Amber update and lesson!

Amber was really good Wednesday. She still felt kinda stiff and just a little blah, so I think that right front leg is still bothering her a bit. I do think her stifle is feeling better, though. My mom got some good video so I could assess what she looked like, and she’s pulling that right hind up which is excellent. But it does seemed marred by her right front potentially still being sore. The video allowed for some super cool shots, though.

It was such a blast to really ride her again, though I’ve forgotten how to dressage lol. I was leaning forward and my lower leg was slipping forward so I think we had more of a hunter ride, but I was super pleased with how she actually really seemed to want to hunt the bit down into my hands, but still holding herself just off of it for a bit of self carriage. She was so consistent with it, too.

So adorable. And look – she’s using her gut and there’s some lipstick!

I think with the shows and going back and forth english to western, I think she was expecting that as soon as she was really learning the concept of dressage and what I wanted then we’d switch to western. And I think that has something to do with the change of pace I’ve been seeing in her the past few rides. Because really while she’d ideally like to not work too hard, she truly enjoys being ridden and being taught new things and getting praised, so I know it isn’t because she’s just being lazy. She feels more content in the work, and while not as “on it” as in past rides, she felt a lot more confident with things and understanding that when I praise her to just wait for me a bit. The canter WILL come haha.

Yesterday I thought my eyes were crazy but there is a growing lump on her lower jaw – the right side. So I’m thinking that when she smacked her right front, she must’ve smacked her jaw somehow. They popped up around the same time. I’m also really confused because that swelling on the leg hasn’t gone down. And I ice it, and she was on bute for 3 days but been off it ever since so…..? Ugh, this horse. But I think after working hard for that buckle in all 3 shows, it’s okay we’re mucking through a few things now. I think the rest is needed, and I always love just being on her.

Well, on a super fun note – I had my first lesson in 13 years! It was actually super cool to see the footage. While I’m out of shape and lost my eye for distance, it’s good to see my muscle memory trying to remember how to jump haha. I rode her old schoolmaster Liam, who is an opinionated, super lazy guy. I love him.

Just look at that adorable fuzzy face!

He was an absolute saint, bailing me out with 2 near falls for me (which I’m so sad my mom didn’t get those on camera!), taking the long distances I put him to, bailing me when I couldn’t make a stride decision, and showing me some sass on our lead changes. He required so much more leg than Amber, and it was learning curve at first because “what do you mean I need to keep his pace going? Amber just….goes” haha. With a few pointed whip taps and lots of spur, though, he was up and going. I was so glad he wasn’t bouncier – I would not have been able to sit that! lol. But he was the perfect saint, and I trusted him from the beginning.

A little long; I seem to like long spots for some reason lol

We did walk/trot work first, Trainer G first assessing how I rode and what were my issues. She immediately latched on to my left hand – which really does need a lot of help! It likes to do random things by itself lol. Also that my left heel likes to stay up after I use my spur. I’ve been trying to fix that since Amber rides so much better when I lengthen my left leg, but second set of eyes is best! Then we moved on to canter work, the work getting more challenging as I passed initial exercises. Her 3 main thoughts for my lesson was position, track and pace. And I did okay on body position and the horse’s track, buuuuut was lax on pace haha.

Hooray for grainy night photos lol

My fails were trotting the fences – that’s so hard! My biggest fail one was when I got too in my head with “crap I stopped riding right before the jump and didn’t help him at all – my mind just went blank and I just need to help him and ride him” and he took off early, left me behind so he pulled me forward when my arms didn’t reach far enough, tripped on landing, sending me forward and the only thing that saved me was his big thick neck going up like “the fuck are you doing, lady?!” lol. I even managed an “oh shit!” as his neck hit my chest lol. So Trainer G (I like saying that!) brought me in to ask what happened, agreed with where I’d made the mistakes, but it was so nice because I never once felt like I was really being criticized and I didn’t feel like a huge failure and frustrated after that near fall, just laughed it off and came back ready to try again. Which speaks volumes that for such a new situation I felt very comfortable with G and also that I’m growing as a rider and being able to put mistakes behind me and try again without holding on to that mistake. Win!

