Best babysitter ever

The end of May, my sister and niece Kaylee came to visit. Kaylee is 4 now, and is still the cutest, most opinionated niece ever. I am totally not going to lie that being the “cool aunt” was absolutely awesome haha. I would come over in the morning to visit and after five minutes of being excited to see me, it was “are we going to ride Amber?!” It was great.

My mom has a beautiful Pre de Nations saddle that she’s kept forever in her trunk, and it’s been labeled as the kid’s saddle for whenever kids (more specifically grandkids) were to ride. Well, Kaylee immediately wanted to see the saddle, and try on her kid’s helmet that I bought her as I assembled the kid’s stirrups onto the saddle. So then obviously, we had to ride.

She tilts her head to the side like that when you tell her to say cheese. It’s so stinking adorable

I wasn’t sure how much Kaylee would be able to do, but my plan was to have her sit on Amber all by herself and try to start steering Amber. So I grabbed my Lund bridle, my extra pair of spur straps, and lashed together a sidepull to put on Amber so Kaylee could start practicing steering. I let Kaylee do as much as she could, such as leading Amber and brushing her. Safe to say it was her favorite part of the day. And Amber….. Well, Amber was just the best. I’ll let the photos tell the story from here <3. (Let me know if the videos don’t work! I’ll compile them into a youtube video if they don’t)

Amber LOVED putting her nose down and just sniffing her. It was adorable ❤

Lessons! And a very hot weekend

After I’d written my Friday post, Genevive texted me asking if I was sure I’d like to ride since it was a) supposed to be the hottest weekend yet and b) she didn’t really have a horse for me to really jump on. Which is no big deal at all – at least the horse part haha. The heat is a definite factor, but I’d been excited for that lesson since I’d made it three weeks prior so I wasn’t going to cancel! As much as I have really enjoyed riding Amber this week and she’s been great, I have missed lessons. And, I ended up jumping a little anyway, so it all worked out. Plus, she offered to let me ride TWO horses – how in the world could I say no to that?!

A very good friend sent me this adorable sloth mug, and boy have I needed it lol

I will admit I was terrible and got pretty much no media. I forgot my helmet cam, and it was hot as hell out, so I focused a lot more on hydration than media lol. But, I absolutely love the two I got to ride. The two she had were a Lusitano cross gelding named Rooster, and a TB mare named Ellie. I was super excited to ride the TB mare – especially since I’m following a lot of OTTB pages as a possibility for my next horse. We were getting an early start too – lesson at 730 and 930 to not get too caught in the heat. So I drove up armed with a giant jug of cold water, a whole Pedialyte, tech clothes and my really airy helmet.

Unfortunately, shortly before arriving, there was quite an odd smell coming from my truck engine, so when I parked I popped the hood to take a look. I couldn’t see anything at first, but then noticed liquid all over one part of my engine, with it bubbling on top of the battery. That was reeeaaaaallly not good. So I called my dad and proceeded to my lesson.

In the bottom left of the photo you can see where my battery overheated so much the cap came off

I rode Rooster first since he was more of a kick ride, and had an absolute blast on him. It helped that he liked me haha! He was such a super chill dude, and being a Lusitano good lord his canter was so lovely and lofty. So rhythmic and steady – at least, once he realized that breaking to a trot was a no lol. His trot was lovely and so steady too, and even Amber gives me a little more up and down push than he did. It was just so nice to ride. He’s green, but green as in merely uneducated. He does want to do what you’d like, he just doesn’t know how to do the fancier stuff yet lol. But G has done a fantastic job with him, and even though he’ll probably get sold for dressage, she’s educated him in some jumping! After a good warm up so he and I could get used to each other, we hopped over to the second arena , picked up a canter and headed to a little crossrail in the middle of arena, set up exactly like the crossrail in my previous lesson with Wyatt. Rooster does have a left drift, but he popped over the little jump so steadily and never once tried to run through my left leg or rein. We ran into a little bit of a hiccup when I asked him to land left lead, he landed left lead, and then just as I was steering left he switched to his right lead lol. So we sorta ran into the fence lol, but he was all “oh, okay? Sorry? I guess we carry on? K cool” haha. He was super chill about it, and we nailed two other passes at the crossrail before calling it a day with him.

