A little more conversation

Since this is my first foray into having a horse in full training at a barn that’s “away” from me it got me thinking on what is normal in terms of communication from the trainer and what is either above and beyond or falling wildly short.

Currently I am super happy with how and how often J is communicating with me. In the beginning I got more pictures and near daily updates via text, now that Phoebe is good and settled my updates are more once a week unless something odd is happening. Such as a lost shoe (fingers crossed we are DONE with that nonsense) or her more recent chiro/acupuncture updates.

Miss that scarred nose and the classic Phoebe “who, me?” face.

So certainly more is better (at least for me) in terms of communication FROM the trainer. But what about communication from the client end? I mean yeah, we all obviously care a great deal about our horses and they are our babies. Are you a helicopter parent? More laissez-faire? How do you balance the desire for ALL THE INFORMATION with realizing that your pro also has other clients, students, and personal horses demanding their time and attention as well? Certainly this is simpler when you are at the barn at least weekly and can have a quick face to face with your trainer. While Phoebe is only an hour and a half away, it’s been difficult for me to make time to get up and see her on the weekends, and J isn’t there on weekends normally anyways so it’s a moot point.

You could just relax like Jack the wonder dog. Life is so much easier when you’ve got that zen happening Phoebes.

However little Miss is back in work and her first day after a little over two weeks off was reported to be like “flying a kite and a tornado” hahaha. That’s my girl for you. She’s gonna be a 5-6 rides a week horse for the forseeable future. She has settled back into the routine and fingers crossed that J has no more head injuries, not even mild ones!

 

Grabby hands

Do you ever get like this serious urge to just like SHOP.

No rhyme or reason, nothing really on the need list but still. The wants. I have them. I fear if I buy even the most inexpensive item on my list it will just open the floodgates and in like ten minutes I will have no money but I will have so many new pretties to use/look at.

I am currently lusting over:

PS of Sweden softy supergrip reins


I have two of their bridles and only one pair of reins. This is unacceptable. I love these reins, they are the perfect width for my hands, grippy without being sticky and they are nice and flexible! Naturally I need 2 pairs because, one for my PS of Sweden bridle with crappy $20 webbed reins and a spare. Who doesn’t need spare reins???

BlackJak Refinery Browbands

I have no fancy browbands. This needs to be remedied. I can’t even decide which one I want the most. Do I want to go rainbow? Or rainbow? Something slightly badass for my mare who is best described as a nervous marshmallow? Or just channel the world’s best tack ho Aimee and get them all? Obviously the last option here is the best.

Le Mieux Saddle Pads


I loved the shaped xc pads, currently have no use for them, but who cares. In black, to match the color of my heart. I don’t really care for white pads on grey horses, mainly because it just serves to point out how I failed at grooming them.

Unicorn shoes


There is no explanation necessary here. They are shoes. With unicorns. I can wear them to the office. I can wear them on the weekends. They’re clearly a neutral and will match everything I own.

Lisa Frank Leggings


They’re hideous and I love them. Ok so maybe I am not so secretly in love with all the pink and rainbow and unicorns and all the other 9 year old girl stuff. Don’t even care. I’m unashamed. To be clear I wouldn’t spend this much on unicorn leggings. I mean maybe I would. Idk. Undecided.

Sunset Rope Halters and lead

Like this. But as a halter not a bridle.

I have big plans for making Phoebe reasonably safe on the trails when she comes back and they involve trailering out with Sheri’s super calm trail horse Donny and I’ll hand walk Phoebes behind in a rope halter (control ok??). This rope halter will be pink. And maybe purple.

KY Bridleworks Leather halter

While I am off buying halters I may as well get a fancy schmancy leather one for all the shows and clinics and just general elegance in our future. I already have a nameplate ready and waiting.

Pampeano Belt


I am currently in the camp of only buying C4 belts on sale (cheap, easy and i love them) So a leather belt in this price range seems like the pinnacle of luxury to me. I love it. It’s going on my Christmas list.

 

Oh and if anyone knows of a pink lightweight cooler to be had….like a summer weight cooler that’s good quality… That’s also on my list.

 

Cure for what ails you. Alternatively titled: You CAN go home again, and again, and again.

I have been looking for some opportunities with trainers closer to home to get some more structured saddle time. As in lessons. While I am able to ride Sheri’s grumpy Connemara TBx whenever I wish, being in any kind of regular lesson program is something I have been desperately missing.

