Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Jumping and not being terrified the whole time

I've been very timidly stepping back into jumping with Lucie. Why? Because I'm timid. In my defense, her fitness was still needing work, and it made no sense to start jumping if I didn't feel great about her flatwork. At this point, she's trimmed up a touch (though I will always call her Tubby) and started working the right muscles.

We started over small stuff for quite a few rides, just x rails and super tiny verticals. I didn't measure anything, but I doubt we got higher than 18". She's kind of a weird jumper in that she doesn't put any effort into the approach, can't be bothered to pick up her feet consistently, and barely holds herself together with the getaway, but she pushes off with a considerable amount of power over every jump. If I were more physically fit with even an ounce of core strength, this wouldn't be an issue, but I am not physically fit and have only half an ounce of core strength.

Two pointing at the start of my rides has definitely helped. I have to mentally remind myself to pull my shoulders back and get down in my stirrups over each fence. Stopping promptly after fences has also kept her more together on the getaway, and she maintains a cute lil canter before coming to a gentle halt.

We had our first real jump school right before Thanksgiving, complete with an oxer and everything. Still kept the fences 2'0" and under. She popped over it all like a champ.

Then . . . I didn't ride for three weeks because of finals and an art exhibition!! Originally planned to take her to an off property schooling with my trainer and Satin, but I had no energy day of. Came back and did some more flat schooling before bumping the jumps a bit higher. Still hadn't measured anything at that point, but I have an idea of where 3'0" is based on the length of my legs, so I used that for reference. Again, she didn't hesitate over anything, just needed to pick her legs up and not knock rails that are this low (-_-).

We had one fence that she kept dive bombing after, something that I haven't had an issue with since the first jump school. It actually screwed her over at some point when she tripped and then bucked because why hold yourself accountable for your own poor decisions? She was fine afterwards, so we kept going around and finished on a good note over an oxer.

Since I haven't been measuring anything, I thought it would be worth it to get an idea of what we've been going over. Our last school had the fences around 2'3"-2'6", and I had no hesitations with that height. Hopefully we'll keep going steady at this height

Friday, January 3, 2020

Goal Digger: Looking Ahead to 2020

I know everyone is saying it, but, guys . . . . . I have 2020 vision . . . so long as you don't look at the restriction on my license that requires me by law to drive with glasses . . . but I have 2020 vision.

As usual, I'm splitting up my goals in order to put my priorities in the right place.

    For goals/items that I seriously need to work on and improve and cannot let myself slack on
  • Do more than the bare minimum to take care of my body
  • Improve body control
  • Practice working through fear, stress, and anxiety
  • Take lessons

     For goals that currently require a little more planning, discussion, and thought
  • Show in hunters
  • Show in equitation
  • Take Dressage lesson(s)
  • Photography professionally at a horse show

    Self explanatory
  • Show in Dressage
  • Submit an article to an online equine publication
  • Upgrade all of my personal riding equipment
  • Try barrel racing
Of course, I'll elaborate on these as the year goes on, but here's what the year is looking like. Come on, 2020!

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The 2010s

I initially wasn't going to do this because I didn't even start riding until 2011, but I'm much younger than many of the other blogs I read. My experience of the 2010s was incredibly different because it encompasses my journey to adulthood as well as the entirety of my horse journey thus far.


I was 12, in middle school, having the worst time of my life. I was into art, dragons, horses, singing, origami, and was insecure about all of it. At this point, I'd been begging my dad for over a year to let me start riding. He almost let me volunteer at a local horse rescue. He almost let me adopt a horse. My best friend at the time told me about her trainer who was 10 minutes down the street from me. We visited on Halloween. I met Todd and didn't know how to use a cross tie.


I took my first lesson on April 13 on a horse named April. Posting sucked. Circles sucked. I got to jump (i.e. trot over a very low cross rail) and I sucked. But I was happy.

My confidence shot up that first summer. I was a camp counselor. I thought I knew how to canter (I didn't). I spent nearly every weekend at the barn. I watched lessons. I took lessons. I helped my trainer. We got pizza every Sunday, and it always felt somber when I had to text my dad to pick me up.

