More jumping and lots of media!

As the week went on between my last lesson and my Feb 1 lesson, I kept remembering how well the line rode (tho still not perfect) when I sat up and back in between the fences. So, I made that my goal for this next lesson, with my leg, mentality, and all the other things I’d made a note of last time a priority for this one too.

He’s very photogenic

This lesson this past Saturday has been the most fun I’ve had in a long time. I always have fun jumping, and this lesson was hard and challenging but I did it and it was an exercise I’ve always wanted to try but never had a horse that I could try it with. I love challenging exercises like this. When it comes to horses, sometimes just sending me out to do it where I have to be on the ball, think really fast, and feel my way through an exercise really makes me ride my best. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but for the most part I really love challenges like these. They’re like puzzles, and I love puzzles (I am such a Ravenclaw lol).

Genevive had three obstacles set up – a jump in the middle, and two cavaletti at either end of the arena. The jump started out as ground pole, and as always, Genevive had me start with pace, position, and track. Wyatt and I warmed up really well, and only did a bit of testing out the circles with the ground pole before Genevive made it into a crossrail and put the cavaletti at their max height.

Looks pretty simple, but it was tough and so much fun!

Initially, we were supposed to start with a trot over the cavaletti then go naturally into the canter, and we did that once, and Wyatt just trotted easily over it lol. Try again, this time with a cluck and a bigger squeeze over the cavaletti, aaaaaand nothing lol. So Genevive had me give him a little tap with the whip and just go straight into the canter. We did one circuit around before capping off the ends with the cavaletti. We did the same to the right, and once we were keeping our pace, position and track, she had us start to the left with the cavaletti first and then on to the crossrail.

And I totally botched it lol. And yes, I got media of it – both helmet cam and ground video because my mom was there to video me haha.

Superman!

I rode up to the crossrail, sitting, waiting, closed my leg thinking “support to the base” aaaaaand I had too much leg which made Wyatt take an absolute flyer lol. So then I figured I needed to get it together, left out the cavaletti and approached again. This time I had no leg, didn’t ride, and he fully felt that and we climbed over the jump. Same approach, but this time it felt different. The ground video doesn’t look bad, but you can see on the helmet cam how his head went down, we climbed over it again, and I had the distinct feeling that if he wasn’t such a brave, honest, saint of a horse he would’ve stopped. He’d never stopped at anything before, and that was when my brain decided to kick in. It gave me a really good talking to, basically shouting, “What the ever loving hell are you doing?! You know how to ride, and we’ll be damned if we teach this horse to stop. So get your act together, sit up, and ride!”

And, what do you know, it worked. I made the quick decision to put the cavaletti back in rotation, got that done, and rode like I meant it to the jump. I rode, I waited, I had leg on, and we popped over. He had the slightest hesitation, but I think my determination and support and not biffing the distance gave him more confidence, so our next approach went seamlessly. We finally got a break – Wyatt with many many pets – and discussed what had all happened during that, with the reminder of pace, pace, pace, then track lol. Once we’d had that, the position and distance worked itself out.

The right was better. I’d learned my lesson going to the left, so we had a much better go at that to the right. But, while my right leg had been amazing so far (it’s my weaker leg so I’ve been working on strengthening it), it was immediately apparent that my left leg was very blah and unhelpful this ride lol. Because the barn was to the left of us, he bulged left over the jump, which resulted in him switching leads over the fence. And because of my non-functioning left leg, I wasn’t stopping his shoulder from dropping left. Wyatt has very good changes, but I have yet to learn how to ask him for them, so we worked on simple changes. I decided not to fix my left leg that lesson for two reasons – one, I was finally getting the hang of the right amount of leg Wyatt needed before a jump. If I messed with my left leg, I didn’t want that to cause us to have more issues approaching that crossrail. Two, both Wyatt and I needed the practice with the simple changes.

He has some sass lol

We’d trot, go back into the correct canter, but I started biffing the cavaletti, and after about 3 times Genevive had me stop. I thought it was due to me seeing a half-step and my body going all wonky. But Genevive pointed out to me that once we trotted, I lost the pace, I lost my feel for the rhythm, and that’s why I kept throwing my shoulders too far forward, throwing Wyatt off as well. He was still a very good boy and jumped it, but I’d only get my pace back by the crossrail, when I needed it most in time for the cavaletti.

So she sent me out again. We hit the cavaletti well, got in great to the crossrail, switched, and I immediately did a simple change, kicked him back out to try for that pace again. We were a bit off of it, but it was a lot better, so I was able to make the better decision to just wait, make my body wait, and he chipped but the execution was much better. At one point, he was really losing steam coming off of the rail, so I gave him a tap and he took such offense to it LOL. You’ll catch it in the video but it was just so funny lol. We repeated that a few more times, and finally he didn’t swap over the crossrail! He held the lead for 3 jumps (cavaletti, crossrail, cavaletti), so G and I let him stretch down and go straight before walking.

Nevermind, he can have quite a bit of sass! lololol omg that tail!

We quit there, which I thought was a perfect way to end for both him and me. He’s still green when it comes to jumping, and since it’s been a struggle for him to hold leads, the fact that he did was a great place to stop. That, and he was tired and sooooooo sweaty lol! We were both tired actually haha. You can tell towards the end of the video, but we still got it done I think.

That definitely went down as my fav lesson in a long time. Aside from my momentary lapse of sane thought with the crossrail lol, it was such a great exercise and I think Wyatt was probably the perfect horse for me to learn it on, too. I left really excited for my next lesson, but I started my next class that Monday, and knew I’d need to wait a weekend before another lesson.

Since then tho, I kept thinking about the previous ride, when I finally sat up and back, and then this ride, how I was much more successful at doing that this lesson than before. Obvi I still biffed it a few times, but I started to realize that for the past few years in lessons that has always been an issue for me. I tend to crouch in two-point; whenever I’m English I’m always in two-point at the canter. I did that with Amber when I first had the jump saddle too. The only times I’ve sat were in my western and dressage saddles, which sit very differently from jump saddles.

And I had a bit of an epiphany. Almost immediately as I started drawing up a plan to practice going from two-point to sit on Amber (without losing forward), I immediately heard my brain yell “no! get off their back!”

Look at that game face tho!

Now it made so much sense! For four years in Hawaii when I rode the lesson pony Air Myles, my teacher would always always always tell me to get off of his back. I’d always sat for the canter before, but Myles didn’t like someone sitting on his back at the canter, so she’d always yell at me to get off his back if I sat for more than five strides. Even in flat classes I’d two-point. I’d never sit. Then we got Whisper, I did western, and my last real experiences with jumping were those lessons in Hawaii until the very few, very sparse lessons these past few years. I’m actually really really liking dressage now, because doing dressage with Amber has actually helped exponentially in making me aware of my shoulders, how I tend to tip forward and not sit, and it’s made me sit up and back.

Air Myles taught me so much ❤

So, now I can really work on teaching myself to go from two-point to sit up and back. I couldn’t completely fix the problem until I knew why I did it, and can now change my reaction.

Onward from my cerebral observations, I figured I’d do some small but targeted rides on Amber. Since her injection in her knee, she’s been feeling a lot better, so I plan to practice my two point and going from up to sitting back on her until my next lesson. It’ll mostly be fitness/learning rides for me, but I feel more okay doing that with her now that she’s better.

So sweaty!

Unfortunately, the lady who owns Wyatt has a second horse that’s working better for her, so Wyatt will be headed for a new home soon and I won’t get to have anymore lessons with him. We’re not actually sure who I’ll ride for my next lesson, but we’ll figure it out lol. I’m disappointed because I felt like Wyatt and I were finally getting into a good groove together, but it happens. Riding different horses is one reason why I’m taking lessons and not just leasing or buying a horse. I’ve had a lot of experience riding plenty of different western horses, but I want more experience riding lots of different English horses too. Helps me know better what type of feel I’d like from horses I try in the future.

Either way, I’m still looking forward to my next lesson, whenever it is!

Moar jump lessons!!

This lesson on Jan 25 was good. I’m sure it had to do with my attitude/plan/better day, but we synced a lot more. In light of my last lesson, what Genevive said about wanting him to stretch down over the jump and that we were trying to teach him rhythm and consistency in pace to make him a good ride for his owner really stuck with me. I realized that I had been treating him like a jumper horse that last lesson – let’s go go go! – instead of what he REALLY was, which was a Hunter horse. Lightbulb turned on, thank you very much brain.

He’s still cute tho 😀

So for this lesson, I was determined, and had my points all thought out:

  • Close lower leg & keep steady feel with it
  • Post from knees. If you’re getting tired, take a deep breath, engage again, just hold your lower leg on. Don’t get pulled into posting with the balls of your feet so your lower leg is inconsistent. Amber and Whisper hate that, which is why you don’t ride them that way. So don’t freaking start now
  • He’s a hunter, so warm up easy
  • Don’t take his shit. You didn’t do anything about his evasion/lack of forward/head tilting last time, and that was an undercurrent of frustration last lesson. Genevive won’t get mad at you for using your reins. He’s a sensitive soul, so he’ll get the picture. Just take the time to tell him that’s what you want just like you do with Amber and Whisper.
  • Be softer. You were abrupt with your hands and your body and pretty much everything last lesson. Smooth it out. You know Genevive would rather see you fix this than just power on ahead.
  • As always, for the love of god don’t lift your hands in the air – just default to grabbing mane

For this lesson, we tried Wyatt in a new bit. He’d never been ridden in it before, but I had a feeling he’d adjust just fine with him being a western-ish started horse. And true to form, when he kinked his neck all weird I just gave a soft bump and he immediately got the message. After that, I only had to massage my ring finger, and he was a good boy.

Sorry it’s dark, but look who was sleeping while I was mucking! ❤

I still had my dressage whip, but I let Wyatt warm up easy. I mostly focused on my position, let him start out slow as he warmed up. Despite his lethargic start, he could immediately tell my leg was different, much more like Genevive rides him, and he could certainly tell the difference. Pretty soon I had him in a pretty nice, forward trot for him. He needed just the smallest tap, but for the most part was quite good about going forward when I’d squeeze and/or cluck.

Most of the ride I was laughing at myself because while I felt that last lesson I jumped better (read: stayed out of his way) and this one I flatted him way better than I jumped. That’s horses and learning tho, right? All in a day’s ride.

So I’ll skip to the fun jumping part since flatting mostly consisted of…well…flatting, and trotting over poles and counting and more practice on me grabbing mane. As he did in the first two lessons, before the jump he’d get squiggly, not wanting to straighten up out of the corner and go so we had some straightness issues. Those obviously knocked our striding off, but it was still a really good learning experience for both of us, and he was still an absolute saint in that he jumped every single time I asked him to. This lesson though was a good learning curve for me since I had had practically no leg on last lesson, and then coincidentally had too much leg this lesson haha. Yay learning lol.

It was so simple and yet it gave us plenty of trouble lol

I kept (appropriately) thinking LEG LEG LEG, just don’t forget your leg before the fence, he needs support. You know, all good things. Except, since we’d done very well together on the flat, he was a lot more attuned to my leg than I was expecting when we started to jump. Dude was such an awesome saint of a horse tho, because I kept biffing the distance. Not because I couldn’t see one but my brain was like “yes, we go to right here” and then my legs closed too hard, or didn’t close at all, so he’d go long or I’d bury him to the base of the trot crossrail. Oi. Brain and limbs – let’s actually communicate and do the same thing please!

So usually, our trot jump was just…bad, and then the five strides to the vertical came up okay. We were still long 90% of the time, but hey, this is how we learn lol. You’ll be able to see in the video, but it was a very easy exercise that was just really hard for us to nail. Despite being forward on the flat, and feeling him forward to the jump, it felt like he decided forward wasn’t a thing three trot steps out from the crossrail and our straightness would suffer which mucked up the rest of the line. Y’all know how it goes.

Another unrelated photo, but I’ve been trying to go hiking more often, probably my only resolution for this year, and nestled in Red Rock Canyon was this frozen tree!

I finally gave him a good smack in between fences. We drifted right, but he powered better, which got us a better distance to our vertical. That time Genevive had raised the vertical, so when we really drifted right, he caught the rail and knocked it. But, was a good boy and tried extra hard the next time. The last time we went through was our best (naturally), but I’m always fine with that. Even if I have a lesson where I struggle, if I can get it once I like to end on that note. Having the good one be the last just really solidifies it in my mind. So Genevive put a trot pole about two steps out from the crossrail. This caught his attention, so he was looking at it instead of throwing his head up and wobbling, and I put my leg on a little too hard. He responded tho, tried a canter step but the pole made him trot, and then up and over the crossrail we went. I gave him a good kick, sat up and sat down, and the vertical came up in 5 lovely strides with no drift.

Which, you know, our last good one was the one that I finally figured out to sit up and back lol. Oh well. It still helped set the tone for the next lesson, so I was perfectly a-okay to quit there. Despite only getting the line once, this overall lesson was still much better than the last. I was a lot smoother to Wyatt with my aids, I had a different mindset coming in, and I know he appreciated that. I don’t generally worry about not getting an exercise as well as I’d want, mostly because as long as my overall mindset and way of riding is correct, I know that the exercises will get easier as I get more experience. Which is why, while I didn’t feel like I jumped as well this lesson, it still felt like a way better lesson than the last one because I was smoother and made sure I didn’t get as frustrated with him.

So, that was it for that successful lesson!

Jump lessons!

I had jump lessons! Yay! One was on Dec 13, and the other one Jan 10, but at least I’m finally getting around to writing about it? lol I have helmet cam footage for my Dec 13 lesson, but I was running a bit late to my second lesson, so it was either go back to my apartment and grab my helmet camera or get caffeine. Well, I chose caffeine. And once the lesson was done, I wished I’d skipped it and gotten my camera. Ugh. 20/20, I guess.

Either way, both lessons were good. I got to try out a new pony – western pleasure wasn’t the right discipline for him, so now he’s having a blast in his (very) new and (recent) transfer to the hunter ring. He’s absolutely so adorably sweet, and amazingly enough he’s like this crazy-great mix between Amber and Whisper. I am in love. I may or may not have pestered Genevive about where she got him, because he’s 16 hands too and feels like my kind of horse.

Meet Wyatt everyone. Isn’t he just adorable?

The best thing, too? I haven’t gotten my jump saddle made narrower yet (will I ever? I have no idea LOL), but it’s absolutely perfect for his QH shoulders and wider back. (Meaning I need a horse like him because I am deathly afraid that next-horse will need a different saddle lol). Soxie felt longer but more adjustable, with a huge engine if you only thought about it. Which – of course – she was a jumper mare, but I really liked the way that felt. Wyatt feels shorter but less adjustable, with an engine that needs consistent reminders to stay forward. I feel more confident going to a fence on a horse like Soxie, but I feel safer on Wyatt because he’s so steady. He might be slower, lazier, with a “go” button that doesn’t feel forward, but you can feel that he has no stop in him whatsoever and he’s good off of the ground. This was especially apparent in my second lesson.

