Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019 Discoveries

Something I thought might be fun was to do a post of things that I learned, discovered, or re-discovered over the past year.

There are some podcasts and other media that I discovered, love, and wanted to share.

The first is Buck Off Banter which Amanda from $900 Facebook Pony recommended at some point. It is FANTASTIC! Not only are they real horse people they are very funny. They share the bad with the good and just enough about their family and non-horse things to feel like you're talking with a friend over a cup of coffee instead of listening to a podcast. 100% recommend.

The second is the Confident Rider Podcast. I actually found this through the Olivia Towers podcast (which I also really enjoy) but while that one is still fairly young and there are a lot of topics that I just don't connect with as much, I LOVE Jane Pike. She talks a lot about anxiety and mind set stuff and I find it really helpful. I've learned more of my current skill set around mental health from her than I did from the therapist I was seeing for awhile. Even if you aren't struggling with mental health stuff at the moment this is a fantastic listen.

The Hackett Equine Youtube channel is my third item for this group. I talk a lot about how much I enjoy Youtube but I also feel like I have a pretty good handle on which channels are out there and which I enjoy. Hackette Equine was a new one for me this year and she's lovely. I definitely recommend if you enjoy equine youtube channels!

I got a planner around black Friday and it’s been something I’ve used off and on since then. Recently I think I’ve hit my stride with using this. The main thing I’m still struggling with is how to plan for future rides with all of the variability that entails. Ultimately though it’s more important for me to be able to plan when I’ll be able to ride and for now as long as I have a main theme for my rides on any given week I can always shift around if needed based on the weather or Katai’s behavior. The main thing it’s help helpful with is being able to look ahead and identify which days in the future I won’t be able to ride. That way I don’t miss a ride that I could have made and then realize that I have plans the next evening so suddenly miss multiple days in a row. That had been a huge issue. Visually looking at my month and which days I won’t be able to ride has helped me prioritize to ride on days when I can especially on weeks where my schedule is tighter.

Consistency is Good:
Both with time at the barn and mindset around change consistency feels really positive right now. I’m so tired of being so transient. I’m tired of moving homes, states, jobs, barns, etc. Knowing for the past year that I was going to be applying for and moving to a new job was stressful and applying and interviewing is always stressful and frustrating at times. Moving into a role at a great company that I’ll likely spend at least several years, if not the rest of my career, with is a huge weight off my shoulders.
Now we have our own little house :)
I’ve talked a fair amount about moving somewhere but knew that was less likely when I met my bf. I’ve also dreamed of having my own little farm and I think that thinking about that all the time always had me with one foot out the door at boarding places since it was easy to think about how that would solve all of the little annoyances. Now that we won’t be moving forward in that way it makes it easier to be solution focused with finding a great boarding situation and just staying there. Moving to the house and having a job that I’ll be at for a while also means that I’ll be living in one place and not moving around and therefore won’t have an additional reason to move barns. To me all of this means finding solutions to things like cold winters, hot humid summers, finding a great trainer etc. That’s a good place to be and feels much more settled and relaxing than constantly feeling like I should be picking up and making a big move. Also knowing that my disposable income will increase significantly in the near future means that I’ll have additional options for problem solving. I’ve already been doing this and it’s so nice to just be figuring it out vs. constantly having that foot out the door.

Down Time:
Taking some time off of lessons has been fantastic for me. I was feeling really burnt out after weekly lessons for a year and while I’m 100% confident that’s the quickest way to make progress, at this point as a working adult amateur with a high stress professional career, a new relationship, a new home, and a puppy that’s just too much. I’m looking forward to being able to have more consistent lessons (my goal is once per month or so) but for now this is exactly what I needed. I’ve been able to get my head straight and some of the training that’s needed with Katai is not in the arena but ground work and training items like working with the hose, relaxation and patience training, and being able to get out on trails. While I’m certain that some people could do this with weekly lessons I was just not feeling like I ever had enough time to work on my “homework” much less that I had time to work on these other things.

