Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Year in Review: 2012

I have been severley M.I.A from this blog, and it's all THIS POSTS fault, it took me foreveeeeer to read all my long-winded posts and link back to them, but i'm glad I did. So, without further ado, 2012 with horses..


From my blog post about Summer 2011, one of my favourite memories was simply, "Jingle".

January started off with some  resolutions "horse goals" - they included "Compete at some Level by September 2012", "Build and Stick to a 5 day a week exercise routine" & "Continue to be at a facility not only where I can takes lessons, but also learn and be happy". Well, the first two horse goals didn't exactly make it... but they are good ones, I may re-hash those bad boys. The third goal was accomplished - but at a new barn, one where I am much happier at. I was working and riding at a barn with a crazy-person as my boss, he was giving me sporadic and crazy lessons (as seen in my riding diaries from the month of January). Then I wrote a post called "Slumpsville, Canada", which didn't say much except that I was bummed out, but in reality... I was having a minor physical and mental breakdown, and it was 100% due to the barn I was working at, and it was about to come to a head. I finally admitted that I was "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." and because I was emotional, and sad, I wrote out my favourite memories from the summer of 2011. Then finally, on January 30, I wrote a post about quitting the barn I had been working at, I wrote "I guess you could say I'm a little shaken up at the moment over everything... sigh.. just keep breathing." So clearly, January was a very tough, very emotional month for me, and I struggled with a lot of different aspects of my "horse life" during that time.

"A Sweaty Quiz" after a ride.... just the best mare. She really captured my heart.


My first post of February detailed the death of Stacy Westfall's amazing horse Roxy (Whizards Baby Doll), on which she preformed her famed brideless, tackless freestyle at Congress 2006. I then went to a Lunch and Learn with Albert Kley put on by Spruce Meadows, which was very informative. On Valentine's Day, I was warmed with the response of a stranger who I had contacted after seeing a very sad, seemingly lost kijiji post about whether or not she should sell her daughter's horse, which was gifted to them - and was pretty much untrained, which various bad issues. She ended up replying with a very kind, heartfelt response, and wherever that mother is now, I hope things are working out for her family, horses included. Then, I detailed my first ever lesson at my barn with Princess MareFace, aka Quiz! At one point I say this, "realization: I rarely know what my horses legs are doing when I am riding. Square one: Louisa, you don't even know how to freakin' trot properly, focus more on gait. This is the most embarrassing moment to type out on this blog, but now it is over." I also talk about craving consistency with someone - well, checkmark, I have found consistency with my trainer, and I can now trot properly - diagonals included! haha. After my first lesson, I calm down, and it shows - my trainer remarks that i'm doing much better - I do, however, admit to being freaked out by having to ride with a bunch of people doing a bunch of other things in the arena. In "How Many Cows would a Cutter Cut if a Cutter Could Cut Cows?" I lament on the fact that i'm finding it brutally hard to even get a toe in the door of the cutting world - this issue continues into today. sigh. I got to pick up my custom chaps, given to me as a Christmas present from my mother, and they are lovely. I ride Quiz more, and I finish the month with a post entitled "92 days", which is a love-letter to the main horse in my life - ponyboy Jingle. In it, I say, "If anything, distance has made me entirely crazy, but it has also made me love you more.& with all this distance, and planning, and thinking of you, I come to really worry about my plans. I worry in an almost obsessive manner, and it has made me tired. Distance has been very hard indeed, but I don't love you any less than I did the last day I saw you." If January was my month of being in the gutter, February was my month of crawling out of it, and crawling out of it I did indeed - thanks to the wonderful little mare named Quiz, (and of course - her real mother, Caron).


Home sweet home - no matter where in life I am.

