Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Big Changes Ahead!

It has been incredibly tough not to completely spill the beans on this big news for the past couple months. but...I'm expecting and found out yesterday we're having a boy! And fun fact, the little one and I may possibly be sharing a birthday too.

Obviously with insanity happening in the past couple of months, I've been especially careful since finding out we were having a kid. With a lowered immune system right now, the hospital is the last place I wanted to be so I have only bummed around bareback on Quest one time and stayed within eyeshot of my husband. Mareface was totally perfect though and probably bored LOL

I'm sure I could continue riding until I physically can't but in these times, its better to be careful and to be honest, I've been enjoying my time on the ground with Quest. She's still doing well at the new place and I'm yearning for the day when we can hit the rail trails again.

But for now, I'm enjoying being a mom-to-be and looking forward to what this next adventure in life will bring (:

Monday, March 16, 2020

New View, New Adventure

This was a decision in the works since the end of last year during the long winter months when I took some time to think hard about what was best for Quest and for us. While I am still figuring out the finer details, I knew the time had come for us to return to the trails we had left nearly four years ago. 

About a month ago, W and I made the 1-hour trip westward and visited a new-to-me barn. The barn is owned by a family, and owner himself gave us a tour and I felt comfortable that he had the amenities and simple necessities I was looking for: an indoor arena, trailer parking, ample pasture, good horse care, and miles of trails. The owners were kind enough to let me haul my trailer and my tack box in a weekend earlier prior to the scheduled move-in date. That trip was an adventure in itself but we made it. 

This past weekend was our move-in day. I got to OF about a half hour before the owner's daughter, C, and her husband showed up with the trailer. It was a bit cold in the morning but knowing that it had been awhile since Quest had hauled, I decided to take off her sheet in case she got lathered from the ride over. The trailer was a step-up 3-horse slant gooseneck with stock styled windows covered by plexiglass. Mareface did give a wary side eye but loaded up without another hesitation (good girl!) and we were on the road in less than 5 minutes. 

The drive over was uneventful though when we arrived at the barn, I could tell that Quest wanted out. I could see her legs beneath the divider before C opened it and it looked like someone had doused my horse in buckets of water. She was lathered from head to toe. Despite her immense nerves, Quest behaved for me to clip the lead line on and unloaded without running out like a deranged wild animal. 

I knew she needed/wanted to move though so we walked together to the pasture barn where my tack was stored to get a cooler on and we headed into the indoor arena to chill out and dry off. Quest calmed down pretty much immediately and was soon more interested in snuffling the ground, looking for a comfy place to roll and get rid of all the dried sweat. By this point we had the entire arena to ourselves, so I took the cooler off and unclipped the lead. I totally expected Quest to jettison off on her own but instead she stuck by my side like glue haha Wherever I went, she followed. If I stopped, she did too. I eventually sat down on a mounting block in the middle of the arena and she finally found a nice place to do a thorough roll on both sides. Mareface looked much more content after that. 

C eventually came over to take me to the office to do paperwork and asked if I wanted to put Quest in a stall temporarily. Knowing Quest, I requested if there was a turnout paddock instead and C was able to accomodate. Leaving mareface to socialize with her paddock neighbor, we wrapped up details and soon headed back out to introduce Quest to her new pasture and horse friends. 

The pasture only had two other horses that day (a mare and a gelding) vs the 5-6 horses I saw a month ago which made me a bit more comfortable. The winter/drylot pasture that the horses get was absolutely enormous, not even counting the grazing pastures they have during the summer. Following C's lead, I showed Quest the perimeter, the run-in shed, feed troughs, and water. Mareface took it all in stride and the two other horses looked on blandly while I took off Quest's halter and let her say hello. The mare wasn't too happy about seeing a newcomer at first and tried to chase- Quest was quite a bit more lean and agile so she just trotted away. And that was pretty much it for drama. 

I stayed for about an hour or so afterward with my packed lunch to keep an eye on things but it was very uneventful from there on out. The mare tried to assert her dominance only once again but it was very short lived- Quest just skipped away and does not pay her any extra attention at all. After mareface got in a nice roll in, I grabbed my grooming stuff and brushed her in the pasture to help her look somewhat less shaggy and wild. 

