Looking for the good

In a week that was overflowing with issues in my personal life there was one bright spot. I learned how to fold a fitted sheet! I mean, I had to YouTube it and watch the video several times but, I did it. That’s some next level adulting right there you guys.

Coping mechanism: chocolate mousse cake on my fav cockroach plate

Ok fine that wasn’t the highlight. I mean it did happen and I am super impressed with my sheet folding abilities but the saving grace all week was Phoebe. Fun fact, the name Phoebe is a latinized version of the Greek, Phoibe, meaning bright one. Living up to the meaning of her name indeed.

Every day she just keeps being her best self and (here’s hoping I don’t jinx myself) she hasn’t had a truly bad day in almost a month. She just shows up and tries her hardest to do what my fumbling amateur self asks and my confidence is slowly growing.

On Saturday Sheri and I loaded up her trail pony extraordinaire Donny and Phoebe for a little trip out into the great wide open. This was after some ill advised drowning of sorrows in to entirely too much wine the night before and I was…..feeling some after effects. Also Phoebe hadn’t been ridden in two days. So you know, pretty good prep for her first outing with me. OH, and I don’t know if she ties to the trailer (still don’t, we didn’t attempt it). You know, proper preparation prevents piss poor performances and all.

Smoooosh!

We are pretty lucky in that there are several state parks within a 20 minute drive that have both trails and arenas open to the public. Perfect for the pre ride lunge to assess the mental state of the grey lady. I came prepared with all lunging gear, a rope halter if we needed to just be led down the trail behind Donny, extra lead ropes for ponying if we were up to it, and of course, the xc vest.

When we unloaded there was a group of kids on Shetlands having a pony ride and oh man, Phoebe grew about 3 inches and would not stop staring at them. I mean, I get it, those things are tiny demons masquerading as equines. A very giraffe style handwalk around while Sheri tacked up Donny, then we “tied” Phoebe to the trailer and tacked her up.

Another handwalk around the arena to check it all out, a practically lazy spin on the lunge and we all got on and Sheri and Donny ponied us down the trail. There was some confused swinging haunches, a little hopping, but no real spooks, and it didn’t feel like I was sitting on a stick of dynamite. So major win right there. We managed a pretty narrow trail (too narrow to ride side by side), a wooden bridge with running water underneath, and then she started to hit her limit. There was some minor attempts at backwards running into the brush and a little rear, so that seemed as good a time as any to dismount while it was still my choice.

That’s the face of one brave pony!

So moral of the story, being too emotionally drained and hungover is the key to exuding the zen vibe currently needed hahaha. I am over the moon with her. She just keeps on surprising me in all the best ways you guys. My bright one.

 

With friends like these…

Who needs enemies, right? Hillary, I know you’re reading this and I’d just like to take this moment to publicly chastise you for not taking any pics/video of my ride this weekend! After all those jumps (three!!!) that I didn’t set up but like, I RAISED THEM FOR YOU TWICE!!! My god.

Now that that’s out of the way. My perfect little cinnamon sugar pony. I cantered her. Which, right now (and all last year) was just super anxiety inducing and I made all kinds of excuses to avoid it.

Working is soooo hard guys

Enter Hillary. That witch. She came over to jump around on Donny and basically told me that I was riding Phoebe and I was cantering and to just shut up about it. So I tacked up, wrapped my security blanket around myself, I mean put on my xc vest and got on. With Hillary’s voice drowning out the voice in my head I had some of the better trot I’ve gotten yet, and of course. The canter. And perfect pony was pretty perfect for where we are right now.

 

I’ve kind of been letting myself be much more a passenger and allowing Phoebe to stay a little sucked back and behind the leg. This has made it hard for me to stay with the motion, and I then feel less secure in the saddle, which naturally increases my anxiety. Which first off, letting her go around in this sluggy and hoppy trot is just bad training, and second, when I had her moving out at a more forward pace I felt a hell of a lot more secure and confident.

Currently Phoebes will trot around for a bit then just offer the canter randomly and instead of tensing up and asking her to stay at the trot (my soon to be old go-to) Hil reminded me of something our trainer used to say. Take any calm upwards transition as a gift and then ride them as if you asked for it on purpose.

