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!

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Little Things

Another year, another birthday trail ride. Had an incredible day yesterday doing the things I love with the people (and horse) I love. 

I’m so blessed <3 

Monday, October 7, 2019

First Time For Everything

It took five years but it finally happened...I had my first real "oops, rider overboard" fall off of Quest. We're both fine and but it was like ugh whyyyy, especially given how it happened but I guess it was about time. I was probably way overdue for a first riding fall lol

Fellow trail rider J had texted me earlier in the week about doing a long group trail ride out to the deli and I immediately signed on. Quest and I ride alone so much that more exposure to riding in a group is always welcome- any opportunity to train the marebrain is a resounding yes in my book. W and I organized a large group of our friends (it ended up being about 20 people!) to go apple picking later in the afternoon though so I gave J a heads up that I'd be keeping a strict eye on the time and Quest and I would turn around for home solo when we needed to.

W came out to the barn with me and was kind enough to help continue working on the trailer while I got to enjoy riding my horse in daylight. I gave him instructions on what to do for the day, a thank you kiss in appreciation, and trundled off across the farm to fetch my horse from her pasture and tack up.

The farrier had come out the day before so thankfully I was working with a very fresh trim when putting on the boots. The front shoes were nice for their ease of use and Quest does okay in them but I could tell she was never 100% happy in them as she was in boots. So off the shoes came and we're back to barefoot all around.

During my trip to CA, I learned from the endurance rider I rode with to use duct tape to reinforce the velcro straps that die out way faster than the boot treads themselves. Using the tape, the Gloves stayed on perfectly for our entire w/t/c ride over all the diverse terrain we have here.

After tacking up, we met up with our trail ride group. We have ridden out with J and her little POA mare Lucy a few times and our girls get along very well. Unfortunately Quest had issue with K and her gelding, a sturdy chestnut mustang named Tonka. K was kind enough to give us room when I mentioned that Quest had angry marefaces at her horse whenever Tonka drifted too close. We  made sure to keep them apart and everyone did fine after that.

We set off at a good walking pace with Lucy and Quest trading the lead. In previous group outings, I noticed that Quest has a tendency to tune me out and go with whatever the other horses are doing which is not always a good thing. So this ride I made a point to not fall asleep at the wheel and to keep mareface actively engaged and checked in with me by having her move her feet exactly where I wanted her to go.

Things were going really well and we were making excellent time on the trail trotting areas where we could and walking where the footing got too gnarly to move out. Lucy took the lead on the single track areas and Quest was definitely game to move out but still listened to me politely. As much as I would have loved to continue on with the ride, the time was drawing closer for Quest and me to turn back for home.

Being familiar with the area, I knew that the route would open up to the roadway after the last section of trail we were on and the plan was for us to use the trail split as the turn around point. Just one more section and we would part ways for home.

It had been awhile since Quest and I had done a long ride so there were a ton of new obstacles along the trail such as downed trees and brush all which we navigated successfully earlier in the ride and have done so before. So when we came across yet another fallen tree, it should have been no big deal. The trunk was quite wide but it was traverse-able. J and Lucy, who both love to jump, cleared it with no problems. Quest and I do not regularly jump nor did I have any desire to attempt any heroics on the trail so I had Quest to settle into a calm walk to quietly step over it.

Instead she paused and with a massive lurch, heaved herself bodily over the trunk.

We made it over, but I was completely taken by surprise and ate dirt, landing on my side and back. I somehow manged to hold onto the reins though. To her credit, Quest immediately stopped and stood still, waiting for me to get back to my feet. Quick check: Quest was fine, I was fine- thankfully I had landed in the dirt and leaves next to the trail, somehow avoiding the rocks, and nothing was out of place.

After reassuring J and K that I was okay, I mounted back up and we headed down the trail together for a moment until I realized that we had to double back for my FitBit which had fallen off. After recovering it exactly where we thought it had landed, it was definitely time for Quest and me to head home to the barn. K offered to ride with me to make sure I got back okay but I thanked her and sent them off, not wanting to ruin their ride plans that day.

To my immense surprise, Quest didn't scream or worry a single moment on our solo ride back home, if anything she relaxed more and was completely compliant to every request I made. We walked, we trotted, we cantered in beautiful autumn weather- enjoying our time together.

Stopped by the trailer to say hi to W and told him what happened.
Poor husband got so concerned...I felt bad for worrying him ):

The trailer is coming along nicely though.
Quest seems to approve too, happy with her snack break.

Despite the tumble, I was thankful that I wasn't badly hurt and Quest was no worse for the wear. I was pretty sore later that evening and the day afterwards but that's pretty much the extent of it. One of my friends is a PA and she regularly asks me how Quest is doing, I saw her the day afterwards while grabbing a group lunch together and she reassured my husband (who was still fretting) that I was fine/she would have had no idea what had happened if I had not finally told her.

