Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Griffin is Five

My grey gelding turned 5 on Sunday.

Fifth year conformation photo - forgive the off-whiteness of his socks; working on our canter one afternoon - he was particularly speedy this day and it was difficult to get him to focus due to a tractor in the adjacent field; jumping 2'9" for the very first time! We slowly built up to that jump throughout our ride and jumped it 3x for a really incredible end to our day.


I love him so.

He's come a long way and I'm really pleased with him - even if he does need to tone up quite a bit! But that's on me, not him, and I've been a very busy girl this summer. We'll be in shape soon enough, but why rush? Our slow and steady course is doing quite well for us. And I honestly wouldn't be too hurt if he went into winter with some of that belly - I've got PTSD from how much weight both horses lost last winter despite my best efforts.

Best laid plans being what they are, my plans to really buckle down and ride Griffin every day this week died with a partially torn quadriceps muscle I obtained over the weekend. Fortunately for me, unfortunately for him, the muscle is healing quickly with rest/active rest these past three days. (Hurrah, because it really hurt like a bitch for 48 hours and I feared the worst.)

I plan to move Griffin into more steady work as summer fades into fall. He's a physical adult now; mentally, he'll get there, too, with time. However, I must note for the record that he has been an absolute super star in his work all summer. I've lost count of the number of rides that began really horribly that turned into "our best ride ever" - only to be replaced by another "best ride ever" the next session.

Our rides of late involve flat work early and follow up with jump work. We use the flatting to warm up and gain his focus. We start slow with lots of bending exercises, building into trot work with bending. From there I like to really mix things up for him with a lot of transitions to keep him guessing - it also serves to get him working from his hind end more. By the time I've done all of these things, he's warm and focused and ready for jumping. (Well, truly I think if he had the choice he would just jump immediately. He's always ready to jump!)

We're not without our bumps and bobbles, but I've got to say, forward progress is very evident. I'm so incredibly pleased with our progress and this horse's work ethic. He really, truly loves his job - especially jumping.

We shall see what next year brings in terms of eventing competitions! I suspect this little horse will love it though.

Happy Fifth, Griffin. Here's to many more.

Monday, July 27, 2015

A Little Help?

Do you have $5? $10 to spare? A little can go a long way...

One of my best friends and fellow blogger Saiph is going through some dire financial straights with her mare Lily. Yes, insurance covered the initial surgery, but there have been post-op complications that have led to multiple emergency vet calls to the farm - things that aren't covered by insurance. These additional costs are racking up to ~$2k

Saiph and her husband Charles are incredibly hardworking people - some of the hardworkingest people I know. C has been working OT to help with this added strain on their already very, very, VERY tight budget. Saiph wants to pick up a second job, but is already maxed out working her job AND going back and forth to the barn at a minimum of 2x/day to take care of Lily to try to keep additional board costs down (stall board is more costly than field board, as we all know). They're doing all they can to make ends meet, but it's so very hard, as anyone with a tight budget understands.

Karen and I have set up a GoFundMe page for Saiph and Charles to help a little bit with everything that has been happening with Lily and the additional complications. They're worn so thin already and we wanted to try to make things a little easier. If I lived closer I'd be having them over for meals multiple times a week to make things a bit easier or I'd be offering to do other small chores to help make their lives a bit easier in this tight time - but alas, I'm 3.5 hours away which complicates things.

So, if you've got a little bit to spare, please consider donating a bit? It only takes a few clicks.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Halfway Point

The year is half past. It's prime time for seeing what became of those goals I'd set in January.



I love my Pittsburgh friends and our shenanigans
I wanted to be happier, more relaxed, and much less hard on myself this year. As things have gone so far, I have 110% met this goal. I am happier than I have been in years. I am more relaxed than I have been ever. I am confident. I am minimally stressed.

There are certainly bumps from time to time, but I'm bounce right through them as they present themselves and learn what I can from them without stressing myself as I once would have.

