Monday, March 31, 2014

Rain, Rain- we need you but go away soon!

Rainy and COLD here in NorCal! Daydreaming about the bright lights of the Hunter Derby ring.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sweet Girl

I didn't have a great ride on Saturday. The weather was terrible- it was pouring rain- sounded like someone was beating a drum in the barn. Ellie was a champ and didn't seem fazed at all.

I love that we have a place to ride inside- despite being on the small side. But cut that in half with four people in a lesson- two of those people on ponies? Talk about a lot of "trying to find a spot on the rail."
So hard to hear and while Kelly is with a few juniors visiting WEF, poor assistant trainer, Alison, was sick as a dog teaching her fifth lesson of the day. 

Ponies, rain, small rings, sick trainers can equate to mayhem. So we did the 45 minutes of flat work, trotted a few crossrails, and called it quits. She was tired and was being a good girl. We did have a lovely snuggle session at the end.

But I've decided I've reached the end of my 12:30 Saturday group lesson. It's a challenging time of the day (I usually get out to the barn early because Paul is off swimming and get home around 3pm). The pony kids are adorable and this lesson has been great place to get to know one another. But my patience has a limit and I think it's time that Ellie and I get down to the serious business of cantering pokes. 9am Sunday private lesson with Emma it is! So excited to get some one on one work!

As a side note- husband Paul has asked me to resurrect Em is a Gem to document the housing journey. If you're interested you can toggle between blogs in my navbar!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Pick Ellie's Show Name: Winner!!!

A BIG thank you to everyone who submitted a show name for Ellie! There were so many great entries to choose from! And thanks to everyone who took a moment to vote!

Congratulations to Lauren @ She Moved to Texas! Her show name, Elliegance, had the most votes! What an awesome name- thanks Lauren!

Her horse, Simon, will be receiving treats from Charleigh's Cookies!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Housewarming Gift!

The very sage sister is also giving us a fabulous housewarming gift, a custom painting of Ellie from artist Jacqueline Kudo. Jacqueline is an NYC artist and does fabulous cat, dog, and horse portraiture.

Super excited to see the finished product!

Just a reminder to VOTE on your favorite Ellie show name! The contest ends tomorrow, Wilbur's Birthday, at 5pm! So far Elderflower and Elliegance are tied for first place! Who's going to bring it home?
Portrait by Jacqueline Kudo

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Stress and Coping

My sister shared on a phone call last night that she's decided not to be stressed anymore. To tackle problems as they come and not to worry about what cannot be changed. Sage advice for one so young.

As she was philosophizing I happened to be patting myself on the back because, I thought, I very rarely ever feel stress. Except for last night of course.
Who knew buying a house could be stressful?

Once I actually tackled the problem this morning (with instrumental help from my Dad) all was right again in the world. Back to relaxed, non-stressy Emily.

Until I got to the barn! Gah! Ellie has developed girl crushes on Polly and Belle in the neighboring stalls. Belle was out in a lesson and Ells was pacing and weaving in her stall.

I found her the same way on Sunday morning when Polly was out in turnout and she was left behind. She was frantically pacing in her stall and when I took her out (right away) she was incredibly anxious and spooky.

I've also noticed that she has been a little "looky" and will shuffle off if something spooks or startles her. Clearly I'm overreacting here. It's not like we're dealing with some tail up bucking Arabian. But up until this week she was completely unfazed by any encounter.

I'm sure she's just getting fitter and brighter- and we should expect some antics. I just worry a bit- Wilbur started off the same way and the next thing I knew he was terrified of flowers.

I just need to take my sister's advice- know that Ellie is in capable hands in her day to day- and not stress out!

Has anyone else dealt with stall separation anxiety?

Our potential house! Fingers crossed all goes smoothly until close!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Gorgeous Day at the Barn

When assistant trainer, Emma, posted this photo on her Facebook wall touting the gorgeous day spent riding my eye naturally went to the tiny horse on the left. Who is that adorable creature? Of course it was Ellie getting her training ride on! Get it girl!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Ellie's Show Name: Vote for your Favorite!

The names are in! THANK YOU to everyone who participated! What a bunch of fantastic entries!

