Thursday, November 28, 2013

From the Ashes.

Dearest Moonpie's blog has sat dormant for nearly a year now and with it I have felt a great deal of sorrow. I haven't ceased following your blogs, haven't stopped commenting, haven't stopped writing. And yet...I feel so parted, so halved.

There's a chance I'm going to find myself right back in the fire for coming back and posting, but to hell with it. It's time. I gave up the last year of my life, and it's time to take it all back.

So really, what HAS the last year been like for the Moonpie and I??

Well, Mr. Moon has pretty much sat out in a field, munched hay and grass, gone out the odd time with a strange rider and perhaps once or twice went for a ride with me.

I know. I parked my blog and I parked my horse.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Parting is such Sorrow.

I can only start by saying, that Moon has not left us, nor I have. The parting here is not within myself, but to Manitoba MoonSox and Me. The blog.

Manitoba MoonSox became collateral damage last week, and the only way to save the dreams embodied in his blog, our blog, is to let it disappear.

It saddens me greatly to have to do this. I wrote in my Thanksgiving post:

I am thankful for this blog and the ability to write. Without it, I can't imagine the mess I would be. Writing is my outlet, my blog is my medium, the pen is my way of releasing my inner me, in order to make sense of this world we live in, the feelings we feel, the thoughts we think. I am thankful for all 52 of you who publicly follow the Moonpie and me, for those who hide silently in the background, to whomever it was that created blogs in the first place. I need this. I need this like an addict needs alcohol, heroin or gambling. And for the fact that this is my worst addiction, for that I am thankful.

And today, we must part ways. There is no sweet sorrow in that, there is only sorrow. But sometimes we must make decisions, we must recognize where we left ourselves exposed. Where we failed.

I can't elaborate, I can't go any further. It only adds more fodder, and I am so sad, so hurt that this beautiful thing, this beautiful blog of the bliss and happiness and highs and lows and struggles, is that fodder. How some of the most beautiful posts failed to inspire, failed to open the heart to the struggles and hardship of another, but instead could be used to cause such hurt.

A beautiful blog like this. A picture of a girl holding her dog so close, a line about what true love really is, the pride of being a daughter and a friend. Turned to ammunition.

I am sad. But the blog world comes second to family. And to dreams. And to hopes. So we must part ways.

For all you have followed us, thank you. Thank you for your encouragement, your understanding, your kind words. Thank you for cheering on Moonpie and I on this adventure, for laughing with us, dreaming with us, growing with us.

I truly appreciate it, and it is only with great sorrow that I am able to walk away from that.

I am sorry. But herein ends the beauty of Manitoba MoonSox and Me.

Farewell friends.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

And she rode.

Birthday week wound up with a surprise birthday gift from H...after arriving at her house with flip flops, shorts, 2 cake pans, riding boots, breeches, jeans, rubber boots, sneakers...she had me wearing my hay throwing clothes and we drove the truck over to the hay shed. "We're loading hay" she said.

Moonpie. : )

I thought she was joking.

But she wasn't.

Then it was a slow drive to...

COACH W's!! : D

That's right! She got us lessons together with Coach W for our birthday's (her's is mid-April). Yippee!

I was thrilled.

And guess who I got to ride in these lessons???

JOSHUA!

Yup. That big black sexy-pants.

JOSH!
Brought him in all on my own, groomed and tacked and then H and I were in that sweet indoor arena I had been missing so much. H rode Royal, a very sweet chestnut gelding who Coach W loves dearly.

She started us at a walk...and then had us trotting. Then serpentining. Then leg yielding.

Josh is a super sweet horse. I really like him. He's a lot bigger than Moon, but a lot more reactive to my body and my cues. Training I suppose.

He has a lot more go however. So I often found myself frustrated in trying to half halt him and get him back to slow and steady. Ger.

I can promise you, that I'm the kind of rider that as I grow frustrated with my own inability to have a horse perform a certain way, I become locked-up and tight. And it all falls apart even more.

What I love about Coach W, is she's excellent at walking me right through those lock-ups.

I wasn't leaping up and down about our ride by the time Coach W moved us over to the last activity. Sitting trot.

You'd think a winter bareback riding would help, but not really. You get grippy. You develop bad habits. We'll admit to it.

We headed off on our 20 m circle to the left...

And it wasn't so bad. W had me work to not twist my body so much (I turn inwards like I'm trying to make a tiny circle with my body) and to stay loose. But she was pretty happy overall.

Then we swapped sides...

And it went in the tankard. Suddenly I was bouncing and messy and Josh was rushing and falling in and I felt like a disaster.

AURGH!

Coach W could see my troubles.

My right leg comes up and grips. Which going left, is on the outside and isn't so noticeable. But going right, suddenly I'm bounced right out of the saddle. I need to learn to keep my hips open and my legs loose.

So Coach W told me to pull my legs away from Josh's sides, then let them gently come back against him. And do that over and over. Then she had me do the same thing while sitting the trot...

OMG.

And I mean, the difference was so huge she was almost smirking.

Josh suddenly went about that circle with his head long and low, nice contact on the reins, beautiful speed, I was smoother in my sitting trot and we weren't falling in all over the place...

For about four strides until I locked up and it fell apart.

She made us do it again. Sitting trot, pull those legs out again and again, but then when I'd start to lock-up she'd yell "wiggle your toes!" "wiggle your ankles!" "Legs out!" And each time we did, he'd go back to long and low and slow and smooth.

Crap.

Honest to gawd, I am my horse. Moonpie is the most locked-up little horse, and I am him. No wonder we're a disaster together and perfect together. Two of the same problems. : P

But Josh, wow did his behavior and movement change when I was able to loosen up. I've never seen such a dramatic change. Loved it. Horrified by how locked up I must be on that side that it made such a huge difference, but comforted that I can get there.

And then the lesson was over.

Josh, named for the "Joshua Tree" on his forehead.

What can I honestly tell you I truly learned in that lesson??

1) When I over think, I lock-up and become a mess. I think I remember W telling me the same thing with Moon last summer. She told me to feel the ride and stop trying to think it. For me, it goes off and instead of feeling out the right solution, I panic and start trying to manhandle my way back, become embarrassed, stiff, and it just gets worse and worse. I need to focus on developing a *feel* for what Josh needs and when he needs it. Or what I need and when I need it.

2) Loosen up. I need to focus on unlocking myself through the hips, keeping my check open, not coming forward, and loose legs. Oh so hard.

3) Calm down. Stop panicking because it's not perfect. No one is looking for perfection. W isn't going to kick you out because you're not perfect. Accept it, move on, work on it.

4) I'm not as terrible of a rider as I'm convinced I am.
I can *honestly* (and embarrassingly) tell you that there were 100 moments during that lesson when I thought W would change her mind about letting me ride Josh. Like asking a squirrel to drive a car, it's just a *bad* idea that'll lead to disaster.

One of my biggest failings as a rider, is I have no faith in my ability to ride. It's the reason when things aren't perfect I freak and make them worse. Because I don't trust myself to be able to make them right.

But if this lesson taught me anything, it's that with a little confidence and a little relaxation, I'm actually a decent little rider. And W isn't just humoring me asking me to ride Josh, she legitimately believes that I won't destroy us both. Time I give her reason to have such faith. I can ride him, I can do a good job of it, and we can do some nice work. I look forward to proving that to myself.

_______________

So post lesson I was aching. Walked Josh back to his paddock and when I went to lock the gate, I touched the electric fence. The snap of the shock sent Josh running across the pasture away from me, and made me yelp aloud. Bleh. At least it wasn't as bad as that cattle fence I once sat on... : o

H and I drove home and I knew I would be non-functioning very shortly. By the time I got my car to a grocery store in the city just a 1/2 hour away, I felt like I was nearly 80 years of age. I staggered through the store and bought a frozen pizza, 100 box of Extra Strength Tylenol and a 2 litre of Juice. Paid, climbed into car and consumed 2 Tylenol right there in the parking lot. Spent 5 minutes willing myself to drive to the bank. Where it took me two trips to the teller to remember why I was there. By the time I was climbing the stairs to my apartment, I was wiped.

28 is a wonderful age, but dear gawd, I'm getting old!
________________

Other news?

Birthday Week was *amazing*.

It started on a Saturday evening, with Famous Dave's for dinner. No reservations allowed and when my friend showed up a 1/2 hour early to snag us a table, there was a 2 hour wait. : o When I showed 30 minutes later the place was still packed. And we discovered we were 12 people not 8 like we'd asked for. Crap.