I have a great, albeit chaotic, balance between horse things, climbing, mountain biking, and me-time. I'm so incredibly thrilled with the people in my life, my job, and the place I live.

Health of myself and the critters


Kenai looking super cool during his cold laser session at physical therapy

I'm fitter than I have been in years. While my trips to the gym and yoga ceased once the weather warmed, my fitness pursuits plowed ever onward. I ran for awhile and *kind of* enjoyed it, but it was a still a struggle. Mountain biking has taken a big role in my life now though. I adore it.

I've carved out a good bit more time for climbing...before the deluge of 2015 began in WV and it rained for 30 or 40 days straight. There is a lot of year left though, so I'm certain I'll carve out more time for climbing.

My fitness pursuits have lent themselves very well to my riding. Rider fitness is real, y'all.

Kenai's health had quite an obvious bobble. I had a good laugh reading what I wrote about his knees no longer being the issue. HA. That right hind flared its ugly head again. Hopefully we're finally on the right track though. We've begun PT/rehab with a specialist and things seem promising on that front. These things just take time. *crosses fingers*

The horses have been par for the course. Q is at a great weight and Griffin could stand to lose a little - something I'll work at these next few months.

The cats have become cat - and Atticus is great. Hodor was rehomed to a situation that was much better for him as my frequent absence over weekends due to all of my adventure pursuits never sat well with him and stressed him out greatly. He is now living a life of luxury with his very own 12 year old girl, 3 balanced meals a day, treats in between, toys, naps aplenty, and three other fur-siblings - including a big shepherd mix that ADORES him, a 25 lb. Chartreux cat who is thrilled to have another cat in his life, and a chihuahua who is ambivalent about it all.



Wine in a to-go tumbler and rainy walks with the pooch in the evenings

Kenai's surgery shot this deader than dead. I'm being stricter than ever with where I spend my money as a result. I'm doing well, but not terrific (saving money is a thing of the past right now). Time will tell. Pre-surgery saga though, I was staying right on budget and doing really well. And honestly, despite the hardships with this surgery debt, I'm really impressed with my ability to limit my spending.

If not work-related or on a date of some kind, I have completely cut eating out out of my life. Same with going out to bars/for evening entertainment. If it isn't work-related or a guy isn't treating me, I simply don't do it anymore. It's impressive how much one can save by cutting that simple thing out of their life. (Though I really hope to be able to reintroduce in a few months...)

While I am loath for summer and warm weather to go away right now (please be warm forever and ever, amen -- until it's winter, then I want hella snow er'rywhere), I am excited for my winter season of 3 paychecks from my three jobs (2 seasonal as ski patrol at two resorts). All in due time...

Slow down


I mountain biked to this overlook of the Blackwater Canyon and took this photo

More knitting, reading, crafting, cooking, and photography.

  • I haven't had the knitting bug, just haven't. Maybe it'll hit when the cold weather returns? 
  • I finally dove in and bought a kindle this year. I ADORE IT. I read SO much more than I have in years. I'm a fourth of the way to meeting my goal of reading 20 books this year. I fully intend on meeting my goal by year's end. I've only had the kindle a short time. 
  • The crafting has been hit or miss dependent upon what I need. When it hits, it hits hard and I fulfill it. 
  • I'm definitely cooking more due to the whole "I can't afford to eat out" bit. So I'll count that one as fulfilled.
  • I'm definitely using my camera a bit more thanks to friends with children. One of my really good lifelong friends had her first child this spring and we've done several small photoshoots already. I love getting to practice the photography and they love having a multitude of free photos. Win-win.

The Horses


Griffin and Q

-Q- She is at a better place mentally, we have a better partnership, and she's loving her job more than ever before. Goals met. Now the trick is to continue to maintain, foster, and build upon each of those things.
-Griffin- He has a new job to pursue, and he adores the work. He's so happy and game every time we ride which makes it a total joy for me, as well. There is a lot of potential in this little grey horse, and I'm having an absolute blast unlocking it!
-My Riding- While I haven't been able to afford monthly lessons as I'd hoped, I feel like my riding is in a better place than it has been in awhile due to my level of fitness from cross-training. I'm really enjoying the diverse activities I'm pursuing between both of my horses' disciplines. With any luck, 1x monthly dressage lessons will begin in September. These will only be 1x a month because I will be traveling 2.5 hours one-way to take them. *cringe* It should be worth it though!

