Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Kites, Acting Your Age, Professionals, and Dollars Saved

For the first time in years, I was able to attend the annual vaccine clinic my vet holds (discounted exam and vaccine costs). It almost always coincides with the No Frills endurance ride, which I have attended the past several years. However, with Q sidelined this season, and no immediate competition goals for Griffin or Stan, I was able to commit to getting vaccines at the clinic. I knew the day away from the barn at a local location would also be good travel practice for Griffin who has traveled less than the other two. Additionally, I planned to jump him in the arena to gauge how he'd handle working in a foreign environment that had a bit of atmosphere to it.

I borrowed one of my BO's trucks and 4-horse stock trailer to shuttle my three over to the clinic on Saturday morning. The weather forecast was atrocious, of course. Bad weather the day of No Frills / the clinic is almost always a given! Nonetheless, I donned my goretex and my muck boots and trudged out to fetch Grif, Q, and Stan from the field amidst pouring rain. (Lovely.)

Griffin uncharacteristically refused capture. I knew he'd follow Q and Stan to the barn and come in anyway, so I didn't let it bother me much as my time spent trudging about in a downpour was not something I wanted to lengthen. However, Grif's evasion would be foreshadowing for his behavior for the next 90 minutes or so. I'm not sure what kind of bee was in his bonnet Saturday morning, but I'm glad it escaped before he'd been too big of a shit.

Have some completely unrelated photos because I
didn't take any photos due to the rain on Saturday.

This is Q on Monday when I rode her across the creek
to access ramps.

I fed and groomed each horse and threw a blanket on a shivering Stan before loading them on the trailer. The trailer can hold 4 horses and has a swinging divider in the middle to separate them into pairs. Alternatively, one could pin open the divider and have horses in one open space. Because of Stan's attitude, I opted to put him into his own space and the other two in theirs.

Stan loaded first without issue; he walked right on like a gentleman of his age should and I easily closed him into the first compartment. Griffin was up next because Q's history of wanting to immediately back off trailers once she is loaded suggested it was the best line of attack. Griffin will typically pitch a minor fit (tries to walk to the left and/or right of the open trailer and will throw his head straight up in the air, plant his front legs, and often back away looking at me like I have 14 heads) about getting on a trailer, but once he's had his 10-second-moment (and one good smack from me), he gets on without any fanfare because he knows I'm not kidding around. However, the fit he threw this morning was more than usual and cemented in my mind that we will be working on trailer loading with more consistency in the near future.

Woman, why are you digging in the dirt and why am I tied to this tree?

Instead of the relatively passive fit I've come to expect, Griffin was a literal kite on the end of the lead rope. He back pedaled with impressive force and speed (horse, do you WANT to work cattle?!) away from the trailer and me repeatedly. I popped him a really good one once and trudged back toward the trailer a step at a time as he skittered around and launched into the air behind me in protest. I adjusted my tactics to first get him to merely walk toward the trailer without backing up at lightspeed. When that was a success, we walked almost to the opening and then circled around so he could refocus on me and what I was asking instead of fretting that I was going to put him in the trailer (where Stan was standing patiently observing all of these shenanigans).

A few years ago, I would have lost my cool completely in response to this kind of behavior, but now it doesn't bother me at all. My level of nonchalance and zen surprised even me as Griffin tried out his various evasions. When Grif had calmed a few degrees so I could get him near the trailer opening again (read: he had at least 2½ hooves on the ground), I trudged one step at a time and didn't let my body language or my voice betray any sense of annoyance until I was in the trailer and he was at the opening. Then, with a few more kind words on my part and some sniffing on his, he hopped on like nothing had happened.

This horse... He's basically like a little brother; he knows me so well and knows just what buttons to push to find out if I'm really serious or not.

With Griffin's shenanigans done, I let Q load herself, tied her, closed the door, and headed down the road to the clinic.

Being adorable.

25 minutes later, I unloaded all three horses, tied Q and Griffin to the trailer and headed to the registration booth with Stan in tow.