 

So right now I need to just keep doing the thing. Keep riding and be more insistent about Phoebe actually moving forward, wear my security blanket/xc vest for confidence, and accept the canter as a gift when Phoebe offers it.

Also get Hillary to come out and hold my hand/yell at me to just quit overthinking everything and go for it. Eventers are supposed to be the brave ones after all.

Tell me how you REALLY feel

Phoebe.

My girl.

My sweet sweet, desperate to please pony. The mare who has not once ever pinned her ears at me or another horse. Never has she tried to nip me or even threaten.

Until last night.

She was clearly having A DAY. She got some hay when I got home from work and then I went back outside to tack her up and throw her on the lunge before I decided how much riding I would do. The little grey devil gave me her best attempt at #mareglare and threatened to nip me! To be clear, her attempt was pretty mild. I mean the ears were kind of back? And the nipping was about a mile away from me, just for her this was some serious grouch face.

Image result for stephanie tanner how rude gif

Phoebe was just on one all night too. It wasn’t a matter of anxiety or spooking at stuff, she was just plain old pissy and not focusing on me or what I was asking. It took some effort to keep her out on the circle, when she knows damn well that turning in and getting too close to me is NOT OKAY. She even included some of my favorite moves of hers that I haven’t seen in awhile, such as bucking the stirrups literally off of my saddle. Yep, was not going to be a good day to try and push anything so we just had some reminders at the mounting block about how nice horses stand still and don’t swing their hindquarters out, I hopped on and we stood there for a minute until she softened, then She got major praise and I got off and called it a night.

To be fair Phoebe’s in heat and has had less turnout then usual for the past few days which clearly has taken its toll! I just have to remember that when she has off days I still need to find something that she can do successfully and earn praise. All work and no praise makes Phoebe a dull girl and all that.

2017 Q3 Goals

Finally! Phoebe is home and it’s time to set down some real tangible goals for us. I count the first year of owning her as more like, rehab/downtime she never got from the track. Then the four months of training that was, well, it was what it was. So now we are shifting gears to “Phoebe is/will be a riding horse in full work” and that’s what the focus is going forward.

 

This face. Always in my business. 

 

By January 2018 I would like to accomplish the following:

Stand still at the mounting block-we were almost confirmed at this but it has been uninstalled during her time away.

Desensitizing ground work! Use Sheri’s son on the trampoline, riding his bike, throwing Frisbees, cones, pool noodles, tarps, etc. We live next to a park and Phoebe needs to just learn that various noises coming from a park/busy-ish road are no big deal and should be ignored.

Get off property-this doesn’t have to be under saddle trips, just want to get out and about and start learning that new places are boring and trailering is also boring.

Tie to the trailer-she may already know this one but it never hurts to confirm it.

Put my butt in the saddle 5-6 days a week-I am taking this one literally. If Phoebe is too up or I am just mentally not able to handle actually riding I won’t push it. But I WILL sit on her. Even if all I do is just mount, wait for a big calm breath, big pats, then dismount. It’s about the routine for both of us. The more often I can sit on her and have a positive experience the more we will learn to trust each other. So this is just about building those positive moments under saddle even if it’s just “good girl I sat on you and we stood there for a moment calmly”

Ride another horse once a week-Green horses can wreak havoc on your position, confidence, etc. So it’s important to me to make time for riding schooled horses. I have access to almost any horse at my lesson barn and can basically just text/call and either join in on a lesson or just hack around on my own. I also have Donny, Sheri’s older Conn/TB cross who I am able to ride literally any day or time I want. I’m lucky to have such easy access to trained horses and I need to take advantage of it.

 

I think that should keep me plenty busy for the next few months while staying achievable.

Looking in the mirror and the person staring back is me.

I think I have been putting some unnecessary baggage on Phoebe. We all anthropomorphize our animals to some degree and unfortunately I am guilty of that in a way that has been detrimental to both of us.

Derp pose. Also, whoaaa winter woolies are coming. 

I have this image of Phoebe as this super hot, reactive, spooky, anxious horse. And maybe when I got her that was true. When she had been injured in a less than ideal training program that put way too much pressure on her. But…that’s not really the case right now and I need to stop thinking of her like that you know? I’M the one with the anxiety now. Ok, I have dealt with anxiety my whole life soooo not like it’s recent or anything. However she’s been totally sane and good more days then not. Phoebe hasn’t really been nervous about the neighbors or the dog running around but I have.

