Thursday, March 2, 2017

Dressaging It

It's been an interesting week full of emotions and I'm not really sure where my brain is right now, but I can't wait to get back in the saddle tomorrow that's for sure. I just spent the last 24 hours without a cell phone and back when I had a "normal" job it would have been fine... But being self-employed and it being the busiest dog-walking day of the week plus a meet and greet I didn't make because of it? Not having it really really sucked. Luckily, I was able to get in repaired for some spare change in the amount of $250... Kill me. It's fixed though, that's what matters.

The BO and I have been having a blast. I think she really enjoys having a galloping buddy, especially when I can get some shots of her jumping some natural jumps on the new trail I found this past fall. It's really good to get out with a horse that can really keep up head to head with Brantley and help him learn to be a better follower versus having the need to be in the lead.

We were discussing the eventing goals we have this year and I mentioned I was the most nervous about stadium jumping... And then this happened.

I knocked the 2'6 vertical so I had the BO drop it down to 2' since this was like our 4th or 5th time going through. Brantley was absolutely super. After I watched the video I said, "Wow, this wasn't that bad." And she laughed and said, "Don't take this the wrong way, but that was the your worst trip." I had technically given B the idea that we were done because I didn't think to have her video anything until she offered so we were a bit sloppy but I'll take it!

... So we're pretty confident galloping alone in the woods over jumps... and apparently over stadium jumps... Guess that leaves dressage right? Right.

How I picture me "Dressaging-it" - for realz

Dressage has always been an interest of mine. I think mainly because of my first introduction to musical freestyle. I remember screaming at a video, "THIS IS A THING?! I NEED THIS IN MY LIFE!" But I never really had the opportunity to take lessons or really dabble in it. Until now.

A couple years ago I made a super awesome friend who I've become really close to and dressage is her thing. She had to take some time off due to being a super awesome baby momma, but recently started riding again with a trainer out near here. I don't even think she waited until her second lesson to text me and say something along the lines of, "OMFG YOU NEED TO RIDE WITH THIS WOMAN!" and went on and on about how wonderful she was. Of course it just wasn't the right time and I wasn't ready but I kept it in the back of my mind.

After keeping up with my friend's lessons and listening to her go on and on about her... I finally said, I need this. So, this past Tuesday, I had my first dressage lesson. I was worried that I wasn't going to prepared for anything she'd ask me to do. We were still learning to relax at the poll and onto the bit with contact and the last few flat lessons I've had, their ways of getting Brantley to relax just made him more chompy and tense. Plus with my current anxiety levels... But S talked me through it and said that it was going to be amazing. I tried to take her word for it.

The face you make when you know you're sexy AF - "Hey ladies. Check me out."
We tested out our dressage riding skills the night before and damn did my boy look sexy. I borrowed the BO's super comfy, blocked AF, custom saddle which was nerve-wracking anyway. Try new things on my horse? Um... no? I just wanted to trot around for shits 'n giggles but I definitely wanted to stick with what we new for our lesson.

Noon came and I was all tacked and ready to go. I thought about getting in a 10 minute ride before she got there but S recommended not to and to show her what we go through. As soon as she walked in she picked up on B's stranger danger. He was curious about her but she pointed out everywhere he was tense. Most people just look at his calm puppy dog face and call it a day. I gave her a little history and we were ready to head out. Of course I was so afraid I'd get stuck on the block, but I didn't and B was okay. We had a nice walk around the arena and we talked about what I've been doing with him and how we're both a little mentally f'd up but we make it work.

She wanted to see how we normally went around and asked me what exercises I do with him. I told her about his tendency to get burnt out and how we do a lot of direction changes or sometimes I let him just cruise around until he gets settled which she liked. We started trotting around a long rein and he felt super. I kept waiting for her to ask me to shorten my reins or ask him to lower his poll when he got above the bit but she didn't. She talked about focusing on moving him forward and not worrying about him getting high above the bit just yet which I really appreciated. I told her about how most horses I've worked with, I try to start them long and low and then collect them up but B always starts out high. She was okay with that.