Pretty sure my boyfriend needs this mug

It’s been good for me and Katai’s relationship to step back, she’s getting more well-rounded, and her ulcer symptoms had completely gone away prior to the move. I contribute the improvement in her ulcers to several things but I’m also fairly convinced that the step back in arena work has helped. We will be slightly stepping this back up again to at least 2-3 days in the arena each week so it’s my goal to keep her tummy feeling just as good.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

2019 Recap

Merry Christmas Eve! There are more pony updates on the way, including a really unexpected and amazing surprise, but I wanted to get this post done first.

I’m going to keep this pretty short partially just because I don’t have a ton of content. I actually thought about just skipping it but honestly, since this is meant to be a journal I think that looking back and reviewing the entire year is actually really helpful for me so here goes.

January Pony Face

I was so excited to be leaving 2018 behind that I started 2019 strong with 9 posts which included sharing my awesome Christmas hauls and lots of goal setting. I’m not quite sure how I posted that much because what I remember about January was that I was sick for at least 3 weeks… I also found out that my trainer, K, was leaving us for the East coast which sucked and immediately threw my plans for the year into a tailspin.

One of the few photos I took in February, seems appropriate

The universe was definitely getting to me and I remember getting sick again. It was also horrendously cold and I didn’t have a heated barn. I didn’t actually post at all this month, one of the few months in the entire life of this blog where I didn’t post.

Tough to believe that it was sunny and decent outside in March! Only a few more months

I bounced back with 5 posts and was doing a lot of processing things with mindset, goals, and my mental health. Some of that showed up on the blog and some didn’t but it definitely had already started to be a big part of my year.

This definitely needed to be a Jen and Connor picture
I only had 3 posts in April but it was definitely one of the best months riding wise. The weather was starting to really improve and I wrote about two “clinics” that I had a chance to ride in. Those were awesome and really set the tone for all of the work I did this year with Katai on relaxation. Back when I was actually able to ride, we were making leaps and bounds of progress on this topic. In addition, my boyfriend and I went to IN to see Jen from CobJockey and got to meet her significant other as well. It was an AWESOME trip where I got to ride Connor and see Jen’s barn which is gorgeous. It really felt like my year was starting to look up horse wise!

Don't remind me of the time when she was missing half her mane :/
In May I posted 4 times and shared my haul from the MN horse expo (which was AMAZING), reviewed some products, and complained about a bad dental experience.

Delicious vegan foods I made myself

I only posted twice in June and not much happened. Mostly I shared more about mindset things and answered a blog hop/questionnaire thing.

One of my favorite pictures of Katai this year

Despite only posting three times, things really started to happen for me in June. If nothing else, 2019 has been the year of focusing on other big personal things and June was really the point where everything started to fall into place. In one enormous post I wrote about getting my new job (which I’m still loving by the way), finding out that we were buying a house, and plans to move my pony. I didn’t know where or when I was moving my pony at that point and neither barn I talked about ended up working out but I had outlined that I was on a waitlist and had determined that it was a goal to move in 2019.

In continuing the theme of not posting much I posted three times in August. The main post in August was that I had found a place to move Katai! Thanks to a friend I had discovered a third option and decided to make the move. I also posted a little about the routine I was working on at that time.

One of, what feels like, very few rides in our new arena so far

September was my second highest posting month thus far with 7 posts. The routine I had set for myself was really helping with motivation and because I was at the barn regularly I had more content. Funny how that works :) The biggest thing that happened was definitely moving to my current barn.

Throughout the rest of the month I really grew to love the social environment at the barn and it continues to be the best barn culture of any barn I’ve boarded at.

Such a regal and gorgeous girl <3

I only posted twice this month because despite all of the lovely things at the new barn and me finally feeling incredibly motivated Katai started having all sorts of little health things cropping up. These prevented me from doing much riding at all in October but I did really buckle down, work hard, and start making progress on treating her for ulcers, thrush, and sensitive feets.

