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.

2010

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.

2011

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.

2012

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.


2013

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.


2014

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.


2015

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.

2016

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.

2017

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.

2018

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.

2019

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.

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.
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