Turned out it worked to our advantage and a table for 12 just opened. Snagged it, and everyone ate exactly on time. Delicious.

Then we all headed across town to a country bar with a mechanical bull. My bucket list. Never doing it again, thank gawd I did it now!

The first time, the bar manager was running it and having a bad day. He whipped me off in 10 seconds. My girlfriend in 5. Unimpressed. A couple hours later (after consuming more alcohol) the regular operator was back, and I climbed back on. Lasted almost a full minute and did a fine job. NOTHING like I imagine riding a real bull is like. This thing had a saddle of slick polished leather...

Oh, and I ripped the bull's horn right off on my dismount. Boo-ya.

Sunday my family went for Chinese and had some cake. I got a complete set of agility equipment for Halo, including weave poles, tunnel, crawl-under, ramp...so excited for the snow to melt. Also enough $$ to buy my archery target. Double sweet.

Monday after work I met up with my man at his place, and he headed off to a midnight launch. I dragged his coffee table into the corner of the room, and covered it in beer and balloons. And four blankets to hide the whole thing.

He got home, wouldn't let me open my gifts, we fell asleep.

The next morning, I got to open my presents...a miniature shovel he crafted for me with an engraved plate that read "The House My Dreams Built 2013". Painted my favorite color of blue. I cried. He laughed.

Salsbury house for breakfast and then off to H's for a horseback ride.

Moon in tack for the first time since October... : o
In the barn, we were surprised by H with a homemade cake, and she got G a tool belt and hammer to help me out with my building. He was flattered.

I tacked up The Black for him, gave him a 30 second lesson in stopping and turning, and discovered he has a MASSIVE head. I mean, a men's large helmet would only perch atop his head. And barely would buckle up. *sigh* I broke my own rule and after 10 minutes of him telling me it was giving him an awful headache, allowed him to unbuckle it.

G, riding away ahead of me. The man also needs *much* longer stirrup leathers...6'4" just isn't favorable to woman's riding gear...

Thankfully, Moon and The Black were dreams. I honest to gawd, took my 100% green man on a three mile ROAD ride with cars passing, dogs barking, and we had no trouble. The Black is a dream. We had one funny moment when the Black turned down the driveway of his "girlfriend" and wanted to go visit. And G wasn't sure how to get him to go the other way. Hehe.

After 3 miles of riding (such a trooper...said he wanted to ride on the trails!) we made it safely back home. Groomed the horses and sent them on their way.

Then it was off to my property! G's never been before and he loved it. We made a fire in the mud puddle it is right now (I cleared all the snow to get it to melt fast, but since the ground is frozen, the water just puddles and makes mud : P ), and roasted hotdogs. Yummy!

Hot dog roast!
Next came driving the tractor around, which every guy loves. After that, it was back home, where my man whipped up a yummy chicken bacon ranch pizza from scratch. Honestly, I'm never letting him go because I never want to have to cook again in my life. And the man rode a horse WILLINGLY!

Wednesday morning we headed out to his folk's place in a rural Manitoba town. Nice long drive out in the sunshine, lunch with his dad at the local watering hole, and then a lazy afternoon of cuddling cats and watching lame television. Love afternoons like that. Then his mom got home, we had a nice family dinner, and him and I wound up posting a picture of a ring on facebook...

G's cat "Dash"
Which led to the masses thinking we'd gotten engaged! : o Yeah. We're terrible people. Really, it was the ring on his finger, and the ring was one he found when he was 5. His mom figured it was time he did something with it, so she returned it to him to pawn or whatever. But we had a good time watching our friends jump to conclusions, because we're evil that way ; )

The next morning he made me breakfast (you'll notice a trend) and we headed back home. On the way there, threw a rock through his muffler, so while I jazzed myself up for the next adventure, he fixed the exhaust...and ended up breaking all the spindles that hold the tire on.

On a Thursday before a long weekend when nothing's open.

Off we headed in my car to his best friend's house. The boys whipped up amazing charcoal smoked steaks and potatoes (trend), and then after supper it was 5 hours of them jamming...I mean, G played guitar, his buddy sang and did the hand-drum, and at some point I found myself working the little shaker thingy. Yeah.

They played any song I demanded, even learning it if they didn't know it already. My own personal concert lasted until 3 am, and I was beat. Wow.

Which meant after fixing G's exhaust Friday morning, I spent Friday afternoon fast asleep. I crawled into bed at 2 pm and awoke at 9 pm. Said "I'm hungry" and 30 minutes later there was Chicken Parmesan and herbed rice waiting for me (trend).

And I was fast asleep by 11.

Halo out at the property Saturday afternoon in the sunshine.
Saturday I headed to my land to do some work with my parents ("You look tired. You're not eating enough." Gawd, parents!). Afterwards, I gussied up and headed to G's work for his staff's birthday celebratory bowling party. Which rocked. And I ended up with the mid-pack score every time. Even when bowling upside down : P

That led to a karaoke party at one of the fellow's homes. I call it the introvert's hell. We were there until 2 am, and at the end of it, I was *certain* I'm not just introverted, I'm a HSP (highly sensitive person...google it). It was terrifying. Thankfully when I fell apart when we got home, G assured me that my little introverted self was a-okay. Phew. (And there was a lengthy post on HSPs for here, but I wussied out and you don't get to read it).

By Sunday my evil Honda Accord was back to misbehaving. Squealing every time your turned the wheel or hit a bump. My dad had a look and after taking the tire off and messing around, we discovered a destroyed ball joint. Sweet. More money out the window on that bloody car.

Sunday night, Easter dinner with the family. And Monday, it was lessons with H.

Wow. THAT is a birthday week if I ever knew one.

______________

More news?

There's a new horse at the barn. So now the Black and Moon have "Stormy" in their mix. His real name is "Cloudy" and he's a draft quarter horse cross. Well, draft paint I suppose. Black and white. Needs a bit of weight loss, which is why he's come to the right place.

Moon looking trim last week....short necked and sway backed, but trim!

Our boys are looking fabulous. Moon is *finally* at a nice healthy weight that doesn't have a giant hay-belly and chunkiness. It accentuates how short is neck actually is, but it's nice to see a healthy slim body on my boy. So much better than chunky.

And that's that. Tonight I'm out to feed them, have dinner with H and Coach W, and then pack my stuff and fly out to Toronto tomorrow for a couple days for the ol'job. Fun-fun.

That's my life. Hopefully next week is back to normal and boring. I love how incredible my 28th was, but I wouldn't mind a little boring.

And a little warmer weather would be nice. : P We're still well below freezing and it's April! : P

Love this horse.

Monday, April 1, 2013

HSP

So this post won't be a horse post, despite the fact I have plenty of horse-posts ready to write.

Instead, I think it *may* hit on something that's applicable to some of my fellow bloggers, and if not, well, it's just a little interest piece just because.

Birthday week. I told you all I was headed off to a week of celebrating and enjoying my 28th birthday. It started with a dinner with my friends and family, 12 people, including my closest friends from elementary school, their husbands/fiances and children, my two siblings, and my man. It was awesome.

Then there was a family dinner, a trip out to visit my man's parents, and a steak dinner with his best friend.

Awesomeness.

And then...

A bowling party with my man's staff.

No biggie. I was excited. I'd met 4 or 5 of them previously at a social and from stopping by his store, so I wasn't worried.

And it was great. We bowled. I met three new staff and one of their boyfriends, and had a great time. Upside down bowling, and leaving high five's hanging, and throwing the ball too soon and smoking those little pin cleaners.

I was having a blast. They're just really great people and I love that staff and management just seemed like a family, not a dictatorship. How I envy it.

Then we went back to one of the fellow's home's for some eats and kareoke. No biggie. I'm tone deaf, but I'm content to eat food and hang out watching people sing.

This is where the whole point of my post comes in.

How many of us bloggers are introverts?? I sometimes imagine a lot. I think introverts often have an awful lot to say, but we're just not the type of people to be comfortable saying a lot to a large group of people publically. Though we certainly can develop the skill set and be quite capable...I'm not sure we ever love it the same way or have the same fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants persona as extroverts do.

Blogging I think, allows us to share our thoughts and ideas with the masses in a way that allows us to be well thought out, prepared, and give a great deal of thought to the words we're sharing. Observe, reflect, share.

At least for me.

