Side Effects

It’s no secret that I haven’t been getting as much barn time lately. Mostly because it’s literally all I talk about on this blog #sorrynotsorry. And while this is for an excellent cause and I’m really enjoying all the little details that go into planning this amazing wedding, it’s having a few side effects.

First of all, I’m so out of shape it isn’t even funny. I haven’t been this weak since before I got back in the saddle, way back in 2014. My muscle strength is low, my endurance is even lower, and I get aches and pains way more easily. Sitting wrong in my desk chair is now cause for a sore back. Rolling over wrong while sleeping leads directly to a crick in the neck. I’m trying to build in more time for workouts before work, but ya girl here is exhausted. I’d like to at least throw in some yoga or something to help me out, because this is getting a little ridiculous.

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I mostly ride like this now (also omg look at that long-suffering face on the poor guy hahaha)

Second of all, it’s not all that great for my mental health. I’ve been pretty open about my struggles with SAD in the past (check this post and this one), but luckily I found something a few years back that almost completely eradicates all of my symptoms. It’s an expensive therapy, and very time consuming, but I can’t deny that it has helped more than any other intervention that I’ve tried.

That therapy is named Francis, obviously.

Training with him has given me a needed structure to my days, goals to work towards, forced fresh air and exercise no matter the weather (hello endorphins), regular social time with friends, and that certain X factor that comes from having a close bond with a giant fuzzy wonderful creature. For the relatively mild symptoms that I’ve experienced, the structure and love he provides are exactly what I need to feel my usual energetically positive self year-round.

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“Mahm you look like we both need head scritches I shall provide”

And I don’t have much of that right now.

I didn’t really realize it until chatting with my best friend about how I’ve been in a funk lately, and she commented on my lack of barn time. The woman is a genius, I swear.

Am I miserable? Absolutely not. I’m far too busy with wonderful things to be miserable. And I still get 1-2x a week to go see my friends, move my body, brush my increasingly fluffy pony. Things really are pretty good. And extremely necessary- especially now that we’re in the final stretch, I can’t imagine doing everything ON TOP OF spending several hours at the barn most days. There simply are not enough hours in the day.

This self-enforced break is just reminding me of what I already knew- training with Frankie isn’t just good for my body, but it’s good for my heart, my mind, and my soul.

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Sneaking It In

With just about 50 days left until the wedding, I feel a lot like a deer that someone has slipped some caffeine pills to. High alert and gangly. Now that invites are out and we’re getting RSVPs back, it’s really kicked into the next gear of our final approach.

My bridal shower and bachelorette party were both last weekend, and both were amazing. So many friends from so many different parts of my life were all in the same room for the shower which was weird and amazing- Trainer was chatting with my in-laws’ neighbors, my cousins were hanging out with my college roommates, etc. It flew by and I felt incredible loved.

For the bachelorette part, I’ll just leave you with this picture from the morning after.

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#classy

Despite my current extreme case of raccoon brain, I’m managing a sneaky amount of horse-related activities over the next month or so until I head north.

Folks at the barn are organizing a group excursion to WIHS to watch the medal and GP classes go. I’ve gotten to go for a couple years now, and while I was hoping the next time would be on Frankie, I’ll still take a seat in the stands!!

One of the ladies also organized an event at a local animal park for the barn folks. I think it’s geared mostly for the kids, but I’ll show up for anything that includes llamas and my barn peeps.

Lastly, by some incredibly lucky stroke of fortune, our annual XC outing is actually going to happen on one of the only weekends I am available to participate. I may not be actively competing, but I’m excited to get off property with Francis! Hoping we can enlist someone for more media than last year, because he is such a tank and I know all you eventing folks would love to see my weenie butt cling on as he packs me around.

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It was so fun with both of these beasts, can’t wait to do it again!!

Lucky me to have so many fun things on the calendar ❤ Can’t wait to share them all with you!

Behind the Stall Door with: To Be Frank

If you haven’t yet, y’all need to go see Tracy’s ADORABLE kickoff to this super fun hop. Of course I can’t resist, so here’s my own version featuring the Beast.