I began March by detailing my less than stellar spending habits. On March 3, I discovered that my beloved ranch, which was also a kid's horse camp, was going to be put up for sale. I had been attending since I was 8, and worked there from when I was 16, until I was 20. I was devastated. I said, "Today, I am trying to remember to always cherish the people dearest to you, and the time you have at the places you love." Good words to live by. As the month went on I pondered the effects of my attitude, and sad emotional state on my riding and I paid a visit a cardiologist about a non-exsistant heart problem who informed me, in a very snotty matter, that riding did not equal any sort of workout and I was just "sitting on the poor animal who is doing all the work." I continued to grapple with my feelings over the ranch being for sale, and in a post entitled "Home" I talked about my initial feelings and thoughts when I heard the news. This is also the first post I had ever recieved a really mean comment on - from an anonymous person no less! Ugh. I also stood up to what I referred to as the "Big Bad Wolf" which was my terrible ex-boss, who owed me a month and a half worth of pay and was pretending he didn't know about it. (Although I had left him notes, as well as texted him). Finally, at the end of March, I had my first really awful lesson where I fell apart and couldn't pick myself back up - the first of many, however, those are the ones you really remember and learn from, aren't they? So, March.... looking back on it, was a pretty fricken tough month for me. I was an emotional war-zone due to the announcement of the sale, and I was falling apart left right and centre. However, out of this space I managed to pick myself up and demand some respect from someone who had treated me badly.


Meg, waiting for a stick, at the Close Lookout on a Spring Ride at the Ranch.

I began April in a much better place aka on the back of a horse, Hobo, at the ranch, and wrote my very first Trail Journal. My trip to the ranch wasn't just for a leisurely ride though - I also asked to buy Jingle, and was told that, come summer, my boy would be mine! Coming off that high, I wrote an ode to my favourite riding jeans, Wranglers, I reviewed a very good documentary called "Horse Boy", and formulated a list of things I thought I "needed" by the time my horse was in fact "mine". Finally, I told the story of the time I brought home a baby deer thinking I was saving it. April was definitely a month of change - and of new things to come!


Sigh... well that's just no fun.

I was a busy girl in May - I was trying to work as much as possible, which meant little-to-no time for riding, except for my weekly lesson. My lessons were starting to ramp up and I was starting to work on more advanced drills with Quiz, including simple lead changes, and barrel racing! I soon realized that I was an idiot who didn't know what "left" and "right" means when circling a barrel. On May 17, in "Life Update", I discussed that I was heading out on Saturday to look at a saddle (I ended up buying it), and also that my horse was home, but instead of keeping him in, they kicked him on the back 1200 acres... I was sad, and disappointed, but humoured myself saying i'd see him in 16 days. (Little did I know) I also wrote a very honest post about Jingle's pulling problem, and my own issues over his pulling. I had purchased a Clinton Anderson Pulling Ring hoping it would aid in the situation - I never did a follow up post, because, somewhere in my horses' brain this year he figured out pulling wasn't the solution. He hasn't offered to pull once this year since i've had him, in the summer I rarely tied him, but also every time he attempted to step back, or rush away, I would correct him. I think that quiet steadiness got the whole pulling thing out of his head, and it's awesome - my scary puller days are over!  I went to the Mane Event in Red Deer and was amazed by Dan James and his liberty act. Towards the end of the month I was unfortunately rear-ended, and my GMC Jimmy was written off, which sucked. Finally, I had my first (and unfortunately only) lesson with a cutting trainer, and got to ride an amazing mare named "Cat" out of Just a Sly Cat, out of my most favourite sire of all time - Highbrow Cat!! So Awesome! It was a really good lesson, and I learned a lot - I also really enjoyed his style of teaching. He was pretty hard to pin down after that, and I never did get another chance to ride with him before I left for the summer. Maybe this spring/summer I'll track him down again! March was a busy month, with lots of work, little riding - but good riding when I got the chance, and a set-back in the form of a written off vehicle.


