Saturday, March 31, 2018

Doing the Thing

Well that escalated quickly…

As I was looking at numbers about owning a trailer vs. moving to a different barn vs. trying to come up with other options I reached out to a couple of friends, H and we’ll call her M. Both are competitive pony riders and H has, of course, been talked about in this blog before. M I know more through social media but she’s in the same area that I’m in and I’ve seen her at shows before. She’s currently riding 4th (?) level with her pony.

Cute fluffy puppy is cute and fluffy
I had become aware of where she boarded over the past year or so and the barn she’s at is one of the barns I’d mentioned that was within my budget as long as I dial back lessons slightly. I’d been really chewing over if that was something I wanted to do since I’m all about education first, fun later. However, I’m honestly at a place where I think I could do ok without weekly lessons. Definitely not without lessons completely since I am very much a beginning dressage rider but I’m confident that I could do ok with 1-2 lessons per month. In the past when I’ve missed lessons for up to a month I did fine at my following lesson and had been able to take action on almost all of my homework.

I was still hesitant since along with increased cost, fewer lessons, a smaller indoor arena, and a longer drive it meant moving Katai and myself and all of the stress and change that goes along with that. Despite my love of change and my, sort of, gypsy life style over the past several years I’m at a point where I don’t want to keep shifting. I’m tired of moving and I’m tired of change right now especially after the past several months and I really thought that I’d be with Jane until she retired.
Also had a boot spa day and unfortunately found that I'm going to need to
replace these. After 5 years of constant
use the leather on the foot cracked open
However, I had some text communication with M and email communication with the barn manager/owner who we’ll call S2. The barn was quite full but they have a small group that does consistent dressage shows during the year and they were looking for another dressage show participant. There were some changes coming up that might have left an opening so I scheduled time to see it earlier this week. I went to see it and felt like I was literally in heaven.

ALL of the things I’ve wanted since I’ve been owning horses were present at this barn including a dressage instructor, the ability to help trailer train, fantastic footing, indoor and outdoor arena, stalls, lots of turnout, FANTASTIC hay, fantastic care, very generously bedded stalls, amazing ventilation, four heated wash stalls, heat lamps over the grooming areas, TONS of trails as in miles and miles of trails through woods, meadows, hills, roads etc.  In addition, they routinely travel to some of the really big shows in our region, participate in regionals, and have a fantastically supportive show team that has all the infrastructure to make it fun.

I got to meet S2 who I’ve only met in passing at shows before. I also got to meet the guy who works at the barn (we chatted for a while about my Smartcar), S2’s spouse, and some other people at the barn. I was there for over 2 hours chatting with M and company and getting two tours J. Honestly while I love where I’m at this was an easy decision considering all of the factors. Plus, it could completely eliminate the need for me to get a trailer in which case I can use my trailer savings to pay for shows and replacing a couple of key pieces of equipment.

I went ahead and let both of them know (M sort of co-manages show schedules and the show group stuff and has been there for a long time so I know the right people ;) and found out that I actually could move in as soon as 4/6. Cue total panic. I, of course, need to give Jane a month notice and I need to figure out travel over there. In addition, they’d like me to come with them to a large show out of state at the end of May. Cue more panic haha. I haven’t shown since last July was it? This will be my first real rated show (not opportunity classes) and I haven’t even ridden very consistently all winter with everything going on. However, I have just about two months and all of the buttons are still there so I’m confident that with consistent rides we’ll be very capable of doing a couple of first level tests at that show.

As of right now I’m aiming to move middle of April (of course still paying Jane through the end of the month) and will plan to take at least a couple of lessons with S2 prior to the show in May. I’ll do a few seperate posts on the details soon but for now I’m completely over the moon and sooooooooo excited to move!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Pony Diet Update

Proof that I do actually ride sometimes
I have no idea why but I totally geek out about Katai’s nutrition. I guess I sort of do about mine as well since that’s one of the reasons that I significantly changed my diet from lots of meat, dairy, and junk food to being vegan and eating a very whole plant food diet with limited junk food. Mostly though I enjoy researching equine nutrition and figuring out how I can best balance what Katai is eating. Over the past few years supporting a horse that needs a limited NSC has gotten easier and easier but there are still many typical options that don’t work for Katai. In my area there is also REALLY limited knowledge of equine nutrition so it’s really up to me to make sure I’m doing the best thing for her.

