do you spell the plural form? Am I supposed to add an "ies"?] Oh well, it's pink and I can have free ringtones again so I'm happy!

Oh yeah, I'm seriously thinking about not eventing my horse anymore. He is a super nice Jumper and Equitation horse, so I'm thinking of doing one of the following:
a.) selling him so I can buy a young event prospect after a graduate (and maybe make some money on him)
b.) keeping him but only do jumpers since that is his forte and he truly enjoys it (he likes XC too, but really hates dressage)

We'll see what I decide, it's not like I have to sell him or anything so I'll probably just sit on it for a little bit...we are starting boot camp this week to get us both back into competing shape.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Coaster's Summer

After one of the horses went lame at Horses for Healing I told his rider, Kayla, that she could ride Coaster for the two shows this month. The first show was the NWAHJA Summer Classic here in Fayetteville. She got 2nd in a Hunter Classic, 3rd in an Equitation over fences and I got 1st in the 3 phase jumper challenge ($150 in my pocket!)! I could not have been happier with Coaster -- he hadn't been in training since the end of May and goes in the show ring and kicks butt!!!

The second show was the GO Preview show in Oklahoma City. Kayla rode him to a 3rd, 5th and a 7th all in jumper classes (.95m and 1.0m) that had more than 30 riders!!! I got to ride him twice -- in my first class we went clean but not fast enough to place and in my second class we pulled a rail but placed 8th. We ended up scratching him the last day; 2 days of showing, one day off, one day trailering then 4 days of showing took a toll on him - hence the rail in my last class. He is such a trooper though he probably would have kept jumping for us until he dropped dead!

Needless to say, he is getting this past week off then hitting it again next week. We are schooling XC on Wednesday in Oklahoma (God I hate all that red dirt!). There is an event in late August we will probably hit up as well as Jubilee on Sept 12...then I want to got to Heritage Park (beginningish of Oct) and Holly Hill (lateish Oct). These will give me more than the quals in need to run Preliminary in the Spring!!!! Very exciting!!!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Coaster the Babysitter

I took Coaster to our day camp at Horses for Healing this week for the girls to do switch rides. The pony that little Ashley was supposed to ride was being a complete - well, pony - so I had the girl who was riding Coaster get on the pony and let Ashley ride Coaster!! He was such a sweetheart - just walked around the the arena and over poles and flowers like the perfect short stirrup pony! It helped her confidence to be able to get back on the pony and show him who was boss! I was so proud of both of them - this is why I love teaching!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Angles

I have been having farrier troubles - basically my farrier was shoeing based on the shoe, not Coaster's foot. I had a new farrier shoe him last week with pads and Equi-Thane on the front to protect his super flat feet. The farrier also had to completely fix ALL of his angles - Coaster literally had multiple angles on each foot. So now - as can be expected - he is sore from the correct shoeing job. It is just so frustrating.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Another Essay...

A Shift in the Wind
It was the summer of 2003 and I had been working all year to qualify my horse for Nationals, which was held the first week of August in Virginia. By putting aside school, friends and even family Onyx and I were qualified to go to the competition, with only one problem. My uncle was getting married the last week of July in California and my parents insisted that I be there with the rest of the family. I would make it to Nationals, but my horse would spend the entire week prior to competition lounging in his pasture, losing training and muscle tone.
“One of these days you will understand how important family is,” my parents scolded anytime I tried to argue my attendance at the wedding. So I boarded the plane resentfully, not knowing that it would be the last trip we took as a family: my mom, my dad, my sister and myself.
I was an hour away at the time of the accident on Labor Day, September 1, 2003. While other families were celebrating with picnics and barbeques I got a phone call from my dad, telling me Kathryn had been in a wave runner accident. I wasn’t sure what to think – I could tell it was bad by his tone, but he wouldn’t give me any details. All he would say is that my uncle was coming to take me to the hospital.
It wasn’t until we walked into the emergency entrance that I realized my life would never be the same. All normalcies in which my life had revolved around up to that point had just been yanked out from under me, sending me flying unceremoniously into a dark hole. My fourteen year old sister, Kathryn Elise Henson, was pronounced dead on arrival at St. Joseph’s Mercy Center in Hot Springs, Arkansas. She was caught in a thunderstorm while trying to make it back to the dock on her wave runner. As the rain cleared my parents looked out and saw the wreckage a couple hundred yards away against some large rocks on the shoreline – Kathryn’s wave runner had gone airborne and flipped on top of her; despite all the rescuers’ repeated attempts to revive her, my sister died on Lake Ouachita.
For the next couple of days sobbing, tears, and hushed whispers filled the house as friends and family filtered in and out; bringing food and supplies in exchange for updates and the latest gossip. My parents became hollow human shells as they made the arrangements. Mothers should never have to pick out burial clothes for her daughter; fathers aren’t supposed to sign for caskets and floral arrangements for their little girls.
When visitors came to the house, visitation and funeral it became hard to tell who was comforting who. I found my only comfort in my horse. He was the only one who never gave me the dreaded looks of sympathy or those rib crushing hugs; he was just there for me, letting me cry in his black mane and mentally escape from everything going on in the physical world.
The months that followed were hollow and stale. My parents did the best they could to remember they still had a living daughter, my teachers at school cut me more slack than necessary and the students tried not to stare when I walked by. I filled my days with horses, doing everything I could to try and be a normal high school senior, but always fell short.
Graduation day sucked. There was a scholarship given to one of my classmates in my sister’s name that my dad presented. All I could think about was the fact that my sister wasn’t there and that we sat under a huge steel beam that had the words “In Loving Memory of Kathryn Elise Henson” painted onto it along with the entire student body’s signatures. As all my classmates left to go to various graduation parties and my family waited for me at my house, I drove to the cemetery and hung my tassel on my sister’s grave. It killed me that she would never get the chance to walk across the stage and receive her own diploma. She would never get to have a boyfriend or go to prom and laugh with her friends; she had such a great laugh.
I look back now at my life and see that it is separated into two sections: “Before” and “After”. Before Kathryn died I was carefree, immortal and driven. I figured that I would qualify for the 2008 Olympic and then go on to compete in the 2010 World Equestrian Games and that my family would be there for me after I’d conquered the equestrian world. I didn’t take into account that sometimes you have to put your family first; because I never had to prior to that stormy Monday.
After Kathryn died I learned the hard way to cherish every minute I had with my family and friends, because a life can be taken with just a shift of the wind. I had to put my east coast competition goals and college career aside because I didn’t want to be sixteen hours away from my family so soon after Kathryn’s death. Whenever my family needs me, whether it is good or bad, I am there; even if it means putting my own riding career on the back burner for a couple of days. I learned with a single heartbreaking experience that being with my family for a week is more important than doing well at a single horse show. There are horse shows every weekend, but I only have one family.