30 before 30 goals for the year

-Do a split- I'm no closer to this than I was.
-Practice yoga consistently- I was very consistent for a long time there. Then warm weather came and other activities entered and became more prevalent in my life. It's seeming that, for me, yoga is a "winter" sport. It pairs well with skiing. In truth, it pairs well with all things, but in so far as me practicing daily, it's much more of a winter thing right now. And that's okay - at least it is more prevalent in my life than it once was!
-Skydive- Pending. I wish I could say more, by my mother reads this blog (HI MOM.) and has forbade me from telling her ahead of time that I'm going to skydive since I was a small child. She always says, "Tell me AFTER." So, in light of that, I'll just be telling everyone *after*.
-Learn to play mandolin- I sold my alto saxophone (*sob* but I just didn't play it like I used to) and bought a mandolin. I currently know 4 chords that I can blast back and forth between easily, can play major scales on each string, and I can almost play OCMS' Wagon Wheel. This 30 before 30 goal is well on its way to being crossed off!


Par for the course - at a minimum! I'd even venture to say I'm subpar and have managed a birdie and maybe an eagle. (Guys, I played golf for the first time a couple months ago, so I obvi get to use golf terms now, right?) I'm pretty pleased with how things have gone, are going, and will hopefully continue to go. The year is not without bumps, bruises, and hiccups along the way, but by and large, it's good. I'm good. I'm happy.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Straight Shot Metal Smashing: A Review

Sara surprised me with a cluster of items from Beka's Straight Shot Metal Smashing shop on Etsy as a thank you for being a sounding board for things with Gem since her accident and for sending along some SmartPaks to see if they would help Gem out.

I was so delighted when I opened the gift that I literally squealed aloud... and then, because I was simultaneously walking the dog and opening the package, I proceeded to drop items a few at a time all over the road. Because no coordination.

After picking mess up off the empty lonely unpopulated back road, I gave a lot closer inspection to the items.

Q's name was adorned to an approving owls bridle charm, Griffin's to a good juju charm, and Kenai had his own little dog tag. Additionally, a keychain (now on my car keys) with my personal life motto (and the title of this blog) In Omnia Paratus (ready for anything) was included along with a thin signature cuff bracelet.

*insert another squeal of delight here*

Each of the critters' charms has a unique Latin word adorned on it. This is to match the fact that I use Latin for the title of this blog. Fun fact, I also wear a ring on my right-hand ring finger that has in omnia paratus stamped on it. I have worn this ring for 4.5 years. Each of those three unique words is also on the cuff bracelet, separated by little orange horseshoes.

Q's assigned word was CREDERE, Kenai's was FIDUCIA, and Griffin's was SOGNARE.

While I am familiar with pieces of Latin, I don't know the language overly well; I knew none of these words from first glance other than a wild guess that "credere" was possibly a basis for the English word "credible/credibility" so perhaps it meant believable or truthful? ... I hurried to look up each of the words as soon as Kenai and I returned from our walk.

credere = believe

fiducia = trust

sognare = dream

Sara (and/or Beka(?)), those words are so perfect.

Just LOOK at it all! <3

Q and I have this back and forth relationship that really boils down to not believing in the other enough. She never believes in me enough to trust me when I say, "That _______ over there isn't a monster and it won't kill you," and I am likewise having a hard time believing her when she says, "It's going to eat me! Panic! I'm more confident now, I know I can do my job and get down this trail alive."