Oh HI

I really liked him. He was super brave, very willing, and while he is a bit lazier, when it came to jumping I liked that feeling. Despite only have a bit of jumping education, he was steady, and I felt confident enough to actually work on my position a little. I think biking at home that whole week really helped my legs, and riding Amber in my jump saddle also really helped me be more aware of my upper body so that my shoulders didn’t collapse so much when I went to jump. So that lesson was successful! G had a little girl in between my two rides, but it was great to cool down and rest up before I rode Ellie.

Rooster was really great – he’s nosy and cheeky and has personality and is steady and sweet and I loved his gaits. But Ellie. OMG Ellie. I loved her. She’s not as outgoing as Rooster, not as confident, but you could just tell she was so sweet. I was a bit intimidated since she’s a lot bigger than I’ve ridden recently (maybe she’s about 16.2-ish?), but after grooming her and brushing her it just melted away. Maybe it’s just because I love mares, maybe it’s because her energy felt so reminiscent to Whisper – I don’t know. But I really like her. I even rested my cheek on her forehead and stroked her nose, something that I do with Whisper a lot when I feel she needs it. And Ellie just sighed, and it seemed to have the same effect on her as it does Whisper. She really just seemed to be that way the whole time I rode her too – I recognized a lot of Whisper in her, but she had the easily accessible go that Amber has.

Unfortunately the only photo of Ellie I have lol You can’t see her cute face, but the only white on her is a little star ❤

By the time I had Ellie tacked and warming up it was about 108 degrees and 10 am. Just ICK. But the rest and water and Pedialyte had done its job, and I had energy to ride. It was so different though hopping on Ellie right after Rooster! Maybe it’s just me, but as much as I feel at home on Amber, I love feeling the differences in horses. It’s just so cool lol. Anyway, I walked with Ellie, and while she constantly had an ear flicking to the excitement going on, she was constantly coming back to me with an ear too, listening when I’d talk to her, listening when I’d pet her. When we trotted, she started off super fast – there was definitely a lot more OOMPH there than with Rooster! Amber has done that plenty of times, so it was a bit amusing for me to feel something so similar in such a completely different horse. (Maybe it’s that mare factor….? lol) But, this is another reason why I love riding with G, and riding her horses. Some of our cues may not be the same, but our philosophies for working with horses are, so when I sat tall, got a firm hold on the reins and tightened my leg, she came right back down to a lovely, steady trot. It was such a nice trot, but I needed to be firmer and steadier with my lower body, a cool difference since I didn’t need to be as on top of it with Rooster since his trot had less upward momentum to it.

This girl had a lovely lovely hunter canter as well. Again, such a difference from Rooster. It was just so cool to get to feel the differences back to back, because their movements were so different from each other, but I liked them both equally. Even though Rooster was a little lazier and required me to be on top of it before he broke gait, Ellie required more body control and subtlety from me. Super cool.

Rooster is my absolute favorite shade of bay ❤

After we had a good warm up, we ventured back out to the uncovered arena to pop over some poles and crossrails. Ellie is a lovely hunter-in-training, but boy when I first pointed her towards the poles she was all OMG JOMPIES and she was SO EXCITED guys lol. The first time we cantered through the poles she was okay, but the second she was like NOPE HANG ON, WE’RE GOING, I HAVE THIS. And the half halt was non-existent and we had a very bad, unbalanced turn haha. So, note to self – we do not pull on reins and push in stirrups. I am not too sure why I always tend to do this initially, because I don’t do this with western, so maybe it’s something I never fixed in English? Either way, I gave myself a silent reminder to sit down, then sit up, then leg support, THEN we balance with the reins. We did a quick trot circle – a half halt to a halt and then back a few steps. Pause, back a little more. Just to reinstate Ellie’s half-halt.

So we made a pass again, this time cantering to the inside of the first pole jump and aiming to the second. I did all of my little reminder, just with a little too much pull, and she broke to a trot, but we picked the canter up again, and had a great stride over the poles. Half-halt success! We came the other way, and this time we got a super half-halt to re-balance to end with a great pass over the poles. G put that one up to a cross rail for us to trot, and Ellie totally clunked over it the first time lol. And it was totally my fault because my freaking shoulders hunched at the last second. Curse my hunchy shoulders haha. Either way, we popped over it two more times, with Ellie being awesome and me not being as terrible with my shoulders, before I had to call it quits. I wasn’t at my limit with the heat, but I was getting there, and I knew if I kept going, I wouldn’t physically be able to support Ellie the way she’d need. It was still a great point in the ride to finish the lesson, and a lot of good things to think about!

