Ch-ch-ch-changes

Some very exciting changes going on in my little corner of the universe!

First off- there was a bit of a re-org at work. Nothing dramatic and my job title didn’t change, but the focus of my work is shifting a bit to more organizational effectiveness and process streamlining. I. Am. Thrilled. It’s a much better fit for my experience, skills, and interests, and my new manager and I have already worked together multiple times to great success. I think this new little department of ours is going to be super helpful for the company as a whole, and it’s going to be superduperamazingfantastic for my own career growth.

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#professional

Also work related- my flex schedule was approved! One of my all-time favorite perks of my job is that they’re very willing to be flexible with my schedule (remember when I worked remotely from Ohio for 2 weeks so I could compete without using vacation time?). As long as the work gets done when it needs to be and I attend any meetings that require my presence, no one is too fussy about the specific hours and where I am. But even better than that is a formalized flex schedule! Starting next week, I’ll be in the office Mon-Thurs 7:30a-5p with a 30 min lunch break, WFH Friday morning for 4 hours, and then I have every Friday afternoon off. Entirely.

What does one do with a free Friday afternoon? One heads to the barn.

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DUHH

One of the big reasons I wanted to work on a flex schedule was to fit in a private lesson somewhere. Currently I’m really only available for a 7p lesson, or maaaaaybe 6p if I can rush out the door. You know who else is only available at 6p or 7p? Every single other person. So all lessons at those times have by necessity been group lessons. I knew that if I wanted to get an hour all to myself, I’d have to come up with a way to get to the barn at a different time. Which I now have every week!

Don’t get me wrong- my group lessons have been great. I love learning from watching other riders go, and hearing my trainer explain things in different ways to different learners has been enormously helpful. But I’m also now at the point where I’m hoping to get Frankie feeling great at 1.20m+, and there are few other riders at the barn with that ambition (at least in the near term). I think some individual attention will really help push us to the next level and get us focusing on tackling the skill sets we need to master. Our last spate of private lessons was totally transformative for us and I’m excited to keep transforming!

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Last time we did private lessons, it started out like this. I fully anticipate that I will be cursing this decision and become incredibly sore, but it’s gonna be awesome I swear.

This timing works out perfectly with Frankie’s maintenance- by the time next Friday rolls around, he will be ready to get back into full work after his series of SI and hock injections. He’ll be full of bouncy juice, has been adjusted by the chiro, has better saddle fit, is rocking his carrot stretches, and I just got him a shiny new BoT pad (in navy, duhhh). Because why not do everything we can while we’re at it, right? I have a feeling he’s going to be feeling fantastic, and I’m going to have to grab a lot more mane!

I also got his new 3-ring in and have been using a borrowed figure-8 to great success. I think we’ve really found a great balance of giving him something soft enough to move forward onto, while still giving me a clear enough line of communication to get his attention.

We had a lesson in it last night and I fell in love with my horse all over again. He was hunting down the jumps, had fire in his step but was tuned into me the whole time, and was straight up FUN. He’ll get a few more days off after his hock injections today and I seriously can’t wait. If he’s already going around so amazingly beforehand, I can only imagine how incredible he’ll be once everything is totally 100%.

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He seriously felt like this last night, he was springy as all getout

I also got to sit down with my trainer to talk about our show season coming up, and how best to prepare. Right now the tentative plan is to have AT hop on 2x a week leading up to Blue Rock in May, and then have her take him in a few 1.20m classes to see how he likes it. I’ll stick in the 1.10m Highs for now. We’ll plan on attending Upperville in early June (my favorite show of the year!) where I’ll do the 1.10m/1.15m Highs and she may take him in a 1.20m schooling round, and then late June at Lake Placid I’ll just take him in the 1.15m Highs. If all is going well at that point and we’re all comfortable with the moveup, I’ll take over the ride in the 1.20m Low AOs in August or September. It’s all very tentative and subject to change at any minute, but I’m very happy with this plan. We’re in no rush, so I’d rather Frankie build a lot of confidence and know-how at that height before his amateur mother steps in. As always, we’ll be paying very very close attention to see how he likes that job to make sure we’re not pushing him too much. Even if it doesn’t materialize the way we’re planning, the fact that my trainer has faith in us and Frankie’s abilities means the world to me.