Fortunately, when I arrived there was no line. I was able to quickly get each horse registered for the appropriate vaccines - Griffin would be getting a full-blown show horse panel and required paperwork for travel out-of-state, Stan would be getting the same sans out-of-state paperwork, and Q got the bare minimum necessary to basically stand in her pasture and be lightly worked at home later in the year.

Last year, getting two horses examined, vaccinated for shows, and papered for out-of-state travel rang in at $584 without the farm call fee (I trailer 5-minutes to the hospital to avoid this). This year? This year's vetting of three horses for the things noted above rang in at $341. Hello, savings!! Even I had all three horses vetted and papered for out-of-state travel, I wouldn't have exceeded last year's expenses (I'd still be over $100 under!) Competition schedules don't align well with getting annual vaccines in late April, however, into the future, I think I will make my competition schedule such that I am able to do this vaccine clinic. Holy money-savings, Batman!

Every girl needs leopard-print paired with hot pink

While not as "up" as Q can be, Stan was what Dan would call a fussbucket throughout the registration process and his vaccines. He was NOT acting his age one bit. Instead, he was on high alert, screaming for his frienemies (Q and Griffin), and dancing around. While I registered, his first momma (who introduced us) held him for me. As he stood with her, he calmed enough to cease his dancing, but he was still screaming intermittently and looking around exhibiting his best giraffe expression. This continued through his vetting. I was grateful he stood still for each shot and his blood draw, but the screaming I could have done without.

Griffin was vetted second and unfortunately still had that bee in his bonnet. He fidgeted throughout the whole exam and protested every needle that poked him. Fortunately, we've done enough groundwork that he knew damn well he should not invade the space of any human so he mostly jigged in place. Still, it was a little nerve-wracking for all involved because he was acting like he could explode at any moment.

Finally, I brought Q over for her vetting. Her exposure,time and miles traveling, and being vetted really showed. She was quiet and calm but alert to her surroundings. She didn't flinch or flick an ear for any part of her exam or any needle prick. Afterwards, I trotted her out for my vet to see how great she's looking 7 months after her suspensory diagnosis (8 months after lameness presented itself). We did a standard trot out for a best condition exam with circles in both directions and Q trotted out like a dream. Such a little professional (as she should be). My vet was very pleased with her movement and noted to her new vet how endurance riders are some of the most willing to give horses the proper time off for injuries like this whereas many other disciplines are more liable to try to do too much too soon. Regardless of being willing to give her the time off, I cannot wait to get her back into work later this year; I think this time off has done nothing but good for her.

The derp is strong with us

With each horse vetted, I tied them around the edge of the arena with their Uncle Dan to babysit and trucked 5 minutes down the road to shuttle 4 friends and their horses over the the clinic. Throughout the whole time I shuttled and waited for my friends horses to be vetted, Grif, Q, and Stan stood quietly napping where they were tied. This was amidst the hustle and bustle of many strange horses, 4 farriers doing work, the vetting process, and a local clinician working with some young horses and his most recent mustang makeover candidate. Professionals, all three of them. 💕

Finally, the mustang clinic wound down and I was able to pull some jumps into the arena to work with Griffin. Because I had to serve as jump crew for myself - pulling jumps from storage, setting them up, and putting them away again - I only pulled out two cavaletti and one vertical.

Lauren's mom is doing beautifully with Griffin! She has aspirations to compete in low-level dressage.

While alert to his surroundings, and admittedly a bit concerned with some of the activity and environment around him, Griffin was honest and responsive. His canter was heavy on the forehand as he threatened some crow hopping a time or two, but he kept himself together and listened to my requests. He additionally jumped everything I pointed him at with zero protest. We had questionable distances often because he simply could not pay attention to me at all, but he was tidy with his feet regardless.

We've certainly got more work to do before our proposed HT at the end of May, but his attitude toward work in a foreign environment with distractions on Saturday was very encouraging. He's got a lot of promise. 😉

The first of 3 horse-focused weekends is in the books. Weekend 2 begins tomorrow -- I'm Rolex-Bound! I'll see many of you there, I'm certain. Safe travels to all.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Spring Has Sprung

I love spring. The warmer weather, the burst of colors, the singing birds and amphibians, the longer days, the sun rising at the ass crack of dawn to better mesh my normal routine, the flowers, the lack of long winter coats on the horses, and the list could go on!