Jump set-up

So, first lesson. I was mostly just getting used to him, but Genevive gave us some super fun exercises to do. She had set up a five stride line (blue x’s), a cavaletti bounce (green lines), and a single vertical with a loooooong approach. She gave me a bit of background with him – he’s generally lazy, gets wiggly before jumps so you just need to enforce forward, but he’s a good guy and will jump anything from anywhere. And he totally gave me that feeling. Despite being wiggly, I never felt like he wouldn’t jump, and he has such a rhythmic canter that it’s the easiest I’ve ever been able to count strides in a line.

He was really good through the first two crossrails, and once he saw the bounce he was ready to go, but coming off the end for the long approach to the vertical he’d get really sucked back. It caused us to miss our distance the first time. The second time around, after a tap-tap on my boot, he went forward enough and the distance came up flawlessly.

Most of the lesson was us getting used to one another, and ensuring that he stayed forward. He had a bit of trouble continuing through the corners at the canter, but he was so steady whenever going over those crossrails from a trot that I always felt confident going towards them. All in all, it was a fun lesson on a new lesson pony with some super fun exercises!

The next lesson I was super excited for, but it ended up being a bit of a blah ride. I was having a blah day, got really frustrated by what felt like lack of forward for Wyatt, and that translated to him. He didn’t really want to go forward, and he’d throw his head and bulge left, but then had a right drift so we kept going in crooked to the jumps. I just got frustrated with him this ride, and it showed in how not-smooth I rode that day.

The only good thing I can attest to that ride was that I really got my knuckles in his neck and grabbed mane for our exercise. I felt a bit behind most of the time, but considering I have a tendency to crouch with my shoulders and bring my hands up to hang weirdly in mid-air, I was happy that I was solidly in a grab-mane, slightly-left-behind mentality the whole ride. Genevive had set up a cool one-stride exercise of a crossrail to a vertical and two cavaletti angled to the side of each of them. I’d trot in the one stride, circle around and hit the cavaletti.

Wyatt was a good boy despite me getting frustrated. I wanted to hit the combo straight, with forward impulsion, but he’d throw his shoulder left cause he didn’t want to go forward, then when I’d block him he’d haul right, so it was interesting getting to the crossrail for one stride to an upright vertical. We had some okay flat work before, but as I said the ride was meh. I’m a little blurry on everything we did this lesson (thank god I had helmet cam footage for my December lesson or I wouldn’t remember anything lol), but I still learned a lot, despite it not being my best.

She had me end both ways off of the one stride to hit the other cavaletti, so we kept Wyatt on his toes a bit about whether we would go left and circle around to the left cavaletti, or go right and jump the right one. He was super solid through the one stride despite how crooked we’d get going in. It was really cool to feel him get in there and get out over it, especially since Genevive made the out vertical a solid height. I don’t know how tall it was, but it was taller than she’s normally had me jump, even with Soxie. But yeah it was an awesome feeling riding that combo because he was so game to do it, and it felt so cool. Which is why I was so glad I was just grabbing mane so I wasn’t in his way.

I rode Amber the same day as my previous lesson, and she was a gem as always ❤

The one stride and the cavaletti all rode well, and I feel I rode them well once I was in them, but definitely the in between was where my frustration was a lot more apparent if he wouldn’t canter, or he’d suddenly start wiggling before the crossrail. I’d get hunched, try to pull him or something, and I’d execute our transitions badly. Looking back at the videos from the last lesson to this one I think the reason he got so wiggly was that the crossrail faced directly away from his stall, and he definitely sucked back towards the barn.

Towards the end though, he really wasn’t wanting to hold his right lead, so Genevive had me canter a circle around the one stride before pointing him towards the cavaletti. Our goal was to approach, straighten without him swapping leads, and pop over the cavaletti. He was so good though, and did it great on the first try, so we stopped there. So while it certainly wasn’t my best ride, I did learn a lot through it.

Stay tuned for my next lesson!

Still alive

Aside from some lessons (which will be posted soon!) not much has been going on around here.

Back in December I noticed Amber’s knee swelling again. The farrier had just trimmed her, so I knew it wasn’t her foot bothering her. While her stifle had gotten injected back in November, we didn’t inject her knee because it was fine on the day they checked her. But the cold weather was setting in, and I was noticing that she was stiff on that leg. So, I made an appointment and started wrapping that leg in her BOT quick wrap. It definitely helped her stay more comfortable until the vet came out.

Happy pony, sleepy pony

Amber felt better immediately. By the next day she was moving much happier, and within 3 days that swelling had gone down again. Thank god! I still gave her about a week of rest, but then we had some bad weather so it was more like 2 weeks until I could get her out. But she feels a lot better now, so I’m hopefully going to be able to hop on her a little more.

Kahlua has been her usual squeaky self – begging for treats and food. She’s been coming inside a lot more with how bad the weather has been, which is really good. She still leaves when we walk by, but usually her hunger outweighs her caution so sometimes she stays in.

I forgot to post this before but the Vegas mountains got snow right after Christmas! It was so pretty!

I don’t have a lesson planned for the long weekend, but I’m actually glad of that since The Sick finally caught up with me. It’s been roaming around my office with people coming in still coughing, hacking, sniffling – and one person even came in with a mask over their face. OMG PEOPLE WHY ARE YOU AT WORK IF YOU’RE WEARING A MASK?! DO NOT INFECT US PLEASE! But no, people like the office where I work so they all come and infect the place, no matter how many times I wipe down everything with wipes. I’ve held off getting sick for 3 months though, so I suppose that was a good run lol.

So now I’m just hoping I won’t stay sick for too long. But, I’ve finally managed to finish all my lesson recaps with their media, so I’ll be posting those next week! Happy long weekend everyone!

The 2010s Challenge

I loved the 2010s post May As Well Event did, so before the end of 2019, here is mine!

2010

This was my second/third semester in college. I was having a blast beginning my Equine Science degree, but not getting up at 6 am for all my 7 am classes. This photo isn’t actually from 2010, but I actually can’t find a photo from 2010 lol. I still love Fort Collins tho, and I actually miss the snow and these gray days.

So beautiful! I loved Fort Collins in winter ❤

2011

This was the year I was assigned to Amber, but my most memorable moments were from my Packing and Outfitting class trip. That will forever remain one of my absolute best memories. I had to pick two photos for this year – one to show just how beautiful fall was in the mountains, and the other one where we got to see a golden eagle and bald eagle hanging out together on that same trip.

Favorite moments ever ❤
My camera sucked and I couldn’t get a photo. Thankfully, someone had a better camera, and they took this shot of the eagles ❤

2012

This was the year that Amber got sold to someone else, was then sold back to me, and then injured herself lol. But this started our journey together, and I’ll never regret one moment of it, even the heart-stopping ones!

This will probably remain in my top 5 fav photos of me and Amber ❤

2013

I started a job in Texas working for a reining trainer this year. I got to see a new side to all things horses, and also realized Texas was somehow colder than Colorado lol.

There was so much ice this year, it was insane.

2014

This was my second year working for a trainer, where I got my own string of horses to ride. This guy was one of mine to keep working on, a super sweet stallion by Wimpy’s Little Step.

Forgive the no helmet lol. I was an idiot (that thankfully learned my lesson later on lol)

2015

I came back to Vegas this year with Amber in tow, and ended up getting a job very different from training horses. But, I got to try a few new horses out for a friend before coming back – including this really cool mare that I really liked.

2016

This was the year Amber and I ventured into showing together since we never had before. We started in the walk/trot, and won a lovely buckle.

2017

This was the year I started my blog! And the year we showed again, this time in canter classes while I hunted around for some new english gear for Amber and I to start eventing once the year of showing was over. However, this was also the year I visited Kentucky for the (last ever) Rolex, and that kind of tops the photo’s list lol.

Love miss Rocana ❤

2018

Alas, it was not meant to be, as Amber had stifle surgery and laminitis, and the bulk of the year was spent waiting. But, I did have some super fun lessons, and got to ride Soxie, one of my favorite red mares ever.

Still love the tongue lol

2019

This has been a rollercoaster of a year. Not in terms of horses, really, but I think my happiest moment in 2019 was getting a clear for light riding with Amber. She’s still doing well, still likes the occasional work, and it makes me very happy to ride her.

So, a lot has happened in a decade! It sure doesn’t feel like it’s been that long, since time sure flies, but I can’t wait to see where life will take me these next 10 years!

Frisky red pony

We’ve had cold and wet weather since the week before Thanksgiving, which for Vegas is not par for the course. Temperature-wise it was colder last year, but it was sunny and dry. This winter we’re cloudy and wet with warmer temps, but the lack of sun and the increased humidity has had everyone feeling quite a bit colder than normal. There’s been a consistent 10-degree temp vs “feels like” difference as the days have remained cloudy, and this definitely affects the ponies.

The day before Thanksgiving was windy with a wall of threatening clouds coming over the west mountains, and I decided it was a good day to ride Amber. I…don’t know why haha. The day before was beautiful and I didn’t ride! But nasty weather, let’s do it lol. Either way, Amber was frisky. She had some extra pep in her step. She was so good about trying hard and keeping a lid on her happy, so I just let her canter out. That was one happy pony! I let her just go for one time around the arena, then sat back and asked her to work. Turns out that little “run” was all she needed, and her extra friskiness gave her good pep and energy for us to work on her canter. She gave me some of her best right lead canter to date, and I kept each one short. I needed to lift her up a little, remind her to sit on her butt, but despite the happies she really did well.

The mountains got snow over Thanksgiving and it’s still there!

We settled to a nice trot, and she was the bestest pony for the remainder of our short ride. I fitted her with all my BOT stuff and fed dinner a little early.

I haven’t been able to ride much since Thanksgiving, but I had considered at the start of December using that month for a no-stirrups instead of November. But in the end, I decided not to, and I was super glad. When I next rode Amber, she was fantastic. She tried so hard at the trot, and her left lead canter was the absolute best I have ever felt that horse canter. She really took to heart the reinforcement of bending through the ribcage, and she was actually light on my inside rein (usually her weight is just consistently in the left rein but I know why that is lol). She was rhythmic, felt wonderfully uphill (for her), and it just felt magical. It was such a cool ride that day. And I think we rode a grand total of 15 minutes because she was so good. She nailed everything I asked. There was no reason whatsoever for me to keep pushing anything. She got so many pets and treats. You should’ve seen her face after though. She knew she’d been a good girl and fully expected all the attention haha.

Apparently Choco’s only available holiday faces are “I am so done with this” and “Let me lick your face off” lololol

That ride was the only one I got that week. In between work being hectic, a company Christmas party, and homework I just couldn’t get out there. Last week though I made sure to get out there, but…she just hasn’t seemed herself. She hasn’t liked her scratches as much. She doesn’t have as much pep in her step. I know her right SI ligament is sore, so I made sure to massage her and slather sore no more on her stifle. She has what feels like very minor swelling on her left side. She looks at me like “WTF are you doing, mom?” when I push on it, but she doesn’t move away, isn’t reactive to my hand or leg pressure. So, not sure what that is. But, she’s just seemed overall a bit blah, so I think this persistent cold and wet has her feeling a bit achy. Plus she gets her feet done today. So hopefully it’s just an assortment of things that are making her feel a bit blah.

I did get to ride this Tuesday/Wednesday, though Tuesday was an odd/funny ride. She BUCKED. Haha! This horse hasn’t bucked with me since she was barely 2 and something startled her lol! But we cantered, we were okay for 2 strides, then she full on bucks, and not a little crow hop either! She really tipped me onto her neck. I did get after her a smidge – I love her to death but bucking is not allowed. However, she got the point across to me that something wasn’t right. I asked her to canter (right lead) again, and she did, held it together, but boy she was unhappy and her ears were pinned back. That’s never happened either, so I switched leads, and she was so wonky and uncomfortable cantering to the left with, you guessed it, her ears pinned. So I checked all our stuff before lightbulb going off of “oh this saddle looks way further back than we started…”

She looks so good in navy too ❤

Sure enough, it’d slipped back (I was experimenting fit, and that experiment was a big nope). So I hopped off, readjusted, then hopped on and asked for a right lead canter. Huge difference. Collected, correct, with very happy, pricked ears. So I just did a wee bit more trotting before calling it quits. She was a very good girl, and while I appreciate that she told me something was wrong, we just shouldn’t buck lol. We’ve known each other long enough that I would have noticed the wonky feel and pinned ears by themselves. But she still got pats, treats, and plenty of love. Wednesday was much better, with a happy horse but still kind of slow and sluggish in the trot work. With her being kind of sore, I think going slower has been easier for her, so I’ve let her so long as she’s trying and isn’t running through my left rein.

So we aren’t riding as long anymore, and I’m just sort of keeping an eye on her attitude and how she’s looking in case there is something that’s bothering her. I’m hoping that the wet and the cold is the culprit, but we’ll see. I’m going to give her a massage, let her get trimmed, and see how she feels after that. Hopefully she feels better!

Riding in between

After our good lesson, Amber and I have had some par-for-the-course rides. Most good, some in between.

Since I mentioned it in my other post, I’ll start with our “off” ride sometime mid-November. Amber had been really good the day before. It was nearing our 3 weeks post-injection, so I wanted a bit of video of how she was moving to show my vet. I’d gotten good footage the day before, and wanted to show him 2 days of riding in a row. Well, I hadn’t known my cousin was visiting, so in the middle of our ride when they wanted a few pics of me and the horse. Someone had been eating an apple, Amber was very intrigued. We got our canter footage after, and then when I continued to ride, they watched.

She wants pets, and won’t stand still unless we’re tacked up and she knows she’s supposed to be posing lol

After the photos, Amber seemed to get in a Mood. I think part of it was smelling the apple, but mostly people were chatting at one end of the arena, laughing and having a good time as they occasionally watched us, and Amber wanted to be in the thick of it. She did NOT want to work. It was the first time in a really long time she really told me no. She wouldn’t settle, she wouldn’t move off of my leg, and then she’d collapse to a walk when we’d pass by people.

