Friday, October 6, 2017

Oy With the Poodles Already

Oh man. Where has the time gone? I'm making an attempt to ease back into blogging, but beware, my stress-addled brain is still forgetting things and boggling words in all manner of ways.

The nonsensical things I've said lately baffle even me and demonstrate to myself and the world how much clarity and logic do not exist in my mind. For example, I told my chiropractor I am at my job "40 days a week", and when I left the autobody shop with my keys in my hand  after paying for the repair, I turned back around and asked them to please give me my keys. #somekindofspecial And then, despite slowly writing and scheduling my recap posts from our last event, I totally botched including the placing in the final post until Teresa asked how about it. D'oh!

Work AKA the Reason for the Hiatus

My job since March has been...character building? ...made me a better biologist? ...helped me think and write more critically? ...taught me how to push out quality products in highly expedited [and unreasonable] time frames? Maybe. Mostly. But despite those silver linings, it's been stressful as hell and is resulting in me being a bitter, bitter person.

Most work days I'm ready for a drink by lunch, if not 10am. My dad, whom I eat lunch with most work days when I'm not teleworking, now commonly asks me 1.) how the day is going and, 2.) depending on that answer, offers me a drink - which I typically decline, for the record.

But the majority of the time I'm laughing to keep from crying or tearing up because I am so overwhelmingly frustrated and angry with the direction I'm forced to march. It is what it is, and frankly, "it" sucks!

However, despite the stress (and the absurd number of things I say daily as a result), good things abound in my life and I've been doing my best to focus on them.

The Horses

The horses are all doing well.

A post shared by Liz Stout (@estout18) on

Long-time readers and keen observers may note that the scenery in the video above isn't the norm for my three. That's because they've been temporarily relocated to Canaan Valley for a month!

My "neighbor", used loosely as we live 4 miles apart, offered for me to bring them up for the month of October and keep them at his house. His two horses are on their summer pasture elsewhere in the valley and he's done haying for the year at home and had plenty of grass to spare.


I jumped on the opportunity and have fully enjoyed seeing my creatures daily again.


I've been getting a lot of rides in on Q since September began, averaging three per week. These rides fluctuate between focus on dressage and hacking out. Originally, I'd wanted to focus solely on dressage with her, but with the realization that I will have only that option in the winter months when it's harder to trail ride, I've decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather to enjoy some time outside of something resembling an arena.


I've been making steady progress in the "spook deconstruction" department. While I don't have it all figured out yet, I do know with much more certainty about the nuts and bolts of why Q spooks. It's helping in our work, but we certainly have a long way to go.


She frustrates the living hell out of me more often than not when we're working under saddle, but I know my focus on those negatives is partly due to my mindset about much of life due to work lately. I don't always see the positives at first and, especially with this mare, the positives are measured over weeks and not days right now. You have to go slow in order to go fast later with some things, and Q is definitely one of those things. I do know how awesome this mare can be, so I'm happy to take the time to bring her back around to that place.


Following his successful run at Loch Moy on September 10, I gave Griffin a week and a half vacation. Then, Griffin had a bout with an abscess last week and thus had a bit more time off. He was progressively closer to sound from Wednesday to Friday last week, when I finally observed that the abscess was blowing out (yay!).

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Sunday was my first focused ride on him following vacation and the abscess. We focused predominantly on dressage, but I did reward him with a bit of a gallop across the field afterward.

Griffin was very forward and focused in our dressage work which made it easier for me to focus on what I was doing and how I could improve myself. I know there is a very fine line between what the rider is doing and how the horse responds, but when Grif is overly-relaxed/slow, I have to throw my focus on myself to the wind in favor of giving him my full attention. When he is in an overly-calm state, he becomes a "push" ride that really alters what I'd like to do with my body because I'm spending so much of my efforts on driving him forward. On Sunday, I got to really work on opening my hip angle more and cementing that feeling into my brain. Austen's been after me to do more of this and I was so happy to finally work on it. 

THIS frame is what I commonly work with at home! So different from the show version.

Following what felt like a very productive dressage-focused session, Grif and I galloped around a bit. He was feeling exceptionally good and we had two hairy moments where he wanted nothing more than to display some gymnastics above the ground in his joy of galloping. The first was coming up a hill and I was able to get him calmed down relatively quickly. The second though was on a slight downhill and dearsweetbabyJesus I thought I was going to hit the ground from that one! I wish I'd gotten it on film/had a witness because it had to have been quite a show as he dolphin leaped and wiggled left-right-left-right-left-right as I squawled at him, "GRIFFIN, YOU SHIT! STOPPITRIGHTNOW! GRI-FFIN! DAMNIT! STOP!"

Ah, the joys of horses...


Stan is doing wonderfully, too. He's packing on the pounds and fully enjoying the lush pasture.


He did have a mild colic scare yesterday, but fortunately this BO is very observant and tackled things quickly, giving him some banamine that cleared him out. It still didn't stop me from leaving work in a panicked flurry to go sit out there and love on him for hours! 

I have a really unique and exciting story to share about Stan in the near future, but that will need it's own blog post once I have a little bit of media to accompany it. Suffice to say, I loaned the big guy out for the better half of September and he had more of an adventure than any of my horses have ever had or probably will ever have in the future. As a result, he's earned a bit of time off now to put on weight and be a horse.

So, stay tuned for a fun tale on Stan in the near-ish future.


