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 😉

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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!

You Guys Rock and So Does My Horse

Today is a hodge-podge of thoughts- I am working on a more formalized schedule for myself so I can get back to blogging about our rides and lessons! Until then, I appreciate you all putting up with my semi-cohesive ramblings lately.

In exciting news, Jumper Nation decided to run my last post! The editor reached out to me and said they like having different perspectives for editorials, and I was more than happy to share my thoughts.

Of course, in hindsight I should have tweaked it a bit before sharing. I wrote my post for a specific audience: you all, who know me pretty well and generally give me the benefit of the doubt (thank you!). Turns out that some of my wording offended some people on Facebook, because they don’t know me and assumed I meant something different than what I did mean. Can’t really blame them, it’s super hard to read tone in text, especially when it’s a total stranger that you’ve never read before. Hopefully it added a little to the conversation, but I think I’ll do a couple things differently next time I want to share something with a wider platform. Live and learn!

On to the even more fun stuff: Francis.

Seriously you all are probably sick of me gushing over him, but I feel like the last few weeks have been a different gear for us. Not that we’ve been jumping big jumps (we haven’t) or doing super difficult courses (also no), just getting a lot of our basics tuned up and more correct.

For example: contact. Frankie has progressively gotten more educated to the contact and knows how to carry himself on said contact, but it was not something that he automatically thought to do. Of course he wouldn’t, that’s hard work! My trainers could always get him going really well over his back and up into the bridle, but I struggled to get that consistently.

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It’s hard to do things when all you want is to nap

It’s still not perfect and it will forever be a growing and learning process, but I do think we’ve turned a corner in terms of asking and receiving a more balanced contact. I think it’s a combination of me asking a little differently and a little more strongly, Frankie understanding the question better, and Frankie being fit enough to answer the question.

I also think he loves our new outdoor ring. He’s got a bit more room to move, the footing is a tad firmer (it’s gorgeous omg), and he’s just a happy horse when he’s outside. Before our new outdoor was done, we really only rode outside for shows- wondering if maybe he associates jumping outside with showtime? Whatever the reason may be, he is a very happy boy and is going around fantastically.

I have more stuff to talk about with Frankie, but I think that’ll all need a dedicated post.

Second to last thing for now: I have a new toy! You may have seen my video on Instagram (if you haven’t, go check it out @hellomylivia) and I’m really excited to put together more POV videos! I opted for a chest mount instead of a helmet mount because I am cheap and the helmet mounts in my price range looked really flimsy. So I now have a funny looking strappy contraption that holds my phone to my chest. I’m still figuring out how to adjust the angle and secure it so it won’t flop around when I jump- any suggestions? Here’s the link to what I got.

I’ve decided to remove most sound if I post videos from lessons. Namely, my trainer talking. Little snippets here and there are fine, but I don’t want to be giving away her livelihood for free. I also won’t be posting videos with kids visible in there. Any other suggestions for ways you keep your media barn-friendly?

And the last thing for now: I love my new job! It’s requiring me to be much more structured with my time and plan things out, which makes my color-coordinated file-folder heart go pitter-patter. Everyone has been so nice, and my new boss has been incredibly supportive of barn time (I’ve already got time off approved for Regionals in August!). The only real downside is that my commute to the barn has increased by a decent amount, but thankfully my trainer has been flexible and understanding as I adjust to the new schedule. And my new boss has already offered to put me on an alternate schedule so I can beat traffic and get to the barn earlier- how ridiculous awesome is that??

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I even look moderately less feral on a regular basis now

The crazy hectic-ness of June is dying down and Frankie and I are adjusting to our new normal. Lucky for me, he continues to earn his barn nickname of “The Unicorn” and continues to be the best pony on the planet.  

Happy Blogiversary!

Somehow without realizing it, my second blogiversary came and went this past weekend! I’ll soon return to my lesson recaps and upcoming show schedule (spoiler alert, there are two on the near horizon), but here’s a fun little view of how Hellomylivia has grown over the past few years:

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As you may remember, I took a little hiatus in Dec/Jan of last year because I couldn’t handle living my life like a normal person needed to step back and slow down for a bit. Womp womp. But since then, we’ve been back and better than ever! We’ve managed to even out through the rest of 2016 and I’m hoping to keep up that momentum in the new year!

I started breaking things down further, getting all math-y and creating roughly 900 MILLION graphs. But you know what, guys? I live my life in numbers and spreadsheets. This blog is my escape from the constant number crunching. So you will take my lone graph and YOU WILL LIKE IT.

Or not. No skin off my nose.

We started when I was riding Addy in the 2’6″ Hunters

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And now we have our boy Francis prepping for the 1.10m Jumpers

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Clearly the quality of media has gone downhill

I’ve met some of my closest friends through this blog, learned new skills (website, social media, horsemanship, and myriad other areas), explored my creative side, and have gotten to join in with a community that I never even knew existed.