It also turns out that I’m no longer busy during Team Finals (we’re only doing Lake Placid for one week instead of two) and I have enough points to qualify….so I may be looking at the finances to see if we could go from Lake Placid down to Tryon first week of July. I don’t have to decide for a while and it may end up being too much for the Frankfurter, but cool to have the option!

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EVERY SHOW JUST TAKE MY MONEY HERE YOU GO

Things are feeling really good right now. Exciting career changes, exciting progression in our training, and an exciting summer coming up. It’s all a little crazy but it’s the best kind of crazy.

Oh yeah, and I’m planning a wedding. Coolcoolcoolcoolcoolcool.

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Product Review: Roeckl Madrid Gloves

You all know that I’m a little bit obsessed with breeches, but you may not know that I’m also pretty obsessive over my gloves. I think I might just have a riding clothes obsession in general. Or an obsessive personality. But that’s neither here nor there, because we’re talking about gloves.

See, I’m really picky. They need to be grippy in all weather. They need to be small enough to be snug through the palm, but still long enough to fit my spider fingers. They must have touch-screen compatible fingers so I can add to my Insta story while I ride #essential. And they must be breathable, because I am a sweaty person.

I’ve used Roeckl gloves for many years very happily- their base Roeck-grip model has taken me in all three rings over the years comfortably and stylishly. I haven’t had to think about them. They have been a constant in my life.

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They’ve been keeping me real since the DragonMare days.

But all good things do eventually come to an end, and after busting a hole in the finger due to my own carelessness, it was time to replace them. My first thought was to get the exact same pair- why mess with a good thing?

But then I realized. I’m firmly ensconced in JumperLand now. I have a backup pair of black gloves in case I want to do the eq again, so why limit myself? There’s a whole wide world of possibilities out there, it’s time to live a little.

Enter the Roeckle Madrid gloves, which I bought from Smartpak for $59.95. Spoiler alert: worth every penny.

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You guy, I’m in love. I opted to get the pair with red accents to match my barn colors #coordinated, but I will absolutely get this style in all-black if I need something more conservative in the future (for my DQs out there, they also come in white!). Let’s walk through my checklist:

Grippy: yes. I ride in notoriously slippery reins (side note, why on earth have I not replaced these yet??), but had no problem maintaining my grip throughout the warm-up-sneezes that Frankie likes to do. No death grip on the reins necessary, these kept my hands right in place.

Fit my spider hands: yes. I opted to size down since my last pair of Roeckls ran a little large, and they are perfect. They fit like a second skin without being too tight, and are long enough to accommodate my fingers. I do have freakish fingers though, so it may be a bit too much length if you have smaller hands. The velcro close is just right.

Touch-screen compatible: fo sho. And since they fit so snugly, I don’t have to deal with bulky seams or extra fabric getting in the way when I’m tryna get my ‘gram on.

Breathable: this is where they really shine. I have never ridden in gloves this breathable- I swear I could actually feel the breeze on my hands. I will forever be a sweaty person, but I didn’t end my ride with wet gloves for once in my life. They’re reinforced where they need to be along the palm and fingers, and extremely lightweight everywhere else.

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Be honest, the

Add to that how sporty and cool they look, and I’m definitely obsessed. Time will tell how they hold up to wear and tear, but I’ve only had good experiences with Roeckl’s in the past and anticipate these will wear just as well.

Final rating: 5/5 would recommend to all, go grab a pair!

Disclaimer: a distributor reached out to me about doing a product review, but I paid full price for these gloves- the timing worked out that I needed to replace a pair right at that time! 

What I Didn’t Know I Didn’t Know

I was reading through some COTH forums the other day, and for whatever reason a topic that kept coming up to the top of the list was beginner riders wanting to go Grand Prix. I think I saw 3-4 different posts about that- either from novice riders asking for advice on how to achieve that, or more experienced riders wondering if the desire to go big-time is a phenomenon in other sports as well (the consensus is yes, lots of people like to dream big no matter the sport).

I obviously scrolled through all of them hoping to glean some useful information to make it to the big leagues. There was definitely some great advice on putting in the hard work, setting incremental achievable goals, finding a good network to work with, etc. And it was heartening to see people giving realistic but positive advice- we all start somewhere, and it’s great to have ambitious goals no matter what level you’re currently at! But I realized- if I had gotten that advice a few years ago, it would not have resonated as much. Not because I’d want to ignore it, but because I didn’t have the experience to understand and internalize it.