It was also dusk, and I set out cones, so I kept in mind that this may have affected her – the cones reminding her of the past lesson, and dusk since she’s been bothered by it since our last facility. But, despite keeping that in mind, and despite me giving her lots of opportunities to say yes, she blatantly refused. The biggest ways were not wanting to come off of my left leg, not wanting to bend, and blowing through all that I was asking her. I’d bring her to a walk, or a halt, reinforce what I was asking, but no dice. She’d race down the long side to get to the group, and practically slam on the brakes when she got there. Usually, I’d work her butt off in that area, go to where she doesn’t want to be and stop. But really, she just wasn’t listening all around the arena. It’d come and go in patches, so I just kept going around, circling when she’d get too fast. I’m sure I perched forward like I tend to do which didn’t help, but the circles helped us both.

After a load of new hay, the bunnies converge on the leftovers. Especially now that we’ve rodent-proofed our hay barn lol

As much as I’m sure there were things my body did that wasn’t helping matters, at the same time, even if I’m not at my best the horse needs to do their job. She knows her job. Even though some of this is new for her, what we were doing (serpentines, circles and whatnot) is not new. She was also great the previous day and got those things down pat. This horse knows that I expect her to do her job, and she gave me a big fat no that day. Usually, I don’t mind when Amber tells me no. It’s always for a very good reason when she does that, and usually she’s trying before it comes to a “Mom, I really can’t do this!” reaction from her. I’ve been especially mindful recently to make sure whenever I get hesitation from her that she understands or is physically able to do it. That ride she was always distracted, would always flop her head and ears in the direction of laughter. She was just not tuned in one iota, really. So I got it a little better, since by that time it was really getting dark and I didn’t want to overwork her muscles. But it was definitely not a pleasant ride.

I never mind if she’s in a Mood (god knows I get in Moods too so I can hardly be critical) but she at least always tries, and I scale back the ride if that happens. But, since this was a different mindset, she still needed to know that that behavior was not okay. So she got tied after the ride with few pets or attention. I let Amber go before feeding everyone but still, very few pets.

Looking at the the clips of me in the royal shirt, it’s hard to believe the rest of the ride right after that wasn’t great lol Also, there’s a quick shot of Kahlua at the end of the video moving the rabbits away from her food lol 

That was Sunday, so I gave her Monday off since it was also my long day, and planned for Tuesday. It was a new day, so no hard feelings. Same approach of patience. I just really hoped she decided to listen. Spoiler: she did.

Last year, I purchased a dressage whip so that the few lesson horses I rode would actually freaking go. After the once or twice of using it for those horses, it sat, barely being used. So I snatched it up. My spurs aren’t harsh, and I was having to work way harder to get her to move off of my left leg than my right. Since our lesson she’s been fantastic with the right. But she’s been like a lead weight on the left. So, she needed more incentive to get off of my leg.

Amber hates whips and ropes. I know she’s never been hit with them, but it’s always been something that makes her jump out of her skin. The snap of a lunge whip is terrifying to her. She’s always been a brave, gregarious horse, so I’m not too sure where it’s come from. Not that I’m complaining tho lol. I’ve never ever ridden her with a whip, so I wasn’t too sure how she was going to react considering she hates the things. But, she didn’t even seem to notice it until I started to work on her ribcage while we warmed up. Just like I hoped though, she kept her head, and really didn’t seem all that bothered by it. I used our warm-up walk to move the inside hind underneath – left, right, left, left, right. She was doing very well, and barely tapping the whip on her left or right haunch helped me to get my point across without the cue getting muddled.

My bestest snuggle buddy ❤

She got a little more wary of the whip when I tucked it against her left shoulder as we trotted, but she stopped worrying too much about it since she was trying very hard to do what I was asking. I was super pleased. She still got really stiff at the left, to where it feels like she throws her weight to the left side. But I just brought her to the walk, reiterated the bend with the whip, picked the trot back up. Not much later, I was able to do that at the trot. She certainly respected the whip, but there was no change for the worse in her pace or mind. More like it really helped that light bulb to go off in her brain. I cantered a touch, she was amazing, and even better she had no other thoughts for cantering when we proceeded to trot again. I did the serpentine once. It was just a bit better than the previous ride, but she tried so much harder this time that we only did it once. The walk break was again reinforcing that bend, that when my leg goes here you do this.

We only trotted for a bit more, and she was a very good girl. As I walked her out I again reinforced it, dismounting at her least favorite part of the arena. I made sure to give her lots of praises, grab her face for lots of pets, and she definitely took to heart the previous ride with little physical or verbal praise from me. She was extra cuddly, wanted extra reassurance that she did well. She definitely deserved the extra praise, so I hung on to her face a little longer, and she sighed happily.

Oooo what are these, mom? And yes, she tipped my lovely, clean boot into the sand lol

Though the ride was great, I still tied her. But she knew this one was different. I just wanted to cement the ride in her mind, and every time I passed her as I mucked, I’d touch her or kiss her nose. She even got treats when I let her go.

With how much the whip helped, I do think that she may not have quite understood the cue, and that had something to do with our off ride, but at the same time, I don’t think it was the major cause. I think that and a few other things contributed, but it was the attention that was the main cause. That was just not the horse I normally get. Even when she’s having an off day herself she’s not like that. Either way, it was a good reminder lesson for her, and it was good for me to approach the issue a different way and offer an easier way to understand what I was asking. It got better, so that’s a win-win in my book!

Nov 10 Lesson

That I am FINALLY getting to after a month haha. This was a pretty good lesson. Amber was certainly a bit lit for the majority of the trot work and a bit reactive. But I think that’s more due to her being unbalanced and a bit fatigued. I generally don’t ride her longer than 30 minutes, and our lessons tend to be around 45, but I have been filling that 30 minutes with less walking.

Unrelated, but she is just the cutest chonky gurl ❤

This lesson was definitely about figuring out Amber’s balance. I asked Genevive to work with us on our serpentines and transitions, though really the whole lesson centered around those serpentines once we we figured out that Amber was having trouble with balance. In the rides preceding this lesson, Amber got really quick and unbalanced curving left, which helped me decide to inject her stifle to see if it would help – and to just help her stay more comfortable. You can see in the video after we start trotting that she’s being a very good girl and trying, and then just gets super imbalanced when we try to do the right curve through the cones. After a few off steps she got the balance back, but I was very glad that Trainer G had been able to see one of the issues we’d been facing. It just…happened on a different side, but it works haha.

I was really glad I had my helmet cam for this ride. It proved really good for me going back and listening to our conversations. There wasn’t too much in terms of variety. Most of the lesson was focused on that one serpentine exercise, with a little bit of canter and a little bit of free walk thrown in there. But, one of the biggest nuggets of wisdom I took from this lesson was Amber’s bend pattern. You can see in the video (and I add Genevive’s explanation) that Amber is bent from her withers forward, but she has no softness or bend in her ribcage. The main exercise for this was to get her hind leg stepping underneath her. She over bends from wither to poll, but this put the pieces together that I hadn’t even been realizing I’d been searching for. I’ve mostly been thinking about pieces of her body to create that curve of inside leg to outside hand. When Genevive introduced the ribcage with hind leg coming under, it made my mind suddenly transfer that into an image of a whole body bend that starts with hind foot coming under.

Also unrelated photo, but look at that WILD horse lolol

And boom there it was! It took Amber a little bit to get it, but once she did, she certainly tried her heart out every time and I could feel the difference. You can definitely hear me praise her in the video when she tries lol.

The biggest problem in the lesson was that she wouldn’t settle until we had a long walk break. She was too fast most of the time, and that fatigues her muscles more quickly. This isn’t really conducive to lessons, so I’ve been thinking on ways of formatting the lesson a wee bit differently, and discuss with Genevive whether this will work for her or not. This lesson gave us some good homework though!

Black Friday haul

I know I’m about a week late on this, but I wanted to get everything in before posting it!

I had a plan for Black Friday, and it really centered around Riding Warehouse lol. A big part of that was BOT, since Amber has responded very well to it. They had the BOT white and gold pad that I’ve been in love with ever since it came out, so I nabbed that.

She’s so pretty in gold ❤

That, and the navy and gold BOT pad (long story short there was timeline/shipping cost issues so I grabbed it at full price someplace else), were the two most expensive items I bought, but I added a few other things I’ve been eyeing.

Amber has been smacking the inside of her fetlocks since we got into light work as her laminitis has healed, so I thought about getting her BOT for that, too. But I took a look at them at a local tack store, and they weren’t discounted there or at RW either, so I found a pair of really cheap Horze hind interference boots, AND they came in navy! I’m good on boots now. I’ve got my gold PS of Sweden boots, some brushing boots, and now these for when we’ll be doing more and I’m not sure polos are sufficient padding.

Gold PS of Sweden browband and boots with gold BOT pad. And the most Quarter Horse pose to ever Quarter Horse lol. Hard to believe she felt so good and uphill that ride lol And new Shire’s girth!

I was in need of good socks, so I bought my favorite Noble outfitters in lots of colors. Since I haven’t gotten dressage leathers, I switched my stirrups to my black jump leathers. I’ve thought about selling those a lot, but I wanted dressage leathers in hand before I sold them, and I’m glad I did. Switching my leathers also reminded me what an absolute pain it is, so I bought the exact same black composite stirrups I already had. They were pretty cheap on sale, so in the bag they went. Ah… you know…. Just in case I have a jump lesson on a different horse one of these days? lol

There was a very small need for Amber to have a new girth, so I grabbed a Shire’s one on sale. It works better than her Smartpak fleece one, whose elastic is all stretched out. It’s also a 30, and thankfully Amber has kept her weight very well to solidly fit a 28. For a small horse, she’s got a deep heartgirth, just….not so deep as a Warmblood haha so those full-size dressage pads are pretty long on her. She’s a fan of fleece and leather, and the first day I rode her in it and the BOT white pad we had a fantastic ride. So definitely a win.

Minus the girth cause I already left it in the tack room after I rode with it lol

I also added some polar fleece gloves. It hasn’t been very cold here, just very wet, which is so weird for Vegas. But I am anticipating January to be cold, so I’m preparing and we’ll see how these Heritage fleece gloves hold up.

On Sunday, Choco just wanted to snuggle! This was her happy yawn when I finally got us all situated and then finished homework ❤

That’s really it! Hopefully for a while lol. I need to keep saving up for Kentucky next year!

Frustrated. Suggestions?

So remember back when I was cleared to ride Amber lightly and work her up I bought new Lund dressage stirrup leathers?

Ummmmm….. I still haven’t gotten them.

I emailed back and forth with Rob Jensen until about mid-September, I’ve emailed them again, I’ve FB messaged them, and I’ve filled out the “contact us” form on their website. Crickets. The charge is there on my credit card, and at this point, I’m about to call them and have them remove it since I can’t get a hold of them and I’ve never received a shipping notification (I have before), so I don’t think it’s lost in the mail.

I waited this long because things can be hectic during holidays, but I feel like it’s been plenty long enough for them to have gotten a hold of me.

I am really not sure what else to do except get the charge off my card. Is anyone else having issues? Does anyone else know perhaps why no one’s getting back to me?

Here’s a completely unrelated photo of an adorable doxie begging for food while you just want to play your game lol

The Hamster Brain

Wherein I’m talking about my brain, actually – not a horse’s.

The brain is so fascinating. It runs pretty much 24/7 without fail. Now double that, or triple and quadruple that, and you have ADHD.

I have realized that I want to post a few of my drafts, but I feel for you guys to really understand them, I need to write some background, because the backgrounds are long posts in and of themselves. Plus, I have really felt a desire, a drive to post something about my own mental journey. I’ve loved reading all the posts with you bloggers being so honest about your mental state, and I have been wanting to write a post about my ADHD for a few months now. For those months it sat, half-written and half-formed. It just never quite felt right to post it until recently though.

I am what people consider high-functioning ADHD. To look at me, many times talk to me, you’d never guess that I do have ADHD. I’m smart, sociable, seem extroverted, am pretty stoic, and a think-through-a-crisis type of person. I’m a private person and what people term an “extroverted introvert,” and am reserved when in situations with people that I don’t know well. I seem like a completely different person from what is going on in my head. The truth is though that every day I’m frazzled, struggling, wondering where time went because I literally lost time and have no idea how that happened. I’m either everywhere, ridiculously distracted by random things, can’t be bothered to get out of my chair, or I’m hyperfocused for like 6 hours.

Yup. This happens on the daily

Getting diagnosed with ADHD has been a recent thing – about the past two years, so I’ve had 20+ years of coping with it and thinking it was normal. ADHD can be likened to riding a roller-coaster. Except you do that every day. At least 10 times per day. Your decisions, as well as your emotions, change every few hours. Sometimes hourly. Sometimes every half hour. You walk somewhere, completely forget what you’re doing because something else was merely shiny, and then you’re wandering around trying to grasp that fleeting thought because you know it was there, and you know you need to do something. You just literally can’t remember what.

For ADHD-ers, spiraling is a real part of life. It is so easy to be overwhelmed when you have ADHD. You’ll be happy, doing great, and one thing – one small, tiny thing – puts a divot in that, and it festers and grows until you feel like you’re a failure at life because look at all these people that raise kids and find time to ride and go out with their hubby, and here you are single with a horse and unable to cook for yourself, do your laundry, clean ANYTHING, or socialize, and you look at everything you CAN’T do and are failing at, so then now you’re at the dregs of depression. And then because you feel like shit your sleep is messed up, so to top it off now you’re really exhausted.

This happens EVERY. SINGLE. TIME I feel like I have a free moment. And then I get overwhelmed and shut down. It’s fun

Sometimes that’s an every day cycle. It’s why ADHD can be mistaken for depression a lot of the time (though please know that actual, diagnosed depression is different than ADHD-induced depression). Because you’re tired. You’re tired of needing medicine to just fucking focus. You want to be a normal person that can just sit down and do things, yet you literally cannot do that because of your executive dysfunction. You just want to be normal, so you get upset at yourself because you can’t do things, so then you stop taking your meds because why can’t you do what others can do, and then you spiral even harder because you can’t focus, and work or life or everything just suffers. But can you pull yourself out of it? Sometimes. Sometimes it takes weeks. Sometimes months. This is all internal, at least for me. It doesn’t tend to show on the outside. Except, well, when it got so bad this past July that it did show on the outside.

RSD, or rejection sensitive dysphoria, is there in nearly every person that has ADHD, and doesn’t help this whole spiral whatsoever. I discovered this probably two or so weeks ago, and wow. So much of how I think, how I’ve done and experienced things, is tied into RSD. It basically is defined as “an extreme (dysphoria means “difficult to bear”) emotional reaction to the perception of rejection, failure, or criticism – regardless of the circumstantial reality.” (Btw, if you are interested in reading more, this article that I stumbled upon where it explains RSD put everything I didn’t realize I was feeling/doing in my every day life into words) This put so much into perspective – why I don’t try, why I always feel like anything I do isn’t enough, why any time I felt like someone would be disappointed in me I experienced this crippling panic, how I do practically anything to avoid failure (this includes not showing because what if I’m not good enough and I fail?! to the point that the anxiety is vomit-inducing). We get so afraid to say anything, to be that failure or disappoint, that it often shows up as indifference, lack of communication, or even disruptive behavior, when we’re really just petrified of that perceived failure, because we’re sure we already are one.

