Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Hello '14 (goals post)

Well it is New Years Eve and what am I doing? Sitting at home getting ready to go to bed in an hour or so. I have to admit New Years has always been my least favorite holiday. I've just never been a real party person and most of the time I am uncomfortable in any kind of real crowds so most New Years festivities are just not all that appealing to me.

So instead I'm going to try and write down what goals I would like to try and work on and maybe even a few to accomplish in the year 2014.

  1. Learn how to play the piano. This should really say re-learn or get better at... I took piano lessons as a kid but because my Mom worked third shift it was very hard to practice consistently add to that the fact that I wasn't truly interested and therefor a little lazy about practicing and I didn't get very far. Recently a friend gave us a piano and I've been enjoying playing again. My goal is to practice at least a half hour a day, five days a week. Why not?
  2. Create and stick to a budget. We used to be really good at this but with the addition of more income and three new mouths to feed and budget keeping has been spotty at best. This is something that must happen before things truly get out of control. 
  3. Find a new exercise program that works for me. While in Japan I did a lot of running. When I couldn't run I lifted weights and/or jumped rope. I don't like running in the cold, my treadmill only works at walking speed and since I hurt my shoulder I've been very limited in weights and jump rope is a killer. So I need to find something else. Jay and I are talking about trying out the local gym and actually doing some swimming for something new. I'm not sure how my shoulder will fare. I might have to swim a little oddly but at least it is a low-impact but highly efficient way to exercise. If we do this it might mean a change in hairstyles for me. Chlorine plus washing/drying my hair five days a week will not work. I'm sort of itching to try something new anyways so we'll see. 
  4. Insert some cliche goal about figuring out what I want to do when I grow up. No, seriously, after being a stay at home Mom for the past nine years I am finally at a point in my life when I actually have the time to do other stuff. Unfortunately having a teaching degree, an expired teaching license from another state and being completely uninterested in teaching again and I'm just not sure what I want to do not to mention that whatever I figure out to do needs to be very transportable as staying in the same place for any length of time is not in my near future. I'm doing the part-time thing with FFI for now. Some of it I really love and some of it is definitely a square hole and a round peg. This really shouldn't be that hard but I'm finding it extremely challenging. 

  1. Get Loki more accepting to the bridle and less fussy. This will require me to be less handsy. Maybe play around with some new bits. 
  2. Get those downward transitions working for us. Keeping Loki in front of my leg the entire transition. 
  3. Adjustability at the canter. This is a big one for us as it is so important both for our flatwork and for the jumping. 
  4. Start the year out at Beginner Novice and hopefully finish the show season at Novice. My goal is to do at least four events this summer. More would be great but they are pretty expensive so I'm trying to be realistic. At the moment I am planning on/hoping for Greater Dayton, Champagne Run, Flying Cross and Jump Start as well as a few combined tests/schooling shows.

  1. My goal for Ghazal is to see him a minimum of once a week, two or three times would be great but I didn't hardly see him at all last summer and that needs to change. 
  2. Figure out a solution for his sweet itch. 

And of course I want all those things you are supposed to want especially at this time a year. To be a better Mom and wife and person in general. To be more loving and accepting and less judging and harsh.  To live my life as an example of God's great love and to be humble and content.

So anyways, Happy New Year!!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Bye Bye '13

Where has the time gone? Ever since we've been back in the states it seems like time has just flown by on super sonic speed.

In January I was on the other side of the world teaching riding lessons at a little barn in Japan and going on beach rides along the Pacific Ocean.
I also went with my son's 2nd grade class to a Japanese Circus. It was fun but I was already counting the days until we left for the states. (Who am I kidding, I was counting the days the day we arrived in Japan!)
There was very little going on in February, horse wise. Both Ghazal and Loki's birthdays are in February so I pseudo-celebrated from afar.
Ghazal turned 24 and I've had him since he was 2. He truly made me into the rider that I am today for better or worse.

In March I helped the other instructors at our little barn in Japan to get ready for our Spring show.
Unfortunately right after that things went downhill with the barn and I ended up leaving on not the best of terms. I missed my students and the gals I worked with but not much else.

By April things were starting to move a little bit faster. The clock was ticking and we were really getting close to departure.