This blog is exactly that. I'm not sure how others write their blog posts, but for me, they often start days ahead or at least hours, where I'm writing them in my head, talking (in my head thankfully!) about the idea or experience that I want to blog about. This internal dialogue helps me process and work through it, until finally I sit down at my keyboard to share those thoughts.

I love the process. This one, stems back from that kareoke party.

I was having a blast. A couple of the bowling group were off hunting down ice and co-workers, so it was about 6 of us to start. Cheering and laughing and enjoying some silly singing while chowing down. Awesome.

And then some more people showed. I *knew* them from earlier. No biggie.

And then new people I haven't met before. And their boyfriends or girlfriends. And more strangers...

The place got really loud. There was people dancing and people singing, and a lot of strange faces...
________

It's hard to even describe, but this scenario to me, was terrifying.

I went so far as to call it an introvert's hell.

Strangers trying to drag you up to sing. Strangers video taping everything on their cell phones. Strangers yelling at you if you step into the motion censor of the xbox. Loud and strange.

Especially when you're tone deaf like me.
_______________

I've been trying over the last year to better understand what it means to be an introvert, since I work in a profession that values extroverts. We're in networking and connecting people. Is shy and introverted really what is needed?

And in my search for better understanding myself and my behaviors, I slowly became aware that I might not just be introverted. There's something called Highly Sensitive Persons (HSP).

HSPs can be introverts or extroverts, shy or not. But they are easily stimulated by the world around them, which makes it an interesting adventure to be in a highly stimulating environment like a party.

I for the longest time since first stumbling on the literature on HSPs, wondered if I was introverted, shy or HSP. And that kareoke party was an eye-opener for me.

I have not been to a large (by definition for me, over 10 people...there were probably 20 there) house party in...years. I avoid them like the plaque. I was at a New Year's Cocktail party this year, but it was filled with folks over 40, I spent the whole evening sober chatting with my man and a friend from work...that was all. And no one spoke above a low conversation voice while classical music played softly in the background. Not stimulating in the slightest (my buddy and man almost called it...*boring*!). But an actual house party...me avoid.

As more people filled the room, I withdrew into the quiet of myself. I watched, I happily hung out at the back of the room and enjoyed just observing.

Except people at a party want to include you. My man's staff adore him, and they wanted to make sure his lady felt included. *This* I find is often the sweetest gesture, but the most *terrifying* thing you can do to an HSP. Try to draw them in.

"You HAVE to sing this song!!!"

"Just come up here with the rest of the girls and dance!"

"We can sing together!"

"Everyone else is in the group! You join in too!"

Of course, I just couldn't. The thought was terrifying, never mind actually doing any of those things. Except I *knew* that they were just trying to be nice and include me, which made it worse. I'd have to pretend to be kinda interested and find a way to politely turn them down. And then see them walk away knowing I'm coming off as a loser who doesn't want to participate in their party.

GAW!

And then today I read an interesting article on HSPs and parties.

Which specifically said, that because you're highly sensitive to the wants and needs of others, you feel compelled to please yet ashamed when you can't, because of your sensitivity.

The other thing it said?

HSPs don't get drunk at large parties.

: o

I never understood that. I have a lot of introvert friends. My man is an introvert. But they'll all find themselves in groups of strangers and seem to use a couple drinks to loosen up and become outgoing and extroverted. I know so many introverts who can do this and I think it's awesome. I mean, after a couple drinks with friends, I'm just as outgoing! How awesome!

And when the strangers were pouring into this party, the idea of doing just that occured to me.

...except I can't.

I *never* can.

I have never drank past a legal driving limit when with a group of strangers. The only time I'll get tipsy or drunk is in a group of close friends, who I know, trust and feel safe with.

And this party was no different.

I was 100% sober, and nothing shy of waterboarding could convince me to drink. As much as my head kept saying "Alcohol will loosen you up!", my HSP nature was saying "Keep control. You need control of this situation to survive."

HSPs are *not* risk takers. We sit back, observe, reflect, make a logical sound decision. That's me.

At one point of being dragged from my semi-cosy comfort of a couch placed in a corner, far from the kareoke but still within the party "zone", I found myself sitting on the floor.

The group of folks, almost all of them, were singing their lungs out directly in front of me, half-an-arm-span away. Standing, so I was well below them all. And I stopped and thought about myself, because as much as I wanted to be the cool girlfriend my man brought to the party, I knew something was wrong with me.

...I had withdrawn.

My shoulders were tucked up practically under my earlobes, while I intentionally kept my body language open (I didn't want to seem stuck up, so no crossing arms or tucking my legs to my chest like I desperately wanted to), but I was still a tight knot of tension. My jaw was set, my eyes were big, and I felt a level of panic I haven't felt in years.

I was *terrified*.

I remember my man standing off to the side of the room talking to a pretty chick, and she commented on how shy I was. I barely caught my man reply that he'd met my mom and she was much the same. Completely shy.

I was now not only terrified, but embarrassed.

Gawd. I am *that* loser. That shy loser who won't interact with anyone and won't enjoy the party. And ruins it for everyone else.

Now, let's throw in our own little insecurities into the mix of being HSP.

My experience in life, is that being HSP is not well received. I was lucky as a child (probably because I suspect my mom is likely either highly introverted, shy or HSP) that my parents were extremely accomodating to my personality. I always had lots of alone time, we did not have a house of parties and strangers *ever*, and when things would spontaneously cause me to burst into tears, my parents would give me a hug and carry on. No biggie.

But at some point, you head out into the adult world. And when you're employed and suddenly burst into tears when in a stressful situation, it's horrific.

I spent years working to cover it up and wasn't so bad. But in my current job, it was much more intense. I remember having so co-worker struggles and my boss sitting us all down in a room to "hash it out". He figured if we could just talk about it, we'd be fine. I burst into tears in the first minute.

The next 10 times or so my boss and I had a sit down conversation with high tension, I would cry. Totally embarassing. But thankfully he was right in the midst of manager training that was telling him that everyone is different. And had a genuine desire to give it a go.

I remember him asking to talk about it once. I asked if we could walk around the block outside instead of sitting face to face in his office. Surprisingly, I could actually speak to him without crying in this environment, because it took all the pressure off. I could hold a normal, casual, sincere conversation in a relaxed and open way. We were just going for a walk up the street, chatting. And I remember telling him how weak it made me feel that when a situation became intense, I would break down.

It isn't the stuff managers are made of. It isn't the stuff that strong staff are made of. It was girlie, childish, weak, embarassing, baby-like and wussy. And while I hated myself for it, I had no control.

He (and I still think he was lying) told me he didn't see it as a weakness. Just a character trait to how sensitive I am to the environment, and that in time, I'll learn how to position myself so that the environment suits me, instead of me trying to fit into it.

He later apologized for ever forcing me into a room with an irritated coworker and expecting me to hash it out. The last time we had a stressful talk, I made it almost the whole way without a tear. Until he told me that he had a soft spot for us. And then I cried. Gawd-damn HSPs. You just can't tell us sh*t like that!

Where was this story going?? It was trying to illustrate just how much I loathe being HSP, being introverted, being shy. Whatever combo makes me what I am.

I believe that men want confident woman, who are outgoing, petite, delicate, feminine, sexy and adventurous. That's what they want in my head.

There I was, being "shown off" if you would have it (and so it seems to me, because let's be honest, I was evaluating all of them myself), and I was the epitamy of what you wouldn't want in your woman. I was shy, weak, frightened, wussy, boring, and to add to the awful, I'm freaking 5'9" and this freakish gangly all arms and legs. I was failing my man.

Yes, that too is a bit of an HSP trait. We want to be what we perceive those we love want us to be.

I had to blink back a *lot* of tears.

At one point, I fled to the bathroom, and nearly lost it. I mean, LOST it. Body shaking, bawling, never gonna leave lost it. But I *knew* that would be even worst, so I wiped the two tears that escaped, fanned my eyes like a nutter and headed back into the party praying it wouldn't get any worse. I was a failure.

So I found myself at the back of the kareoke mob, and the ASM sat down beside me. I like him. I've met him before. Nice fellow. He tells me that eventually I'll get into the mess with them. I told him they're far more outgoing than I.

He countered that they're actually all introverts, but they've known each other for 6 years. So they're comfortable and outgoing now. In time and getting to know them too, I'll be there.