Please vote for your favorite name (poll is located on my sidebar) and I'll share the winner on Thursday!
Elizabeth and Ellie enjoying a cuddle (and if you look closely, a lick) at the barn this morning!
Note: When you cast your vote the results will populate and the poll will not display your vote. Blogger bug. Not to worry- your vote has been counted! We've done a little "testing" on the back end to ensure that votes are being counted as they come in (i.e. Paul his holding his vote until Thursday so we have visibility into results)! If there are any specific questions feel free to leave a comment!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Very Special Birthday Contest!

I've got three very special birthdays to celebrate today! My youngest sister for one! Go Celia!

Since Ellie came without papers I've designated her birthday to be today, March 20th, the first day of Spring! Wilbur rounds out the bunch turning 8 on March 27th.

What better way to celebrate a Birthday than with a contest? I'm definitely swiping this idea from A Gift Horse. Ellie needs a show name. No one panic- I don't anticipate I'll actually be attending any shows in the near future but it's best to be prepared. And nothing puts me into a cold sweat like creative show names so I need y'alls help.

For those of you NOT familiar with what a "show name" is- it's basically just a second fancier name that is used for showing. As an example:  Kelly's Albert is called "Party Hat." I might prefer a single word, perhaps more sophisticated name. Like "Huckleberry." Simply because I think Ellie would look good in Plum. See what I mean? Stressful! So many options!

Here's how the contest works!

- Submit your show names now through Sunday March 23 at 5pm PST via the comments below. Two names an entry max.
*** as a logistics note- I happen to know some excellent "namers" who don't have google accounts (I'm looking at you Dad). I have modified my comment settings to include Anonymous comments- so please comment but be sure to leave your name!

- On Sunday March 23rd I will post a poll with all of the submitted names! The blog is open for voting! Vote for your favorite name, but you only get one pick!

- Voting will close Thursday March 27th at 5pm PST and the winning name will be announced!

The winner will receive a bucket o' treats from the fabulous Charleigh's Cookies!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

From Endurance Horse to Hunter

I always think it's interesting to learn a little bit more about my horse's former life. For example, Wilbur has mad QH racing and cutting blood running through him! Both his great grandfather and great grandmother are in Hall of Fames for their respective sports, and his grandfather is a top sire.

Ellie came without papers so there's no info to be passed along about her breeding. I do know that her former owner is an endurance rider who needed a new horse that could do longer races. My coworker, who is a competitive endurance rider herself, recommended we check out the AERC Endurance Horse History site to see what we could find.

Sure enough- there's Miss Ellie with a pretty successful run in 2013! Now we know why she's so chill about everything!

Copyright © 1985-2014 American Endurance Ride Conference

Ride History for Little Egypt  (AERC#:H49502)

Ride Summary

see note on data quality and sourcing below

Ride History
2013 Season
Nevada Derby I & IIrider: 
04/07/201325 miles2nd placetime: 03:29:00
Ride points:div:0
Season points:div:0
Season miles:25 LD

High Desert Classicrider:
04/20/201330 miles1st placetime: 04:00:00
Ride points:div:0
Season points:div:0
Season miles:55 LD

Washoe Valley I & II, AHArider: 
05/05/201350 miles7th placetime: 08:23:00
Ride points:div:110
Season points:div:110
Season miles:50
55 LD

Almanor Hustle FEIrider: 
06/16/201350 miles5th placetime: 05:56:00
Ride points:div:125
Season points:div:235
Season miles:100
55 LD

Mendocino Magic-Entries limited to 100 each dayrider: 
08/24/201350 miles16th placetime: 06:35:00
Ride points:div:70
Season points:div:305
Season miles:150
55 LD

Mendocino Magic-Entries limited to 100 each dayrider:
08/25/201330 miles31st placetime: 05:55:00
Ride points:div:0
Season points:div:305
Season miles:150
85 LD

Red Rock Rumblerider:
10/05/201350 miles6th placetime: 06:16:00
Ride points:div:125
Season points:div:430
Season miles:200
85 LD

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

This is What I Do

I've kept Ellie in her Baby Bootcamp for the past two official weeks of owning her and we're into a third. She has training rides Tuesday-Friday, then I lesson on Saturday in a group and do a light hack on Sunday. 

For me, the schedule has been fantastic. Now that travel has wrapped up I'm able to get a ton of office work done while stepping out to the gym during lunch 3-4 times a week! Then in the evenings I'm free to go to the barn and play for awhile before meeting Paul for dinner. 