Part of why I really enjoy being part of the equine blogging community is that all of you also spend time doing research and learning and trying new things so many of the things I’ve discovered over the past few years have been thanks to all of you. Most recently that was FeedXL. I first heard about it from Megan at EnterASpooking when she mentioned what her Secret Santa had gotten for her. I was really interested and it stuck with me but I didn’t do anything with it until I started to review my budget for 2018 and try to cut some costs. At that point I was spending something around $80-$90 for Katai’s grain and supplements each month and wasn’t utilizing anything that the barn provided. Those supplements most recently included;

Smartvite Perform
MSM Pellets
Omega Horseshine
Smarthoof (or something like it)

Raspberry Leaves
Alfalfa Pellets just to add some bulk

Barn was providing:

Um yeah, that’s a ton especially for a young, healthy, mixed breed pony even though she was working hard 5-6 days per week. Long story short, after tweaking things through FeedXL I ended up with three supplements that I’m getting from SmartPak, two wells and one bucket, which are;

Vit E & Selenium crumbles
MSM Pellets
G.U.T. (not sure if this is the best maintenance for ulcers or not so I’m going to do some additional research on this one)

Barn is providing:
Triple Crown Light (2 pounds per day)

My total cost went from $80-$90 per month to just over $20 per month which is a pretty significant savings. I also caught some things she was low on which this new diet corrects for. I’m excited that this is better for Katai nutritionally and I’m also really happy that I can save some money!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Pony Updates

Both of us looking unimpressed.
I did actually get the mirrors cleaned though1

Well first, there really isn't much to report right now. My rides weren't very good, as is understandable, for the first couple weeks back after our break. I think it was a combination of ulcer stuff, being overly full of energy, spring weather change stuff, and probably still expecting that her saddle was going to hurt. Of course on top of that she'd lost some muscle tone and probably just wanted to go back to her vacation.

First, I started her on Nexium, Tums before rides, and upped her maintenance supplement. I also lunged before I rode to let her work out any stiffness and warm up her back before I climbed on. Over the past month or so things got way better but I still haven't been able to be that consistent because of storms, work stuff, plans etc. As mentioned in my personal updates post I've recently opted out of plans for the next month or so and other than really important things I'm not making any weeknight plans and only very limited weekend plans which I'm hoping will help with consistency.

I also have my transportation figured out after having car troubles and our days of getting huge snow storms are numbered if the highs stay in the 40s that we've been getting for the past couple of weeks. All of those things as well as more evening daylight should help me get back to my regular riding routine.

I've obviously failed to set goals over the past couple of months but plan to get monthly goals set for April. I'm hopeful that I can get at least 5 rides in this last week in March and then start out April strong.

I'm going to be posting some other updates on what we have been doing over the past month or so but I have enough content on those things that I didn't want to lump them into this post and make it too long. Those should be up shortly though!

Personal Updates

I’m starting here because while this is really a horse blog and also I don’t need to explain my absence. However, I personally kind of like getting to know all of you and try to strike a balance of only posting horse things but also sharing enough for this to not feel too impersonal. I'm also going to post a pony update on the same day so if you're only interested in that feel free to skip this post.

As mentioned previously there’s a lot going on in my life right now but this past month or so really took the cake as the craziest month I’ve had in a long time. To start off with, I moved into that new apartment I mentioned which not only meant moving all my stuff but also getting everything situated and starting to feel like I know where everything is again. Luckily I don’t have much stuff both because it makes moving easier and because the new apartment is tiny. However, I LOVE it. This is definitely my first real adult apartment and the first that really feels the way I’ve wanted it to. I still have a few more things to add or switch around but it’s getting close.