This is where I once again caught a glimpse of the difference between just introverted and introverted HSP. I will *never* get drunk with this group of people. I will never sing tone-deaf kareoke with this group of people. I will never enjoy the large loud party in an outgoing way like they were. But I will, I do see myself, eventually smiling, laughing, joking and having a good time with these people. In my neurotic HSP kinda way.

And I liked that. I liked them.

Then he did something else. Something many people might never think to do, that he probably doesn't even realize had such an impact, but was key. He told me that they were planning on surprising everyone with a Happy Birthday Serenade, so myself, the two other birthday folks and my man would have to stand in front of everyone during this.

Guess what??

THAT heads-up was all I needed.

And when the time game, I dragged my man up to the line and we smiled and laughed through the funny happy birthday song. And I enjoyed it (for the 30 seconds it lasted, and then retreated to the back of the room). HSPs can do the "spotlight" if we have time to prepare for it. And that time, I had it.

Then two hours later, somewhere around 3 am, everyone was in the other room and my man had just finished challenging someone to Xbox Dance (or some thing like that). I wanted to try. So we did. Him and I, no one around.

By the time we finished, I was enjoying myself and two or three people I knew had joined us and were messing around. I laughed. I enjoyed it. It was a good time.

Then I retreated to my corner while everyone else shuffled in and the group got loud and strange again. Until finally at some ridiculous hour, my man was ready to head out.

Except we offered a ride to one fellow...who talked a lot. So leaving the loud party for the silence of my car, I found instead the ongoing chatter of this guy. Nice guy, but as an HSP escaping a *very* long and overstimulating night, I just wanted silence. No stimulation. Man, I was happy when he got out of the car. Silence.

Thankfully my man doesn't push when he asks if I'm alright. He asks, I say yes, he accepts it. If it's anything else, I'll tell him. Eventually. So while the party was too much, he would never push it. Otherwise, I would have broken down.

But getting back to his apartment, climbing into the darkness, crawling into bed, my body just fell apart. As though I'd been holding myself together mentally for so long, that now that I was in the quiet peace alone, I no longer could survive the stress of keeping it together.

He asked me if I was okay. I said I just needed to decompress.

"Decompress?" was all he asked. And waited, arms around me.

After a minute of silence and tears falling down my cheeks, I told him just how absolutely terrifying that was for me. How there were times I was looking for an escape route, somewhere to hide, calculating how long I could stay in the bathroom before it became weird. That I was sitting there, cowering in the corner, wishing like the devil that I could *just* relax, have a drink, be fun. Someone that he'd be proud to call his woman. Someone that men want, adventurous and outgoing, and the life of the party. Instead, he brought the lame loser hiding in the corner looking awkward. I tried like hell to be what he'd need me to be, but I couldn't. And I was ashamed of that, I wish I wasn't an introvert, but I can't change, I tried, and I failed, and I was sorry, but I can't be anything else for him.

Let me say, that my man has many amazing traits, characteristics, skills, talents and know-how. But the number *one* reason why I love him to bits and believe that he is *the* man of my dreams, is that the things I see as my greatest flaws, the worst and most terrible things about me, he perceives as the most wonderful, cute, sexy things of my being. I maintain that he's nuts, but I'll take it.

Because he told me that he wouldn't want me any other way. That everyone adored me and thinks I'm super sweet. He said that every time he looked across the room at me, he was so intensely happy to have me there with him. He wouldn't have wanted to be there without me, and he enjoyed himself because he could enjoy it with me. That he sees no failing, no flaw in who or how I am. He loves me for it.

And I can tell you, that made it all better. Every terrifying moment, I'd endure again for him. So I'm an HSP. My man doesn't see it as a failing. He doesn't tell me to grow up and stop crying (dated those guys before...let me tell you, not everyone can date an HSP), he always waits for me to figure out what's wrong, tell him and he makes it all better.

As he just cuddled me, chuckling that I could possibly think he couldn't love the shy introverted me, I realized that I also made a terrible leap with my own insecurities. Yes, men like a petite woman. A confident woman. Feminine, sexy and adventurous.

And to my man, I was just that. 5'9" to a 6'4" man, *is* petite. Feminine in the love notes and girlie things I do. My man sees my confidence in my job, the way I work my land, ride my horse, discipline my dog. I'm sexy to him in my gangly scrawny body because that's what he likes. And I'm adventurous because I'll build a house solo, I have a reputation of not being scared to get dirty, I'll try anything once and I'm willing to just be me.

I fell asleep that night, half still wishing I could be that outgoing woman, and half so pleased to just be me. Highly sensitive, introverted, shy. Loving, sensitive, caring, always wanting to help those around me, creative, thoughtful, careful...

Sometimes you just have to stop and see yourself differently.

I'm not so bad as me.

And the next time you meet an HSP, remind them that they're not so bad being them either. Then give them fair warning before dragging them into an Introvert's Hell. ; )

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Twenty-Eight.

Today, I'm twenty-eight.

28.

TWENTY. EIGHT.

Wow.

I started riding when I was 17. My first riding lessons were a birthday gift from my parents, to a local english barn called Meadow Green Riding Stables. To be honest, it wasn't local, but rather an hour's drive on the far end of the closest city to my house.

But my dad couldn't find any other english barns. He had given me two choices: A local western barn (Miracle Ranch, that was in fact about 15 minutes from my house) or MG. I chose Meadow Green, because all of the brochures he gave me made it seem pretty fancy, prissy and hey, it was english! That meant jumping!

I got four riding lessons and one lesson in how to groom and tack up. It was...well for me, it was the best moment in my life. In reality, I was a scrawny 17 year old horse-obessed girl in a barn full of well-off kids who had been riding for years. So there I was, 17 and riding in a class with a bunch of 9 and 10 year olds.

I didn't care. I was taking lessons. And so Sugar and I went around the ring. Blissfully. I begged my dad to take pictures of me riding. (My mom didn't even come to the barn...she's scared of horses). Once or twice, he buggered off and went for coffee with a friend. No one in my family loved horses, so I just made do, happily waiting for him to be late so I could spend more time grooming.

After three lessons, my dad lost his job and my hope that they'd continue to buy my riding lessons were dashed.

But to this day, there was nothing more wonderful than those first lessons. I still cherish them, I still remember them, and I still have pictures of me from them. I'll have to pull them out sometime. It to me, made me officially a rider.

11 years have passed from those first lessons. I still happily ride with kids more than 10 years my junior, still in junior high school and I don't care. Because I *love* horses and riding and being around them matters most to me. I found barns far more accepting of who and how I am, and became friends with so many amazing riders that I'm truly blessed.

I can tell you a *lot* has changed from when I was 17, and nothing has changed.

I finally don't look like an anorexic stick, but I'm still a wiry, shy introvert with an obsessive passion for ponies.

I still remember being 17 and for *years* I had been told that someday, I'd meet boys and forget all about ponies. That a girl's love for horses dies when she becomes a woman. And at 17 and headed to my first riding lesson, I remember very honestly wondering if I would lose interest in horses once I had access to horses and once "the dream" was suddenly reality. Would they stop mattering to me?

And that thought scared me.

Guess what? It never happened.

When asked what would make my birthday special, it was taking my man for a trail ride.

For birthday week, I trail rode with one of my bests, AND I rode a new horse. And was nearly late for my family birthday dinner because of I couldn't stop riding I was enjoying myself so much.

I even spent Saturday afternoon watching "Flika 3"...from "Children's NetFlix"!

I got a tiny horse saddle charm from my close non-horsey friends!

And her daughter made me a birthday card covered in foam horses. : )

Reality? It's true. Even today, after 11 years of riding horses, I'm still the horse obsessed girl I was at 17.

...maybe more so. Maybe more so. : D

Monday, March 25, 2013

How I love thee.

Sunday morning H and I headed out for a beautiful trail ride, where huge snow flakes cascaded from the sky upon us. It was lovely, if, you know, it wasn't time for spring already.

The horses are shedding like crazy, and because of it, look like crap. Honestly. So ugly is the shedding mottled horse.

I was already sore from my previous night's adventure in bull riding. Let me say, that I indigently argued that the bull was not representative. I mean, he wore a slick leather saddle that offered no stick. Then when I got on, the bar manager was using it to vent his frustration and I was tossed in 10 seconds. My poor girlfriend lasted five.

After a couple of drinks and dancing, I took a second go at it, determined to actually stick it. Thankfully the actual bull-operator was back, and I had an impressive little ride. So impressive that I tore the horn clear off the bull's head.

