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
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