Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Two Birthday Rides

The month started off with two wonderful rides that mean so very much to me. This time last year, I was quite pregnant at full term/40 weeks and unable to enjoy my traditional birthday trail ride. A full year later, it absolutely made my birthday to be hopping on my favorite mareface doing what we love together again. 

A few days later I went back out to the barn, this time with little guy in tow to celebrate his birthday with his own birthday ride!

My husband had to work so this was the first ever 100% solo outing with just me and baby. I worried if I was trying to attempt too much by myself, but everything went well. After grooming and tacking up Quest with the bareback pad and S-hack, I strapped C into the baby carrier and we headed to the outdoor arena. I swung up with the mounting block and off we went. 

Quest was a saint. Little guy was babbling and laughing. I was grinning from ear to ear. 

"Little human, can I have cookies please?"

Giddy smiles!

Quest is so incredibly gentle with him.
He was petting all over her nose and face.

It's hard to put into words how happy I was to share a birthday ride with my little boy, and maybe start a new tradition with him - the fact that he enjoyed it was the icing on top. 

It is certainly curious how different my emotional state was a year ago and sometimes...still is. While I've physically healed, I'm still not 100% emotionally fine and...honestly, that is okay. It's been good to find support from other parents who have gone through a similar journey and to realize that is is perfectly okay for my mental health to take its own path and time to recover. 

Having Quest so rock steady and ready when I need her the most has been an incredible gift to my emotional wellbeing though. Through long hours alone on the trail, I've given myself that quiet space to sort through a maze of thoughts- realizing the need to prioritize what actually matters to me and to stop caring about what doesn't and to intentionally surround myself with good, supportive people. 

And even though the year of distance riding didn't quite happen the way I had wanted it to....Rides will always be there and my family, our small little growing family, will only be as it is for a short time. Maybe it'll be next year, or the year after that. I'll take what ever catch rides I can fit into my schedule.

 In the meantime though, I'll continue to enjoy my little slice of personal heaven - riding with my little guy and my best mareface.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Fall Trail Exploring

Having Quest closer to home has definitely been a welcome change. For the first time in years, I don't feel guilty when taking my time at the barn. Being able to spend a few extra minutes grooming and scratching mareface in her favorite itchy spots before tacking up for our rides has been so nice. Those little moments are definitely things that I missed about spending time with my horse. 

With each ride, we have been exploring more of our new home and mapped out a lot of trails made by the state this year. They have afforded us lovely fall views and some visual diversity. 

Someone randomly decided to plant some corn...

Fortunately the trails have also been entirely devoid of hunters, despite being entirely within the WMA. T had mentioned that though hunting is allowed in the area , the animals have moved a miles away where ample resources were better found and I'd have to agree- so far, we have run into just small songbirds and one dead deer carcass which probably died from old age. 

Always wearing our safety orange tack and vest.

We also did some road riding on our third adventure to check out a powerline trail that T told me about. While we did reach our goal, the terrain was thick with brush and rocky - I couldn't risk injury to either of us so I took a few photos to memorialize our powerline adventure and turned home for better footing. 

Also riding on the road was a little gnarly when the occasional driver chose to be dumb and reckless. Thankfully Quest was an absolute saint and we stayed safe the whole time. She's just so good <3 

Monday, October 4, 2021

Moved In

It's been quite a whirlwind of a weekend but the barn move went smooth and quick. 

A very good mareface <3

I took a day off work for the occasion and asked my parents to watch Baby C while I was away to take care of my fur baby. I hit the road early and got to the barn about an hour before T and her rig were scheduled to arrive. After grabbing mareface from her pasture, I loaded up my tack trunk and saddle into my car, and cleaned up my tack area. 

We were ready to go sooner than I thought so Quest got a prolonged grooming session while I cried over untangling the giant mat in her tail.... much work left to do.

Fortunately T arrived early and pulled up to the gate for us to load on. Her trailer was a 3-horse slant with step-up. It's been quite awhile since I did any trailer loading with Quest and the last time she got on a trailer was our last barn move but I led mareface over and without a single hesitation, she followed me right on. Good mare! 

 T was super impressed, "Wow, that took like 2 seconds! You want to trade me your horse???" I grinned. T had been prepared for a lengthly trailer loading session and even brought cookies just in case bribery was needed. Quest still got two cookies for being the best girl. 

We pulled out of the barn less than 10 minutes after T arrived and hit the road to her farm. T was a great and conscientious driver which I (and Quest definitely) appreciated. We made good time with little traffic and soon pulled up to the barn. To my immense relief, Quest was barely sweating from the trip and she backed off the trailer perfectly without a fuss. Mareface was definitely on alert but she didn't do anything bad, just very aware of everything going on. 

While the barnhelp  finished getting her stall ready, I led Quest around her paddock and pasture for a tour, showing her the fence perimeter and her water trough. By the end of the tour, she was totally chilled out and ready to relax. I took off her halter and soon enough, she found her spot and went for a nice big roll. T let her other horses out of their stalls and the herd said hello to Quest over the fence. There was some posturing from Lady, T's main riding horse, but after Quest quickly showed her she didn't bide by that, all was well and everyone got along. 

