Thursday, February 23, 2017

My Three

I arrive, grab three halters, three peppermints, and venture to the field.

Q and Griffin both greet me with their respective whicker and whinny before walking to me, Q initiating the forward motion for once.

I then venture to grab Stan who has watched the events up to this point. He whickers his greeting, too, before giving his typical walk-around bossing Griffin and earning my chiding before he'll acquiesce to being haltered.

We venture to the barnyard. Cranky faces are swapped between Q and Stan while Griffin skirts to the front, nervous about being around Stan who is still The Bossy New Guy.

Leading three horses at once is harder than it seems; Stan is definitely the problem child!

All three receive grain and grooming while I casually sip on the beer I had the foresight to bring. These quiet after-work moments with the horses are all the better with a cold brew in hand!

As I putz about doing this and that, as three sets of ears and eyes follow my every move. Each horse stands square with a hind leg resting.

I finally can't resist and begin a gratuitous photoshoot for a few minutes. They're just too cute.

Varying degrees of filth and varying degrees of successful clip jobs.
Clipper batteries died hard by the time I got to Stan, sorry buddy!
I can say with certainty that all horses are very appreciative of their clips though;
they're much more perky and active in the field in the days following! It's so nice to see.
Can't wait for more time and warmer days to get this guy out on the trails to build fitness back for
the first time since...2007!
She doesn't look as awful as I'd worried after 6 months off!

Okay, this is actually not from last night, but Griffin was in a dark spot last night that made photos poorer.

Finally, I decide to toss on my helmet and clip reins to Q's rope halter. I vault onto her bareback and we walk in slow, meandering circles around the barnyard for five to ten minutes. I revel in the pleasure of sitting astride my little 100-mile mare after so much time off. It's been 6 months since she began showing symptoms and 5 months since we diagnosed her suspensory injury.

On Wednesdays we wear pink.
Smiles and floppy relaxed ears <3
This mare is the queen of getting mud on her poll. Cakes it in there like a boss.
I couldn't help myself and gave her a vanity plate/tramp stamp.

We're not rushing into anything, but it is so nice to have these quiet moments riding her again, even if they are infrequent for now, the briefest of brief, and the slowest of slow. I'm grateful for the time.

After our short jaunt, I cuddle more with each horse before Lauren and her mom show up for lessons. Spring is imminent and I think I'm ready.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Slowing Time

Time is marching more deliberately and slowly for me lately. It's a welcome change-of-pace and so calming to the mind. Big life changes are upon me, which I will share in a month or so on the blog, and the whirling-swirling chaos that accompanies these things by nature has me seeking quiet solace in other aspects of my life.

Driftwood playing at the Purple Fiddle a week+ ago

I'm rarely on my computer these days and I'm on my phone much less than I used to. So much less on my phone, in fact, that I hardly have any new photos to share at all because I have been leaving it at home or in my car when I go places to do things. (The photos in this post are 90% of my photos on my phone from the past two weeks and they were only taken on two days during that time period.) I haven't really had time to pick up my DSLR either.

A magical unicorn themed bathroom at Tip Top in Thomas, WV

I'm pleased with the slower, more deliberate and purposeful way I've been living lately, but it doesn't make blogging easy! Fortunately, not much blog-worthy news is going on at this time of year. It seems winter is ending abnormally early though. I'm both excited and saddened by this. Excited because more horse time is always a plus, but I'm sad because I do love skiing and winter sports so much!

Bareback conditioning ride on Stanley

Due to the radical swing toward spring weather, I did bib clips on all three horses yesterday. None of them is close to shedding their thick winter coat yet, so something had to be done. But, as I fully expect some sort of burst of snow/cold before the end of April, I didn't feel comfortable making them more naked because they are turned out 24/7 and I'm not in a position to be able to run out and blanket them for every 24 hour cold spurt.

Selfie game is strong with these two, and the derp game is strong with all three of us.