Ugh, these are so real lol the patrick star happens when I want to ride and then somehow….don’t have time to ride lol

The only time my brain is blissfully quiet, that everything slides together to work like a well-oiled machine of focus and multi-tasking, is when I ride horses. That doesn’t mean my self-depreciating voice isn’t there telling me all the things I can’t do. It’s just that when I ride, my brain is able to focus, to multitask, to consciously remember things I’m supposed to be doing and actually work like a normal brain. It’s why I don’t like taking my meds if I’m going to ride, because the moments around horses are the only moments when my mind is normal, when I can be normal.

It makes sense that – when I was riding horses (Amber, specifically) – I had an epiphany about that self-depreciating voice in my head. I remember Amber tried so hard, and was making progress so I was praising her a lot. And all while I told her what an amazing pony she was, my brain was chanting why couldn’t you do that your hand was atrocious don’t you have any control of your legs and god she was able to do it why not you you’re just no good at this. And suddenly it hit me. I rewarded Amber every time she tried even the slightest bit, made sure that every time she didn’t understand something, I would determine to be extra patient and slow down the gait, re-explain it to her, and try again. Why couldn’t I do the same for myself?

I DO THIS EVERY DAY. I never knew I did it until I read this. Did not know it was an ADHD thing lol so if I ever do this to you, please know I am not trying to be an asshole lol

So I turned up the volume of the voice for horses in my head, and turned it on myself. Good job! it’d say. You tried really hard, and your abs were engaged and you kept track of your legs this time – look at you! Our left hand is a WIP, but you had good moments with it. It takes time, and we’ll build it every day, okay? And I forced myself to change the narrative, to have that patience for myself, because right after that was when I was diagnosed, and it suddenly all made sense. Now, because I knew how and why my brain worked the way it did, it allowed me to actually feel and accept the words my horse-voice was trying to tell me. It allowed me to believe them, and I’ve come leaps and bounds with that way of thinking, just like my rewards and extra-patience have benefited Amber immensely as well.

It’s why in a lot of rides I blogged about before Amber’s injuries, and ones I blog about now, there are hardly any negatives because I’ve had to change that narrative for not only Amber but for myself as well. When I don’t understand something, and have to ask for an explanation or for someone to repeat themselves a lot, I get extremely anxious and afraid that people will say “god, can’t you just understand this?! Why do we even bother with you?” or reprimand me for being/sounding stupid. When Amber doesn’t understand something, she gets anxious and afraid that I will reprimand her. Huh. Okay, then. So, now instead of getting upset and frustrated, I bring it back, discuss it another way, and try again. Because I changed this for her, and by extension myself, there are so fewer places for things to go wrong, for us to have a struggled ride. Because she’s trying, I’m trying, and Amber and I are partners in this struggle-bus, so any progress is good progress. Sometimes we still have the off ride (and notice I said “off” not “bad”). She had lost her work ethic when I first started easing her back into riding, but at the same time, I was convinced she also expected things to hurt. So it took extra praises, extra pets, but she realized this is light stuff and her work ethic bounced back. The other night I’m not sure what was wrong but she wasn’t focused, wasn’t listening, and practically the whole ride was off (I’ll expand on the ride in another post). But I do insist on calling them “off” rides because they’re off of our norm. They’re deviations rather than consistent behavior. Speaking about it this way also eases my anxiety, which helps me to learn from the ride rather than let it negatively impact my mood/headspace.

For real tho

And man, I have worked really, really, really hard to change that narrative in my head. So that my anxiety about not being a good enough rider for my horse, for a show, for anything wouldn’t be so crippling. So that when I tell myself we’re showing for the horse’s experience, and let’s just give it a try, and have fun! I can actually believe the words I’m saying. The anxiety is still there, because I want to be a good leader for my horse that day, and reward all their tries, but it isn’t so bad anymore. It’s been 2 years of slogging through that, of finding pages that have others just like me. I’m still finding things connected to ADHD – like my recent discovery of RSD – that now give me more tools to work with, to understand my neurodivergent brain. It’s a never-ending struggle, a never-ending discovery of information, so a never-ending work in progress.

I do this nearly every time I’m waiting for an elevator. I had no idea this happened to other people lol

As much as I’ve worked on my anxiety, you can bet your ass I am pretty petrified to post this. Writing this was therapeutic. Publishing it… Let’s just say my anxiety is a ball in my throat, and my hands are shaking lol. Even though it’s just about ADHD, it’s still personal, still that perceived criticism, despite knowing this blog community isn’t like that. So the anxiety sticks haha. But if this can help someone else, if it can help neurotypicals understand neurodivergents a little better, then I think putting myself out there is worth it.

I know this week is Thanksgiving, and this is a heavy post for the holidays, but I think I can also count this as a bit of a “thankful” post. I’m thankful there’s more research on this. I’m thankful that I’m understanding more about myself. I’m thankful that this blog community is so wonderful. I’m thankful I can ride Amber again and that we can actually have “off” rides again. I may post more this week – I’m not sure. My executive dysfunction has been kicking my ass recently in things non-work related (which, if my brain decides to function during work I’ll take that lol), but I’m hoping I can finally get some more of my posts out.

In case I don’t, happy Thanksgiving all, and thanks everyone for reading along 🙂

15 Years Young

Choco turned 15 in June, and she’s still going strong. She has never enjoyed clothes and baths since we’ve had her – she’d much prefer either a nest of blankets or burrowing into you for her warmth, but she would always race around the house like a crazy doxie after a bath. She especially loved it when you chased after her. She slowed down for a few years once she hit 12, but after I gave her a bath the other night, she was in old form, happily racing around <3.

Messing around and vet check-up

After my last lesson, Amber seemed to take the “conserve all energy” way too close to heart lol. Usually she’s got a good swinging walk when we first mosey on out there for our 10 minute warm-up, but boy she was PLODDING along haha! She was determined not to expend any energy in that beginning warm-up lol! It took a few times around to get her more forward at the trot, but she gave me some good work once I really got her warmed up. As it’s gotten colder, she starts off pretty stiff on that RH stifle, so I haven’t enforced a frame during our first few times trotting. Just letting her stretch, warm up, and work out of it. This has actually been good for me. I set a 10 minute timer for our walk warm-up. A good 2 or 3 times around the arena to get some of that stiffness out. I am one that just hops on and goes. Not that I never did warm-ups for horses before, but I don’t have the best sense of time, so I’m positive more time has passed than it really has. I started to do a few more serpentines since those really encourage balance, and I can tell the faster change of rein amps Amber up a bit. Doing that left turn really gets her tense – I know it has to do with the balance needed for that turn. When we turned tho, she practically threw herself out by hollowing and dropping and speeding up – something she really hasn’t done in a while. So we had a short discussion about how she knows better, and she tried very hard the next time. I was also super pleased that after I cantered her to the right, Amber really listened and didn’t even try to offer me another canter – in either direction. Reining is all in the canter, so she’s used to “once we canter, we canter until we’re done.” I’ve been switching it up for her – cantering is easier for her than trotting, so if I am going to canter, I’ve cantered first and then done the rest of my trot work. It’s definitely given her a lot to think about, so I was very pleased when after cantering, she just settled back down and was content to trot. So I scrapped my previous decision for more cantering, and just let her trot. One more round of serpentines up the long side, and if she tried hard to the left and we were semi-successful then she was done. And she got a little fast, but she tried, so she got many pats and was done.

The cutest ❤

Leading up to my lesson I didn’t get to ride Amber as much as I wanted. I had completely forgotten about her equioxx in lieu of homework, so I had to order that and I took it way easy on her since I could tell she was trying, but her heart wasn’t completely in it since she didn’t feel so good. Thankfully, between the company and my awesome vet, I had a quick turnover to get them, and she was back on equioxx and feeling a lot better.

Then that Tuesday Amber had her routine check-up. We’ve had success with doing a radio-graph every few months just to make sure that LH hoof is growing right. Also, even though it warmed up after my lesson, cooler weather was on the forecast and we were slated to get some sub-30 degree nights. Amber’s been doing well, but just as a preventative, feel-good measure, I decided to get her stifle injected while the vet was out for her LH. I know it won’t “fix” anything, but it was more for Amber’s comfort than anything else. The winter after her surgery while we were battling her laminitis it was really clear that she was super uncomfortable on that RH stifle. So this winter, especially with me riding her more now, I wanted to inject it to give it a bit of cushion.

Amber has a new dinner buddy lol

She was a very good girl for it all, but pretty sore the day after since she moved a lot during the injection. She usually stands pretty still, even without drugs, but I’m thinking that perhaps it was more tender than we thought.

I didn’t get a picture this time of her x-ray. It looked about the same as the last one (thank god) – she just still needed a lot of toe off. She tends to grow a lot more toe on her hind feet anyway, so I think that’ll always be a battle with that foot. But I am still ecstatic that while I’ve been riding her a lot more, the foot really doesn’t look any different. That’s so promising! I am warily giddy with excitement if that makes sense lol.

Dachshund on the dachshund sheets!

Whisper has had a bit of a mystery lameness ongoing now for over a year, so my mom hasn’t been able to get any ride time in. I’ve convinced her to hop on Amber and ride her around for a bit on my long days. That way, Amber gets out with a bit of forced work instead of doing nothing if turned out, and my mom has a chance to play around on a horse again. Its good for both of them!

The day after her injection, she got trimmed and I took her out for a good 15 minute walk. This cold weather isn’t helping (it got into the high twenties one night and Kahlua’s water froze!), so since I hadn’t really been able to work on serpentines under saddle, I did them during our 15 minute walk. It was cold and breezy and it may have been 55, but the “feels-like” said 45 so I am not ashamed to say that I wore my fleece breeches lol. I only had my sneakers on and a halter on Amber, but she knows what to do when I put my feet and hands in certain places. She got tense (as expected) and walked faster, but just a few encouraging words had her ears flicking back to me, then she took a deep breath and relaxed, and our next one was much better. Even if we weren’t “working,” it’s still a good reminder as we’re walking.

We were matchy matchy for our lesson!

My mom rode her lightly on Friday to see how she felt. She said she felt very good – a lot more forward, more comfortable switching directions too, which I was very happy to hear. I want her to be as comfortable as I can get her, and spend good time together while I have the opportunities. My mom said she even did a little cantering – which is huge for my mom! She used to own a horse that bolted with her, and sometimes Amber’s speed unnerves her. But Amber has quite a few stop or slow-down buttons, so I was very proud of my mom for cantering, and very proud of my pony for taking care of my mom.

When I just wanna play my game and Choco just wants to beg for food 😀

Thankfully, my lesson was on Sunday and pushed back to noon, so it’d be nice and warm (70!) for my lesson and I could get a good ride in on Saturday as prep. And Amber started out way more up than I was expecting. She felt really good, had a lovely swinging walk, and after one circle at the trot realized she felt really good. I did a little cantering – both ways! – and she felt a lot better. Still difficult, but as always, these things take time and muscle strength. I was very happy with the preliminary results! After cantering, I went back to our serpentines down the long side, and she tried really really hard. She knew she was good, and asked to stop, so I let her and ended the ride. She didn’t offer cantering again, really tried to do the thing and relax and what we’d had trouble on before, so I felt it was a good day and left it there.

Next up: our lesson! I finally remembered my helmet cam, too lol.

Dressage lesson #2

I had a lesson bright and early at 8 am on Saturday morning (three weeks ago), right when we were scheduled to get a cold spell. When 730 rolled around and I was out getting her tacked up I was severely regretting my decision lol. I am not going to lie that I was chilled, even though it was probably no lower than 55 degrees. Even still I was in a long sleeve shirt, a light vest, and a thicker pair of breeches. But the sun was out, it was a nice day, so I was warm enough pretty quickly.

A bit chilly, but still a nice day!

Trainer G and I set up some cones for a “dressage court” and I proceeded to warm up Amber. And boy was she spicy. She wanted to go. So we did. I let her canter, but because she still doesn’t have that much strength, I tried to support her. It was like riding Tigger haha, with each stride way more vertical than ground covering. We cantered both ways, and finally I could feel her start to loosen up a bit, relax a little more, so let her walk since I didn’t want to take away all her energy or good movement before the lesson. After walking she was so proud of herself, and it made me happy that she’d actually been so fresh that morning because she was feeling good.

And then when I asked her to trot again she was like “wait, mom, no. Aren’t we stopping? That was all I needed. We’re done right? Mom! Ma!” But, as ever, she was a good girl and kept trying even though she reluctantly relented that FINE we had to keep working LOL. She definitely forgot that lesson of “you may expend your energy but after that it’s work” that we’ve been through plenty of times. She certainly had an “oh crap” moment when she realized there was still a lot of work to be done LOL.

Pretty pretty pony in her BOT sheet

Genevive and I went over some intro tests, riding them through. Amber was TIRED you guys haha! She had no medium walk, barely any free-walk…. I was pretty amused. She totally didn’t know this was going to happen, and I could feel her regretting her decision to be fresh lol. As always, Genevive understood, so the fact that I let Amber not be as forward didn’t bother her. I got some really good pointers tho on riding tests. Even if I don’t show Amber (and honestly, I don’t think I could; I’d probably be excused for riding a lame horse lol), it’s good practice, good knowledge for when I do either get another horse or do lessons on other horses. At the barn where Genevive keeps her horses, there’s an older mare that is a whiz in dressage. I’m thinking of have a lesson on her, as well as doing a jump lesson or two on a couple of Trainer’s horses sometime in the future.

As it was I was thanking Amber’s reining training through those tight turns in the faux dressage court! I know I showed Amber in the dressage two years ago, but two years is a long time, so I forgot haha. But lay that outside rein on her neck and our turn to center line was sharp. You know, when I remembered to make it sharp and ride Amber through it. We worked on a few sharper cue responses, a wee bit of geometry, and nuances of the test. It was a good lesson!

We did a teensy bit more cantering, but Amber was reaching her limit, so I left it at a half-circle and we ended on that. She got many many pats and treats afterwards, and was the proper tired, spoiled pony.