Blurry again, but I don’t think it’s half bad!
He was being soooo sassy. Like Amber. Thinking they’re sassy, but they’re really not haha

My favorite part of the whole ride was actually when Trainer G said “I don’t know who made that decision but it was the right one.” Hahaha! It was mostly Liam. For sure. Going to the jump I was trying to rate him a bit unsuccessfully, half heartedly attempted to slow the pace a bit, but then gave up and he was gracious enough to chip in a stride and save my butt haha! He got so many pats that ride for putting up with me lol. The last set was absolutely the best, rounding off the jumps at around 2’3″ or maybe 2’6″. We didn’t measure lol. But it was good to know height since they didn’t look overly big to me (could be that I trust Liam completely lol) and also I think that’s around BN height and I think Amber could do that.

But the ride was an absolute blast, and I really loved riding with Trainer G. We seemed to get along really well, and all my fears of berating trainers and ones who may treat me like a kid were gone. Which is why I picked her in the first place since I got a really great feeling from G when I first met her. So, success! I have the 14th off and she’ll be gone this weekend, so I’m definitely scheduling another lesson soon! And in the meantime waiting until I can haul Amber up there!

The food life

So I got my lesson rescheduled to Thursday afternoon – yay! I’m very excited, and plan to pack all that is needed so I can leave straight from work to get up there to have time to acquaint myself with the lesson horse and have time to groom and tack up. It took me a while (honestly I was kinda embarrassed) to remember that “uhh, Mandy, the lesson is AT a certain time. That means you must be EARLY to TACK THE FREAKING HORSE. Remember?” Well, I almost didn’t haha. After 13 years of no lessons there will probably be other things I’ve forgotten, but as of yet I haven’t thought of them.

I do feel bad for my pony – because it’s gotten colder I’ve fed her about the same, but her work no longer reflects the food she’s given. Which….is my fault. But, really guys me and my horse match so much. We love food. We just do. I mean, I mostly try to eat at least healthily – I have Blue Apron delivered to my house for dinners and lunch if extra – but recently I’ve noticed the lack of riding and eating more than usual has caught up to the both of us.

I’ve had pizza for like lunch and dinner for 3 days in a row, then I had sushi, that huge meal for the Christmas party, lots of cheese and quiches, and more pizza. Needless to say, this is my reaction every time someone talks about dieting or “oh I’ve had plenty of desserts today”. Because really, there’s no such thing as too many desserts. Or cheese. Or just food in general.

But, Amber’s got her hay belly back, so it’s going to be fun the both of us getting in better shape lol not. I need to do more 2pt and just riding in general if I want to keep up with all that food I’m eating too. Hence a ride yesterday. I started it with 2pt because if I don’t my legs are too tired. I’m doing 5 minutes every ride to start with since I also need to get stronger for jumping. Soon, I’ll probably up that to trotting 5 minutes instead of walking, but baby steps lol.

Oh you want my attention? Cool, I’ll come to you LOL

Amber was great. She was absolutely ready to go by the time I hopped on. She looked not so ecstatic when I was tacking her up, but she felt good walking out for our 5 minute 2pt warm up. She felt very nice in the trot, settling in to a nice stretchy trot before she seemed ready for a little more contact. She was a little lower headed and shouldered than I’d like, but she was actually super consistent in the contact, really willing to really try to work from behind so I let it go and gave her lots of quick scratches as we trotted.

SUCH a tiring ride lol

At one point she seemed a little close to how she’d been when she hurt her front leg, but this time she wasn’t tensing a lot – she was just being a little too resistant when I’d try to even up her left shoulder. After a subtle reminder from the spur, she tried, and when I praised her she settled. She definitely was expecting me to ask her canter, but I just asked her to move her haunches and she was right on it. A little switch of direction, some more walk and trot, then asked her to canter on her right lead. The transition wasn’t beautiful by any means, but she was nice and relaxed.

Amber: really? MORE pictures?