Trail riding w/H through the thickly falling snow.

I do know how to de-horn ; )

So come Sunday morning, I was *aching*. Between two bull rides, a number of hours of dancing, and driving the tractor around the last couple of days, my body was just plain ol' sore.

After H and I put in three miles bareback on our boys, I headed over to Coach W's to meet Josh. Josh is a...Hanoverian/Arab/Draft cross? Something like that. He's a big horse like a warmblood, refined slightly in his face and his movement by the Arab, and then thickened through his legs with the draft. But his neck and barrel seemed to keep the lovely warmblood feel to it.

It by surprise, turned out awesome the time that W had me show up at the barn. A good friend from the barn was there tacking up to ride her sweet delicate mare, a girl who used to board at H's and ride with us was also tacking up for a jumping lesson, a jumping lesson with a friend who bought a mare I loved dearly and showed Pas a Deux with me last summer, plus one of the stable helpers who used to ride the ring on Wednesday's with me. It was like home coming or something!

Coach W got Josh all ready and we headed into the ring. I watched her ride him and he was beautiful in his movement. He's a 2nd level horse. and she had some beautiful lateral work. Shoulders-in, Haunches-In, Side Pass, Leg Yield, all that stuff. She made it look so effortless.

I was told by a couple of people that he can be a bit strong and "go-y". Which inherently made me nervous since it's just not my riding personality. I don't argue with a horse. That's probably why Moon and I so often get along, because he's a fairly giving soul and I don't have to spend time fighting to hold him back. My experience with pull-y horses is that they exhaust and frustrate me, and we end up fighting and it gets dangerous. No thank-you.

After watching W go around for 1/2 an hour, she asked me if I wanted to try him. I was sore, and tired and haven't ridden in a saddle since October! I haven't ridden in a ring with others since October, I haven't even HELD reins properly with connection since October.

Um... : s

"Can I just walk him around?" I asked. Oh horse people. We just can't help ourselves.

So I mounted and just wandered about slowly.

...oh...

He was lovely.

...beautiful.

Where was this "go-y"??

He was extremely light and responsive on the aids, and before I knew it, we were leg yielding and doing shoulder-in.

Then I asked for a trot. And I sat his beautiful floaty trot around the ring and was amazed. How lovely!

Coach W called out to try some shoulder-in at the trot...

And after a couple of tries, I got him to do it.

I rode and was in heaven.

Wow.

Suddenly realization.

While I *love* trail riding Moon, love spending time leaping on him bareback, galloping him like a crazy down the field, *this*, the beauty of training and schooling, and doing circles and bending and movements in an arena, is something I *equally* adore.

I MISSED like crazy the time I spent last winter in Wendy's arena, schooling Moon. I missed schooling like crazy! I missed leg yields and side passes and working the sitting trot. My gawd, I honestly LOVE DRESSAGE.

I love it.

: o

I thought before it was such much a means to an end, but it isn't! It IS something I love.

I can't believe it's been so long. Part of me never wanted to get off. How responsive he was. How easy it was to be up there. How trustworthy this strange new horse felt. I never once felt like he was going to run off or spook or throw me. I *did* feel like I needed to stay engaged and focused on what I was asking of him, but not in the sense that I'd be in danger otherwise. More in the sense that I wouldn't be encouraging proper form and work from either of us.

Wow.
_______________

W *knew* I would love him. He's got Moon's stability, a little bit more spunk to challenge me, and the training under his belt such that for the first time in a *very* long time, the horse knew more than me (Moon and I are equally clueless), and *I* was up there applying my knowledge to get the right response from him. If I could use my aids correctly, HE would respond. This wasn't *me* training while trying to learn like it is with Moon. This was me *only* learning.

Joshua, my new bud.

Wow.

And I've never ridden a horse as well trained (crazy, I know. But the most trained horses I've been on have been ol'lesson horses and they have at most, leg yield).

I've never even ridden anything part warmblood before! : )

I'm not sure you could peel the smile from my face!

And W knew that would happen.

So when we walked him back out to his paddock, she asked *the* question: "Do you wanna ride him again?"

Heck yeah!

Why? Because W is headed off in November to train with her horse in England! Which is incredible and super exciting! We're all doing all we can to get her there. And that will mean this beautiful black beast will be without her for a year : o Which there's no way W is okay with that. So she needed to find a good surrogate...

And guess what?

By some miracle (because I'm a rather defunct rider at best), she thought we'd be a nice match. He'd get riding, I'd get training. Training that I can take back to dear Mr. Moon.

And since she's on my way home, and she's 3 miles from Moon-pie, and since my house should be all built by the time she goes such that I'll have no money but tons of time, it's the *perfect* opportunity for us both.

I can't imagine a better scenario. I'm bound and determined to get this house up, and THRILLED at the thought of spending a year riding a second level horse, doing crazy awesome moves I've never done before (haunches in!!! : o ), being able to occupy my time with something I love, AND getting to help Coach W out?! It doesn't get better.

: D

You know what else is awesome??

My man. For one, he's really supportive of my riding. That's tough to find in a man, but he always asks how Moon is doing, knows the names and owners of all the horses I ride with, is coming riding tomorrow for my birthday, and when I told him about riding this new horse for a year, he was thrilled for me. : )

Perk #2 about him? When we first met and I learned he was a retail manager, I groaned. Ugh. This man works WEEKENDS! Isn't that the best time to spend together??!

Wrong.

Weekends are the *best* time to spend riding horses ALL day. Which means I get *two* solid guilt-free days to ride ALL day, and he doesn't care. He's at work. Plus Friday's after work too.

In turn, he gets two solid days to do whatever he wants, and since I'm at work, I don't care.

Then the evenings we get to spend together. Happy that we each got time to ourselves doing our passions, and not being irritated with each other that those passions came ahead of spending time with the other person.

Somehow, what previously irritated me, is now a definite relationship perk.

So starting this winter, I'm gonna ride two horses, at LEAST three days a week! : D And it will be awesome! Maybe more. And having access to an indoor arena makes it even better on those cold winter nights. You can do SO much more when you have that. Light at night? Awesome!

I'm thrilled. So thrilled. Coach W offered to give me a couple lessons on Josh so we can work out how he's best ridden to get what she wants out of him and so I can get back into schooling shape, and then I'm free to ride at will. Since I'm out Tuesday's and Thursday's anyway, maybe those will stay my riding days and I'll just tack Josh onto the mix.

Hehe! Such an awesome birthday present from W! Pony time!!

(Yes, I'm still like six!)
____________

After we gushed at each other for awhile about how thrilled we were about the match, I climbed into my car and turned on the heated seats. Oh my body.

Drove home with *just* enough time to shower before my family showed up for birthday dinner. Yummy chinese food, and then cake and presents back at my place.

I got a nearly *complete* agility set for Halo! Weave poles, run-through, two crawl-unders, a ramp and a tunnel! She has everything but jumps (we *could* use the horse ones) and a teeter-totter. So I'm going to set them all up this spring/summer and we'll get working on that too.

I know, where will all this time come from? Build a house with my bare hands, ride two horses, retrain my dog in agility, keep a relationship with my hot man, still get in time to visit H and my little niece and nephew, AND I forgot to mention, I *finally* got enough gift certificates to buy my archery target!

What?!

That's right. New archery target for my recurve bow, to take out to the property. No cost to shoot anymore! Which means I can start practicing again! Yippee!

Yes folks, no sleep for the wicked. Which if you're me, you LOVE having so much going on that you have no time at all.

So excited! Where's SPRING?!! : P

Oh...and I also got a *beautiful* english saddle charm bead for my Persona bracelet! From my dear friend and her little 3 year old girl. I love it and am all about wearing it now! Everything is coming up horse!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Pony? What Pony?

Okay.
Hoar Frost Tail on my Beautiful Boy.
That's "Hoar" not "Whore" ; )

Moon's been neglected. It's true.

I haven't ridden in about three weeks now. I was off in Ottawa for a week and while there, caught Norovirus. If you don't know what noro is...google it. Or just accept that it is the WORST three days of your life. It's like the stomach flu meets food poisoning meets hang over meets death.

Which is awesome when you're far from home and no one is around to baby you. Well, except your best who sends someone out to deliver soup and a whole care package. I'm spoiled ; )

After returning home from Ottawa, it took me a good week to recoup. When you don't eat for four days straight (and lucky me also got a bad head cold at the same time), your body takes some time to readjust to eating. My wonderful man took care of me and barbecued me steak the second night I was back. Yes, after *finally* moving on to a diet of soup, he whips up some steak to make me feel better. I love men. : ) And that's not sarcasm. They really are in their own way, adorably male.