I haven't gotten any emergency calls from the barn yet and this morning an update from C said Quest is doing fine- she figured out her meal spot, though not really buddy-buddy with any particular horse yet but she looks content. So here we are, new barn and back to our old trails. I'm looking forward to enjoying the more sedate pace of barn life and seeing what the future brings us. 

Social distancing at its finest

Monday, March 9, 2020

Moving Along

Work and personal travel has kept me extremely busy and on the road nearly every other week which has lead to a lack of posting here but quite a few things on the horse-front have happened.

About a week ago, my TX horse adventure friend T had to put down her Icelandic pony Nickers due to colic. I was out of town on vacation with my husband in Boston at the time but was closely following T's posts for nearly 24 hours- at one point during the ordeal, it seemed like Nickers was doing better and going to pull though. When the final news broke, it was a total shock.

Goodbye, best ponybeast

Nickers was a tough, opinionated ponymare to ride but so rock-solid steady and a really fun trail parter. I got to experience my first tolt with her and discovered just how fun it was to ride a gaited horse. She will be sorely missed...

On a happier note, Quest and I have been doing well though and still enjoying lovely meanders in the arena and on the trail with the oddly suspicious lack of snow on the ground. I had brought all of my saddles home around Thanksgiving since I now have a secure and safe place to actually store things during the off-season so the only option was bareback. I've been using the pad that I DIY-ed when I first got Quest and it has been holding up just fine with no issues whatsoever. Mareface was so good despite the holiday hiatus during December and has kept on a nice weight.

There is a big change that will be happening in about a week or so but first off...I've decided to get rid of the farrier I had been using with Quest for nearly 2 years while we boarded at OF.

I work a full time 40hr/week, 9 to 5 job so a huge majority of time the farrier would show up at the barn and trim Quest while I was at the office. He text me an update, sometimes include a photo even and that system worked out really well until the past half year when I started to notice more and more that Quest's feet were still looking VERY long despite the fact she had been freshly "trimmed" and the clubfoot was impacting her general soundness.

When I contacted the farrier asking for an explanation, there were excuses why he didn't trim as much (or, one time he completely skipped trimming entirely and then failed to tell me??)....the ground was too hard, bruising could happen, there was ice, etc. The list of reasons went on until, one day I went to the barn and heartsick at the sight of my horse moving unhappily with her overgrown hooves I took out the rasp and and trimmed her myself to at least make her more comfortable.

Enough was enough. I'll be looking for another farrier  that can help us actually manage Quest's clubfoot. Fingers crossed that in a week's time, I'll have more options available and access to proficient hoofcare professionals soon.

Happy, content, sleepy mareface getting her head scratches

Monday, December 9, 2019

Nothing to Prove

As the end of a decade draws to a close, I've been finding myself doing a lot of reflecting and introspection in my (rarely found) downtime.

When I started my riding journey about 6 years ago as an adult beginner with little to no experience, little did I know that I would own a horse for 5 of those 6 years and be blessed with so many opportunities of a life time to catch-ride for others in competition and be invited to vacation on horseback in so many states and countries. What an amazing journey it has been so far, though not one without its fair share of disappointments and low points.

Riding has taught me so much. It has given me hope when I was in one of the darkest moments in my life. It has given me the confidence to trust my gut instincts (e.g.; when taking a leap a faith on a horse bought sight unseen at an NJ feedlot auction). It has given me the tenacity and drive to pursue a hobby that had been forever out of reach and beyond consideration.

Over the past few years though, I guess I started to forget why I started riding in the first place.

That original, simple joy was replaced with preoccupation and plans for competition as I actively tried to insert myself into conversations and social circles with those more knowledgeable, more experience than me. Maybe it was bad luck, or bad timing, or fate, or everything listed there... but the competition season I had dreamed and hoped for about never came to be and since then its been nothing but an uphill battle. My efforts to find local endurance mentors repeatedly turned up empty or worse (disgruntled, irritated responses filled with empty promises of training rides that never- and still haven't- came to be.)

All these setbacks inevitably have left a bitter taste in my mouth about the sport, the people, and the community.