On an unrelated note, we’ve finally gotten the tack/wash area and tack room concreted!

Unfortunately, my truck still wasn’t fixed. We weren’t sure what was wrong with it aside from the fact that for some reason it was not charging my left (main) battery at all, and diverting all power to my right (auxiliary) battery. Which meant it was pumping 18.5 volts into that battery, when batteries should only be charging around 13 to14 volts. Yikes. That’s certainly a fire hazard. The sulfuric acid from the battery that I’d tried to rinse off had still corroded through a few cables, so those would need to be fixed. We didn’t leave the property until about 130, I took a much-needed nap from 2-4 before driving back up north to see if we’d fixed the problem. Apparently not. So, we finally got back around 730 pm, and I finished up horses before getting a ride home. I was definitely feeling the effects of the heat – which, go figure my truck decided to have this issue on the hottest weekend projected for July. It got up to 114 (with the historical average only be 104), and was still 105 at 8 pm, despite the sun having gone down around 730.

It’s LOVELY

The next day my dad and I were back at the property, troubleshooting my truck. We were there for a few more hours, and still nothing. It climbed up to 116 that day, and Amber was definitely having an issue, so I spent a good thirty minutes outside continuously hosing her down and giving her an impromptu bath. She was certainly much better for it! But boy it so miserably hot that when I went out to hose off Amber I could literally feel my brain swelling inside my skull. At least it was breezy, so once I hosed Amber, I hosed myself down too.

Monday morning saw me back at the property to meet the tow truck. At this point Genevive and I were joking that I really should’ve just brought my riding gear for the past two days – I could’ve had two more rides lol! I’m glad I didn’t end up having an episode from the heat, but I certainly came close a few times. I’m pretty sure Aleve and Pedialyte were my saviors. So now my truck is at a dealership to hopefully fix the problem. From browsing forums and speaking to a few Firestones and Ted Weins, it seems like it’s a pretty common problem in the PCM for my year of truck. Go figure. Hopefully that is the issue and it’s an easy fix, but I’m not super positive. When we first asked about the PCM part on Saturday, the dealership said they don’t make it anymore because my truck is too old. Womp womp.

My poor baby!

So, it was certainly a very busy weekend lol.

4th of July (Small) Tack Haul

It has certainly been interesting since I last posted. I’d meant to post an adorable photo dump of Amber being the perfect babysitter for my niece (and I still will post that), but things started happening one after the other so it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long.

Double doxie snuggles are the best snuggles ❤

My family has had a slew of health problems in the last few weeks – thankfully not due to covid – but it has been really hard, so I was in need of some retail therapy. I haven’t really bought anything I don’t absolutely need for Amber in probably the last year and a half, so when RW’s 15% popped up, I figured I’d snatch up a few things I’ve been eyeing.

First were the BOT Royal Hind boots. Amber has responded very positively to BOT products, and it isn’t as if I can’t use any of these things on the next horse I get right?! Haha, so into the cart these went. I’ve been eyeing these for a while. Amber definitely needs back boots now that she consistently interferes with her hind legs, but as good as the cheap ones were, there was always a nagging in the back of my mind that a boot this style with hard plastic would benefit her more.

SHINY

Next was a navy BOT jump pad, because why not? She loves her dressage one, and always moves so well with it. I actually really like this pad almost more than her dressage one tho because it’s a lovely mesh on the bottom that is super moisture wicking even tho it has the Welltex particles in it. It’s super lightweight, and it fits her nicely. Most of my jump pads look weird now, especially since I’m shimming up my half-pad so my jump saddle fits her, but I like the way the BOT one looks on her.

I went back and forth on these, but eventually I just said why not, and added the MDC Sport stirrups. My knee pain hasn’t been bad, especially since I’ve left my stirrups long in my jump saddle, but I’ve experienced a lot of foot numbness the higher I raise my stirrups. I thought about trying the Freejump stirrups, but the price wasn’t quite low enough for me to bite the bullet and try them just yet. But it was certainly different riding in these in my jump saddle! I raised my stirrups, and it was crazy just how easy it was to push my heel down in these. I’ve never had a problem with lowering my heels – if nothing else I push them down a little too much. But I hadn’t noticed there was a slight resistance in the wide composite stirrups until I tried these.