A stray cat had kittens on our back porch. I almost stepped on one before I saw them. Luckily a friend of mine helped out and all the kittens and the momma cat were rescued. I love happy endings!
I also subscribed to FEI TV and stayed up all night to watch Rolex. That was actually a lot of fun.
In May Loki went to his very first horse trial with my trainer. He finished on his dressage score and a few time penalties for 8th place out of 13. I was really excited to come home and get riding.
June was of course THE MONTH! We finally left Okinawa. My friends from the barn got me this very beautiful bracelet that I wear practically every day.
I got back to the states on the 7th and out to the barn on the 8th to finally see my boy.
As soon as we get home time starts flying but I don't even realize it. I do a couple of schooling shows. We go XC schooling for the first time since the previous summer and things don't go quite the way I'd hope as we experience some breaking issues.

But, we bounce back by the end of the month and go to our first combined test and get a fourth place, finishing on our dressage score.
I'm not sure what all happened to July as far as riding goes. Jay and I went to a wedding at West Point. I get to check out the area for potential barns as we'll be moving there in two summers.
Mid-August brought my utter defeat by the ground after Loki tripped while we were jumping. Post here. I have a concussion and am banned from riding for at least 10 days. My shoulder is still messed up from the fall but it really could have been worse. To try and make up for it I did get to go to a Mumford & Sons concert which was totally awesome!
September was the month of the VET!
First Ghazal was 3 legged lame, which luckily turned out to just be a nasty abscess.

Then Loki was diagnosed with EPM. Luckily he was mostly a-symptomatic but treatment was not cheap! Since that was apparently not enough Loki also decided to have a run-in with first a black locust tree resulting in a huge knee:
And then just to get that trifecta in he decided to antagonize some bees or wasps or something that stings:
We do lots of hand walking and ground work which has the positive effect of leading to some better ground manners. Loki also got to admire himself in the mirror which he really seems to enjoy.
Finally by mid-October I was able to start riding again. Nothing much exciting happening, though. just some easy rides. At some point I also mentioned that I've started working for an OTTB rescue group, Friends of Ferdinand and I am busy helping prepare for a booth we put together for the Indiana Derby.
Finally, in November I start to get my riding groove back and I can actually afford a couple of lessons.
I feel like Loki and I are finally making some progress!

And now here we are ready to say goodbye to December. This month the cold weather definitely set in and I haven't ridden nearly as much this month as I would have liked/hoped but on the plus side I am really enjoying time with my family. I got some wonderful Christmas gifts, my horse is happy and healthy and I am really looking forward to 2014!

The year didn't quite go the way I hoped as far as competing goes but looking back on it I realize we really weren't ready anyways. By the time spring competition season rolls around we'll have so much more time together and I really think we will finally get to enjoy a couple of shows together. I think I complained a few too many times this past year which I apologize for. I really have nothing to complain about. I am very blessed in many ways. Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Remembered My Camera

Went back to the barn yesterday and actually remembered my iphone. We are having some very nice weather right now so I am trying to take advantage. Loki is looking really good for a furry, winter-coated beast. We had a decent ride just working on the basics. Our indoor is small so it really limits what we can accomplish and the outdoor footing is rock hard for the most part right now. But it is still nice to get out and ride.

Here is what we got for Christmas this year:

Tuffrider Thermo Manager Stable Blanket with my initials.

The fit is a tad big but decent and I love the material. I plan to use it mainly as a cooler.

Ecogold Coolfit XC saddle pad in black. Unfortunately my saddle needs less of a half-pad than the one I currently have but the Ecogold pad by itself isn't quite right either. It will take some playing with to get it perfect, I think.
My Mom also got me the Horseware Competition Jacket but unfortunately I need to exchange the size. It fit okay except the sleeves were way too tight. I have these things called muscles in the place of toothpick arms, well, at least that's what I'm going with! I'm hoping the next size up will work over all and not just be right in the sleeves and too big everywhere else.

All of that plus the reins my sister got me and I would say I had a very nice Christmas. My wish list is really shrinking. Most of the stuff that is left are all big ticket items like a new saddle and a horse trailer. Perhaps needless to say I am feeling quite spoiled.

Coming up I would like to do a review of 2013 post as well as set some actual goals for 2014. I have big plans/dreams for 2014 and this time I'd like to actually write them down and maybe keep track of them.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Post Christmas Tip of the Day

If you are going to the barn to try all your new things on your horse DO NOT FORGET YOUR IPHONE like I did. There will be no pictures to go with the post you were planning.

Oh well, I will try again tomorrow. I had an absolutely marvelous Christmas! It was beyond wonderful to be home and with all our family this holiday. This was truly one of the best Christmases I can remember. I did get some very nice things, one thing in particular that I, unfortunately, can't share with you quite yet but even if I had not gotten anything this would still have been great. I tend to be an out of sight out of mind person. I think you almost have to be in the military because otherwise you can spend way too much time being homesick. But, when you get to come home and re-experience all the things you'd almost forgotten you missed it just makes them that much more special. Did that even make sense? Well, anyways, I think you all got the point.