I went around both ways a few times and he really started to lower his head and she'd have me ask for a slight change by lengthening him. Every time I'd ask he has that "ok" attitude and I'd feel him come up underneath me. We had a nice canter in both directions asking for the same slight changes in his gait while letting him stay long and low. He really appreciated that for sure. She had me do a small circle and spiral out in both directions on one end of the arena and let me call it quits and trot out on the long side. No drilling or asking for more than what Brantley could give and she trusted that I knew my horse.

Then she got to see some of his attitude when she asked us to do some trot/canter transitions in the middle of the arena on a big "circle". Brantley wanted nothing to do with it but I got him going and once I got a good forward trot, I'd cue the canter, then bring him down to the trot after a few nice strides keeping the same speed in both gaits. It was definitely hard for him but instead of focusing on where his face was, I was able to just focus on his body and what I was asking.

I think the best part was when she asked if we could walk out on a loose rein, "on the buckle almost" and I was like, "Oh hell yeah we can." ^.^

It was a nice easy lesson and I felt like a million dollars after. I'm really hoping to be consistent with her. I really enjoyed her and Brantley did too. There was even a point where she came right up to him and put her hand on his shoulder. I was ready for him to shy away like he always does and he didn't even quiver. She stood right beside both of us with one hand up by my back almost and the other on his rein... Nothing. He did absolutely nothing!

Of course, I haven't been able to ride since between getting sick and then the phone thing plus work... But maybe next week if I can scrounge up a little more spare change!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Trail Work/Contest?

The weather has been absolutely incredible here in New England. 60's? 70's? In f*cking February? I wouldn't be surprised if we nailed by some crazy storm because we've been so lucky. But if we don't, I'll be thankful. Brantley is due to be shod and I would love to just put his Spring set on and toss the snow shoes. That'd be nice for sure.

Still packing in as much work as possible. More money = more pony adventures... And tattoos.

I've been watching an little old boxer and her younger "brother" who is a crazy lab this past weekend and they are an absolute riot. The owners were hoping that Chevy could stay with me while I was here but... Of course the first day, the boxer decides after 45 minutes of playing, she doesn't like Chevy and attacks him... He defends himself and ends up snagging the edge of her ear which led to a $130 vet bill. Let's just say, he's been staying at home. Then, the mailbox got nailed by something which I tried to fix... Fingers crossed... And then, I went to do some night checks last night and came back to a shredded dog beg... You can't win them all! #petsittinglife But, their almost feral cat absolute loves me and I've nailed some pretty precious pictures sooo... Hopefully they won't hate me. It's frustrating because it's always one house where everything goes wrong versus a couple of things spread out between houses... Not that I ever want things to go wrong but, it's life and they're animals. I can't control it all.

Riding was not a possibility Tuesday or Wednesday so when it started to look like yesterday wasn't going to happen either, I put my foot down and said, "It's happening!" I finished my walks and rushed to the barn. So happy I did.

My iRocknRide Bluetooth speaker strapped and ready!
Started off with some trot work down the railway and added a little canter but we had to stop for pedestrians every 100 feet or so. He was so quiet and just happy to be out we plodded along at the walk. Once we got out the field, I dropped my rein and asked him to trot out again. He started to really stretch out and we had a good beat going. Until (there's always an until), mountain bike enter stage left. He was probably 200 feet away but flying up over and down a hill parallel to us. Brantley's head flew up and his ass came up under his chest. He took a few strides then spun to look at what spooked him. I dropped my rain again and ran my hand down his neck listening to him breathe. He wasn't sure what he wanted to do so I just sat and said, "Do what you need to do horse." 