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Who is this handsome beast when he’s at home? PC- Liz Stout Photography

When we showed up to ask ammy Olivia Carr about the famous To Be Frank (aka “Frankie”), she was only too happy to oblige. So happy, in fact, that we had a remarkably difficult time fitting a word in edgewise. A partnership since early 2016, Carr clearly adores her current partner, and he stoically tolerates her constant face hugs right back.

You all know this 2006 Oldenburg x TB gelding as a star in the adult jumper ring, but we got the inside scoop on just what makes this big bay behemoth such a character around the barn. Let’s go behind the stall door to find out more!

Francisco was a late bloomer

“As best I can tell, someone spotted him eating from a round bale in a field of cows when he was about 6. He bounced around a bit getting some basic brokeness, but wasn’t in any sort of program until shortly before we found him,” recounted Olivia. That late start didn’t hold him back- he spent time in the foxhunting field as well as trying some lower-level eventing before finding his niche in the jumper ring.

Not a dog guy…but he won’t tell you that

“Frankfurter tries to drag me over to every dog he sees,” laughed Olivia, “and then he remembers he doesn’t actually like them and makes cranky faces. I’m waiting for the day that he remembers he’s not into dogs, but it hasn’t happened yet.” Cats? Totally different story. As we were speaking, Frankenbean was snuffling happily into the face of a purring barn cat.

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Enjoying his time on the farm with owner Olivia and soon-to-be-step-father Nicholas. PC- K. Borden

One of the laziest jumpers in Zone 3

When we asked about Franklin’s blinding speed on course, Olivia quickly set the record straight. “Oh no, he is definitely not a spicy horse. Not at all. No way.”  Despite ribbons in speed classes and jump-offs, and once famously coming in 20 full seconds under the time allowed, this apparently does not come naturally to the leggy bay.

“Whenever people hop on him, they’re always really surprised at how much leg he takes to get moving,” confessed Olivia. “Any sort of urgency or pace comes from me, and he just knows the job well enough now to go along with it.”

No scope no hope

While originally purchased to be a 1.10m horse, the sky is the limit for Francis. He’s taken his ammy owner up to 1.15m thus far, but has been successful in the 1.20m show ring with a professional in the irons. “We were hoping to try the Low AO division in 2018, but planning a wedding put those plans on hold,” explained Olivia. “Luckily he’s sound and healthy, so there shouldn’t be any reason we can’t give it a go in 2019. We’ve schooled higher than that at home so I don’t anticipate it being a problem- he hasn’t had to work hard at any height we’ve asked of him yet!”

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He’s certainly not having trouble at the 1.15m height, and we can’t wait to see what’s next for this talented creature! PC- Hoof Print Images

Leave the ears alone

Despite his love of ear rubs and ear scratches, there is one thing The Big Guy does not like- getting his ears clipped. He is, to quote Olivia, “a real asshole about it.”

Taller than he looks

We were surprised by how big Franz is up close, but we’re not alone. “I think because I’m 5’10” it makes Franco look smaller than he actually is, just proportionally,” mused Olivia, “because every time someone meets him, they comment on how much taller he is than they expected.” Take it from us- he’s every inch of 17.1 with a presence to match.

A snugglebug at heart

When we asked Olivia to name her favorite thing about Frankie, she didn’t hesitate. “The constant snugs. He’s always always coming in to rest his head on my shoulder, or beg for ear rubs, or give kisses. He’s incredibly affectionate and playful, I can’t get enough.”

Sure enough, we got the same treatment as soon as we were in range!

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A wonderful partnership between a crazy girl and her lovely horse. PC- Tracy

 

Snaps for Olivia

So earlier this week I had a little party about how my professionally-trained-for-years horse was acting like a professionally-trained-for-years horse. That even though he’s a little out of shape and out of a consistent program, he’s still a super capable steed with lots of buttons that can Do The Things. Because while I know it’s pretty normal for a trained horse to remain trained (especially one with his disposition), I’ll never stop being giddily grateful for my shmancy pony.

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Unrelated, I just think it’s funny how much he enjoys the vacuum. PC- Liz.