In my area there aren’t a ton of barns that have many lesson horses (see cost of living) for the more “advanced” (not just the up down kids) students so I had reached out to a few with good reputations and came up with zilch. If I wanted to ride with them I needed to be either leasing a horse, which none were available, or on my own and they do not travel so I would need to ask Sheri to haul me and her horse to whatever farm for a lesson. Which is something I’m not willing to ask, she has enough going on without pity hauling her pony all over the place for me.

So I called my #1. The woman who started it all and has been the single most influential person in my life thus far. Probably will hold that title until my death to be honest. I started riding with her at about 11 years old, then stopped when I went to college, then graduated, came back and rode with her again in my early 20’s, then left and rode elsewhere for a bit, bought my own ponies, and now here we are again.

Home again home again jiggity jig.

Name plates of the lesson horses that are now resting on the other side. Except for Berrie, because he was just re-homed recently and is very much alive.

Tr #1 (also has a J name but that’s just too confusing) has a high school student who owns a horse but is unable to come out as often as she wants, and therefore this little monster is available for extremely flexible partial leasing and lessons. SIGN ME UP.

I was around when the kid purchased this little dude and I just remember seeing him and thinking that he just had the most glorious tail I’d ever seen and I loved him immediately.

SOOO fluffy

Max is about 15.2, age….maybe early teens? I’m not totally sure on that though so don’t quote me. He is a Morgan who has been mainly a pony clubber horse from what I understand, and he rides just like a pony.

Our first lesson could not have come on a better day, it was one of those days where you just kind of want to curl into the fetal position and whine for an unknown amount of time. It was mainly a getting to know you type deal with some microscopic (small because I requested it!!) jumps thrown in as well as a gallop up a hill by the arena. Immediate attitude adjustment on my part. All it takes is getting my butt in a saddle and it’s like a switch flips and I’m no longer encumbered by a dark cloud.

Must reach grass. Clearly am wasting away.

So I came away with the following notes:

1: I know intellectually what to do and what body parts to put where to get x results. My body however has other plans it seems.

2: Suddenly my confidence is super low, when did this happen? Here’s hoping it will get built right back up in no time.

3: Max rides somewhat similar to Alley Oops. He has a major right shoulder bulge and he kind of has that pony attitude where you can tell he might test you a bit with some nappiness and a crow kick here and there but nothing that bothers me or I can’t correct.

4: Despite my terrible piloting he jumped whatever I got him in front of. Granted nothing was over 2′ so we will see how that goes as the heights creep up. Tr #1 laughed at me when I told her to make things super small and I know she will have me back cruising around 3′ in short order.

Just a super cute dude who can’t get enough face scratches. 

I am really excited to be back in lessons/leasing and Max seems like a super fun little guy, albeit the exact opposite of Phoebe. There are a few other horses there that I might be getting some saddle time on as well, and the more the better!

All quiet on the Western front

Not a ton to report while J has been out of commission doing some very important healing.

Phoebe had a chiro and acupuncture appointment with the vet her training barn uses and they had some great feedback for me. The vet thinks Phoebe is SUPER athletic  and some of her issues are simply a lack of strength (to be expected) combined with huge movement that she can’t yet control. She also has weak stifles so she can’t sit and use her hind end leg properly.

Buffy the Egg Layer and Sunny in the hayloft. Buff likes to hang out up there daily and while she has no problem walking UP the stairs she can’t or won’t walk DOWN the stairs so she just waits for someone to carry her down.

Phoebe is also body sore on the left side (see: only wants to canter right) along with zero mobility up and down in her sacrum/coccyx. None of this is entirely new information but it’s always nice to have a practitioner you haven’t used before give feedback that is in line with what you know to be true about your horse.

I miss seeing this goober face every day more then I expected. 

Chiropractic manipulation is not new to Phoebes but acupuncture is and she DID. NOT. LIKE. THE. NEEDLES. They ended up having to use cat sized needles and going very slowly haha. We will do a recheck in 4-6 weeks and see where Little Miss is at that point. Here’s hoping she holds her adjustment as long as possible!

