Saturday, December 31, 2016
Temptation and Doubt from Bully and Blaze
A dog blog but horse-applicable, with many many thoughtful things about risk management and the dangerous things that we do.
And a horsey response to the above: On Risk and Responsibility from Journey to 100 Miles
The Season of a Good Dog from The Collie Farm
This is a beautiful tribute to a working dog and to life on a working farm.
A non-horse read for the week: The Man Who Cleans Up After Plane Crashes. Difficult but worthwhile read, with a lot to think about - especially about empathy and compassion even in the most terrible of circumstances.
Friday, December 30, 2016
So here are some goals I'm setting for my equestrian-self in 2017.
1. Put hands on my horse 5x a week except when I am out of town.
This shouldn't be hard, but in 2016 I let his semi-retirement and my house projects dictate to me. I told myself (not untruthfully) that he was happier just chilling out, and that I would be happier if I made progress in other areas of my life.
But you guys: I am 8 minutes away from my horse. I've timed it. There is ZERO reason I can't spare 30 minutes just to go out and groom him even if I don't have time to ride or do anything longer. I need to get back on this. It will have the added bonus of increasing my non-riding ratio, which will make him a happier pony.
2. Be less perfunctory, in all areas of my life.
Part of being too busy and too laid back simultaneously was that I let myself get away with too much. I didn't groom thoroughly. I honestly can't remember the last time I cleaned my tack. Probably early summer. I have nice tack, good tools, and there is no reason I can't spend a little bit of extra time taking care of the details. If I am going to do something, I need to do it with intention.
3. Aim toward dressage schooling shows.
I'm not sure if the budget will allow off-property shows, but I need to make a commitment to both in-barn shows. I need to ask for the time off to make theme a success instead of winging it and hoping I can get away from work in the last two weeks.
4. Take more lessons
Even if it's once a month, I need focus again. I am so stupid lucky to be at a place with great instruction. I need to make this a priority in my budget. Commitment to this will mean that I probably can't justify any off-property showing (one show = 5 lessons).
5. Find a horse-specific income stream. Corollary: fully re-fund Tristan's emergency fund.
I don't know what this is. Maybe it's something I make and sell. Maybe it's a small part-time job. Maybe it's looking at the ways I currently get extra sources of income. Whatever it is, I need to refill Tristan's emergency fund, which functions more as a slush fund and less as a true emergency fund as this year I bought new breeches and other new riding equipment for the first time in a long time...and got a little carried away. That needs to swing back.
6. Do more thoughtful work.
This is something I'm putting into practice across my life. Less triviality, more deep thinking. More focus. More thinking about goals.
In my horse life, it means I want to be proactive instead of reactive when I write on this blog. I want to read more and digest that and share it with you all. I want to concentrate more on the slow and steady work in dressage rather than freaking out and changing course three times a week.
I've taken some steps in my personal life - I've deleted Facebook from my phone and am reading more, doing more hands-on creative projects, making a careful point to follow one thing through instead of multitasking.
7. Get more media.
I ride by myself 98% of the time, so not conducive to having current video or photographic evidence that I do, in fact, ride my horse instead of take pictures of him looking adorable in his stall, or take between the ears shots.
I need to work harder at bullying my husband into coming to the barn to take pictures of me, or always asking friends who visit to take some quick pictures of us, or teaming up with Emilie to do joint sessions. (That worked really well this year!)
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
The good news: I was able to breathe, we picked up where we left off, and I was pleased with both his willingness to work with me and his fitness. (inasmuch as you can tell these things from a 35 minute light dressage school)
The bad news: I put my stirrups back on the saddle because I figured I would not get the most I could out of the lesson if I was riding without stirrups. My posting was...not great, after 6 weeks out of practice.
On the other, other hand, I did get a re-confirmation of something I've been working hard on, which is keeping my hands still while posting.
It seems stupid to even report this as a thing I'm working on. At a certain point in your riding education, you are supposed to have an independent seat. And you keep your hands still. Well, I definitely have an independent seat, but I have always struggled with true fluidity in my elbows.
