Friday, 18 January 2019

Wet Coast

January has started off pretty well in my little world. I've got my energy and my desire to ride back, and have been consistent about both fitness and barn time. I'm catching up on a bunch of home and work related projects too. However, in an effort to not crash and burn again, I'm not pushing super hard, even on the days I really want to do all the things. I'm leaving a little blank space in the planner most days, and promising myself I'll use that time out to do something I want to do. I'm also promising I won't feel guilty if my self says it just wants a time out with a good book or Netflix. The other day, it was sunny and I prepped the gardens for spring. Last weekend, I had coffee with a friend and watched another friend's riding lesson. Today I wanted more yoga. When I don't plan ahead, what I want to do on the day varies, and that's good for me :)

I read this magazine last night. Smaller horses for adult riders are the next big thing, apparently.
She looks a lot like the cover horse. Am I trendy for once in my life? :0

I had a very fun Bridget ride today. I am terrible about checking weather forecasts (In my defense, the forecast usually (correctly) predicts some variation of rain 99% of the time during winter.) This morning, however, the weather changed from rain to breezy and rainy, to wind and rain warnings, all while I was in the saddle. If I had read the forecast, I'd have known there was a big front coming in over the Pacific, but I did not, so Bridget and I trudged home as the world blew apart around us and rivers flowed from above (not really, but with all the big trees here sometimes it does feel that way!)

Luckily, B is well used to my erratic choices in riding weather, so she was just a bit more up than normal which made for some really fantastic feeling canter work. In trot, we are remembering basics like staying bent around the circle on the left rein without bulging the outside shoulder, but that's just a coming back to work fitness thing. I don't get the feeling its something we're going to be stuck on very long. She's going to pick a battle over it...she's trying, its just hard right now. In canter, the momentum helps her out a little and I get more of a feel of what I remember her feeling like before she had time off.

Something I read in a Charlotte Dujardin interview stuck in my brain in a good way. Basically, she wants to be a lazy rider. Not really, but her horses are so forward and fine tuned to her aids that she's sitting there doing the least amount of work necessary. In the USEF Robert Dover Clinic this year he also mentioned that quote and he really had his riders focusing on having "everything and anything" accessible from anywhere. I.e. in collected walk you should be able to ask for extended trot and get it.

With my current mindset of being kind to myself and not overdoing it, focusing on having the horses I ride be accountable for their share of the work seems like a timely idea. One my micromanaging self is finally ready to embrace :)

Randomly just noticed today that Bridget has eyebrows. That darker colored hair on her face is actually longer and thicker than the reddish colored part of her coat. Funny.
I almost feel like Bridget and I have a fresh start, since due to fitness and minor injury her workload is starting back quite minimal. I think I mentioned that I've noticed too that compared to the other horses I ride, Bridget is tough. So, no time like the present to play with making her even more sharper off my aids and holding her accountable for her own self! I am so determined to not repeat past mistakes when I start Sophie (New and interesting ones only, please! :D) so it's kind of cool I have this time to revisit and work on things with Bridget.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Visiting Sophie

Sophie lives at a farm about 30 minutes from my house, while Bridget is boarded about 10 minutes away. The extra 20 minutes shouldn't really matter, but combined with the fact that she's on full board and beautifully taken care of with a ton of room to roam, I usually just check in on her once or twice a week to say hi.

Hi Sophie!

I'm not sure how it's possible, but every week  I stop by and am surprised by just how friendly she is and how much enthusiasm she has for life. I think she'd be a hard pony not to like. Every time I drive away I'm sad to leave because she's just so happy and fun to be around. I always vow to make the time to drive out there and visit more often, but life was messing with me a little for a while there and it wasn't happening.

I like setting up easy days for her sometimes because I feel like it helps with her confidence and keeps her really looking forward to our interactions. So, this past weekend, we didn't get up to too much. Pony came running when she heard my truck. I thought it was pretty cool that I didn't even need to stick a halter on her, she happily left all her buddies and followed me into the barn without any prompting from me! She had yet another spa day, and yet another visit from the measuring stick. And, because she's spoiled, a few treats too.

