Wednesday, January 7, 2015

2014 Wrap Up

It is now a week into 2015 and I'm only now sitting down to catch up on blogging. Sorry!

2014 ended in a whirlwind of activity. Dan and I successfully moved into our little apartment. The boxes are all put away and we finally have a living room thanks to a couch donation from Dan's cousin (we had been sitting in butterfly chairs for the first few weeks). We barely had time to settle in, though, before we were off for holiday visits with family across three different states.

Merry Christmas from Stockton, NJ
Christmas celebrations for us started the day before Christmas Eve in NJ with Dan's family, and then we migrated to PA to see mine. Christmas Day actually saw us celebrating the holiday in three different places: first in PA, then Chicago, and finally in Huntington Beach, CA as we flew coast-to-coast for a mini Christmas vacation with my uncle and his family.
Me and my sisters
Christmas Day Goose Island beers during our Chi-town layover
Me and my uncle on the HB pier
View from our bike ride to the Wedge in Southern California
Back to NJ: Charlie seems to be settling in well to his new home. It's a small barn on private property with two other semi-retired geldings. With an open barn layout he is able to go in and out of the large box stalls whenever he wants, which is the perfect scenario for me. Outside, the horses can be separated by closing several gates or have full access to a few acres of pasture and the outdoor arena (for when it is really muddy and they can't go on the grass).

Posing for a shot at the new barn
Meeting the new guys
This isn't so bad
Until yesterday the weather here would make you think it is March, not mid-winter. We reached 60-degree temps over the Christmas break which, along with lots of rain turned everything into a muddy mess. Because of that I was only able to squeeze in one ride so far, a few days after the move, since I no longer have an indoor and am at the mercy of outdoor conditions. I admit, I was a little nervous about riding Charlie alone in a new place and didn't trust the big man to not misbehave, so I borrowed an old Simco western saddle from the barn owner for an extra sense of security (which, miraculously, fit pretty well!).

First ride selfie
In the end I was glad for that decision. Charlie couldn't focus, zooming around the ring, jumping puddles and random bunches of leaves, and overall buzzing with energy. To his credit, Charlie didn't spook when the mounting "block" (an old stump) fell over as I tried to get on, or when we were visited by a herd of deer, OR when one stirrup fell completely off because - although I checked the leather for rot - I didn't fully latch the keeper. Oops.

Hard to see, but those are deer in the paddock
He did try a buck-rear-spook episode, though, when I asked him to cool off with a walk down the driveway and we got too far away from his new buddies. I was really trying to not hold him back and make him feel boxed in, but looking back I think I needed to give him a bit more direction and purpose rather than just sitting there trying not to interfere. Or maybe Charlie was just having a TB-moment, looking for any excuse. Giving him a job, though, and sending him in a series of tight, forward serpentines (practically pivots to release his hind end) got us through it.

I'm hopeful that these rides will get better and better. He is definitely much calmer in the stall and aisle for grooming now than he was a few weeks ago so I'm sure the outdoor riding confidence will come.


  1. The confidence will come! And it will be great for him too. Sometimes I think too much indoor riding just isn't good for their minds. I wish I rode outside more haha.

  2. It will definitely come and you've got the knowledge and talent to handle it! <3