Monday, January 30, 2012

Moving forward

I found this photo on Tumblr, how cool is it? I wish I had a source...

I quit the barn I was volunteering at. It was just.. too much for me. I absolutely hate that I even typed those words out, but it's true. It just wasn't working out... I could go into major details, but i'll refrain. I wasn't getting out of it what I wanted too, and I was just getting more and more stressed. So I left.

& now I feel lost.

I need to find lessons, and I want lessons that will eventually take me into cutting. I'm willing to pay, but I am in no means rich, at all and at the moment I don't have a lot of income flowing into the 'ol bank account. I'm willing to work for lessons, but as of right now i'm pretty down on myself. I am a hard worker, and I'm loyal to people, i'm not a flake, but I feel as if the owner at my old barn thought I wasn't doing that good of a job... so that worries me, I don't want to end up trading labour at another barn and not living up to their expectations either. I've always lived up to people's expectations, so this is a newfound, and VERY scary fear for me. Plus, I want to be working for lessons, not working and sometimes getting lessons.

Goal #1 is my riding, and I guess I just need to centre myself and remember how much I love horses, and that I want this to be my path in life.

I guess you could say I'm a little shaken up at the moment over everything... sigh.. just keep breathing.

Friday, January 27, 2012


... what the mailman dropped off today!
Happy days, I think this is a sign to procrastinate any form of studying and just read horsie magazines all day, right?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Dreams & Memories of Summertime

So, sometimes when i'm really struggling with things I have this tendency to revert back to summer, and dream about camp, and the ease and flow that just occurs out there. I'm struggling with the barn I work at, I don't think it's a very good place for me, and that's really disappointing and I don't know what to do about it. I worry that if I leave I wont be able to find somewhere that I can work but also get lessons, and that the owner of the barn i'm at now will basically black-list me... we'll see, I have a lot to think about.

Anyways, since I'm in a very weird emotional place with my current horse situation I, of course, am dreaming about summer. I grabbed my journal (which has 2 entries in it - haha) from this summer, and re-read my "most memorable moments" entry and thought I should share them here. Then maybe I can look back to them every once and awhile and remember why I love horses so much, and why this is the path I do want to take in life. Sometimes it's hard to keep that mindset in this big, bad world.

Typed straight from the journal...

Heading out to bring in the string!

1) Being out here chasing horses. It continually amazes me how silent and still the bands of horses can be. it also stuns me the things a horse will do for you when you ask of it - running down hills, galloping through trees, turning an entire herd, etc.

Meg taking shelter in the shed during a summer-storm.

2) The aura of the red barn and the shed; A moment that made me smile this year was after a ride-struggle with Jingle, Sandy told me, "a horse that comes out of the red barn comes out a riding leader horse, a horse from the shed comes out a dude string horse", apparently that was Jingle's problem! ... I doubt it, but it made me laugh.

How is it possible to miss something as much as I've miss you since our last ride this summer my boy? I love you, I will forever.

3) Jingle, the horse who deserves his own journal. there is something about him, how he can seem wild and unruly but also soft that makes me love him so much. I hope to one day look back on this and have the satisfaction to know he became a well trained, exceptional, horse.

Fizz, on the right, with her old-timer beet pulp buddy - Tad.

4) The moment Fizz colic'd and I thought we were going to lose her. After pulling through and monitoring her diet I love how her ribs have dissappeared from her sides and how her entire face is coated with Beet Pulp 3 times a day.

This isn't Box Canyon, no pictures unfortunately, but just look at that view! Makes you wanna go, "ahhhhhhhhh..." hey?

5) I rode with Steve week one and asked him, "take me somewhere i've never been", he took us to Box Canyon (through an old barbed wire fence that we maaaay have cut down) which is a slight death climb but worth it when you reach the meadow look-out, so beautiful.

A couple of my kids enjoying the view...

6) A camper memory; A not confident rider's first lope = "omg i'm dying, this is so fun, stop!, i love this, slow down, faster!, AHHHHHHHHHH". That was what she screamed at me as we loped for about 15 seconds at the end of Slashfoot's field.

Do we look "western" enough for you?
7) Quad rides! "This might get a little western" & "You don't seem like the timid type"

Saying goodbye to the herd after another summer...
8) "Scamp" the horse (Scram) and the endless laughter that ensued from one particular little rider

Can't give it up.
9) "Slashfoot does not drive a semi-truck", scary stories in the dorm vs. Jon singing the legends

How could you ever give something like that up?
10) all the amazing nights on the deck - the "starry night" sky and the northern lights.

.. Yes, that is me kissing a buffalo head.
11) Wednesday's at the saloon!

12) The horses that carried me through, my favourite - the amazing, incorrigible Jed. The insanely fast Mel. The mareish, silly Siss. Big, beautiful & rough Navy and my boy, always, Jingle.

This was my first "baby"; this picture does him no justice.
13) When Coltan high-centered himself on the fence and his big brown eyes kept looking at me like, "why?" and the resulting calm he had as he laid his head on my chest and Richard put his first set of shoes on after the entire incident.