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You will learn, young grasshopper

So I’m going to address my post to the 2015 version of Olivia, who hadn’t competed in 10 years, had rarely (if ever) jumped over 2’6″, but knew she wanted to do big things. Here’s a few things I didn’t know I didn’t know.

  • Moving up in jump height is not as simple as “improve my eq and be brave enough.” It is only that to a certain point. After that, there are other factors. Having the right horse who can handle the height (and providing adequate care to said horse so they can comfortably do the job), creating a fitness plan for you AND the horse to be strong enough, being able to feel when you have the perfect canter to jump from, developing a consistent eye to the fences, learning how to handle the “drop” as the arc of the jump changes. Heels down and eyes up can take you far, but you need other skills too. I had no idea what those skills were, let alone how to attain them.
  • Holes in flatwork will show up in jumping. I treated my flatwork as a warmup for the jumping, and was happy to rush through it. It was only when I started taking this more seriously and working on real brokeness on the flat that our abilities over fences truly grew. Watch the dressage riders- they’re onto something.
  • You get what you pay for. Just because something is expensive doesn’t mean it’s good, and just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean it’s bad- but pretty often the more expensive piece of equipment is more expensive for a reason. It’s worth paying for quality. That being said, there’s no need to break the bank on the most expensive trendy brands. There’s a middle ground of reasonably priced, good quality gear.
  • Know what’s important to you, and cling tenaciously to that. I used to want to move up in jump height, and was willing to ride anything to make that happen. Now I know that my biggest priority is safety. I still hope to continue moving up the levels, but I will only do so on a horse that I can feel safe riding. If it turns out that I can’t handle the blood of a horse at that level, then I will not ride at that level. Simple as that. Safety trumps moving up.
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This is really only fun when it’s with a horse I trust [PC: Tracy]
  • Don’t underestimate the power of a really great trainer. I knew that I liked my lessons with my trainer and got great value out of them, but in the years since I have gotten SO MUCH more out of our relationship than one hour a week in lessons. She has worked with me to set achievable but ambitious goals, helped me lay out a plan financially to pay the bills that come along with pursuing those goals, introduced me to a network of horsewomen, talked extensively about the greater industry as a whole, lent her perspective as an R judge, and shared advice that I’ve even applied to my life outside of riding. A good trainer won’t just teach you how to ride well, they will help forge a path for whatever it is you want to do with that improved riding.
  • Be ready to obsess. Obsess about your tack, about your equipment, about your schedule, about your fitness, about your finances. Getting better takes time, and if you want it to happen faster you have to be willing to obsess. A lesson every week is great. Two is better. Two lessons plus a pro ride for your horse is even better than that. Obsess over finding the right tack, and then let it be. Until you need to change it, and then obsess over figuring out the right change. Create ever-more-elaborate financial tracking tools, because this sport ain’t cheap and improving doesn’t just take time, it takes money. Obsessively track your progress to ID the problems you didn’t know you had, and then obsess about fixing them. Obsess about your horse’s conditioning and soundness, because he’s the ticket to all of this.
  • Be ready to sacrifice. That time and money you want to invest in this sport will inevitably be taken away from other things. It is possible to have it all, but it depends on how you define “having it all.” I thought I would be that flawless girl with a thriving career, glowing social life, steadily moving up the ranks at shows, and well rested. Turns out I get to pick 2.
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As I work remotely from horse shows, I’ll let you guess which two those are

The last and biggest one: someday, you’ll know all this, and you’ll start to know what you don’t know. Stay humble, ask questions, show up. There’s no guarantee that you’ll achieve every goal you thought you had, but that knowledge will open doors and help you understand what goals you truly want to set.

Tell me: what did you not know you didn’t know? What advice would you give your younger self on pursuing your dreams?