I do have to say that I think part of the reason she was so fresh was her new BOT sheet. I broke down and bought it ahead of the sales, mostly because I knew that we were going to get a cold spell that weekend. Her legs – especially that arthritic right front – have felt fantastic with the BOT quick wraps that I got a while ago. She loves her BOT dressage pad, and that stifle is a hard area to address. The sheet would totally cover it tho, and with my back starting to feel achy and old with the approaching cooler weather, I knew it was just as important for her to feel the best she could. The days leading up to my lesson she felt really good body-wise, so in the end I’m glad I just spent the money to buy it.

I have another lesson this weekend, so hopefully we’ll have had enough practice. I don’t think I’ll be able to squeeze any in, but we’ll see!

Family time

I had so much going on (oh crap, it’s been three weeks) three weeks ago. I need a vacation again haha.

First off, I was having a really hard time figuring out my homework, and also had a chance to get a lot of it done early. It was an Intro to Python coding class, and it was actually super fun. It’s like a puzzle when you work through it and I really like puzzles. The flowcharts…not so much. Thankfully, my sister and her family were coming to town that Wednesday, and my brother-in-law works with a lot of coding. So I roped him into helping me and understand way more now about what I needed to do. So that was a load off. (Thankfully, that class is done now! Yay!)

Choco: if I fits, I sits ❤

My sister and I dressed up the next day to hit the Age of Chivalry Renaissance Fair that hits Vegas once a year. Even if I never buy anything, it’s so fun to dress up, look at the vendors, and ogle all the amazing costumes others have put together. I (very obviously) loved stepping into the shops that had all the leather work. It smelled just like a tack shop, and if I lingered in those for a while, well thankfully my sister understood haha. We had a great time, and came back for an hour of R&R.

My sister’s costume. She hand-made every single piece except the hat! Well, she did glue on the ribbon herself but she didn’t make the hat lol.

Then, the niece wanted pony rides! Which of course, I was more than happy to oblige. Amber was, too! She’s always loved Kaylee, and honestly I think that horse was the real MVP of their whole trip lol. Kaylee is three now, but every time she was around Amber, or I handed the lead rope/reins to her, Amber knew exactly who was on the opposite end. I am totally bias in thinking Amber is the bestest gem, but I honestly wouldn’t have believed half of the things Amber did to keep Kaylee safe had I not witnessed them myself. She was so slow, so careful, and even if Kaylee was pulling hard on Amber’s reins, she’d just lift her head and pause, almost like she was saying “no, no, I can’t walk faster than this,” and then Kaylee would look back, and Amber would just continue at the pace that matched Kaylee. It was seriously the most precious thing. Made me think a lot that this must be how P is for KC‘s tiniest dictator!

Amber just loved putting her head down near Kaylee and sniffing her ❤

And that little girl, you guys (the kid btw LOL). I only “adjusted” the stirrups once – ONCE – and handed her the reins, and only the second time she hopped on Amber what did she do? Looked straight at me and said “adjust please?” for the second stirrup I hadn’t gotten to yet, reached herself forward and grabbed the reins before smiling huge and grabbing the pomel of my dressage saddle. She’s got it down that’s for sure! And she loved Amber’s bouncy trot, for which Amber was perfect for, and stayed balanced right in the center. Pretty sure she’s a natural lol. It was just a lot of fun being able to hang out with her – especially since she’s (thankfully) past the terrible twos lol. Whenever I would pat Amber, Kaylee would pat Amber. After that second ride, Kaylee reached down without prompting and said “Good girl, Amber!” as she pat her shoulder. It was the cutest thing.

We all had a really good time together. It especially helped that I had about five days off for it, so I was able to spend a lot of good, quality time with my sister and her family. But now, I just want to have more time off again haha!

Even when Kaylee got tangled in the reins, or ran under Amber’s belly, Amber didn’t even care, and never moved a muscle ❤

Btw, Happy Halloween everyone!

Sunday dressage lesson

Sorry everyone. I know. I suck at blogging. I really meant to post this last week, but a lot happened and I just never really sat down to put all the video together until the other day. As I said in one of my previous posts, Amber did seem to like dressage better for the fact that I was helping to support her. I also know that dressage is a LOT of strength building – particularly in the hindquarters. And looking at her, she’s got a lot of muscle on the left side. Aaaaaand kind of none on the right side. Hey! Just like me! haha (I told Trainer G that Amber and I are 2 peas in a pod & perfect for each other because the both of us have the majority of our injuries on our right sides, and that we’re also too young to be this messed up – Amber arthritic and laminitic at 9, and me practically the same way at 28 lol)

She does not enjoy my dress-up shenanigans lol

Physical therapy is a pain, and hurts as you get stronger, but then once you’re stronger, you feel a lot better. I figure that Amber is never going to be or look perfectly sound, but I can help her stay as comfortable as possible, and if that’s by strengthening her body, then that’s what we’ll do. I loved Austen’s post about riding the older, unsound horse, and right now, I feel that’s where I am with Amber. Even tho she isn’t older, I’m not gonna lie that I feel a bit nervous posting video because of her arthritic knee, weak stifle, and recovering laminitic foot. But she loves to get out and be ridden, and I’m going to post the videos anyway. It may look bad as we go, and believe me, I’ve had my fair share of worrying that I’m doing too much, pushing her too hard, and she’s just not telling me no when I shouldn’t be doing this. But I can tell she’s so much happier. She nuzzles me after every ride. She’s been nickering at me more. She bumps my stomach as I’m putting the halter on as if to say “I’m so happy we’re going out, mom.” So, we may look lame, or off in videos, but whenever I release her to walk on a dropped rein, she’s always got her ears up.

Ears up and happy ❤

Even though Trainer G is an h/j trainer, and does dressage in a way that aids jumping, she and I have a great trainer/student relationship. I know she’s always mindful of the horse and it’s abilities, so there was no one else I wanted to start up lessons with again. I was super happy that she was just as excited as I was to start up lessons again. It would be a lot easier for both of us doing lessons at our barn, so I was really looking forward to being able to ride my horse in our arena.

I had ridden Amber the previous week and Tuesday and Wednesday of lesson week. I had a long day Thursday so just walked around bareback on her, and I had Friday off. I had planned to ride, but had a good meet-up with my sister so I ended up not riding. Saturday we had sustained wind at 20 mph, so riding was out. This is definitely one reason I love being able to ride Amber again. I hadn’t really ridden her in 3 days, the wind brought a cool spell, it was still a bit breezy on Sunday, and I knew I would have to worry about absolutely none of it. She’s 9, broke, and is all business when I need her to be. What I wasn’t prepared to find was that my normally “I like to keep clean” pony had decided a pre-lesson nap was in order. And proceeded to sleep in her pee spot. After she’d gotten a bath on Wednesday so that we looked more presentable on Sunday. Oh, horses lol.

Happy pony ❤ She doesn’t care about being dirty. Although, we don’t really either, so it’s a win-win lol

Either way we were saddled and ready when Trainer G got to us. It was a beautiful day – maybe about 78 degrees with a cool breeze – absolutely perfect. I will freely admit I was a little chilled when I first went out to tack up lol. Going from the 100s to mid-90s to 70s in about a week has been like whiplash for everyone here in Vegas – hence also why I’m sick. (I have been properly astonished to see how hot it is for everyone east of me/on the east coast and it’s practically noon here as I’m writing this and freaking 72 degrees. I can’t even lol since writing this tho, thankfully the majority of you guys have cooled off a bit!)

We started the lesson slow – a lot of walking, and Trainer G seeing how Amber and I worked together. It was awesome to have a lesson again, and on my pony (finally). There were just small things that I couldn’t tell from in the saddle that I needed to do differently: lower my outside hand, but raise the inside a little, thumb up on the left hand (I think that’ll be an eternal struggle lol). I loved how she told me to imagine I was riding Amber up a hill since I am definitely a tip-forward type of rider. That more than anything got my shoulders and my chin up! I could totally tell the difference after I started implementing that because Amber got a little lighter in front too. I explained to her that Amber can get behind the bit/vertical from her western training, and that I’ve been really careful with contact and whatnot since I really don’t want her doing that. I’d push her forward, but again, it was so good to have Trainer G’s eyes on the ground because I wasn’t pushing Amber forward quite enough. She’d dip and hide, but with a small cluck go forward and lift. She also had me shorten my reins a lot more than I usually do. I know as I was first introducing Amber to consistent rein contact, I’d have to have my reins pretty long, but shortening them really did help keep Amber more upright in her frame.

She’s trying so hard ❤

We did a lot of exercises at the walk as well. One was “standing up” on a front leg. I would transfer contact to the “inside” rein of the direction I was going, open my “outside” rein and use my same leg as the open rein to push her into the middle. It really helped to get Amber’s left side lighter – she’s pretty heavy on that left shoulder due to that right hind, so it was a bit of a no-brainer to work that into our lesson. I’ve worked with Amber plenty of other times on relatively similar exercises, but this one was certainly the best in getting Amber to pick herself up. She got a lot more responsive to my calf when I’d ask her to stand up on that shoulder as we walked/trotted a circle, and we’ve done that a lot since. We had a few fumbles on trot to walk transitions. I’d use my voice and she’s so attuned to that so she practically stopped haha. We figured out the best way was to sit quiet and still my whole body, and supporting ever so lightly with my leg. We’d have really good transitions then – just no talking haha. I did continue talking to her, and with every “good girl” she’d take a breath and try harder.

During one of our “standing up” exercises. Such concentration on her face lol!

She tried her little heart out this lesson. We hardly did anything “big” but it was so much fun. We practiced leg yields at the walk as well, and thank god it was at the walk because me being me got directionally confused as usual lol. We were moving towards the rail, and Amber led with her shoulder, and Genevive kept saying “left rein” and my brain was like “yes, I use right rein” haha! So once we fixed me, our leg yields were much more successful lol. If Amber tried to lead with her shoulders, I’d just tighten my fingers, and firm up my arm holding that outside rein, and she responded just beautifully. Success!

There were other small things we worked on – straightness was always key, but we also ensured I completed my turns and kept Amber active even at a walk. She was definitely tired by the end – she was certainly doing a lot more targeted strength building than I’d been doing with her! But good girl as she always is she kept trying, and got many cookies afterwards lol. I was also super proud of her because only once did she think we would be cantering, and then settled right down into the work. I slathered her back, haunches, and legs with Sore-No-More, and she loved all the attention.

She was getting very tired when this shot was taken, but she still has her ears up ❤

We have the incline to the barn from where the builders built up the pad, and there’s a wash off property that has an incline. Trainer G suggested we go up and down that for our strength building for Amber’s weak right side. So we’ve been doing the one near the barn a bit to start with. Amber is very confused about going up and down that, so hopefully sometime this weekend we’ll have a “trail ride” of inclines through that wash haha.

I’d meant to turn my helmet cam on for the lesson and forgot, so I have one of my previous rides to test out the larger SD card first, and my lesson videos my mom so wonderfully took for me second. One thing I didn’t realize is that I talk A LOT apparently. More than I’d originally thought I did lol. I’ve edited out the blank spaces of walking or not doing anything for both rides, so hopefully it’s a pleasant watch. I had another lesson scheduled for this weekend, and it was awesome. Amber felt great. Hopefully I’ll get that lesson recap out a little faster this time (although to be honest I sorta doubt it. Being very realistic here lol).

Overboard on new stuff

So, I may have gone kinda overboard. Oops lol.

First off, I’d noticed a trend before Amber’s surgery – she was infinitely more comfortable in her western wear than English. I thought perhaps it was just that she was more used to western, but I thought way back and remembered her easy transition once I’d gotten her jump saddle. The biggest difference? I had a Thinline half-pad and not an Ogilvy, even though she liked the latter for a time. But with her losing so much muscle, I really need something I could shim – even her dressage saddle is a little wide for her.

I will probably sell one of my Ogilvy pads (so if anyone is looking for one, please let me know! I’d love to sell it to a fellow blogger), but keep at least one. I’m loathe to part with a lot of my things I don’t use right now because whatever horse I get next may like different things than Amber.

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Thinline cotton trifecta pad that I have since sold 😦 And now I really need it. So now we just hoard things. Although when it’s horse tack, is that actually a bad thing? lol

But anyway. I’d been eyeing the full sheepskin half-pad. Because Amber is a special unicorn – not as special as some horses, thank god – but I want her as comfortable as I can help her be. And if half pads with support, and no neoprene ever is all she really asks for, then it’s hers lol. (I chose the fluffy because perhaps more cushion? I don’t know if she’ll notice the difference but we’ll see lol) But, you know, cue the “I don’t think I’ll be able to ride my horse for a while” thoughts and so for a long while I just dreamed and sighed of All The Things.

Then we got the go ahead for continued light riding. Then Trainer G said absolutely to dressage rides. So naturally, I completely fell apart and bought EVERYTHING.

The Thinline pad I wanted was on sale. AND it had my size where it didn’t previously. Well, what am I waiting for?! SOLD. Through some testing before it got to me, I found that the thickest foam front piece from my xc ECP pad was just the right thickness to shim up her dressage saddle. So a bit of MacGyver-ing later, and my ECP foam inserts are now being used in my Thinline. I will probably end up getting actual Thinline shims in the future, but for right now, this is perfect!

The new, full sheepskin pad ❤

PS of Sweden was releasing their new fall line – they call it Jade but it totally looks teal to me. Anyway, I LOVE teal/turquoise. I dyed my hair teal. Once teal/turquoise became the “it” color for the year a few years ago, I bought everything in those colors because it was so hard to find any other time. And I can ACTUALLY RIDE now, so obvi, I was getting this whole set. It was waaaaaaay too expensive, but WORTH IT. I’ve missed out on their French blue, mint green, and other lovely colors because a) it IS expensive and b) I had no horse to ride, so now that I do I’m buying this one. Not to mention, this teal set is accented with brown and gold, and finding my fav colors accented with warm tones is actually way more difficult than one would think. I prefer warm colors, but a lot of things are accented with blacks/greys and silver and finding a warm color combination that I really like doesn’t happen often haha.

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Teal hair if you can see it.
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I just about died when I saw this set. I adore French blue, but Amber wasn’t ridable at the time, so I had to say no
My new precious(es) plus one older precious lol

Plus, I need new dressage reins, cause my long braided ones totally don’t work (hint: they actually do work), and I still needed a certain amount to get PS’s free shipping, so what the hell, let’s buy reins to match my bridle. Because why the hell not. And they’re nice. I think Amber does actually really like the elastic in the reins, even though she didn’t when it was on the bridle. I’ll probably cut off the running stops they came with since I bought the snap-on ones. If I ever need a running martingale with the next horse I’d buy, I’d use the PS of Sweden running attachment that has the clips since that really is so much easier than the running attachments that you have to thread through the reins.

