Thursday, January 29, 2015

Winter Whine

"Bits and response time in the real world of cross country galloping and jumping----
There are realists and theorists in this world, and the theorists will look you right in the eye, and declare, with all the fervor of an evangelist, that every horse, properly trained and ridden, should be light and obedient in a plain snaffle.
To which I would respond, "Here, Sonny, are the reins to old Thunderball. There is the cross country course. Please demonstrate your theories in real time."
(And see if you can get him to make out the life insurance policy in your name before he leaves the starting box.)
Because this is a war zone, not a dressage arena, and the rules and theories which apply in one are not always the same when blood runs high, teeth are bared, and the adrenaline is pumping.
Use a bit that damn well works, when you sit up and say, "Whoah, nice horsie" would be my advice.
Or have a wreck, whatever floats your boat." ~Denny Emmerson
Gotta love Denny! lol. I don't agree 100% with everything he posts but probably about 99% and his facebook posts are always interesting and often funny.
Random, cute puppy pic. Pixel does not know she is supposed to be a cold loving dog!
I'm sort of in a plateau of sorts with Loki right now. We are stuck in the indoor because of the weather and our indoor is just too small for jumping. You could set one or maybe two jumps up if you really wanted but really there just isn't enough room to do much. So we plod along working on the same things it feels like we've been working on forever. Mainly engage your hiney and get off my dang hands/your forehand! But, so much improvement even if it isn't perfect. We've been working on shoulder ins and some other simple lateral movements and Loki is starting to really loosen up a bit.

Loki trying out his new blanket.
I always start our rides just walking around on a loose ring and at least while in the arena I can steer Loki all over the place without once touching the reins. I'm still working on stopping without the reins, though. I have a feeling that might not be something he ever gets. Stop just doesn't seem to really be in his vocabulary. But honestly after about 25 minutes I start to get bored and think I really don't know what else to work on. We've also been trying to do lots of transitions including walk to canter transitions to continue to work on his engagement but it all does start to get stale after a while.

We do try to hack out when the ground/weather isn't too bad. The last time we did Loki acted like he hadn't seen open trail in eons and did this fun canter buck move for about a third of the ride. I know he is as bored as I am and I do try to vary our routine but dang I can't wait for spring to get here!

What are you guys doing to alleviate the winter duldrums?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

My Horse Husband

Lauren over at She Moved to Texas posted a great article about Horse husbands and how do you handle finances as a family unit. I was honestly surprised to see how many couples seem to keep their finances separate with the "horsey" spouse paying all the "horsey" bills. I just thought I'd share my experience which is quite a bit different.

My husband Jay and I got married when we were very young. He was only 19! I'm 2 years older. When we got married we had NOTHING, nada, zilch, zip and zero. Well, I take that back we both were already in possession of some lovely school debt so actually we had LESS than nothing. 

(Of course I had to have horses in my wedding.)
However, I did have Ghazal when we got married. Up until I went to college my parents paid most of the bills but when we got married we took responsibility. Of course board back then was only $150-$200 but considering we rented our first apartment for only $350 that should have been a pretty big sign as to what percentage horses were going to take from our finances. Basically my husband was well aware of horses and their cost from the beginning.

Since we both started with nothing we have always had shared finances and bank accounts and honestly I've never thought about doing it any other way. It's pretty easy to share nothing!

Some things have changed, though. I am for the most part a stay at home Mom with three kids. (I always feel the need to justify this but suffice it to say moving every 1-2 years for the past 10 makes having a career and making enough money to pay for child support for 3 kids damn near impossible. Me staying at home was actually the most financially feasible choice we had.) (And as another aside I feel compelled to say that no, I don't regret having children, I love them more than words can say and yes, it is a perfectly acceptable choice for someone to not have kids. Anyone else getting tired of all the facebook posts on "what not to say to a person with kids" or "what not to say to your single friends"??? Seriously, it's like we're all just sitting, waiting for someone to offend us so we can jump all over them.) Anyways, Jay makes more money now but there are a lot more expenses. On top of that I am much more into training/showing and the horse expenses have really skyrocketed from when I was just paying the basics of board, vet and farrier.

I can honestly say I am extremely lucky. I have a very supportive husband who would give me everything I asked for if he could. We've had plenty of rocks and hazards on our road (totally not exaggerating!) but one thing Jay has been very good about is always referring to money as "ours" our income, our debt, etc. We make financial decisions together and sure there are disagreements from time to time but maybe because this is how we've always done it for so many years compromising and finding the best path for both of us has always come fairly easy.

To me sharing finances is a matter of trust and that can be really hard and scary for most of us.
Knowing that Jay could literally "rock my world" if he were to ever decide he wanted something different is terrifying. But here is the thing I simply don't dwell on it. There are some things I have no control over so I dwell on the things that I can change like making sure my marriage is healthy. Sometimes this requires spending less time at the barn than I'd like or not getting to do as many shows, etc. I try to make sure I am investing as much in my marriage and family as I do in horses. This can be a hard balance sometimes and I don't always get it right. We horse people like to joke a lot about how horses are the most important things in our lives and sometimes I totally fall for it but in reality my family has to come first. When they come first there is always plenty of room for horses.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Winter Update: It feels like spring!

Hey Guys,

I'm still alive! I just thought I'd do a quick update of what's been happening in my world and why I've been so quiet. Here goes:

  • Most of December was spent with one or more family members with the flu. Literally I spent at least two and a half weeks at home nursing someone.
  • Christmas was good!
  • I got to have dinner with KAREN O'CONNER at the USEA Area VIII annual meeting!
  • Finally started a regular riding schedule just this week and also discovered that Loki does indeed have a buck in him.
And that pretty much sums up what the past two months have been like. We had two bouts of the flu go through our ranks. The first bout was just fever, aches and pains, etc. The second was a stomach bug and I can honestly say it has been years and years since I've been that sick. So because of all that, the weather and scheduling conflicts Loki got a very long winter vacation over the past two months. Literally there has been nothing to write about.

For Christmas Loki got a new fleece cooler from Smartpak and a Rambo rain sheet called a "mack in the sack."
I doubt it will get a ton of use but I did one show in the rain last year and I would have really loved to have had this then. Knowing Murphy I'll never get rained on at a show again... but then that would be kind of nice and still worth it. :)

And finally I got this:
 Love it!

Yes, I really did have dinner with Karen O'Conner and it was so fun. Basically what happened is my trainer and I decided to sit in the back at the meeting mostly because all the other tables were full. To our surprise Dorothy Crowell and her husband sat down at our table. Dorothy is a pretty big time eventer based in our area and her husband used to be Karen's groom. Dorothy heckled Karen throughout her speech and it was pretty funny. Afterwards Karen sat down at our table. She told some pretty awesome stories but what was really cool is she included us in the conversation just like we were all friends. Definitely something worth remembering.

And finally I did start riding regularly again this past week. The weather was super cold last week and the farm was literally one sheet of ice. Because of that the horses were stuck inside for four days. They got to take turns in the indoor but that was it. Subsequently my first couple of rides on Loki were a little wild. He wasn't really bad but yeah, he really can buck if he wants to. Although, his bucks sort of felt like he was just flopping leads so they aren't all that big of a deal but it was funny. By day three he was much better, still pounding the ground a little harder than necessary with his front feet but better and the last two days he's been very good. It's also been much warmer the past few days. It almost feels like spring today.

My goal from here on out is to write one blog post a week so if anyone is still reading I'll hopefully be more consistent from here on out!