Recovering from my disease-ridden self, I got back to work on my spring home construction.

Which proceeded to envelop my time completely.

Everything that *could* go wrong, went wrong.

My appraisal came in way low. Below construction costs. I spent three days arguing with the appraiser and *finally* got it raised *just* high enough that I might be able to build for that price. But *only* thanks to the miracle that is Menards in Fargo, North Dakota. I joke not, you guys have *no* idea how inexpensive your construction materials are. It's insane. That spray foam in a can?? $5 for you guys. For me? $15. God bless America is all I say.

So if the build proceeds, I'll likely be spending as much time down in the States as I am in Canada. And I'm happy about that.

This meant I spent another week bringing my construction costs down by $20,000. Or dropping the build cost by 11%.

My defunct clearing job...MELT SNOW!

Many hard decisions were made about what to remove and what to keep, but at noon yesterday, after calling at least 50 different companies, collecting quotes and data and actually COUNTING the studs I needed in construction, I got my numbers where they needed to be.

Yippee!

And heads up, there is RAMPANT sexism out there. I've never been told so many times that my "husband will do the work". I have no husband, thanks. And yesterday some fellow that would quote pricing for my dad, refused to quote pricing for me.

Ger.

Anyway, I was thrilled. My costs were on target.

I talked quick with the bank to make sure my debt serving ratio was on target, and got another green light. So if my HVAC quote came back on or over my estimate, we'd be good to go.

I danced around excited.

I had also revised my plans after getting them back from the engineer two weeks ago, and hadn't heard from him despite trying to contact him a couple times.

Finally I sent him a "I'm building as soon as the ground thaws so let's get on this!" email. And he sent me back my newest revisions, which mostly were spec'ing out beams and was thrilling!

I was SO close to having my plans stamped and ready for permits!

And then...

My soil analysis came back 99% silt.

You can't build on silt. Suddenly, I needed to know the depth to bedrock, because the house must be constructed on bedrock.

In case you haven't been following the weather up here, we're still below freezing. For at least another week. We also have 4' of snow on the ground. Last Sunday I cleared ALL the snow from the yardsite and driveway (took 6 hours) and then it snowed 10". fml.

Drift at the barn...CLEAR over the arena fence...and I'm 5'9" tall...

It's gonna be probably 3 or 4 weeks until the ground thaws enough for me to dig a whole to bedrock.

And I can't finish my plans until I have that hole dug.

And I can't get a final construction cost until I know how the foundation plan will be constructed.

And I can't go to the bank for a loan until I know the construction costs.

And I can't get permits until I go to the bank.

And I essentially, am at a complete stand still on whether or not I can build, until I get a hole dug, and I can't get a hole dug until spring shows up, and spring is being a real b*tch this year.

Lucky me.

So THAT is my life. Construction consumed it, and then I discovered I'm playing the waiting and the wishing game.

Ger.

In the mean time, Mr. Moon felt cosmetic surgery was in order and promptly removed a good chunk of skin over his right eye. H went out (bless her heart) and put derma gel on it...which froze. Ha.

My Scamp of a Pony
Yesterday, I found he'd been rubbing it on the snow (guess it itched) and the side of his face was soaking wet.

Tool.

At least they're starting to shed.

Then I got an email from coach W asking if I was interested in riding her new boy Josh on Sunday. He's a level 2 dressage horse and I was thrilled! Something to do when I'm so stressed about the things I can't do! And since she has an indoor, I can actually school!

I'm in!

He ground ties!! Perfectly the *whole* time it takes me to walk to the fence, string it back up and walk 1/2 way back. Then he walks away and I trudge back home on foot. Scamp.

Next Tuesday is my 28th birthday as well. I thought a thumbs up from the bank and the engineer would be the perfect birthday present, but that won't be happening. But it's not all bad.

This Saturday I'm heading to a club in town that has a mechanical bull. It's a bucket-list thing for me, and I'm not getting any younger. So I'll try my hand at bull riding on Saturday (weird, it's not even a flirtacious "look at me boys" thing like it is for the non-horse crowd. It's honestly about pretending to be a rodeo bull rider. How sad are horse girls? ; ) ).

Sunday I have dinner with my family which is always a blast. 2nd time the man will meet my folks!

Monday I have a big birthday surprise planned for my man when he gets home from a mid-night launch.

Tuesday is my birthday and the man is coming horseback riding!! Yes, he's been once before (intoxicated to boot) in his life, and I'm THRILLED to take him out! We'll just stick to a nice sedate walk, but I'm so excited. Then we're gonna have a hotdog roast and go out for supper.

Beautiful Sunset rides.

Wednesday is my man G's birthday (weird, I know), so we're headed to his parent's home about 2 hours North-East of the city, his childhood home. I get to meet his cat Dash, and we'll visit and celebrate.

We'll come home Thursday and it's off to his best friend's house for a steak dinner and apparently jam-fest since their both guitarists. Which I've been warned will last to the wee hours of Friday.

Saturday his staff have planned us a birthday bowling party, so we're off again.

Sunday is Easter, and I'll likely be fast asleep or eating chocolate eggs...

Monday, the bestest H has a birthday surprise for me, that she won't give me clues about AND that she won't tell me what to wear until like an hour before I'm supposed to show up at her house! AURGH!

Which makes it the absolute BEST end to a week of birthday celebrations.

And you wonder why I have no time to ride Moon?? : P

I miz ma u <3

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

If you're gonna do something stupid...

If you're gonna do something stupid, word of advice?

Practice being stupid first.

So yesterday I stopped by the barn really briefly to feed ponies. I wasn't planning on riding, but H sent me a "but if you just hop on for a moment..." text, and I couldn't help but grab my reins as I headed out of the garage.

After stuffing nets, the sun was heading down, and I realized that I didn't grab my helmet. Crap. As a head injury sufferer, I don't believe in riding without a helmet.

But I was just going back to the garage so...

I figured I'd be fine just riding the trail back to the garage.

Here's something to keep in mind. You'll note earlier I said "Grabbed my reins".

That's all I grabbed.

What?

I just grabbed the reins. No halter. Just reins. I wanted to loop them over Moon's neck and do like those nutters do and ride him with just a string around his neck. That is all.

But I didn't bring a helmet.

Now, remember the even earlier comment that if doing stupid things...practice first.

I put the reins around Moon's neck, hopped on him from the ground (yippee!) and kicked him forward and around. We headed up the trail just fine and made it all the way back to the barn without incident. Why would we? He's a good solid boy, and while the steering was questionable, the path was clear and I was pretty specific. Easy peasy.

Okay, here's where the stupid kicks in.

I thought "There's still some daylight..."

So I turned him and asked him to step off the trail into the deep snow.

He said "Uh, I don't think this is a good idea".

I said "Get your butt moving".

He took about 8 steps, the snow, melting with warm temps has become this quick-sand type stuff, and as he sunk deeper he decided I was officially nuts. And I also had ZERO connection to his face.

He started to turn.

So what did I do?

I pulled my rein around his neck in the opposite direction.

Here's stupider.

When you neck rein with a halter, it's really about the reins kinda touching that side of their neck. Not much more. We've been doing fine on that and Moon's really coming along.

But when they're wrapped under his neck...and you start pulling like you would if they were attached to a halter and he wasn't listening...

You're kinda creating a little noose around your pony's neck.

Me so stupid.

Soon as I did it, I realized what my actions would feel like to Moon, and *boom* off he trotted through the deep snow in a semi-panic, calming when I released my pull, and then realizing I was a nutcase on his back, his galloped his way back to the barn.

Except the horse trail is rather narrow, the weather was warm, and he multiple times fell off the side of it and we sunk into deep snow, he threw himself back out of it onto the trail, fell of again...

It was a VERY lurching, jarring, bumpy ride back to the barn, let me tell you.

Helmet-less and bridle-less. Just me and some stupid rope around his neck.

PRACTICE BEING SMART before you be STUPID.

I'm sure glad I did. Because my dear boy didn't try to kill me when I pulled up on that rope around his neck, he didn't buck, he didn't kick out, he didn't spin. He just headed for home.