I'll share my treasures later other than this one thing. I did get a set of Nunn Finer Soft Grip reins from my sister. I rode in them today and I love them. They are truly a "soft grip." Every other set of rubber reins I've tried before I've hated but these just felt amazing, especially for my small hands. However, I have to say that I talked to my trainer about them and she hates them. She says that they are "too soft" and make it very hard to keep a consistent connection. I didn't feel that when I rode so I will keep using them but just something to keep in mind, I guess, if you are looking for new reins.

Loki was a very good boy. He's been full of energy every time I've ridden him lately. I guess when the ground is frozen they don't really do much so when we get into the arena he really wants to release some pent up energy. I can definitely feel his energy and my trainer said she could really see it, too, but despite that he still behaved himself like a true gentleman. Love my horse!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Question Thing

The weather was so beautiful today but I still didn't make it out to the barn. The holidays are definitely taking up some of my time. I'm looking forward to Christmas but it will be nice to hopefully have time to actually see and ride my horse again when the holidays are over.

So in the meantime I'm borrowing these 30 questions originally seen on Viva Carlos. Hey, why reinvent the wheel?

1. If your horse could talk what would they say or what would they be like?

We jokingly refer to Loki as the stoner at my barn. His favorite thing to do when he gets turned out is to stand and get high (a.k.a. crib) on the fence post. 

2. If you were a horse what would you look like, what discipline would you compete in and what would you be like to ride? 

Oh, I would totally be a spunky little pony, probably a gray who would enjoy rolling in the mud and muck right after a bath and right before shows. I'd be a very forward, challenging and fun ride for kids who can ride well but surprisingly forgiving for the beginners and nervous riders. 

3. How many barns have you ridden at? 

This is a tough one because I've lived in so many different places. As far as barns I've boarded a horse I would say there have been at least 10. If I were to count barns I've ridden at but didn't board then maybe 15 or 16, but that is just an estimate. 

4. What kind of bay do you prefer? 

I like my bay the best of course but in general I would say I like dark or seal bays the most. 

This is the best bay for me, hands down.

5. Can you braid a horse's mane? tail?

Yes but not super well. I have braided Ghazal's tail before but it was many years ago and I wasn't the best at it even then. I really like the dressage/eventer look for tails better, mainly because it is easier. 

6. Do you believe you have to fall off in order to be a good rider? 

This is kind of a funny question. I don't think falling off will suddenly make you a "good" rider but it is important to not be afraid to fall and to realize that falling off will happen at some point if you ride long enough. 

7. What do you think is more important: eq or effective riding? 

Effective riding is definitely more important but funnily enough good eq generally leads to effective riding, not always but most of the time. A lot of it is about the "naturalness" of your eq. If you spend too much time worrying about how you look you will not be as effective but if your eq is good because it comes effortlessly from years of practice then you will be quite effective. 

8. Are there any "horse couples" at your barn?


9. Favorite treat to feed your horse?

Peppermints. I know, not the best thing to give him, but it is easy and he absolutely loves them. He can hear the crinkle of the wrapper from quite far away. 

10. Silly quirks your horse has? 

He really doesn't have many but lately he has decided that he really wants to know what I am doing. When I first got him I could stand him in the cross ties and groom him and pull his mane and just take my time doing whatever and he would just stand there. Now when I'm trying to brush his mane or I'm anywhere near his neck or shoulder he is constantly trying to back up or look back at me to see what I'm doing. It's really cute but a little annoying when I'm trying to pull his mane. 

11. Strangest thing you've fed your horse?

Can't think of anything strange I've fed him but the race trainer we bought him from said that he loved Doritos, not the regular flavor but some kind of spicy version. I can't remember other than it had jalapenos in it which I find very strange indeed. 

12. Have you ever made any horse friends through the internet? 


13. Would you buy horse furniture?

I guess, depending on what it was/is.

14. Funniest horsey moment? 

Boy, I'm not sure. There have been a lot of them over the years. Ghazal was good at making me laugh nearly every day. One of Ghazal's nicknames is mother hen because he was so herd bound. One time a large group of us went on a trail ride. It was very hilly and as we were coming down a very long, steep hill Ghazal and I were in the middle of the pack. Three horses got down ahead of us and they cantered off. When we got to the bottom there were still three or four other horses coming down the hill. Ghazal was practically beside himself not sure whether to catch up or wait. We literally cantered in place for a few steps while he hollered. I was so busy laughing at him it was pure luck I didn't slide right off. 