Dolla Dolla (Vet) Billz Yo

So last week we had the vet out to give Frankie his full head-to-toe eval! Here’s what we found:

  • Fixing the saddle fit gets a thumbs up. The spots in his back that were sore before are much improved. I think it’s also likely that the chiro helped.
  • Keep up the carrot stretches. He’s a tall guy, but more importantly he is a LONG guy. Total long brontosaurus neck. He’s not naturally flexible, so we need to help him by encouraging him to stretch. As a side note- Frankie seems to really love his stretches! I don’t even have to use a cookie or anything, I just snap a little where I want his nose, and he comes sniffing around. He gets lots of face scratches as a reward. I thought he would lose interest once I stopped using cookies to bribe him, but he’ll ignore all distractions and even his hay to do his stretches with me. Sweet boy.
  • His SI joint needed some happy juice…like, yesterday. This was a big big ouchie point for him. I’m not super surprised since he got it done last May, so we’re coming up on a year. I think we may switch to a 9mo schedule instead of the full year though, so we don’t get to the point where he’s this sore. Poor guy.
  • The lameness locator picked up just a hint of something in his right hind when he’s traveling to the left (I’m going to ask for more detailed results of this so I can share with you, I think it’s such interesting technology!). This is the same leg that has mild arthritis in his hock- we found that in his pre-purchase exam. While we knew this was likely to just be a progression of that arthritis due to work and age, we decided to go ahead and do an ultrasound to completely rule out any sort of soft tissue injury on that leg. The vet said that his suspensory looked totally fine, so we decided to inject his hocks to keep him more comfortable there. We have a few other ideas just in case this doesn’t get him feeling 100%, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it- the vet is pretty confident that this will do the trick.
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Handsome boy bein’ sweet

I have a lot of feelings about all of this. On the one hand, I’m so so so glad we’re doing all of this BEFORE Frankie takes a bad step. He has been cheerfully coming out of his stall and doing his job without protest, so we didn’t wait until he was demonstratively off. He’s had a quiet schedule since Ohio, so he hasn’t had to work too hard in a while. I’m also INCREDIBLY relieved that we were able to rule out soft tissue injury, and that all he needed was some more aggressive maintenance.

On the other hand, my poor boy has been sore in a couple areas- his back from my saddle not fitting properly anymore, his SI from needing support, and his hocks from the arthritis. The few stops we got in Ohio make more sense now- they were not unreasonable stops and not dirty at all, but you all know it’s very unlike Francis to stop EVER. Between the SI and the hocks, it was probably just too uncomfortable for him to really rock his weight back when I got him to a tough spot.

So there’s definitely a mixture of relief at finding this early while it’s all still very manageable and treatable, guilt at not figuring it out earlier, and more guilt at letting this happen at all. I don’t know how I expected to halt the progress of arthritis, but we’re not always logical when it comes to our horses, right?! This was definitely a useful learning experience on what he needs from me and how often he needs it.

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His face hole is also healing well, so we’ll put his noseband back on shortly. Could he have a sweeter expression??

He’s been on a long-low-stretchy routine lately while we’ve been scanning him, and will be on light work a little while longer as we do this series of injections, but luckily after that we should be cleared for full work! It looks like I’ll need to take a show off the calendar to pay for all this, but that means I’ll have a happy, healthy horse. And with all that bouncy juice running through his veins, I’m guessing I’ll have a happy healthy horse with MAD ups. #blessed

Yet again, I am so so so grateful for my trainers. Assistant Trainer was the one who thought it would be a good idea to get him scanned, she arranged the vet visits and coordinated the whole thing, and kept me in the loop throughout the whole process. Her standards of horsemanship and care are second to none, and Frankie and I are so lucky to work with such a great role model!

Shameless Plug

Things are a little crazy busy between work, riding, and wedding planning, so I’m going to be brief with my own words, and point you towards my trainer’s. I’ve already mentioned that she’s been blogging lately, so here are the links to a few of my favorites. I hope you’ll take a look! She’s always looking for feedback and is curious to hear thoughts about what she’s sharing, so don’t be shy about commenting- either on her post or on here if you’d prefer. I have been thoroughly enjoying the way she’s been laying out different concepts, and I hope you will too.

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She is also basically my life coach and can always reassure me when I’m feeling nervous or uncertain

Showing What Counts
They’re Taking Your Money
Blue Ribbons for Everyone 
You Can’t Gather Nothing
The Paradox of Riding
Plant Your Feet (this may just be my favorite one so far)
Your Own Worst Critic
Does Fear Own You
We Are All Teachers

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Impart your wisdom

While you’re on the site- we have a couple horses for sale in the barn right now, in case you’re in the market for a bay gelding (legit all the sale ponies are bay geldings!). I can confirm that they’re all super cute and healthy and good workers, so let me know if you’re in the market 😉

Two Years of Francis

Somehow our two year mark snuck up on me. Can you believe it? Two years with this big beautiful amazing steed.