 

We had our first lesson since August this week, meaning we jumped for the first time in 3 weeks. I certainly didn’t ride at the level that I was at during show season- my muscles are much weaker, I was cursing out my trainer while doing our no-stirrup work, and our turns were…creatively angled. But Frankie packed me around cheerfully, adjusted his stride promptly when asked, jumped cute, and was overall an absolute prince for me. Seriously, I could gush about how great he was for hours.

But I won’t. Because today I want to give myself some kudos.

I arrived home from my lesson beaming from ear to ear, and told my fiance all about how great Francis was, how the jumps stayed around 3′ but that was kinda a welcome step back since I’m so out of shape, and how glad I am to have a horse that can take care of me when my riding is decent-not-awful-but-definitely-not-great.

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We’ll work our way back up to being able to steer in the air. For now it’s no shame grab mane.

And then he reminded me- only about 3 years ago, jumping 3′ was my white whale. It was my hump that I had never conquered in all my years of riding. Counting up my years in the saddle, it took a solid 10 years to get to the point of jumping 3′ with any sort of consistency. And because he is a lovely person, he gave me a big hug and told me how he thought it was pretty cool that something that had been a mental block for so long now feels easy enough to be a step back. He was there when I got back in the saddle, he was there when I jumped my first 3′ jump with Addy, and he was there when I came home from a show with a ribbon from my first ever 3′ division. He has many clear memories of my endless monologues about the journey to 3′. He’s been there for every move up over the past few years and he’s cheered for all of them.

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He took this picture, back in 2015. I was so excited to finally jump this height.
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Having him there means the world to me. 

So yeah, he reminded me to give myself some grace. I’ve been kinda disappointed about stepping back after being on such an incredible trajectory for the past few years. I needed that reminder to consider the bigger picture, and give myself some credit for the progress we’ve made instead of being glum about what we’re not currently doing. Because what we’re doing is still really cool.

Thanks for bearing with this remarkably self-indulgent post, and we’ll get back to the pony-indulging posts shortly. We all know that Francis is the real MVP 😉

My Spending Freeze Wishlist

As you may have guessed, I’m currently on a bit of a spending freeze due to the wedding (helmet doesn’t count, Frankie earned me some dolla billz so that didn’t change my cash flow). And true to form, being on a spending freeze makes me IMMEDIATELY WANT ALL THE THINGS.

So sue me.

Here are a few of the items popping up lately that are giving me the grabby hands this fall:

LD Equestrian Leggings

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The best pic I could find was a gratuitous butt shot HAPPY TUESDAY

I saw someone wearing these on Instagram and they looked pretty cool, and I also like to look cool. Also they come in navy. So you know they must be good. I’ve been wanting to get some leggings for a while now, and will happily take any recommendations you may have for breathable, cleanable, pretty ones that aren’t too slippery. But until someone gives me a different recommendation, these are on the list.

Mountain Horse Sovereigns

“But Olivia, I thought you already had two pairs?”

Yeah, I do. But you know what I don’t have?

SOVEREIGNS IN DARK BROWN

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Be still my heart.

However, I can’t find these for sale anywhere. It was just one lone picture on one lone account on Twitter. But now I’m hoping. My current brown ones are looking pretty beat up, and these would be a gorgeous replacement. The two-tone lighter brown are def cool looking, but these are absolutely stunning. Hit me up if you find them anywhere.

Equifit BellyBand

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Finally, something for Francis. Despite going 2 years with zero problems, Homeboy started getting spur rubs pretty easily on his left side this past summer. A combination of my weaker left leg moving too much, and him being incredibly dull to that side (also likely due in large part to my weaker left side). It’s not really a mystery. But while I’m working on correcting that, I would also love to give him a little extra protection until I can control that rogue left heel.

Charles Ancona Show Coat

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Excuse me while I try to stop drooling. I currently have two lovely show coats- my more conservative hunter green one that I use for classics and my rare forays into the non-jumper ring, and my kickass light blue one for Every Other Time. But I’ve been starting to really covet something navy. Our barn colors are navy, red, and white (I’m sure you’ve seen our saddle pads and bonnets) and y’all know how much I LOVE LOVE LOVE color-coordinating. A navy coat with white and red piping?! I could cry. And the people I know with Ancona’s just love them, totally rave about the quality. I touched one once in a store and it gave me better posture. It’s literally over 3x what I’ve ever paid for a coat before, but unimportant. It’s fine. The Equiline coats also offer customization, and AT has one that’s just gorgeous. So what I’m saying is that I want a custom navy coat.

