Thursday, October 25, 2018

Blog Hop: Things I’ve Learned from Other Bloggers

The community of horse bloggers is a pretty amazing thing. It is especially amazing for someone like myself who lives in a rural area with limited resources/knowledge on most of the equestrian disciplines. The topics raised, journeys shared, and discussion generated from blog posts over the years has taught me an infinite amount, exposed me to more than I'd ever be able to otherwise, and has made me sit back and think critically about myself/my journey more times than I can count.

Sara started a pretty sweet blog hop outlining how she's been influenced and educated by members of this blogging community. Below are those who have helped jump start my knowledge and understanding the most in recent years.

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1. Austen and Emma's no-nonsense way of writing up lessons and shows was the biggest catalyst for me getting over myself/my fears and really pushing forward to get lessons of my own and pursue some schooling shows. Lessons and competition - especially within eventing and dresssage - were things I've always dreamed of doing but just lacked the mental wherewithal to follow through.

Reading their straight-forward approach to analyzing lessons, clinics, and shows changed my whole mindset about lessons and competition. Prior to this, I would get so caught up in my own head, perceiving every tiny thing as such a huge personal affront when it absolutely wasn't. This in itself is odd because when it comes to my other sports - skiing, mountain biking, and climbing - I don't take things personally at all and often throw myself into the lion's den so far as critique and lessons go.

While it is incredibly difficult for me to find the time to make it to clinics, lessons, and competitions because of travel/finances, when I am able to make it out, Austen and Emma have been so very present and supportive of my endeavors. It's been amazing to finally fulfill my dreams of getting involved in these disciplines, but to have such incredible and supportive cheerleaders has made the experience significantly better.


2. Jen and Jan's dressage lesson and show write-ups have been paramount in helping me better understand concepts within dressage and have kindled my personal fire for the discipline. Previously, I was beyond intimidated by it. The way these ladies break it down and write about it just makes sense to my brain. I used to view dressage as this crazy-hard discipline full of jargon and concepts way beyond my comprehension. Despite competing at levels higher than I know I'll ever pursue myself, I read their training and competition write-ups and really get it. It's such a cool feeling to "ride along" with them based on their narrative alone. As a result of my increased comprehension of this discipline from their expertly written experiences, I'm now able to think more calmly and critically through things with my own horses.


3. Megan's posts about Mary Wanless and rider biomechanics absolutely fascinate me. I've been picking through Mary Wanless' book The Natural Rider for ages now, so these things aren't completely foreign to me. However, the way Megan writes up recaps from clinics etc. with Mary Wanless/her teachings has really helped me see the book and the concepts in a new light. I freaking love shit like that.

And, of course, Megan's posts on biomechanics are a great segue into bettering my dressage training. I've worked hard to change my own rider biomechanics the past two years, and these posts have really helped cement my comprehension and implementation of how I should ride and what I should be able to feel during certain movements. I think it is so very cool how the tiniest of changes - especially in the positioning of the pelvis - can completely revolutionize my riding.


4. I thoroughly enjoy following along with Teresa's journey with Carmen. Teresa picks apart her interactions and relationship with Carmen in a manner that is so very fascinating to me. Q, my mare, and Carmen are so very similar in personality-type and it's very interesting to read along and learn from the way Teresa handles such a sensitive horse. The parallels between the two mares jumps out at me every single post. Teresa's breakthroughs and setbacks with Carmen - and her complete honesty about everything along the way - have helped my relationship with Q so very much. It's really comforting to know that I'm not alone in my struggles with a Very Sensitive Mare.


5. Of all of the posts I've saved in Feedly over the years, excluding the bloggers listed above, Amanda and Olivia's have been pinned the most. Both have broached various thought-provoking topics over the years that have really made me step back and think about horses, training, trainers, and my thought-process on each of these in more depth. I love that each author has a way of triggering such a critical thought process in me. Of all the epiphanies I've had about horses/horse training, a large portion of them have come from the thinking I've done as a result of the posts these ladies have shared and from the discussion generated as a result of those posts.