Sunday, June 7, 2009

An Essay...

I had to write a personal essay about an important memory in my life and I chose to write about a clear cross country round with Onyx. Here it is, let me know what you think!

The butterflies from the night before had vanished; replaced with cold heavy iron. I tightened up the girth, checked my helmet and started towards warm up. Eight horses and riders galloped around the three jumps set up for warm up, a sort of organized frenzy. Though it was hardly my first cross country course, it included one of my greatest demons. Seventeen jumps completed the Training level course in Louisiana, but jump fifteen was all that mattered to me - the trakehner. All of my demons hid in the grave like ditch below the suspended log; they always waited until Onyx and I were forty feet away to rear their ugly heads.

I completed my quick warm up with a stern face, nearly everyone at the show stayed out my way - they knew it was one of my last chances to prove myself. The night before, two hundred miles north, my high school friends had danced the night away in formal dresses, tuxedos, and limos, one of the last rites of passage of a graduating senior. This course, this jump, was more important than that, it represented more than senior year, more than caps and gowns; it was the key to my future and happiness. This was my rite of passage.

As I waited for the starter to count down from ten, everything around me dissolved, all that was left was my horse and me. We sprung from the start box straight to a gallop. Fences one, two and three came and went quickly and easily. The first real question wasn’t until the bending line at jump four. Several riders had issues here but we bounced through it as though they were x-rails. Launching into the second field I felt Onyx question a large table. SMACK with the whip. We were over it. Even over the preceding jumps I only had eyes for number fifteen. Over the combinations at jump seven and eight; through the water complex at eleven and we were on our way.

Well ahead of the clock we flew over the last couple of barriers before the trakehner. As we hit the long gallop stretch leading up to my boogey jump everything slowed down. It seemed that time went backwards; back to four months prior, the last time I faced this fence. The fence had won that time, the ditch eating me whole. White hot panic seized my stomach and I thought about turning out. Instead I pulled Onyx into a circle. In the circle I saw my parents, their faces both hopeful and scared; my trainer, she knew I was panicking; all of my friends and teammates, their faces frozen in anticipation.

In the last quarter of the circle I turned my head away from the friends and family present to watch the personal battle; I turned and focused on the two flags of the monster. Red on right, white on left. That was all I had to do: get between those two flags. Seven strides out I froze. Onyx’s strides shortened at five strides out, the demons were starting to stir. At four strides I could see the demons’ fiery eyes and sharp fangs. Three strides out Onyx and I both felt their hot breath and Onyx started to balk; then I snapped back into the ride. My leg closed, my throat growled – or was that the demons? Strides two and one were a complete fog. I saw flashes of my horrible fall a few months before: ambulances, my father running and yelling, my mom’s tears, Onyx galloping away, leaving me for the demons.

Squeals and screams haunted me as we landed on the other side, later my parents told me it was the spectators’ cheers, not the demons chasing us away. The last two jumps were poles on the ground we skipped over mockingly with our eyes on the prize: the finish flags.

As I slowed my proud steed to a trot my vision blurred. The steward, the same one from the show before, gave me a thumb up and a grin. The same friends and family that had surrounded jump fifteen came running off the course yelling, laughing and cheering as Onyx gave his trademark bit shake and stomped his front legs, proud of himself. The tears on my mom’s face mirrored those on my own and even my trainer, who claimed to have no emotions, had a telling glisten to her eyes. Cloud nine was well below where we all stood then.

After everybody left the barn to go watch the rest of cross country, after my tack and equipment had been put away I sat in Onyx’s stall while the ice melted on his legs. His head was dropped down to sniff my lap, looking for the treats he knew I had and hoping for an ear rub. He got both, of course. In the distance I could hear the announcer commentating on the rides, birds calling in the trees and a disappointed dog left behind in a stall. The Louisiana breeze was heavy and laden with the tang of sweet hay and manure. My large, black horse sighed in my face, warm and moist, and nibbled my hair. Outside of that stall a bigger world was continuing on without us, and we were perfectly okay with that.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Using My Head

I've decided - after taking a long hard look at my checkbook - not to go to the event in Illinois at the end of the month. I just don't really have the money and other bills to pay that are more important...I hate having to be responsible!