June was marked by two things - the first, my undying love for THE princessmareface - Quiz, and second, riding seemingly every horse at the ranch - except for mine. In my second Trail Journal, I rode a mare named Butterfly, and quickly discovered that our main herd of horses was nowhere to be found - this was puzzling indeed. Quiz and I got to spend time in our beloved outdoor arena, and I battled with my nemesis the "ground pole". Alberta went through a rainy spell, which meant my horse hunt stayed above the valley, and in the hills for the most part, I rode Butterfly again, and a horse I didn't trust 100% named Pepper, and yet still, for all those hours, no Jingle. Quiz and I had a few really un lessons where we got to do an obstacle course of sorts. Finally, on the 27, Quiz and I had our last lesson together before I left for the summer - it was a bittersweet moment, with me reflecting on how far i've come, but worrying about what I would do for 2 months without my trainers guidance, and the most perfect 4 year old to ride. Another weekend at the Ranch provided a clue in where my horse was - the answer: not anywhere fricken close. Gates into neighboring property had been left open, and our entire dude string was two quarter sections away - we found them, chased them home, and once the dust settled I realized my horse was not in the bunch. Sarah came out a week later, and the two of us ventured into "Big Coulee" to attempt to find my horse - again, I failed, however I got to go on a pretty spectacular ride with a great friend. So that's June - a heck of a lot of riding, both in and out of the arena, but unfortunately not on the most favourite horse of all - Jingle, the missing pony.

July and August 

First ride in a year!

I will have to push the two summer months together, because, although both months were jam-packed with crazy adventures at my ranch - none were blogged about due to my lack of internet - you were missed blogosphere! I did however do a Summer Recap Series in my favourite photos - Jingle finally came home towards the end of July, it was a very emotional moment seeing him standing in that corral, and one that i'm sure I wont forget soon. I got the wonderful opportunity to ride a safe, sane, and wonderful horse all summer - the ever gorgeous palomino, Cash. I marveled in the most beautiful country - Alberta has got to be God's Country, it is just too perfect to not have been blessed. Finally, I got to spend one last summer at the place that raised me, and it was a pretty good one at that.

Look whose in his shipping boots & coming homeee!

I continued my Summer Recap in Photos into September, and then ended the series with a Finale, of sorts. I struggled to find the words to convey all my emotions, but summed it up pretty good with, "Honestly, I still don't like how the words have assembled themselves in this post, i've only scratched the surface, and I can't seem to convey anything deeper than that. I think, in life, there are some things that words will just never be able to explain." &, to not be too sad about the whole thing - I figured I rode over 200 hours in two months - not bad at alll! So, the Summer Series wasn't exactly 100% happy - but one thing sure was - Ponyboy coming home on September 1st! I had my first ever lesson on my boy, I grinned the whole time - even through our messy, non-exsistant stops. I recounted things that made me happy vs. things that made Jingle happy. I witnessed Jingle's first pissy-match ft. a "I WILL NOT LOPE" and me ft. a crop in our second lesson. I showed off photos from a Photoshoot a great friend of me and my boy in the summer. I began to see, more and more, how Jingle's jaw problems were effecting riding him, and I pondered, rather dejectedly, whether I would ever be a good enough rider for him. Finally, I had another dentist come and look at Jingle's big 'ol mouth - the result was that he definitely wasn't 100%. The positive was that Jingle wasn't truly in pain, although there was a slight pressure build up from an overgrown tooth, the root of a lot of his problems stemmed from pain and have become behavioural. I had a sad day, where I just generally felt blue over my poor horse, and myself, and then vowed to just be better and made a plan of attack to counteract some of his issues. These included researching stretches and massage techniques I can do on him (done), moving him inside and putting him on supplements to aid in regeneration of tendon, and muscle relaxation (done), find a massage/chiro (next month!), figure out what works best for him (done - sidepull). So September was a pretty big month in my life - I brought my most wonderful horse home, and began to delve deeper into some of the issues he has.