I was a shrimp
I even went to my first horse show and came home with two fifth place ribbons. That's when I found my competitive personality . . . and negative self worth.


This must of have been when I started riding Molly regularly. She was green, skittish, and frankly not the horse I should have been riding so early on. But I felt like I'd finally found my pony, and I loved her so much. I tried learning to canter on her, and it ended up not being safe. My confidence began to slip.

We convinced Miss S to start taking us to bigger shows even though she wasn't a huge fan of it. I was desperate to show Molly, and I wanted to do well. Long story short, we didn't do well. I couldn't get her to canter in the ring, and I went back to the barn and cried. I showed on Duke and Baby a bit that summer. I kept trying to learn how to canter.


I switched to riding Duke all through the winter. By January, the canter was finally figured out. It was a feeling that I've never forgotten and still rely on to this day to know if I'm doing it right. By the spring, I jumped my first course at 2'0", a huge milestone for me as well. That summer, I started riding Baby more and did my first course at a show.

I started this blog in July.

In the winter, I moved into the "advanced" lesson. I jumped 2'3". It was scary, but I did it. Unfortunately, Baby was still green over fences, and it became another ill fated scenario.


Baby was very slowly becoming my heart horse. I was working for Miss S by this point and spent a lot of time just being around the horses. It was nice. My parents were pissed. "You spend so much time cleaning a barn but can't even keep your room clean."

Equitation was my main focus. I was more determined than before. I bought my first pair of Ariat tall boots, my first TuffRider show shirt, my first IRH helmet, and my first RJ Classics show shirt. I still have all of them. We did the medal that summer because, in my own words, "You do an over fences and a flat class. That's two classes for the price of one. That's a good deal." We struggled with refusals, running off, and going off course but somehow qualified for finals and placed 3rd. It was a very rough summer with a nice ending.

In the winter, I rode Zoe some. I rode Chess some. I started my senior year of high school and joined an IEA team at the encouragement of Miss S. It was too expensive to do the team and regular lessons at the same time, so I leased Baby in exchange for cleaning a big pasture. I went to my first IEA show on a very very cold day in the winter and placed 1st over fences and 3rd in the flat.


I dragged my parents to WEF at the start of the year. My brother asked "If this is an international show, then why is everyone White?"

My mental health had stabilized for most of the school year, but eventually it became clear that Miss S was not happy about me still taking lessons with the IEA coach. We had a falling out at a show, and moved down from 2'6" to 2'0". That crushed me because I was hoping to move up to 3'0" that year. I gave myself an ultimatum that if the next show didn't go well, I was switching trainers. It was an incredibly painful decision.

At the same time all of that was happening, I came out as bisexual, graduated high school, and committed to architecture school.

I started riding Music and training with Miss El. I began realizing how out of it I was, how low my self worth was, and how sensitive I was. Miss El was monotone and matter of fact, and it helped a lot. I started college in the fall and joined the equestrian team. Miss El switched barns in the winter but said that I was still allowed to ride Music.


I moved back home for the summer and learned that Miss El was not allowed back at the barn where Music was. If I'd had my license or felt comfortable not riding with a trainer, it wouldn't have mattered, but I had neither of those. Max became my first real lease horse.

In the fall, I went to therapy for the fist time and was told I "might be bipolar without mania." My relationship with the team was waning, and I gave up my chair position.


By now, I had given up on trying to get to IHSA regionals. I was riding for me and no one else.

I almost leased Silver (and two other horses) but ultimately ended up on Roman. Haven't seen him in a while, but I'm guessing he's still a big, dumb baby. We went to our first Dressage show, and I learned a lot.

In the fall, I didn't ride with the team because I was trying to save up to study in Italy in the spring. Unfortunately, I did not get enough funds and stayed in Maryland.


After going to the first team meeting of the semester, there were no lessons that worked with my schedule. It hurt a lot. I struggled to find a job for the summer so I could afford to ride, but my schedule did not work for any of the lessons that summer. I had nearly hit a breaking point with my mental health. I started to seriously think about quitting riding all together. For years, it had felt like I'd hit every block possible to keep me off a horse. It felt like the universe was trying to tell me to pursue something else.