Oh well, I'll save my money and hopefully do three events in the fall! Hope everyone's summer is going well!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Successful Show!!

Yesterday was my first show back since "the tree" - it went extremely well! I got mostly 6's and 7's on my Dressage test landing me in second with a 39, following the leader by only like half a point - I was a very proud mother!!! Seeing as the last dressage test was basically a slaughtering that ended with tears, this was a nice, soft test with some very good feedback other than "no submission."
Cross Country was AMAZING! The startbox and jumps 1 and 2 were on a bit of a downhill slope that had Coaster rolling and not really listening to me - I was like "Oh crap, this is going to be the course from hell again!" But fence three had a pretty sharp left turn to it and he came back to me completely on my body and the rest of the course was a piece of cake! I ran him in the big fat three piece snaffle and no spurs - I was so proud of him completely listening to my body - I hardly had to pick up the reins at all!!!
For Show Jumping we were both extremely tired (it was 90 degrees outside!) both mentally and physically. We fought a little bit, but it was either that or him bucking me off, so I figured a little bit of fighting was better than letting him have his way and get me off his back! The only problem was we had 11 time points so it dropped us from 2nd to finish in 3rd - which is still good considering I fell off the last event!! I was so proud of him on the entire day!

Oh yeah - and the trip from hell on our way there. We had a blow out on the trailer and had to limp 20 miles to a Wal-Mart to get it fixed. We do know how to change a tire mind you, but some Einstein put a lock on the spare tire and must have thrown away the key, so we had to go find a bolt cutter in the middle of no-where Arkansas! It all turned out okay though, so I was happy!

I'll post video later.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Jump Lesson

Five months ago I would have never believed it was possible for Coaster and me to Show Jump in a halter. Today we proved we could. I had my first jump lesson (and my first jump session!) since I fell in November today - Coaster did really well but I was doing this weird twisting thing with my right arm/shoulder so my trainer had me put the halter on and jump. I generally warm up with the halter on the flat, but it was a true test of my confidence in my horse to jump him 3ft with just a halter. We aren't talking gridwork either - coursework. I was amazed at how much better I rode and how much better my horse responded. I'm seriously thinking about show jumping him next weekend in the halter! Though I'm pretty sure I at least want the snaffle on cross country!! :-)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Prelim by Spring?

I hope so! Coaster's foot was much better today - not off at all. So I tacked him up and rode him on the flat in my jump saddle (need to get my position and balance back!). He was absolutely amazing, I still can't get over this new horse of mine!!!!

We worked on our downward transitions and (surprise) as long as I keep my leg on and keep riding he does them great. I talked to my trainer (who said she can see a HUGE difference in Coaster's topline just in the past week) and she thinks that Prelim by the Spring is not an unattainable goal. I guess I should just focus on my Novice run in a week though! LoL!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Farrier Blues


Coaster got shod yesterday - I've been using this farrier for about a year, but I'm still not 100% happy with him. It just seems that there aren't any great farriers in this area. Then, to top things off, I pull Coaster from his stall today and he is foot sore on the his left front. First of all Coaster is never foot sore - literally this is the first time in the 4 1/2 years I've had him. Second, I have a show in a week. If it is a nail then I'm scared he's going to abscess, so I guess the best I can hope for is that he just trimmed him a little close. I gave him 2 grams of Bute and hope that he will be better tomorrow...I'm wondering if I should pack the foot or not.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

No Stretchy Circle?!

I'm so sad, the Novice test doesn't have a stretchy circle in it! It's been awhile since I've done a Novice test and I was all excited to show off Coaster's new and improved stretchy circle...oh well, I guess we will have to wait until June.

Other than that he is doing amazing. When it isn't pouring down rain we take a trail up a turf hill (fairly steep and long) to a new housing development where all of the empty lots (which is like all but one or two) have perfect turf footing. The barn guys keep it mowed up there so I can go and work on flat work. I'm thinking of taking a couple jumps up there one day because there are some nice slopes where I could set up some great gymnastic exercises. I can tell how much more Coaster enjoys working when we aren't in the arena, so I try to keep it interesting and fun most of the time.

Oh, and I almost forgot! Coaster found his inner cow horse yesterday. Yes, that's right, my warmblood thinks he can learn cow sense! We were up in the housing development riding and there were some loose cows (downed fence) and the guys rounding them up were making fun of my english horse - well, if you know me, I take that as a dare. Literally 10 minutes later those cowboys had their mouths hanging wide open in awe about how quick of alearner and responsive I could get my horse to be .... aaaannnnnddd one of those cute cowboys asked for my number, so I may have to let him take me out to dinner this weekend, so overall it was a successful ride! ;-)

Monday, May 11, 2009

This Can't Be My Horse!

So today was the first day I rode Coaster in full tack since February. He was amazing. That is all I can really say because words cannot describe. Everyone at the barn thought I was crazy because I literally started crying while I was riding.