I bounced back and posted 5 times but it was for the bad reason that Katai went horribly lame. Luckily it all turned out to be an abscess but that was after two vet visits, lots of bute, a steroid shot, and lots of paddock rest. It will take a little while for my check book to recover but I’m so so so glad it turned out ok. I remain proud of myself that throughout most of October and November I was at the barn almost every single day. That was a huge accomplishment and really showed me what I’m capable of.

Rather than a picture of a swollen pony leg, how about a picture of Moshy enjoying Lion King :)

With this post I’m at only 5 posts so far for December but that already means that I posted more in 2019 than 2018 which feels like an accomplishment even if I’m still at half of what I was posting previously. I’m honestly really glad to be leaving 2019 behind because even though I accomplished some great things it still feels like I worked excessively hard for everything I did accomplish. Here’s to hoping that all of that work continues to pay dividends and that 2020 is a bright, shining, year of progress!

Mia, one of Katai's buddies

Friday, December 20, 2019

Pony Update

I'm failing at pony media again so here, have a snuggly puppy

I don't have much exciting to report. Since a couple of weeks ago when I rescued Katai's buddy the baby horse and was ecstatic to see that Katai's abscess had burst I haven't been able to make it to the barn much because of poorly timed snow and illness.

I'd be real grouchy about it except this is the first time in a long time where I've missed this much and I've been making progress packing up our apartment. While Katai was injured I'd also brought home all my tack and got it cleaned so we haven't been completely devoid of progress over here, just mostly devoid of progress :)

Katai was an absolute brat when I have been out but I'm blaming the fact that she's been getting more grain to ensure she was eating her bute and ulcer meds as well as the fact that she'd been on an alfalfa bale when she was on paddock rest and hadn't been moving around much and wearing off energy. Plus, inconsistent magnesium. Now that she's sound again I'm planning to do quite a bit of lunging before I get back on.

The rest of this winter, my focus is on fitness for both of us and weight loss for me. I've joined some rider fitness Facebook groups and I'm working on tracking my diet again. I'm also giving up alcohol for the next month or two to cut down on those superfluous calories. It is a tough time of year to try to lose weight and gain fitness but for the next few weeks at least we have the apartment gym and we only have one more Christmas gathering.

I did get some great Christmas gifts this year though and thought I'd share those in this post. First, what I got for myself.

In continuing the theme of getting myself horsie Christmas stuff I got a few things with the gift card I received back when I got the clipper. I had decided to wait and use it on Black Friday to make my money go a little further and there were some good deals that I was able to take advantage of.

Not a great picture but I'm running out of places in our apartment
to take pictures that don't have chaotic packing in the background.

I picked up a nice tack cleaning sponge, some raspberry breeches that were on clearance, and (my favorite) the grey set of Eskadron bandage liners. I ADORE these bandage liners and already have a black set and a white set but when I saw Dover had the grey set I decided to pick those up as well. In addition, I got them monogrammed because I'm that person. I think they're cute (plus the monogram won't be seen when they're on her so it's not too over the top) and can't wait to use them!

The Dreamers and Schemers socks from my bf's mom

Then, yesterday, we were at my boyfriend's mom's for Christmas. She Christmas shops off lists so this year I sent her a Riding Warehouse list. It's awesome because that list reflects size, color etc so all she needed to do was add the stuff she wanted to get me to the cart. Even better, I'd put a bunch of stuff on the list in all different prices so she could mix and match what she wanted to get that was in her budget and it was a surprise still what I got.
Already well used and well loved

She picked out a purple braiding comb/clip that I'm excited to try out as well as the Haas lambswool brush (which was backordered so isn't here yet), Dreamers and Schemers socks in a winter/holiday pattern, and the Back on Track scarf. I'm excited about all of it but especially the scarf because I have very tight and painful shoulders and neck (which turns out is likely because of anxiety) and someone at the barn recommended this since I can wrap it around whichever body part needs some help. I wore it the rest of the evening and it made my neck feel so weird but also better.