When we play it's all about the grazing with a few bareback rides thrown in. Mostly I watch the juniors jump and Ellie serves as my couch. A very cute couch. 

Next week I'm going to incorporate a third lesson into the mix, a private, where we can start to get to know one another a bit better. But for the time being I have been more than happy to let the trainers do the heavy lifting while I enjoy spending some QT with her!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Disclaimer: This Video is NOT for the Faint of Heart

My Saturday morning started out innocently enough. I was going to stop by and watch my friend Claire in her jumping lesson down the street from Shiloh West before heading over for my lesson. Claire rides at an eventing barn and owns a super cute young thoroughbred named Louie.

I hadn't seen them go, just stopped out for introductions, and was excited to get some jumping footage for Claire. When I arrived the group had already finished flatwork and were under way with the jumping portion of the lesson-  Claire and Louie executed an excellent first course!

The jumps went up and it was time for round two. Once again they were rolling smoothly along, laying out a beautiful course, that is, until they got to the last vertical (if anyone is actually brave enough to watch- the last vertical is coming up at 1:18. Another warning- I say a bad word at 1:20).

Louie had an indecisive moment- should he go long or add a stride, and didn't really do either. Instead he and Claire took a little tumble. Luckily both horse and rider are just fine. Loulou had a couple of scrapes on his front right but is trotting sound and Claire walked away without a scratch.

Honestly, seeing that fall set me back on my heels a bit. Even riding the most seasoned of horses (Polly), I have those "I don't see a distance OMG" moments with some regularity. And the correct response to those moments is to support and let the horse figure it out. How you do that "hey man (baby horse)- you figure it out" ride seems like almost an insurmountable challenge, when they may actually not know what to do themselves.

Which is why I need to go and canter my young horse around a course stat before my molehill becomes a mountain.

I'm super proud of Claire who popped up without shedding a tear (I might have cried a little bit) and is ready to get back in the saddle once Louie is feeling 100%. She's an inspiration to me!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Shamrock Shuffle- Barn Fun Run

Kelly sent out a barn email about a month ago asking for participants in a 5K Shamrock Shuffle Fun Run. I'm not sure what prompted me to quickly rely with an immediate yes but I believe I might have had a few drinks plus a new horse.
My career as a runner, while spanning over a number a years, has been relatively short when you look a number of miles actually covered.

I have one alarmingly clear memory of Middle School that basically ended my enjoyment of running before it even began. My phys ed group was instructed to run a mile in under 10 minutes. Anyone who  failed to meet the time limit had to run a second mile. I was the lone soldier than ran two miles that day and the experience made me feel like a "bad runner."

Fast forward to 2008- I was living in Indianapolis, working out at a great gym with buddies, and they offered a training program for the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon (half marathon). Time to put my self doubt aside- I was going for it. May of 2009 I completed my first half marathon. The training was tough, running was tough on my body, the race itself was tough! But a great item to cross off that "bucket list."

And I haven't run a single day since. Until today.

Erika, one of my barn mates, was fresh off a half marathon from the day before. Alison, our assistant trainer, is a speed walker. Neither Kelly nor I run very much (at all). But guess what? We ran the entire 3.1 mile course without walking! I'm already feeling sore but super accomplished!

It was great to connect with these ladies outside of the barn and, frankly, overcoming the nerves of a race to finish strong! It's so awesome to be part of a barn family that gets together for fun activities.  Go Team KMT!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

What a Ride

The past 72 hours has been so emotionally draining.

A timeline.......

- We submit an offer on 3827 Canon on Tuesday morning and are told that the sellers would review offers at 5pm. The clock ticks away and we hear nothing. Feeling disappointed.

- 10:30pm: we receive an email that the sellers cannot decide on which of the 5 offers they want to choose. We revise our offer and sign the new paperwork. Feeling giddy about our prospects!

-  8am: the Seller's agent confirms our revised offer and tells us that we will have an answer by noon. I spend all morning being really, really excited.

- Noon comes and goes with no word. At 2pm I receive a call from my agent that we did not get the house but could be the back up offer. I cry a little bit, fall into a deep despair, and come to the realization that we're never going to be able to buy a house in the Bay area. Ever.