Treat face

Overall, I'm so happy with how she's maturing. She's still quite baby like in her behavior and her attention span could still use improvement, but the worst of the pushy stage seems to be past, and she's generally very easy to deal with.

Physically, she's not quite what I dream of. She's not going to mature into my imaginary idea of a perfectly conformed sport pony. But, considering what I was willing to spend, and my future riding goals, I've got a fantastic prospect. I feel like I bought the nicest pony I could afford (and I do think she's the nicest thing I've ever owned!). Her temperament is icing on the cake.

As I drove away this weekend, she followed along the fence and whinnied for me. And yeah, I guess I'm easily won over because I stopped the truck and gave her one more ear scratch. Logic doesn't matter, my heart says I love her and she's absolutely perfect :)

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Waking The Dragon

Bridget is pretty much the funniest and least enthusiastic workout buddy ever. She's pretty pissed off that I'd even consider her for the part, but sadly for her there are a few things going on necessitating the return of Bridget as my reluctant fitness pal:

- I'm in money saving mode and therefore not currently taking lessons at EC's. But, I want to keep in good riding shape for when I jump back into lessons.

Does this picture make her belly look big? ;) Heading out in the sunshine for a bareback ride - so good for my core and balance!

- Im feeling like there's a chance Sophie might mature smaller than expected. So, I need to lose weight ( I need to anyway, this is just extra incentive with a time sensitive deadline since I'd like to start her this summer)

14hh today at almost three years old...her siblings were apparently closer to 15hh, but I don't think she'll get there.

- My favorite exercise is hiking. Bears and cougars and the like (and weird creepy dudes) worry me. I'm getting less brave when I see wildlife on the trail and we don't currently have a dog.  I feel safer with another human. Or a Bridget!

B humoring me today.
- I did that thing and signed up for a clinic, so we both should probably should be at a moderate level of fitness.

A hike for me on Friday, with a pit stop for some longeing for Bridget.
A good thing about having B as a workout buddy is that no matter how tough you're finding it, B is always complaining more than you. Feeling unmotivated? No worries, B is way grumpier about doing the thing than you are. I actually find it quite amusing listening to her moaning and groaning, particularly as we're mostly just walking at this point :D

So hungry, she worked so hard you know.

The best part though, is when you're finished! You've never had a gym partner so proud of their efforts. B is pretty sure she kills every single workout ever, despite the fact that she's only put in the minimum effort the whole time :)

On our way to the indoor on Thursday night.

Home at dark on Sunday.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

I Did A Thing

To recap, this week on ProjectGingersnap...ohh wait, nevermind. There's been no great horsey adventures since our last episode.

I'm still a little lost as far as a direction for my riding this year. I met up with a group of horsey friends this weekend and shared my first world problems (I want to be a better dressage/event rider, but I'm unsure what direction to take with a pony who'd rather trail ride), and one friend came up with a most excellent suggestion:

Buy a new horse to ride and sell it in a couple of years once Sophie is going under saddle consistently. (Or fall in love and keep it, whatever)

A perfect idea! I have the best friends. Sadly, for this blog it's unlikely to happen since both my free time and bank account object strongly to it, and one of my recent promises to myself is to reduce stress and free up more time for me :)

This little dude is Bridget's best friend and I feel like only you guys will fully appreciate the self control I've been using to resist keeping him (the barn owner keeps offering to give him to me)

Friend 2 suggested keepin' on with Bridget, but don't worry so much about how her end of the bargain is going. Focus on keeping myself in riding shape, practice all those little position fixes we all want to address and work on myself.

Friend 3 suggested sending B out on lease and using the saved money to lesson at EC's on her horses.

Options 2 and 3 , or a combination thereof, are worth considering (if I don't win the lottery and default to Option 1)

My first tests this week didn't go well. I attempted to just let B look after herself while I focused on all those pesky position fixes and stretching/fitness exercises in the saddle that I should be doing more. And, B fell on her face about eleventy billion times, pretty much every time I was working on myself and not so focused on keeping her going forward/straight/connected.

Ended on a good note and let her go be a hippo. Eating grass in ponds or ditches is her favorite thing?