Haas Dark Bay Brush Set

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Back to stuff for Frankie! A couple people in the barn have gotten the Haas sets lately, and absolutely love them. And their horses are looking super clean and shiny too. Getting Frankie a full set of really nice brushes has been on the list for a while, so these have made it to the wishlist. Apparently the curry comb is Better Than All Other Curry Combs, and Frankie thinks any brushing system that includes moar brushies is a total win. Big guy does love himself the itchy scratchies.

OK, your turn now! What’s giving you grabby hands these days?

Mirror Mirror

More than 3 years ago, I wrote about how my emotions were affecting the DragonMare and how she mirrored those back at me. She was definitely the type that would react to any stress being emitted in her direction. Frankie is an extremely different horse (the actual polar opposite of her in pretty much every way), and is almost entirely non-reactive to that kind of stimuli.

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IF YOU’RE A STRESS THEN I’M A STRESS 
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vs. Lady I can feel you vibrating and I cannot make myself care

This past weekend, he reminded me that he does still read me EXCEEDINGLY well. And don’t I feel foolish about it.

Because for a couple weeks now, I’ve basically been calling him a fat lazy sack of bones (very affectionately, of course). And so I’ve hopped on and expected a lazy sack of bones.

And what does he give me? A fat lazy sack of bones. Homeboy ain’t dumb, he knows this is his ticket to No-Worksville.

How do I know this is true?

Because this weekend, I was feeling particularly motivated to get a good workout in. I pulled out his figure-8 bridle with the leverage bit (we’ve been riding in his basic snaffle lately). I put my spurs back on. I grabbed my crop. I prepared to really talk him into working with me.

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Jeepers crow he looks so handsome in his work-hard-uniform

And I didn’t have to. He was right there working hard with me from the moment I swung into the saddle.

Turns out my lazy horse was being lazy…because I was expecting (and allowing) him to be lazy. WOW THIS IS TOTALLY COMPLICATED ROCKET SCIENCE. Not.

As soon as I brought out his “work clothes” and actually rode instead of just passively sitting on him, he was right there. Prompt upwards transitions. Correct lateral work. Adjustable gaits. You know, all the things we’ve trained him to do over the past few years.

It may sound silly that I’m absolutely giddy about my well-trained horse acting like a well-trained horse, but I am. It affirms for me that slowing down is not ruining the work we’ve put into him. He’s not going to forget all of this just because we’re not jumping every week. We’ll have to do some bootcamp to get full fitness back, but he’s holding on to his know-how and will absolutely be ready for me when I’m ready.

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Ready for SMOOSHES ALL TIME FOREVER

As long as I don’t expect him to be a pokey pony. Because then he will 100% be a pokey pony.

Blog Hop: The Horse You Bought

Y’all know I’m a sucker for a blog hop, so I just had to jump in on this one from Cathryn at Two and a Half Horses after seeing L’s post.

We all know that Frankie has grown and progressed a TON from when I bought him. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and talk about it some more.

Bought: end of March, 2016

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Doin’ some jomps in our trial ride
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His Coggins pic, looking mighty cute

Here’s what his ad said when I bought him:

“He is Eventing at the Novice level and has the ability for much more. This kind natured horse is quiet and easy going, with good movement and a super jump. He goes XC quietly in a snaffle and will jump whatever you point him at. He is also a good Foxhunter. A competitive horse suitable for an amateur.”

And you know what? That was entirely accurate. Honest, quiet, sweet, and athletic. A genuinely good egg. In short- exactly what I was looking for!

However, he was inexperienced in several ways. He was started quite late (as a 6yo) and had done relatively little until he was 8 or 9. By the time I bought him, he had roughly 12-18 months of consistent training. He was nicely broke and very willing, but didn’t really know how to use his body to best effect (especially over fences). While I think his late start is certainly good for his long-term soundness, I think it took him as long as it did to figure out his jumping form because he came to it so late. Luckily he was big enough and naturally powerful enough to step into the 1m jumper ring pretty quickly.

