Only So Much

After learning that Tyco’s navicular issues are likely going to take quite a bit of time to address, we’ve all decided that my lease has effectively ended. Thanks for everyone’s support- I know he isn’t mine and I know he will be happy and well taken care of, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t difficult for me, so thanks for being there.

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Goodbye, Handsome...

                                                                      Goodbye, Handsome…

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But, EquiNovice, it’s only been like a month, so not that big of a deal, right?

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Right you are! If only I could manage to listen to my own advice not to get emotionally attached. Tyco is great, and yes, I ate my feelings for one night dealing with the loss of him. Not such a huge deal. The problem is that I am far too in love with the idea of leasing. The loss of my lease and the thought of having to start over with the whole process of finding a good horse; a good owner; within my area; is not really something I planned on having to do monthly.

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The dressage trainer who helped organize this lease emailed me the other day mentioning a couple of leads she had on other leases. One was to get back in touch with Charlie’s owner and the other was another horse at the same facility as Charlie. Less than ideal. I don’t think I burned the bridge when I told Charlie’s owner I was choosing another horse but, as longtime (lol 2 months ago) readers will recall, the lease on Charlie was going to be a month-to-month, temporary scenario anyway.

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I was struggling when I read that email. Here she was helping me network to find a new lease and I had more than one moment of “I don’t want to do this anymore”. I don’t mean riding in general, but in this exact moment, I am on the fence about leasing. I replied and thanked her for the leads but I told her I might need to take a break. It is emotionally taxing and I am a little exhausted after all of this.

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Then I had my lesson last night.

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One of those “can’t-eat, can’t-sleep, reach-for-the-stars, over-the-fence, World Series” kind of lessons. You get ten points if you know that movie reference. It took me hours to come back down from the runner’s high it gave me. Maybe Louie could tell that I needed a win. Trainer was pleased, I was trippin’ balls. ENDORPHINS. (so what if I had to urban dictionary that)

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I wouldn’t say my delicious lesson changed my mind on the lease break quite yet, but it did provide some clarity. I can still make progress in my lessons. I am not going to forget how to ride or backslide dramatically. I know it will be extra work when I do decide to search for a lease again because leads will have gone cold, but I am okay with that. I don’t know how long this break will last and there is no reason to define it. If something comes along, I’ll evaluate the fit and decide but I am taking a break from actively searching for a new lease at least until morale improves.

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I am going with my friends to watch some dressagin’ this weekend at a local show. It will be good medicine!

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swl

Snow Whiting…the verb

The weather did not cooperate this weekend for a ride and yesterday was not much better. I did get a short ride in last night with no spooks despite the wind/rain. Unfortunately, T was off again, so we did a shorter ride and mostly walked with a little bit of canter to let him stretch.

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BUT, since I got to spend some time with him unmounted and we eventually had the barn to ourselves I learned that Tyco ABSOLUTELY ADORES the resident barn cat. I know, I know…pics or it didn’t happen but omfg it was the most adorable thing!!! The cat was obviously in the arena to instruct us in the art of dressage, but then after our “lesson” I coaxed him over with the promise of some attention. Tyco has, of course, seen the cat before and I had every indication that he would be friendly so I let them get to know each other. Tyco was so gentle and very interested in sniffing the cat and slowly following him around.

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After I untacked and curried, we had like a solid five minute cuddle huddle where I held the cat as he purred and purred and Tyco snuffled us both all over and gently lipped both of our faces. It was a Disney movie.

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This is me, basically.

                                                                  This is me, basically.

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This is from a few weeks ago, and I know the cat looks like he is NOT interested but Tyco's face is so precious.

This is from a few weeks ago, and I know the cat looks like he is NOT interested but  that’s probably because of how my friend is holding him…who holds a cat like that?! Tyco’s face is so precious though. 

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I don’t have any pets right now because of my nutty work life so forgive my eye-roll worthy gushing- I just have to get my weekly fix, okay! Does your horse have an animal friend?

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I will ride again on Thursday, hopefully he is sound and we can get in a good workout!

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                                               A gray in his natural habitat. (post-roll, of course)

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His owner is having his joint injected next Wednesday so I’m hoping he feels more comfortable in a couple of weeks.