Unexpected pause 

Phoebe has had some time off this past week. J was at Aspen Farms HT and took a little spill from her horse and is dealing with a minor concussion. While it’s a bummer that Phoebe has just been eating hay and looking pretty for a week I am so thankful that J and her horse will be no worse for the wear in short order.

 

Hard work is HARD!

Phoebe was also dealing with some soreness her new workload has caused and I’m certain that the extra days off will give her a nice rest and fingers crossed that J is feeling better very soon!

On a slightly lighter note, guess who has kept her shoes on for almost two full weeks???

 

I hope I didn’t just jinx myself…….

How much are you willing to sacrifice?

Karen over at Patently Bay brought up an interesting point the other day with her post about commitment and what that really means in regards to being a horse person. While I absolutely agree with her points I found myself thinking more about what you are willing to sacrifice financially in order to have horses as a major part of your life.

I live in a suburb of Seattle. That should tell you right off the bat that I live in an outrageously expensive area. Both for human and equine cost of living. It is average in this area to pay $800/mo for board, and for that you get a trainer on site (usually), our version of turnout (small, no grass, lots of mud), and a covered arena with lights. Add in farrier ($145 for a full set on average), any specialized supplements/grain/other maintenance, training or lessons and if you don’t have tons of disposable income you’re quickly priced out of horse ownership.

So how do I, with a relatively low income, afford not only a horse, but afford to keep her in full training with no set end date?

Sacrifices.

I live on my friend’s farm where I pay essentially the cost of utilities for myself, and the cost of hay for my horse. The deal with me living here is that I am overnight child care for when Sheri is on call (works in the medical field), I do the evening feed and turnout, as well as full animal care of the horses, chickens, dogs, and cat when Sheri is out of town. I also do my best to help when bigger projects need to get done such as replacing fencing, winterizing the barn, and we alternate taking half a day off work to be here for the farrier.

Not so bad by the farm

My living space is in a converted barn and it’s pretty much set up like a giant studio apartment. But the kitchen…it’s… little.

 

Yeah… The cabinet door fell off in my hand..when I opened it too enthusiastically. The hinge broke in half and I just never got around to replacing it.

It’s a 3/4 size oven, no dishwasher, the tiny bit of counter I have is always filled with drying dishes. And my appliances. My appliance tower I should say. Mini fridge, then microwave, then coffeemaker. As someone who LOVES to cook and bake it can certainly be a challenge but I’ve never once felt frustrated by the…compact size.

Now being a converted barn, and not a well converted one, I also deal with unwanted house guests. Mainly mice and wolf spiders.

It’s the worst when you wipe your face with a towel and realize one of these guys is hiding on the towel. Ask me how many times THAT’S happened. Too many. It’s happened wayyy too many times.

Don’t get me wrong, I am lucky to live here and I am beyond lucky to be able to keep a horse literally in my backyard. But still. It would be nice not to have to stand on my tiptoes to fill the coffeemaker in the mornings.

In regards to being able to afford full training for Phoebe, I simply got a second job. I spent every Sunday from 8am-3pm mucking stalls for $12 an hour. There were 10 paddocks and 30 stalls and I was the only stall cleaner on Sundays, and this particular barn wanted the stalls essentially stripped daily, sprayed down with an odor control spray, and re-bedded. Talk about manual labor. I worked there until I had enough saved up to pay cash for 90 days worth of training. I also chose to send Phoebe to a trainer that was over an hour drive from me not only because I feel she is an excellent trainer, but J is also on average $400 a month cheaper then the trainers I would have used locally.

And of course, I also make my own coffee, I bring my lunches to work, I don’t buy hardly any new clothes/shoes/etc, I don’t go out to eat, to bars, or really to the movies. I rarely buy new tack, I haven’t had a lesson in WAY too long, and of course there are no showing expenses in the near future.

Being able to walk outside and see Donny make his fake grumpy face at Phoebe anytime of day? Worth it a thousand times over.

 

Sunny and the new world order

Well, as mentioned in this post, there have been some changes around the homestead for me and the chubby pup.

A lot less of this going on for both of us

Treat consumption is limited (both human and canine), and walks are on the increase. now its time to rip off the bandaid and start running again. Sunny is pretty clear how she feels about this.

 

How quickly she (and I!!) lose steam…

It is VERY slow going currently. Two and a half miles of walk/run intervals is about it. So I guess that means I can only go up? Here’s to inching my way back to ten mile shape.