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HOW DO LEGS GO IN AIR HUH?

Which he was also brand new to. His first show with us was a week-long A rated show where he was stalled the whole time, at a height that was new to both of us. Bit of a trial by fire. For the first full year or so, he would land off of every jump and stall a bit- he didn’t ever think to continue on to another fence unless explicitly told to. I had to override to everything since he didn’t have the know-how to maintain a powerful collected stride. It made combos tricky since those were also brand new to him.

In a nutshell- he was a forgiving, fun, inexperienced horse who had lots of ability and lots to learn to be able to use it.

Fast forward to 2018.

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The most handsome angel
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Show pro, anywhere we go (sick flow)
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Happy boy totally knows the drill now when we walk in the ring

To say he’s a different horse than I bought two years ago couldn’t be more true. He’s (clearly) figured out his body over the jumps, and we haven’t found the upper limits of his scope yet. He says yes to all of it with that same happy face. We went from struggle-bussing over 1m, to easily doing the 1.15m with me and 1.20m with a pro in the irons. He’s learned how to stay powerful and collected so we have lots of options on course, he lands looking for the next jump, and he knows that the start bell means it’s time for zoomies. He’s an absolute professional in the jumper ring. He’s extremely well-broke on the flat with lots of buttons, and we can throw him in any ring and know that he’ll go around. He’s that fancy horse I could never afford, and I’m so proud and grateful that we put in the work and time to bring out that hidden potential.

He’s also a little less forgiving now that the jumps are bigger. He expects me to carry my weight and give him a good ride, or at least not an actively awful one. Now that we know how to rate our stride, he gets (justifiably) mad when I try to gun him at a jump. Sorry bro, old habits die hard. He does also prefer an active ride still- making the wrong decision is still much better in his book than making no decision. Of course, we all prefer the right decision. Working on it.

What’s the same? The rest. The sweetness, the kindness in his eye, his quiet confidence. That’s what drew me to him within the first 5 minutes of seeing him, and that’s what draws me to him now.

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PC- Tracy

He’s still the horse that thrives on attention, loves to come in for smooches, struts when he knows he did good, and that I can trust around children. That went XC schooling on a loopy rein, giving a lead to all the newbies. That happily stands for an hour of groomies when his mom is too tired to ride. That can have a week off, and then walk out of his stall foot-perfect.

When I bought him, my tentative plan was to use him as a step-up horse- spend a couple years moving up until we reached as far as he could go, then sell him and use those funds to bring in a new mount.

Um, yeah. No.

I’m open to leasing him out down the road, but homeboy is not for sale.

So that’s another big difference: the horse I bought was not intended to be a forever horse.

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When I’m so nervous I could puke, and he just quietly comes in for snugs as I’m tacking up…yeah buddy. You can stay as long as you like.

He’s enjoying his vacation season (he’s pretty sure that Mom getting married is the BEST THING EVAR OMG LIFE IS SO EASY), but I’m beyond excited to get back in the saddle and explore new adventures with him. He may be different from the horse I bought, but in all the right ways. I would buy him again a thousand times over.

Millionaire Me

What would you do if a long-lost distant relative died and left you a zillion dollars?

If you’re tempted to say something responsible like “continue working and invest for the future,” please go have 3-6 margaritas and then try again.

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We’re here to have a good time

I’ll start.

Firstly, Frankie’s life really wouldn’t change hugely. We’d up the frequency of massages/chiro/acupuncture/etc and he’d get some more pro rides. But other than that, homeboy is already getting fantastic care from fantastic people. Maybe I’d get him some customized brushes, and we would build a custom saddle for both of us, and we’d also get dressage tack for the heck of it, and we’d go to a horse show every month. I don’t think he would really notice the difference (except the massages, he always wants more massages).

But Rich Me would get him some friends. A couple of them.

First off, Francis needs a mini. Either a mini donkey or a mini horse (or a mini mule?!). With a big fluffy mane and a sassy lil tail. This tiny little mini would come with us to shows, wander the farm, and provide entertainment to us all.

