Monday, November 11, 2019

Instagram Likes

I really, honestly cannot believe that I'm taking the time to speak on the news, but it was either this or a Facebook post, and I hate Facebook.

If you haven't heard, Instagram is testing out a potential new feature in the United States where they're getting rid of likes. Actually, no, scratch that. Instagram is not getting rid of likes, but plenty of sources had a field day reporting with that headline in order to stir people up and get enough clicks to keep their advertisers happy. Instagram is testing a feature where users won't be able to see the number of likes on others' posts, but users will still be able to see the number of likes on their own posts. That's it. That's the whole thing.

Honestly? Sure. Go for it. It's being done in an attempt to address cyberbullying via the platform and counteract the negative mental affects that come with comparing likes. This mainly has to do with the wellbeing of kids and teenagers on the app but definitely still applies to people across different age groups. What's killing me here is the reaction. I'm hearing complaints about monetization, analytics, people having their come up, kids needing to grow thicker skin and have better parents, yadda, yadda. Nicki Minaj even threatened to stop using the platform entirely.

Here's a little life advice: if Nicki Minaj says something, and there isn't a beat behind it, probably ain't worth listening to.

Instagram will always have analytics, therefore any fears about money and business dealings are unfounded. The real reason why I'm so bothered by this is that the change has everything to do with the wellbeing of children, and I honestly care about that more than some influencer trying to make another $20k off of selling Fit Tea.

And of course this loops right back into the horse world and our newfound leverage of social media for business and personal branding. It's honestly not as bad as it used to be, but for several years it seemed that every post was focused on high end brands, namely Ogilvy and Parlanti. That's not to say that these brands should be denounced, but there was a clear and defined image of what a good hunter/jumper/equitation rider should look like.

Self worth should always come from within. That's a given; however, if removing the visibility of likes decreases the tendency for young people to play the comparison game, then I'm all for it. This is already an intense and judgemental sport. Let's not make it worse.

Ok, I'm done. For inquiring minds, Lucie is doing fabulous and we had a perfect evening ride this past weekend. My most recent picture of her got 60 likes ;)

Tubby is worth at least 100 likes

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Getting to know your Thoroughbred Mare

We're coming up to two months with Miss Lucie, so I figured it was time to actually delve in and share more about her.

The obvious: she's a mare, she's gray, and she's huge. Basically Summer with tinier legs.

She also rides pretty similar to Summer as well despite being a touch dead to my leg. Her walk and trot are pretty consistent. I could definitely get a bigger step out of her at both gaits, but she's starting to get a lot softer in her mouth. The BO also mentioned that she tends to get stiff behind, but the more consistently she's taken out, the better she gets. I've introduced polework and a lot of direction changes as well, and that seems to have her moving more energetically with a lot less influence from me.

Her canter is . . . a trip. She hasn't been consistent, although part of that is likely due to stiffness, being out of shape, and getting kicked the second week I went out to ride her. Her canter is where she gets more like Summer because she just hangs. Lucie very much struggles to carry herself for longer periods of time and becomes a freight train after more than two laps. Then after I bring her back to the trot and try to hold things together, she's too worked up and takes even more time to relax before I ask again. Cantering earlier on in the ride and for shorter periods of time has helped. I've also integrated the teeniest, tiniest bit of transition work, and I'll probably start adding more.

We're still learning personal space
Personality wise . . . she's needy. Both her and her stall mate Molly are the most attention hungry horses I've ever met. Also, despite being mostly level headed, the Thoroughbred pops out every once in a while and she'll lose her mind at absolutely nothing. She already managed to break a set of cross ties under my watch.

I really do like this horse. We clicked from the trial, and I actually cancelled with the other show jumper because I was already set. So, welcome, Lucie :)

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Vlog #24: September 2019

Cheers to a year of monthly videos! I actually like this format and will likely continue with it for as long as its remains convenient. September was my first month with Lucie, but I didn't get a lot of our rides on video, so this month you get to meet her neighbor, Molly.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

(Mis)Adventures in Leasing - Part 7

The first horse I tried was the hunter mare. She's a gray, 10 year old OTTB. Pretty much a horse that I would expect to see in Coach S's barn. The BO said that the mare is typically a hunter but gets into a jumper mindset once you put spurs on. This wasn't an issue for me at all until I got on her and realized that she is slow. Like takes a serious effort kind of slow. She's also not been worked regularly in a while outside of another lessor riding her sometimes.