What did he decide to do you might ask? That derpy pony marched across the field to see what the hell scared the bejesus out of him. The guy didn't see us as he kept flying up and over the back trails until he ended up right in front of us by about 60 feet. Brantley just stared and the guy looked panicked. I gave him a thumbs up and he went on his way and so did we. Good pony. That could've been awful. We had a nice walk back and stopped for a picture. ^.^

Today was another one of those days that did not really go as planned but I still made it in time to fit in a ride with the BO and her super studly gelding. We were out a little longer than expected but we got in some really great trot work. We weren't quite sure how cantering together was going to go since they're both naturally lead horses and I didn't know how well my brakes were working so we went easy but did get in a nice working canter/accidental mini-gallop. The boys started to get pretty strong and with a lot of people out and about, we ended up backing off and taking another route home. 

Super way to start Spring Training if I do say so myself. Hoping to get out again tomorrow!
Maybe my Dad will give me back my GoPro for the day -.- Glad he's enjoying it!
I think I know what someone's getting for Father's Day!

So I've been thinking about "rebranding" the blog. A friend and I did some late night brainstorming and came up with a name which fits us perfectly and although I had mentioned to another friend about doing a logo for me, she said I should have a little contest. Not sure if I have enough readers but I'll throw it out there... 

Anyone interested in a logo design contest?

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

First Adventure of 2017

So a few things have happened since my last post. One being I dyed my hair... Pink. Like really pink. It's more of an ombre pink style because I needed to be able to put it up and tone it down a bit when applicable. But so far, everyone loves it. Especially me. I needed a pick me up for sure.

Brantley and I also went on our first pony adventure with some friends from Shannock too. I kept trying to back out because I've been so nervous but Grasa, being as awesome as she is, wouldn't give me the chance. B loaded up no issues and after a couple attempts to mount, I got on and we had a pretty awesome ride.

There were a lot of obstacles to deal with that this time last year Brantley would have lost my in the snow for sure. Lots of overgrown and/or fallen trees and bushes to bolt through. We survived which gives me even more insight to the awesome year to come. We had to cross a few bridges that he's only seen in the Spring and crossed through a small body of water since the bridge was too sketchy to cross. The first time going through I laughed at the girls because they're feet ended up getting wet while Brantley was a bit taller than their ponies and I stayed dry... Until we walked back through coming home and he fell into a hole within the pool and it went up to his chest. A little chilly but he was a champ.

Of course like every year, half the video got lost during import but I got the first half so that's pretty good right? After our ride and taking care of the horses, we went to dinner... And then I felt old (we were tired by 8:30pm) and I had the bright idea of spending the rest of the night at the tattoo shop.

You think I'm joking...

The one tattoo I've wanted since I was 16... Now it's number 5.

It was a pretty spectacular day all around and I can't wait to get out there again, hopefully with Wendy too. I miss our adventures the most. I've kept up with being consistent in my riding and we had another little jump school yesterday which I was happy about. 2'6 doesn't look so big anymore that's for sure. I'd be happy getting comfortable with 2'9 and competing at 2'6 by the end of the season. I think that's a fair goal.

This coming weekend is pretty crazy but luckily starting Saturday night, Chevy can start spending the night with me at the job I have. I actually think most of the jobs I have coming up, I'll be able to snuggle with him every night and I can't wait! He's such a good-doobie. And suave AF for sure... This is his new way of rolling through town in the truck:

You can't get anymore gangsta than that.

I've been writing up my goal list and I will hopefully be able to make a post about it this week if I can find time like I have at this moment. It's a bit doubtful but there's always hope! Hopefully will fit a ride in tomorrow and Thursday before the insanity that will ensue this weekend! Bring on Spring and Pony Adventures. I'm so ready!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

"Blizzard" 2017

I'm actually sitting down in a coffee shop right now drinking some apple juice and catching up on blogs. I even ordered some delicious french toast and... breathed. What's my excuse? The truck is getting a new set of front tires across the street. It's always something right?

I did get a few minutes to snuggle with Chevy over this busy weekend which was nice. Of course, Lamb Chop was involved. Lamb Chop is always involved... ALWAYS...

