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.

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 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.

2 Years at Home

I had not ridden a horse in quite some time as of September 23rd, 2014.

And then this fateful email exchange.

September 24th, 2014 was the first time I sat on a horse in years. Literally years.

I went into that lesson planning to walk and trot around for a little while- I knew my muscle memory was likely relatively intact, but my muscle strength was absolutely abysmal.

The stone-cold badass who I now proudly call my trainer had other ideas. She had me jumping a full course in that first lesson and I haven’t looked back since. She’s been kicking my butt around the ring for a full two years now.

In some ways it feels like only a few weeks since that first lesson! And then at other times it feels like I’ve always been at Clairvaux. It’s home to me.

I don’t know that I can fully describe the impact this barn and these people have had on my life over the last two years, but I’ll certainly try:

I had been so unhappy here in Virginia- even though I had some family here, I missed all my friends and was having a really hard time making new ones. Everything seemed very alien and it was just so different from home. To be honest, I was starting to look at jobs in other areas because I simply couldn’t see myself staying another year.

Joining this community is what turned my life around- I know it sounds dramatic, but I mean it. I have gotten to meet and spend time with some AMAZING women- they are driven, interesting, kind, helpful, and straight up fun to be around. I have found a place where I can go to feel centered and welcome, no matter what happens. I have re-found a part of myself that feels such incredible drive and passion for this sport.

And I have gotten to work with trainers that I respect immensely- who I trust with my wellbeing and who I trust to have my best interest at heart. They have demonstrated time and time again that they are not in this to make a quick buck- they are in this to keep us all safe and having fun while learning.

I had never even dared to dream that I might make it to the 1m division. That was so far out of the realm of possibility. But with the support and encouragement and guidance of the Clairvaux family it has all felt not only manageable, but natural. Now my pie-in-the-sky goal is a stepping stone to even bigger and better things.

It’s certainly been a whirlwind two years: I jumped into a half-lease almost immediately, started a horsey blog, re-entered the show ring, moved from 2’3″ to 2’6″ to 2’9″ to 3′ to 3’3″ in height, moved over to the jumpers, spent a week in Ocala, bought a horse. In retrospect, that’s a heck of a lot to fit into two years!

While there have been all sorts of milestones over the past couple years, I’m most thankful for two. First of all, Frankie. He is my unicorn and every day with him is better than the last. Next week we’ll spend our 6 monthiversary at a show and I know it’s going to be amazing. Second of all, you guys. The blog community. Getting back in the saddle gave me my passion back and pushed me to join in and I can’t thank you all enough. I’ve met some of my closest friends through blogging!

I’ll stop talking now. I don’t have pictures from the VERY beginning, but here’s a part of my journey over the last two years:

December ’14: One of the first “big” jumps I did with Addy
February ’15: Our first “BIG” jump
March ’15: First time back in the show ring in ~10 years
April ’15: Maaaaaajestic
May ’15: Warming up for our first time in the jumper ring!
July ’15: Absolutely killing it in the 3′ hunters
August ’15: First rated show at HITS Culpeper doing the baby jumpers
September ’15: Headed out for a paper chase! Dream team.
October ’15: First time XC schooling
Dec ’15: Addy and friends making me smile during a tough winter
Dec ’15: Christmas time!
February ’16: Stepping into the adult medals with Poppy down in Ocala
February ’16: Fastest 4-faulters in our classic with Victoriosa down in Ocala!
March ’16: Our last show together
March ’16: Enter Francis!
May ’16: Braving the trails with a buddy
June ’16: Learning the ropes at our first show
August ’16: Getting better and better at our second show

I thank my lucky stars every day that my random “hunter jumper barns near me” Google search sent me directly to a trainer I trust and respect, and who pushes me to be the best horsewoman and rider I can be.

Cheers to two years at home, and cheers to the future!