The stirrups are definitely a little larger than I’m used to seeing

It took a good twenty minutes before I felt numbness in my toes, and usually it’s only about five or ten minutes in that they start to go numb in the composite ones. I had absolutely no knee pain whatsoever, so fingers crossed that continues. My ankles were killing me tho, but I think that had more to do with my boots than the stirrups. Since it’s god-awful hot at 5 pm here (I think when I first test-rode everything it was still 105 at 6:30 pm), I’ve been trying to use the heat and my sweat to my advantage to further break in my black MH boots. I always have ankle problems breaking in new boots, and these seem to be a little tougher to break in than my brown MHs. But, so far so good on the stirrups!

I also tried the BOT boots and pad on Amber in that ride, and she felt really good. I think I was right that the hard plastic of the hind boots, combined with how stable they were around her ankles really helped her feel way more steady in her hind end. She tended to come out of frame a little more, and was a little “hotter” than usual, but that was more due to lack of fitness and my raised stirrups than lack of comfort. I was actually super pleased with how nice she felt. Her left canter felt uphill (for her lol), and her right lead was actually steady, something I am super happy about considering that is her very bad lead now.

Happy pony, sleepy pony…..

All this arrived certainly at the right time! Trainer G has a horse for me to ride now, so I have a lesson with her this weekend that I’m super excited about. Since I am still out of shape, I am trying to ride Amber a little more – get good riding and 2pt practice in – and am working out on my home cycle-bike so that perhaps I have some semblance of “fit” for Saturday haha. Hopefully I’ll be able to post more soon!

Kahlua Friday: Burro Gentling

When we first got Kahlua, it was really hard for me to work with her. I liked it, but there was also always this sense of dread whenever I needed to work with her. I ended up putting a lot of pressure on myself and it just wasn’t working.

So I backed up for a while. Didn’t work with her at all aside from feeding, mucking, and treats. And honestly, I think it’s been the right choice for me, but actually for Kahlua too. She’s been with us almost a year now, but through our daily routines she’s super willing to come up to us now. She is so delicate taking treats tho – it’s legit the cutest thing haha.

Perhaps two weeks ago, we noticed her right eye was kinda weepy and the flies were really bothering it. We can’t put a fly mask on her yet (she’s totally not broke to that) so we just monitored it. Almost overnight on the second day it just expanded into this huge sore below her eye. She was rubbing it on everything, and taking the skin off her knees even from how much she was itching. We had the vet out as soon as we could get him (thankfully she was considered an emergency), and dosed her with wormer and copious amounts of swat on her eye. Even just by the next day, it looked ten times better.

But, we still had to apply swat and meds to it. She still wouldn’t let us approach to touch her, and she definitely wouldn’t let us near with a halter, so we had to rig one of our panels as like a chute for her. It worked for the first….3 or so times schooching her in there. And then she’d just stand there in one of the corners and stare at us with a distinct “I am not going in there” look about her.

Such a cutie ❤ ❤

Has anyone ever mentioned how smart burros are? Well, they’re smart. And she was not going in there, no-sir-ee. Even after tapping her on the butt with a lead rope. Nope. She’d just stand there with a leg cocked and let us lightly tap her. She knew we weren’t going to hurt her, and she’d just look at us like “No thanks. I don’t want to” with those big brown eyes.

Well. Hurray that the panel is not connected to any part of her run, so we can move it wherever. I’d have to coax her a bit but we’d get her in her fav corner and move the panel. Her face when the panel moved was absolutely PRICELESS. I’m not kidding, her ears drooped LOL. We only had to move the panel twice more to different parts of her run before she realized there was no escaping her fate haha. She ended up being even better without the rope. Within a few days of her willingly moving towards the far corner, I now just point with my left hand, gently move my right, and cluck to her. She knows exactly what this means now, and just calmly walks over. I even managed to get her over there with treats and following me, so she’s coming around really quickly.

Like now she stares at me while I’m making Amber’s food for the next day like “Soooooo more treats are coming, right?”

We’ve been haltering her, putting medicine on her, grooming her, and she’s been a champ through it all. I think this time that we’ve just been letting her be, giving her treats has let her settle really well. She knows we won’t hurt her, and through lots of slow, methodical work she’s letting us do so much with her. We still need the panel to apply meds to her face, but where we once had to squeeze her in she just stands relaxed. She’ll even look at us now, sniff my hands, let me scratch her face. And that sore is practically all healed now, which is a relief.