Her right lead felt really nice. I could tell that one long side that she was still tilting her hip to the inside so I just decided to see if it’d work and asked Amber to do a very mild haunches out. I could feel her confusion for a moment before she guessed if haunches out was what I wanted, and I praised her and could immediately feel her canter get better. I can’t quite describe it, but it felt great. So we quit there!

Okay I’m done. Let’s go in, ma!

Today, I plan for another ride, and then Thursday lesson! Now the wind needs to stay away….

When the wind blows

Everything away, including my lesson. I was very disappointed. The lady did have Sunday open, but by the time we rushed in the car to drive up there because the wind had died down….. It started back up again. So the lesson was cancelled, which was probably for the best anyway. It’s not fun to ride in sustained 20-30 mph winds with gusts up to 50 mph. So boo no lesson, but we’re planning another one when our schedules sync so I’m excited.

There are many days where I wish I didn’t work in an office, or that my job was a little more exciting, but the people are why it’s seriously the best job. Because honestly, my Friday consisted of wrapping presents for our Christmas party and figuring out our new office buddy – Poo-nicorn.

I mean, it just makes you smile even if you think it’s ridiculous LOL

Yup. That’s what I did Friday. Wrapped presents and then a coworker and I bought 3 new Poo-nicorns. One for her, one for me, and one for my boss’s daughter. I mean, isn’t that just the funniest thing you’ve ever seen? We had this huge discussion on the Poo-nicorn, too – we are now the Poo-nicorn Tribe, we are going to get shirts with Poo-nicorn on it and the back will say “it’s hard to be unhappy when you’re farting rainbows”, and we are making Poo-nicorn his own Instagram page. Definitely best. Friday. Ever haha.

Being ridiculous with office buddies are the best work days lol

Saturday was a good ride day. Amber and I only did walk/trot, but I was super pleased with her. She’s been doing very well, but it’s a little hard because I think the fact that she bucked and smacked her front leg hasn’t helped the stifle recovery as much as we’d like. But, we’ve been playing with haunches out/in and a teensy bit of shoulder work at the walk so that we’re not UBER BORING since Amber thinks walking just to walk around in an arena is silly lol. So, I figured it was time to start working on haunches in/out at the trot. She has a tendency to tilt her butt to the right both ways – which I think is latent from my riding since she’s never been ridden by other people – but I’ve been working on getting my hips as even as I can and it’s helped her right canter a lot and I think it’s all coming together to help the both of us have a better ride.

I do think she felt much better that ride. There was no rushing, and the few times that she thought perhaps I’d ask for one thing (canter), but I just said “easy” and kept the pressure, and it took her a second but then she went I know this! and really tried to perform it. We practiced on the straight first, letting her get used to the feeling – especially down one long side where she really tends to tilt her hip inside so we practiced pushing it out. Going into a circle was much harder for her, but she was on it and kept her shoulders pretty straight as I pushed her hip out and then in, then matched her shoulders to her hip track. To the right she was a bit sticky (I’m not too surprised) and I think that was mostly just a lack of understanding until the light bulb clicked, but to the left she felt confident and knew what I wanted the first time.

Lund bridle still looking fantastic!

We did all of the 30 minute ride in a stretchy trot, just asking her to reach down a little, but still maintain some energy and getting back into the lift I’d like. As the injections really take effect, I think doing this work is helping her realize that she really is more supple, it’s easier for her to do these things, and that I will help her as much as I can to be confident in what I’m asking. She was definitely much calmer this ride, and I think it’s becoming easier and clearer for me to recognize the difference from her being excited to go and her going faster because she’s uncomfortable.