We did a 10 meter left canter circle and the left rein was flapping in the wind. No lie! He came together for me so nicely I could have sworn it wasn't my horse. I actually had to put my leg on him so he wouldn't over-flex. I talked with my friend/trainer about it and we've concluded that since his early training was done quickly with gadgets he start now that I've taken the time to go back and put down the basics again, slowing myself down to his thinking pace (which is super slow!), he is responding better than ever! Now I just have to take my time in building up his stamina (now that he willingly uses the correct muscles!) so that he doesn't get too sore and start resenting it all again! It's just so hard not to push and see how much this new and improved Coaster can do!!!!!

Friday, May 8, 2009

To Event Again!!!

I've been thinking really hard lately about my return to eventing...what level to compete, when, where...well, I think I've decided! There is an unrecognized event about 2 hours away at Jubilee Horse Trials on May 30 - I think I will go novice. Then at the end of June there is an event right outside of Chicago where I think I will go Training.

Jubilee is the course that I grew up at - it is just right outside of Little Rock. I feel comfortable there, I've jumped all the jumps - I just want to run novice to make sure I will get around without any problems. Restore a bit of my confidence, as well as any Coaster probably lost at our last run.
The course in Illinois looks really straightforward. The training course doesn't seem that beefy, but still asks some good questions, so I figured it would be good test run back at Training level to make sure I won't get hurt again!

From there, we will see - probably an event in September in Missouri then I really want to run Holly Hill in October. Then, if all goes well I'll run another Training level early Spring '10 and then pop up to Preliminary...hopefully, but we will see! I'm just excited to be putting the pinney back on and getting back out on course!!!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rushing Fences

As most of you know I've decided to take a step back with Coaster and focus on some obvious holes in our very basic training. I am very pleased with the results that I've seen since beginning the Parelli program, but I still have my competition goals in the forefront of my brain. I love getting ready for shows. I love competing. I pretty much love everything about horse shows - even getting up before dawn to braid and walk courses!

The issue that I am having now is successfully bridging what I have learned recently with my competitive goals. The last thing I want to do is push myself and my horse too quickly, but on the same note I don't want to get stalled by not pushing enough. There is a local dressage show on May 25th that I want to compete in, and then I want to start eventing again in the fall. To me this seems like a suitable time frame, and it's not like I can't move it up or back need be. I just don't want to end up rushing my fences, so to speak, and end up hurt again...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

RIP Kingpin

Kingpin, ridden by Mike Winter and owned by the rider and the Kingpin Syndicate, died while competing at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event today, April 25 in Lexington, Ky. Kingpin, a 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse, fell while negotiating Fence 10 and died at the scene.

He was taken for a complete necropsy at the Kentucky State Diagnostic Lab, but it has not been completed yet.

According to Catherine Kohn, Vetinerary Delegate, Kingpin bled into his abdomen, and as far as she could tell, had no broken bones as a result of the fall.

"He most likely died of natural causes, not as a result of the fence," she said.

The rider was sent to Georgetown Community Hospital for further evaluation, but has been released.

The pair competed for Canada in the 2008 Olympics.

--- http://www.chronofhorse.com/index.php?cat=40511032791602&News_ID=1392504094492122

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

So Much Great News!

I am so very excited! After all the crap that has gone on this semester it looks like things are coming together for at least this weekend. I get to go help groom/braid/warm-up at an A Show in Tulsa tomorrow through Saturday, then Sunday I get to go school cross country. Yeah, that's right! I'm going to go school cross country up at Longview Horse Park in Missouri. I doubt I will jump very big, but just to go out and school some cross country basics will do wonders for our confidence! Aaaannnnddd...the barn said that they will build me a ditch to school over on a daily basis. Then, to top it all off - my grandmother who had an aneurysm while in California last month gets to come home next week - she's been in the hospital and then a rehab facility out there (my mom pretty much had to temporarily move out there to be with her)...but they get to drive home starting Monday! And it looks like she will make a FULL recovery - which she had about a 10% of doing a month ago! I know this all sounds like a lot of rambling, but I can't believe it is all coming together before finals start and ruin my happiness!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Video Update

I thought I'd post a video (turn up your volume!) of what Coaster and I have been working on lately with the natural horsemanship. As you can tell this is groundwork with a halter and lead ("On-Line"). Basically what I've been working on is not micro-managing and using the cue "phases" so that Coaster will become lighter and more responsive. I guess I should have posted a "Before" video, because 2 months ago if you asked him to back up on the ground he would throw his head up, push into you and walk through the pressure - you can see for yourself how he is now. In the next couple of weeks I'll post a video of our freestyle riding - I'm still a little self conscious about sharing that with the public!! :-) I just can't wait to get back to competing again! I'm planning on schooling cross country several times this summer and then going to a minimum of two events in the Fall.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Progress Progress Progress!

I am so pleased with Coaster's progress! His cough is much better - Thank God! And I think he's really enjoying this new program we've been doing. Before I get on him I "play" with him on the ground from anywhere between 10 to 30 minutes working on moving him away from pressure, forward when I ask, back when I ask...basically anything and more that I would ask while in the saddle. Then, since I'm taking a break from hard work to go back to the basics, I get on him (bareback with a rope halter) and ask him to move around off my leg, forward, back, etc. I've decided that I'm not putting a bit in his mouth until I can walk/trot/canter on a 20 meter circle with the correct bend and transitions in the halter. This will keep both of us from bracing against the bit - which was our biggest issue. Also, if I can ride him completely off of my body then when we get the bit in, that will just be our safety net.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Confessions & Breakthroughs

Confession: I saw this picture of Megan Jones & Kirby Park Irish Jester on the USEA website and was hoping maybe y'all would see the big grey horse and think it was me and Coaster! Hey, can't blame me from trying!!!
Though I would personally like to see her plumb line a little bit more in line (shoulders over hips - hips over heels), who am I to critique someone's dressage position?!