We give her plenty of carrots and apples and grain immediately after we’re done, and she comes right up to us again because she knows the treats are the best part! I swear she won’t even eat her dinner (and it’s alfalfa!) until we’re done because she knows all the treats are coming haha!

Surveying her kingdom lol

A few weeks ago, we had a TIP trainer local to Vegas that we called to come out an help us. While she’s doing well with us, we know nothing about gentling a wild burro, and I know from working with her that while her mentality is similar to horses, it’s the wild factor that’s stumping us. But the local guy is great, and you can tell he really loves working with horses and burros. A lot of what he explained what he does with them makes a lot of sense to me, and I really enjoy that he uses so many aspects of their wild life/nature to gentle them.

We’ve had him come out weekly so far, and after only 2 appointments Kahlua has come leaps and bounds! We’re able to touch her and pet her now, and my mom has been putting in amazing work with her. She can brush her, put medicine on her knee, touch her nearly all over (tho left side only for now) – all without the chute! She still won’t let my mom get meds on her face without the chute, but with how she’s coming, we know it’ll only be a little while before we can do that. In the chute I’ve practiced haltering her, and she’s a pro at it now! It’s certainly helped with the free work that we’ve been doing.

So far, she lets my mom do the most with her, but since I am back to full-time, in-office work again right as I started another IT class I haven’t had nearly as much time as I would’ve liked to get Kahlua comfortable with me. But, she lets me walk up and pet her just fine, so I’m okay with that for now! She’s come such a long way in just three short weeks, so I can’t wait to see how much further we’ll be able to get in a few more!

Good News from Vegas: Amber, Whisper, and Choco Living the Life

There really isn’t any excuse as to why I haven’t posted anything, but alas, I have not haha. I noticed through this that while I’m home, I tend not to visit social media a lot. No FB, no Insta, no blogging…. So I’m trying to change that a little with this post haha. I’m enjoying being unplugged from most social media lol. I still follow, but it’s definitely been less. The no blogging has mostly been because there’s not really a lot for me to write about, but a few (very) good things have happened recently amidst all this and it’s a huge relief.

Double rainbow in the distance the other day

I am extremely lucky in that short of not going to work every day, nothing has really changed for me. I am a very typical extroverted introvert, so while I do miss the occasional brunch outing with a friend, I have found it to be extremely relieving to slow down, spend time doing things I couldn’t before, and let myself be quiet.

The weather’s been lovely. It’s been so nice to just sit outside with Choco on my lap and watch the horses ❤

I still care for the horses every day. I know that this could be a bit controversial, especially since my parents are in the older age-range for the virus, but since I always take care of the ponies and burro, I never stopped helping my mom care for them. I am there every day, whether just hanging out with my parents or doing chores. For me, with my mom being in that older age-range, I didn’t want her to get too run-down being the only caregiver and then be even more susceptible to getting sick if the extra work, hay dust (we’re both allergic to it), etc lowered her immune system.

Choco is having a blast being able to stay with me more

With our barn being just us, there really was no change in that respect. Amber is loving all the extra time I’m getting to spend with her, and we’ve been working her fitness back up slowly. We look a little janky at the moment – her dressage saddle is again a little too wide for her since her loss of muscle tone, so we have on all our dressage gear and a 5-point breastplate lol. Amber is much happier with the set-up, and we go back and forth between dressage and western, and I keep our riding objectives the same across both disciplines.

Still the cutest tho ❤

Just the other day we had a vet appointment to x-ray Amber’s left hind, and it’s still looking good! She’s not grown as much sole this time, and her toe is a little long, but I think that’s a battle that will always be there, so I’m pretty stoked with the news that her foot is doing just fine even after 6 months of not checking on it. Her knee and stifle are still doing well, especially as the weather warms her arthritis feels better. So we’re going to keep riding! I’ve taken to riding in a pair of really slick yoga pants to help my strength too haha. Her trot is not bouncy, and she’s much happier at a slower trot pace than what I had her at before, so the slippery yoga pants have been great helping me get muscle and balance back lol.