After the walk/trot ride and she swears she’s soooooo tired lol

For the rest of the afternoon my friend and I hung around, visited my sister, and watched some Netflix before getting ready for the party. It was a blast. And unfortunately, I was a bad blogger and didn’t get pictures of hardly anything there. As for the menu, course 1 was lobster bisque or veggie soup (3 guesses which one I picked) accompanied by rolls, then course 2 a house or Caesar salad (I chose the Caesar), and then course 3 you could choose the steak with cheesy potatoes, the salmon with cheesy potatoes or the grilled chicken. Again, 3 guesses which one I chose (omg YES steak lol)

Table set-up. No actual food pics so I’m sorry lol

The party was at the very top of the Stratosphere, so you could occasionally feel the rides bumping around (ps I did NOT go on those rides. Heck no. Nothing is slingshotting me off the side of a giant tower). But it was a good party, I helped give out all the presents and definitely enjoyed my 2 free drink tickets. And I had to very quickly eat my dessert since I handed out presents at that time and we had to get out in 10 minutes of me finishing. So, here’s a picture of my half-eaten dessert lol. It involved a very good cake pop, some delicious mousse, and my fav – blueberries and raspberries topped with cream and served in a white chocolate bowl. So yummy!

A bit half-eaten lol
View of the strip from the top of the Stratosphere

By 8 am Sunday the wind was horrible and no one really wanted to be out in that so Amber didn’t get out nor did I have my lesson. But I worked later this morning, so I had time to get Amber out and at least lunge her. She had a blast, ran a bit too fast (I still worry about the leg, the knee, the stifle, the SI – stop giving me a heart attack, Amber!), but otherwise walked and jogged fine after she had fun running around so that eased the worry a bit lol. She’s still looking good, and I’m excited to get her out all this week. The swelling on her front leg has yet to go down even though I’ve iced it and gave her bute for a few days, so that puzzles me, but it’s feeling harder so I’m still thinking she has a bad muscle bruise.

She thinks that head shake is soooo sassy lol

She also thought she was sooooo sassy again when we started lunging. Then she REALLY gets into it, but at first, it’s like she has to work herself into it lol. And then she was like “it’s 40 degrees and breezy and omg I AM RUNNING HOW AMAZING” lol. But like I said, she looked okay, so we’ll continue the gradual work back into fitness and hopefully jumping her soon and not just a lesson horse!

Oh an even bigger head shake! More sass!

Getting to it

Amber continues to be a little ouchy on her leg, and was still a little down yesterday, but either she’s forgiven me for leaving or is just hurting a little still when she moves but she’s herself on everything else. So, good and bad.

My friend is moving to town and come in yesterday, so we had some great sushi (which I unfortunately didn’t get any pictures of) but it meant I didn’t have too much time if I wanted to ride, which I decided I didn’t since Amber did seem uncomfortable. But I did have to get her out because girl has packed on a belly again. Whoops lol.

Must. Roll!

So I lunged her. Amber tends to lunge herself – she listens very well to voice cues and I usually let her play as much as she wants both directions, and then when she’s done she stops and comes into me. I could tell she still wasn’t feeling all herself, but she was shaking her head before cantering so I knew she felt excited and wanted to play a bit. She had a buck each way, much head shaking, and then turned to face me and stuck her face in my stomach to let me know she was done. She thought she was sooooooo sassy lol.

It’s a little hard to see how her stifle is doing because her right front leg is still ouchy, but over all I think it feels better. It looks like she’s more okay with bringing it forward and it doesn’t hurt much if at all. So yay a plus!

This weekend may not involve much horses (I hope it will, though!) but I will hopefully be taking my first lesson since I was 13! (I am usually THAT PERSON that thinks they texted someone and hasn’t actually texted them lol) So I’ve contacted the lady and hopefully I can get a lesson. I really want to start into that and get to it, even if Miss Thang has other ideas lol. I also have my company Christmas party over the weekend, so I will try to be a good blogger and gets pics of the food and the view from the top of the Stratosphere. The rollercoaster on the top WILL NOT get ANY pictures because I hate heights and I’d die if I went on that ride. Just NO lol.

So, cross your fingers I’ll nab a lesson, and have a good weekend everyone!

Day 30: Your future with horses (and rides!-ish)

Last one everyone! The future with horses.

I think it is absolutely safe to say that for as long as I can ride and have some type of money, horses are going to be a part of me. They are just a huge aspect of my life and I love them dearly, so I’m going to have a future with horses. Now what that future will be exactly I’m not sure. I have a feeling after Amber may not be able to event anymore that I’ll step away from eventing for a bit until perhaps I can nab another horse and then go for it again. Either way, Amber will be with me and I’ll do whatever she can do.

