Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Year in Review: 2013


Without Further Ado.... a very belated blog post... a Year in Review...


Using Jingle as a Couch... What are ponies for, really?

I began January in a bit of a tough spot with Jingle, he was testing me every which way he could. However, we were also taking baby steps in the right direction, his leads were coming along and I was learning to more clearly communicate with him and figure out who "he" is as a horse. Mac and Brigitte also had their two month anniversary at our barn, and so our two horses celebrated with some rolling in the arena. Cue the dirtiest paint that has ever existed. I finally got finished my Year in Review post, even though it took me FOREVER (similiar to this one.. sigh), I also wrote out some resolutions... we'll discuss those another post. After a brief 21st birthday adventure to Vegas, I was back and ready to ride my horse. Our first lesson back was awesome, and I voiced out loud that I feared jinxing the good rides we'd been having. Our next lesson my trainer wanted to try draw reins on Jingle, I debated whether or not I liked/disliked/knew what I was doing when it came to that particular tool. I decided in the end I was "okay" with the draw reins, but leery of the effects as well. The lesson train kept rolling on, but this time, I found myself in a new arena - a cutting pen! I found a guy, I deemed him "Coach" for the purposes of the blog, that had some horses I could take lessons on. He was very serious about position, and it took me a long time to figure out what he wanted. However, Coach and I clicked, I found him "very nice, soft-spoken and very encouraging." I took a breather from my Riding Diaries to recount to you the first half of a favourite story of mine, "Never Stare a Guard-Goat in the Eye." Finally, I tied up the month with a post that I thought up whilst in a yoga class.  I found myself getting physically manipulated and moved by the instructor, and I likened that to what we, as riders, do to our horses. However the ah-ha moment came from how hard I found it to isolate certain body parts, and calm, consistent leadership really helped me work through those issues. I walked away from that class with those thoughts on my mind when it came to riding my ponyboy.

Jingle, a very cute, very hell-demon.

February started with another lesson, I remarked that Jingle was amazing, in that, one minute he's wonderful, and then the next he absolutely falls apart. I ultimately concluded that, "sometimes, owning horses with personality, and a pissy streak, isn't easy." From there, I had a successful ride on Jingle just letting him run around the arena (funny enough). I also talked about how much I truly love my horse, but that, it would take some time to figure each other out. I also finished my (hilarious - I tell ya, I am funny) story about the "Guard Goat". In February lessons continued, we worked on the barrel pattern and stopping and we worked on trying to not kill eachother. Not only was my horses lack of manners on my mind, but so was deworming when I found a MASSIVE worm in his manure. icky icky icky. February appears to have been a banner month for us lesson-wise (not....)... I remarked how draining it was dealing with such a pissy/split-personality horse. I needed a good break from my arena, and my frazzled lessons, and I headed to Banff and Warner's Guiding and Outfitting to visit with some good friends and some beautiful draft horses. Finally, to cap off the month, I had a ride that I did not want to talk about. However, I had always blogged about any situation, so I blogged about this bad lesson too. Basically, the lesson began with me putting a bit back in my horses mouth, at the urge of my trainer, even though I knew it wasn't the solution. It then spiraled down into a bad, angry, jingle-flinging place. I finished the post by saying, "Anyways, by the time my lesson was over, my horse was jogging really nicely, but it was all fake, and it was all done with aids, and I was pissed at him, and at myself." So, all-in-all February was pretty tough for me and left me with a lot of questions, and problems, and I needed desperately to find solutions and answers.


Couldn't pick just one, apparently March was a great month for Photos, all thanks to my good friend Sarah!

Sarah's daughter, Abby, and my boy.. how far we've come.

Working on those poles, love this horse.

