When I pack up after a long week of overnights, I always mumble and grumble asking myself why. Why am I doing this? Why did I pick this? Will I ever sleep in my own bed again… Or hell… Will I ever have my own apartment at this point? But I turned around this time and saw this face sitting next to my pile of bags giving me a look that said, “Okay ma, where are we off to now? I’m ready for another adventure.”
“You are why…” That was all I said and we were off to the barn.
It’s weird that the times I feel the most overwhelmed after the fact. After running around like a maniac without sleep and eating shitty food (or no food) all week? Finally have a little time to myself and that’s when I think too much and my brain is on overload. So what did I do? I got a part-time job. Why? Because I’m a glutton for punishment and don’t know how to stop.
Things got a little unsettled on Saturday with an unexpected schedule change and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Chevy knew exactly what was happening when I grabbed his remote collar and we hopped in the truck. No questions asked, no hesitation, I tacked up and we headed out. First snow fall made everything even better. It was exactly what I needed in every way. Exactly what we all needed.
A little lost… I’ve definitely ridden Cody more than my own horse. You’d think I could say, “Well at least I’m in the saddle” but mentally, it’s not the same. Although having my little shadow with me is a definite plus, it’s not the same. I keep burying myself in work and not even purposely. I can feel myself getting stuck in a rut because of lack of consistency. It sucks and I’m sure I’m not alone in this either. I’d love to blame it on the winter but the weather has been amazing for December and it doesn’t look like it will be getting much colder any time soon.
There’s still a bit of anxiety going to the barn which doesn’t help. Couple that with the building anxiety of just getting on my horse? Definite possibility of disaster. My heart is starting to pound just looking at a mounting block and there’s just no reason for it. I don’t want to go through this again because Brantley is what keeps my head up out of the water so I don’t drown. But there’s no motivation for either of us.
After visiting Grasa, I had to ride my horse. I did my middays and sped to the barn. The BO had just pulled in while I was finishing up tacking and normally I would have invited her to come but I really just needed “Me and B” time, plus, I was on a time crunch and honestly didn’t want to make conversation. Heart pounding, I walked him to the block and just went for it. He was terrified leaving the indoor… and it just got worse walking across the neighbor’s driveway and then he finally had a mini meltdown approaching a stump that apparently hasn’t been there the past… forever. Especially with the giant snakes that were laying on it… Motionless… Ready for attack.
Completely terrifying… Ears were crossed, neck was in giraffe mode, shaking, heart pounding… I egged him on a little but instead of just moving forward, he buckled back and bolted back to the barn. I stopped him, spun him around and asked him to move up again and just try. We made it by, barely, and off we went. Everything was new out in the woods. I just put my hands forward and loosened up my seat, mentally preparing for anything. Lucky for me, he remembered how much he loved being a trail horse and we survived our first ride out since the last hunter pace.
Thanksgiving always brings late nights and early mornings… Too late… And too early. I think I averaged about 3.5 hours of sleep from Wednesday through Monday morning. Thanksgiving Day wasn’t even the craziest of days… It was more the weekend. You don’t really think about how much people travel that time of year but holy crap. I think it was my busiest yet and I only have a few jobs on Christmas. New Years will be a bit busier too but not as bad.
Now that it’s over and I can finally sit on my horse again, it doesn’t even seem like it was anything worse than working Black Friday hours all weekend at the mall. Still though, it was rough on all of us… Really wish that Chevy could drive during times like these though, that’s for sure. Most of my dogs and clients seemed pretty happy on their return… If you follow my Instagram (which you should if you like puppies), you would’ve seen this picture. It makes it all worth it.
The worst part was not being able to wind down at the end of the day with Brantley. I had extra co-op barn duties this weekend to while the BO travelled so I got to see him obviously but… Didn’t really have time to do much more than to lead him here and there and throw him a cookie. I pretty much got the cold shoulder up until Monday night when we finally had some one-on-one time.
