Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving: Thankful Edition

What a ride! This time last year I was just a few months into my new job, was a few days away from owning Wilbs, and was getting ready to spend another chilly winter in the cottage!

With Thanksgiving upon us I thought this might be a good time to share a few things that I'm thankful for this year......

I'm thankful........

To have a job that I enjoy going to every day. That is deeply involved in the equestrian lifestyle. And that allows me to have an entrepreneurial spirit and affect change. My team is fantastic- there is not a harder working bunch in the industry.

That we have a comfortable home even if it is a bit cramped. Despite losing out on the past 5 (yes 5) offers we have a lovely spot that allows us to take our time and find a home that's right for us. Frankly, the longer it takes the more we can save. I'm slightly glad that we didn't get the house yesterday- that's a lot of cold, hard cash heading out the door.

I'm thankful for my cat, Linus. He's the ever faithful sounding board and always agrees with me. Also always up for a good cuddle until he decides he's not and bites me.

My horses of course. Even though Wilbur is on vacation I'm glad he is enjoying himself and can look forward to having him home. Polly is such a sweet girl and a most pleasant diversion. And the barn where I've met such a wonderful group of people- truly a barn family.

My very own family- obviously. I was so happy to be able to visit my parents this past October and spend some time with just the two of them. Of course my sisters- who I must make an effort to keep in better contact with next year (hello- do I hear a New Years resolution post in the works?).

Speaking of families- I'm so lucky and thankful to have such a great group of in-laws! I love the random newspaper clippings and emails that arrive to break up the day!

Last but certainly not least- my husband Paul. Firstly, he's super handsome. But beyond looks....he's so supportive in all of my endeavors. Always gently reminding me of "work/ life" balance. So thoughtful, helpful, and kind. I am a lucky, lucky girl.

I was saying to my Mom a month or two ago that things just didn't feel quite right in the world. Despite being a little off-kilter this year I am reminded by this list and so many other things not mentioned here and that I live a wonderful life.
I'm thankful for that.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tack Trunks: How Many is Too Many?

Tack. Trunk. Obsession. I don't know what to say. Three tack trunks is a little excessive. 

I'll attribute this neurosis entirely to my big blue tupperware. I toted that Tupperware to not one, not two, but three different barns- and across the country from Indiana to California to boot. Bless my trainers hearts, they always found a spot for it. Albeit in the far back corner under a pile of blankets. 

While there is nothing wrong at all with storing riding gear in a giant tupperware, I had always admired the shiny barn trunks lined up in a row. 

When I bought Wilbur I also bought a "large" trunk from an online retailer and waiting eagerly for the arrival. It was small. Small enough to be called cute. Call out here for failure to measure.  

And naturally I had done a pretty substantial amount of shopping to supply Wilbs in the funnest of outfits. So I lived a bit like a nomad- with the essentials in the cute trunk and the rest overflowing my other trunk- the trunk of my car. 

Then the Smartpak trunk arrived. I freaking love everything about it. It's huge, fits most of my stuff (cue cute trunk), has a bandage lid top. Perfection personified in a wooden box. 

Fast forward to May when I joined the KMT team. My dream of having a barn branded trunk was about to be realized and in a fit of excitement I ordered one. It was supposed to take 6-8 weeks the arrive but we never got a call and I milked that extra time for as long as it was worth. But I knew that it had to be waiting for pickup at Western Saddlery so I mustered up my bank account along with the 6 $20 gift cards we had won showing this year and picked it up on Saturday. 

It's beautiful. It has my name on it. The KMT trunk is now storing the blankets, show gear, and Wilbur's tack while he's gone. 
And the cute trunk is sitting in my backseat (yes- it fits in the backseat of my Honda Civic) waiting to go to a new home. I'm hoping it goes to some horse crazy girl who has a very large tupperware of her own. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Team KMT IEA Show

When I signed up as a volunteer for the first IEA show hosted by KMT I thought I was in for a fluffy day of eating chips, watching the show, and occasionally handling a horse.
I was instead given the task of barn manager and got my own clipboard. After a strategy meeting held on Saturday (in which I had no good reason to be at the barn.....except....well that's a post for tomorrow) I was given a 6:30am on Sunday call time. Kelly was REALLY nervous.

Despite her nerves the show went swimmingly! All horses were in the ring on time, all of the handlers (each assigned to handle a horse for the day) did their jobs to perfection including tucking their horses into bed and cleaning tack at the end of the day, and even with 60 middle and high school kids running around I did not have a mental breakdown.