Then there is the bf who I’m head over heels about. He’s amazing and while he’s extremely supportive of me riding and spending lots of time at the barn, I’m also trying to strike a balance of spending enough time with him especially since this is still quite new. For the past few months I’ve been onboard for all of the plans which has really limited my availability to go to the barn. I’ve stayed away from the evenings that I typically ride but recently we’ll get a big snow storm on one of those evenings or my car will break down (more on that later) and suddenly I go from having 4-5 evenings to ride to 2 evenings to ride. This past week I let him know that I wasn’t going to make evening plans during the week for the next few months and was only going to do limited weekend things. He was completely on board and so far, for this past week or so, it’s been working out great. We’re still spending lots of time together just the two of us but aren’t doing the planned, set stuff so we have more flexibility to do the things we’re passionate about.

I even have a whole tack room closet!
Then there is the car. A couple of weekends ago now I was driving home from work on Friday evening and the steering wheel very strongly and mechanically turned right sharply twice. This was on top of a whole host of other minor electronic issues but was the final straw. I limped it home in stop and go traffic and then tearfully called the bf. He completely dropped all weekend plans and drove me around to several dealerships to shop for cars. I was emotional about spending money on something I didn’t really want (a car) when what I REALLY wanted this year was a trailer but I just couldn’t justify buying a truck with the amount of driving I do and my down payment savings needed to go to the car instead of a trailer. However, after much discussion (he’s a car guy and has a BMW M2) I ended up with a SmartCar. I LOVE this car so much and it’s probably the first time I’ve ever loved a car. I even got it WeatherTech mats so that it stays pretty and survives my mucky barn boots.
bf teased me that since it's a rear engine, rear wheel drive car,
that's branded from a german company (Mercedes-Benz)
that it's basically a Porsche.
Then I was behind this one at a stop light so needed a picture 
Finally there is puppy who actually has been easy compared to Veggie who’s struggling with some separation anxiety in the new place. Since I got him as a 2 year old he’s also always been fairly dog and kid aggressive which means that walks, that are now a necessity since I don’t have a back yard, have been tough as well. It’s been sad to see him struggle but we’re about 80% of the way there at this point. I don’t think that he’ll ever not be dog and kid aggressive but we’ve come up with some good management solutions and thank goodness he’s little so I can scoop him up if he’s really freaking out.
Going for big girl walks now that it's warmer out

With all of this going on I’ve only recently started to find a good balance and as part of that right now I’m happy when I’m getting to the barn 4 days a week. Of course a part of that is also just not feeling very motivated to spend even more time in the indoor arena right now and with our horrible weather this winter I just feel like I've taken a real beating motivation wise. I'm working on it though and hope to continue to do better over the next few weeks. 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Follow Up on Feedback

I really need to get better at taking pony pictures but here's a cute,
sleepy puppy picture for some media.
Thank you all so much for your feedback. Instead of responding to each of your questions I thought I would just write a quick follow up and then I promise I’ll get back to pony updates next.

After reading through all of your feedback and suggestions I decided to make a spreadsheet with different options and the costs. I think I’ve had sort of an idea about what different things would cost but hadn’t really laid it out until now and I’m really glad that I did. The main problem isn’t whether I could get a trailer over the next few years it’s how I’d pull it. Not only would there be a fairly considerable amount needed for the trailer (new or older with maintenance) but I’d also need to pay to rent a truck to pull it. Buying a truck or having any second vehicle is completely off the table right now since I only have metered (2 hour) street parking. Trying to rent both things also just isn’t on the table right now because it would take way more coordination etc. than I have available. It would also be way too stressful especially for someone who’s pony already causes a lot of stress with traveling.

Long story short, after looking at it all laid out, the sheer expense of even buying a cheap trailer and renting a truck is just too much on top of the new car payments with a single income for it to happen within the next few years and I don’t want to wait a few more years to get out on trails, do clinics, or show more than 2-3 times a year.