Thank you to all of you for following along (especially to my Superstar Commenters: Micaylah, Stacie, Carey, Monica, Heather, and Alli). I know that this blog provides no real benefit to anyone besides myself: I don’t have cool coupon codes, I rarely do meaningful product reviews, and I ask for advice constantly while giving little advice back. So the fact that you still join in for this journey just tickles me pink. It means the world to me to have you all coming along on these adventures with me.

Cheers to 2 years in Blogland!

Please and Thank You

A few things:

If you haven’t heard yet, Aryelle over at Horse Hack is having a fun blogging contest, and yours truly is up for contention today! Head on over and vote (preferably for me, but follow your heart), and stay tuned for the rest of the contest over the next few weeks.

Also, thank you times a million for all your awesome suggestions on my wishlist last week! I was out of town for the weekend so I didn’t get to respond to everyone, but I SO appreciate the time and thought you guys gave and am taking all your suggestions into consideration for sure.

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Manfriend and I did a mini-weekend trip down to Richmond and I wore MAkeUP and dID mY hAIr whatttttt

Manfriend has informed me that he’s cooking up a new post for y’all, which should be at least as hilarious as his last chime-in. My super awesome amazing Daddoo is also coming down for a visit in November, and I’ve already planted the idea of him guest posting as well! Please help me pressure him into writing for me. C’mon Daddy, don’t you WANT me to be happy?!

Despite my show hiatus, this fall is ramping up to have all sorts of fun adventures that I can’t wait to share with you! And as always, let me know if there’s any type of post you’re really feelin’ or want to see. Ask and ye shall receive.

Happy Friday!

Sneak Preview

Hello friends!

I’m really hoping D’Arcy at thecluelessbutcuriousrider is more on her game than me, because I haven’t even started a recap of our lesson yet. Hopefully will put that together tonight*- spoiler alert, it was fantastic. I actually kept my leg on and stuck to my guns, and PonyFace was an absolute flippin’ rockstar!

But just so that I don’t leave you hanging, here’s a couple exciting things in the works that I’ll be posting over the next few weeks:

  1. An ode to Hunt Club. They’re pretty much my favorite company and I’m obsessed with their belts. I’m their creepy Twitter fan. I love them so much it hurts. I must share with you how glorious they are.
  2. Interviews with my Trainer and Assistant Trainer. I figure I quote them all the time, why not go straight to the source? They’ve both agreed to respond to a list of questions I put together and share their wisdom with the world! Both of them are genuinely awesome people as well as talented trainers and coaches.
  3. A post about my job and work/life balance and other musings about that. Yes, a non-horse post (it’s been months since I posted something non-horse related!). But as I’ve mentioned a couple times, my job has picked up a ton lately and I’d like to share a little bit more about all the shenanigans going on in that aspect of my life.
  4. My show prep checklist. Things inevitably go a little wonky on show days, but so far no huge disasters have happened for us (*knocks on wood*). Also, I love lists more than I love almost anything else. So yeah, have some unsolicited advice from a rank amateur.
  5. A review of my new breeches. Since my last post about FancyPants I’ve added several to the collection! I actually had to put myself on a breeches spending freeze because my trainer said, and I quote, “Stop buying pants and start saving for more shows!!!” Oops. #sorrynotsorry
  6. My wishlist of tack/show clothes/horsey stuffs. Also known as the When-I-Win-The-Lottery list.

Stay tuned!

*I do have a wedding this weekend that I have to pack and prep for, so this maaaay be postponed.

HBTRE (Horse Bloggers Trail Ride Extravaganza)

I hope all youz guyz had an absolutely fantastic long weekend! Or if you’re like manfriend and had to work yesterday, I hope you had an absolutely fantastic regular-length weekend! I was lucky enough to ride for three days in a row and it was AWESOME. And I will tell you why.

It is because two of those rides were on Addy, and she’s so awesome blah blah blah I love her so much etc. But the other was on another horse.

To be exact, on Courtney’s (from Vintage Virginia) horse. I’ll give you a minute to go check out her blog right now- she’s got really cute horses, does cool projects, and has a kickin’ sense of style. In short, she’s awesome.

You may remember that a couple weeks ago I mentioned that trail rides totally freak me out and I very much like to be contained by a fence. Courtney, being totally baller, invited me out to ride one of her ponies at a park nearby! We both brought our menfolk just in case one of us was the Craigslist killer, but luckily there were no murder shenanigans.

Let me just say that this girl has some fantastic horses. We went and played around in the ring for a while, with me riding her wonderful Appy Vintage and Courtney on her 6yo baby Berry. So cute! Vintage was such an old pro and handled me flopping around without flicking an ear. We popped over a crossrail a couple times, and even hopped over a vertical!

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Look at pony fly!

It was sooo weird to be on a horse that wasn’t Addy- I haven’t ridden any other horses since last September. Vinny doesn’t idle at a hand gallop and actually required me to use my leg for speed. But little pony had the smoothest canter! Seriously, it was like gliding around the ring. I fell in love with her almost immediately.