The whole surgery debacle with Kenai has taught me more ever to trust in his ability to heal and bounce back from all of this in good spirits. I worried for awhile (irrationally) that he wouldn't make it. Additionally, the blind trust he has had in me for 5 years now is so humbling. Such is the nature of a good dog. He is the greatest.

Griffin has allowed me to dream bigger and entertain so many exciting things from the very first day he entered my life. I had dreamed of learning to be better at groundwork with horses: he helped me fulfill it. I had dreamed of starting my own horse from nothing: he helped me fulfill it. I dreamed of doing endurance: he helped me foster (and continue to foster) that goal, even though Q has filled that role. I dreamed of cross country courses, big jumps, and (this was a big reach goal for me) dressage competitions: Griffin is demonstrating to me that those dreams are so very achievable.

credere, fiducia, sognare

Each of these charms will adorn the critters' headgear in the very near future. Kenai's will be going on his newest orange collar and Q's will go on her bridle (and is totally going to be worn for our endurance ride in 2 weeks!). Griffin currently shares Q's bridle, so his will also go on it for the time being. (Once I'm out of debt with the dog, Griffin will be getting his own.)

The keychain is already on my keys and the bracelet hasn't left my wrist since I put it on.

I am so very impressed with these pieces, Beka! They're well done and so unique.

Thank you, Sara, for gifting them. <3

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Griffin Loves Jumping

I've spammed media across instagram and some on my Facebook, so I reckon it's about time to spam ye olde blog with it as well.

June 24; pulled the ghetto cavaletti out for a short sunset session
June 25; another session with the ghetto cavaletti
June 29; lunging for awhile before we had a short film session under saddle

Ever watchful as I set up jumps for the day

June 29 under saddle video

July 6 video

We're practicing a few days a week now. Video is the only way I can look at myself and learn and modify. I'm 110% self taught at this jumping thing. I've never had a lesson - only really wonderful friends who have given me pointers along the way. I'm fortunate to have a talented little gelding who absolutely LOVES this jumping thing though!

Griffin and I work very well as a team. We're both able to be very forgiving of the others errors as we're learning each step of the way. I think I've *got it* and keep my shit together only to make another small error. He thinks he's *got it* and keeps his shit together only to make another small error. We're both like, "YES?! Oh. Well, hmm. AGAIN!"

The predominant theme throughout every session has been one of understanding and learning. Neither side of this partnership has gotten angry at the other for Not Being Able To Do. I accept that I'm new to this and he's new to this. I accept that I've got lots to learn to be able to be better for him. When he gets lazy and doesn't pick up his feet totally, I tell him, "Okay, that's on you, let's try it again and do a better job this time." But by and large, most of the time I'm telling him things like, "That was great! Now I have to get my shit together to be better for you." or "Okay. Great job. The error was totally my bad. I need to sit up and RIDE you through that instead of not supporting you at all. Thanks for keeping it together for me!" or "Dude, tell me to count your strides so we can be better at this. Don't worry, I'm going to try harder for you." Yep, it's definitely my job to be better at all of these things for him! And practice makes perfect.

We're definitely moving forward in a good direction. We continue to have great sessions, continually building a little bit on things from the previous ride. Lately, a session lasts about 45 minutes and flows in the following format:
  1. I start the sessions by lunging him to warm him up. 
  2. Then I move the jumps for the day and lunge him some more. 
  3. After that, I get on and we do some flat work in the field. Lots of bending lines and circles and serpentines and the like. I also focus on having him really use himself properly and moving forward into the contact. I do this to warm myself up and get his focus on me. 
  4. Finally, we will do jumping under saddle. We usually do 3 or 4 times through whatever we're going to do for the day without the camera to make sure all parties are focused before pausing to turn the video on. The video captures 85% of the jumping we do.
I'm sure I'll modify this little schedule as time passes. It suits us well at the present time.

Bottom line: Griffin adores this work. He's so game and eager every single time. I also love it and really enjoy having a horse who is so happy and tries so hard. I'll definitely be trying my hand at eventing next year - I owe it to Griffin to let him do the job he loves.