Things happen, sometimes all we can do is get right back into the saddle and ride on.

Monday, September 30, 2019

A (Surprise) Weekend at LCGT

What started off as a simple family day trip ended up being a completely unplanned visit to the Longines Global World Tour to watch world-class show jumpers up close and personal.

Front row seats for all the excitement! 

W and I had been planning to treat my parents to a fun day trip in NYC as part of our thank you to them for helping us out with the wedding. Despite living so close to the city, my parents dislike the crowd hustle and bustle so they haven't ventured across the river for quite a number of years.

After thinking over several options that would be suitable and enjoyable for my parents, we decided to do a day-trip and picnic lunch at the scenic Governor's Island. This was a date location when W and I first got together and I loved the "mini getaway" feel it had since the island is only accessible by ferry.

We left the house early and swung by to pick up my parents to drive to the train station. All was well for the most part though we had to take an unexpected extra ferry ride from NJ to NY due to a train station being closed for construction work (thanks Hurricane Sandy) but everyone took it in stride without complaints. While on the ferry ride over to Governor's Island, I noticed a girl and her dad all outfitted equestrian paraphernalia and pointed them out to W. Of course that should have been clue #1 that something horse-related was going on haha

The day was absolutely gorgeous and the crowds were light since we got there early. After enjoying a big picnic lunch, we got a 4-person surrey rental and tandem biked our way around the entire island enjoying nearly 360 degree views of city skyline.

Smiles for everyone! We all had a great time trying something new. 

Seeing all the wide spacious paved pathways, my dad joked that they should offer horse carriage rides and trail riding. I laughed, "It'd be quite something to transport all those horses by ferry."

Imagine my utter surprise when we turned a corner and suddenly arrived in a sea of tents, event fencing and horses everywhere. Before I could even open my mouth, W turned to look at me and said, "You want to see the horses." He knows me too well haha

We dropped off our surrey when our rental time was up and walked back to see a full blown top-level international show jumping competition complete with vendors and tent tailgating. It was really quite amazing to see how baseball fields had been so thoroughly converted into a temporary stadium.

All the jumps were NYC-themed, it was FANTASTIC.

A decent number of vendors too.

Ponies for the kids to pet!

Apparently this year was the first time NYC was incorporated into the Longines Global Champions Tour show circuit and it was pure luck that our trip to the island coincided perfectly with the event being held that weekend. W was totally floored since he had specifically looked at the calendar to check for special events and didn't see any mention of the event on the agenda. 

It was the first time all of us got to see a show jumping event in person as well and my parents were happy to partake in the sights and sounds. 

My mom watching a rider taking her horse to the warm-up ring behind the stadium. 

No horse outing is complete without some free swag!
I'm curious to try that rub rag on Quest but the effort may be wasted since pasture lol  

Despite the transportation hiccups, it was really quite a great day and I had a wonderful time with my family. Seeing how my parents were excited about being at a horse show was good to see as well. They weren't fans of me learning how to ride at first and eventually reluctantly realized that my horse thing was not an random whim. They have slowly come to care about Quest as much as I do (my dad supplies the mareface with 75% of her apples lol) and just seeing them curious and interested was an encouragement!

Thursday, September 19, 2019


The road to achieving any dream worth having is never easy.

With things finally settling down into an even-ish keel and routine, I have been brainstorming how to tackle distance goals with Quest. W has been entirely supportive of me riding, hauling out, doing events so no worries on that front.....but we also needed to be mindful not to break our budget especially since we got something called bills to pay. Yay for married adult life and homeownership.

First order of business is fixing up the old stock trailer and ensuring it was roadworthy and horse-safe. It was a little junky when I first got it which sort of put me off from immediately hauling out but it was still fine for stationary stuff like self-loading practice. Two years later, the trailer is now in desperate need of a facelift so W and I have been spending time during the weekends at the barn working on sanding out the trouble rust spots, treating them, and painting. It's coming along decently and though looks a bit redneck in some places, it will be thoroughly protected from the elements with a fresh coat of paint and may last us just a bit longer until I can save up for something newer and better.

I searched around for trailer shops to get quotes and timeline for scheduling an appointment and found a place that wasn't too far away which is good (low mileage = lower truck rental cost). The technician I spoke with was very professional and courteous however they have a 2 to 4 WEEK backlog queue. Ugh.

I put myself on the list for the time being but this definitely threw a huge wrench in plans to haul out this month or anytime soon and unfortunately, we're back to square one....No trailer, no hauling. It's frustrating being grounded like this but as we have done for the past 5 years, we will make the best of the situation no matter what.

That face <3

Quest and I have been enjoying our evening rides together. We hit the trails first to enjoy some of the quickly fading sunlight then headed in to the indoor arena for some sustained trotting/cantering and dusted off the cobwebs for basic dressage stuff. Mareface was definitely a bit rusty in the latter (and so was I) but we ended on a good note.