I think it's 100g fill

I've also been doing some bargain/thrift shopping! First, I've been stalking a used Horswear Ireland group on Facebook and was able to score another neck for $25.

The brands are Chillout (a British brand) for the pink and HKM for the grey. 

Then, I noticed someone selling a ton of breeches on Facebook for $30 each, all nice name brands. I picked out two that I thought were cute. They're larger sizes than I normally wear, which currently fit me, but I figured that once I lose the rest of this weight I could always find them a new home. They arrived this morning and they are AWESOME. They clearly haven't been worn and one still had a price tag for $140 on it. Pretty awesome score!

Finally, only partially horse related, I ordered some work clothes on ThredUp. The reason I'm mentioning it here is that they're part of my quest to both figure out how to be appropriately dressed for work while not needing to bring an entire outfit to change into at the barn (since I go directly there from work) and to look more like an adult in my day to day life. I tend to rely a lot on sweatpants, hoodies, and other ill fitting clothes but it's more out of laziness than anything else. Doing this through a thrift store allows me to get brands that I otherwise wouldn't be able to afford and to not feel too bad if some of this stuff gets wrecked eventually at the barn. I'll try and report back!

Sunday, December 15, 2019

2019 Goals Recap

Another of my favorite photos from this past year.

Hmmm, where to begin :)

When I first thought about doing this post I thought that clearly I didn’t accomplish my 2019 goals, however, in actuality I accomplished more of them than I thought. I figured I’d outline some of the goals for 2019 that we accomplished, didn’t accomplish, and the things we accomplished without ever writing a goal.

Things that Were On My List

No Excuses:
Oh my gosh has this been a HUGE improvement this year. I have always had low resiliency (although I didn’t necessarily know what to call it) and would give up at any excuse to do so. Not on the really big things but the small things for sure. This year I’ve really dug in, in multiple ways and proceeded without making excuses. I may still whine about it but more and more I’m just getting up and still doing the thing. I’m SUPER proud of myself and even if this were the only goal I accomplished this year I’d feel good.

Too funny not to share. I was in the middle of filming our riding routine for my 
Insta story and Katai decided to pee complete with grunting.

Track my Rides:
This was a success although not maybe specifically in the way I thought it would be. My goal throughout most of this year was to use Equilab more often and preferably through every ride. I do still sort of want to use it but I have some issues with it including that I don’t have a good way to carry my phone and, while I’d love to keep ride notes in there as well, I’ve really been trying to get away from my phone especially at the barn. It also wears the battery down pretty quick since my phone is old and if I had to choose between that and listening to music, I’d rather listen to music.

Instead, what’s worked really well for me is the planner I’ve been keeping. It’s called a Clever Fox planner and I like the formatting a lot. It’s the first planner I’ve actually had that works for my brain. I’ve managed to keep up on it and track throughout most of the year, however, it’s been more about planning out a schedule ahead of time, tracking when I’m actually at the barn, and taking some minimal notes about what the ride/training was like. I’m looking at other options for taking more detailed notes this next year including a more specific riding journal or figuring out using the Equilab.

The amazing deal of the century were these two Pikeur show shirts for $5 each
Spend Less/Budget Better/Pay Down Debt:
This was also a huge success this year! Not only have I not been using a credit card at all for any purchases but between myself and my boyfriend we’ve managed to put together a down payment for a house in about 5 months while also paying down credit card debt. This is HUGE for me and I’m so happy that, thanks to my boyfriend, I’ve found a system for budgeting that works for me. I’m also planning out the next few years budget for paying down the rest of my high interest debt and actually being able to afford, not “afford”, a truck and trailer.

Get a New Job:
Big success. I not only found a job, it’s a job I’m really enjoying with a great boss and a much more equitable income for my skill level and experience.