- 6pm: again at the barn grazing Ellie when I receive a text message from our agent saying that we did in fact get the house. What????

- Paul confirms the details with our agent and we celebrate with champagne and Zachary's Pizza

- Wake up in a slight panic because seller has not officially signed the paperwork yet. What if they change their minds????

- Spend day feeling anxious with sweaty palms

-1pm: deep sigh of relief when seller paperwork arrives in inbox

20 days to close! And now a cute shot of Ellie getting a bath on Sunday!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

3827 Canon- Oakland

So I was at the barn grazing Ellie and enjoying the sunset....
And then I got this....
No jinxing. 21 days to close. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Peaceful Retreat

Tonight I'm feeling a little frustrated. On the eve of the 11 offer we've made on a house I'm waiting for our real estate agent to call. But I don't really need to be eagerly waiting by the phone, I know the drill. The sellers met with their agent at 5pm today to review the offers and as the clock ticks by I'm sure there's some happy person(s) signing paperwork.

I don't know if anyone is familiar with the California real estate market but it's the pits. Homes are going 100+k over asking price. Yes. One hundred thousand dollars. Growing up in the Midwest, Paul and I could easily buy a mansion for the price of a fixer out here. Our offer tonight is on a fixer upper.

It's challenging because, while we both want a place to call home, I'm not willing to be "house poor." I do have Ellie and Wilbur after all. So we're sticking within a comfortable budget and making offers that seem be to appropriate for the comps in the neighborhood. And frankly, the last thing I want to do is throw all my money against a wall and walk away feeling like a sucker paying too much for a 1200sf 2 bdrm 1+ bath. Call me crazy.

I found my solace in the barn tonight. I don't know about anyone else but I am LOVING daylight savings! And I am the weirdo that goes out to the barn after work, not to ride, but to hang out and graze Ellie. I don't want to jinx anything, but something just feels really right about this horse, the barn, the program. In times of stress (stupid houses) it's so nice to have a peaceful retreat and a fun companion!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Dog Days of....

My office is a dog friendly workplace which is great for everyone who has a dog. I have a cat. Nonetheless it's nice to have furry compadres to visit when I need a snuggle break.

When a new member of the brand marketing team moved into the cube across from me she also brought her black lab, Barney. At first I was a bit skeptical- it's one thing to leave your cube to go visit a dog, it's quite another to have one around all day right across the isle. And Barney didn't make the best first impression- barfing, eating garbage, and wandering off while Mom was in meetings.

Of course now I couldn't imagine NOT having Barney around. Sometimes he even comes over for a quick visit!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Equuleus Designs

Horse & Style ran a 12 days of Christmas contest on Facebook and of course I "liked" each daily post for my chance to win. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I was notified that I had won a custom pillow from Equuleus Designs! With all of the horse craziness going on I had been holding off to take a really awesome photo of Ellie to use for the design. Alas I fear that day will never come as all I can manage to get are photos of her standing in crossties, washracks, you get the idea.

So I decided to use one of my old favorites of one of my favorite horses, Ben. I just love this shot- it reminds me of all the fun we had together. And I don't think I want such a literal interpretation of a horse on a pillow.
Hopefully it will turn out something like this....

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Prime Real Estate

Ellie was moved to the coveted Stall #23, which opens into the "heart" of the barn- crossties, lounge, action! I'm super excited because she LOVES to hang her head over the stall door! A great spot to see and be seen!
Plus- she's right next to Polly!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What do you think?

I did a little update to the blog. When I say "I" what I actually mean is Natasha from Paper Crowns did the work for me. I had initially contacted Natasha to do an overhaul on my personal blog, Em is a Gem back in 2012. Em is a Gem had been running since 2009, our journey since moving to California, and I had wanted to give it a makeover because it was feeling a little stale. I found it really hard to reinvent the wheel and rather than attempt a facelift on something I wasn't super excited about anymore, I decided to put the design resources into an entirely new blog! Perfectly timed with the purchase of Wilbur! Now with Ellie in the herd we had to do a quick addition. I'll be filling in the "about ellie" section and updating Wilbur's portion tomorrow. I LOVE the revisions!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Ellie's Wishlist

It's no secret that I LOVE SMARTPAK!!! I spend probably a little too much time reading reviews, toting around my catalog, and messing around in my Wishlist.