I won’t lie, I was a bit nervous first walking into the arena with him. He was definitely up and there was a cool crisp zip in the air. Right away I took off his halter and kissed to him. The indoor is just small enough to do some round pen work but also big enough to let out some good bucks when I asked him to canter. I really want to use this winter to get back our mental connection and work on my feel and his softness as a hole. I kind of lost it this past year so in return, he’s been pretty stiff.
He caught right on to my stepping in front to stop his forward energy and he’d turn in and look before moving off into the opposite direction. He always starts off quick and reactive at first and doesn’t really think or wait for my next cue. He has a big tendency to “know” exactly what I want him to do next and I’ll admit, he’s not wrong. I would just like him to wait for at least half a second before answering my mental cue. After a few “hey’s” and “woah’s”, it clicked for him to stop and listen.
Before having him drop his head into the bridle I asked him to both turn on the forehand then hindend before take a couple steps back just with a few body cues. He dropped his head and took the bit right away ready for a ride.
I really wanted to just walk around. Get my sea legs back. Get my heart to stop pounding. So that’s what we did. I let him cruise around at the walk and we did some fence work once he felt pretty warmed up. Had him stop and point his nose to the fence, move his hindend back and over, then push his shoulders over to follow his nose. Then a few turn-n-go’s working down the quarterline. Sometimes you’ve just got to take a step back and go over the basics.
Last night wasn’t much different except we did some ground work on the line and then I hopped right on. Walk, trot, canter. He seemed a little sucked back but more of a, “Mom seems nervous… must behave” kind of sucked back. Once I had him moving out a bit and warmed up at the canter, he felt better. Something happened over this year where we used to halt straight and square but now he wants to stop… then turn. Doesn’t matter what direction… weirdo. So, we’re working on walk… halt… trot… halt… canter… halt.
I want to say that I can’t believe it’s been 6 years but honestly I can’t believe that it hasn’t been longer. It feels like forever ago I got the “free horse” call…
I still remember the first time I saw you. Scared. Worried. Completely broken. Just like me. I didn’t know in that moment you were going to be what saved me in my darkest hour. And I’m sure you would tell me the same thing if you could. But you still followed me right onto the trailer in pitch black not knowing what your future held.
Well B… It’s been incredible. You have brought more joy and happiness and friendships into my life that I could have never imagined. I am so thankful every day for what you’ve done for me and I don’t think I could ever repay you.
Equine Affaire came and went and I found a few good things (like a new pair of Dublin Pinnacle boots that I still haven’t taken out of the box). But who are we kidding. I went for the “reunion”. New friends joined the group but we missed the old ones. Unfortunately K wasn’t able to make it but the good news is her baby is super healthy and happy so that’s what matters right?
Plus that meant I got to start the E.A. weekend with my favorite little human. Don’t tell the girls but that may have been my favorite part. I’m already starting down the days until the next time that’s for sure. Maybe my shopping list will be a little longer next time around.
Trying to get in as much ride time in on as many horses as I can. There was a little hiccup in my confidence over the last couple of weeks after a little spurt of barn crap. There’s no better way to fix that than more pony time that’s for sure. Especially with my favorite sidekick to my left.
Cody has been absolutely super… So much that I think he might be sick. Or maybe something just clicked. Or I just learned how to ride over E.A. weekend by osmosis and he really appreciates that. I know I do!
I’ve been trying to throw in a few rides here and there on this guy too while the BM is working her way back into the saddle. I forgot my barrel saddle so I hopped on him and I think he has a secret yearn for eventing and just doesn’t know it yet! His name is Jasper, the Little Red Ranch Horse ❤
Lucky for me, W said I could hop on Elijah too. She’s had him since he was a baby and she has done such a good job with him. Even though sometimes he can be a brat about moving forward, he is such a pleasure to ride.