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ESI Photography

In some ways it feels like I just got him yesterday- I can still so distinctly remember every moment of our trial ride and how it felt to sit on him for the first time.

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But in other ways, it feels like he’s always been part of the family.

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PC- Tracy

We’ve come a long long way together. Both of us were jumper-ring-greenies when I got him, and we’ve learned the ropes together as we’ve grown.

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PC- Courtney

Through every success and setback, move-up and misstep, Frankie has been there with me to remind me why I love this sport.

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PC- K. Borden

He has pushed me to become a better rider and a better horsewoman. He’s been the reason I’ve sought more education, gotten involved in my sport at different levels, met incredible people. His own work ethic has inspired mine.

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PC- Tracy

He’s been there for some of the most amazing moments of my life.

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PC- K. Borden

He’s been a warm and comforting source of love when I’m down.

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We’ve learned, sometimes at different speeds, sometimes with one of us outpacing the other- but always working together patiently to catch up. His athleticism is so beyond what I could’ve dreamed or hoped for and he is the reason my dreams keep growing.

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PC- A. Anderson

 

We are both so very far from perfect, but I can’t imagine a more perfect horse for me.

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PC- K. Borden

Cheers to two years with the best horse a girl could ask for. I can’t wait to see what’s next for us.

What This Blog Means to Me

Both Emma and Jessica have posted recently about what blogging means to them (along with a bunch of people I’m sorry for not linking I promise I read them!!!). I really enjoyed both posts (and the new blogs I found because of them!), but had no plans to chime in.

But I’m a certified content stealer, and recently spent some time going through the archives as we approach 2 years with Frankie. And I had a lot of emotions about it. A LOT. Y’all know I get sappy REAL easy.

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Baby Olivia back when we kicked this shindig off in January 2015

 

Many of you have been here since the beginning of this blog 3 years ago. I had just gotten into the saddle after a multi-year hiatus from all things horses, was half-leasing the DragonMare, and was getting ready for my first show in 10 years.

Getting to share that journey back into the show ring was incredible. All of a sudden I had this community where I could dissect every nitty-gritty stride of a lesson, talk endlessly about grooming my horse, acknowledge my nerves and shortcomings in competition- and not once did anyone say, “enough is enough, can you talk about anything besides horses??” There was this whole world of people to cheer our successes, commiserate and comfort our setbacks, and who I could talk with about ponies nonstop.

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You guys have been here for it all!

In a huge way, discovering the blogging community developed my growing commitment to riding so much more quickly than it otherwise would have. You all were here to say, “we totally understand that this makes your soul happy. Go for it.” (I’m blaming y’all enablers for making me go broke, btw).

This blog has evolved a lot over the years- when I started, it was mainly lesson/show reviews. It hasn’t been intentional, but I’ve slowly moved away from that- when is the last time we saw a dedicated lesson review?? We still do show recaps, but the rest of my posts are now more big-picture about mine and Frankie’s path, and thoughts about the industry that I spend more and more of my time in.

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We’ve talked a ton about developing Frankie into the rockstar powerhouse he is today

This blog has chronicled every step of my journey, from a half-leaser in the 2’6″ local hunters, to chasing AO jumper dreams at the big shows with my very own unicorn. If you had told me when I started this blog that we would be here today, I would have laughed in your face. I still can’t really believe how fortunate I am to be able to do this.

So what does blogging mean to me? A whole heck of a lot. It’s been a diary to track my progress in lessons, shows, and other training opportunities- and somewhere for me to review for encouragement when I feel like the progress isn’t happening as fast as I’d like. It’s been a forum to connect with knowledgeable, supportive, incredible horsewomen. It’s been the way that I’ve met some of my closest friends. It’s been a way to ask for advice. It’s been a place for me to organize my scattered thoughts.

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And share the hundreds of Francis nap pics I take

Y’all are awesome, and I’m grateful for you every day. Cheers to this wonderful, weird, crazy amazing blogging community!

Thoroughbred Francis

What do you get when you have the chiropractor out to make your horse feel good, but then they get stuck in their stall for two days because of the snow?

You get a Francis who is acting like a bona fide TB. No more WB. Just TB.

Now, I don’t mean OMG HE WAS CRAZY AND FAST. Because our barn is full to the gills of TBs and OTTBs, and exactly zero of them are crazy or fast. Including the babies right off the track. Also can you imagine Francis being crazy? Because I can’t (even his foolishness is not crazy).