The first stall with the open doors and the connecting paddock AND back pasture are all for Quest. 
I stuck around for about an hour or so to keep an eye on things and move some of my tack in. Seeing how things were going super well, I decided to chance a quick bareback ride in Quest's pasture right before I headed home. She totally didn't care and plodded along happily. T kept me posted on how Quest did that evening, and it sounds like she absolutely loves my horse (which is a very good thing!) 

The next day, I went back out to the barn in the afternoon with my treeless saddle and we did a trail ride in full tack. Mareface was definitely excited to be out but she settled down quick and we got in a lovely 4 miles in one hour. All done at her ground eating walking march - we didn't do any trot or canter since it was our first time out exploring the WMA trails. Looking forward to doing more rides though! 

I've so missed the view behind her sunset kissed ears <3

Monday, September 27, 2021

Goodbye Trailer

After a lot of thinking and internal deliberation, I made the decision to list my trailer for sale last weekend. 

Getting hooked up to the new owners' truck

There must have been a trailer scarcity going on or maybe my timing and price was just right but my message inbox exploded overnight. I think I got around 40-50 offers in less than a week after posting. It was rather overwhelming to field all the messages coming in and decide on which buyer to go with but in the end, I went with my gut instinct and I think I made the right decision. My trailer went home with a young family who will be giving it a complete make-over and a new purpose. I'm excited to see how it turns out. 

I am definitely feeling little sad about selling my little stock trailer but with everything going on in my life at the moment, it was too nice to sit in a field when it still had years of use left in it. I don't regret buying it when I did 5 years ago and it was really nice to have around. But my immediate goals and needs have changed over the past couple years and I'll probably be trailer-less for the next few years since our new barn home (more on that in a little bit) will take care of our needs. The husband has promised me a nicer trailer when the time comes so we'll be mobile again someday whenever that is. 

As for the new was a quick decision that my husband and I made together. Baby C has been an amazing little roadtrip companion for the past 10-11 months and has weathered long drives with little issue. However as he's getting older and more opinionated now, the 2-hour roundtrip drive to the barn on the weekends was exhausting for everyone and I feel very pressed for time when I'm out riding with Quest. To his credit, husband has never made me feel guilty and actually 90% of the time he's the one doing the driving however I want to be cognizant of how he feels (even when he doesn't say it out loud). The current barn was tough to beat in terms of board cost but greater was the inevitable realization that it was time for Quest and me to find a new barn closer to home.  

The smiles! 

From just being a part of the local horse community, I knew full well going into this search that the toughest part would be finding something that would fit my location/drive distance radius AND have ample pasture turnout. But I had to hope- so I posted a causal ISO in the local horse FB group and crossed my fingers. 

I got a ton of responses from folks wanting to help (and solicit business) but nothing really quite fit the bill- until I got a private message from a lady named T who offered to have us visit her farmette located about 30-35 minutes away from home. We chatted extensively through FB and set up a time to stop by later that weekend. My little family came along for the visit - they are a part of this horse adventure as well and it was important to have T get to know my family if she was opening up her home property to us. The farmette has a stall for everyone for feeding 2x a day and semi-private pasture paddock attached and a larger main pasture for turnout. For riding, there is an outdoor arena with jumps, panels for a round pen if needed, and direct access to 5-mile ballast-footing trail in a WMA with lots of other forest trails. T often hauls out for shows and hunter paces so if we ever wanted a ride, she has already made her rig and herself available to us. All in all it seemed like a good set up for our current needs but I still gave myself a couple days to think it over before making the decision. The move will be in a few days time and I'll get some media to share after the dust has settled.   

As for the mareface, Quest is doing well and we have been getting in lovely arena rides when I have the time to fit them in. I've wanted to try other bitless options with her for a very long time and finally got the little-S hackmore set up exactly the way I want. Best mareface took it it in stride in our first arena ride testing it out with no drama or fuss. I'm hoping to do more rides with it, maybe take it out on trail later when we are moved into the new place. It'll be really nice to have Quest closer to home again, I really missed seeing her around.

Forever my happy place <3 

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Baby Boy's First Pony Ride

The big moment finally happened. My little guy had his first pony ride this past weekend and absolutely LOVED it. 

As much as I wanted to instantly throw my kid on top of my horse and hit the trails, I made myself wait until Caleb proved he had good core and head control. When I noticed he was hitting the big developmental milestones- being able to sit up unassisted for as long as he wanted to and could completely roll over, I took that for a green light. 

I used a bareback pad for our little ride - I feel a lot more secure riding bareback for some reason and just in case a quick emergency dismount was needed, I didn't want to get tangled up in stirrups. 

But obviously, nothing bad happened. Everyone was all smiles the entire time and Caleb would pet Quest's mane and withers whenever he could reach. Mareface was a complete saint in the outdoor arena and never put a single foot out of line. I was so happy to share my love of horses and riding with my kid. Hopefully this bodes well for future horse adventures as a family.