I had a semi-huge break-through with Coaster the other day in his session that I am so stoked about. At the walk on a circle (on the line of course b/c remember I'm taking a step down to work on ground work - especially until his cough gets better), without the use of side-reins or any other device other than a rope halter and 12 lead line, I was able to ask Coaster to walk more through - bent in the correct way, using his topline - and guess what?! HE DID IT! All of a sudden, when I asked it was like wham! I knew there was an inner dressage horse in him hiding away!!! Now let's just see if I can get it again today ... well, off to teach lessons and play with ponies!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Cough-B-Gone...NOW!

Coaster went to the vet today and got some good meds to hopefully open up his airways. I can go back to working him in about four days - YaY!!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Founder/Author of Centered Riding, Sally Swift, Passed Away

I don't know if any of you have read the Centered Riding books, but they are up there with my Pony Club Manuals as far as I'm concerned. The analogies and images that the books show have helped me not only in my own riding, but also with teaching. I think it is safe to say Sally Swift had a "life well lived." From what I've read she was fairly active (for almost 96 years old!) up until she got sick. If you want to read the full obit, you can find it here at centeredriding.org.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Not Quite Ready for Liberty Yet...

Well, yesterday I thought I'd see how much Coaster liked me and tried a little bit of liberty work in the round pen. I learned two things a.) my horse is pretty darn scopey and b.) he doesn't think I'm nearly as much fun as exploring the farm on his own! Literally in the first circle (my back was too him - absolutely no pressure) and picked up a slow jog of a trot and hopped right up and over the 3 1/2 foot fence surrounding the round pen - from that little jog of a trot! Seriously it might as well have been an x-rail! If he had been cantering or even had a forward trot I wouldn't have thought anything of it, but we are talking that western pleasure type jog that is more like a fast walk with two beats! Of course post jump he proceded to run around the farm for 10 minutes before he decided to walk back to me as if nothing had happened - needless to say I don't think we are quite ready for any true liberty work yet!

Other than that though I've been riding him walk/trot/canter in the halter, getting all of my transitions off my body - I'm very impressed with how much all of this groundwork has paid off!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Healthy as a Horse....ha!

I feel so sorry for Coaster! He is suffering from an upper respiratory infection...he is coughing and farting (yes, at the same time like an old woman) anytime he does anything more stimulating than walking to the stall. I've started him on antibiotics...I guess this is what I get for living in a place that has horrible weather changes!!! At least we caught it before it got too bad - if the Tuciprim doesn't knock it out in a week then we may have to go get some shots...ugh, guess I won't be going to that event in May... I just don't feel like I should push his recovery and I definitely don't want to go to another event until I am 110% ready and confident - one tree in a lifetime is enough thank you very much! Hope everyone else's Spring season has started a little better than ours!!!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Good Better Best, Never Rest, Make Your Good Better and Your Better Best

Have you ever felt that you are constantly trying so hard but yet always pull up just short of the target? This is the story of my life it seems. I have to keep on trying though, because let me tell you, nothing is worse than watching your friends stop trying. It truly breaks my heart to watch them not even try, to just give up. It just really sucks when I would have given up just about anything (though it wouldn't have been the right thing) just to watch your friends throw it away without even trying. Ugh! I wish there was something I could do to help them. I guess all I can do is just be there for them.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Survey - *stole from Beckz* =)

1. How old were you when you first started riding?
I got 3 months worth of riding lessons for my 9th birthday

2. First horse ridden:
an old grey QH named Spunky

3. First horse trotted on:
Spunky

4. First horse cantered on:
Spunky

5. First Horse fallen off of:
(also my first jump!) Marylegs

6. Most recent horse fallen off of
LoL - Coaster (the tree incident)

7. Most terrifying fall:
Either the tree incident (only b/c of my injuries) or when Coaster and I rolled down the hill - all of the falls off of Onyx were high speed and I had adrenaline pumping too fast to get scared

8. First horse jumped with:
Marylegs

9. First horse who ran away with you:

XS - a cute little paint pony

10. First horse that scared the crap out of you:
either Zach the Arab or XS the pony

11. First horse shown :!)
Zach in walk/trot - we got Reserve!

12. First horse to win a class with:

either Spunky or Jouster

13. Do you/have you taken lessons:
Started taking lessons and continued at least once a week until I came to school - now it's just when I have time and can afford it!!!