Moving still isn't something I want to do so I'm still chewing over my options, making lists, and trying to figure out how all of this fits with my current needs as well as my long term goals. Hopefully I'll have an update soon because I'm so tired of being in this place and feeling stuck.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018


The catalyst for all of this
Last year around this time I posted looking for advice about memberships needed to show and you guys were so kind and helpful. Recently I've been chewing over a more difficult, long term problem and realized that maybe what I need is some fresh perspective.

For the past 20 years I've been lucky enough to own horses and unlucky enough to have no way to transport them. I've never had the use of or owned a trailer in that time and while my friends recently have been amazing and offered to help out it's always fallen through for one reason or another (Katai's lack of willingness to load, family plans, emergencies, etc)

One of the few times recently that plans
didn't fall through and we had SO MUCH FUN!!!
I've never been able to plan a show schedule, plan for clinics I want to go to, or go on trail rides off property. Last year I planned for a trailer and that fell through. This year I was even more certain it would happen and now it's likely fallen through again since I needed to replace my car. At this point I have limited availability (maybe 4 times per year?) to show and no ability to ride outside of the arena except for another arena sized area in the grass near the barn.

I'm so sick of being stuck in this same predicament time after time after time.

Katai's vote is for more pasture, more trail rides, and more friends but no trailer
Also more peppermints would be her favorite
In considering this I've looked at how I "keep" horses really holistically which in my case means looking at my boarding situation. In order for me to not need a trailer I'd need the following things.

-Indoor arena (an absolute necessity in this area unless I want to skip riding for at least 5 months out of the year)
-Dressage instruction on site
-Trails of some sort or fairly significant property to ride around
-Friends/fellow boarders/coach who was consistently trailering to shows and welcomed me to tag along with Katai (as well as allowing me time to practice loading her in their trailer)
-Decent distance to drive (my cut off so far has been 40-45 minutes each way)
-Within budget (I could spend a bit more than I do right now but not significantly more like I was at the last barn and this is also a dealbreaker)
-Ability for Katai to get her supplements, at least the Magnesium

I have not found a single barn so far that meets more than a few of the items on the list. J's barn came closest but there was the whole abusive trainer thing.

In addition the things I'd prefer are:
-Plenty of turnout (I don't think Katai gets enough right now)
-Heated barn at least for grooming and tacking up
-Wash stall
-More people to ride with
-Open minded people who want to do things like trail ride, do canter sets, go to clinics unrelated to dressage, and basically just enjoy their horses

Jane's barn also meets four of the top items items but if we were looking at "ruthlessly excluding" that doesn't meet it either and I am getting really bored, tired, and annoyed with only ever being able to ride in the indoor arena. I can't do canter sets, I can't really work on fitness, I can't give Katai new challenges or exposure to the things she'll see at a show. The trailer this year was going to fix all of this but now I'm just trying to re-examin. I REALLY don't want to leave Jane but I have thought of a couple of options.
Hand grazing only has been our jam recently
1. Find pasture board (with an indoor arena) and use the difference between what I pay now and that to buy a trailer. This hasn't been an option because of grass but I could try the Greenguard muzzle and since I'm riding more consistently I may potentially be able to keep Katai's weight down. I could manage without a dressage instructor on site as long as I could trailer to one (Jane) on some sort of regular basis. Also, unless pasture board is really close I'll need them to be able to give Katai her supplements.

2. Find a more active dressage show barn that would trailer me places and potentially meet all of the items above except the distance. I know of two within this category and one that would meet everything except budget which is a huge deal breaker. This way I could skip the truck and trailer (which would be my preference) and have more show/trail ride camaraderie at the same time.

3. ?

So, fellow bloggers, I'm looking for some advice. What would you do? What are deal breakers for you? Please give me blunt and honest feedback. If I'm being a baby for wanting more and you think I should just stick it out and save up for a trailer let me know. If you have advice let me know. I really do want your opinions.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Catching Up, but first...

The 30 things blog hop! I've really enjoyed reading all of these and feel like they're a great way to get to know all of you. I started typing these up awhile ago but have had so much going on that they just sat in draft. It was amazingly hard to come up with 30 interesting things about myself!

