Looking Up

Spring is in the air, and things are finally looking up around here!! My life is falling back into place and I couldn’t be happier. Sure, school work is piling up- and let me tell you it’s hard to focus on school with my first endurance ride just around the corner, and I still work a miserable job. But the sun is shining, my horses are ready for riding and I think I’ll be ok.

At school in the health center there is a mental health department that offers free counseling/therapy service to full-time students, and I’ve been going every week for about a month now. I really like my counselor and she’s helping me with a lot of my depression/self loathing issues that made for such a miserable winter. A big part of my self esteem issues is not feeling feminine, ever. So we’re working on some things to help with that. Saddle time always makes me feel better, too.

Joey and I are conditioning twice a week, and with every ride we get closer to our goals. I have more horse left at the end of every ride, and every week that goes by is another week closer! One thing I will be very glad about is getting the heck out of this desert for the ride. The beach is only 1 1/2 hours away, I don’t know why I don’t go more,Β  I think I’m scared that my trailer can’t handle the distance. I’m going to go out to the local river to ride in the next couple weeks though, that will be a nice change of pace.

Last week I rode over to my friends house in the next town over, and it was such a fun ride! At first Joey seemed a little peeved that we weren’t turning around for home at all, but then when he realized we were headed for a little community and there were horse friends there for him he pricked up his ears and we were on our way!! He does really well by himself, but I think he gets a little lonely. When we ride with other horses he tends to get a little competitive when we go faster than a walk, but we’re working on it πŸ™‚

When we got there he was already pulsed down to 60 and I had a lot of horse left. I had my trailer parked out there so I drove him home, but I could’ve easily let him eat lunch and take a break then turn around and ride right home. Maybe that will be our next milestone!!

Joey likes to be involved in everything we do, girthing, brushing, checking pulse. He’s a sweetie!!

Well that’s all for now, I promise I’ll try to be more diligent about updating this πŸ™‚

Realizations

I’ve realized some things over the past few months, and I thought I’d share.

1) He’s not coming. The prince on a white horse who is going to come into your life, sweep you off your feet and bring you eternal bliss? Just a fantasy. You will meet men who you can love, and men who will love things about you. They will love how you make them feel, they will love certain things about you, how you make their lives convenient, how you boost their egos, but they won’t really love you for you. No one but you and your parents will ever really love you for you, so you better step it up and get secure with yourself.

2) The path to happiness is paved by you & you alone. The best way to get their is to decide what kind of person you want to be, and strive to be that person every single day,and you’ll find happiness in the process.

3) Girlfriends and horses are prices. Never let anything interfere with your relationship with them and keep them close to your heart, in good times & bad.

I’m Back

It’s been a while, but I’m back.

Relationship issues kept me away from my keyboard for the past few months. A three year relationship that is now effectively a sinking ship has been consuming my life. Deciding wether or not to save it has been on my shoulders and the weight has been so much to bear, I can feel myself breaking down as I write this.

I’ve decided to pick this blog back up again and take it in a different direction. Instead of focusing just on endurance riding, or trail riding, or training, or conditioning, I’m just going to make it about my life as a horse woman and a 20 year old girl. There will be ups and downs and bumps along the way, but that’s life.

I did have a great opportunity recently, I have a new addition to my horse family. Red Man’s Puzzle D, barn name Joey, was given to me by the woman who started Tiffany under saddle (and did such a wonderful job). I’m so grateful to her for this generous gift, he is such a talented, good boy. She decided she wanted to focus on her dressage riding and Joey the foxtrotting trail horse didn’t fit it. I’m so happy to have him here and am looking forward to a summer full of adventures.

little joey has a kissy face

As it stands I’m at a weird place in my life where I don’t really know where I am going or what I am doing. And admittedly, I’m scared. All I can do is take things one day at a time and ride like the wind.

Sick!

I noticed myself sneezing and coughing yesterday but I chose to ignore it. Today? Full-blown sick. I’m sure my weak immune system has nothing to do with my healthy diet of Taco Bell & Easy Mac. (I should change that, maybe once I get better). I just downed some day-quil and am getting ready for work in a bit. Tiffany is sick too. I went out this morning and she seemed like she didn’t feel good then I noticed she has a runny nose. I’m going to do some research on what to give horses when they have a cold. I think it’s just this time of year!

Easy Cruising & Ugly Scenery

A few days ago we brought my friend’s horse home from the trainer. Pharaoh, who, before he left to the trainer had earned the nickname “Alpo,” came home a different horse. My friend was a little nervous to bring him home because she wasn’t sure she could keep up his training and was scared of letting him slide back into his “Alpo” state. The solution? Ride. Two days ago we went for a very short trail ride, short because I was riding her 26 year old foxtrotter and he can’t go for very long. Tiffany was off because she had recently seen the chiropractor. Today, however, I was able to take Tiffany out and we cruised 5 or 6 miles at an easy pace. We had one very short stretch where we gaited, Tiffany picked up her foxtrot and held it nicely, Pharaoh’s is still in development but once he’s “set” it will be amazing!!