I began March with two cutting lessons, my first I got some nice praise on how I seemed "natural" with the horse, John Wayne, I was riding. The second lesson was good as well, this time I had to work on relaxing more. Then, I shared another Storytime, this time about a scary incident I had with a Wagon. Finally, I was back working with my boy, and blogging about it, in what I called an "Intensive". Two weeks of slow stuff. I said "I wanted to find his stop, I wanted to slow him down, and I wanted to just generally slow us down..." I introduced the "Wither Stop", I worked on all the technical stuff at a walk and jog, I ran through a pretend "lesson" to see how he'd react. As per expected, he became strung out and pissed off, so our next ride we went back to basics... and walked. During the Intensive Jingle also got a visit from a masseuse and his dentist who said he was happy where Jingle was after his first big overhaul 6 months previous. At the finale of the "Intensive" I remarked, "Jingle has done really well the last two weeks, I see the potential in him everytime I ride him, but it's his attitude that really jars the both of us sometime." Jingle was boarded at a very multi-disciplinary barn, so in March, Brigitte and I got a chance to ride with two english riders, who lent us some tack and we fooled around in the "English Pony" world. We had a really fun, positive night, Jingle wasn't perfect, but that wasn't the point. Then, my blog briefly went to the dogs... per se... with a post about a rescue friend, Tennessee, and my own lovely puppy Moose! I went to another cutting lesson, this time we weren't so harmonious, but by the end we were back to "clicking" and I learnt a lesson about not being a lazy rider. In March I also had my 50th lesson - so insane! I spoke with my trainer before this lesson and asked her if we could slow down and work on more technical stuff, during this lesson we began to work on two-tracking, and Jingle really excelled. Then we did some AQHA Trail patterns, and again, Jingle did well and overcame his pissy side to work with me. It was a REALLY good lesson and "I walked away with some ways to make that technical stuff a little more interesting and diverse for him." My farrier came out, and we had a discussion about how bad horse behaviour can sometimes reflect their owners, but not always. I said that, "I try to surround Jingle with people that have this philosophy [patience] of horses because I think, in the end, it'll make him all the better of a horse to be around." Then, with those thoughts in mind, a friends kid came out and rode Jingle! And he was AWESOME. I was over the moon about it. Finally, at the end of March, I had another lesson. Sarah came and took some photos that I loved, and we worked on more technical trail style stuff like pole work, and the gate!


My outfit for my Ranch Girls tryout!

A new month, another lesson! We worked on rollbacks, and sidepassing, and the gate! My trainer, and myself, were slowly figuring out stuff that Jingle likes to do - slow, steady, calm. I was beginning to actually enjoy lessons again.. that's what it's all about, isn't it?! I posted something that annoyed me... the fact that bit-less bridles are often not allowed in competition. I said, "what if my horse likes a sidepull more than a hackamore, what's the harm in letting us come play on the swings with all the other kids at the playground?" I also posted about my Calgary Stampede Flag Girl try-outs, a crazy night indeed! I DID NOT think I would get it, but to my "utter shock and amazement, I was invited to be a member of the 2013 Calgary Stampede Ranch Girls!" I also got the chance to do another cutting lesson, this time I rode another horse than I usually had been, and I had a hard time keeping him in position on the flag. I also chronicled the INSANE amount of tack issues I've had with Jingle... ridiculous. April was also the month of my "last finals of my last year of University", but that meant I didn't spend as much time with Jingle as I usually did. Then I wrote a post "A Love Letter to Camp Souncesllors" that I'm very proud of, it details the strength I found in being a camp counsellor for many summers. At the end of april, I snuck away from my finals to sneak into a barrel lesson! Yay. Jingle was awesome, until I wanted him to lope the barrel pattern... dats not happenin'. I ended the lesson with some "barrel homework", "my trainer wanted me getting jingle's nose following my hand, especially when we were loping." I walked Jingle out, and had an emotional moment with him telling him the "story of us", "as I was sobbing and telling my horse how much I loved him and how much he meant to me, two massive dogs came bolting up to the fence line and scared the shit out of both of us. He turned on his haunches and jumped right out of his skin and away from that fence line. It took me a bit of time to get him slowed down and stopped. Great metaphor... as is our life together, one part sappy love story, one part hysterical ridiculousness."

May deserves this many photos: 

Our first time sorting, look at us go!

First time cutting a cow! yip yip yeooo!

Birthday celebrations with 9 year old Jingle and his hat-wearing buddy, Mac!

What is better than being surrounded by wonderful people, great horses and spectacular scenary? Ft. some beers and fireball = NOTHING.

