Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Today, I'm twenty-eight.




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.


He was lovely.


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.


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.


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.


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??!


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!


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?

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.


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.


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.


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.


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