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Nooo, I is never naughty

But he was very much in the mentality of YOU WANNA PULL I WILL PULL RIGHT BACK LADY. And it wasn’t malicious or cranky, he was just feeling really good and wanted to go do his thang.

He was a very good boy warming up, pushing from behind and quite responsive. A titch fast at the canter- our lengthenings felt a little more lengthy than usual, and our collections felt a little more bouncy than usual too- but he felt nice and bendy and bouncy. All good things.

He bounded over a crossrail a few times to warm up, then we switched directions, and he did his fun root-n-play move around our next course. Meaning I just kinda slipped my reins, kept my leg on, and gave extra big releases over the fences to reward his big effort. Useful to work through together? Yes. AIN’T NO FUN THO.

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“You’re not exactly a barrel of laughs all the time either, lady”

So the next course, I was determined to not pick a fight. I was not going to engage. I was going to stay super duper soft through my hands, keep a steady leg, and a light seat.

And all of a sudden, happy Francis was right there with me, cantering around so softly and turning left like a dang professional.

I got a head toss in the next course when I used too much hand.

And then as soon as I softened at him, he softened right back. Lovely little stride, stepping under, straight through his body. Absolutely delightful.

I think absolutely none of this is groundbreaking stuff for anyone, but it was certainly an adjustment in how I usually have to ride my horse. He’s always been a “more” type of horse- add more leg, take more feel, get in the driving seat. He’s such a chill dude that any urgency has to come from me. So getting to practice that softness without sacrificing the strength was a majorly useful exercise for both of us.

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THROW AWAY THE REINS. BUT NOT LIKE, ALL THE WAY. BUT A LOT OF THE WAY. NOT THAT MUCH. MAYBE MORE THO. IDK.

I’m really happy with how he feels after getting adjusted- the chiro mentioned that he noticed some tightness in his back and pelvis, and he feels noticeably looser and more flexible under saddle now. We’re also working with our saddle fitter to get things 100% perfect on that front (we’re getting closer!), he’ll continue to get chiro semi-regularly, I may look into massage, and our vet is coming out in April to do a full exam and a lameness locator baseline evaluation. He’s going to compare these to his notes from Frankie’s pre-purchase to see what/if any changes have taken place, and we’ll decide from there what strategy we’ll pursue moving forward.

So we’re coming at this wellness thing from several angles, and I’m really excited about it. I want to make sure he’s feeling 100% in every way before asking him to jump into a busy show season, and my trainers are completely on board with that. They’ve agreed that the outcomes of all these measures will determine what our show season looks like- Frankie will tell us what kind of workload he can comfortably support.

On that note, I am incredibly grateful for the team of people that works to keep Frankie feeling his best. My trainers could be making more money off of me by pushing me to compete, but they always put Frankie’s health and happiness above everything else. They’re not just fantastic coaches and trainers, but excellent role models for good horsemanship. Our vet cares so deeply about the horses, and has never tried to throw unnecessary treatments at us. Our farrier is just straight up ridiculously competent. There’s this whole crew of amazingly knowledgeable people working in concert to make sure the horses aren’t just sound, but happy and healthy and enjoying their work.

It looks like our next show is penciled in for the end of May, so I’m excited to spend the next couple months honing in hard on Frankie’s well-being. Add in some hacks around the neighborhood once it warms up, and I think we will have a majorly strong, flexible, happy, goofy, fancy show horse on our hands.

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And the cutest show horse. Always the cutest.

Loving the Loaf

On our last trip up north, Fiance and I met with the priest to talk about our wedding. I’ve known my priest since I was born so I’m very comfortable with him, but the Big Guy has only met him a few times when he’s come to visit my family. So we all just wanted to get together and get to know each other and talk about what the dealio is.

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Marriage will likely include me telling him how to climb trees (you gotta hook the hands)

This wasn’t a formal marriage class or counseling or anything like that, but Father Andrew did have us tell him what we like most about each other. That one was easy. And very sweet. I live for compliments.

But then he asked us what we like least about each other.

Neither of us had anything to say because we are both perfect people and never get annoyed at each other.

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We both only ever smile gently at each other and laugh romantically at our tasteful jokes

HAHAHAHA RIGHT OK.