15. Post a picture of your horse (or any horse) making a silly face you got on camera. 

The best I could find tonight. This was Bugs and he was more interested in what was going on around him than letting me put his bridle on. Being short is a pain!!

16. What's a moment with horses you wished you caught on camera?

I wish I had more pictures of Ghazal when he was younger. The invention of digital cameras has done wonders for taking and keeping photos. 

17. How old was the youngest horse you've met?

One day old. My sister had her mare, Sharea, bred to Ghazal's sire and her horse Z was the result.

 18. Hold old was the oldest horse you've met? 

I've met some old guys before but I don't know the exact age, mid to late 30s easily. 

19. Opinion on colorful tack? 

Well keep in mind that I grew up riding long distance I'm pretty sure we invented colorful tack! Ghazal has a purple bridle somewhere. I don't mind it in certain disciplines but I have certainly come to appreciate nice, conservative leather. 

20. Have you ever tried horse treats? Hay?


21. Have you ever felt like giving up on a horse? 

Unfortunately, yes. A few years ago I thought Bugs was going to be my forever horse but we just never quite got it together. 

22. Tell the story of the first horse that you first felt "click" with you immediately.

Well, I guess the closest I have to that was the very first time I ever sat on Loki. I hadn't really noticed him much until that day when my trainer told me to give him a try but when I sat on him there was definitely some sort of magical moment that sure felt like a click. 

23. Ever ridden side-saddle? How was it?

No I've never tried. I'm not sure I would even want to. 

24. Most interesting place you've ridden?

Well riding down the suburbs of Okinawa to the beach and then into the East China Sea is pretty interesting I guess. 

25. What kind of horse do you like? (draft, sport, stock, endurance, etc)

Definitely sport and endurance horses are my favorites.

26. Do you feel like you have more patience with horses than people? 

Sometimes for sure. 

27. Is the horse you ride very vocal? 

Loki no but Ghazal, definitely. 

28. Ever ridden in the sunset? 

Yes, and at the beach at that!

29. How do you like a horse's mane (roached, pulled, long, etc)

Totally depends on the horse. Ghazal's mane is long and Loki's is short. 

30. What is your dream name for a horse? 

It changes. Loki was the name at the time I named Loki. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Blogger Gift and Contest Winner

A very exciting night here! First of all I got my blogger Christmas gift from Tracy at Fly On Over. Tracy is also the person who set the blogger exchange up. A HUGE thank you for both the gift and putting everything together. I was probably not the most exciting person to shop for but I am still very grateful. You see I have an addiction. Even though I am old(er) now I still secretly love Breyer horses. But I don't really collect them anymore with one exception. I collect the Breyer Christmas ornaments. I'm not sure how many I have now but at least close to 20 I would imagine. So for my gift I got this:
It's the Man-O-War ornament! It is absolutely perfect because I own an OTTB  now and Loki even has lines back to Man-O-War. Granted they are pretty far back but still. Again, thank you so much Tracy!

Here are a few of the other ornaments on my tree:

There are many more. I think in another year or two I might have to have two Christmas Trees. One just for my Breyer and horse ornaments and one for all the rest.

Okay, and now to the winner of the FFI t-shirts. For the contest I decided to include my kids in the fun so I put everybody's name in a basket and had my kids draw names for me. Elaina drew for the medium shirt first:
She wants to be a game show host!
And the winner is Kalin from Cash's Steppin' Up
Next Evie drew for the large t-shirt:
And the winner is Sprinkler Bandit!
And finally Weston drew for the small t-shirt:
And the winner is Lindsey from Alchemy Eventing!
Please send your contact info to a sh a rr i tt @ gmail . com. Thanks to everyone who participated!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Attitude Adjustment

I made it out to the barn to ride today! I'm so excited about it because there has not been much riding or even barn time over the past three weeks. Starting with the USEA convention and then all the snow I just haven't been able to get out. If it wasn't one thing, volunteering at my kids's schools, it was another, doctor's appointments.

It is always amazing to me how much time spent with your horse can change your attitude. I think in the summer/spring/fall when I'm getting out to the barn on a much more regular basis I forget how much it helps. In the winter when things are cold, dark and dreary missing the barn for any length of time can put me straight in the dumps sometimes before I even realize it. I often am not even aware of how bad my attitude is until I get to the barn and have it adjusted.