I also didn’t have stirrup leathers either! The horror. Just jump leathers that I’ve been using because do we ride much, if at all? Ah, no. I’ve been dying to try the Lund leathers, so a hop, skip, and a jump over to Lund and now I have new stirrup leathers (tho they haven’t arrived yet). To be fair, looking at short videos/pictures of me riding that my mom has taken, I really DO need new leathers because my jump ones are on hole 5 or 6 so I don’t have a lot more room to drop my stirrups down haha. So, uh, it was actually a needed purchase if I was going to keep riding dressage.

Stirrups were definitely too short here
Lengthened my stirrups by 2 holes and now it looks better, but maybe a bit too long after riding? More testing and I think they’re perfect in the middle haha

My horse stuff is taking over my poor parent’s spare room – ahhh, AND part of the sunroom, actually lol – so before all of this happened I finally bought a tack trunk to put all of my “not using right now and probably for a long time” items. I have a lot of loose leather items, too – the extra chin pad and strap that I got with my PS bridle, my gorgeous beads for my DJD browband, my chin straps for western bridles, extra spur straps – you name it. I kept losing things and finding them randomly, and while that’s normal for me, I really like all of my strap goods and I want to keep them all in one place. Now I have everything organized, and it looks pretty good.

All my western and jump pads stored away. Dressage stuff out, which perhaps is good that there’s not a lot of it right now lol
For quick organizational ease, use an over-the-door clothes hook to hang bridles and breastplates lol

I think this all just exploded because I’ve been super strict on myself to not buy anything horsey that wasn’t absolutely needed for about a year and a half.

Oh, lord. I really need to sell things. Anyone need anything? Black jump leathers? Breeches? Ogilvy half pad? A bling dressage pad? lol

So, I don’t need to buy anything for a while. And yet…. I do know that if RW has one of their 20% off sales, I am totally taking advantage of it and grabbing another BoT dressage pad and their therapeutic mesh sheet because Amber does seem to go a lot better when wearing the BoT pad I have now. Plus Weatherbeeta has a gorgeous French blue dressage pad. You know, since I missed the PS one…. Now that I can ride again I really need to keep telling myself I don’t need more stuff lol.

It’s certainly cheaper than the PS of Sweden one. Maybe if it goes on a sale….? lol

What about you guys? Have you gotten anything new?

Miracle Pony

I think Amber is part cat. I swear she has 9 lives.

Either way, I’m gonna do a (kind of) small recap.

In June 2012, I bought Amber as a 2yr old and brought her home with me.

July 2012, Amber got out of her pasture, and sustained a career ending injury – at least a dozen bone chips in her right knee, and – we were later to find out – damage to her hocks and right stifle. Only, it wasn’t career-ending, and 4 months later, to my hope and the vets’ astonishment – she was sound.

In 2015 she came to Texas with me, where a vet discovered that her hocks had sustained minor stress fractures from her injury in 2012. These were completely healed by then and didn’t affect her physically, but we theorized that sliding stops reminded her of that initial injury, so competitive reining was off the table.

We just did some baby reining with no slide stops 🙂

In April of 2016, I watched the Kentucky cross country and show jumping live feed, and fell in love with eventing. Amber and I pressed on for our western showing goals, and even won a buckle.

Mid 2016, it looked like she’d gotten cast in her stall, and was lame on that right hind leg for about 3 days before it seemed to work itself out after I checked her over for a month as she still looked fine. (My mom and I later discussed a lot that Amber hadn’t had an issue before, but getting cast possibly set the ball rolling for the degeneration of that stifle)

In mid 2017, I got my English saddle, the horses moved home, and I was able to slip in some dressage work to show Amber English and western, and we won our western performance buckle that now permanently lives on my blingiest belt.

One of my favs of us from that show where we won our buckle ❤

November 2017, just after the last show, we finally realized why she’d felt very slightly off, and scheduled her stifle debridement for January 2018.

December 2017 Amber decided to slam her jaw somehow into something, and cracked a tooth. Surgery was cancelled, and her tooth was pulled. It was expected that she’d be healed in a month. April 2018, after an abscess in her jaw and 4 months of the initial drain incision taking forever to heal, bone chips from her jaw finally come out, and she was cleared for surgery.

May 2018 she had a super positive surgery, and she healed very quickly.

July 2018 we were all scratching our heads. For as well as she’d seemed to heal, she now wasn’t – not really.

The first day of August 2018 we discovered she had laminitis and only 0.4 centimeters of sole left in her RH. We got her boots, immediate stall rest, and I was pretty certain I wasn’t going to be able to ride my horse after this. Everyone around me was positive, but my vet and I could both see that it wasn’t a situation that was likely to have a positive outcome.

Literally what Amber was doing. The vet couldn’t believe she was even weight-bearing on the foot.

The end of October 2018 found her to have grown a really good amount of sole – more than the vet was hoping or expecting (which is always a plus). Still strict stall rest, still soft ride boots, and another appointment 2 months later.

The January 2019 appointment was more good news, so I finally started to let myself hope that maybe I’d get to at least ride my horse at a walk sometime in the near future.

June 2019 the heel of her coffin bone was pretty low, stressing that back tendon, so we put her in a shoe and slightly wedged pad. This would test to see how her foot grew with a shoe and pad instead of being stuck in boots this whole time.

Top photo is August 2018. The bottom photo is August 2019 just before her next shoeing. I can’t believe how well it’s actually healed!

August 2019 check up saw her foot at its best so far, and she’s been moving consistently better in the past 3 months. Good enough that I got a go ahead for very light riding, and as I’ve been riding her more consistently over two or three weeks, she has definitely been happier. The little bit of work has felt like it’s been helping her body feel better too – physical therapy after her injuries, if you will.

And now, just a little over a year later, Amber and I had our very first dressage lesson together on Sunday, something that I never thought I would be able to do with her after that diagnosis.

This little mare, you guys. She’s such a miracle pony. Apparently, she isn’t done just yet. One thing is for sure – she’s going to keep me on my toes with all of her surprises!

What Amber thinks of herself – and I’m inclined to agree lol

More on that dressage lesson next post!

Not-so-wordless Wednesday

I’ve uh…really been meaning to blog. Honestly. But when you’re trying really hard to do this –

– the small things get put on the back burner (basically anything fun lol).

Well, except riding, thankfully.

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Hello. You get me treats, yes?

However many weeks ago (maybe 2 now…?) the vet came out to help us with Kahlua and trimming her feet (I also swear I WILL give you guys a Kahlua update er….sometime?), I spoke briefly to the vet about Amber’s progression. I wanted to chat with him a little more, but he had an appointment to get to so I could only tell him about how Amber seemed to be doing. After her very positive visit at the beginning of August, I’ve been riding her very lightly – walking, jogging, and cantering only a little, and just the few times she’d offered – but she has actually felt pretty good. A lot more stable, like both hinds aren’t bothering her as much.

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Riding in unicorn socks because I do ride a unicorn lol

He said to go ahead and keep doing what I was doing, keep her up in light riding, and see how she’s doing next visit.

I think I lost some hearing after he said that. Was just a bit in a daze, wondering if I was hearing correctly. Thankfully, I really was hearing right, so Amber and I have played around a bit. I mostly rode western, but just wanted to wear my English get-up a bit, and took a shot at doing dressage things like we did a year-ish ago. And Amber remembered. My smart little mare remembered it all. Plus, it actually seemed like she liked the dressage a little better. Sure she needed to up her pace versus her baby western jog, but I was helping support her, whereas in western I let her support herself, and I think that was easier for her in a lot of ways. After a few more short rides with her doing well, I switched up her tack back to her dressage stuff.

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During a quick “test” to see how okay she was cantering. I have certainly missed cantering my pony ❤

It feels amazing to ride again. We’re really just doing walk/trot, with the occasional tiny canter just to feel how she’s doing. I’m hoping that with the walk/trot work we can work off a bit of that scar tissue that’s around her stifle. I don’t think her gaits will ever look normal, but I really don’t want to subject her (or myself) to more surgery. It’ll be what it’ll be; I’m just happy I can ride her occasionally again, and I know that she’s very happy to be working (lightly) again.

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Prettiest red mare ❤

My sister is doing really well – walking around and continuing to get better. Good news all around for her, so we’re all very relieved and glad that she’s not any more worse for the wear than she already is after her accident.

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Amber found out that alfalfa may be yummy but stuffing her face with a bit in her mouth is not easy at all lol.

I’ve been planning to go to Kentucky next year, and I’m pretty excited. I LOVED going in 2017, and can’t wait to see it all again! I had so much fun last time I went, and can’t wait for the early bird tickets to open up in October. I’m going to make it into a nice vacay and head to South Carolina to visit family after the show is done.

Other than that, not much is going on so far!

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Unicorn status right here ❤

Thankful

Ya’ll. It’s been a whirlwind. But I am so, so thankful, because I received good news about Amber, and my sister was released from the hospital Tuesday.

As I was drawing up some plans with Amber to blog about, I got the call Friday afternoon that she’d been in a motorcycle accident. Thankfully no other vehicles involved, but honestly, with where she was and how she fell, if it had happened any other way, we’re pretty sure she wouldn’t be here. So I am so so thankful that her accident wasn’t any worse.

Her special motorcycle gear protected her where she needed to be protected. She injured her knee pretty badly and broke her pinky, but other than that she’s okay, and as I’m sure any of you guys know she could’ve come out of that a lot worse. She’s staying with my parents so I’ll get to see her every day, but she’s already shuffling around well so we’re all pretty sure she’ll heal up quickly.

I’ll be taking care of puppy Rebel, so I definitely won’t be blogging much again between helping my sister, work, and dog/horse duties, but I’m just glad I’m here and I can help. So I’ll be MIA for a bit again in terms of blogging, but I’ll still be following all of you guys and your adventures!

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Sunset after a rainy Vegas day

And the good news is…

Sorry for leaving you guys hanging! I attended the Women’s Leadership Conference or WLC in Vegas this year, and left on Sunday. I thought I may still have time to blog buuuuuuut apparently not haha. It was really good though, and I highly recommend it. But let’s get to the news!

Last Amber saw the vet 8 weeks ago, she’d worn down her sole to where she was very uncomfortable, and her coffin bone was pretty straight, so she needed a wedge pad that could take the pressure off of her back tendon. So, she got a full set of shoes again, and my farrier lopped off all of that extra toe. More could still come off, but obviously there’s only so far you can take a hoof down in one trimming.

But her x-rays and feet went from looking like this:

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You can still see the deviation in that LH on top and how much toe she still has. Thankfully, the RH on the bottom is still looking alright.
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The “after” trim. You can juuuust barely see the pad on her LH and that he really trimmed off the toe.
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This shows how her LH foot is still a bit dished, but much better looking.

To looking like this:

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The LH. Look at all that sole! And that little bit of wedge padding has got her coffin bone in just the right place. The shoes are really giving her some great support.
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RH. That one certainly grew a lot of foot so there will definitely be a lot of trimming but at least it’s still remaining healthy!
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BIG DIFFERENCE. He toe is back, and now that it’s had 8 weeks to grow out, it looks like the bottom half of her hoof really matches the way the top half wants to grow, which looks like a major plus if that hoof wall will grow along the new coffin bone line like it should. The excess toe should not get in the way of the new hoof growth anymore!
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Another view. It makes my heart happy ❤

You can bet I’m feeling pretty damn good about that. Just a big breath of relief. Looks like we’ve found a perfect angle, and having shoes on the hind feet and a pad is all just the right mix for her. That’s A LOT of sole that she grew, which is super positive. Even Doc said that in all her x-rays she’s never grown this much hoof, which is excellent. A definite “yes” that we’re on the right track again! I know she’s happy – she really really hated those boots lol.

Doc also said that she’ll probably have a very normal-looking foot. While that’s a plus, I’m certainly not too worried even if it’d look abnormal. It’d just get trimmed in the way it functioned the best. It’s still a positive, though, so you can bet that I’m taking that too haha! Her front feet are looking positive as well, and I think she’s a lot more comfortable.

But the best news?

She should be pretty rideable in another 4 to 6 months!

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Yay for more of this!

Not anything like we used to, and mostly a let’s-putz-around-trail-horse. She can probably do a bit of loping here and there, but mostly long walks and some trotting, and that’s more than I thought I’d get a while back, so yeah I am extremely happy lol.

Part of what I wanted to try that was low-key and low-impact for her was liberty. She already follows me around mostly, so I figured that maybe we can turn it into something else we do together. We’ll see how it goes lol. I’ve never made her following me into a job, so now that I can start doing a wee bit more riding I may not do liberty too extensively.

Her right hind is still short, still hitches a wee bit. But the more I get her out to just walk around, the better it gets each time. I think part of it is that it’ll never be 100% and has some scar tissue blockage there. The other part I think is that she still expects that left hind to hurt, even if she’s feeling better, which I can totally understand. I rode her over the weekend, and I’m going to hopefully hop on her 3-4 times a week now. Mostly just walking, and maybe at most 15 minutes because it’s god-awful hot for anything longer if it’s not at 5 am or pitch-black out lol. But I’ll be monitoring her every ride.

Ya’ll, this little girl really is a miracle pony. Even Doc said that she’s really been surprising him with how well she’s doing. It’s certainly a relief!

Catching up

Oh boy. I haven’t blogged in…..just over a month apparently. There hasn’t really been much to blog on, but it’s really got nothing to do with there being no news in general with Amber. Mostly, it’s because shit’s just been really hard. Just be prepared – this is a bit of a life-rant lol.

A lot of this has been brewing since mid-January, and then just piling on from there. I started having severe back pain mid-January, and it was so bad I had to stay home from work. Turns out we’re pretty sure I have a bulging disc in my lower back. Hurray. This does put a damper on riding though not a lot thank god because riding absolutely helps it – but I’ve had to change a lot of what I do every day. Also since February, I’ve been in a near-constant state of exhaustion, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why I couldn’t even function as a human (at least, more than usual). Turns out, my mattress ended up the culprit. It wasn’t meant for a bulging disc, and after sleeping for 11 hours straight on my old mattress at my parent’s house when they went to get Kahlua… Well, a new bed was for sure in order. It’s all paid off – my back is doing well now, and I’m actually sleeping and feeling better.

I’m also realizing pulling myself out of this constant state of exhaustion didn’t help me with my last class. I felt ready to start my class in June but I think I should’ve waited once I found out about the sleep deprivation, especially since my coworker decided right as I started the class to cut back their hours to only two days a week, which means that I then started working three 10-hr shifts a week. I had a week to cancel, but I thought I could do it. Hindsight, I suppose. I have been behind the entire time in this particular class, and finally got all of my assignments turned in Wednesday. Aaaaand the class ended Sunday. But I finished? And got a B so I don’t have to retake it? Silver lining, I guess?