Pharaoh is a foundation bred 7 year old Missouri Fox Trotter. He’s sabino but he looks very red this winter! He is absolutely gorgeous, and I think once he settles in he’s going to be quite a ham!

Today I used my old western saddle on Tiffany, the one the chiropractor said to use. Only I put my good rigging on it and secured the back with a rear cinch. I check it for bridging and found none, but I’m still unsure about the front of the saddle. Tonight I’ll be watching a saddle fitting video from About the Horse, then I should be able to come up with my own conclusions about the fit my various saddles. Yay!! Exciting!

We had a wind and rain storm last night which made for some VERY ugly riding today. No plants, not even tumble weeds. JustΒ  a vast expanse of suck.

We had a nice ride even though the terrain was ugly, and I can’t wait until my friend feels confident enough on Pharaoh for us to trailer to some pretty places!! Tomorrow Tiffany and I are going to do some obstacle work, so we’ll see how that goes! Until next time πŸ™‚

A Change of Pace

I apologize for the lack of posts recently. Finals week is a difficult time for us college students! There have been some interesting goings on recently. Tiffany developed a strange knot behind her withers near her spine, it felt like a knot a person would get in their back. I called out the chiropractor and he made some interesting comments on Tiffany’s suitability for endurance riding.He said that because her right front foot dishes out a bit she is compensating for it somewhere, and the strain of endurance conditioning and riding would be too much for her and I would always be dealing with some sort of issue.

While I don’t 100% agree with him that she would not stay sound doing endurance his comments have led me to reconsider my purpose and my goals, and to view this adventure practically. Endurance was my dream, not my horse’s, and it would be unfair to push her until she broke chasing something that isn’t hers to chase. The last thing I want to do is push my horse too hard. I’ve been doing some research and I came across the American Competitive Trail Horse Association. They sponsor short (6-10 miles) rides and the rides feature judged obstacles. It looks very low-key and relaxed, and I know Tiffany could handle that. I also think that she would probably enjoy it more because the obstacles require brain work, and she really enjoys putting that noggin’ of hers to work! Also I wouldn’t be as pressured to keep her or me in peak physical condition for endurance riding, and that would be good considering my schedule consists of working and going to school full time in addition to my equestrian responsibilities. In all, I’ve decided that the ACTHA would be a better fit for myself and my horse than AERC, simply because of my busy schedule and her tastes and talents.

I’ve decided to keep up the blog and just shift the focus away from AERC endurance riding to ACTHA competitive trail riding. We’ll be working on obstacles, going on fun trail rides, and developing our relationship and skill set. I think the blog will be just as enjoyable, maybe even more so!

At first I was sad about not being able to do distance riding but the more I think about this new endeavor the more excited I become. I can’t see it doing anything but adding joy into my life. I like to have goals and something to work toward, and I think that ACTHA will give me that without the stress of having to keep my horse in top condition. I think it will be a perfect pace.

I want to add that I’m not totally convinced Tiffany couldn’t do endurance. The chiropractor had his opinions but he was not educated about gaited horses and didn’t seem particularly educated about endurance horses. I know lots of people who complete rides on horses that are not anatomically perfect and they stay sound and happy for a very long time. I really do think that most sound horses can complete a 25 mile ride with the proper conditioning.However, there is a reason for everything and I think there was a reason I heard those comments and I think my horse and I will be happier on this new road, even if the other is not an impossibility. If not, there’s always next year! πŸ™‚

Tense Butt, Tense Back

We’ve all heard the adage “high hands, high head,” but how many have made the connection between tension in their body (butt) and tension in their horses’ backs? Admittedly, this is an issue that most concerns gaited riders who are trying to avoid the pace but I think it’s practical to apply it to all riders. Endurance horses are expected to travel great distances at fairly high speeds while carrying a rider. A horse with a lot of tension in his/her body for that amount of time won’t stay sound in the long term.

I’ve been thinking about this recently because of some gaiting issues I’m having with Tiffany. She’s naturally multi-gaited and prefers to saddle rack. While this is wonderfully comfortable and comes to her very easily, to perform it she has to carry herself in a ventroflexed position, even if it’s only slightly. She’s already started to develop a racker’s bump and I can’t expect her to stay sound long-term if I’m going to be riding her in a ventroflexed frame for 25 miles at a time, it’s just not good for her structure. She is capable of performing the flatwalk, running walk, and foxtrot as well, but out on the trail she has a hard time relaxing into one of those other gaits. To get to one of those gaits I have to release ALL of the tension from my body to get her to release ALL of the tension from her back that is so necessary for the racking gaits. This is a bit more challenging then it sounds, but we’re coming along.

I’ve been thinking about how tension in the back might affect a trotting horse and I’ve come to the conclusion that it would be much the same as in a gaited horse. Tense back=high head, ventroflexed frame= unsoundness down the line. Even though endurance horses aren’t judged or performing difficult maneuvers, it seems to me like it is of the upmost importance for them to carry themselves in a correct frame during a ride. As riders we have to get that frame by taking long deep breaths and relaxing our butts!! Horses are capable of extreme sensitivity, and a tense butt makes for a tense back, which makes for a bad frame and an unsound horse. So I implore you,go for a nice, round frame, and relax your tush!