So naturally I geeked out a little bit when they were in the office today. And by geeked out I mean told them all about my most recent Smartpak purchases and insisted they look at pictures of my new horse. My poor friend, their Ariat sales rep, just hung her head.

So I thought I'd share what's on Ellie's wish list right now! I feel pretty lucky- my saddle and bridle fit her just fine and she's about Wilbur's size so everything else translates as well. That being said there's always a few items on my Wishlist!

Equifit T-Boot EXP2: I love the Equifit boots! No velcro to get dirty, pull out the lining for a quick wash! Thanks to a gift card from Mom left over from Holiday, I already took care of these. Although in a fit of post order review reading I'm afraid that they're going to be too small (I ordered the S/M). I have a pair of the M/L but I think Polly may have stretched the elastic out a bit. Fingers crossed and gotta love Smartpak free returns!

Smartpak Lite AP Pad: I pulled the trigger on three of these pads (thanks again Mom!) because Lauren over at She Moved to Texas swears by them. Also Smartpak was offering free embroidery so not only do I have new pads coming....they're monogrammed.

Smartpak Triple Stitch Halter: Moving on to things actually on the Wishlist! A new halter with an Ellie nameplate of course. Why wouldn't I just switch out the nameplates on Wilbur's halter? That would certainly be cheaper. Call me old fashioned but I just think they both need their own halters.

Smartpak Fleece Girth: Ellie is a bit tinier than Wilbs and while I have the Professional Choice SMX Neoprene girth, it's a touch big and might be bugging her sensitive skin.

Equivisor: Not for Ellie obviously! For me! Actually there's a little gal in the barn that wears one and looks adorable. That's enough reason for me to get one right? Not just to block the sun but also to look cute!

Baker Irish Weave: I've been eyeing this thing for months but with all my blankets going on I couldn't justify adding one more. Sadly it still remains in Wishlist status! One day!

What's on your Wishlist?

Monday, March 3, 2014

A Thoughtful Gift!

When I visited my old Maplewood comrade, Kate, in Ohio this past fall she mentioned that she was the the rep for Prestige Saddles if I ever happened to know anyone in the market.......

And I filed that knowledge carelessly away because I knew I wouldn't. For two reasons. 

1. Personally I have never had the chance to ride in a Prestige saddle. So if someone were to ask me what saddle I would recommend, naturally I would choose a CWD or County since that's what I'm familiar with. 

2. Every person that I happen to know belongs to a barn with a "barn saddle." Case in point- my coworker has a horse with high withers and got a custom CWD. Which still doesn't fit. She was lamenting that the only saddle in the barn that DID fit was the CWD 2G but was hesitant to buy it because of cost and the nontraditional look. So naturally I suggested looking at County saddles but apparently her barn is a CWD barn and she needed to get that brand. Right or wrong she would not stray from that brand. I hear her- my barn is a Voltaire barn. Meh. 

Yet the stars seemed to align when Tracy at Fly on Over mentioned Prestige in her potential saddle lineup. Yes! I know Tracy is from Ohio and I remember this because I too am from Ohio! Yes! I know the very person that sells Prestige saddles in Ohio! And voila- the two connected, the saddle magic happened, and I was very happy for everyone!

I received a box in the mail from Tracy with a lovely Thank You card and two new riding socks! For someone who is living out of a duffle currently I treasure any new sock additions (I have been re-wearing pairs....wrinkle nose here)!

Thank You Tracy for the thoughtful gift! 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Scenes from Saturday

Paul and I went and saw Frozen tonight, ate a touch too much popcorn, and now our tummies hurt. Well worth it!

I have to say coming out of the weekend- Ellie was super. It wouldn't hurt to get her into Baby Bootcamp to smooth out those rough edges but I had fun rides Friday, Saturday, and Sunday!
She's a touch snarky picking up the trot and canter, and being still the worried Mom, I've been doing her back stretches and throwing my BOT sheet on before and after the ride to warm up those muscles. My gut tells me she's just a baby mare who quite used to being told what to do.

Heartbreaker in the crossties!
I found Jen in a precarious position pulling Pie's mane after my ride on Saturday. Pie kept giving her the hairy eyeball. I love riding on Saturday's again so I can spend time with my wonderful AA friends!