In June, I realized that men ain't shit and came out as lesbian. It made me think more about how my identities play a role in this sport.

That fall, I went into my last year of college and had a low amount of hope that I'd be able to ride. Fortunately, one of the lesson spots worked. Coach S was visibly excited to have me back, and the thought of quitting faded.

I started therapy again and got evaluated for medication by a psychiatrist who said I wasn't textbook bipolar but it was the best match for what I was dealing with.


Finished with the team and drunk cried over it. My ex told me they think it's annoying when I talk about horses. Graduated college and (regrettably) went on to grad school. My current girlfriend wants to take me to see her family's ranch in the spring. I just turned 22.

Now I'm here, riding Lucie once a week, twice if I'm fortunate. The last decade was my first as a horseperson, and I'm glad I didn't quit despite wanting to at many points. Here's to nine years of being a horse bitch!

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Favorites of 2019

I did this last year and had fun so here we are again :)

Favorite show picture

Cheating because I finally got my photographer game together and have two favorite show photos. Also peep the new watermark!

Favorite non-show picture

She's LITERALLY the cutest horse I've ever seen

Favorite thing you bought

I actually . . . didn't buy anything horse related this year. There are things that I WANT to buy (and probably need to buy . . .) but, yeah, I went a full year not doing that.

Favorite moment on horseback

I'm trying really really really really hard to get better at this.

Favorite moment out of the saddle

Miami Beach actually isn't that bad. The city of Miami? Much to work on.

Favorite “between the ears” picture

I actually don't have any "between the ears" shots from this year :/

Favorite horse book or article

Your Favorite Horse Breed Based on Your Zodiac Sign

Was looking for my favorite article and found this one in the process. Jess Clawson never fails to deliver.

Favorite horse ridden (or groomed/cared for) aside from your own

I would die for Molly.

Favorite funny picture of your horse

She shakes and her ears go flip flop

Favorite fence that you successfully jumped or movement that you conquered

No idea how tall this is, but we did it.

Favorite horse meme or funny picture

It's a long one but worth reading through. Credit goes to Sad Yeehaw.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Big Mare Struggles

It's nearly impossible for me to not compare Lucie to Summer. They're both mares. They're both gray. Both did A circuit shenanigans. They both tend to not really give a shit about anything happening around them. And they both canter like they have 12 legs.

Okay, maybe that's a bit dramatic, but when I ride Lucie, I repeat what Coach S told me about Summer: "She's big, and she's long, and she's just a lot of horse." The intensity of the semester has kept me from being super consistent, but I try to leg her up once per week. Because she's large, out of shape, and generally sluggish, our warmup has become much more structured to get her loose and moving off my aids.

One of the most useful things has actually been starting my ride in two point. I think she appreciates having me off her back and with no contact to just do whatever she wants for the first bit of our ride. Even when I stop two pointing and go to rising trot, I keep the reins loose so she's encouraged to maintain the momentum. With the canter, I pepper in a few circles in each direction at the start of the ride. It involves a little bit of transition work but mostly focuses on getting good movement at each gait in both directions.

Thinking about walking directly into the pouring rain
Polework has also been a life saver for us. Calm horses are great until they aren't; homegirl gets too relaxed and too lazy far too often. The polework keeps her on her feet and focused through each lap. My favorite set up has been a super simple hashtag layout. I took away the slightly raised poles for a while because she kept jumping over them . . . A+ for effort, Lucie, but it's not that deep.

Coming to her senses
With all of that happening under saddle, I also added in stretches on the ground as well. Carrot stretches are an essential for her neck and back. To help her hind end, I use the same stretches that L recommended for Music. Lucie doesn't fight as much as Music, but it does take some encouraging to actually make her stretch into my hand.

That being said, I'm gonna start using a crop. The BO mentioned that she gets very hyped by spurs, so I'm trying the next best thing to reinforce my leg. I've gotten some good, forward, relaxed trot out of her before, but we need to be a lot more consistent before we try more complex things.

Really, thoroughly, honestly, completely unbothered

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.

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