Of course none of the other boys will steal my away from this guy. Just helping me become a better rider for him. I’m so proud of how far he’s come and we’re definitely in winter mode. Long, low, and no place to go fast. We definitely are in need of a quiet trail ride with our buddies but he’s not being a jerk about getting stuck inside now that my winter schedule has taken over. Thanksgiving is definitely going to be lots of treats and a kiss on the star while I run out the barn door.
At least I got in one last hoorah before this crazy week begins with a few friends! Good friends, good beer, and a great band. I’ll take it. Oh… And here’s Mitch.
The season that is. Brantley pulled his shit together and was a-okay for our last hunter pace of the season. I told the girls that if I got on and he felt at all off I’d just hang out until they got back but he was rearing to go (almost literally).
G and I had talked about dressing up all last year but W wasn’t sold… until she had this amazing costume idea and boy did we not disappoint!
Here’s a closeup of W and Elijah so you get a better idea…
Obviously G and I waited completely last minute so we had to make our Thing 1 and Thing 2 t-shirts but that was totally worth it. Add red and white thigh high socks, blue bows for the ponies, and bright blue fuzzy mohawks to our helmets? Costume complete.
We had a pretty good ride but the two bays were total trouble. No brains, NO brakes… I lost a stirrup twice (once over a jump and once at a gallop) but my seat prevailed. Brantley total had his jumping game in check though and we popped over most of the scarier jumps… minus the tire dragon I was dying to point him at but apparently tires are still ridiculously scary.
Last year we had come him about 7-10 minutes too fast so we tried to take it slow. Luckily with the amount that Brantley I argued… we came in just in the knick of time to place 2nd. Not only did we place 2nd for the pace, but we also placed 2nd in the costume contest (we lost to a group of super cute little pirates so I’ll take it).
All in all it was a great ride and the pros outweighed the cons 100% (cons being my horse being stuck in 5th gear the whole time). Definitely the perfect way to end the season. I’m so lucky to have these girls to gallop around this year with. I don’t know if I could’ve made it without them by my side that’s for sure. As 2017 wraps up into a thankful month, I’ll remind myself all of the amazing things we’ve done in such a short period of time.
That’ll help me get through the current barn drama that’s for sure… To be continued…
Brantley is certainly getting fuzzy which could be a fair warning about the upcoming winter. Why do I say that you might ask? Brantley as well as some of the other horses I have the pleasure of working with never get this fuzzy… especially this early in the winter. Plus it’s been so warm…
I’ve never clipped a horse before and although I keep considering it, I haven’t pulled the trigger. I have a few friends who have already but with Brantley’s fitness level, it takes a lot for him to get super sweaty anyways. Does anyone have any takes? To clip or not to clip. I think Brantley deserves to be a wooly mammoth for once.
So tonight we were supposed to be a part of a group lesson with NQ. As always, we need about 30 minutes to warm up so I walked him out to the indoor and did a quick hand-walk around the arena while the lights warmed up. Unfortunately the stiffness that I thought he was experiencing didn’t subside. I hopped on when the other girls came in to have them watch him trot around and we agreed he was a bit short in the hindend. Didn’t help he was being a dick since riding in the arena with other horses isn’t his favorite. I waited for NQ to come out and have a look. One giant lame step later we decided that we’d spend the lesson standing/sleeping in the center of the arena for a bit before I tucked him in with his with his BoT pj’s and soaked alfalfa cubes and remenicesed about our rides over the weekend.
After our Jersey trip I was dying to get in a jump school since I wasn’t able to ride with Lauren on Monday before we left (I had a tummy ache…). But watching her jump around really gave me the itch. I set up our favorite exercise and only added one giant cross-rail. Apparently I am no longer vertically challenged! B was so ready to go.
He felt so soft and so light to my seat that all I did was look around a bend and he was right there with me. We centered the whole pattern and he didn’t miss a beat. So proud! (Of both of us)
We had a few other great rides before our hunter pace on Sunday which may have been the reason behind the soreness… some of the roads we galloped down were pretty rocky and it poured so his hooves must’ve been just soft enough. I have a game plan for his feet but that will be another post.