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MAYBE A SPOTTY ONE??

Francis would also get a little brother. A well-bred baby that shows potential for the upper levels. This fancy baby would go straight into the capable hands of AT to break and train and get show mileage with. I’d be the absentee mother that shows up periodically to torture the baby with hugs and kisses and ponying off of Francis, and when Frankie starts stepping down Fancy Baby would become my main mount. By that point AT will have trained Fancy Baby to be amateur-friendly as well as talented.

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Basically what I’m trying to say is that Rich Me really really wants Presto’s half brother Manny.

Francis would also get a short-term friend in the form of a lease. This lease will have recently been doing the High AOs/regional GPs, and is looking to step down to the 1.30m or lower. This Yearlong Pal will cart me around the open 1.20m and up and teach me about the bigger tracks.

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A schoolmaster like this would be fine by me, I wouldn’t complain.

Since Rich Me has two horses, Rich Me can get that much more saddle time (especially since Rich Me doesn’t have to work) and can compete in more rounds every shows. Then if the stars align and I can take Francis in the 1.20m, I’ll already have some experience and can help him out a bit more instead of both of us being green to the level.

And Rich Me has a whole lotta shows she wants to go to. In no particular order:

  • Team Finals, wherever they’re held (maybe Tryon again?)
  • Lake Placid because that stuff is GORG
  • Vermont Summer Festival because ALSO GORG
  • WIHS
  • Penn National
  • LGCT Miami (fun fact they have classes down to 1.15m, so you can compete there at a variety of levels if you qualify)
  • WEF. Not the full circuit, but maybe the Great Charity Challenge and a few other classes.
  • Upperville. Yeah, I know we’ve been a bunch. It’s still my favorite and Rich Me still wants to go.
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Rich Me doesn’t like this ring any less

BRB, gonna go buy a bunch of lottery tickets.

What does Rich You want to do?

Shifting the Balance

Ever since I’ve gotten back in the saddle as an adult, I’ve been super focused. Always looking for ways to go improve my skills, train harder, compete more successfully, raise the jumps. I’ve spent every spare moment at the barn trying to fit in more saddle time and I’ve spent every spare dollar (and more) fitting more shows into my schedule.

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It took me approx. 3 months back in the saddle to get back in the show ring, and I’ve never looked back.

So taking a step back as we get close to the wedding is Weird for me with a capital W. I’ve cut back to riding 2-3x a week, and have a mix of pro rides and junior riders hopping on for the other 3-4x. I gave up my private lesson spot for one in a group lesson. The jumps haven’t gone over 3′ in a little while, and our rollbacks are decidedly hunterific these days. For the first time, I didn’t respond to our quarterly show schedule update email with an enthusiastic “sign me up for those 4!” For the first time, riding is my hobby and not my entire focus.

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Also a big part of that hobby is endless nose smooshes. PC- Liz

I don’t like it. No I do not. I miss my schedule and I miss my horse and I miss the sweat and the aches and the struggles and I’m itching to get back to it like you wouldn’t believe.

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I like doing this. I already miss doing this. 

But at the same time, something had to give as we round the final stretch to the big day. I’m traveling north to Rhode Island for planning sessions increasingly often and even when I am in town, I have fittings and events and phone calls and all that fun stuff eating up my time and energy. Setting up a program for Frankie that requires less time from me was painful, but is also a relief to know that he’s getting loved on and groomed and worked just as often as his attention-hog heart desires. It takes away a lot of the guilt I was feeling about not being there as often as I’d like.

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Francis don’t care WHO is paying attention to him, as long as SOMEONE is paying attention to him. 

Frankie is feeling just fine about all of this. He’s been carting me around my lessons with his ears up and happy snorts (even if he does try to break wayyyy more often because #chunkaroo). He makes silly faces when I curry the itchy spot on his neck, he puts his face down for towel time behind his ears after every bath, and he’s always happy to see me when I’m there. He’s sound and healthy and with the help of my amazing barn family, he’ll be fit and ready for me to take the reins back after the wedding. I already have some ideas for fun new adventures next show season.

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At least one of these ideas may or may not tie into him apparently being a really adorable eq horse.