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swl

Dang, Little Gray Nugget is a Good Teacher

I finally met Tyco’s owner this weekend- by accident. A work trip took me out of town last week so I hadn’t ridden since last weekend. In our loose arrangement, weekends really aren’t mine to ride unless I ask or trade a day. I made plans with my barn buddy to ride with her Saturday afternoon. The nice thing is, my amazing friend has two horses and she is a wonderful sharer. So I had a plan B. I wrote to Tyco’s owner on Saturday morning asking if I could ride Tyco if he was sound. She never wrote back but considering I had a solid contingency plan, my friend and I packed up and headed to the barn together for a pony club sesh.

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Lo and behold! She exists! Tyco’s owner came down to the little barn to grab him and I introduced myself. She was a little surprised and I told her not to worry, that I wrote her this morning, but it was okay, I could ride my friend’s horse so she could ride Tyco. She insisted I ride him and said she just came to give them a little TLC and so she grabbed her mare, I grabbed Tyco, nodded to my friend that I’d meet her up at the arena, and off we went.

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She mumbled some stuff about her job and having to move them home and apologized again. I nodded and kept scraping mud off of Tyco. She insisted that if the lameness was from his old “injury” that he’s been vetted many times and I would not be hurting him by continuing to work him. She also told me about how much better he would be this summer when he gets shoes and his injections and is back in work. I nodded again, thinking “that will be so nice for you” ya know, like a good horseborrower does when she knows her arrangement has a rapidly approaching end date.

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So handsome. "unique coloring"...

                                                         So handsome. “unique coloring”…

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She free lunges the mare and talks deep to the trainer about life. The trainer sighs watching the talented mare prance around envisioning her trail horse future.

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I am excited and a little nervous when my friend and I enter the arena. I want the owner to watch Tyco go so she can confirm any lameness but this is the first time she’ll have seen me ride so of course it feels like a tryout. I shouldn’t have been worried. Tyco was not spooky, and only had the slightest hitch in his trot that disappeared as we went on. The owner was complimentary in that way that makes you feel like she is half ecstatic to know her horse is in good hands, and half self-shaming as bits of jealousy creep in. It’s the tone she uses. “He is so happy, you know.” “He likes you, I can tell, he doesn’t like everyone.” “I bet you never get nervous to canter…”

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Yes, you know the type. I have all the feels she has at the same time. I understand.

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I am being a good horseborrower, but the mood is slightly somber. The owner chats with my friend as I smoothly move Tyco through his paces. He truly is liking this work- I have been working so hard on biomechanics stuff and he really seems to be responding to it. We are finding our stride together and he is remembering all the cool stuff he knows and can teach me. I am working on my own biomechanics, simultaneously, which is helping just as much. It is a pace thing. The general pace of the ride. It is not so fast that we are just cruising around on autopilot, but not so slow that we aren’t being productive. It is just right. I am listening to him and he is offering me good energy. I notice when he bulldozes through, thinking the work will be easier if we just go faster. Sometimes I feel like this type of work is like yoga: you can convince yourself (or the horse) that since it is slow, it’s not hard work, and then all of sudden you are exhausted from having worked so hard! For a few moments he is so light and I can ask anything: walk to canter, halt to trot, canter to walk, with the tilt of my pelvis or the weighting of a seat bone. My gosh, is that not just the best feeling?!

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              cookie face

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It is good for morale to have rides like this. Helps confirm that I am on the right track in my own training and is also a perfect reminder that if I were to buy a horse, this is the level of pre-installed training that would be ideal for me in this moment. Tyco knows how to use his body correctly but you have to ask for it and maintain it. He will happily pop a hip or shoulder out unless you provide a supportive channel. But he is an extremely willing partner and not easily frustrated. We are a good match right now.

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My friend and I had such a great pony club saturday. Our ride was quiet and we were both in the zone for most of it and both horses were just so relaxed and happy!

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A good Caturday had by all! So much goat beard...

                                           A good Caturday had by all! So much goat beard…

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Dressage is no dirty word for this girl.