Grasa, Wendy, and I had an amazing ride with the ponies. They were absolutely spectacular and we actually met a single rider out on the trail who ended up joining our group. The boys handled the add-on just fine which shows how far they’ve come this year. One of the association members built and set up all the jumps they had out on the trail and they were beautiful. I was super picky because I brought my western tack (plus didn’t want to soak my Bates again). We did take a look at a canoe stuffed with hay bales and flowers…
Thinking B would shy away, I walked up to it to at least get him to look at it. Instead of shying, he locked on and was ready to leap… I stopped him. Turned right. Waited until the other girls went ahead and let him go. Almost died but it was worth it and he was so proud of himself. I didn’t want to take the chance of not going over and disappointing the girls so I didn’t warn them so all they heard was a thud and me squeal.
We got back and when we heard the Trailblazer time we thought there was no way we placed. They were waiting for one more group in our division so they said they’d call out first through third. “First place, Team #19” … I proceeded to spit out whatever brownie I was eating and yell, “What?!” So that happened…
Hopefully some poultice and bareback rides will do B some good. We’ll see where he’s at Friday and make a decision for Sunday. I’d hate to miss out but B is more important. ♡
I had been waiting to head out for months and everything just kept getting in the way… But the last thing I was going to do was tell Lauren that my truck was unable to haul and there was a slight issue with getting a trailer. I knew it was going to work out. It just had to work out. I needed this trip. We needed this trip. With a stroke of luck and some bartering, I was able to borrow a friend’s trailer and Dad so graciously handed me the keys to his brand new Dodge… I was one lucky girl.
It was only about a 4 or 5 hour drive but the closer I got, the lighter I felt. I think Brantley some how knew exactly where we were headed and I didn’t even stop for snacks. We pulled into the barn to L waving her hands and jumping up in down. I could of cried.
B unloaded like he was already home and once Charlie caught a whiff, the air was filled a thick bromance once more.
So of course when we started fitting Brantley for a halter for overnight turnout… Charlie lost his shit in his stall which included rearing, striking, bucking, and making all sorts of, “YOU JUST GOT HERE! DON’T LEAVE ME!” noises…
Luckily that ended real fast when C realized how dumb he was being. After a couple errands we had a quick ride before it got too dark and got the trailer ready for the next day. L had a list of places that she wanted to check out and I was psyched! The next couple days were going to be a great way to prep us for the hunter pace we planned on going to.
Our first ride was out to the Round Valley Reservoir and man did we have a blast. It was Charlie’s first outing in a while so we took it easy until he settled in and B was an absolute rock. As things went on and they got comfortable, we started to move out pretty well. Luckily down one strip I got hit in the face with a rock sooooo… We stopped bantering just in time to not get hit by a car.
Thank goodness we survived that because L decided to explore a hill we both thought led to nowhere when actually it was an incredible gallop path with an even more incredible view at the top.
Saturday we had breakfast with L’s hubby and headed out for another adventure at Deer Path Park which was about 8 minutes from her house. We didn’t have the highest of hopes for anything spectacular but we really just wanted a nice easy ride to follow our 6 miles mountain ride the previous day.
We got both of those things including a few fields where we clocked about 25-26mph. Poor Brantley is not used to losing but he ran his heart out!
After tucking them away we prepped for the hunter pace which was the perfect way to end the weekend that’s for sure. Lots of walking… and galloping… and even a few jumps. Unfortunately we came in a bit too fast (13 minutes?) but I don’t think we would’ve wanted to ride any differently. The best part about the weekend (other than stealing a dog at the finish line) was watching L and Charlie click all over again.
It was definitely difficult to leave… But I was glad to get home to my other boys. One of which I think missed me a lot. Luckily Equine Affairs is right around the corner so I can get one more Lauren fix before next year.