Cooling out in the fall leaves, picture perfect

We began October, at the advice of my dentist, experimenting with bits. Harsh bits, Mild bits, Inbetween bits - all the bits in my horses mouth. I also realized that sooner than later - my horse was going to have to start getting blanketed. On Thanksgiving, I discussed how thankful I was for "forever friends", and "heart horses" - which is still as true as ever today. The discussion over blanketing continued - with me lusting over a crazy expensive Bucas blanket, and pondering the pros and cons. I went on a lovely fall trail ride with some friends at a local dude ranch, but I quickly realized - riding one horse all the time, is so much better than riding different horses all the time. Jingle continued to show me his sassy side in our lessons, but also began to start loping his left lead consistently. I rode my boy bareback for the first time - which was a bit of a trust leap for me, after having broken my wrist on a green horse trying to bareback a couple years previous. I reviewed the customer service at a couple different horse-related store. I hit my 100 posts milestone, Jingle moved into his first-ever stall, and my mother came to watch my ride for the first, and possibly last time - as she froze to pieces in our unheated arena. Finally, to end the month I lusted over Dubarry boots.

Figuring out new trails in a sidepull!

Jingle was switched into a sidepull in our first lesson in November, and I switched more control for a better headset, and seemingly more relaxed horse. Some friends came out to see the barn, and visit and ride the big man. I pondered whether or not my horse has Split Pony Personality Disorder and Jingle recieved his first ever cookies from a little girl at the barn = the beginning of a sick addiction. My best friend, Brigitte, brought her horse to the barn - Mac, which was very exciting! Jingle and I began to tackle the ideas of "release" and steering when speed is involved. Jingle's wonderful, beautiful, stall sign came in the mail! As he does, Jingle surprised me with a wonderful first trail ride at our barn, and I discussed the positive implications of him getting to be outside with me, not stuck in the arena. Finally, I write a bit of an "out-there" post about Animal-Communicators, and decided if I ever find a reputable one, i'd definitely have it done - just for the experience!

Fuzzy Christmas baby

I began a fun "Equestrian Challenge" in December which has been giving me some excellent, and sometimes tough!, topics to blog about. Jingle & I's lessons remained much of the same - working on the lope, figuring out pressure/release, and hoping and praying Demonpony wouldn't appear and try to kill the kids who ride during my lesson. Jingle's massive overheating, and 2 hour long cool-out time was becoming an annoying issue, and so he was trace clipped for the first time! He was an absolute angel for the first 30 minutes and then he hit his threshold and unleashed a kicking fit on us - a couple big whacks of a crop later and we got it done. During another lesson, my trainer commented that "Jingle was really coming along" which had me beaming from ear to ear, and I discussed how happy it makes me when him and I just seem to fit. Jingle, myself, Brigitte and Mac had a bit of a, absolutely freezing, Christmas Photoshoot before the holiday, and finally, I spent the last day of 2012 at the barn with my boy - who managed to put a smile on my face after a less than stellar phone call. They say how you spend New Years Eve is how you'll spend the rest of your year - well, with my horse, and then, comfortable at home with really good friends, is alright by me!

Wow - what a year it has been, I look back on it and am honestly exhausted thinking about all of it. This Year in Review post exhausted me! Haha From the lows of being at a shitty barn, to coming to the barn i'm at now and getting to ride the amazing Quiz. Grappling with, and figuring out how to deal with, the sale of my beloved ranch. Two months spent with probably over 200 hours in the saddle, many hours worrying, stressing, being angry and questioning my riding ability. Bringing my boy "home", and within 4 months - figuring out what works best for us, what doesn't work for us, how to ride a "pissy" horse, loping our leads, starting on the barrel pattern, figuring out transitions, the list goes on and on!

What a year it has been, reviewing 108 blog posts really solidified what an absolutely crazy year it truly was, definitely a year of change and of learning. 2012 was marked by so many big events, forks in the road, and milestones in my life, and I'll definitely be hard pressed to forget it. 2012 was a learning experience, and I cannot wait to take the things i've learnt and roll them into 2013.


  1. Wow that was quite a year you have had! I can see why it took so long to write this post. I keep thinking I should do one, but have been unmotivated it.

    1. haha quite a year indeed! You should - it's kind of cathartic to go back and look through your blog and think about the year gone by. I was pretty unmotivated too (... as you can see, three weeks after the "New Year" has come and gone hahaha)