That’s not to say she has magically transformed into some dead quiet mare, she hasn’t. There are still “special” moments, like all of last night for example. There were kids on bikes kind of behind our arena that you couldn’t really see since there are a few trees. So that of course warranted some seriously impressive snorting and giraffe impressions. There was also a mysterious chair on the lawn that WASN’T THERE BEFORE AND OH MY GOD IT MIGHT KILL ME. However the differences from before she went to training and now are pretty obvious. Her freakouts are shorter, way more controllable, and she mentally doesn’t check out so we go back to work or are able to stay on task and work through it.

Scared of the weird chair? Now you can live with it.

So what does that all mean for me? I’m the one having the issues basically. I’m the one who is nervous to canter, nervous to really insist on moving forward under saddle, etc. It’s me. Honestly realizing that has been a major relief. I can work on myself. As I said, anxiety has been an unwelcome guest in my life off and on for years now. I have healthy coping tools, I know when to seek help and there are resources/friends/etc at my disposal.

The plan right now is to just be kind to myself while at the same time sitting on my horse as often as possible. I need to realize that she is green, and green horses are changing constantly, and so far all of Phoebe’s changes have been for the better. I can’t sit on her and just radiate stress and anxiety when she is having a really good day, that would be 100% counterproductive. Like with anything, repetition is key. I need to have more positive experiences while my butt is in the saddle. And I need to be able to do that without unintentionally creating a situation where Phoebe bucks or bolts or what have you. So on the days when Phoebe is acting like the superstar I know is in there I will ride longer, do more, etc. On the days when no one is home, or when Phoebe is acting more tense, or just if I am in a bad head space, I will lunge and just walk. Or I will just mount up and sit on her for a bit. I won’t beat myself up about not doing more for right now. My anxiety, while triggered in part I guess by Phoebe (though I hate using that word, triggered) isn’t only about horses. It’s my brain chemistry and I am dealing with in all areas of my life, not just riding, so yeah. Being kind to myself while getting my butt in the saddle as often as I can. That’s where I am right now and honestly it kind of feels good in a way. My horse is young, she just keeps getting better, and we have nothing but time.

The West Coast is on fire

There are over 75 wildfires still burning in my state and that doesn’t include the fires in BC, Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana and Utah. It is quite literally raining ash in Seattle and the surrounding areas and I am dying. The news is predicting many of the fires will be burning through October. Ugh.

Bored dog stuck inside

The big vet clinics have warnings out to avoid exercising your horses and I can’t even clean a single stall without having coughing fits to the point of near vomiting for over an hour after. So needless to say Phoebe and I have just been staring at each other with runny noses in boredom and frustration all week.

 

Put the treats here please.

Also I still have no internet, they came out but apparently there is something wrong with the wiring at the street? I don’t know, but supposedly Century Link will be out to fix it “soon”, whatever that means.

 

This post has been a whine. Here’s hoping for rain and internet by Monday.

Home again home again!

The grey lady is home! So far things are going super! But alas I am in the middle of unexpectedly changing internet providers so I am without access until middle of next week, when I will be able to give some more in depth updates.

Saturday:

Drove up to get her, none of my stuff was missing (yay!) and she loaded and hauled like a champ. Got off the trailer at home, stood like a giraffe for half a second, then just immediately settled in, ignoring Wake in lieu of hay. That’s my girl.

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Food > Wake

Sunday:

Lunged in surcingle and side reins, she was foot perfect, even with Wake and Donny pacing the fence.

Monday:

Auntie Jean comes for a massage, I unload to her about all my frustrations and disappointments, she tells me to go get my breeches on and ride. I do and for the most part everything is fine!

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Proof! All four on the floor and no shenanigans!

 

Tuesday:

No one is home when I get there so I tell myself I won’t really “ride” but I will lunge in tack and side reins and then do some stand still at the mounting block and getting on and off practice. She left my care pretty consistently standing still for mounting. She did not come back even remotely the same in that regard so whatever, just something I need to reinstall. Once I had schooled the mounting block and was sitting on her, she seemed so calm and bored that we just did some big loopy figures around the arena at the walk.

Good pony is good

 

Wednesday:

Went to the lesson barn and hacked Max around a bit. Ran out of daylight so Phoebe got the day off.