Winter was hit and miss this year. Spring has been threatening to begin for months. The hot-cold wet-dry cycle of a turbulent shoulder season between pseudo-winter and spring was exceptionally hard on local horses this year. Abscesses were a too-common occurrence. Stan, especially suffered with foot soreness and abscesses for about three straight weeks. It was kind of the pits.

But he's all better now! And we've hit the ground running (literally) as if we hadn't missed a day.


I don't know if it's because spring is here, or if Stan's finally truly enjoying regular work with me instead of Lauren, or maybe he's just finally come to the full realization after a winter with me that he's mine and I'm his, but suddenly he's nickering at me and approaching me in the field and enjoying work with gusto. It's so refreshing and such a blast from the past to have this working relationship with this animal again. We've got a lot of work to do yet to be ready for an early August LD, but I'm confident we'll get there. 😊


Griffin is doing well with his work, also. He's still the most willing partner I've ever had in a horse and really loves his work. We did have a mild choke scare (my first with this horse) last week that had me scared for a bit because I literally had no vet access nearby if things took a swing for the worse. Fortunately, Grif was able to pass the blockage on his own after a nerve-wracking 20 minutes.

We haven't done anything explicitly focused with our dressage lately beyond being certain that we are consistent in the contact at both the walk and the trot. It's enough for right now and has served to help us develop a very good "work" mode that I can get him into even on his more distracted of days.


Our jump sessions have been exceptional lately. I've been jumping almost exclusively with my bareback pad and it's really helping me see and feel distances better than I have in the past. Something is really clicking. Griffin is great about hunting down jumps, but until the last month, I was having a hard time being more than a monkey on his back. Lately, we're a TEAM and it feels so sweet. It's everything I knew it could be and it gives more tangible promise to what I know it will be.

We're tangoing with the idea of our first full phase schooling event at the end of May. I've got a couple weeks left before I have to make my decision, so we will see. (There are several outside extenuating circumstances that need to resolve first.) If we went, we'd be competing at a level much lower and jumps than we work at home (a W-T dressage test and 18"- 2' jumps; we work on WTC at home and jump 2'6" regularly), so the biggest challenge for Griffin will be handling the stress of the atmosphere that is Loch Moy. Fortunately, the dressage court, jumping stadium, and XC areas for the intro and elementary levels are a bit quieter than other areas. Time will tell if we can go or not!


Beyond 2 to 3 rides per week on each of the boys (quick aside: Q is fat and happy and healing well), my life has been relatively humdrum for me lately. Dave's nursing a rotator cuff injury from February still, so we aren't climbing - I need to get on the climbing wall with more consistency, but it just hasn't been in the cards the past couple weeks. I plan to change this soon! We're biking a fair bit to make up for it though. And hiking with Kenai, too. (He's doing great, by the way! 😄)


I'm also spending a fair bit of time "nesting" and homesteading. It's so wonderful to have a home of my own and a yard of my own and a GARDEN. I've got most of our veggies and herbs planted and sprouted and I spent a fair bit of my Sunday this past weekend transplanting trees, flowers, and shrubs from my parents to our house. It was a lot of work, but I'm absolutely in love with the effects so far. Landscaping really makes a house a home, IMHO.


I've got three straight weekends of horse plans hovering in my near future if things go as I hope. And somewhere in that time, I think I'm finally going to be able to share my final "big" updates on my horses and our moving situation(s). They're a long time coming, I know, but they still aren't final.

So, what's your favorite part about spring? Horse-related and non? Any fun things to look forward to in your near future with or without horses?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Waze for Horses

I think most people with a smartphone who travel are probably familiar with the Waze navigation app. If you aren't, it's a service owned by Google that helps navigate you like Google Maps does, but it has a more interactive nature to it. Users can notify the app of cops, debris on the road, congested traffic, vehicles stopped on the shoulder, etc. You name it so far as road hazards and the app probably has an alert feature. Additionally, because of the interactive nature, the app tends to navigate the user around congested areas better than others I've used. I love it.