At the beginning of May we celebrated Jingle's 9th Birthday with "Carrots and Champagne." It was a lovely evening spent with friends and celebrating my most favourite horse in the world - Jingle! I also got to go up to Red Deer for the yearly Mane Event with three of my best friends - it was an awesome day! We got to see THE George Morris do a clinic, it was amazing! On the topic of Amazing, Jingle and I also went sorting for the first time with Caron and Quiz, and we had a total blast! Sarah came along and took photos - she is the best photographer! Jingle and I had a less than pretty lesson with me remarking "Remember that one time I dreamt and wished that my horse was one of those magical horses you hear about, that you can just show up and ride once a week and have lovely transitions, calm departures, and beautiful cadence? People tell me about these horses and I wonder if they actually ride unicorns. Let me tell you something, Jingle is NOT a unicorn." May was coming in like a lion and I got to work cows for the first time - it was an amazing experience and I remarked, "What a rush, I just want to do it over and over and over again." I almost had a 57th lesson, but then realized that Jingle was back sore... from a saddle... another saddle.. that I had just bought. I was not happy. I shared another Story, about my most beloved guide-horse, Cash. I had another cutting lesson, this time I realized that cutting is a lot more fast-paced than I ever realized. Over the May Long weekend, myself and some friends went out to our old ranch and got to spend a blissful weekend trail riding, camping and having a lovely time all around. It was absolutely AMAZING. Finally, at the end of the month we went sorting again, this time it was a mini-clinic where we got to do some slow stuff, and work through other things. Jingle was really great with the cows, but not so great with loading, either time... a little frustrating to say the least. However, I remarked, "Another great sorting under our belt, and the mini-clinic was such a wonderful way to work on some things, and try other techniques I may have been too nervous to do in a timed and speedier situation." Overall, May was AWESOME, just one good experience stacked on another, stacked on another... way life should be every month!


My beautiful horse. 


At the beginning of June, I had been a bad blogger, my life was "My life is consumed with three and a half jobs, totalling about 50-60 hours a week, when I'm not working I'm at the barn, and before you got all excited about how awesome we've been doing, and how amazing of a rider I am, and how my horse is a mystical unicorn that now excels in cow work... Jingle was put outside for the spring/summer at the beginning of last week and pulled a muscle in his shoulder (I think) because "omgz, I am the most excited to play "let's run around like fuckheads" with Mac, my new best friend." In June I also convocated from University! Look whose a grownup now (hahaha... kinda..). I listed some things that University taught me, "You may not love where you are in the moment, but you gotta keep going.", "Allow yourself to love and be interested in things that may not be the most lucrative."and finally, "My Degree taught me patience, commitment, research methods and communication skills." Jingle's mystery lameness continued through June, bute didn't help the situation, we chased an abscess, that wasn't real, an osteopath came out, and said his withers were misaligned and his left elbow and shoulder were locked. Still lame... I waited impatiently for a vet to come out. During June was also when Alberta was rocked by the "Great Flood". I posted this via Facebook, and it sums up how I was feeling, "Tragedy is tragedy anywhere it is, it's breaking my heart that so many people, places and animals that I know and love are being displaced and watching their homes be ruined by this flood. It doesn't matter who you are and where you live, loosing a home is still a heart-wrenching and debilitating experience. My prayers and thoughts go out to everyone in Alberta at this time, although I know we are a fortunate and lucky province, it doesn't make this devastation any easier to take." Finally, I documented the two floods that Jingle has seen in his life, and recounted the story of a "Hero Horse" Tad. The vet came out, and although he saw some "strange movement", he concluded that I should start riding again. It was wonderful news to hear at the end of the month!


That's me and Duke, levitating!, at the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth - so blessed!

In July, I received the "Liebster Award", thanks lovely readers! Then I wrote an article which I titled, "What Makes a Quiet, Safe, Bombproof & Broke Horse?", it was inspired by a lady that rode at my barn. I cautioned, "As much as I love to tell the story of Jingle and I, basically a "rescue" case that was semi-dangerous but whom I fell in love with, I always caution against it... there's been a lot of success and triumph with us, but there's also been a lot of scary moments, and a lot of sad ones too. I can't imagine if he was the first horse I ever came to know, I honestly don't know if I would still be riding today. " In July I experienced ten amazing, crazy days - Stampede 101 with the Ranch Girls! "Stampede was INSANE. The first few days my nerves got the total best of me. I think it kind of shocked my body into some weird state because I am never really "nervous". Sure, I get butterflies and a tossy stomach every once in awhile, but this was a whole new level of nerves for me. Like, feeling like I was going to puke and pee my pants as the gate opened for grand entry. After three days of feeling like I was seriously going to die, my body finally calmed down, and I started having fun." It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I am still so thankful to the Stampede, Rodeo Committee and our coordinators and organizers that I was allowed to be a part of it all! Finally, I wrote a post called "Peripheral Vision" about the Ranch I grew up on. "It's easy to duplicate feelings, emotions and patterns when you did the exact same thing, every week, for six weeks, every summer, for five summers. It's easy to feel empty and alone when your Monday wake up call means a shower, and a trip to the office, whereas, for five summers, a Monday wake up call meant the first day of rides for a brand new group of campers. Just beyond my peripheral vision I can see all those horses lined up in rows, softly munching on their hay, nickering to each other. However, here I am, at my office, and all I can hear is key strokes. It is a strange thing, knowing you can go back to a place, but knowing you can never go home." It was a melancholy moment, to a very awesome month.


