Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013 in review

What a whirlwind of a year it has been! It's hard to believe it is 2014 already. My "dream horse" turned out not to be so perfect, and it made me question what I was doing as a first time horse owner, but I learned to work through it and I've become so much more confident and competent as a result. Charlie and I finally have the bond I was looking for and I'm excited to see what the upcoming year will bring. Here is a look back at how far we have come:

Charlie had no sooner settled in to his home in RI than I got my first taste of his dark side and realized that horse people never tell you the whole truth...

We quickly went back to basics and worked a LOT on groundwork and getting to know each other, I invested in a rope halter and enlisted the help of some friends. In the end I gained a horse that was much more respectful; our bond was starting to grow.

Winter Storm Nemo dumped several feet of snow on us early in the month and Dan and I spent a few days without power (and heat!)...not getting plowed out also meant no barn for a little while.

I began ruling out medical issues that could be causing Charlie's behavior by having a dentist out to check his teeth (everything looked good) and I started him on a Vitacalm supplement - with moderate success - to try to take the edge off so I'd have a more stable horse to work with.

At the end of the month Dan and I went on our cross country road trip from RI to OR...cross that one off the bucket list!

On March 6th I rode Charlie for real for the first time since moving him to RI, just walk/trot but it was a step in the right direction, and by the end of the month we were cantering. 

I began learning his signals and "tricks" (rearing, most notably) and figuring out how to head them off and/or deal with them effectively in the saddle. I got firsthand experience with the New England mud situation that always goes hand-in-hand with spring, as well as the mud rash that came along with it. I also started Charlie on beet pulp to try and keep weight on him.

With the weather warming the bugs came out and I learned Charlie HATES flies. Got him suited up in a mask and fly sheet.

My medical evaluations continued as I called in a chiropractor to evaluate Charlie and check my saddle fit. I got some good tips on stretches and exercises to do and an innovative new use for a no bows wrap.

A few firsts: I fell off Charlie during one of his tantrums (the first of many future falls, unfortunately this one was in front of two young girls having a lesson and their mothers), Charlie got his first bath with me, I tried a neck stretcher with him and loved it, and we rode in the outdoor ring for the first time....I really started to feel a connection and was sure we were turning a corner as a team.

Then we got an eviction notice at the barn and all sorts of drama started to unfold. Commence lots of deliberation about moving.

The big news in June was my decision to move Charlie to Melody Farm where I had been with Lucy. It was the best decision for many reasons, including that Kate and Maddy were there, and Charlie started to thrive! We were going out on trail rides together and having a blast.

Dan and I spent the last week of the month house sitting in PA for my parents while Charlie got a vacation and a few rides with Kate, who also had the patience to cure his bad habit of not standing still at the mounting block :) Charlie also got some random hives, who knows from where, but they resolved with a bit of benadryll and extra baths.

July weather was sweltering. Pretty much good for daily baths and not much else, although I did get a few rides in. Kate and Maddy introduced me to their farrier and I fell in love! Unfortunately our time there was limited and Dan and I made the decision we had been discussing for a long time: moving down to PA to try our luck job-searching down there. As one of my last rides with Charlie Maddy took me on a trail ride to the boat launch and it has so be one of my most memorable rides.

By the first of the month Charlie was all settled at my friend Connie's house with his new pony pal, Gi and Dan and I went back up to RI to tie up loose ends and finish up work. 

Then Charlie decided to impale his face open on something, down to the bone, and had to get pieced back together by the ER vet.

I started a new job at the barn in the mornings, mucking and training, and began taking Charlie out on trail rides once his nose started to heal.  I discovered what makes the racehorse inside him emerge and how he has a propensity for breaking halters when tied to a hitching post.

Charlie got his third farrier in the past year, this time a very nice (and very inexpensive) Amish man who added borium to Charlie's shoes for more traction on the roads. My friend Emily came to visit and got to meet Charlie and go riding with me in the beginning of the month, then I went down to see her in MD at the end.
I started taking Charlie out on more and more trail rides and realized he doesn't really like being on the roads alone and that he hates goats. I went to my first craft show with my mom and sister to try and sell some of my artwork and saddle pads. My parents got a new puppy and I was assigned puppy sitting duties while they were at work...not such a bad job actually :)

A few key events: I successfully trailered Charlie out for a country hack with one of the girls from the barn as well as to an end of summer picnic and games at the barn, and my best friend got married!

I also picked up a couple of other part time jobs, which brought the count up to three. The number of training horses at the barn was picking up too so I was riding 4-5 horses a day at times, from Colby the Chincoteague pony to unbroke Arabians and Quarter Horses.
Colby, a Chincoteague pony, one of the training horses
I made the decision to move Charlie to Spring Hill where I work and it turned out to be the best decision ever. The added turnout and ability to ride both indoors and out really suited him and he started to thrive. I also started him on SmartCalm Ultra which had a huge positive impact on his behavior.

Though Charlie had some difficulties integrating with the rest of the geldings at first, by early December he had figured out where he stood in the pecking order and made some friends. It was nice for me to have him right there to ride whenever I was done with the training horses, and I discovered the benefits of having a skilled John Lyons trainer on hand. Things are really looking up and I think this is going to be a great place for us :)


  1. You guys have come a long way! I remember when he was in the middle of all that rearing nonsense.

  2. What a great start to your journey together. Excited for next year for you!

  3. Happy New Year to all of you! We miss you, but love keeping up with your adventures with Charlie. It brings back many memories of my own horse journey!

  4. I feel like every time I comment on your blog or Facebook all I say is how proud I am of you and Charlie. But really, I am. You guys have come so far and done amazing things in the time you've had him. I can't wait to see what amazing things you guys do in the future! <3

    1. Thanks! :) I'm feeling really good about everything and, though some days I don't feel like we've made progress at all, there are enough good days that I know we are going someplace. Every day he impresses me with something new :)

  5. Sounds like you and Charlie have made a lot of progress over the year! I am hosting a 2014 Year in Review Blog Hop. Feel free to add your link if you like!

  6. I'm new to your blog so this review post was helpful for me to get to know you and your journey with Charlie a bit better! I will have to read your back posts too! :) Charlie sure is handsome- love his copper color and bright white star! You mentioned that you do art and saddle pads do you have an Etsy shop?

    1. Thanks for reading and I'm glad you are enjoying reading about our adventures :) I do have an Etsy shop with a few things on it, mostly painted saddle pads. You can check it out here: I'm working on a few new art projects now and hope to have more paintings up soon.