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swl

TOABH: Worth 1k Words

Worth 1k Words.
Beka asks us to “share our favorite photos of our stud muffins.  No limit.”
Is this weird if it isn’t your own horse? Or even your current horse? Nawwwww….
Kate’s owner would totally approve!
I know this is supposed to be less words, more photos- so I’ll only say that this horse was my very first official lease, and has a very very special place in my heart. She is with a fabulous new owner now, back doing mounted patrol work and living the good life. I had the opportunity to buy her a couple years ago but having just started a new job in a new state, I was not in a position to buy a horse. I don’t regret making that decision since I know she is very happy and loved but I do often think about how much fun we could be having with my current skill set and trainer.
I’d love just one more ride.
Without further adieu… the full-blooded Belgian Draft dressage mare, Kate:
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                                                                                  Big smile


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                                                                my favorite selfie ever.


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                                                   Was this just a dream I had once?!


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    Girl’s got some skills. Balanced, sensitive, and forward. This is her former owner aboard.


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My family meeting Kate. My grandma and my aunt visiting from Kentucky.

My family meeting Kate! My grandma and my aunt visiting from Kentucky.


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                                                              Those eyelashes, though.


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Hello, Gorgeous!

                                                                         Hello, Gorgeous!


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                cute butt


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The dapples…the willow trees around the dressage court…the light! ugh, take me back there!

swl

October Ten

My lesson this week got rescheduled for tonight so in the meantime, I figured it would be fun to take a stab at October’s 10 Questions!

1. How many pairs of breeches/jods do you own?

I don’t own any “show appropriate” breeches but I have about 15 pairs of schooling tights which I suppose is on the…upper end when you consider that I do not own my own horse and, all things considered, I average only two rides per week. I also just recently purchased my very first pair of full-seat tights; an experiment I was very eager to run.

2. How many horses have you ridden?

I haven’t really been riding for very long so this one was probably easier for me than for most of you guys. Making my list was kind of fun trying to remember all the names and I got a kick out of realizing how many different breeds of horses I have ridden over the years! Added to the list below are a handful of trail horses making my total just around 50.

Quarter Horse: Novet, Raspberry, Walter, Scout, Fred, Diablo, Sunny, Sassy, Clever, Dawn, Titus, Rudy, Tia, Splash

Paint: Shadow, Sonny, Spirit, Czar, Cruiser

Draft Cross: Louie, Belle, Gammon, Bellatrix

TB: Sprat, Argyle, Luke

Appendix: Cowboy, Sunny

Arabian: Tezra, Comet

Haflinger: Duke, Lola

Appy: Buddy

Fjord: Oz

Welsh Cob X: Regalia

Morgan: Misko

Gypsy Vanner: Monarch

Akhal Teke: Ram

Rocky Mountain Horse: Zella

Lusitano: Tesouro

Andalusian: Gitano

Trakehner: Cassie

Georgian Grande: Brego

Belgian: Kate

3. How many trainers have you had?

Seven, but I have lessoned with five of them for a greater amount of time.

4. How many barns have you ridden at?

Five. Three up in the northland, two down south here

5. What is the name of the horse you consider yourself to have the greatest bond with?

Kate the Belgian was pretty special to me.

6. What is your favorite show name you’ve ever encountered?

I can’t think of one but I tend to like show names that are clever or punny.

…on a slightly related note, at the therapy barn where I volunteer, we just had to rename a new horse because her name (Nibbles at my Heart, barn name “Nibbles”) was potentially going to be tough for kids to say correctly since b’s can sound a lot like p’s and thus potentially tough for instructors and volunteers to keep a straight face…

7. What do you consider your greatest weakness or flaw in riding?

Hesitation. I don’t think I am decisive enough when I am dealing with horses in general. Even if not 100% of the decisions you make or actions you take are “correct” I still think most horses are happier in this type of environment- with a decisive leader. I don’t exactly know when I became such a pansy considering this used to be one of my greatest strengths in other sports, but I do think time and experience will improve this.

8. What do you consider to be your greatest strength?

Coachability. This is a lovely strength to have at any skill level but paramount when you are a novice.

9. Have you ever leased a horse?

My only official lease was Kate.

10. What is the name of the first horse you rode?

Novet, my aunt and uncle’s horse. When I got a little older, my cousin and I would ride double on Novet out to see the cows.

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