Lightbulb: I know she's a tough ride and tricky to put together and balance, but I don't think I realized how very much she falls apart without focused help and her rider giving her a lot of support. I know we've joked that she's the clumsiest/least body aware pony ever, but actually, yes, it's kind of true. 

So, my curiousity is piqued. Is she just that unathletic and lazy? Or have I been micromanaging all this time and failing at holding her accountable? Hmm, things to ponder.

B has been participating in New Years resolutions and been going for long walks in the forest with my husband, G. They're so cute! (but he is shy and also concerned that Bridget's pony size makes him look huge (lol he may have a point there), so this is the only type of picture he will let me post :)

In the meantime, I've also done a thing and signed up for a clinic. Mostly I just wanted to support the clinic organizer, but it's done, I'm in and now I feel like I need to have a plan. The clinician comes from a dressage background, but has more recently bee starting babies and doing hunter jumper and reining. She also judges local shows. Anyone have some great ideas for what I should ask my lesson spot to focus on? I'm not averse to taking Sophie and having a lesson in ground driving or something, but I worry 90 minutes is a bit long for her. Bridget, of course, does a bit of everything, and maybe an intro to reining could be fun?

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Looking Forward

I know it's New Year's resolution time, and normal people are planning all the fantastic things they're going to accomplish this year, and all the ways they're going to strive to be better versions of themselves.

I'm with you! I've got so many big goals, so many things I want to do, so many ways I want to be a better person. I wrote out a huge list of 2019 equestrian goals earlier this month. Some realistic, some not so much.

But you know what? I'm putting those on the back burner. I've been pushing myself really hard the last few years and have seen a lot of good things come from that. I've also seen a lot of missed goals and disappointment. I'm nowhere near where I'd hoped to be.  I can't bring myself to regret the disappointment though, because I know I brought the best I could bring, and worked as hard as I could. The part that I regret is the parts that weren't fun. The parts that were exhausting and overwhelming. Riding B for months where neither of us were having fun anymore. Most of all the parts where I convinced myself I was a terrible failure of a human for not hitting my goals (and also not appreciating what I have, because why not?) Things got decidedly unfun this past year. It finally came to a head this past month or so, where I basically had no energy left for anything.

The best thing I did for myself this past year? Giving myself permission to just be. To just do whatever it was I felt like doing on the day. Refusing to feel guilty about not allowing myself to be scheduled or committed to doing things I don't want to do. Accepting that sometimes things don't work out quite as I'd hoped, and it's just a thing that happened, and that it's not always my fault or in my control (of course there are things I've learned for next time, but I don't have a time machine to change the past!)

This past month, G and I spent some time in the sun. It was nice just dpending time with him and not having a million things on the schedule. Came home, and I crashed big time. I spent a whole lot of time sleeping. A huge amount of time reading, a bit of time with friends and family. I declined almost all holiday invites, choosing to spend time watching Netflix with the cat, cause that's where I was at on the day.  I think I worked a grand total of three days in the past 6 weeks (I preplanned that part though!) Fitness, diet, regular riding, all daily structure just kind of went out the window.

And you know what?  I feel amazing again. I've been adding hiking back into my days, because I want to and I'm no longer feeling so exhausted. I've been playing with Sophie, because I like spending time with her. I'm even looking forward to going back to work, because I have some fun projects planned. I'm accepting that I don't find B overly fun to ride at this point in my life, and that it's not the end of the world.

We took B hiking the other day. She's such a star :)

I'm starting to really wrap my head around a future where maybe Bridget is on a part lease, and I don't panic about buying or leasing so I can compete and take lessons right this instant. It's OK to stretch my riding goals timeline out a few years. I'm lucky to have Sophie, and the ability to keep Bridget, not to mention a great support network with horses I can ride if I want to.

So, my New Year's resolution for 2019? To enjoy the moment, to resist the urge to make checklists and schedules and to do lists every day. To be more forgiving of myself, to try not to compare myself with others or try to meet anyone's expectations beyond my own. I have a funny feeling that if I can even attempt part of these, I'll be a happier, stronger person. And then maybe I will be closer to bringing my real best me to the table and can start thinking harder on all the more typical career, riding, and fitness goals again.