Each of my horses fell asleep happily while I clipped them. And they each loved getting their faces clipped the most. Q loved the whole experience so much that she continued to linger near me (those who were not being clipped were free to wander and graze in the barnyard) when I'd finished while I clipped Griffin. The boys clips look a little mothy in comparison to Q's because they wanted to nuzzle and "help" me throughout which made the job a little difficult! But as I said aloud to them in the process, doesn't really matter how good or bad they look because we don't exactly have any travel plans to be in the eye of the public before they've shed their winter tresses fully. If they need to be touched up later, so be it. But for now, the only objective was to give them some relief from 65°F+ sunny days with their yak coats on.

I promise to have more exciting content in a week or two. But for now, this is life. It's slow, deliberate, and I'm quite happy.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017


Stan re-entering my life brought back a flood of memories for me. While very welcome, these memories served to remind me how much life has changed in the past five to six years - how much I have changed in that time. Change is a given, and I accept the changes and welcome them for the most part. C'est la vie!

However, there have been some changes regarding my confidence (it's in the 50-90% range now) doing certain things on horseback that I want to revert. All of these particular changes that I'd like to reverse are minor. I could certainly live without them. But - there's always a "but" - I think life will be more FUN if I can teach myself to be 100% confident enjoying them again.

Being an adult has introduced so many more responsibilities and checks and balances to life, y'know? And I have [unfortunately] let that responsibility [and the act of adulting] seep a little too much into my horse life. It's more structured/regimented as a result. And that's great most of the time. But I could definitely stand to let loose a little more. Horseback riding should be fun first and foremost, (okay, well, maybe after assuring it is safe, but safety should be a given before one pursues most activities).

Trot poles. An approved structured activity.

And so, in that vein, I made a goal for myself this year to [re]master the art of galloping on Griffin. If that goes well I'd love to reach a point where I could do the same with Q. She's the one who killed my confidence galloping full-bore because she's got a penchant of stopping on a fucking dime the moment something scares her. This leads to me inevitably taking QUITE a tumble. Just ask me how I know...

And of course, I still gallop on Stan. I've already been galloping almost every ride on him. But this is because I have history with him that includes a wealth of trust, so it's easier to let loose.

GrifGallops01312017-7 (2)
Griffin asking to canter with much more gusto than desired in the moment as I tell him, "No. Not yet."

I've begun to incorporate short gallop sets in my work with Griffin lately in my quest to find comfort galloping again. The biggest challenge for me is to not mentally micromanage the situation, Is that a hole? Will he trip? Will he spook? These thoughts are minor and don't cause me anguish at all. They do result in calmly acquiescing to remain in a nice 3-beat gait or a controlled hand gallop as opposed to letting loose into a full-bore gallop. I basically talk myself out of doing something before I've even started. And I've done this so much in recent years that I've created a habit of staying in my controlled comfort-zone.

But no more!

Kenai is my favorite part about this photo

Griffin LOVES to boogie and gallop. And he's pretty gaddamn trustworthy, too. (Read: doesn't make up fake monsters to spook at and drop his rider.)

Flyinggg. And yes, I pursued this entire effort in a dressage saddle. *shrug*
Move out!

I definitely squeal with delight when he really buckles down and launches forward at the beginning. But then I relax and go with it.

And honestly, from the photos you'd be hard pressed to recognize a rider who questions what is going on. I'm balanced and working with Griffin nicely. Which I think I knew, but I wouldn't really admit it to myself until I saw it in photos, y'know?

Small but mighty...and also trying to veer off the designated path.
Speed racer

I'm so relaxed physically, that when Griffin decided to LAUNCH us over this ditch with more gusto than ever before, I just squeaked in surprise and we carried on.

GrifGallops01312017-8 (2)
A normal launch over the ditch.
The *surprise!* monster launch over the ditch

He's a damn good horse. And I think he's going to absolutely love doing XC one day.

Smile says it all.

So, how about you - what horse-related things do you miss doing now that you used to do as a kid/teenager? Where is your confidence at a lesser percentage than it once was? Have you created a habit of talking yourself out of certain things before even trying?