So 'Blizzard' of 2017 hit last Thursday. If that's the most snow we get, I'll be happy. I don't mind snow and cold. It's the ice that kills me, and my back, and my walking ability. Thursday brought on that perfect kind of snow though... You know. The kind you ride in? ^.^

This popped up on my Timeline on Friday and I said outloud, "I'm going to ride in the snow today"

I remember this day and how I put on a good show that it was okay I couldn't ride my horse, but in my mind it killed me. I thought over and over, what if I never get to ride this horse? What did I do to myself? But he was a good sport and as you can tell, put up with my shenanigans and having Kate around to grab this shot definitely lifted my spirits.

After seeing this pop up, I started cleaning stalls at a client's barn and my phone rang. It was Kate. She had a few cancellations and asked if I'd like to do a photoshoot in the snow with Brantley. YES! Yes! Yes! YES!

Long story short, I got to the barn, tacked up, lunged him around the indoor because it had been a couple of days and he was a little high. As soon as I got that good eye from him I went out back to the outdoor... It took me 10 minutes to get on. The wind was whipping and trees were cracking, and falling... I was terrified. Brantley? He was fine. Didn't even flinch. I kept walking around and finally said, "Fuck it, I'm not doing this." and called Kate. She was on her way and said we can just play in the outdoor... I said okay, took a breath, walked into a field, (with the gate open because you know, that's safe if you're afraid your horse is going to toss you) and got on. He was fine. Super fine. My heart? Pounding... Was it worth it?


I got my snow pictures!

And of course Brantley was the perfect model.

She even nailed a "You're not on fire Ricky Bobby!" shot that I thought Carly would appreciate.

Moral of the story?

I need to get my anxiety under control because we're fine...
And even if I don't? I can die happy for sure.

Thanks Kate from Polar Square Designs for the pictures! You're amazing ^.^

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Hibernation Day

I won't lie to any of you. This is exactly what I have been doing all day... Legit just sleeping after eating an entire jar of queso. Not exactly the gains I should working for but I have time to make up for it now that Spring seems a little further away after this storm... I hope.

Took K.I.T.T. (the truck) to the "doctor" this AM for a quick oil change and fluid check. Luckily I mentioned a headlight was out so they fixed that too. Love my mechanic. At pick up they let me know that I had a friend hiding somewhere under the truck. Little mouse was prepping for the storm! They also let me know that both my front tires should have been replaced... two days ago. We'll be back Tuesday for a recheck and a tire change, $400 later. It'll be fine!

(Some shots from the video the other day.)

Brantley is enjoying his day off today I think. Spent the night in his Back On Track pajamas after his chiropractor/acupuncture/massage appointment yesterday and was super snuggly this morning. Bodywork is an amazing thing, can't wait to get back in the saddle tomorrow for some long and low work. Tuesday night I hopped on for a bit and he just wanted to cruise around the arena on the buckle. Can't say no to that after all the hard work and late nights we've been putting in.

I also wanted to try out our new toy! This is the iRocknRide Bluetooth Speaker that everyone should check out. I found a good deal on eBay and had one of those Visa Gift Cards so I had to grab it. A little more money than I'd normally spend on something like this but everything I've read and what Grasa has told me, definitely worth a try. I am always a little worried strapping something new on the saddle for Brantley but it was totally fine. 

He's used to me riding with my cell phone playing music in my pocket anyway so I didn't think it'd be a huge deal. It hooks right up to your phone and you can actually press the call button and say, "Play Brantley Gilbert" or "Call 911" and it'll do it! Super cool right? Plus, if you're at a show, you can chat with your trainer from across the arena... or cross-country course. We hope.

Chevy enjoyed the gorgeous weather and his hikes yesterday. He works so hard for me and although I spend 75% of every month sleeping at someone else's house away from him, he still loves me just as much. I know he misses me, you can tell, and I miss him just as much.

A quick down to blogger-business moment before my computer dies. I know some of you have mentioned you're planning on attending Rolex this year and I really really want to go. Looking for some advice and some price points just so I have a round about idea other than flights. What's everyone's plans? I need a vacation and this would be the best idea right?