 I think it's important to remind ourselves to take time outs, to have fun, to put yourself first sometimes without feeling guilty. Just because you should do something doesn't mean you have to!

Monday, 31 December 2018

Sophie Update

I kind of lost my mojo this past month, despite having an excellent sunshiney vacation to lift my spirits. I've got some 2019 goals I'm pondering, but for now here's another monthly pony recap.

The ponies took a bit of a back burner to just looking after myself, but we still did have some fun days I've neglected to blog about. Here's a few pictures of what Sophie and I were up to in December:

She still comes as soon as she sees me. Even though I know it's likely in a search for treats, the kid inside me loves it more than anything.
She's packing a saddle and bridle regularly right now. She also measures 14.1hh now - I can almost imagine myself riding her next summer!
Except on the days she's too filthy to deal with it.
Which, given our wet winter weather, is about 50% of the time.

To further foil my grooming attempts, she's learned how to untie herself
I clipped her beard off, she perfected her mare side eye
Despite "torturing" her with tack fitting, clipping, gallons of waterless shampoo, and multiple off property walks, she still waits at the gate for me every afternoon.
She made a new old friend
Managed to pull off being simultaneously awkward and fancy (and filthy, yet again):

Has a very solid grasp of walk, trot, canter transitions using verbal cues now

Continued to surprise me with her work ethic (Trying to get me to bring her into the barn here, lol)

And was just generally a very happy and fun presence in our lives.

Such a good girl

Saturday, 29 December 2018


G and I do the whole experiences for gifts thing, so our Christmas gift to each other consisted of a week-long siesta in Mexico. I'd change nothing about that, but sadly for you that means this isn't the place you'll see an awesome Xmas tack haul.

That disclaimer out of the way, I did get the "kids" some small things recently, thanks to Black Friday:

Do you see it? 

One of those sparkly things in our makeshift tree (seriously, how did Christmas come so quickly?) is a new browband for Bridget.

Sophie got her own bridle, which she's not that impressed with. It's a hand me down of bridle parts that didn't fit Bridget, but I think it looks cute. The best I could get is a picture with one half ear of approval, though :)

Like Bridget, she got her very own tiara, fit for a princess. I went with a safe navy blue for her because I simply am not experienced with dressing Barbie Dream Ponies (and all her Bridget hand me downs specially curated just for her wardrobe pieces are black or navy ;)

On the topic of navy...this Hansbo pad was on sale in pony dressage size for $25. It's supposedly magnetic and ceramic and happy making :) It is thick and very nice quality, so even if it's actually not magical I hope Bridget appreciates it.
Of course, both ponies probably are happiest with the extra attention and extra good eats they've been getting this week :) B has been on lawnmower duty at the farm, which is basically her version of heaven. She's so quiet she's been getting left out in the yard or around the buildings in the day time to act as head gardener, lol. Sophie, of course, has been slightly busier, but those adventures in training baby ponies can wait for another update.

Hope everyone is well and enjoying this last weekend before the New Year!

Thursday, 27 December 2018

December Resources

It's that time again! Here's a few of the things I read or watched that stuck out to me this month.

- Dressage For Jumpers With Laura Graves. Clinic recap with link to USEF Network video of the clinic.

Auditing Christine Traurig from A Enter Spooking. Another excellent clinic recap with great notes and lots of things I want to try.

Clinic Adventures from Journey With A Dancing Horse. I love Teresa's lesson and clinic recaps because I feel like we often are working on similar things, plus she has a knack for honing in on the important take homes we can all use.

-Mat Brown: A Case for Not Focusing on Your Goals Part 2 and Part 3. Part 2 focuses on tools to help students learn positively, Part 3 is about the horses. Kind of fun that the tools for teaching both are very similar :)

-Charlotte Dujardin Atlanta Clinic Recaps. Excellent recap, and lots of great basics, exercises and take homes I'm sure we all know but maybe need reminding to practice and be consistent about.