While I’m already eager to get back to a full training program with World’s Best Horse (TM), I’m going to enjoy this hobby season as a mental break from the pressures that I’ve put on myself and my steed for a while now. I’m going to view it as a reset for us to go back and work on some basics without an urgent timeline, a chance to share Frankie with some talented riders looking for saddle time, and a chance for me to explore a different type of balance in my life.

96 days until I can get that dang balance shifted back to the barn.

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PC-Liz

What? Just because I’m trying to enjoy the break doesn’t mean I’m not psyched to get back into it 😉

A Chunkaroo and a New Helmet

Y’all. Frankie has upgraded from dad-bod status to straight up FAT. Homeboy has butt wrinkles. Literally he had one month of light work and his body was immediately like HAHA PACK ON THE POUNDS. This means he also immediately lost all self-carriage and impulsion. It took a solid 6-9 months of hardcore training and work to leg him up to full fitness, and 4 weeks to completely lose it all. COOL.

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Remember when he was so fit and muscley and beefy in the very very distant past? Me neither.

Anyways, I don’t want a fat horse. It ain’t good for him (though he seems to be enjoying himself) and it ain’t good for me. Once we get past the wedding, I’d really like to have a competition season (albeit with less traveling than I did this year), and that will be hard if I have to spend several months legging him up basically from scratch.

Enter, the world’s best barn family. With their help, Frankie will get his 6 rides a week from a variety of sources- 2-3 from me, 1 from AT, and 2-3 from some of our TJRs (Talented Junior Riders). I can’t even express what a relief this is- I’ve been feeling so much guilt about not being able to get out as often as Frankie needs, and knowing that he’s getting exercised and groomed and loved on when I can’t be there lifts an enormous weight. I’m so eager to get back into more of a program with him, but I can breathe a sigh of relief that he’ll be ready for me when I’m able to do that. Seriously: world’s BEST barn fam.

In other news, I got myself a new helmet! I’ve had my Charles Owen GR8 for just about 4 years now- it smells like a dead animal, has little to no ventilation, and I’ve now fallen in it twice. I didn’t hit my head either time, but all those factors combined to make it definitely time for a new noggin-protector. And the timing worked out perfectly with International Helmet Awareness Day(s)! I headed over to my local Dover with the plan to buy the Samshield I had tried earlier in the year and loved.

Yeah, I didn’t walk out of there with the Samshield. The girl helping me was FANTASTIC. She knew what to look for in terms of helmet fit, told me what she was looking for, and spent a reeeeeeally long time working with me to try on every single helmet that might’ve possibly worked.

We started with the Samshield- she pretty quickly gave that a nope because they didn’t have one small enough for me #childsizedhead. We tried a Kask and she didn’t even let me look in the mirror. Then we tried a rose-gold-accented One K that I IMMEDIATELY fell in love with, which she gave a tentative thumbs up. And then she destroyed my rose gold dreams by putting me (very reluctantly) in a CO AYR8 plus. Which she then pronounced to fit me the best of everything we tried.

I then proceeded to try on an IRH, a GPA, the new TraumaVoid, and a Tipperary because UGHHHH I DIDN’T WANT ANOTHER CHARLES OWEN. Can’t tell ya why. My CO has served me faithfully for years. I also kept putting the rose gold one back on, and she kept looking at me dubiously. None of them fit nearly as well, no matter how much I tried to negotiate.

Ultimately, we agreed that the safest helmet is the one that fits the best, and it was very obvious that the CO fit the shape and size of my head the best by far. She tried to soften the blow by offering customization which I eagerly latched onto, but then we realized that this model doesn’t offer customization.

SO MANY DREAMS CREATED AND SHATTERED.

So I walked out of there with my new AYR8 Plus, and I’m really warming up to it. It has a removable washable liner, tons more ventilation than my old helmet, and it really does fit like a glove. It’s a definite upgrade.

co ayr8p.jpg
It sure is a helmet

So I’m riding less but we’re keeping Francis fit, I have a new helmet for the first time in several years, and I’m ready to just GET MARRIED ALREADY so I can get back to the barn more. Priorities.