Quick shot of said bridle.
14) When Tiffany gave me my bridle, everything that meant to me.

leaving for CP!
15) The craziness of CP - the caves, the dancing, the war wounds my legs succumbed too, the river, heart creek, everything. So amazing.

& then... after typing all of these out I came to the last paragraph I wrote 5 months ago...

"Coming out of [summer] I was a bit panicky - no horse prospects to ride, no real job, but I just have this sense things are going to work out."... and they will.

I am so heart-sick to go home. sigh.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Okay, Okay.. Snap Outta It!

So, as stated in my previous post, I've been mopin' about for the past 3-4 days. However, I was laying on my couch, attempting to do some readings and a particular Ian Tyson song came on. I love Ian Tyson, I have, I think, almost all of his albums on iTunes and i've seen him live. My grandmother, who I was exceptionally close with, passed away when I was in grade 6, also loved him. It's unfortunate that we never really got to experience him together. 

My mom and I, for the past little while, have been trying to remember her favourite song of his, and it continued to allude us. Then, tonight, as I was being annoyed with my life, I decided to put on some Ian Tyson as I read. A song i've heard probably a hundred time in the last 3 months came on, "50 years ago", but all of a sudden her voice was in my head. "& the sighing of the pines up here near the timber line makes me wish i'd done things different. Oh, but wishin' don't make it so. Oh the time has passed so quick, the years all run together now..." It's funny how at that very moment I could hear her so clearly "up here near the timber line", it was like she was right beside me. It was a nice moment, so often as time goes on you lose what seemed like small insignificant moments at the time of a person who has passed away, it's special when they come back to you. It was also a refreshing cuff upside the head (as she would have called it) to kick my butt out of this little slump, you want to make every moment count, not let the years all run together.

Here it is - for you, Nanny.

& then, as a final little uplifting moment, a favourite quote from Lee Ann Rust, who, at the age of 53 with one horse, Harley, won the WPRA Rookie of the Year...

"Success is having the courage, determination and will to become the person you believe you were meant to be."

Slumpsville, Canada.

I'm in a slump, not just in my equine-life, but in life in general. Ugh.
It's so cold here that going outside is near impossible (I am not kidding - even 5 minutes outside with exposed skin can cause hypothermia/frost bite in -30 WITHOUT wind chill), my truck is (once again) broken down, I'm being mopey and lonely, and I just want to curl up under my blankets and sleep this winter away.
I'm in one of those, "i'm in a shitty whiney baby mood, and I couldn't care less" moods.

Somebody un-slump me, this is tiring.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Riding Diary: 5

Horse: Betty
        - owned by the barn

Bit: Snaffle with Copper Inlay

Time: 1 hr

Ride: This was a bit of a scatter brained lesson, it started with my trainers high-strung, but usually well behaved, horse attempting to buck and run the entire length of the arena instead of being sane. He was a little concerned, she was clearly exhibiting some red flags that she wasn't feeling 100% and so, eventually, he jumped off and had her back checked, looked like something was out of place. It's always a good reminder to listen to your house, you know their typical behaviors and something that doesn't seem right can often be a pain response.

So, after all of that was resolved I worked on circles, escalating from small to large, stops, and rollbacks. I was having a hard time with my rollbacks, they just weren't as sharp and neat as I wanted them. Betty felt like she was really just turning quickly, not actually working off of her hind end. My trainer thought that perhaps her lack of sharpness might be in part to the fact that I wasn't wearing spurs, her regular rider wears spurs on her so he told me that next lesson I can bring spurs and we'll see how it goes.

Other than that now that school is back I have to do a lesson after a full day of classes and I definitely noticed that I was having a hard time being as sharp and responsive. Looks like Betty and I have something in common hey?

I was getting frustrated with her as well because every time she even got a glimpse of the flag (which we were not using) she started acting like a complete idiot and lost all the focus I felt she had before. So I had to work a lot on keeping her focus when we were doing anything near the flag.

Next Time: Rollbacks - sharper, neater, tighter, more engaged.

Side Note - Freckles has been sold, she was in a past life a rope horse and a well known roper came and tested her out, she was super quiet with him and did really well. He's going to take her home, work her on the heel-o-matic and probably sell her for quite a nice sum of money as a finished rope horse. I was definitely sad to see her go, and truth be told I don't really click with Betty, so hopefully a new horse finds it's home at my barn that I can call mine for a little while.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Riding Diary: 4

Horse: Freckles!

Bit: Basic Snaffle, then Chain Mouth Bit

Time: 1.5 hr

Ride: You guuuyysss I am sleepy, so this is going to be a bit on the short side. (Who am I kidding? I have a severe long-winded problem) I rode frecklyfreckles tonight, as you may remember I love this little mare's disposition. So I was quite happy to ride her, and also Trouble, my go-to horse, has gone back home to be with her real owners, so it looks like my riding-horse supply is dwindling. Anyways, today we worked on "proper" collection, Freckles has a tendency to hold her head very high naturally, but is also a pro at false collection, my trainer calls it "pushing peanuts". When their nose is so low to the ground they could.. well, push peanuts around the arena. So, I needed to focus on keeping contact but also driving her forward with my legs so that she's engaging her entire body, and not faking it.