Amber telling Whisper “6 feet away!”
Much happier with this social distance LOL

As for Whisper, for probably the past year and a half we’ve been battling some soundness issues. It appeared in her front feet, and mostly her left front. The biggest setback was how hard it was to really get a read on just what was wrong with her. For the 16 years we’ve owned her she’s been the picture of soundness, and only needed her hocks injected two years ago. So it was very odd that she was having this mystery lameness. Radiographs only told us there was a teensy bit of swelling in her navicular bone, but other than that she never matched any other positive navicular signs. Plus, Whisper is not stoic whatsoever, so she definitely tells you when there is the slightest thing wrong. For a while we toyed with the idea of driving down to California to have an MRI done on her left front since her symptoms were similar to a tear.

Snuggle time is Choco’s favorite time ❤

Before that though, we decided one last option: consult another vet Dr. P, one who specializes in equine podiatry. I just really need to give a huge, huge, huge shout-out to these guys on here, because it really became this network of people working together to figure out what was wrong with Whisper. Dr. W, our vet here, would work with our farrier, send all the x-rays to Dr. P, who would then consult with both W and our farrier. It helped that W already knew P, and it has been a good 5 shoeings of collaboration between these three and my mom. W would x-ray and take molds of Whisp’s feet, send those to P, who would then handcraft shoes for Whisper and send them back to us with the molds, then consult with our farrier on how they needed to go on her foot based on the x-rays and molds. Rinse, repeat for 5 farrier appointments lol. It was extensive. But, we finally figured out that Whisper has contracted heels, which explained practically all of her symptoms. Once we got the angle of her wedge right, it’s been home free, and this last shoeing just the other day looks so positive. She’s walking so wonderfully on her front legs now, so that is a huge, huge, huge relief for me and my mom. Whisp is just the sweetest, and she’s been a champ through it all.

Such a sweet girl ❤

Well, we were well on the way of getting her sound when she came up lame on her left hind leg. And that just made our hearts sink. But thankfully, such a simple solution. The same vet appointment for Amber’s x-ray the other day was to flex test Whisper, and she’s merely hock sore. So we stuck her on Equioxx, and while she’s looking better, after a week we’re thinking we may need to inject her hocks. Which, after all the crazy with her front feet, we’re ecstatic that’s all she’ll need. Pretty soon my mom should be able to get back to riding her main girl, and both her and Whisper look much happier now that Whisp is feeling better. We’ve still got a week or two on the Equioxx before making a final decision, but Whisper is 18 this year, and if hock injections are all she needs now that we’ve figured out her front feet? I’ll take it lol.

ALWAYS needs to keep an eye on the food haha!

Choco is living her best life. She’s ecstatic to have way more snuggles and adventure time with me at my apartment. She gets very upset with me if she doesn’t get to lay in my lap at least twice a day for a few hours each time haha. Her little snores are the best, and it’s been really great to spend all this time with her. Dogs are certainly living their best lives!

The face of happiness!

Bloghop: Gratitude in Uncertain Times

I loved the post that Liz from In Omnia Paratus wrote on Friday, and definitely wanted to add to the positivity. I’m grateful that….

  • I still work. My company has been great about helping all of their employees out while we go down to essential personnel. Even though my job can’t really be done from home, we’ve figured out things for me to do at home so that I can still work and still bring in a paycheck.
  • My animals. Choco, Amber, Whisper, and Kahlua don’t know anything about what’s going on, and keeping up with their routines has definitely helped bring more normalcy to this situation. I still get nickers from the horses, squeaks from Kahlua, and tail wags from Choco whenever I see them, and I’m so grateful that I still get to spend so much time with them everyday.
  • I am very glad I still have a place to live, countless books to read, and plenty of streaming shows to watch in my free time. Maybe I can make a dent in those 2,000+ ebooks I own….? haha I’ll probably make more of a dent in the TV shows/movies that have been on my list forever.
  • Everyone in my family and my very close friends are safe. They all also still have their jobs too, which is a relief. I still see them a lot of the time – especially my parents since they have the horses on the property – but considering my parents are older I’m glad I get to make sure they’re alright!
  • Spring is bringing lots and lots of rain to Vegas, which is very needed! Usually, we have one or two really heavy rainstorms that create a lot of flash flooding, but this time we’ve had multiple rainstorms over multiple weeks that have dumped water without flooding. It’s even made a lot of grass grow at our place, which is perfect to get the horses out to graze for a few minutes.
  • Also so grateful for this blogging community – you guys are the best!

Too much? LOLOLOL Stay safe and healthy everyone!

Shutting Down Vegas

It has certainly been a very quick, interesting couple of days. A lot has happened in a short amount of time, and a lot of us are reeling.