1. I’ve always loved animals and grew up on a farm where we had ducks, dogs, sheep, horses, bunnies, goats, and cats

And my first pony, Prince

2.       Going back to the above, my mom had a huge herd of sheep when I was 5-10 or so that she sheared, spun, and sold the wool
3.       Also related to the above, in 4H I was grand champion dairy goat showman at our state fair so I’m kind of a big deal ;)
4.       I once saved someone who had slashed their leg open with an arrow by carrying them several miles out of the forest/trail system on the back of my horse when I was 13. The resulting blood stain on my horse scared my mom half to death when she picked me up from the barn that day
5.       I was homeschooled
6.       I have three younger siblings (oldests rock!)
7.       Both of my sisters are professional violinists
8.       My brother went to school for aviation and then joined the Marines, then didn’t re-enlist in the Marines and joined the Army instead
9.       I have my MA in HR
10.   I have sadly never traveled outside of the US except for a few road trips to Canada
11.   I have also been on road trips to ME, NY, WA, CA, OR, and of course hit a bunch of states in between.
12.   My favorite books are science fiction/fantasy and my very favorite book is Jaran by Kate Elliott. I’ve read it at least 30 times
13.   I pass out easily if people are discussing injuries or if I even barely hurt myself, in fact I once passed out while leading a new employee orientation at work right in front of a nurse I had hired
14.   I’ve never fallen off Katai and since I trained her she’s never had anyone fall off. Not quite sure how she’ll react if it ever happens…
NDPC 2016
15.   I’d never been on a plane until I was in my late 20s and that was to go to the National Dressage Pony Cup at the KY Horse Park.
16.   My BA is in Music Performance and I’ve played Piano since I was 5 and Cello from when I was 12-23.
I was probably 13 here
17.   I’ve moved basically every year since I moved away from home in 2011, currently I live in downtown Minneapolis, MN
18.   I have very eclectic music tastes and listen primarily to EDM and alternative but Kanye is my favorite for working out/running and pretty much the only thing I don’t listen to is country
19.   In my area people primarily ride western but there are actually a decent number of dressage shows within about an hour drive
20.   I’m a huge rule follower and almost the only time I haven’t followed the rules led to me walking within arm’s reach of Leonardo DiCaprio despite not actually thinking he was that cute
21.   My favorite tv show recently was the OA (it’s SO fantastic!) but I mostly just play NCIS on Netflix in the background while I do other things and rarely watch new tv or movies
22.   I’ve been vegan (or plant based) for just about three years now
23.   I used to be a voracious reader but now I pretty much read blogs and articles online and rarely read books. When I do read books they’re mainly non-fiction such as When Two Spines Align or How Not to Die (a nutrition book that’s FANTASTIC)
24. Veggie (my dog's) name was Wedge Antilles after the Star Wars character. I love Star Wars so I kept it but kept turning it into Wedgie which I didn't love. Then eventually it just became Veggie which stuck.

Veggie is second to the right,
clearly loving the Italian Greyhound meetup we went to last year
25. I'm a huge nerd and have always wanted to play D&D but didn't know anyone that played. Now I'm in a campaign with my bf (who is DM'ing), a couple of his friends, and his dad. It's way less awkward than it sounds
26. I'm not going to have kids
27. Despite REALLY not liking kids, my goal is to one day have a small piece of property and a few really nice ponies so that I can teach young riders to love dressage on appropriately trained and sized equines. 

Concerts like Rock the Garden are different though!
28. I don't like concerts or anything that locks me into sitting in the same place for a long time. I just can't sit still that long and it feels like a waste of time
29. I'm a minimalist and it drives me nuts having more than one thing with the same purpose. However, I have a whole closet, a large chest, a large re-usable bag in my car, and two containers at the barn of horse equipment plus my saddle, bridle, grooming stuff, a pile of saddle pads, and helmet
30. I really dislike spiders


With my current decision to move I didn't have to think that long to decide which barn I would move to if I could. The barn I'm movi...