Although I did have a big glass of wine at the end of the day.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Ponies are Baby Horses

I caught a second ride on Lizzy Friday morning- just a quick hack. I showed the photo to Paul and he asked if she was really wild. Nope- Lizzy is 23 years old- she fell asleep in the cross ties.  

Paul looked a little discombobulated and when I asked why he told me that he was surprised by Lizzy's age since he thought that ponies were just young horses that hadn't grown up yet. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Equine Insurance Isn't So Awesome After All

After a few phone calls today we may be pulling Wilbur out of pasture for a hot minute to get some additional diagnostic work done at Pioneer.

I'm not quite sure what I was expecting out of my equine insurance policy. I thought perhaps it was like a car insurance policy- you run into the side of your garage and your premium goes up but they still cover your bumper should you happen to do it again.

Not so with a horse, friends!

Wilbur came back from his July horse show a little sore in both front. We took him up to Pioneer to have some baseline x-rays and coffin joint injections. When he went back into work in late August it was clear that he was still sore- particularly on the front right.

I guess I was a little naive in assuming that should he still have issues after coming home from his break in March- that those diagnostics would be covered. Unfortunately the insurance coverage renews every year and the claims agency places an "exemption" on all pre-existing conditions. Since the vet did not determine an exact cause for the soundness issues- that exemption will essentially be his front legs. Meaning should he go back to work and end up lame (or worse) all medical will be out of pocket.
I actually feel a little bit blind-sided. I had thought that by dropping him into pasture that I was saving everyone a bit of time and money- hoping that he just needed rest. Our policy renews on December 3rd but we have an extra 30 days coverage on the policy.

I had a lovely chat with my vet, Natasha, today and she  recommended some additional x-rays and perhaps and MRI. Hopefully we can uncover the issue and get that exemption limited in scope.
So I think I'm making the best possible move by having further vetting rather than hedging my bets just on time off.
To my fair my insurance agent has been wonderful in walking me through how best to manage the policy to my advantage.
Fingers crossed! And on a totally selfish note- I'm excited to see my guy again in the new few weeks!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

More Pics from the Cayman Islands!

Had to share a few more snaps from my Grand Cayman trip. I'm not usually a "trail ride on vacation" kinda gal- I usually just end up feeling bad for the horses. My coworker convinced me to join her and her husband saying that the spot had gotten great reviews on Lonely Planet. I was actually quite impressed with my sweet girl, Summer, and the experience in general.

Until I was pulled out of line for a gallop on the beach. And was told, "she's a fast one." Ummm. Can we just trot? The answer: there was no trot. And I didn't fall off (luckily #ridinginTOMs). And most of the time we just walked.
Was very happy to get home to lazy Polly where a hand gallop is in fact just a lope.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tack Trunk Treat!

Feeling so lucky to have such awesome barnmates! Our 5pm Tuesday night is a tough- rushing from work with our first rain of the season. Traffic was particularly bad tonight.

And in a particularly odd twist most of that time in traffic was spend trying to get down the Shiloh West driveway. You see, there happens to be an Indian guru named Amma who has built an empire out of giving HUGS and her compound is located on the property. Seriously- I texted Kelly that I was stuck in traffic ON THE SHILOH WEST DRIVEWAY and that I might be late. She suggested I stop for a hug on the way in.

Anyhow. I opened the lid to my trunk and there was a gift card to a local wine bar, Toast, and a cute card that talked about girlfriends, wine, and chocolate (three of my favorite things!)!
Working at Ariat has its perks here and there and I love to share with my barn family when I have the chance! Frankly it's a bit of a no-brainer. Breeches in the giveway pile- grab 'em (and if I wore a 28L no one at my barn would be getting breeches), VIP cards- grab 'em, shoot sampes- grab 'em. So I feel very touched that my friends went out of their way to give this thoughtful gift and thankful to be part of such a great group!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Getting Fit: One Turbo Kick Class at a Time

Part of my grand plan while leasing Polly through March was really working to, not only get in strong riding shape, but to get into good shape period. Because there's a difference right? Like when you tell someone you're not going to the gym because you have a riding lesson. Cue the arched eyebrow and the, "ummmm....isn't the horse doing most of the work?"
And I kinda agree. Don't get me wrong- riding a horse is no easy task and muscles are used that aren't going to be toned by an elliptical for twenty minutes a day.

But I feel a major difference when I'm a little lighter in the saddle just in the way I'm able to manipulate and maneuver. I am feeling it now as the jumps are getting bigger- my heels are popping up and I'm resting a little too heavily in my crest release.