Tuesday night, the Nevada governor issued a “close all non-essential businesses” directive for 30 days – casinos are directed to completely shut down, and other places had to shut down no later than noon on Wednesday. Essential businesses such as grocery stores, police, fire department, hospitals, etc, are still running, but only to essential personnel.

The directive went out at 6 pm Tuesday night, so I rushed over to our feed store to get food for Choco and hay for the horses since we wouldn’t know if our feed stores would be considered essential or not. We didn’t have a 30 day supply of food for the horses, so I ordered just enough to get us through. Thankfully, our feed store is still delivering hay for orders, which eases my worries on that matter. Our vet office closed their doors, but it looks like they are still open for emergency needs.

I’m worried for everyone here. Vegas runs on hospitality, and practically all of hospitality is closing. Schools have closed, but thankfully the teachers are still getting paid. UNLV students living in the dorms had to pack up all their belongings and go home. People are dressing as Nevada Energy workers and robbing people for food, water, and money at gunpoint. When I went to my grocery store right around the corner, there was a team of policeman – one manning the parking lot and the other the store. There were more than 600 people “in line” to get in when Sam’s Club opened. Which totally defeats the purpose of social distancing and staying in your homes, but I digress. People have been taking so much from the grocery stores that the seniors can barely get anything for themselves, so some places like Target are using their first hour of business for seniors – and they’re checking IDs to make sure the age is correct.

Hunky Hanoverian posted this and it was too good not to share!

The streets have less cars on them than ever. As I was driving home Thursday night, it was really disconcerting to see practically no traffic when the streets are usually inundated with cars. With everything going on, hopefully places will be understanding about bills and people won’t go into a bigger panic than they already are.

My office is down to essential personnel too, so while there’s not any in-office work that I can do from home, there’s still a lot of extra training I can do so that I’m not just using up my PTO. So as of next week I’ll get a little bit of an unplanned “vacation.” This does mean more horsey time, so I am glad I’ll still be able to ride, and I’ll take care of ponies as always.

Life is always better with 2 doxies on your lap! ❤

Despite things going a little crazy around here, I’m taking this opportunity to find the positives. I’m okay, my family and close friends are okay. I am extremely lucky that my work is fabulous with its employees, and they’re supporting all of us. So in this time that I am not going work, I am going be positive – finish up my final paper for my class early, go see the horses more since I’ll have daylight to do so, start those YouTube yoga or fitness videos I keep saying I’ll do but haven’t yet, really clean my place, catch up on any adulting things I may have fallen behind on, and keep eating healthy since most of the grocery stores still have all the healthy food haha. Obviously I’ll be working as well, but not needing to be at the office for 10 hours at a time will allow me to do more in the long run.

Amber’s antics also always bring positives to any situation ❤

I am sad Kentucky needed to be cancelled, but I am letting my tickets roll over to next year since I do want to go. I thought about just getting a refund for a while, but since I want to go next year, I decided to just let them roll over. I understand what a huge hit they’re taking this year, especially since they’re non-profit. Hopefully next year they’ll have really awesome attendance, and I think they will. I was really looking forward to seeing my grandma and hopefully meeting some fellow bloggers after Kentucky, but that can always wait until later when things aren’t so hectic.

If you could, please keep Vegas in your thoughts! I hope you guys are doing alright this week!

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.

Screen Shot 2017-06-05 at 8.15.59 PM
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.

20190828_123555312848366.jpg
Teal hair if you can see it.
20190924_0756331435668913.png
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.

20190923_103815974722322.jpg
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.

20190923_1031561974853301.jpg
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.

screenshot_20190923-102839157341811.png
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.

20190923_1037411428498940.jpg
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.

20190923_103625784665310.jpg
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!

20190923_103129336883341.jpg
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!

20190807_190154.gif
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:

img_20190802_1056001034971043.jpg
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.
20190607_072207-11453667484.jpg
The “after” trim. You can juuuust barely see the pad on her LH and that he really trimmed off the toe.
20190607_072151132321255.jpg
This shows how her LH foot is still a bit dished, but much better looking.

To looking like this:

amberbrandtx-rays7483029926.jpg
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.
amberbrandtx-rays7862236596.jpg
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!
20190802_07321687440493.jpg
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!
20190802_0732412000475717.jpg
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!

20190613_1900111904060398.jpg
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.