My priority has always been first and foremost the well-being and longevity of my horse. As Quest moves into her "senior" years, I came to the slow conclusion that I've been thinking about it all wrong: We had nothing to prove to anyone, ever.

Maybe one day everything will fall into place and that competition season that I've always wanted will happen. My husband is 110% supportive of my riding hobby and wants to learn, even maybe compete together with me. He's even mentioned finding me another endurance horse after Quest is retired.

Though for now, it's just me, my mareface, our happiness, our soundness, and the open trail as we meander, wander, and explore life together. It's hard to put aside my goals for competition because its been my frame of mind for so many years but I hope to quiet the voices in my mind and in my heart completely someday until it is time for us to prepare again.

We might not be the fanciest pair but we have golden hearts. And sometimes that's all that matters.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Honeymooning with Horses

I've been SO busy for the past few weeks that keeping up with blogging has been a challenge in it of itself. A lot of riding and horsetime has been happening though!

About a month ago, I spent 10 days in Europe for my honeymoon and it was absolutely fantastic. W and I put together the whole trip ourselves so everything about our experience was 110% what we wanted which made it a lot more fun. As you all know, I've made it my personal goal to ride in every new place I visit and this trip was no exception. Fortunately W is completely supportive of this endeavor and we managed to fit in two rides during the 10-days.

Our first ride was in Mallocra, Spain. When I had contacted the barn months ago to make a reservation, the replies I received were in very stilted English. True enough when we got picked up at our hotel on the morning of the ride, the driver Tony (who also happened to be the barn/business owner) spoke only Spanish. Despite the language hurdle, we all managed to get along just fine.

W had taken some Spanish in high school so he was able to somewhat communicate with Tony better than I could. Fortunately for me, horseback riding is pretty universal so I just did what I normally did and we pantomimed and used context clues for the details. After outfitting us with coats for the impending rain, Tony handed us halters and led us to the pasture to meet our mounts for the morning.

I was paired up with Piropo, a cute dark bay 15 year old Andalusian x Hanoverian gelding. He had an amiable personality and I knew we were going to get along well. After saying our hellos, we led the horses to the stalls to groom and tack up. I was left to my own devices while Tony helped out W.

After a quick tack check, we headed out to the yard to mount up. I  immediately knew I definitely liked Pipiro- he was quick, eager, though never felt dangerous. As we headed out to the trails, Tony continued to coach W as I helped by translating through context. W was a good learner and we were able to get in quick trots and even a couple galloping sets during the 2-hour ride. The fact that it was just the two of us made it a million times better since everything was customized to how game we were for speed and pacing. Tony was wonderful enough to trust me to take point along the ride and Pipro was a professional the entire time.

Leading a few parts along the trail-
it was rugged yet beautiful landscape

Riding along an agricultural field.
There were rocks everywhere all the time.

Our second horseback riding stop was several days later the outskirts of Barcelona, Spain. W and I booked a excursion-style tour for this one for the ease of traveling out to the countryside without dealing with public transportation. The group included several beginners and the tour was advertised as a walk-only ride, which was perfectly fine by me since the views were absolutely breathtaking and I needed every moment to soak up the majesty of the mountain vistas.

As we pulled up to the barn, I couldn't help but eye the horses and immediately mentally picked out a chestnut mare that I was nearly 100% sure was an Arabian of some sort. To my immense delight, I was paired up with the mare- cute 6yo chestnut Arab named Mariposa, which means "butterfly" in Spanish.

Cute mare and some views of the "serrated" mountains in the background.

Once the group got matched up with their mounts, we set off in an orderly, sedate line and enjoyed a wonderful 1-hour long meandering ride in the Spanish countryside with gorgeous views from the base of Montserrat. Later in the day we would take the cable car down after visiting the abbey that was built into the mountainside. It was a beautiful day for riding.

The rest of the honeymoon before, after, and in between were unforgettable as well. Though the fact that we managed to fit in two trail rides in different countries made me incredibly happy and as always, so very grateful that W had a smile the entire time. Traveling to a new place is fun, but adventures are definitely a million times better when enjoying views from between two ears!