A week long vacation where I drank my weight in tropical cocktails followed by a work trip have not helped my cause BUT I managed to get my butt to my very favorite Turbo Kick class tonight and am back on the wagon!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Reconnecting With Friends

In my opinion one of the hardest things about moving barns is leaving behind the friendships that have been created with barn mates. Of course I always mean to keep in touch but life gets busy and the time that would have been spent with those friends is spent with new barn rats mates.

So I was really delighted to grab a coffee tonight with Devon, a friend from my Blackhound days. I'm sure we would have gotten together eventually but the date was spurred on by the brand new horse she recently bought!

Barn Buddies come in all shapes and sizes, old and young, all at different places in their lives. I appreciate my friendship with Devon so much because we're so similar. Both married but without kids, both with husbands who marginally support our horse habits (meaning they love us- not necessarily our horses), we're both working hard at developing our careers, and of course- we're finally horse owners!

We had such fun chatting about barn happenings, the challenges of sneaking out of work early to go to the Menlo show,  and of cutting back on our coffee shop addictions to help scrimp towards show budgets (as if).

Can't wait to make a stop by Blackhound next week to meet Sophie!
Devon & Sophie

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Grand Cayman Beach Ride

Jet setter that I am- sitting at the airport AGAIN with a quick stopover in Vegas to see friends then on to Dallas. I couldn't help but share a quick snap of Summer and I beaching it at the Grand Cayman Islands last week!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Equestrian Bucket List

Little Bay Princess is hosting a blog hop and I had to jump in. I seem to have stumbled onto this fabulous group of equestrian bloggers and they're always doing fun things like giveaways, blog hops, and challenges (like the 2 Point Challenge)!

The topic of this blog hop is my Equestrian Bucket List! 

1. Sometimes I daydream about riding Wilbur in the USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals. I had decided to keep his registered AQHA show name- LOTSA XS ROYALTY. But for this special occasion he would go in as Wilbur. Just for giggles.
And of course I'd high five my friend, Erin, at the in gate.
Yes I am a huge nerd and photographed her round on my iphone while the finals streamed on my computer.

2. While the Derby goal may be a bit of a stretch- becoming a better horsewoman certainly isn't. Confession time. I never polo wrap. It takes me FOREVER because I keep redoing them- it just never looks right.
I loved the barn that I grew up riding at- but outside of the very basics- we didn't get much learning in the way of  horse care. I know what you're thinking- polo wraps are the basics! But we never wrapped so I just never learned.
Obviously this is just one example- with a whole litany of others that need some work (including but not limited to: bandaging, horse health & basic first aid, feed & supplements) Being an adult re-rider it has been challenging to a. find the time to learn and practice and b. find someone who is willing to teach as most of the barns I've ridden at as an adult have been full service.
So that's a Bucket List item- Learn More, Read More, Practice More, Be a Better Horsewoman.

3. Hmmmm. What's my third? I could choose to ride in each continent. Or have my own stable full of GP Jumpers. I guess I can cross one thing off my equestrian bucket list already- owning a horse! Now how do I get 5 more?
Discussing Important Matters

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Jen's First Trail Ride!

It was one of those lovely days at the barn. Paul had an all day swimming event which meant- BARNTIME! I had a leisurely morning (gotta love falling back) and stopped at Peet's to pick up a coffee and blueberry muffin. I got out to the barn just in time to see the IEA jumping girls finish up and watched the flat girls take their turns. I wish there were IEA teams when I was growing up- what a great experience for these younger kids. 
The team had finished up and I had settled into a chair in the "lounge" with the new issue of Practical Horseman. I looked up to find my coworker Jen with a worried look on her face. Apparently she and Tara (another coworker) had made plans to go on the short loop today. Jen had never taken Pie on the trail but was full of courage after their successful show at Rancho Murieta and wanted to capitalize on it. Of course I wanted to go along for moral support- and because Polly is a great baby sitter. Pie is a gentle giant but I can understand the fear of trails. Not having ridden much outside of a ring it's certainly a different experience to ride without arena walls. 
Poor Amanda was a bit frazzled with Kelly at a show and was running behind after all of the IEA training groups so I offered to jump myself around while she was in the ring with some of the younger lesson students. Polly and I had a great ride (video to come) over VERY small fences. But I personally think that there's a great benefit in training over smaller fences- the distance is harder to see which makes the ride much more about rhythm, track, and balance AND it's a good opportunity to miss safely which always reminds me that if we get a bad distance the world is not coming to an end. 
By the end of the lesson both Pie and Triscuit were in the ring and hacking around. The Three Musketeers convened and without further adieu marched right up the trail!
Jen asked us to remind her to "breath." By the end of the ride she was like an old pro!
A little tense. But having fun!
Feeling much more relaxed!
Get it Gurl!
And down we go!
The Three Musketeers after our trail!