Cuddling Connor <3

Dressage Lessons/Clinics:
I’d mark this as sort of a success. I took advantage, as much as I could, of taking lessons from K while she was still at my previous barn and then did two clinic rides with her trainer. Those were fantastic rides and I learned a lot. However, now despite having access to a trainer I think my goals have shifted slightly and I’m hoping to be able to trailer out to one of 2-3 trainers for lessons each month or two during the summer when the weather is such that the roads are safe.

I’m not sure what that means for next year since I’m fairly certain that I won’t own my own truck and trailer.

Vary the Work:
I’d say this is also sort of a success. I found a trail ride buddy at the old barn and we had a couple of great mini trail rides between both of us struggling with mental health stuff and a very hot and humid summer. I also did a bunch of work in hand, ground poles, and learned some new groundwork exercises. Also, just in terms of keeping the work fresh, Katai hasn’t been working so there’s that…

Nope! I’ll leave it at that.

Get Back in Shape:
No :( This was a very achievable goal but it didn’t happen. I’m still out of shape, weaker than I want to be and way less fit plus I have weight to lose. I am working on it now and I’m feeling really committed to making this happen.

Blog More:
I mean technically I’ve blogged more this year than last year but only by a bit so I’m not going to count that as a true success since my goal was to get back to posting at least 10-15 times per month.

Another Insta Stories Video

Things That Weren’t on My List

I had a couple of realizations with this over 2019. The first was working with K’s trainer in April when she told me that “until you get the relaxation you can’t get anything else” which was basically to say that Katai is fantastic and very talented but in order to progress we needed to work on relaxation first and foremost. I’ve never had an instructor bring that up before but I agree wholeheartedly. I spent most of the rides following that working on relaxation and was making a ton of headway so I’m looking forward to getting back to that.

In addition, regarding relaxation on the ground I had the realization when waiting for the vet in November that my anxiety has been the main cause of ground work related issues. Katai is SUPER well trained and light to lead, she stays out of your personal space, and responds to just intention even if you need her to back up or pivot around. I’ve never handled another horse that’s as responsive and polite as she is to handle.

However, if her adrenaline is up her brain shuts off and there is almost zero ability to influence her unless you are absolutely being way overbearing. At that point she starts invading personal space, running into you with her head and neck, rearing up while tied or even in hand, and making stupid decisions like trying to bolt. I’ve approached that as a training gap but it is absolutely an anxiety related issue instead which is helpful from an awareness perspective and also good motivation for me to do some work to improve my ability to manage my anxiety.

The mare bear herd :)

I got a new clipper I really like so my body clip looks much more professional. I’ve also been getting her cleaned up more often if she has manure or urine on her back legs even if it takes a mini sponge bath to do so. It’s her least favorite thing but having the heated barn with a hose and warm water makes this possible again.

Yes, moving to the barn was 100% the right thing both for my mental health (great people!!!) but also for my physical health (it’s warm!!!). It makes it take way less motivation to go out to the barn and I can be out there when it’s really cold, just not necessarily if it’s snowy so at least I’m missing fewer days which was the goal.

There are many things I won't miss from our apartment
but I will miss this view from our rooftop

Settling In:
Something I haven't written about much is how much things have changed for me in the past year in regards to really settling in vs. always having my foot out the door on everything. I've always wanted to live in a different state, for example, which led to me always having that in the back of my mind with every decision I made. It meant that I never really committed to friendships, jobs, or relationships. I also didn't feel like I could make big decisions because I wasn't sure how things would change in the future. Meeting my boyfriend and having him know what he wants (where he wants to live which is local and that he is a city boy) really made me re-look at my motivation around moving etc.

Doing that, meant that I realized that I don't actually care that much about living somewhere else and that I'm truly ok with boarding for the rest of my life instead of owning my own farm. These things meant that instead of whining about things like the weather and dreaming of living somewhere else I'm just able to buckle down and find creative solutions to those complaints. I've also been committing to friendships, settling into the work I'm doing at my job (and envisioning a career there), and really trying to find my place in the local community (both horse related and social).