While I was riding an uncharacteristically spooky Griffin the other day, I thought about how nice it would be if there was a Waze for Horses. Now, this is a total hypothetical thought because obviously this couldn't work in real life, but bear with me.

How nice would it be to have little notifications about all the potentially scary upcoming things in your riding path?

"Scary leaf reported ahead."

"Potential black hole to another dimension [puddle] reported in 0.1 mile."

"Herd of cows reported on the left in ¼-mile."

"Suspicious-looking stump reported in 0.4 mile."

Seriously though. It would be SO nice to not have to play a guessing game as to what may "terrify" my horse next, but instead just know how far away said "monster" was. This would save my ass so much (literally), and it would help train horses to cope and learn that not everything is a terrifying monster quicker because the potential "lurking monsters" wouldn't also be a surprise to the rider.

What do you think?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017


After five wonderful years boarding my horses in the same place where I (and the horses) have enjoyed: 28 acres of beautiful pasture, a field for my jumps, an area for my small dressage court, two round pens, an enclosed area for riding, a large back field to enjoy both gallop sets and hill sprints, rail trail access, and 20+ miles of wooded trail access without needing a trailer - things are changing. And not for the good.

Back in February, I noticed many downed saplings over one of our main access trails. I agreed that they needed cleared, but I was perturbed someone had done it in a way that left them lying across the trail. That's just poor stewardship. Still, they were relatively easy to step over, so we did it. Finally, last month, I took the incentive to throw them off the side of the trail. In the back of my mind I worried someone was trying to "block" us, but not wanting to see zebras in a herd of horses, I dismissed the thought.

But then, last weekend my BO and friends went on a trail ride and reported that there are now sizeable trees that have been dropped all willy nilly over our main access trail. They're still passable, but it's not something you can do from horseback and it really takes some minced steps. As a result of this, my  BO was forced to the realization that someone really is trying to block access. This is surprising because for years the property has been a shared lease for a dozen or more folks and we've all shared the area with zero issue.

Northern part of the image is my BO's property; blue polygon encompasses all prohibited areas; southern part of image has even more trails
not shown that I also ride, but now I have no way to access them.

But now, a new guy is in town and he's somehow garnered the lease to the lands that contain ~75% of the trails I typically enjoy. In particular, his lease is situated in such a way that my access to any other developed, known trails is wholly blocked. Because not only does this guy have the lease, he's claiming that the lease "prohibits ATVs and horses" and he is not willing to negotiate. He doesn't want us back there at all.

And thus, I'm grounded. No trail riding until I move the horses to Canaan.

It's incredibly disappointing and very poor neighborly behavior, in my opinion. There are a lot of very negative things I'd love to get off my chest in relation to this, but I'm going to choose to keep them to myself. The situation sucks, no way around it. I hate being grounded to one area with fewer options after so many years of beautiful trail access.

While I will be moving the horses in the semi-near future (hopefully), I'm sad I didn't get to say goodbye to my trails in my own way on my own time. I'm also sad that I won't have the luxury of being able to haul down and train on the trails ever again. I've got a lot of history and a lot of miles on those trails. It was already bittersweet to move on to something else, but now even moreso.

Looking into the future, literally. This is the only thing we'll be riding until we move!

Monday, April 3, 2017


March. It comes in like a lion and out like a lamb. Or sometimes, it's in like a lamb and out like a lion.

But honestly? I couldn't tell you what the trend was this year because my March was turbulent as hell with life changes. Nothing overly amazing or overly horrible, but just a helluva lot of changes all at once. I'm so grateful my time management skills are on point because they really helped me get through it all with [mostly] minimal stress.

Let's review some of the turbulence, shall we?