Our usual not-so-successful selfie

July just has not been good for me, and everything that I got behind on in life due to the exhaustion is now catching up to me like a freight train, too.

I’ve had some fun things interspersed in all this, but it hasn’t been much. It’s just been a lot to try to handle these last few months, and unfortunately, it isn’t going to get any easier as I try to fix all the things that fell by the wayside. Unfortunately, it also hasn’t just been one thing; it’s been all aspects – work, school, food, and even free time. It’s been a shit show.

And finally a good one!

It’s probably not gonna be pretty for a while, and I’ll make more mistakes as I try to fix things, but you gotta do what you gotta, right? So, I’m changing a few things. Work is starting to improve. I’m done with my class so that’s a load off as I rest in August before taking another one. In the food aspect I’ve had to really change things around, too. I started cooking more instead of getting frozen foods. I have some old Blue Apron recipes that I can remake or mix and match, so that’s an easy way to “meal plan” because I really really hate meal planning, and it’s pretty easy to make those simpler. So far, it’s all been helping, and I’m actually a bit surprised how much changing my food is helping. I now think I was low-key starving myself. I was eating, but none of what I was eating had the right nutrients in it whatsoever to actually provide my body with what it needed. So now that it is getting the nutrients it needs, I’m feeling better.

Dachshunds!

But I think that, to balance my life and get some of my former confidence back, I need to start doing something horsey again. Horses are my spirit booster, and no riding has a part of my brain a bit depressed, I think. I’m brainstorming things to do with Amber, and have kind of come up with something. It’s low key, no pressure, but gives the both of us something new to learn and something to do together, and I’ll post on it later once I actually do it a little and get some media lol. I want to do lessons again, but there are just a lot of extenuating circumstances that make it not quite feasible at the moment. In a weak moment I very nearly bought a yearling filly that has very similar bloodlines to Amber (I messaged the owner and everything so it was very close haha). She pretty much ticked ALL of my weakness boxes, but I have nowhere to put a second horse even as a resale project soooooo lol. Plus, Amber had a vet appointment on Tuesday with good, positive news (which I’ll post later, too), so that has really boosted my mood.

SHE’S SO CUTE. She’s a Paddy’s Irish Whiskey granddaughter, just like Amber, but with more reining lines on her dam’s side. And her registered name is Whiskey Slippers. HOW ADORABLE IS THAT. I’m still sad I made myself say no to this cutie pie.

So, uh, yeah. Thanks for listening/reading, guys. I always appreciate everyone that comments, and if you’ve gotten to this part in my life-rant, congrats and thanks lol. I live vicariously through all of you guys!

Kahlua Friday: Progress

There’s not much progress, but hey, I’m gonna take what I can get haha. Go slow to go fast, right?

There really wasn’t much to update last Friday. I had decided to try what had seemed to work before: when I backed off, Kahlua picked it up and handed it back to me. So I stopped feeding her grain every night, and just started working around her like she’d been there forever. Within two days of no grain, I could see her eat dinner, and then wait for me to come with it. I gave it another day. And on Wednesday got this.

She very much wanted to be a pocket donkey, and was very confused that I hadn’t given her grain haha. But I just let her sniff my empty hand, and she got within about a foot of me and was just sniffing and sniffing. I figured this was good for her eventually not needing treats of course haha. So I gave her grain on Thursday, and since there hadn’t been anything that really happened with her up until that point, I figured I’d wait a week to post again.

Well Friday, I grabbed some carrots, and cut them into pieces – enough for Kahlua and the girls – and gave Whisper and Amber a few. By the time I got to Kahlua, she had noticed that Whisper and Amber had gotten nom-noms, and was waiting with long ears pricked just outside of the covered stall. As I got closer, her little nostrils flared and her sides heaved. No bray, but she was making these adorable little grunts in the back of her throat as she greeted me! Cutest thing ever.

Then on Tuesday she just walked right up to me IN the stall portion! It’s still an area of discomfort for her, so for her to feel brave/comfortable enough to do that…. I took a chance and figured that maybe now she was ready for a little more people contact. So I dumped some grain in my hand…

She turned right around and came back to me as I moved to the outside portion of her stall since that’s where she’s the most comfortable. She shook her head again and did her little buck (which we laughed at) but didn’t even hesitate coming up to me again. And, we got this:

Yay! First time taking grain from my hand.

Throughout the next week I’ve been off and on, and she definitely notices now when I don’t give her some grain! haha! She’s started to stare at me through the divider as I muck Whisper’s stall LOL.

Hello. It is grain time, yes?

She took some more grain from my hand Wednesday, but I’m making it an “optional” thing and occasionally giving her treats instead to help her confidence grow. She’s let me blow in her nose now, and avidly sniffed back, and aside from an initial brush on her nose with my forefinger, there hasn’t really been much touching. But I’m enjoying taking my time with this and trying something new by gentling a burro lol.

Kahlua Friday

I may not have a Weenie Wednesday, or a Schnauzer Sunday, but I figured I could create Kahlua Friday!

It will be good for me to write down my process with Kahlua, and a few people requested I chronicle my adventures with her, so here we are! This initial post may be pretty long – I can completely wax poetic because first off I love to write, and second I’m a very cerebral person, so I really get into nitty gritty details and the hows and whys behind the things I do. Just to prepare you guys lol.

I hadn’t given much thought to how I’d work with Kahlua until I was around her for a few days. Having grown up wild was going to be a challenge, not to mention how often I’d heard people say that burros are exceptionally smart – they’re exactly like those horses that are the least forgiving. They remember everything, and if you make a mistake… Well, I knew two horses like that, and worked with one, and let’s just say that it did not go well for us. So I was determined to approach Kahlua much differently, but had to get a feel for her first.

Her ears are so adorable I just want to squish them LOL

When in college, I worked with halter-broke colts for 2 years as part of my classes, then for another 2 years in Texas. A few weren’t halter broke, but I specifically remember that one of the methods that we were instructed to do was to run the horse around the round pen until they looked at you. I don’t like that. For me, personally, it’s really hard for the horse to clearly understand what you want when everything is so fast paced. I really believe in “to go faster, go slow.” It’s worked for me a lot more than too much pressure. Not to mention, that was for horses, and Kahlua will not be ridden. Just enough to get her comfortable with haltering, grooming, farrier, and perhaps loading. But, as we needed a way to get her more curious about people, I had to come up with something that would entice her.

Enter treats.

My mom started feeding her apple and carrot pieces, and some of our apple treats. Since I was going to be the one working with her, I wanted to use either the apple treats or grain as my training tools. In that first week I started feeding her small portions of my Ultium grain. Initially, she wouldn’t eat from a bucket, and I wanted her to see that this pile was different, so I put the grain on the dirt. We switched a bucket for a large, round, low profile fortex bucket, in lieu of the fact that the bucket could be seen as restrictive and too-enclosing over her head. After she’d gotten more used to the grain, I put her alfalfa and grain in the fortex. It took her five adorable back and forth minutes, but she realized the bucket was a-okay and has been eating there ever since.

Even after a few days, tho, I could tell Kahlua was going to be my kind of girl: kind, sensitive, smart, watchful, and challenging – a combo that’s really rewarding when patience and hard work pays off. I wanted to let her settle for a bit, but for the whole week with us she was turning towards us, looking at us, so I figured tapping into something that she already did would be a perfect way to start getting her to come towards us.

As with all training, when I decided to do just that, it wasn’t happening lol.

She wouldn’t step towards me, so I made the decision that one step was all I needed, no matter how small that step was. I’d step in close, then back away, try to draw her to me as that had worked throughout the week. No dice. She’d move her shoulders away, and leave her butt facing me, but this is why I love ones like her that are super sensitive. Just a few steps towards her butt, a few ticks of my tongue, and she’d move her butt away. She’d try to move too far forward, so just a few steps back, and she’d stop since I was blocking her shoulders. I was very careful doing this, not moving too fast – she was against the fence, and the last thing I wanted was for her to feel trapped and to lash out because of it.

After about 5 minutes of this calm back and forth – which for sure felt waaaaaay longer haha – she finally took that one little step towards me with her left front. I praised her, dumped the grain as quickly and non-threateningly as possible on the ground and proceeded to make myself as small as possible exiting the stall so that she would hopefully understand that by doing what I wanted – moving towards me – she got what she wanted – no pressure/people. I had finished cleaning her stall, so for a good half hour I made sure to leave her alone and not go near her.

The next morning she was pretty wary. My mom told me she’d move away from her pretty quickly, and while I felt guilty because that’s what us horse people do, there was really nothing that could have gone better the previous night, short of her immediately facing me like she had before. So I had to work to let that go haha, but then was super happy to realize that throughout the day, she’d improved greatly, and by the time I came by to feed, she was back to being curious. Perhaps any human interaction like that had preceded a few worrisome experiences for her so that’s why she was wary, but I was determined to go at her pace and not work with her for at least a few days.

SO ADORABLE. Look at those ears and that sweet expression ❤

Go figure, as I was mucking her stall, what does she do? She bravely steps towards me. One foot, but she did. And I had no grain. So I laughed, told her she was a brave, smart girl, finished mucking, and walked back in. I hadn’t planned on it, but she had certainly got the memo from last night, and I had to reward the try. So I stood there with grain, shoulders perpendicular to hers, and within a minute or so she took a short step, and I repeated dumping the grain. This time tho, she was in front of the door, so I smooshed myself into the corner of the stall. Knowing grain now, she ate it while I was in there, and it caused her to take a few more steps towards me. She looked at me for a bit, then decided that was enough and moved away which still had me smiling as I calmly exited.

From that point, about mid-second week, she’s been making huge leaps by taking a lot of steps towards us. She’s very curious but cautious, which doesn’t surprise me, but I’m loving how smart she is. I’ve made sure to rattle my cup with grain whenever I have it for her, and by last weekend she would hear it and practically come running! She’s gotten less nervous about me going from a crouch to a stand, but is still a bit wary of stand to crouch – which, yeah totally understandable from a prey perspective lol. Even still, I’ve let her dictate how close she chooses to get to us. I haven’t needed to encourage her hardly at all after teaching her that 1 step those 2 or 3 times, and I’m more than happy to go slow.

Last Friday she got within about 2 or 3 feet of me by her own choice. I had two apple treats, and she stared at them, but didn’t make any move towards them. So I tossed them to her – which she’s also super smart and understood within about 2 or 3 days that we’d toss her treats so don’t be scared of them – and I was super surprised but very pleased she felt brave enough to eat them with me crouched there. I poured her grain and backed out again.

That Sunday she very nearly took the treat from me. She stretched out her neck a little, definitely wanting it and about 3 or 4 inches away from my hand, but just couldn’t bring herself to. No problem. I tossed her the treat and she ate it. I held out a second for her, and she really thought about taking that one, then decided it was too much and turned away. But she came right back up to me, within a few feet again and close enough to take the treat. What more could I ask for? So I tossed her the treat with a big smile, poured her grain and stepped out.

She’s not backing away as much, not as worried about us, so it’s still steps forward to me! She’s gotten a lot more comfortable with us walking around. She’s not as startled when we appear behind the barn, or when I enter Whisper’s stall to muck. I still call out to her to warn her I’m coming around, and she’s gotten used to the cadence of my voice when I do that, as well as listening for our footsteps. She’s learning really fast, and is still very sweet even though some of her personality and sass is beginning to show through. I’m hoping that she really does like it here.

She’s nearly there taking treats from our hands. A couple times Tuesday evening she scared herself after bumping her nose against the treat in my hand. She definitely likes laughter, because after she scared herself and backed a few steps I couldn’t help but snort out a laugh, and those little radar ears swiveled towards me like “I like that!” and then she came up closer. She’s getting curious, too. I noticed out of the corner of my eye that same Tuesday, that she is very intrigued by affection. She was within a foot of my back as I loved on Whisper because Whisper was craving some face-cuddle time, and Kahlua just watched me snuggling Whisper’s face. It was sweet.

Wednesday was another one of those days. When you think it’ll work to start messing with them, it doesn’t go as you hope. And then when you decide to back off a step, they’re like no, keep going! lol I wondered a little if Kahlua was wising up to the fact that while she gets treats/grain if she steps forward, if she doesn’t take a treat from our hand we toss it to her anyway. So I talked to her while mucking, telling her I was going to leave her alone, but no grain today and we’ll see how that all pans out. Aaaaaaand she walks straight up to me when I’m done, her nose within two feet of me, and then we just comfortably look at each other. And stare. So I thought – eh, what the hell – and reached out my hand. I didn’t have any treats, but she stretched that nose forward, and touched my hand with her little left nostril. Instead of startling herself, she just sort of moved her head away like she was still unsure. But not scared, so I just backed away a bit, smiling and saying, “okay, well, apparently you understand me because you get grain now.” lolol

She’s coming up so close to us now!

I’m mostly winging all this, but it’s all still rooted in how I’ve worked with horses before. For one as sensitive as she is, going slow and making things clear-cut for her is my main focus. She’s taken it from there, which is what I hoped, and the only thing I want from her is to want to come near me. I want her to know that if we get a little too close and she’s nervous, that we back away, and I feel that while it’s a small thing for us, it’s big for her, which has helped her become a lot more comfortable with us. She’s certainly gotten more comfortable with the barn – she’s using it to scratch all of her itches!

And then just yesterday……

Woohoo! She took the apple piece right from my hand! We’re getting there!

She’s really fascinating, and stands sentry just watching everything that’s happening around the barn. She got used to the train very quickly, and Whisper has shown remarkable improvement now that she knows Kahlua is keeping her watchful gaze on everything. She woke my parents up one night because she finally brayed! lol We’re thinking that perhaps the coyotes were out and she was giving her warning to them or Amber and Whisper, or who knows perhaps it was nothing, but we’re really enjoying having her.

She’s starting to come into the stall more! Still not very comfortable, but progress!

I think she already knows her name. Her radar ears swivel towards us when we say “Kahlua.” It’s the cutest freakin thing. The flies are really bad near her eyes, and she got a small scrape probably from scratching. It’s kinda hard to see them all ganging up on her, but there’s not much we can do about it right now. I laugh so hard every time, but the scrape is near her eye, and her ears are so long that if she shakes her head just right, the tip of her ear flops against the scrape and dislodges the flies. I have yet to get a video because I’m chortling so badly. She just looks at me like she wants in on the joke lol.