Then it was time for actual trail riding! Turns out that James Long Park has pretty extensive trails, and we took full advantage of them. (If you’re in the northern VA area I would definitely recommend heading out here, it was awesome!). This was one of Berry’s first outings this year and she handled it all so well. Vintage, being an amazing horse that I love, was an angel and took me through the woods and up and down hills without any problems.

It was super fun to get to chat with Courtney and bond over horses with a new friend! Since the horses were so well behaved, we were able to just relax and enjoy a beautiful day.

Once we emerged from the woods, we were on the opposite side of the park from where the trailer was parked. So we decided to give the horses a little canter stretch across the beautifully manicured flat grass. Turns out that the reason it was so flat and nicely manicured is because it was a soccer field and I think we weren’t really supposed to ride on it, buuuuuut come on people. Perfectly smooth ground. Tell me you wouldn’t have done the same thing.

The trailer was parked in a field so we decided to do a couple more laps running around before cooling out. Yeehaw! Little Appy had mad ups, she really kicked it into a higher gear! This coming from a trail-riding-weenie: this pony took such good care of me that I didn’t even get nervous running around in a field. It was awesome! It actually made me realize why people get so exhilarated on cross country. Berry seemed to have a blast running around too, and both horses wanted to keep going when we walked to cool them out.

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Vinny leading the way and Berry saying hi.
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Vinny looking like a little lady and Berry saying HAYYYY
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Both of us saying, “One more lap? Don’t mind if we do.”
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Vinny saying “WTF is this stupid chair seat you’re doing, get off my face and let me go run around a little more”
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Having a stupid amount of fun

Never fear, we did not forget about the menfolk. Turns out they’re both huge movie buffs that greatly enjoy guns, so I don’t even think they noticed when we left or came back. We both had to holler a couple times to get their attention.

Short version: I got to meet another horse blogger who I really admire, had an awesome time getting to know her and her girls, manfriend is pumped about a new friend, and it was an amazing time. Can’t wait to go play again soon 🙂

Comment PSA

Hey folks! This is going to be a very short post, just wanted to let y’all know something:

I want to comment on your posts. I want so badly to chime in with encouragement or sympathy or what-have-you. But if your commenting system looks like this:

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then I am not able to. I do most of my blogging and commenting during my lunch break at work (after work is usually taken up with barn stuff or laundry or adulting stuffs), and for some reason the firewall/internet gnomes block that type of commenting system.

I’m pretty much limited to WordPress and self-hosted blogs. So to all of you guys on Blogger or Blogspot, I’m sending you warm fuzzies! Hopefully the internet gnomes will let this happen eventually, or I’ll give in and log in from home at some point.

Happy Friday!

Blog Update- Changing Schedule

Hi gang!

As you may have noticed, I’ve been posting every day since I started (some days were better and more interesting than others). A big reason for this was to build up content so that if someone found their way here, there would be plenty to look at! Now that I’ve hit 50 posts(!!!) I’m going to start scaling back a little. Here’s what you can expect to see as “regular” posts:

  • A horse-related post on Monday or Tuesday (usually in the “Equine Musings” category)
  • A pic on Wednesday. I know it’s lazy blogging, but I always love peeking at the pics that pop up!
  • A lesson review on Thursday. This may occasionally get pushed back to Friday if I’m super busy, but I like to write these while the lesson is still fresh.
  • Snippets on Saturdays. I’m having fun with these! If you have any snippets for me to share, absolutely let me know.

I will likely post on other days as things pop up to talk about- for example, my living room redecoration, a recipe I’d like to share, or a discussion of riding-related anxiety. But I’m going to let those topics flow a bit more organically instead of worrying about fitting it in to my schedule.

I’d love to get your feedback on my proposed schedule! Anything you’d rather see as a regular post, or anything you’d really rather not see?

First Month of Blogging!

Today is a very special day, Dear Reader. If we were in high school, you would likely be getting me flowers and I would be posting all over social media that you’re my favorite reader and we’ll be together forever. That’s right. It’s my monthiversary as a blogger!

And the 23-year-and-change-iversary of not knowing how to smile nicely for pictures!
And the 23-year-and-change-iversary of smiling awkwardly for pictures!

I was admittedly a little nervous about starting this blog- I’ve never been a talented writer, and my creative streak is about a millimeter wide. I’ve also been pretty sure that no one particularly wants to hear the ramblings of someone who very clearly doesn’t have it all figured out. But the feedback I’ve gotten has been so super encouraging, and I’m feeling more and more confident about this whole venture. Thanks to you, Dear Reader!

Whether you’ve followed me all month or are just joining in, I can’t wait to hear your thoughts and share a little bit of my life with you! I’ve had a fantastic start to my blogging journey, and I can’t wait to keep connecting with all of the awesome people here.

But to wrap up my first month here, I’m actually going to turn this around on you, my lovely readers. I’d love to get your feedback so that future months are more interesting, more useful, and even better than this month has been!

What do you want to see more of? Anything you’d like to see less of? What’s really working or not working for you?