Sunday, August 31, 2014


I'm still in zen mode, the cruise was amazing. I didn't know how stressed out I was until I was forced to remove myself from the real world and do nothing but relax for 8 straight days, and It. Was. Heaven. I was finally able to refocus on me and realized how important it is to take care of myself and give myself a break every once in awhile. I feel so refreshed! Here are some highlights:

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Bareback is good for the soul

Before I fed the horses on Friday night, I decided to ride but I wanted to do something fun. Too much ringwork and naughty horses under saddle. I wanted to just enjoy Charlie. So on went his bareback pad and off we went to one of the big empty paddocks (since the horses are on night turnout it was wide open). I've been wanting to ride out there forever; figured I might as well take the chance now before we move away! So off we went.

Go time?
All this space...
Gone were any of Charlie's pissy grunting leg-biting antics that have frequented our ring rides lately (more on that later, I'm trying to figure out what exactly is going on). He was happy and responsive, only calling out once to a friend who was hand-grazing nearby. Charlie was so awesome, in fact, that I braved a trot all around one side, and then a canter. And then a grab-mane-and-go fast canter! I was riding the wind. Me and my a huge field...bareback. Goal achieved. What a perfect way to end the day.  :)

Sometimes all you need is this

Monday, August 11, 2014

Lots going on

Sorry I haven't posted lately about Charlie! I have been riding him, although not as much as I would like (he's lucky to get twice a week right now). I've been pretty busy with training horses, all of which have required more than the usual amount of tenacity as three of the five are/were buckers. They're pretty much all done and gone home now, though, so I should have more energy to concentrate on my own horse. He, however, has been doing his best to avoid work by cutting up the inside of his back legs on something outside. I've scoured the paddock and can't figure out where he's doing it; I thought it was a large branch that had come down in the field or an exposed drainage pipe but we've cleaned all that up and he still came in today with a new one. Arrggh. It's nothing bad, but I still feel bad making him do too much.

It's ok, mom, I'll just stand here awkwardly cute enjoying the fan
In other news, and another huge reason I have been a bad horse mommy, Dan has had his job in NJ for 4 months now (wow that went fast!) and we're starting to seriously look for an apartment of our own so we don't have to live apart any more. God knows we've done enough of that over the past 7 1/2 years! The hardest part is I will have to leave the barn and my job here in PA, which I love but which I can't make a living on, and living in NJ is way more expensive than here, both for us and for Charlie. Did you know even more moderate barns in NJ run in the $750+ range? I had no idea. I literally saw some for $1400+, and they weren't the highest of the high end.

Anyway, I've been spending every free minute searching for affordable barns and apartments because we're on a seriously tight budget, few places are within that budget without being in the ghetto, and apartments that are in our price range often don't allow dogs over 20 lbs (which is not a dog, I'm sorry). This weekend Dan and I went all over looking at places. It has been really discouraging honestly. There were a few possibilities but we realized we'll definitely have to cut out some of the luxuries we're used to (i.e. indoor ring or larger, cleaner barn for Charlie; apartment updates like newer countertops or cabinets, wine or dinners out for Dan and myself).

Nassau, Bahamas
My saving grace this weekend was when my sister surprised me with a cruise(!).  She had planned to go with her BF but last minute he wasn't able to get the time off from work, and since the room is a flat-rate based on double occupancy she asked if I'd like to go. It will be really nice to get away for a little while and what better time than right now when I have a flexible schedule and no serious income since we have no horses to train? I doubt I'll be able to take another vacation for the next several years, so why not?

So next Wednesday I leave with her for a week in the Bahamas. Maybe I'll actually get a tan and can get rid of my white legs and hands which look like they permanently have gloves on haha. And maybe, just maybe, Dan and I can nail down our living situation before we leave. That would be nice.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

PSA: Always check your cinch!

Always check your girth/cinch as soon as you get on your horse. Yes, you should probably do it again after walking around for awhile, and most horses won't need much tightening, but it's not a bad idea to give it a quick check right after you get on and find your stirrups. Saddle pads will compress and many horses will let out air, and as I learned today you never know when something unexpected might happen.

George Thelwell © 1962
I'm usually really good at checking my girth as soon as I get on. Today, however, I got distracted by a question when getting ready to demo a young horse for a client, stopped halfway into checking the cinch in order to answer, and was subjected to a bucking spree a minute later when the mare scooted sideways because of a dropped hat and then freaked out because she felt the saddle start to slide.

While neither myself or the horse was hurt, the client's confidence in being able to ride her "broke" horse was understandably shattered. And I felt like a complete idiot. The worst part was riding out the buck knowing exactly why she was bucking, feeling like a fool because it was my fault, and knowing I would have to try to wait it out since I couldn't use any of my go-to "stop" tactics, like disengaging her hindquarters, for fear of losing the saddle out from under myself. Some people will advise you to just bail in that situation, but in my opinion just about the worst thing I could have done would have been to freak her out even more by flinging my own weight off one side and potentially causing the saddle to roll. So I stuck. And we survived (well, maybe not my pride).

I left the experience reassured that I must have damn good balance (that cinch was loose but both myself and the saddle stayed on and centered), but with an embarrassing feeling of rookie-ism and a determination not to let that kind of thing happen again. Next time I might not get so lucky.

....These horses, how they humble us.