Trying her basically turned into a 30 minute lesson in the evening sun. Fun Fact: it's still hot as hell down here at 5pm. This will be a fun adjustment. We did a lot of trot work to get her moving and then moved into the canter. She has smooth smooth gaits, which kinda makes up for how pokey she is. One drawback for me is that she has auto changes (hunter children, calm down). I genuinely prefer to have control over the flying change.

Since she isn't super fit, going over fences was kept super simple: trot poles into a cross bar. She was great every time through, if not a little lazy. My hands started to become a problem after the fence as I still tend to close my hands a lot harder than I close my leg. Despite that, she was good. A solid citizen, and a great first trial.

Monday, September 16, 2019

(Mis)Adventures in Leasing - Part 6

Yeah. We're doing this again.

One of the dilemmas for me as the move approached was trying to figure out what I wanted to do horse wise. It was a minor dilemma until all the big dilemmas were settled, and then it became the only thing on my mind. Unfortunately, I became so overwhelmed with the thought of driving to a new place that I sat around for days and refused to contact anyone. I'm a real, grown, well adjusted, adult human woman. I promise.

On the bright side, I came into this leasing adventure with a more solid idea about my budget, both time and money wise. I posted in some FB groups and straight up asked for a not fancy cheap or free lease because I have no intentions of showing or doing anything too serious while I'm still in school. Of course, I did get people recommending show stables . . . and an offer that was almost the cost of my rent . . . and another one that was well beyond my rent . . . but that's life, eh?

After many PMs, comments, searches, and phone calls, I ended up with three to try out. One hunter mare, one jumper gelding, and one retired GP gelding.

I'm exhausted.

I hate adulting memes, but I hate being an adult even more

Thursday, September 12, 2019

30 Days, 30 Lessons

What I've learned in my first month of Miami life:

1. Everything is expensive
2. There are more lizards here than people
3. It's always hot
4. It's always humid
5. If it not hot and humid, it's rainy and humid
6. If it's not hot and humid OR rainy and humid, then there is probably a dark cloud off in the distance that's about to make things rainy and humid
7. All of those weather situations happen at least three times per day

One of the very rare times that it didn't rain on my walk home
8. It is impossible to dress for the weather. You will always be drenched in sweat or rain.
9. If you hear a faint scratching in the middle of the night, it could be a roach
10. Sometimes the scratching is actually a lizard
11. For anyone who cares to know, the urban fabric is horrendous
12. Taking pictures of Orb Weavers is somewhat therapeutic
13. The human knee is an absolute disaster of a joint

14. I-95 is an absolute disaster of a road
15. Matter of fact, all roads are a disaster. Take the metro.
16. No one here is ever on time to anything (and it's not because of the roads)
17. Every night feels like a calm summer night
18. Mojitos. Mojitos. Mojitos.
19. Gas is expensive
20. Dating is expensive
21. I need to get sunscreen before my skin starts aging faster than the rest of my body
22. Plants can make any room pop

And this city is nearly overrun by plants
23. If the washer and dryer ain't in the unit, then the unit ain't in my future
24. Winn Dixie can be a great form of entertainment
25. Chickpeas? Delicious.
26. Target will definitely help you through your 20s
27. I really need to learn Spanish
28. Despite the fact that I only came here to get my degree and skidaddle back to D.C., I'm actually getting to know people and making friends/workout buddies
29. Believe it or not, I'm actually having fun.

The art galleries? Lots of fun!
30. Sometimes, you write a blog post with the hope to publish it at a certain time, but then a hurricane forces you to seek refuge for a weekend and things get posted later than you wanted them to be posted.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Four Years of IHSA

It was much harder to close this chapter of my life than I thought it would be. I cried at formal, and it was a drunken cry, so you know it was real. I don't wanna make myself sob while writing this post, so here's a four year highlight reel.

September 2015

I had my very first lesson with the team on the infamous Twinkles. I remember trying very hard to impress Coach S, and she simply told me, "It doesn't bend." It still does not bend, but there is no other Haflinger that will be as iconic as Twinkie.