Then we worked on circles and my hands .. of course, anyone who has read this blog knows about my issues with my goddamn hands. I feel like i'm improving though! If that counts.

Then I got to work Freckles on the flag, at first it was a bit of a disaster, she was not stopping so we switched out bits. Then my trainer had my work on just stopping her completely with my seat, even though she leaks when she stops. Then we transitioned into seat with slight hands and with the combination of me being a little better with my stops, and her bitted up more she was stopping and better at the flag.

Next time: I'd like to do more flag work, hold her from drifting and generally work on my position/stops while working the flag. and of course, hands, hands, hands. 

Side note - my trainer needs to get down the number of horses he owns because he's bringing up horses from Texas. This means that Freckles is on the chopping block. I could buy her, (well.. I don't have the full amount, but i'm sure we could work something out), and a big part of me wants too, but another part of me is so unsure, I need to give this one some serious thought. I will be very sad to see her go.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year, New You, Yada Yada

Okay guys, get ready, here comes a stereotypical New Years resolutions post.
Alright... let's do this.

So, I am one of those people who tries to do New Years resolutions, sometimes they go from very pinpoint stereotypical (Drink more water) to very airy and holistic (become a better friend). However, I see no shame in attempting to set goals and follow them through, even if they are re-named resolutions at this time of year. Due to the fact this is my horsie blog I thought I should probably share with you some horse-related resolutions.

For the sake of not being too cheesy, I'm calling them goals from here on out. Horse-related goals are near and dear to my heart, in a moment of total desperation and, "I'm never, ever going to be a good enough rider to please myself or others", on a cold and shitty night on a ranch in Nanton, in a small cramped room, I pulled out a journal and compiled a list of short and concise goals that I wished to have completed by September 2012. They were...

1. Find a barn to work at where I can trade hours for lessons.- check, I've accomplished that this year already.

2. Have a saddle by Summer 2012- I've decided to scrap this goal. There was a time when people told me that it was so important for me to have my own tack, but I've now firmly rooted myself on the side of fitting a saddle to a horse, not a horse to a saddle. Unforuntately where I work in the summer this mindset is not always reasonable or doable, but I can't imagine throwing a ton of money at a saddle now and then it not fitting a horse I perhaps regularly ride, or purchase down the road. It doesn't make sense to me, plus the many woes, aches and pains I witness in horses that have been caused by ill-fitting and improper saddle fit are just not worth it because the rider is attached to a material object.3. Compete at some level by September 2012- working on it, slowly but surely.
So, as you can see, goals are a good thing, especially when they were emotionally driven. I made those particular goals at a time where I felt like I had two options, 1. change for the better or 2. curl up in a ball, turn off all the lights, and forget my passion for horses. It was one of those milestone moments where from an outsider looking in it might have seemed like an insignificant day, or time, but for me, it meant the world.

I had someone recently comment on the fact that without her, I would have never been introduced with my trainer, and been able to obtain lessons/volunteer at my barn. I also always hear the old, "well, so and so's family is in the (insert discipline) world so that's why they have so much success", I'm even prone to that one. I always try to remember that, although someone's path may have been wider for them, no road you take is easy, and dwelling on things like "well, it was pure luck", will get you no where. There is no such thing as luck, there is such a thing as drive, determination, and willing to seek out assistance and putting yourself in places that may be out of your comfort zone but will eventually open doors for you.

So, looking toward a new year, hopefully completely overflowing with horse-everything, my new goals are as follows...

1. (Old Goal, but valid none the less) Compete at some level by September 2012
2. Build and stick to a 5 day a week exercise routine- It's interesting, my trainer's famous line is, "You wont need a gym membership after working here!", however, barn chores - similar to repetitive workouts with horses - overdevelop certain muscles, while under developing others. Also, lower abdominal muscles are key in riding, and are very hard muscles to target, pilates is a type of exercise that is effective in enhancing this muscle group. So, i'd like to build a routine that focuses on the muscle groups I need as a rider, but also on over-all health and fitness. So, there you go, the standard "get fit in the new year" resolution.
3. Continue to be at a facility not only where I can take lessons, but also learn, and be happy- seems pretty "well, duh" but these three factors, lessons, learning and happiness are key in the combination to my personal growth and development, and are, pretty much, what this blog is all about and why I started it. The minute I lose one, the other two generally follow, so continuing to satisfy these three demands will only further develop my growth in the horse world.Well. that was a pretty heavy post on introspection and meditation, wasn't it? I promise I'll go back to posting gangster-dressage video's soon! Hopefully anyone reading this is having a lovely start to the new year. If you're in Alberta we're experiencing an absolutely dream-like winter, so that is something to be happy about. I'm hoping 2012 is filled with as much fulfillment and growth for myself as 2011 did, and also, happiness... of course. Wishing the same for you!