I also have developed a very sticky butt, which means despite the fact I probably will never bare children in the future now thanks to my high-withered friend, I did stay perfectly balanced on his back, never once felt like I was about to fall off or become unseated. It was just a jarring ride home.

Where I thought "Stupid me. Sure glad we've been practicing first!"

Yeah.

Then I was twice as bad, and rode him back to the garage again the same way, JUST to prove that I hadn't ruined anything in my antics.

I hadn't. He went beautifully, I turned him a couple times with that rope around his neck, I considered pushing him back into the deep snow, and then my intelligence kicked in and I dismounted.

It was a good ride. A great ride. We've progressed a ton over winter in our bond. But boy oh boy, Mr. Moon reminds me on a regular basis why I'd be dead with any other horse, and why he is the pony for me.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Call me "Boss"

We often speak about being the "Herd leader" when discussing horses. Every herd has its leader, that kingpin horse that runs the place with an iron fist, kicking or biting or ear pinning everyone else into submission. You know them. They're always front and centre at the hay pile, they always get to lick all the feed tubs at the end of the graining, and they're always the first one at the gate.

Talk about drifts!

We love them. They're the boss.

In my paddock, the boss is The Black. Probably the most suitable name for him too. He's a good herd boss, he fights fair and really focusses on just ear pinning for the most part. It took some kicking/biting/chasing when Moon was first introduced, but now I would honestly say that Moon pulls in the 2nd spot *because* he's the Black's buddy. Little bit of a man-crush going on there.

Which leaves the Wizzard fighting for 3rd place, which being a mare I don't think sits too well with her, and there's often a little bit of a battle going on between her and Moon that makes their actual positions a little questionable.

The drifts clear over the fence line!

So yesterday I was at the barn, filled all the hay bales, enjoyed the sight of some INSANE snow drifts we had going on (yes, clear over the fence line), and I had enough time to slip a halter on Mr. Moon and go for a fun little trot/canter around the paddock.

Happiest place on earth.

Of course my sweet puppy was with me, and this is one of those things I dreamed about for years. Riding my horse and having my dog trail along beside and behind me, in perfect unison with me and my horse. It's my little family. And even when Moon was cantering across the field with me riding bareback, Halo was right there running behind in our hoof prints. Didn't bother Moon one bit. I just love it to bits to know that there's this beautiful union amongst my entire family.

Happily trotting along in the field beside us.

That being said, I caught Halo marking atop the horse pee in the paddock...apparently the horses had marked territory she thought was hers ; ) Never knew dogs marked over non-dog markings...huh.

That's some deep snow, the dog is practically swimming!

Anyway, it was pretty darn blissful and after about 6 canters across the length of the field, we headed back to the barn. Moon popped up onto the packed snow trail just as The Black and The Wizzard were walking up it. Imagine, the top horse and the 2nd top horse facing you, and you facing them. Wanting to go in opposite directions.

Now I wasn't surprised that I was able to encourage Moon forward and have the Wizzard to step aside for us. That made sense since Moon was technically ahead of her on the hierarchy.

Then we were face-to-face with The Black. The boss.

You could read in Moon's body posture that he was submissive and unwilling to push past him. And wasn't going to turn or budge the Black. This is horse hierarchy and it's strong.

So I looked over at the Black from Moon's back and said "Eh! Go!" just as I do when he's chomping away at the hay in the shelter and I need him to move so I can drag the hay nets out.

BIG DRIFTS and hungry horses!
Guess what?? With just my voice and pointing, he stepped right off that path and made room for me and Moon to path. Ears went forward, no longer pinned at Moon, as suddenly the hierarchy was changed.

What does that mean??

It means that *I* am herd boss over here. That's right. Me. I trump all those horses, and I do it with an *ear pin* not by waving a crop at them or smacking behinds. I literally just had to speak to them (the horse equivalent to pinned ears) and I could literally move a 1300 lb. animal.

When I turned around as we headed up that trail in the lead, I had to laugh. Never had I felt so powerful in my position before...

Yes, Halo the dog was bringing up the rear ; )
hehe; yeah. Now I know why horses fight so fiercely for this spot in the herd! It rocks!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Oh Daylight.

Ah yes.
That's some snow there Harry!

We're all talking about it...

Daylight Saving's Time. Up here in Canada, we only swapped over to the USA's date for DST a couple years back. We used to change our clocks forward in April, just as Mexico still does. But we figured we liked America better, so we took their early March date. Which works great for me.

I can already feel that spring is on the way, despite -40 weather this morning, huge drifts and crazy windchill. Right, because that makes sense for the end of February, when the day previous it was almost above freezing.

Who the heck knows around here.

Regardless, Sunday I got an awesome fun little ride in with H, we restacked the hay in the loft and just sat there on bales with hot chocolate and chatted for awhile. Sometimes that's just what you need in life, to make all the worry and the troubles fade away.

I'm even more spoiled as I'll be house sitting for my parents this week, which means three solid days with my most favourite dog ever. Yes, me and sweet Halo will be out playing at the barn and having some fun. I also got to go snowmobiling on Saturday and spent the evening cuddling with her. I miss my puppy.

Love her big brown eyes!

Which shouldn't be for too much longer. It appears my house plans are ready to hit the engineer with just a couple of last minute edits on my part. I'm EXCITED! Then I just need the bank to be equally excited ; )

So we're getting close to more daylight in the evenings, which means more time to ride!

I also head off to Ottawa, capital of my great country in two weeks which I'm excited about. Love it there and it is always a blast to spend time in my favourite city in this country.

I'm also celebrating 6 months with my man at the start of March, another milestone. And let me tell you, as soon as the weather warms, I will be asking him to join me at the barn for some riding. We'll see how he takes to it ; )

So for me, winter carries on as short canters in the fields, a trot about the pasture with my feet dragging in the snow, and hauling hay nets around from the back of Moon. For him and I, it's a good life, and we're happy. Who knows what craziness we'll be up to next year ; )

Blizzard Time!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Little Healthy Competition

It's Valentine's Day.

My desk calendar has it right...yes, that's a pic of Moonpie and Me behind it!

I'm feeling like a complete sap today. Probably, because as most of you know, I dealt with a difficult break-up last year and awoke today feeling more appreciated, special and loved then I have in a long time.

And then on my windshield, was the most romantic Valentine's gift I've ever received...


A beautiful valentine card that perfectly captured my beau and I, a CD with my favourite song (that I only mentioned once and isn't mainstream) and a chocolate rose.

: )

I've always wanted romance on Valentine's Day. It's a beautiful day to tell people you love, how special they are to. Yes, yes, it's become a commercialized holiday for sure. But for some of us, it's not. The gesture was what made this gift so special. My man drove across the city sometime in the night (since I saw my car shortly before heading to bed at 11 pm...) to leave it there. The handwritten message in the card was beyond sweet. Tonight, it's a beautiful hand cooked dinner, my very favourite thing about him.

But let's be honest. No matter how magical my man is, no matter how special dinner is, if there's roses and chocolate and beautiful love notes...

...my heart is already stolen by this beautiful beast:
Love of My Life, Mr. Moonpie
But hey, he can try to compete, right? ; )

A Shameful Brag

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A little daylight

The warm weather seems to have spelled a few more rides this season for me, which has been awesome. Even more wonderful, is that you can tell that the sun is staying up longer. I had "daylight" (or something resembling light) until almost 6 pm yesterday, which when you work until 4 pm, have to run home to change and then it's a 1/2 hour to the barn, that's huge. In the depths of winter, it was easily dark by 5 pm.

After feeding ponies yesterday, I clambered on Mr. Moon in his halter and clip-on reins and went to pick up the hay nets, my new favourite task. At the first net, I hung off Moon's side to grab it and soon discovered that I was hanging so low I lost all leverage to get back up on his back! I was literally on the side of him! Whoops! So I dropped down to my feet and clambered back on him. Off we trotted to the second net, which thankfully was on a higher piece of snow. For fun I tossed the net over Moon's rump and we trotted back to the hay shed like that. No issue, no complaints from my boy.

We went into the field and did some canter circles, which proved to me that my horse still has no understanding of leads. Something I *need* to work on this summer. Haha; I need to work on someday when I have time again!

From there I thought maybe we'd do a little "exercise" for both of us (gawd I miss the fitness side of riding!), so we headed into the drifty deeper field in front of the house. At first I just had Moon walk through it, and it was hilarious to see that despite the fact the snow was all at an equal height, Moon knew where the ditch was! He stopped at one point and was like "Nuh-uh. I'm not going further. I'm a tiny horse and will disappear if I do!" But of course, I urged him on, and into the ditch he stepped, my feet dragging in the snow until we rose out the other side.