October 2015

I had my first full lesson on Vic. Fun fact, the first time I ever saw Vic in person was when I confused Jacob Pope for a 30 year old man. Of course, I really wanted to ride him. Honestly, I hate how I initially wrote about that lesson because I only remember it fondly. Yeah, Vic is a difficult horse for me, and we never clicked, but that was a damn good ride.

He will never not be an absolute beast
November 2015

I went to WIHS for the first time.

Also that month, I rode to a 2nd place with the Pixel, the world's cutest and spookiest almost pony.

February 2016

I started the best semester of my life and got to swap back and forth between Pixel and Romeo. They kept me (mostly) safe and happy for four months straight, and I will never not be grateful for those two amazing animals.

I'm pretty sure this was also the month that I started working out with the team. While I'm not as buff as I want to be, I was able to figure out a lot of useful methods to maintain properly balance, strength, and endurance.

I took these guns for granted
December 2016

I jumped, like, 2' on Boomer and felt on top of the world.

February 2017

I started riding Carlos with some regularity. For the first time in a long time, it felt like I was actually doing something. I don't mean this to discredit any of the other horses I was riding (hell, I was on Roman AND Pixel within the same year). I wasn't on easy horses, but they were horses where I did have some ability to sit there and trust them to carry me. Carlos was the first horse after Baby that didn't make me feel like a passenger. With him, I was doing something. I was putting in work. He was improving; we were improving. There was a long period of time where I wanted to lease him, and if I see myself in a situation where I can buy him, then I'll do it. He's an absolute nutcase with four bad feet and two dangerous ends, but I wouldn't have him any other way.

June 2018

I wasn't able to take lessons for the school year, and my coach made a comment on how badly she wanted me to be back. I already missed going to the barn every week, and I had been feeling out of the loop and less like a real member of the team. Her enthusiasm only made me more determined to get back in the saddle.

September 2018

After not riding for over a year, I had a lesson on Leia.

November 2018

I got to go back to WIHS again, and it was just as thrilling as the first time. This time around, I actually took the metro from work directly to the show. The experience combined my three favorite things: architecture, horses, and public transit!

April 2019

A stellar lesson on Dori again gave me that feeling that I was actually riding and not just a passenger.

May 2019

Summer :)

August 2019

I had my last lesson and my first jumper show on the same day. It was riveting to say the least.

There's more that went into my Bachelor's than the things I learned in studios and lecture halls. Dust, dirt, fur, and hay went into it. There were some tears (not enough) and some bullshit (more than enough). There were 31 school horses, most of them bay Thoroughbreds, but hey, my trainer has a type. Only one blocked phone number but many many more worth staying in touch with. I love my team more than anything, and I can't wait to keep supporting them in the future.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Goals Check In

Here's where we stand with June/July goals.

Go to a show

By some freak of nature, this managed to happen. I'm so so so happy that God made me ambitious and a push over.

I think Doris and I made a good team
Get into a doable fitness routine

The key word here is "doable" because I can't really do much. Between preparing for a move, then moving, then not knowing how the new gym works, I've been sticking mainly to running. I haven't been in a serious routine since the end of last year. Even the simplest of workouts leaves me incredibly sore. I just work around the sore days and go when I'm not in pain. Prior to the move, I could go a full 2mi on hilly terrain without any breaks. After moving, that's proven pretty difficult, and I've been taking at least one break in the middle of my run.

My most recent run. Not sure what that huge dip in pace is all about.
If anything, my diet has required much bigger adjustments. I won't see any physical changes until both my workouts and my diet are corrected.

Fix my wrists

Truthfully, I didn't ride often enough to really address this. The plus side is that I think about it a lot more often, and being conscious of how my hands are oriented makes me micromanage the rest of my body a lot less.

Get a new saddle


When your parents are packing the car and ask "Is your saddle coming?"

Sunday, August 11, 2019


Alright, so, lemme lay down the facts one more time:
  • I only rode 3 times this past summer
  • One of those times was the morning of the show
  • I woke up that morning fully intended not to show
  • I am easily convinced to do just about anything
Okay, are we good? Are we all on the same page? Cool.