14. First horse you ever rode bareback:
probably Spunky

15. First horse trail ridden with:

Spunky

16. Current Barn name:
@ Equestrian Bridges

17. Do you ride English or western?:
English

18. First Horse to place at a show with:
Didn't I answer this question??

19. Ever been to horse camp?:
not really except the little day camps at the barn - though I rode a couple times while I was at Girl Scout camp

20. Ever been to a riding clinic?

yup, a ton

21. Ridden sidesaddle?
not on an actual side saddle -- i tried trotting Onyx while sitting sideways on my saddle though

22. First horse leased:
n/a

23. Last Horse Leased:

n/a

24. Highest ribbon in a show:
Champion/1st

25. Ever been to an 'A' rated show?:

I've competed in a B rated show and I've gone to watch an A rated show, but I primarily do Eventing

26. Ever competed in pony games/relay races?:
just at little Pony Club playdays - I always had horses

27. Ever fallen off at a show

oh yes

28. Do you ride Hunter/Jumpers?:
nope though I'll hit up the local HJ circuit sometimes when I'm bored

29. Have you ever barrel raced?

LOL!!! Once, on my TB in my English saddle

30. Ever done pole bending?:
I think I might have done it once on this rodeo I went to w/ a friend on her QH -- we also did Barrel Pickup

31. Favorite gait:

Canter

32. Ever cantered bareback?:

yup -- though I prefer a less Thoroughbredy horse if I'm going to ride bareback

33. Have you ever done dressage?:
Yes - LoL, if you can call it that!!!

34. Have you ever evented?:

Hell Yeah!

35. Have you ever mucked a stall?:
Oh yeah

36. Ever been bucked off?:
oh yeah

37. Ever been on a horse that reared
yup

38. Horses or ponies.
Horses

39. Do you wear a helmet?:
Usually - always when I'm jumping or on a young/strange horse

40. What's the highest you've jumped:

I dunno -- over 4' though

41. Have you ever ridden at night?:
Yup

42. Do you watch horsey television shows?:
If I can find them

43. Have you ever been seriously hurt/injured from a fall?:

obviously not too seriously b/c a.) I'm still alive, b.) i'm still walking and riding

44. Most falls in one lesson:

2 times - it was ridiculous

45. Do you ride in an arena/ring?:
sometimes

46. Have you ever been trampled by a horse?:

yes

47. Have you ever been bitten?:
yes

48. Ever had your foot stepped on by a horse?:
too many times to even think about counting

49: Favorite riding moment:
Getting Onyx around Holly Hill in Spring of 2004 double clear or Nationals 2002 when I beat out all the rich little East Coast girls

50. Most fun horse you've ridden:
Onyx or Spyder....Roosevelt was really cool too (he was an upper level Dressage Schoolmaster - I really learned a lot the short time I got to ride him)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Heartache ---> Home

Whenever I start to hit rock bottom I always go home. Maybe it is the girl in me, I'm not sure, but I truly am a homebody in the sense that nothing makes heartache go away better than my horse and my family.

For the last couple of months I had lost that feeling of home with my horse. Don't get me wrong, I never stopped enjoying horses, teaching lessons and talking shop. That connection had just slipped. Now it is well on the way to being reconciled - starting with all the groundwork (thanks Pat Parelli!) that we've been doing.

Also in the past couple of months I've reconciled another connection: me with my spiritual beliefs. Now I'm not going to go all Bible-thumpin on y'all, I promise, but I've really been thinking about why I believe what I believe. Now I blame my being raised Lutheran on my need to know "why" and "what does it mean." (Have you ever read any of our doctrines, they are full of "What Does This Means" for every single Prayer, Creed, etc.) But it is because of these "What does this mean" statements that I know what I believe. I believe Communion is a sacred thing. I don't believe anyone who is visiting a Church (in other words doesn't know/believe that particular Church's beliefs regarding the Lord's Supper) should not take Communion. It is a testimant to your faith and your own personal belief. Now I'm not one to judge - I believe that everyone believes in what they believe (if that makes sense) and that they have their own personal feelings/reasonings for believe that - so PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't get offended or start arguing beliefs/faiths with me - this is simply me writing out what has been churning around in my head for a couple months now...Lutherans believe that there is a Spiritual combination of the bread and Christ's Body and then the wine and Christ's Blood. It is one of the Sacraments of the Church - it is a very spiritual thing and I personally cannot take Communion without it being first blessed by the Pastor and then personally handed to you with the traditional litany of sorts taking place. As I said, it is very personal and Spiritual for me.
Last week was the first time I've taken Communion since my sister died in September of 2003. For the first year and a half after her death I was so angry at God that I was not ready to have the closeness of Communion with Him. After that I think I was scared and embarrassed to come back to the Church. I wasn't sure where it fit into my life and honestly I didn't really care that much for it. But probably in the past 6 months or so I've started mulling over what I believe and why I believe it. It also wasn't until recently that I realized I was much stronger in my beliefs than I thought I was and I'm not nearly as willing to give them up as I feared I would be.

So, I guess the silver lining of what I like to call "The Valentine's Day (Heart) Massacre" (yes, I'm a little on the melodramatic side, but this isn't a new thing) is that it has caused me to come home, physically and spiritually. For as good as it felt to throw a leg over my horse, it felt at least 8 times as good to go Home in my faith.

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand." Isaiah 41:10

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Dressage Horse What?!


Yesterday was the first time I've really ridden Coaster in a really long time. (Note: When I say "really ride" I mean not just trail riding or poking around, but actually training) He was GREAT! I don't know if it is the Parelli stuff we've been doing, my "new" mindset, the time off or if he was just in a good mood. Whatever, I'll take it! All of a sudden my horse was NOT fighting me, he WAS in front of my leg, and was ACTUALLY listening to me! Of course I'm sure Coaster was sitting there thinking "Geeze, finally she did NOT pull on my face, she STOPPED nagging me and she did NOT make me trot/canter around in mindless circles!" Like I said, though whatever the cause of this newfound mindset (of both of us!) I'll take it. I'm having fun with the groundwork associated with Parelli, it obviously isn't hurting anything and it obviously works for other people.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Good Enough For The O'Connors = Good Enough For Me!