Nah of course we both had something to say. Not nasty, not dismissive, just “yo this drives me bonkers.” Neither of us was surprised by what the other said, because we have both said “yo this drives me bonkers” to each other before.

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My constant screeching was surprisingly not in the dislike column for him

Father Andrew then talked about how marriage is like a loaf of bread (I LOVE THE GREEKS EVERY METAPHOR IS FOOD RELATED). Some people like the crusty ends of the bread, some people like the soft middle, but with marriage you get the whole loaf. So it’s ok to not like certain parts of people. It doesn’t make either of you bad people or incompatible. As long as you love the loaf as a whole, you’re doing just fine.

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He is a very ergonomic loaf

I’ve been thinking about how this applies to horses (obviously, did you think this post was about my human relationship?!). Because lets be real here- Frankie is my glorious unicorn and I love him so so so much, but there are totally parts and pieces here and there that I don’t particularly like.

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And there are for sure things that I do that he is NOT SO FOND OF #sideeye

But even though those parts aren’t my favorite at times, I love that loaf like you wouldn’t believe. I couldn’t imagine a different loaf. He’s the exact correct loaf for me.

It means that when I’m frustrated because holy crap my left leg is about to fall off and you STILL WON’T MOVE OFF IT it’s ok. I can let that moment of frustration happen and move on. Just because we still have things to work on together doesn’t mean we have a bad partnership, it just means that we are both learning and growing together- and overall both really enjoying the process.

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And he still comes in for snugs all day erry day so I know we still cool

So tell me. What do you think of the loaf metaphor??

Pony Finances

Let’s talk expenses! Not specifics, because that’s fairly private and incredibly region-dependent, but let’s talk about how we handle them. Mostly because I just made a big change in my approach to horse expenses, and I want to know if all y’all already do this and are like “dude obviously,” or if you’re going to tell me that this is super weird and definitely awful.

Let’s get into it.

There are a few very predictable expenses for Frankie every month:

  • Board
  • Lessons
  • Training rides (if I opt for them that month)
  • Farrier (this isn’t quiiiiite every month, he’s on a 4-6 week cycle depending on time of year and how good/bad his feet are at the time. Still rather predictable tho.)
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Unlimited snugs are included for free in our monthly package

And then there are some that pop up regularly but not as consistently:

  • Vet care- both routine vaccinations/checkups, and more intense things like injections. Also who knows when everything could go sideways and he needs emergency vet care (knocking on wood SO INTENSELY HERE PLEASE STAY ROBUSTLY HEALTHY)
  • Frankie’s insurance- I pay in 3 lump payments throughout the year, but they’re not all the same
  • Shows- different venues have different fees, shipping costs more/less depending on how far the venue is, I compete more often in the summer, etc.
  • Gear- blankets break, saddles need re-fitting, my spurs need replacing, etc. This is the hardest to predict.
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Thank the good Lord above that I don’t have to pay for a 2-week horse show every month. PC- Tracy

So what these means is that in any given month, I only really have a solid handle on the “no less than” number in advance. It’ll be at least X amount, and likely much higher. I have historical data (yes, obviously Frankie has his own spreadsheet, duh) to plug in for shows/vet/insurance so I’m not totally in the dark, but it still makes consistent budgeting hard when expenses fluctuate so much.

Now that my Human Mate and I are combining forces, I decided it was time for a full audit of my spending habits to figure out what makes the most sense as I move from doing-everything-solo-all-the-time to sharing-a-home-and-a-life-with-a-person. Which brings me to my big change:

Frankie got his own debit card.

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“It’s about time I got paid”

He won’t get to use it himself (honestly his dexterity with small objects extends exclusively to eating them), but I now have a separate account exclusively for horse expenses. I’ve taken my total horse expenses over a full year, divided by 12, and added a cushion, and that amount will automatically be going into his account every month.

Some months I will need more than that average, some months I will need less, but over time it should even out to have a constant buffer.

This simplified my budget like you wouldn’t believe. It took my line items from this:

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To this:

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Literally cut the number in half.

This makes my monthly budget A MILLION TIMES more predictable. Obviously if something totally unexpected happens I’ll need to pull from my main account, but I purposefully made Frankie’s monthly budget higher than I usually need (except in months where we compete) to try and build up some “savings” specifically for him.

So talk to me, folks. Is this a total no-brainer thing that you did years ago? Or do you think giving Francis his own bank account is overkill?