No More Riding.. I am THROWING out this halter Mahm! - Quote Jingle in August

I was a long lost blogger at the beginning of August, and updated what I had been up too! I was having a great time being a loper for a cutting horse trainer I was working for. I began to slowly work jingle again, using fence-lines as my friend and trotting straight lines trying to strengthen my horse, and finally, after what "seemed like months.. my horse seemed sound." Sarah's kids came out and rode Jingle, and we also got to visit our old ranch. & I remarked on a year of owning my most favourite thing in the world. I also had a Big Announcement, I was heading South to work for my boss in America for a year! With than announcement I made this statement, "Of course, there's that nagging part of me that worries I will fail, or that this thing will be a bust, but for now, I'm just holding on for dear life. I'm sick and tired of surrounding myself with stagnation and negativity in the horse industry, and the horse people I know. This year I'm focusing on two things - personal development, and dream chasing, and that's all that matters from here and out." Good statement past-Louisa, still rings true to today. I recounted the many "Versatile" things that Jingle have done with a little review. Jingle and I have dabbled in Western Pleasure (hahaha... bit of a satire with that one), Sorting, Being a "Kid's Horse", A Liberty Horse,  Jumped, We've been a Pasture Puff, a Guide Horse, a Ranch Horse... but most importantly "Being my shoulder to lean and cry on." Love him. At the end of August, I whined about Planning, and Packing, and admitting to doing a lot of sitting because "Moving is just so... hard."


Look at us go!

I started off September with the second installment with my story about my beloved Guide Horse, Cash. I also showed off my new trick-riding skills and couldn't believe that a year before I barely had the courage to ride him outside a round-pen... time flies when you're having fun! I also put up a bunch of tack For Sale in preparation for my move to the states. Then, I wrote a post entitled "Relationships and Horses" about a relationship I had currently come out of. What's even funnier is that, in writing this year in review, I had forgotten I had even wrote this post - how funny. So, as a quick follow up, the guy that inspired that post? Well, a couple months after I had left, he found out he had gotten a girl pregnant, and they are now living together and having a child. Guess I dodged the bullet on that one... ;) In September, Sarah and I went up to Banff and went on a fun Tourist Trail-Ride with an old friend, and guide, Garry. It was a lovely day with friends! I then announced a slight change of plans, I was heading to the states - tickets were booked - but to work for a different cutting horse trainer. Things are never dull in my neck of the woods! At the end of September, my baby and I went to our first Gymkhana. It was such an awesome day - Jingle was a total rodeo rockstar, totally blowing me away, and we had so much fun. Sure we had things to work on, but the reality was setting in that very shortly I would be saying goodbye to my horse for the forseeable future and to just enjoy the small stuff.


I think this picture will always sum up Texas for me - the whole crew!

Well, at the beginning of October I found myself in Texas, "farther away from home than I've ever been, ever." I recounted my crazy work schedule and the new life I had found for myself for all of you. I also had some "Early Insights of a Canadian in Texas". I tried Cajun food for the first time, as well as "nutbread sandwiches" - yummy. However, there was no such thing as Ginger Beef and everyone said "Ya'll"! Furthermore, people partake in an activity called "noodling", which is catching catfish with one's hands, and that my friends... is "simply not okay." We found ourselves in Jackson, Mississippi for the Southern Futurity, and I documented it in photos as well as summarized my first big show in the cutting horse world! The days were long and the sleep was lacking but "overall, I felt the show was a definite success, and I was pleased with how well it turned out - especially since it was my first."