The past two weeks I've started taking Parelli lessons with the manager of Coaster's new barn. Several people have made fun of me, telling me that I should have fun teaching my big expensive Event horse circus tricks. Ha. I'm pretty sure if Linda Parelli can jump picnic tables and do piaffe and passage bridleless I have something to learn. I'm also pretty sure if Karen and David O'Connor have learned from it and applied it in their daily routines then there is definately something for me to learn as well. I've already started noticing good changes in my relationship with Coaster - and only in two weeks! I figure what the heck - it isn't going to hurt anything and it isn't going to do anything except strengthen our relationship - hey, maybe I should try it on my boyfriends! LoL!!!


Saturday, February 28, 2009

My Greatest Fear (Another Non-Horse Blog)


Maybe it's the two bottles of wine I've drank this weekend, or the Spanish scenery in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, but either way I've realized my greatest fear. I am scared to death that I will marry someone who I will eventually fall out of love with. I cannot imagine a sadder existence; bonded to somebody you love, but yet are not in love with them. Or worse still, someone who falls out of love with me. One of the worst realizations I've had in my life are those when I realized that I cared for someone more than they cared for me. Luckily it has only been with friendships and minor relationships, but it still hurts. I cannot imagine the pain of realizing your husband no longer is in love with you.

I believe that I have the ability to fall in love, I am just enough of a dreamer. I worry however about those who are either too scared or those who don't trust enough to fall in love eventually. There are some people who just won't let themselves fall. Those are the people that I worry about. Those are the people who will end up in not only a loveless marriage, but a truly unhappy life. I just hope that I will eventually find, not only happiness, but that in love feeling that will stand through thick and thin, till death do us part.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Saddle Envy

My Stubben does not fit Coaster. Period. And I hate padding up saddles, because there is only so much you can do, and if the saddle doesn't fit then the saddle doesn't fit. I've been dealing with this issue for quite sometime now, but just haven't had the funds to purchase a different saddle, but I think it is about time. I really can't expect him to do much more or perform any better without proper fitting equipment - a runner can't run in shoes that are compeletly the wrong size...

So I'm thinking of a.) taking out a loan or b.) hitting up the parents for a loan to buy either an Antares or a Devoucoux jump saddle. I kind of look at it as an investment - if this is what I'm going to do with my life then I need a saddle that is going to fit me and my horse properly. And even when I get another horse, the topline is most likely going to be similar to Coaster's. I really feel that to give the upper levels a fair shot I need a new saddle to help...now I just need to figure out how to pay for it...haha, does anybody have a few extra mill layin' around they can toss me?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

My Therapy: Day 1

Yesterday was one of the most therapeutic days I've had in a really long time. I rode Coaster for about an hour (poor guy!)...I saddled him up and we went trail riding up the mountain behind the new barn. At one point he forgot how out of shape he was and took off running up the hill. I just grabbed mane and let him - my biggest worry was whether I would get bucked off at the top or not...ha. A little less than halfway up he just stops dead, I guess he forgot how much of an effort it was to run uphills! Oh well, after a couple weeks of just walking up it twice a week he will have an awesome hind end!

It was great to just ride around and be able to just clear my head. I laughed a little, I cried a little, but by the time my feet hit the ground my mind was clear. I still maintain my stance that I will bounce back better than ever, especially if I have my friends and horse to help me.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Let the Therapy Begin!


This week has been one of the worst. Between the weekend and all my tests I'm just mentally done. Today I was sitting there studying and all of a sudden had a little bit of a breakdown. Luckily, my Ethics teacher is amazing and is letting me take the test next week. As for my other tests I've take this week I'm pretty sure I aced them - how awesome is that?! Maybe I should get broken up with prior to all my tests (note the sarcasm)...

Now that the week is over(ish) I'm literally just done mentally. Tomorrow I plan on getting up, going to teach my lessons, grabbing lunch and then heading out to the barn to spend the ENTIRE afternoon....just me, my pony and several miles of new trails!!! Let therapy begin!!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I Hurt Today...

This blog isn't horse related, I apologize, but I really can't tie it in with my horse like I usually can, so just bear with me.

All week I've woken up and put on an extremely brave face so that nobody could see my hurt.

I was once told by a therapist that I was the best actress she has ever seen. I could be incredibly depressed (clinically) and not show it on the outside. You see, when something or someone hurts me I take it and put it in a little box. I compact that box until it is tiny, then I gently place it in the back of my mind so that it won't accidentally bust open. If I am faced with whatever is in that box during the day or around people I think of it in terms of a thing. I can talk about things. I can be bitter about things. I can laugh about things. I can be mad about things. I just don't let myself think/talk/examine how those things make me feel or affect me. Not in front of people anyway. I save the feelings about the box until I am alone so nobody can see me hurt. To me, the worse thing in the world is letting somebody see me vulnerable, or even worse, let them know that they have/had the upper hand. I don't let people see that things bother me because I am a control freak and want to have complete control of every situation. Nothing scares me more than a situation where I am not in control. When I examine how the box makes me feel or how the box has affected me I am no longer in control.

Now for my feelings on the box, are you ready for this? I feel like he gave up and just walked away from it without even trying or talking to me. I feel like he is either lying to himself or to me - both of which piss me off. I feel like a dumbass for falling for those lies and believing him. I feel like a dumbass for doing this not just once, but twice. I feel like a failure because I failed him as a friend. I feel like a loser because I got dumped on valentine's day...over the phone. I feel like I lost my best friend because I did.