But I’m having a good time working with her. I like that there’s no pressure for her, no pressure for me – be it an outside source or self-inflicted. I feel that her coming to us, and us petting her will be hardest obstacle to overcome, but once the mountain is crossed, it’ll be downhill from there. She’s so smart that I think once she has more confidence and trust in us, things like her feet for the farrier or haltering will be pretty straightforward. At least that’s my hope!

That’s all for now! Hopefully I’ll have some more improvement to talk next week!

A few new things

I’ve gotten a few new things – some aren’t very recent, but they are still pretty new to me since I haven’t used them much yet. Some I’ve used more than others, but for the most part they’re still “new.”

Best In Blue Equestrian – Diamond Hickstead belt

I love my Mango Bay belts – they have fun designs, and are cloth, which conforms to my shape much better than leather belts. But what conforms even better than cloth? Elastic.

I have been looking and looking and looking for a black belt that’s me. I nearly bought one of Mango Bay’s graphite and black belts, but it was more grey than black, and I never liked the design or colors enough to just buy it. On a random “let’s check this out for shits and giggles” after Karen posted about the belts and they intrigued me, I saw the Hickstead belt on Best in Blue’s website. They had 1 left of the black diamond. It was perfect. All black with a top and bottom row of fine silver thread with little diamonds. Not loud at all. Subtle, and a little sparkly, which is definitely me.

Wearing it with my work clothes!

What caught my eye the most was the surcingle clip. I’ll be honest and say I am insecure about my tummy, so when I wear higher-waist pants, belts with buckles and even the Mango Bay belts just felt like it was drawing attention to something I was already self-conscious about. I’m sure most people never notice, but we’re our own worst critics. The surcingle clip is ridiculously slimming. So much so, that I am wearing this belt with my work pants, and relatively anything that needs a belt. It’s crazy – it’s stretchy enough to be extremely comfortable since I sit all day, so it doesn’t compress my stomach, but that stretch is strong so my pants/breeches do not slip more than a 1/2 inch. Which, to be honest, even some leather belts that I’ve had on tight still let my pants fall like an inch or so. And I’ve had this belt since about February and wear it at least 3 times a week. So I am very impressed with it. I need more haha. I like the navy one, so I may nab that one as my regular-clothes one, and it looks like you can request a different color, so maybe I’ll request a brown one for breeches in the near future? We’ll see!

GH Morris – Add Back knee patch breeches

I was VERY hesitant to buy these breeches. They specifically say slim fit, and I am not built for slim fit. They were on sale tho for $50 – I think a new years or Christmas or something sale; I don’t remember lol – but RW is always good about returns, so I figured what the hell, let’s just try them because I was absolutely in love with that rust color. I sized up because of the slim fit, and I’m glad I did. My thighs wouldn’t have fit into my normal size lol. The waist was fine tho, if a little big. They’re definitely built for – you guessed it – women that are slimmer than I with perhaps more of a straight shape versus hourglass like me.

I like the tan piping – simple, but classic

I have actually been very pleasantly surprised by these breeches. The fabric feels lovely, but I am the most pleased with the breeches’ stretch. I am used to bending down or squatting, and feeling my pants pull at the waist. I usually need to hike up the knee area before doing that, even in yoga or work out pants. I went to sit down and these didn’t pull AT ALL. It was like there was a different set of fabric around my legs versus my butt; I don’t think I’ve ever experienced that with pants haha. The size up is juuuuuuuust this side of tight, but while they look a little tight, they really don’t feel that way due to the stretch over my thighs. They do feel a bit tight on my calves; but that’s par for the course on a slim fit for me, and I did know they had a slimmer calf fit, so I knew that buying them. Once I’ve sweat it’s difficult to pull them off, so I have to just pull them off inside out lol.

They also look fancy with Best in Blue’s Hickstead belt!

Otherwise, I like these. A lot more than I thought I would. I would buy another pair, but perhaps just one, and only if it was a to-die-for color (like that wine pair OMG), and on a bit of a sale, even if $109 at RW is not bad and they’re on sale now for $62….. But, despite it’s awesome stretch, the Grand Prix breeches just still fit my shape the best and are the most comfortable to wear. I’d still recommend these tho!

IRH helmet – IR4G navy matte helmet

I have been lusting after this helmet since April 2017 lol. I grabbed the Ovation helmet just before trying this one on, but it’s the single, best-fitting helmet I’ve ever stuck on my head. I have a round head and a low profile, so most helmets I tried on – even ones made for round heads – hit the tops of my ears and really made them hurt. They also came too low in the back, and I also have a smaller size head of 6 3/4. But this IRH helmet fit my head like a glove, and it was not only on clearance price already, but RW had a 20% off of everything including clearance items on their Memorial Day sale, which made the helmet come in at about $103. Damn good price, so I figured I may as well just snap it up.

Very first time I tried on the helmet in April 2017. It fit so well I snapped a pic so I wouldn’t forget the brand/style lol

The small fits just like it has every time I’ve put it on my head. It’s a wee bit tight, but that’s brand new padding and I’ve never sweat in it, so I’m thinking the padding will condense a little with more wear. There is definitely no room to put my hair up in it, but I prefer it that way. My mom used to tuck my hair in my helmet as a kid, and I remember MANY shows where my scalp would itch so badly that I’d spend nearly five minutes scratching it when I could finally take my helmet off. I do not fancy itching like that again, so my hair will be outside the helmet but tucked away in a net. You know….. whenever it is that I manage to compete again lol. The helmet will probably stay in its box until I have a lesson next or… something, but I guess I have it now? lol

I’m pretty close to buying this tack trunk from Schneider’s. My mom won one as an end-of-year award with Whisper. Now that I’m not riding consistently, my stuff is EVERYWHERE in my parents’ house so it doesn’t get dusty in the tack room. It’s a big, deep trunk that’s easy to move so I can organize all of my stuff – or at least my English stuff – into one place.

Tack trunk in question. Shipping will probably kill me tho lol pc Schneider’s

And because Amber’s stuff is everywhere, I can’t find a few of her things, go figure. So, a tack trunk to help me clean and stay organized. Awesome. Likely, it will become messy and stuff will just get tossed in there like I usually do, but it’ll work for at least a little while lol.

Since I now have a ton of them, I’m working on a breeches guide. It’s mostly finished – I just need to get pictures of me in all of them haha. Hopefully I’ll have it out soon.

Another check-up

Amber got another check up Tuesday.

It’s meh news. Her foot doesn’t look better. Compared to our last set of x-rays, it looks worse. She doesn’t have as much sole growth, and she’s rolling to the outside of her foot and collapsing the heel angle, which isn’t surprising because she’s basically walking on her sole on the inside of the hoof. That is certainly no bueno. The other problem is that since she’s rolling her heel and it’s now very low, she’s stressing that tendon.

On top is her xray from January. The bottom is her foot a week ago. You can see where the tendon is stressed.

Seeing where her coffin bone is now makes a lot of sense. My spidey sense have been tingling, which is why I made the appointment in the first place. The angles just kept looking off, she was cocking that left leg more often, shifting her weight a little more often, starting to keep her left hind more forward than her right as she eats (which isn’t her go-to position) – all due to very little sole growth and strain. When I saw the underside of her foot, I knew I needed an appointment so I’m glad my suspicions were right. I’m not sure whether it’s fortunate or not that she’d be better with shoes on her hinds (I’m thinking fortunate lol), but we’re thinking she just really wore down the sole that she’d grown even for those 12 hours her foot was out of the boot.

Choco is still her very cute self and doing well. She turns 15 in a week!

Since we can really see what’s going on now, doc wants to put a wedge shoe with a pad on her left hind. Or at least, after talking with my farrier, she’ll probably have a regular shoe and a wedged pad because they don’t make wedge shoes for hind feet. Either way I’m all for it. I really don’t like the angle of that foot, and giving her a heel lift will take the strain off of that tendon. I’m also all for the idea because Amber will be ecstatic to have those boots off permanently haha. Her right foot is still looking awesome, so thankfully no worries there, and I think that will just get a regular steel shoe. We should be able to get it all figured out soon and get a shoe on that foot hopefully soon. The pad should help her sole to grow more – or at least I’m hoping it will.

On some more “updating” news, remember this teensy puppy?

Well, she’s still ridiculously adorable, but definitely growing into a big, fearless girl that loves people.

And also, because it’s the most adorable thing ever, here is a video of Kahlua eating carrot pieces. You’re welcome. She has now also been given Radar Ears as a nickname LOL.

Meet Kahlua

Well, we’ve adopted a burro!

Sweet Kahlua ❤

Or, well, technically, my parents adopted the burro.

But my mother is excited because she volunteered for me to halter break Kahlua and teach her to have her feet done.

Yes, uh…. well, thanks, mom lol.

She was just a rockstar for the trip, and hasn’t yet made a peep, but she has a very kind face, and I think we’re all in love with how much her ears flop when she shakes her head lol. Either way, it was an amusing situation all around. We left Whisper in the arena while we opened the pen panels to let her in so that she have as low-stress an unloading situation as possible. Amber could see Kahlua through her door, and proceeded to give “what the Fs” while we were letting her settle. Amber has totally seen wild burros before, and they’ve often come within 2 feet her previous stall. So her OMG-ness was pretty funny.

Until she started throwing a temper tantrum in her run and bucking and charging in and out of her covered stalls because god forbid the trailer be hooked up and moving because DEAR LORD WE WILL TAKE HER HORRIBLE PLACES lolololol. So after she wouldn’t calm down, she got tied in her stall. Then she started calling for Whisper, because maybe we wouldn’t take her, but what if we were here to take Whisper to the unknown abyss?! Whisper always answers her back. Except this time. Because Whisper – sweet, somehow incredibly intuitive Whisper – knew that this was a new addition, and a new addition to her side of the barn at that. And when Whisper wouldn’t answer and Amber couldn’t see her, she was very pissed. Pawing tantrum ensued. Tie time extended indefinitely lol.

About fifteen or twenty minutes after we’d closed the panels and let Kahlua settle, we brought Whisper up. Amber nickered a lot (was denied again because Whisper couldn’t care less about her now) and Whisper just went straight outside. Whisper had absolutely no issue with Kahlua being a burro. She was much hotter than we are used to seeing her, but this was definitely an inquisitiveness versus scared. After about a minute with no fusses, we let Whisper go, and fed her and Kahlua. Kahlua wouldn’t come to the fence to sniff noses, but it was obvious she liked Whisper. She hadn’t had any friends in her BLM pen, either, so it looked like a perfect situation for the two to bond. And after every bite of food Whisper would turn her head to look at Kahlua. Amber was very mad when Whisper wouldn’t answer her – god forbid Whisper get another friend other than Amber despite how rude Amber is to her – and then we were feeding them and not her and more pawing ensued. She was ignored by all of us lol.

Happily eating together ❤ Kahlua got the larger enclosure because BLM prefers you to have a 20×20 area for them to start with. We’re hoping for them to share the stall in the future 🙂

Pretty soon we went in for dinner, and watched as Whisper and Kahlua ate by each other. Whisper was enchanted from the start, and Kahlua will often stand by her as well, so our hope for them to bond looks like it’s working great! Amber was still tied for another half hour after that, and by then she was unhappy but standing still, and seemed to be over herself and ready for food.

Thankfully, it was pretty uneventful! We’re going to wait a bit before trying to gentle her. I want her to get comfortable in our barn’s routine before working with her too much. I’ve never worked with a burro let alone a wild one, so this will be super interesting. Perhaps I should chronicle it? lol

So far she’s cautiously inquisitive – she checked out the salt block, the water bucket, but didn’t drink, nibbled on a little hay, and then just stared and stared at the desert. She doesn’t get too upset by new things; she just seems to watch with laser focus, her ears floppy radars that go back and forth, then decides it’s fine. Which is so awesome because it was exactly what we were hoping. Whisper already seems calmer, happier, and doesn’t want to be turned out in the arena anymore! lol. She wants to be by Kahlua.

Night 2 ❤

We know she’s from a burro herd in Mina, Nevada, and was at the BLM for about a year or 2 through no fault of her own. Most people just wanted younger ones, but that worked out perfectly for us. She’s 6, and what is known as a “Jerusalem donkey” because of the shoulder stripe that “crosses” the dorsal stripe. Other than that there’s really not too much to tell – or at least not much more that I know since I didn’t go to adopt her haha. She’s still very fuzzy, which is fine for the super weird spring weather we’re getting here. She’s shedding though, so hopefully once we get our actual summer weather she won’t be too hot.

She seems to be settling well so far, and one of the tips was to sit in her stall and read to her. So my mom has been reading to her, and I’m thinking tonight I’ll pull out one of my books and read to her as well.

7 Years

Facebook kindly reminded me that 7 years ago today was when I bought Amber. It would take another 2 weeks before I could actually get her from her new home in Steamboat Springs, but when the owners offered her back to me, that was it.

I can’t believe I’ve had her 7 YEARS! She turned 9 on April 20, and I didn’t have a b-day post or celebration for her this year, but she got new tack so that was her gift LOL. Either way, I’m relieved we’ve gotten over the worst of her laminitis. The vet is coming out in two weeks for another x-ray check-up to make sure that her foot is still improving, so I’m hoping for another positive visit. I don’t know if I’ll ever be totally sure she’s over her laminitis, but she’s gotten happier with riding so I think we’re on the right track.

Anyway, Happy Gotcha Day, Miss Amber-lee ❤

All pics taken by my sister, and just a year after Amber’s “unrecoverable” knee injury ❤

Escape artist

This happened maybe 2 or so months ago, and I’d meant to post it but forgot. I suppose I can hardly call her an escape artist when there is no chain or latch for her to undo, but she’s still smart. I hang the chain in a way that if the gate is pushed open even the smallest bit, it’ll rattle, and she’s usually super lazy and knocks a foot onto the bottom bar of the panel since part of it is raised about 3 inches off of the dirt. But when she sneaks out?

Utter silence.

I heard you making grain. So I escaped so that you could feed me.

Thank god she’s just so food driven and doesn’t seem inclined to leave the property. And yes, I now latch her gate every time I leave her stall lol. She’s disappointed every time she pushes it, but no more escaping horse, because I’d like to keep my injury-prone beastie less injury-prone.

Also, during I think the 3rd week of our handwalking, she gave an almighty buck. A very happy buck. And I broke down laughing.

She’s always making me smile haha!

#TBT – Amber freejumping

Turns out my mom got photos of Amber free jumping herself when she was about 4-ish. No kidding – Amber just sent herself to the jumps. And you can see there’s no guard rails to even keep her in a chute lol. She just jumps lol.

Sizing it up
Up…..(Thank you very old iphone lol)
….and over!

Never a dull moment, y’all. Sometimes I do think my horse is really stupid. Or crazy smart. Or weird.

You never know LOL