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Every Storm...

Hey there friends... I'd really like to reach out and say thank you to those who took time to check in, it really means a lot. I've taken some time away since the holidays for a few reasons. Things became a little too dark for my liking but sometimes you just fall into it. I didn't feel comfortable bringing that to a space that is supposed to be a "happy" place. I say "happy" because this is the horse world and we're pony parents... Shit happens ^.^

At least I had this guy to keep me from drowning and I'm the luckiest dog mom. He's been my light in all the darkness and I wouldn't have it any other way. He's been doing really well and the hip dysplasia has been kept at bay. I couldn't slow this dog down if I wanted to. I do about 5-6 dog walks per day, Monday thru Friday, and he is with me every step of the way.

Brantley had a bout of mysterious leg swelling after moving to the new barn and a few days of being extremely stiff - If that doesn't scream "tick-bourne", I don't know what does. So after some vet phone calls and having his magick vet/chiro come out and look, we popped him on Doxycycline. He's half way through and doing super well, I couldn't be happier. Well, I could be if my PTSD/Anxiety/Depression B.S. would just take a break. But he's feeling better and we're back under saddle. I wasn't sure how he'd be in the main barn at Melody but he fit right in like he's always been there. This makes me happy, but somewhat dread the decision if we should go back to Tavern in the Spring.

Luckily we have some time to decide since Winter is really taking it's sweet time to hit us. Mother Nature is going through some... life changes... and I appreciate her not just killing us off all at once in some giant freeze. Brantley is really liking the footing and we even strapped on our jumping pants this week and a new barn mate coaxed us into jumping this today. 2'6" - Piece of cake apparently.

We're a little messy and I have to find more confidence in my upper body for sure - shoulders back, boobies out - but not bad for mental/physical issues between the two of us. I'm also loving the Millbrook Leathers I got us for Christmas <3 Best buy ever! If you haven't purchased them yet... You should... I bought a lot of things since Christmas, and spending money on myself is not my forte but hey...  Shopping while depressed is better than drinking while depressed am I right?

I feel really really good about this year and I'm looking forward to some horse trials, especially since the BO wants to get back into eventing and starting again on my level (another reason I'm considering just staying if they let me). It's nice to have people to ride with consistently - especially being so supportive in your goals. I think being at Melody will open some doors for me as a rider and for Brantley as an athlete.

Thanks for sticking by me guys <3

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Super Exciting

Things have been pretty quiet on the pony front but not so quiet on the work front. Chevy and I have been super busy running around while clients do their December-thing. I'm pretty much done with Christmas shopping, just have to ship out a couple of things on Monday (Yes! Secret Santa Blogger! Your gift is on the way I swear!) - It's kind of like whatever downtime I have I sleep... or get some definitely need friend time.

Kate and I had a dinner/movie date with the kids.
Hannah was there, she was sleeping at this point though.

And then last night I got to grab drinks with Wendy and Grasa at our favorite place!
Yes... This is a carving at our favorite place.
It makes me giggle too...

We had a couple of really late nights and I'm so jealous that he gets to sleep while I drive. Somehow, this is not completely fair... But he's just so adorable so I let it go for sure. Luckily I've been staying at houses where he can come and snuggle with me so things aren't too lonely. I haven't been able to ride or spend much time with Brantley so my brain is definitely on the sensitive side... I need a fix.

We're just adorable <3

So Chevy is definitely a scavenger and likes to find an grain pieces left over that are available to consume... I heard a commotion and my first thought was that he got his tongue frozen to the bottom of the bucket. I hurried over and as I got closer I realized... The above. So obvious I started to laugh and he stopped panicking like, "Oh... You're laughing... Great..." and I took a snapshot. Poor dog.

He puts up with a lot from me... But sometimes I feel like he loves it.
I mean seriously... What dog is okay with this?

Mine... My dog... #flawless