Texas, where Margaritas are everywhere.
(Which is a good thing, because a loper always needs one after a long day!)

In November, I wrote out my "Final Thoughts" about the Southern.  These included my take on loping-pen style aka "how to be part of the "in crowd" if you are a loper. Also, how do you know if someone is a Trainer's Wife. I had it all figured out now ;) After the Southern we had a moment of rest and jumped right into the Season of Pre-Works! Our First Pre-work was marked by our three year olds being absolute hellions, and then us finally getting a hold on them. We were pretty proud of ourselves. From South-Texas, we headed to San Angelo (.. also in South Texas haha) for another Pre-Work, this one was much more of a show-setting, but our horses did really well, and again, we were pretty proud of ourselves and our little (big!) crew of three year olds! However, being a loper is not a cushy job, "On Sunday night we hauled home after our works were done for the day. Yup, 20 hour day and by the time we gone done and home, and the next morning we were up and show-bathing them at home by 8 am. Nobody ever said lopers get sleep... nobody." I got my mind off Pre-works for a second to share a super cute horse-themed proposal found via facebook. I also talked about how much I missed "My Teammate", Jingle. I posted about a new study that talked about "co-being", which, "In short, "Co
being refers to a state of relationship in which each partner evolves to “fit” better with each other, both physically and mentally." I think this is something that most riders know already, and as this blog post shows, I am a firm believer that Jingle is my co-being... but interesting that a study has now proven it." Finally, I posted about "Diagonals and Directions", I talked about discovering that many people didn't know about diagonals in the western world - but hey, something I know about! Which felt pretty good.


Happy to be home, Happy to be with my baby.

I missed Jingle terribly, so I got a very cool monogrammed bracelet made on with his registered name - I love it!! I also experienced a record-breaking ice storm that almost shut down all of Texas - let me tell you, I was experiencing my first humid winter, and I was ABSOLUTELY hating it. UGH. Horrible. I jumped on my two-time a year buckle-bunny train and talked about how much I love watching the NFR. I also discussed the controversy over Taylor Jacob's handling of her horse Bo after a nasty run. I admitted to hiding from my blog, (something I tend to do often I am afraid - shameful behaviour), and wrote about Texas. "Texas was an experience, filled with ups and downs." I recounted a bit more of what working at a big operation was like, and the disappointment at finding out that I wasn't going to be at the Futurity much, like I first thought. I ultimately decided that, "I need to learn how to cut. That's it. That's all. No Excuses. I'm going to be showing by next year, and to do that, I need someone to mentor me. It wasn't going to happen for me where I was." So, I hopped on a plane for home to visit my family and friends for the holiday, and didn't book a ticket back to Texas. Finally, as a seemingly fitting last post of 2013, I wrote "Adventures in being Turned Out", the chronicles of my Princess Pony to a Fuzzy Draft Pony Horse! "Being turned out has been a learning experience for both Jingle and I. Jingle is learning how to expand his belly every single day, and I am learning to stop over-reacting, and get over myself as a horse-mom. Baby steps."

I can't even.... what an absolute crazy year... who has years like that? Brought my first horse home, had some absolutely amazing, wonderful, love-filled, excitement-filled, scary, great, etc etc etc moments AT HOME, and then packed up and moved to Texas to work for one of the biggest trainers in the cutting horse world THEN came home for the holidays and am now writing this from my new home in Arizona! I feel like my life is a hurricane trapped in a tornado sometimes, and for the most part, I really really love it.

There is a reason I haven't been posting much - don't fear I am actually very happy here... but I'm cooking up some new projects, and thinking about some things. Stay tuned - things are changing around blog land!

Please know, as well, that although I haven't been blogging much, or commenting on your posts, I'm still reading about all YOUR adventures, and will try to be a better blog-friend by actually dropping a line soon in the future. Life has just been so crazy.


  1. Wow, that was a huge year! Seems like your biggest horse year yet. Of course, 2014 is the year of the horse, so maybe this one will top it?

    Glad to hear Arizona is treating you well. I can't wait to hear more about the specifics.

  2. What a whirlwind year you had! Some amazing opportunities, that you made the most of while still staying true to yourself.
    Bring on the Arizona adventures! Do you get to take Jingle there?