Part of my bad attitude was saying goodbye to my Mom's dog, Gizmo. He was around 14 or 15 and we will miss him. He was such a sweet heart. Seriously I wish our dogs had longer lives. :(
R.I.P. Giz. This photo was at least 10 years ago
Loki and I just did a quick ride in the indoor. He's lost a little muscling along his top-line but otherwise is looking pretty good. I do think he's lost a tad bit of weight but it is hard to tell how much of that is muscle from being out of work and how much might actually be fat. Nothing I'm worried about right now but I'll be keeping an eye on him to make sure he doesn't lose any more weight.

Our indoor is very small so it is hard to ride for any real length of time. To warm up I just had him walk on a free rein and practiced steering with just my legs. It's amazing how good he has gotten with that. I only had to touch the reins once or twice when we were close to the out gate. Otherwise I could steer him anywhere even into the wall or a corner with no reins.

We did some trotting and cantering as well but nothing too exciting. Of course I forgot to take pictures. So here are some random pictures of our last lesson. :)

I really need to work on not moving my upper body at the canter
Oh, and I will have the results of the FFI T-shirt giveaway tomorrow. Thanks to all of you who participated!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Oldie Goldies

I ran across these old photos in my photo album today. I'm not sure if I've ever shared them on here before or not. These were from the first "real" horse show Ghazal and I ever entered. It was so much fun dressing up for the native costume class and I'm glad we at least got a picture out of it. I ended up scratching the class because it was pretty muddy in the arena and the girl who owned the costume was afraid it would get ruined.

Ghazal was such a handsome boy! He was also full of himself while managing to be completely herd bound at the same time. I was completely enamored, lol. I wish I could figure out a way to have both of my boys at the same place where I could work and ride them both. I know Ghazal still has many years left to give.

EDIT: No I am not wearing a helmet. I hardly ever did as a teenager. But now that I am older and wiser I am a very strong advocate for always wearing a helmet, every ride, even if it does ruin your pretty costume. Thinking back on it and how nutty my horse was and half the Arabs in those classes were I think my Mom was crazy for not insisting I wear a helmet! Ignorance is bliss I guess. But seriously kids wear a helmet!!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Drop The Dang Reins!

I think by now most of us have seen this video:
Even after seeing it half a dozen times it still amazes me. Sometimes in riding the right decision is completely counter-intuitive. We want to hold on when we should let go, pull back when we should kick on, etc.

I'm pretty sure I did NOT let go of my reins when I had that bad fall back at the end of August. Original post here. While I don't know for sure because I was knocked unconscious and have no memory of the fall I just know myself and my first instinct is to not let go of the reins.

Consequently to that fall I've managed to screw up my left shoulder. It's been x-rayed and nothing is broken. I haven't had an MRI but we don't think anything is torn. I've been to physical therapy a few times now and my PT guy believes that my arm got yanked hard which caused some of the muscles in my shoulder to get hyper stretched which basically screwed them the heck up.

So I've been getting this procedure called dry needling done. Today was my third procedure. I think it is basically acupuncture with a different name but supposedly there are some differences. Anyways, it freaking hurts! I'm hoping I will finally start seeing some results because I have not slept an entire night uninterrupted since my accident, well at least not without some powerful aids which I really don't like to take. I usually wake up around 3am with my shoulder killing me.

So anyways the moral of the story is when in doubt let go of the reins!!

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Very Cool Gift!

I went to our Boarder's Christmas Party on Saturday and my trainer gave me this:

Apparently my farrier bent Loki's shoes and gave them to L and then she proceeded to put them together with wire and strung some beads and letters on and voila! I really like it, very thoughtful and something I'll cherish.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Horses In My House Part 3: Everywhere Else

The family room, or is it the living room? I can never keep which one is which straight anymore.

Our Entertainment Center with just a couple of horse accents
Porcelain Breyer. One of my favorite pieces
Close up
Breyer Mantle clock actually on a mantle.
Arab painting. Sorry the color looks awful. The walls really aren't yellow.
The living room:
My screen I got in Japan. Again, sorry for the crappy lighting
We were in the middle of putting the tree up when I took this.
The dining room:

The entry way:
Entry table with my favorite books and book ends
Close up
Coat rack that we use for our keys and stockings during Christmas
Well there you go. That is pretty much all of the horses in my house. You can probably tell there is a major Arabian theme for most of them. That is because most of these items were bought many years ago when I was still in the "Arab world" much more than I am now and because I will always have a special place in my heart for Arabians. But I would really like to change some of my art work at some point to include some eventing or hunter/jumper or dressage themes. But art is expensive and way down on the priority list. I don't expect anything to change anytime soon.