One of the first things that R. called me on about my riding was that when I posted, I didn't truly flex my elbows, and as a result my hands bobbed a little bit as I posted. She worked hard on me to really understand that, and like magic, when I truly flexed my elbows and my hands stayed still and Tristan got instantly more secure in the bridle.
I've ridden with a lot of trainers, and not a single one of them has ever said anything about my hands. Clinicians get a pass, but not my regular trainers.
So I worked on my elbows a lot while re-learning posting, in anticipation of R. calling me on them again next Monday. Which meant we also worked on keeping Tristan steady in contact, which was a much-needed thing (as always).
I'll keep him on a fairly busy schedule this week, then update his clip and do a light ride on Sunday, and we'll see how Monday goes!
Monday, December 26, 2016
1. Pay off car
It's my last remaining debt apart from the mortgage. I paid off my student loans before I bought the car. On track to do this next November. I'd love to do it earlier, because that's money that could be routed to other savings, or to the mortgage. I really hate debt.
2. Read 75 books
I accomplished this in 2016, though largely due to my book-a-day pace on the honeymoon. It remains to be seen whether I'll have reading time like that in 2017, or if I'll be squeezed at the end of the year.
You can follow along with my challenge on Goodreads, where I am pretty active. I read mostly fantasy, science fiction, memoir, and history.
3. Revive history blogs
Chiefly, this is my museum-focused blog Amblering. I am turning more and more toward writing in my day job, which is a nice shift, but I am rusty and need to both re-focus on my career writing and my history writing. I have content out the wazoo for this, but need the discipline to gather it and write it out.
4. Do better about food
Back on the budget wagon for grocery shopping. (Last week, I spent $75 on groceries in one transaction. $75!!! Past me is nauseated and horrified.) Back also on the healthy food wagon. 2016 was the year of comfort food because everything sucked. Also, there was an all you can eat cruise in the middle of it.
5. Decorate the house
For all my renovation work, I suck at the actual finishing touches. I have been known to leave walls bare for months, and struggle to find a cohesive theme and/or make thoughtful choices about the look and feel of a space beyond paint color and some furniture. So this goal may involve getting photos printed, rounding up all the unframed art in the house (we bought a lot on the honeymoon), doing a furniture inventory and maybe repainting some lamps and (god help me) re-upholstering a chair or two so they are fresher. And, um, not falling apart, in the case of one best-beloved reading chair.
Saturday, December 24, 2016
Friday, December 23, 2016
Monday, December 19, 2016
Stannard was in command of the Vermont Brigade, several regiments that were positioned at the wheel point of the Union line on the third day of Gettysburg. Some of his historians argue that it was his quick thinking in swinging two of his regiments to send enfilading fire into Kemper's Confederate brigade that ultimately signaled the death knell for Pickett's Charge.
I got to spend some time examining the condition of the tack as well as giving much more specific information about the pieces that were included so that they could be more thoroughly described in our system.
Sunday, December 18, 2016
- finish garage (and by extension, basement reorganization)
- gut weird back room and turn it into a man cave
- strip wallpaper and repaint: back bedroom, front bedroom, office, front hallway, nook area/game room
- sleeping porch: repaint, replace glass panes, finalize furniture arrangement there
- most remaining radiators stripped and repainted (will probably hold on sun room and living room for now)
- landscaping and yard, including some raised beds for gardening
- drainage work along the north side of the house to prevent flooding problems
Saturday, December 17, 2016
Make-up of equine gut bacteria altered by exercise, study shows
Winter is here so I ditched my saddle from PONY'TUDE
This is my January MO as well! I often use a bareback pad just to protect my breeches from hair and dust, but I love the warmth + connection that a bareback ride provides.
How to dress a draft horse from The Jumping Percheron
Practicality rules the day! I liked this a lot - not just as an approach to outfitting a draft horse, but any horse that's not a leggy Thoroughbred or chunky Warmblood.
And a non-horsey but still very useful read: Rollout sugar cookie tips, from King Arthur Flour
Friday, December 16, 2016
I paid: $67.46, at Riding Warehouse, on Black Friday
I've been on the hunt for new winter breeches for close to 18 months now. I have an old pair of Devon-Aire breeches that are thinning precariously, and have a hole in the knee from a bad fall on the ice at the end of last winter. Plus, going through a whole winter with just one pair of breeches is both a precarious state of being AND really gross.