- Moved out of my apartment of four years to live in Canaan - I love having a house of my own, a yard of my own, a garden of my own, etc. The move by and large went super smoothly, but inevitably there are still unpacked boxes (hello, all my crafting supplies) and the sheer fact that they are creating clutter and remain unpacked irks my liver a wee bit.


- Introduced a daily commute into my life - This is something I've very fortunately never had, but I don't greatly mind now. Waking up at 4:15am isn't the greatest, but it is a necessary evil if I want to enjoy 3-day weekends (which I really, really do). It's made easier by the fact that I get to listen to the BBC for the length of my morning commute. <3

- Worked my ass off day in and day out at my job - I've had 3 consecutive (no doubts about it turning into four...) weeks of every work-day being like a Monday. Dealing with high level management on a certain project weekly, sometimes multiple times a day, sometimes multiple times before 10am! I've also had something like 12 meetings since March 8 on this project when I previously might have one, maybe two, a month. I've had a few nights of work until 9pm, too, and let's recall, I start my work day at 6am...oi vey. My work life has been quite steady until recently - meaning it's always a little bit of a challenge, but it's totally manageable. Lately, however, things have picked up 10-fold. This "new norm" should largely cease by autumn, but there are no guarantees. I'm adapting, but it's definitely going to take some time to fully adjust.

- Balanced my various small jobs with my career - I'm still giving Lauren and her mom lessons. We're trying for once a week for both, but all parties have had quite the turbulent past week or two. I'm definitely looking forward to making things more steady and stable in coming weeks! Lauren is choosing to focus on endurance as much as possible while her mom has fallen head over heels for dressage. It's such a blast working with them both.

I also have continued to build my photography portfolio doing family shoots for close friends. My goal for myself is to open a public portfolio to start advertising my small side photography business by mid-summer. My goal is to let the hobby fund itself through photoshoots and probably some sales of individual prints here and there. I may even open a small Etsy shop with the reclaimed barnwood seasonal transition photo series I've been working on.

Teagan Collage WM

- Made a quick day trip to Loch Moy to immerse myself more in the world of eventing with Emma, Brita, and Austen - This trip was so fun and educational, though also a bit turbulent due to some unexpected family emergencies on Austen's part. Emma and Brita totally took me under their wing for the day and taught me all of the ins and outs of a typical schooling show. I got to see first-hand how things are run, gain an appreciation for the turbulent atmosphere of the Loch Moy venue, do a couple course walks, and generally plot and scheme my year ahead with Griffin. (Oh, the XC jumps I plan to build!) I also enjoyed being able to take photos for Brita and Emma (some of my favorites below). I didn't stay quite as long as originally planned at the event as I knew I needed to be with Austen as she dealt with a very unexpected hand of cards that was dealt to her that morning. I'm glad I was close by to be able to lend some very hard hugs.

03262017 Loch Moy-1103262017 Loch Moy-1903262017 Loch Moy-1303262017 Loch Moy-16

- Enjoy various shindigs to celebrate the end of a good winter - When you live in a town with three ski resorts (two downhill and one cross country) and a wealth of folks who adore the magic and hygge that snow brings, there are many reasons to celebrate winter. We ring in winter with a party at the beginning of December, we celebrate throughout winter with parties, and when the season winds to a close parties are thrown to celebrate a season well-enjoyed. We throw one of the annual parties at our house, celebrate another at a private community center, and a third at the cross country resort. Free food, alcohol, and music along with some of the best people I know all in one room. These celebrations have been wonderful escapes to balance my turbulent month.

03172017 PatrolParty-303172017 PatrolParty-5IMG_20170329_082245_046

And there you have it, some of the turbulence that ruled my March. There are several more key horse-related things that occupied my month, but until things are final with these developments, I'm not going to share them. 😉 It's looking like three of the five developments should be wrapped up by the end of April though!

I'm very much looking forward to warmer spring temperatures, a more steady schedule, and all of the things I love about spring. There is still much to wrap up in April, but overall, my schedule is much less turbulent this month with hard plans only set for five days (as opposed to, you know, half or more of the month).

With any luck, I'll find more time to write on the blog this month!