Mark Todd autobiography. I know this one gets good reviews, but I have to say I came out of this one thinking he seems like a perfectly nice guy, but not at all what I with the George Morris ('Unrelenting') book, I found it hard to relate to their overwhelming desire to be the best, and all the things they sacrifice to get there. At times, this one made me really dislike the sport of eventing (and racing) and made me very sad for his family. It's a good autobiography, but maybe I was looking for more about his life with horses and less about his accomplishments? I'm not sure why but this one made me a little uneasy.

- Stable Lass. A cool peek into the UK racing scene, from an insider perspective. It's fun without being overly silly, and it's always inspiring to read about people who love their jobs as much as Gemma does. The jobs of the horses in this book are so similar to those in the Mark Todd one, yet I enjoyed this book so much more because the horses' characters are front and centre, along with the day to day details of their lives. So, if that's your thing, I'd recommend this book.

-All Over The Place. No horses, but a really good (and funny) read, and I keep recommending it to people. I really identified with her confidence and depression insights.

-Conquering Performance Anxiety - The Plaid Horse. Because yeah, that lesson happened.

-Comet in Summer. Actually a re-read, because I have so much time on the ferry without internet or data that my kindle book account is rapidly depleted. I loved this book the first time around, and I loved it again. It's YA, but don't let that put you off, there is some fantastically funny and witty banter throughout the book and also it's a great book for reminding us why we love horses and riding and for being grateful for what we have.

Coming Up: The 2019 USEF Robert Dover Clinic starts Jan 3rd. Link here.

Monday, 24 December 2018

2018 Favorite Things

If this was a professional sports team, we'd call it a rebuilding year. In other words, there's not been a lot of exciting content in the form of show recaps or giant training breakthroughs. Thank you again to all the fantastic people out there who keep on reading and commenting regardless! It means a lot to me to have a community out there to 'talk' to, especially since in real life my local dressage and eventing community consists

I'm loving the $900 fb Pony bloghop going around that does such a great job of recapping the year without requiring you to have done a million and one interesting things. (Even though, of course a lot of you overachievers out there did just that! Bloggers are the best at being inspiring.)

Favorite Show Picture:

Uh oh, show photos have been conspicuously absent this year. I went to one non-schooling show, and it was a bit of a challenge to say the least - everything from multiple trailer tire blowouts to my reflocked saddle being delivered and not fitting. At all. B also fulfilled my worst nightmares around competing and decided dressage was not happening once we got into the arena and I kind of fell apart.  Still, I am proud of this ribbon, because although it doesn't bring back memories of a fun weekend,  I worked harder for it than any I've ever won in the past.

Favorite Non-Show Picture:
Sophie being a rock star at our extreme trail challenge

Favorite Thing You Bought:

A Sophie pony, obviously!

Favorite Moment on Horseback:

Galloping around like a crazy lady on the beach in Mexico, not a care in the world.

Favorite Moment out of the Saddle:

Getting to know Sophie - I pretty much fell in love with her instantly and baby horses are just fun.

Favorite Between the Ears Picture:

Here's a picture of me taking a between the ears picture for you guys :)
Favorite Horse Book or Article:

You know what? I read a TON of books and articles, but nothing was so useful as discovering USEF network and riding centric Youtube videos and vlogs - apparently I learn more by seeing than reading!

Favorite Horse Ridden Aside from Your Own:


That's tough! I love them all, it's kind of an ongoing barn joke that I want to take home every horse I ride. I'm obviously quite fond of Audrey after riding her weekly all year. But, some of my friends own pretty great horses too, EC has some wonderful lesson horses, and Mexican pony was wonderful as well. 

Favorite Funny Picture of Your Horse:

Yet another one of B sitting around

T Rex pony

Happy, sleepy B

Favorite Movement That You Conquered:

I have no riding pics on Audrey, despite my 50 odd rides on her this year. Here is one of Bridget I like doing a respectable W-C transition - a big win for her, many hours weeks years went into that! :)
They're not exactly conquered, but canter pirouettes on Audrey. More practically, I feel like I am able to properly sit Audrey's huge gaits now and that's probably a more useful life skill!

Favorite Horse Meme:

Tough one. I actually have an entire folder named "inspiration" and it contains all sorts of things I find hilarious.