Summer, who genuinely does not care about anything these days
I would like to shout out Lizzie for being an absolute gem the whole day. Not only did she pick me up from the metro, she also gave me boots (because I sent mine home), a helmet (which I also sent home), a shirt to show in, paid for all my food throughout the day, and gave me some much needed time with my favorite pooch, Moose.

The unofficial graduation pictures
Since I rode Dori for my lesson, Coach S said I could just ride her again for the show. It was four classes total broken down into two speed rounds and two power & speed rounds. Y'all, we had POWER, we had speed, we're still finding control, but I'd say there is potential.

Despite being very laid back during our lesson, Dori channeled her inner HH Azur and took me to every fence, whether I wanted to go or not. It was a sit up and hold type of day, but I was so taken back by her sudden change in demeanor that I, uh, lost all logical thought as they say. Guys, she got slower each time we jumped during the lesson. What was I to expect?

We ended up with a 1st, 2nd, 6th, and 2nd in that order. Not bad for my first fully impromptu and completely unexpected jumper debut.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Vlog #22: My First Jumper Show

Some day I'll learn to half halt


Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Coming Back

It was a very rough winter for the Eq Team. Bad, rainy weather led to several horses abscessing. The ones who didn't abscess came up with random lameness, some short term, some long term. Penny was one of the long term ones. She came back into work as spring moved rather aggressively into summer. My second lesson in June was on her, and it was time to start working again.

To put it simply, Penny knows her shit. From what I've been told, she used to do the pony jumpers. I've only ridden her a handful of times over the past four years, but many people in the barn are vocal about how much they love her. Honestly, she is always a fun ride, but . . . she's hot. Makes sense since she's a jumper, but she's a micromanage type of ride.

My last IHSA show and also my second time ever riding Penny
She was easy to soften on the flat though we lacked forward motion. In her defense, it was pretty hot outside, and she's still working her way from tubby to trim. It's nice to be on a horse that's willing to unlock their jaw and fill the outside rein, even if it takes a correction of some sort every few strides. I like to micromanage (one of my many faults), so even though I can't necessarily leave Penny alone on the flat, it works out well for the both of us.

Plot Twist: she's the complete opposite over fences. I don't think I've ever jumped Penny prior to this lesson, but I've seen her zip around with other people. I found that when approaching a fence, it was better to have one clear, obvious half halt about six strides out instead of doing multiple, softer corrections up to the fence. She's as bold as Carlos, but if you hold to the fence, she tosses her head and cross fires.

Now that I'm suddenly allowing myself to be a jumper rider (more on that later), I would consider Penny to be my type of horse. Obviously part of it comes from her training, but she has a team player attitude if that makes sense. She doesn't fight unless you're doing something wrong, and if she's fighting me, the solution is probably to just soften my hands.

Plus, she's an absolute gem to handle.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Spoke Too Soon

So, true to her nature, Fate had a different plan for me this summer than intended. Since my last post, I have ridden four times. Two of those rides happened yesterday. While I am disappointed, it's also worth noting that moving over a thousand miles to a different city took most of my attention over the past two months.

I had two lessons in June. The first was on Dori where Coach S threatened to fix my wrists if I didn't fix them myself. My wrists have been a problem since I started riding Molly, but my trainers have yet to use threats as a solution. I'm embarrassed to say it worked. Makes me think about my hand position with more consistency.

No media from this lesson, so please enjoy me embarrassing this horse because
we have the same name
For the first time in a while, Coach was having us try some lateral work, which I am all for. After dealing with Roman's need for a slower paced canter set up, I started to use a basic leg yield more and more in my warm ups. School horses are all too used to plodding along the rail, and simply asking them to move towards and away from the fence makes them much more supple. Pro Tip if you're still riding lesson horses: leg yields, serpentines, and circles are your best friend.

Absolute heathen
I'm still slowly building my right side back up. Part of getting into a workout routine was to help build that strength and maintain my balance. Dori was fairly compliant, but it was clear that my balance was giving her some mixed signals. Squats, jogs, and lunges have always been the most helpful as well as general stretching. Hip stretches will absolutely be Miss El's legacy in my life.

He received a Bachelor's in Cuteness. Graduated with Honors.
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