Winter breeches were my #1 request from my family for Christmas this year, and my parents obliged by telling me to pick out whatever I wanted. I chose these based on a couple of factors: price, looks, the softshell outside, and my experience with a few other Noble Outfitters products - namely their Perfect Fit gloves, which are my new favorite thing.
These arrived last week and I've now put 4 rides on them. I have some mixed feelings.
Overall? They're pretty great. The softshell outside really does work to repel hay and other things that you might pick up at the barn. It does get dusty, but what clothing doesn't?
They're reasonably warm, which is to say: as warm as one layer of fleece + top fabric can possibly get. I've ridden in temperatures from 16f to 36f and while at 16f I was glad I kept my legs underneath the quarter sheet they were still fine for walking around while tacking up, etc. Once in the saddle, they were flexible and accommodating in all the right places: I never felt like I was held back or cinched up too tightly.
I'm not sure the knee patches actually do all that much? They felt super-sticky right out of the box but after a week of wear are not nearly as sticky. I've ridden in them both with and without stirrups, for a plain walk around, a more thorough dressage schooling, and some trot sets. I didn't notice any extra stickability, per se, but I also stayed in the saddle just fine, so...there's that?
Here's their real problem: they sag a little bit. I have to pull them up occasionally when walking around home or the barn. They're not as bad as the Pipers (sigh, so much potential, so much sagging) but it's still noticeable. I wish they came in a Long version; I think what's happening is that the slim fit of the legs (which is perfect! hooray for sock bottoms instead of velcro!) is tugging them down as I walk. So a long would give me just an inch or two of extra fabric and keep that from happening. But basically no one makes winter breeches in long, so I am SOL on that one.
In short - I would recommend them for their price point and for their intended purpose. They're still very workable. They're just not perfect, but then - nothing is!
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Monday, December 12, 2016
The winner of my horse clipping blog hop is...
Ashley of The Feral Red Horse!
Thanks, Ashley! Check your email!
I hope to do more of these in the new year, so keep an eye out.
Thanks to everyone who participated, commenting or participating in the blog hop. It really helped me to think through what I'd do with Tristan. I ended up doing a modified Irish clip; I had every intention of doing a full Irish clip, but as I started in on his shoulder I didn't like how thin the hair was, and I kept thinking about blanket rubs. So I clipped down his chest and onto his stomach a bit, but not over the shoulders.
Sunday, December 11, 2016
So this is a thing that actually happened a couple of weeks ago and not much has happened since. My dad and I put in recessed lighting in the ceiling to replace the old gross fluorescent lighting. It looks terrific. My husband and I have since pulled all the old staples from the ceiling and are ready to put up the vapor barrier...someday. With the arrival of winter weather, this room has become really awful to work in unless you turn on the space heater. So we'll see when we actually get around to it.
I've also put in foam sealant around all the windows, so the room is just about as insulated as it can get until we work in the crawlspace.
Friday, December 9, 2016
Tristan has been barefoot most of his life. His dalliance with shoes was directly connected to his coffin bone injury, and that was only about 18 months all told, many of them in glue ons.
I only have one pair of his shoes. They're winter shoes, appropriately enough. They have borium heel studs and rubber rims to prevent snowball formation.
I've had them on my nightstand for the better part of two years, trying to decide what to do with them. Last night, after hanging some artwork in my office, I finally figured it out.
I'll hang them just like that, in that spot. Right side up, because I'm not superstitious and think they look stupid upside down.
Here's what I can't decide: do I keep the rubber rims in them? On the one hand, the look is very meh. On the other hand, I'm a completist.
What would you do?
Thursday, December 8, 2016
Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Saturday, December 3, 2016
Grand Canyon Mule Ride and Part II from DIY Horse Ownership
I cannot get over how awesome this is.
Holiday gifts for an equestrian from Hand Gallop
Can you help? from Because Pony
I get to see the adorableness of Emilie's animals almost every day, but if you're not following her adventures you're missing out. Take this survey and tell her we want more Crumble pictures