Although to be quite honest I probably won’t get a second horse for a while. Because little girl gets SO JEALOUS if I even touch another horse and she would get so mad at me when she’d be in a pasture by an arena and see me riding other horses. She’s so funny lol.

So there you have it. If I can even just afford lessons but not a horse when I’m 70, so be it lol. But for now, Amber and I will enjoy eventing, I’d love to start competing next year, and I can’t wait to go on the journey and see what the future will hold.

Big smiles!

As for Amber, we FINALLY had our official ride on Tuesday since her injection and the show. I feel like I haven’t been riding in FOREVER, and turns out I sort of haven’t lol. I counted back and we had our last official ride on the 12th so it’s been a good 2 and 1/2 weeks. And as I’m brushing her off I see this:

Another angle

Here’s the left knee for comparison.


I mean, REALLY mare.

Our hack Sunday hadn’t completely felt like her usual self, but still good even if we had a bit of a rough patch in there, but when I hopped on Tuesday, she really didn’t feel like herself. Just sort of….down. And what was she doing? Nothing. I know. Soooo descriptive. But really. Usually she’s bugging me a bit, nosing me as I pass her face or at least moving her feet a bit, and she was just…still. Plus, she liked her scratches, just didn’t seem as into it as before. I’d mashed on that bit on swelling pretty good beforehand, and she wasn’t off and she wasn’t touchy on it, so I still hopped on.

Dammit, her belly came back. Noooooo mare

She felt fine at the walk, but when I got to the trot she felt very flat. So I thought of a few things, like if she didn’t want to work, was not feeling well, or if it was the leg, went down to the walk and then trotted again. She was good, wanting to go into the contact so we cantered a teensy bit, and it was so crazy because I could feel her picking up that right hind. Never felt that before.

Oh look, we actually have a pic of me riding! lol

I had my mom come out to take a video, and once we trotted again, she was sort of all over the place. Both shoulders were falling, she wanted nothing to do with contact, and was quick stepping and felt a bit worried. Like she had when her hip was really hurting her. And before the stifle injection. Hmm.

The cutest of cutest faces ❤

So I let go of the reins and let her canter to the right a bit, then picked up the reins and I could feel her really trying to tuck her butt, and it felt much easier for her. So we walked, and yep she felt uncomfortable. I was happy the stifle injection seemed to work very well, but she was obviously in discomfort. So I walked a teensy bit more and hopped off. I was happy tho to see in the video that she was picking up that right hind nicely instead of dragging it a bit like she had before.

On a side note, that Lund bridle keeps looking better and better. Love it on her

So, what the hell did she do? Well, we think that she might have banged her leg somehow. Probably early Tuesday because the bump was warm to the touch, but just felt filled with edema. And I think if she’d injured soft tissue she’d have been a little more lame. So perhaps a muscle bruise? I dunno. So I iced her up.

Holy hell her #mareglare and #sideeye game were so good right then LOL

She was not amused lol.

She liked the addition of grain + bute tho lol.

So itchy apparently

I met up with a friend on Wednesday, so that shortened my ride time, but I decided to leave it and not ride. However, when I went out to see her she looked/felt much more herself. It’s so great to be able to be able to notice when she’s not herself. Wednesday she looked like she had her usual energy back up, that excited light to her eyes and was also uber excited to see me again. The bump was not hot at all, but a little harder this time, and she still seemed a might bit uncomfortable on it. So my rides are postponed AGAIN but like I said I’m not in a rush. Just PLEASE stop hurting yourself horse. I’d appreciate that.

I make no promises, ma

Day 29: a style/trend in tack/riding apparel that you don’t like

This one’s a little difficult for me since I don’t necessarily have a “style” I tend to like – I just like matching things. Other than matching, I like what I like and it goes along with my general style I wear every day. Classic, practical and function pieces.

So when (a WHILE ago, like 2015) Amanda C posted about lace show shirts….. I just don’t really get it.