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Thank you, ladies, for all you've done to help me further my education and knowledge of all things equestrian.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

New Boarder

Long time no write, eh? I'll be frank, life has been very chaotic for me and my desire to write in this space has been nonexistent. The short of it is:
  • I had travel for work and followed by a short personal vacation
  • Work ate me up when we got sued [again] on a project I've been dealing with for 5 years now
  • I took a mental nose-dive due to work being a complete stress-fest (18 months and counting!) and fully embraced my burnout and opened up about it (so very wonderful to receive so much support!). Immediately after this...
  • I headed out on a vacation determined to get my head firmly back in place and return with actionable solutions to carry forward in a better light....
  • Only to have my mountain bike stolen from my car on the very first day of my mountain bike centric vacation (Fuck You, Louisville.)
  • The rest of the vacation didn't fare much better: found out we were missing a key component for our stove and couldn't cook as we'd planned; it rained the whole time we were in the desert which botched any hopeful plans of doing what we wanted to do without bikes (climbing); we were delayed by 6+ hours on our trip home due to snow and a impressively flat tire (biggest blowout I've ever had!) And thus my goals of becoming less stressed were completely obliterated.
But I'm home now. And ohmygoodnessgracious, IT FEELS SO GOOD. I'm never leaving again. I swear. (Not really.)

Behold. A very filthy pony thanks to so much rain this year. In the months since the horses have been living in Canaan, we
 have had 29.9 inches of rain. For reference, last year's total annual rainfall for Canaan was 65.58" and this year's total as of
yesterday is already 65.76"

But seriously, I had THE GREATEST first day home ever. Everything settled beautifully back into place and I tackled my WHOLE to-do list - and it was a whammy!

One of the bigger things on the to-do list for my first day home was to put the wheels in motion to get the horses integrated into their winter boarding situation (i.e., move them down the road and get them introduced into a new [huge] herd). 

So, color me shocked when I not only set the wheels in motion but tackled the whole damn thing! BAM.

An even more disgusting Stanley. With a freshly banged tail because kid
has SO MUCH HAIR and I'm sick of dealing with it + mud.

Just like that, I find myself a boarder again (as opposed to self-care at a friend's place as I had been since June). And damn, it feels SO good to have them in a situation like this for the winter. Don't get me wrong, I LOVED caring for them and doing it all myself - truly! Caring for them myself gives me so much peace and helps me wind down at the end of the day. BUT! The mish-mash of a setup I had wasn't the easiest ever, and while I am BEYOND grateful I had it, I'm glad to not have to worry about needing so much foresight and planning to accomplish small tasks for awhile.

And, ironically, the grey horse is the cleanest in the group!

The horses introduced to the new herd easily enough, which I'm so very grateful for because this is  the biggest herd any of them have ever lived in at 20-some horses. The other horses are composed of 2 different herds (owned by the same people) and were only thrown together yesterday - so the entire social dynamic is very up in the air right now, which is damn near perfect for my three entering such a new situation.

The first thing all three of my horses did upon turnout was to gallop a few strides, add a couple of bucks for good measure, and then immediately drop and roll (the other horses were on the far side of the field making zero attempt to approach my three). After rolling, my three ran to the closest group of horses where they did the initial circling-of-the-wagons circle trotting and smelling ritual. After that they quickly separated themselves from the others and began grazing with no drama whatsoever.

Another shot of his new shorter tail. I regret nothing.

The herd will be in the big field for a month or two until the weather becomes too inclement. At that time, they'll be moved a couple miles back up the road to a barn with an attached arena for the winter (and the herd will be pared down and separated once more into two locations). They'll come inside every night and be outside every day so long as the weather isn't total arctic hell. They'll receive their hay ration in stalls every night and get grain in the AM and PM. With the exception of Stan, they've never had such a royal setup for winter!

In the new field! And choosing to walk away from the boys to greet me.

I'll be able to work off some of their board by mucking and the like this winter. This is fantastic because I plan to be out there an awful lot anyway and it'll be great to knock the cost down and get a workout in the process. I used to love mucking stalls - it was my first job! And how I met Stan.

Also choosing to come greet me!

But the biggest excitement? That damn arena. Helloooooo winter workouts and lessons! No woes about arctic winds, snow, or light if I want to ride in the evenings any more. I don't mind the cold, but those other elements are definitely what keep my riding motivation in check most winters.

No interest in saying hello. Also dirty again.

If I have my druthers, Griffin and Q will come out of winter with a beautiful fitness base of dressage and arena work and be ready for a new year of competition possibilities in their respective discipline realms. Stanley will hopefully get his fair share of riding as well, but with few to no competition goals he will mostly serve as an escape for me and a steady eddy for friends that are adventurous enough to wander about the winter wonderland with me.

Happy horses grazing in their new field.

I'm excited for this change of pace and am eager to get in some lessons through the winter months. This will be the first time I've had an indoor arena to enjoy since owning horses! Fingers crossed for a fun, riding-filled winter!