It has felt so good and like the No Excuses goal, even if this were the only thing that came from this year it would feel like a huge success.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Dancing in the Shit Show

*To preface this post, Katai's abscess burst!!!! Now onto your regularly(?) scheduled programing*

Back in August I wrote a post that I called Dancing in the Rain about how I was continuing to try despite lots of chaos in my life. Now in December I feel like the chaos and stress has increased but I’ve managed to keep dancing. You can find the August post here if you’re wondering what I’m talking about.

The end of this year has not been kind to Katai and myself. After the move Katai clearly wasn’t herself and I think that the significance of the change just affected her more than I ever thought it would. It showed up in sensitive feet, then ulcers, then thrush, and then an abscess (the first she’s ever had). Some of these are probably directly related to the move and the change in her living situation but some of them probably were random occurrences that just happened at the wrong time. I’ve complained on here quite a bit about it but outside of the blog I’ve been really proud of the way that I’ve just dug in and worked hard to find fixes despite these things happening.

Some days I feel like she just loves messing with me
When I figured out Katai had ulcers for example I dropped everything else in my personal life and started going to the barn every day, rain or shine, despite if I was exhausted, stressed, anxious, or had other things going on. I made it out 35 days in a row with no break before missing 2 days due to a snow storm and Thanksgiving. I’m still going out every day but at this point I’ve missed a couple more days because of dangerous roads (even with snow tires my Smartcar isn’t great on the freeway if the roads are slippery).

That 35 days in a row taught me a lot about what I’m actually capable of and it was so helpful for my motivation. Things were getting done on a regular basis including getting Katai her supplements, treating her feet for thrush, grooming her and cleaning up her back legs when she was in heat, and of course getting her meds. Then, during this, when she had her abscess I was out every day to give her bute, check on her, make sure she was safe and get a feeling for if she was improving or not. There have also been other things like asking other people to help give meds during snowy days and sticking with poulticing and wrapping her hind left foot despite the fact that she likes to try to kick me with that leg and didn’t like being doctored.

In other news, I rescued this young lady from being tangled in her blanket.
She was down and thrashing when I got to the barn and I was able to rescue her
While this isn’t how I’ve wanted to spend the last few months I have learned a lot about myself, a lot about Katai, and have continued to build strong relationships with the other people at the barn because I’m seeing them all the time. Hopefully this will all pay off and now, over the next few weeks, I’ll be able to get back to a regular riding schedule. This ability to make it out every day has helped me figure out how to prioritize with a partner and has taught me the importance of going out when I can, even if I don’t want to, so that when I can’t go out it isn’t as big of impact.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Thank You!

Thank you all so much for your messages and positive thoughts. I'm really really really really really really really really really really really really really happy to update everyone that what looked like an upper limb (stifle) injury to at least 5-7 people at the barn was diagnosed as an abscess by the vet yesterday.

*happy dance*

The vet was also relieved and I got a high five :) I'm following his treatment recommendation and hoping we can get this thing out asap so that she isn't in pain for too long but mostly I'm just really glad that she's going to be ok, make a full recovery, and not have any major lasting soundness concerns from this.

It was this very swollen leg (pre fantastical duct tape boot) that gave the vet a clue that it might actually be an abscess and, indeed, when he did the recheck on Wednesday this week he was able to find the sore spot with hoof testers.

The very ouchy leg.
Of course now it seems silly that I was so worried but seriously, everyone I trust including the vet and L thought it was upper leg and specifically stifle. When the vet checked her the first time he couldn't find a reactive spot on her foot and agreed that it looked like upper leg.

I'm just so happy right now and Katai is happy because she's back out with her mares and back on our regular schedule of grain, meds, and attention every day. It's probably been this all along and we just weren't able to diagnosis but I sort of feel like it was a little bit of birthday/Christmas magic thanks to all of your positive messages and thoughts <3


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...