Autumn blew into the Mountain State during early September in the higher elevations and it was really magnificent.


Unfortunately, with all of the amazing weather (low humidity, highs in the 60s-70s) there has come a complete lack of rain. In order to get really incredible, vibrant autumn foilage, you need rain. Without it, the colors become dull and the trees that haven't changed will ultimately crisp up and fall without any blast of color.


And thus, I've tried to make the most of the moments I've enjoyed in areas with peak color while it lasts.

A couple weekends back, Hannah breezed through for a weekend visit with the dogs. It coincided with the local Leef Peepers Festival which is accompanied by multiple social gatherings (3 potlucks) and a 5k for charity (off the couch 5k for me @ a shocking 28:09 on a very NOT FLAT course) so I was hither and thither.

Fortunately, we did fit in one hike together! And arguably, the best hike in this region at that...


I'm continuing to get out and about in this beautiful weather as much as time and scheduling allow. It's such a beautiful time of year!


I made a goal for myself at the beginning of this year that I would have a public portfolio of my photography on a website by the end of July August September. So many friends have encouraged me to do this over the past several years and I've put it off, not confident enough in my skills. 

This year though, I'm absolutely in love with photos from each shoot I do. Every new shoot becomes my "favorite". I'm learning so much more about the art and honing my craft as I go along. And most importantly? I'm having a freaking blast doing it!

And so, I'm proud to announce that my photography website is finally live at

It's been well-received so far, and I've managed to score some paid gigs as a result. Nothing crazy - this is a side hustle after all - but hopefully I'll be able to meet my unspoken goal of 1-2 paid shoots a month so that the hobby can support itself.

I'm really enjoying the mental break from structured scientific and technical writing that photography brings. Honing the artistic side of my brain helps balance the critical thinking/critical writing side that I utilize more often, which helps me keep sanity.


The blog is long overdue for a Kenai update!


He's doing really amazing following our bout with multiple knee surgeries in 2015. I get queries weekly from people about whether or not he's okay to hike/play/run/what-have-you. More than two years post-op, I can say he's pretty damn fine to do whatever he pleases.

I swear he becomes more puppy-like with each passing month. He's got boundless energy and life in Canaan Valley really suits him well.

But he isn't without a strange malady that plagues him! He's a textbook perfect case for alopecia.

Note: back of hind legs, tail, and not visible in this photo but can be seen in previous photo,
the back of his neck is also hairless and NOT due to collar rubbing!

Despite my efforts to treat it (coincidentally at first and then with purpose), it is persisting and growing. The only treatment options remaining are hormonal and tend to have more risks than benefits associated with them.

He isn't in any kind of pain from his rat tail, bare bum, and scrawny neck - hell, he's moving better than he has since early 2013 when his stifles started having trouble! My pride and vanity are the only things saying he needs all that hair, and I can set that aside (albeit, grudgingly at first) knowing he's the happiest guy despite his hair loss/appearance.


He's very much looking forward to winter, and I'm hoping that my gut feeling that we're going to have a legit winter after 5 crappy winters comes to fruition. I'd love nothing more than to have epic conditions for alpine and nordic skiing with this guy!

: : : : :

I have been reading along with many of your adventures during my hiatus. I'm commenting here and there, but I'm afraid my comment game is seriously lacking with the whirlwind that is my life (see: above). I'll continue to do my best to catch up/keep up/live vicariously through you! Looking forward to my life settling a bit as we move into this final quarter of 2017. I'm so ready for my vacation...

I've got lots of updates for y'all in the coming week that I'm excited to finally share, so stay tuned!


  1. Oh man, reading about your current work situation really rang true to me. I hope things improve soon. It sounds like the animal fam is doing well :) What a beautiful temporary home the herd has <3

  2. What a whirlwind. Hope things are on the upswing for you.

  3. Such a busy life you lead. Deconstructing spooking can be really difficult and complex. However, Q is gorgeous. :) so that helps, I'm sure.

  4. Hey, I totally feel ya, sometimes it feels like I work 40 days a week too. Sorry things have been so stressful though. Definitely try to take some time for yourself to just be calm everyday!
    Man, it is so gorgeous up there. Truly, truly stunning.

  5. Your neighbor is awesome for letting you get the horses close to home again. Some solid horse time to melt away the stress is much needed. I'm sorry your job has been so crazy. Any relief in sight?

    1. Small light at the end of the tunnel... Hopefully sooner than later, but if I've learned one thing since March, it's not to get my hopes up about anything getting easier! Haha.

  6. Good to get an update and that's so awesome that the horses are so close to you for October! Q looks amazing in that lunge pic and please tell Grif that he can support Charlie all he likes but plz to not be lame any more!! Lol also can't wait for details (and pictures ?!?) of Stans big adventure!!!!

  7. Timely update! I'm finally catching up with blogs and glad to see an update from you on all fronts. And from one creative to another, BIG congrats on getting the photography site up- I'm so happy to see you pursuing it (:

  8. A quick THANK YOU for the Gilmore Girl pics. When I found your blog, that's the first thing that came to mind when I saw your banner. College students in formal wear with parasols jumping from a ledge.... Assume you've taken the Facebook "test your knowledge of GG?" yeah, got a 100. Hope things settle down for you!

    1. Haha, yes indeed. The title was garnered from GG. "Ready for Anything" really resounded with me in college when I started the blog and has continued to resound with me as time has passed. I do LOVE the show and routinely ace those quizzes, too. ;-)