I keep telling myself I will be okay. I guess I feel like if I keep saying it over and over it will eventually become true. Things stick with me though, I am easily scarred. Scars shrink and grow smaller over time, so that's mainly what I hope for - that I will eventually look back on this with a bittersweet smile and a small shake of the head.
(Get ready for the horse tie-in...)
I'm an eventer though and no matter how much it hurts we always get back on to finish the ride (well, I guess back before the new rule change). I broke my face in MO and got back on to finish; I seperated my shoulder and fought the medics trying to get up and back on; I got bucked off, cracked my helmet, grabbed a new one and got back on...if I can grin and bear through physical pain, I will be able to grin and bear through this emotional hurt.
I am an eventer and we always get through the flags: over it, under it or through it.


Monday, February 2, 2009

Stella Got It Back, Now It's My Turn

I need to get back into the groove of my riding career again. I haven't really done much of anything since I hurt my shoulder - I was injured, then I had Christmas break, the barn situation angered me to the point where I had to take a bit of a second break from the barn, Coaster has that weird skin thing going on, and I have to move him. Oh yeah, and the week-long ice storm and classes now and then...where does all my time go?!

While I escaped the war-zone of Northwest Arkansas this past weekend, I watched some old videos of Onyx and I before my Senior year. We were schooling Preliminary level stuff easily - I'm retarded for letting my momentum slow down. But I did, so now I just have to work extra hard at getting it back going again - what is it called? Potential energy? Oh well, regardless I need to get back in the swing of things. Luckily the new barn where Coaster will be moved next Monday has a large indoor arena that is available 24/7 with lights, heaters and footing that isn't so deep it will cause a soft tissue injury. Once the skin thing is healed up (it would be in a very inconvenient/uncomfortable place that would make exercise painful for Coaster) I have no excuse not to go work him at least 4-5 days a week. This new place is even about 10 minutes closer than the old place.

So here's to getting my groove back! Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

We All Need Therapy

Everyone needs their own therapy. I don't mean the lay on a couch how does that make you feel kind of therapy, I mean everybody needs something that soothes them, that makes them whole. For me (and most horse people I know) that is my horse. Whenever I have a hard day, whenever the stress just gets too much to handle, or even just when somebody makes me feel not so great about myself I can go out to the barn, tack up my horse and have a therapy session.
From the time I put my boot in the iron to when my feet hit the ground again there are no problems. Yes, my horse may be acting like a douche-bag, he may not want to give into the bridle and that can be frustrating has hell, but even a bad day riding is better than a good day without riding. I feel sorry for the people that don't have an escape like riding. What do they do with their pent up feelings? How do they deal with life in general?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Self Proclaimed Southern Wimp

When I go look at Daun's wintry excursion pictures I feel kind of bad. As a self proclaimed southern wimp, I do not do cold very well. As a matter of fact, it turns me into a shivering, miserable, sometimes-whiny girl. For the most part I am a true eventer play-through-the-pain kind of rider, but when it is below freezing I just can't seem to muster up enough balls to go exercise my pony.

I tend to rationalize it by telling myself I'm doing my horse a favor, because hey - if I don' t wanna work in this cold, I doubt he does either. He is snug as bug in his two blankets and a warm stall, why should I go and drag him out into the cold. Of course I tend to overlook the fact that Coaster is a close relative to the Yaks with his shaggy overgrown hair...but oh well, what ever makes me sleep better at night, right?

I guess if I want him to get his topline back (he looks absolutely horrible right now!) then I need to cowgirl up and get out there. Yesterday it was in the 40's and I had no problem...at the moment it is in the low thirties, but supposed to warm up to at least forty. So I figure I'll head out there around 1ish and just grin and bear it. Wish me luck!!!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Reunion!

I was so happy to see my horse this week! And I believe he was actually somewhat happy to see me...though it may have been the carrots.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Attempting to be an Adult


When I woke up this morning I had great ambitions of going and spending all afternoon with Coaster. I was going to ride, clean him up, clean my tack, etc etc etc... However when I got out of bed and had to wade knee deep through all of my stuff - laundry, books, boxes from moving back after break...the list could go on - I decided that I was going to make an adult decision. I wasn't going to go ride until after my apartment was clean, therefore turning riding into my reward... Five hours, two broken nails (ouch!) and countless trips to the dumpster later I'm am ALMOST ready to mop and vacuum. Where did all of this crap come from? I figured it was safe to throw away the gag gifts of a stick horse and the mechanical (freaky) cat my uncle gave me two years ago. I even (*tear*) threw away an old pair of heels that had broken but I could never find it in my heart to get rid of until today. Though I found a lot of stuff I had forgotten about: my full tail wrap, a rope haynet, one caveson and one figure eight noseband, and a halter that is practically new! See, I just have to find the bright side to cleaning - the main one being if I do this now then I don't have to do this deep clean again for at least another year or two...I wish!
So no riding today, but my mission is to get the apartment sparkling so I can spend tomorrow with Coaster. I miss him, he's my rock. Classes start on Tuesday for me, Monday for most everybody else! I only have classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays so that leaves me plenty of time to ride, train and teach a couple of lessons...gotta get ready for show season - even if we are most likely just going to stay local for this semester!