Yup, riding and standing on the snow. Poor pony!

We cantered and trotted about this far side of the field, and boy oh boy, is he EVER a bouncy trot when you get him in the deep stuff and he has to lift those feet. I was popping off his back, a true pingpong ball. Thankfully, he was a little less of a giraffe than he used to be.

Starting to ache, I took him through some of the huge drifts along the back of the ring, until we got to one so deep that he sunk WAY down into it, and had to pop himself out. He was totally unimpressed with me.

Back to the hayshed, where I could give him some sugar cubes and tell him how wonderful he is. Sure it's nothing fancy, but he's a solid safe little ride that I just feel secure on. That why I'm in this.

I filled their hay nets and as I went, H texted me that she was running behind. And then said I was welcome to hop on the Black if I was bored waiting. Sure enough when all the chores were done, there was still daylight! That never happens!

So I grabbed Moon's halter and slipped it onto the Black. Off we went. Kinda. He thought at first that he should go back to the hay. You know, because he was haltered and I was me. I got him straightened out and into the big field we went. Walking and then trotting and then I asked for a canter, where he gave me two little pretend bucks of joy and off we went. He is a STRONG horse in a halter. He's kinda a strong horse everywhere ; )
The Black, headed to the deep field. 

But soooo smooth to ride. After being on Moon and bouncing my way across the same field, I felt like I had a beautiful sitting trot as I floated across on the Black. H popped out of her house to yell from her deck, something that sure sounded like "You call that a sitting trot?!" Haha. Yeah. He's smooth like butter.

Through the deep drifts for him too, and then I was dripping sweat and my legs were screaming in agony. Four rides on two horses in three days?! That's a lot for someone who's slacked away the season!

When I was hanging up Moon's halter, I was somewhere between happy and sad and uncertain. I love riding. To this day, I love it. Happiest when I'm out there. But I know this summer won't be the riding escapade it was last summer. I rode *a lot* last summer. I'm not sure what this summer will be like, but I'm making sure to appreciate every moment I spend in the tack.

Sunset from Horseback.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

OMG! OMG! OMG!!!

*Squee!*

Seriously. Someone smoke me with a pickaxe! Oh wait, that happened on the weekend! (Thanks Black : P ).

Got an incredible, wonderful, too great to be true that I can't believe it offer today...

A chance to take lessons on a horse that's training 2nd level!! OMG! How incredible is that?!

And with whom?! The amazing Coach W. Ah *squee!*

I'm giddy!


Monday, February 11, 2013

Dream Pony.

Somedays, I have to remind myself of what Moon was like when I bought him. I do. He was *always* a sweet horse with a big heart. But he sure seemed untrained, tense, nervous and stubborn. Today? He's...well, trained, jumpy and stubborn. ; )

Him and I have, in our three years together, developed an incredible bond that somedays I struggle to believe is real. I may love horses, but I'm no horse trainer. I also started riding at 17, took lessons sparingly and interspersed during the years that followed and by some luck managed to spend almost a year in weekly lessons with Coach W and Mr. Moon.

Somehow, all of that has amounted to an incredible horse.

Moon thinks I'm being a sap ; )
On Saturday, the weather here was as nice as it had been. The wind was a bit chill, but Moon and I headed out on the trails together. He slogged through some deep ditches and along the side of the road, as we headed in the opposite direction of some hydro (electrical) work that was being done on the opposite mile of the road. When we got 1/2 way down the road, the hydro trucks packed up and proceeded to drive down to the end of the road we were headed towards.

Oh joy.

These are big trucks. Noisy trucks. Clanking and clanging their way along, big diesel engines towing rattling trailers with giant rolls of wire bouncing along behind them.

And they passed us, one after another on that gravel road.

Moonpie didn't care.

He gave one look to a chained dog that barked at us, and one look to a flapping real estate sign. That was all. Two looks.

Then those hydro fellows set up their big boom truck on the end of the road, and as Moon and I walked by, a foot from their bright orange road sign and 4' from their big boom truck, they lifted two fellows up into the air, hollering and yelling and being noisy fellows.

And Moon carried on by, as though they weren't actually there. My heart was actually beating a little fast. I love my boy, I trust him dearly. But this was a *very* noisy and busy scenario, the roads were icy and I was actually concerned he'd give a half-shy and slip on the ice, taking us both down in a mess.

But of course, he didn't.

So we crossed the road, and he stood like a doll while I took a photo of what we'd just passed. So proud of him.

We rode *right* between that boom truck and the little orange sign...So proud!

Then I turned to the length of shallow snow covering the small bank we gallop down in the summer time. Hmm...just a little canter could't hurt...

So off we went, cantering the length of the bank, through big snow drifts.

Did I mention Moon wore no saddle and no bridle and no bit?? Just a halter and a pair of rainbow gaming reins, clipped to the cross-tie anchors of his halter.

So bareback and bridle-less we cantered down that path and I was in my glory. So was Moon. I can tell.

Just that halter and those clip-on reins. : ) (and yes, that was a really bad way to tie him! Pony clubbers cringe!)

I couldn't help myself. I dropped my reins to his neck and threw my arms out wide.

And we cantered a good 20 paces like that. I felt...incredible.

Giggling, I sat back and we slowed to a trot and then a walk. I offered Moon some sugar cubes but he refused. Strange boy, I think he doesn't snack when he's having fun "working".

We turned to head back to the hydro fellows and home. I could *tell* Moon still wanted to run. It wasn't out of either of our systems. Yes, we'd break a sweat and have to cool down later...but...we just needed it!

So I let him go.

And go he did. It didn't take more than three strides before he let loose that amazing gallop I haven't felt since winter came upon us. The air whipped my face, tears streamed from my eyes, freezing on my cheeks which were scrunched up in a smile. Bareback, bridle-less, galloping my horse down the side of the road. Towards a boom truck.

He is *heaven*.

Again, we slowed perfectly at the end of the run, and walked right past that boom truck again. Further up the road, they were setting up another such truck, the hydro fellows throwing down chunks of wood (so they made big "boom" noises when they hit the ground) and using their hydraulics to lower the stabilizing feet *right* when we walked by.

Gorgeous, even after a roll.

Those stabilizing feet were the only thing Moon gave attention to, turning his head and snorting his dislike. The hydro guy lifted a hand in apology and we carried on, Moon walking as though the scene was already behind us.

Back at the barn, he was sweaty and happy. I was much the same.

My boy. I love him to bits, and I honestly wasn't sure there was *anything* that could prove how much I've come to trust him, and how much he has come to trust me.

Until the next day.

Moon and his buddies, enjoying supper. 

_________

Sunday came. The weather was even nicer.

Out I went, figuring we'd just ride around the field a bit. I was sore. That was a lot of riding for someone who's barely been in the saddle this winter.

I hopped on Moon over by the 'garage' as he ate his grain, and then headed to the pasture to scope out the location of the hay nets. I found the first one, empty.

Ugh. It would be so far to walk through the deep snow to grab it.

...I wonder if...

So I rode Moon right up to it, hung off his side (bareback and in just that bridle and clip-on reins) and reached down and grabbed the empty hay net (which is actually a hockey net tied closed).

One of the hay nets, refilled. Moon found a hole to sneak extra hay through ; )

He didn't batt an eye.

So I let it drag behind us as we rode back to the hay shed.

Nothing. I dragged it over his back and tossed it on the ground on the other side of him. Nothing.

Asked him for a turn on the fore, and then we went in search of the next net.

This one was a little more full. Again, hung off his side, reached down and grabbed it. Dragged it back to the hayshed, dropped it, and carried on to grab the last one.

This one was in shallow snow, so I had to practically hang from Moon's side. No issue. And I let this net trail right along his body, wondering if it would freak him at all.

Nothing.

Back at the hayshed, I laden him with sugar cubes and praise, dismounted and filled those hay nets. Giddy I had saved myself the trouble of having to lug them back myself. This horse, rocks.

Oh, and then we went cantering and trotting about the deep field, dropping the reins and just having fun. Because he's the perfect dope for me, and I love him to bits. Wish, wish I have enough time this summer to do a little gaming on him and grow him even further into the amazing horse his potential suggests.

<3 Mr. Moon
My most beautiful boy! : )