I mean, yeah they’re really pretty, but I am honestly not a fan. Now don’t get me wrong – I really like me some lace just….not with horses. I’d snag that on legit everything lol. Not to mention you would probably have issues with sports bras, and I don’t know about you, but I sweat a lot between my shoulder blades, and even if I don’t sweat a lot near my collarbone, that lace would probably itch like the dickens for me. My whole chest and back would be red from itching. Plus, I feel that the lace may not hold up to the rigors of washing horse clothing. Especially if it starts to discolor from sweat and sloughed skin…. Ick. It just is not for me.

Now if someone were to be showing in the lace – I don’t care. You spend your money on what you want and if it makes you happy, then you buy as many lacey show shirts as you want. I just won’t lol. Now that last one – the navy shirt – I might go for. It looks like the lace is over the shirt, which I could probably do. And I do like the very very subtle lace on that stock tie. But the lace is just not for me.

Next up are some….interestingly patterned breeches. As you guys know, I like plaid. I bought a plaid pair of breeches. I don’t think plaid is bad on breeches, but these are perhaps a little much for me.

Leopard….Floral….Paisley….I get cross-eyed trying to find the pattern lol Well, except those light blue ones with flowers. And maybe I’m being a little hypocritical since I like plaid but really not these other colors lol. But it’s just like the shirts – you love and want to buy them then power to you lol.

I think that’s it. There are other trends that are happening, like crazy colored tall boots or horse onesies – oooohhh forgot about those! srsly, what are those all about?! – and other things, but honestly, I don’t care about any of them. Yeah, they’re around, and those people who like them will get them and enjoy them. They’re fun, and they allow people to express their style. So while I may not like them, I’m glad there’s an option for those that might love them!

Day 28: Helmet or no helmet?

If you’d asked me this even just a year ago, I’d say it depended on what you were doing. Riding an old, safe horse in a schooling ring? Optional. Going out on trail (rocky, long or endurance)? Yes. Jumping or cross country? Absolutely. Dressage? Rider’s choice. Western pleasure? Nope, no need. But, that has since changed – gone back to when I was younger and was sure that helmets were necessary.

One thing solidified my slow acceptance that I needed one. It was my second ever fall off of Amber. And neither of these falls were really bad. The first one, I couldn’t sit her canter bareback at the time and slipped off and hit the ground. She was 2 and a bit shorter then. This last time, there was a very quick start/leap/stop that jarred me and I slipped once again. That time, the ground was much harder, and my left hip was bruised and very sore for nearly 6 weeks. I hadn’t been wearing a helmet. I hadn’t hit my head – but I could have.

Yup. Bad me with no helmet on

But I hesitated a lot to actually make the change to wearing a helmet full time also because I’ve had such issues with heat. My heat stroke was not good, and with me not knowing and not getting to the hospital – I was very lucky it wasn’t much worse. I had an issue with my Troxel helmet and almost had heat exhaustion here even though I’d taken plenty of water and food. I felt such relief when I saw that Ovation schooler helmet – cheap, it came in a light color to help reflect the sun, had tons of air vents, and would do in a pinch.

And it’s been great in the heat. It’s really wonderful getting back into English, because the apparel and tack has come such a long way from what I remember that it’s like going into something unknown, and I like it.

Protect the noggin, even when toodling

I had a couple other falls, ones that made me determined even when I got made fun of to wear a helmet when breaking the babies. Once they were more broke I’d nix the helmet, but no more. (I also don’t have to ride babies anymore lol) After that fall on Amber, though, I knew I had to always wear a helmet even with her. Helmets keep you as safe as they can, in a sport where nothing is ever guaranteed. And not just eventing sport, but the sport of horseback riding. Whether you’re a leisure trail rider or the world’s best endurance rider, a western pleasure rider or top reining rider, helmets keep you safer. Any horse can trip anywhere at any time, and it can be game over for you. It’s not just subject to “faster” or “more intense’ horse sport. It’s horse sport as a whole, and I think everyone should wear a helmet.