I admit I was definitely a bit distracted during the arena ride- my mind was busy trying to think of what options were left to try. Despite the setbacks, I haven't given up quite yet but it's been hard staying positive.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Days Like These

Fall is definitely in the air, oh boy. The cooler weather has made it easy and so very enjoyable to get in some good riding at the barn the past couple weeks.

Laughing at Quest side-eyeing while we trotted past W. Oh mareface lol

W was even able to join us for a few rides. We have been busy the past few evenings putting together our official honeymoon adventure and as with most vacations we've done together in the past, we will be doing a couple horse treks on this one as well! W wanted to be more familiar around horses and more comfortable riding so I was more than happy to oblige.

Quest has been so infinitely patient with W as he has been learning the ropes in the indoor arena. She definitely motors when we hit the trails beforehand but knew to chill out when we arrived at the indoor for lesson work. Such a good girl.

As mareface has gotten more fit with the slow long trail miles, I started to notice that Thorowgood was not fitting her as well so I switched over to using my treeless saddle this past weekend. It's been more than a year since I last pulled it out and oh my goodness... I missed riding in this saddle SO much.

Quest got lots of compliments for how nice she is looking- I wholeheartedly agree! 

I normally use my nice Skito pad with it but the pad would get dirty so quickly and it was such a pain to deep clean that the real issue soon became the mental deterrence to use it for day-to-day riding.

While wracking my brain for saddle pad options, I suddenly remembered the Supracor Cool Grip pad that I had snagged used a couple years ago. It was another one of my random FB endurance tack finds and the price was an absolute STEAL compared to what it would have cost new at full price. I had intended to use it with the Thorowgood but Quest and I moved to OF when our endurance plans got sidelined and it sat in storage until now.

I have never tried a synthetic pad on Quest so I was careful to keep an eye on how she felt while tacking up in the pasture. She yawned and dozed on uneventfully. The saddle and pad fit together perfectly (to my relief) so I swung up and we hit the trails. Quest moved along happily and had a ton of pep in her step the entire time- sometimes too much. The cooler weather definitely has a lot of people coming out of the woodwork to enjoy the reservoir and Quest was feeling very fresh with the increased commotion. We had some jigging moments but nothing we couldn't recover from and move on.

The sweat marks after I pulled the saddle were actually nearly perfect, balanced, and her spine was dry. I think we found a good setup for now!

We pretend to be fancy sometimes.

 As for other news,  the mareface is unfortunately alone in her pasture...again.

W and I arrived at the barn two weekends ago and we saw H out hand grazing Penny. I said a cheerful hello and we went up to the pasture to find my horse and tack up. After a lovely trail and arena ride, we came back to an oddly empty tack shed and pasture. Quest called and called for her pasture mate and I was baffled since I had just saw H a couple hours ago. I then assumed they had probably hauled out for trail ride or event and didn't think much of it afterwards.

While catching up on FB that evening though, I saw a chipper and happy post from H- apparently she moved Penny to the lower pasture stalls and spent "a long day" at the barn checking that her horse was adjusting to the change well.

Now I have zero problems with folks moving their horses to different pastures or farms- you gotta do what is best for your horse obviously- but how it happened was a little strange. I was mostly irritated at the fact that she gave me zero warning that it was happening...Especially when we had just seen each other at the barn that morning. A quick heads up would have been sufficient so I could have likewise monitored how Quest adjusted to the change at the very least.

Ironically me and H  have run into each other several times at the barn since then. Most of the time she has her hands full handling Penny frantically calling for Quest and dancing at the end of a lead line so we haven't spoken in person about it all but eh, it is what it is. We move on. Plus Quest has adjusted to the change already which is super impressive and all good for her mental training, especially if we are going to do those camping trips I have planned!

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

New Shiny (Purple) Things

After doing this horse thing for nearly six years, I have been slowly accumulating a list of items that needed replacing pretty badly after nearly daily/weekly use and abuse. 

Unfortunately most of the tack stores around me are a solid 40-50 minutes away so it was always a little hard to justify a store run for just one or two items at a time. I could always order online but IMO things like clothes, boots, and helmets are better off being tried on in least that's the kind of shopper I generally am.

This past weekend, W and I went on a mini getaway to Philadelphia PA to visit some close friends who recently moved to the area and we were fortunately able to swing by for a tack store stop on our drive down.

First things first, I made sure to pick up some Venice turpentine. I debated between that and Durasole for awhile but after talking with the store staff, I decided to go with the former just to start. In addition to building sole, Durasole has a whole slew of medicated stuff that treats hoof problems that Quest does not (and hopefully won't ever) have so I opted to start with simple solutions first. 

After a lot of hemming and hawing, I finally got a pair of Ariat Terrain boots for trail riding. My paddock boots from my riding lesson days have seen a ton of miles on the trail and hours in the saddle. Six years later, they are finally beginning to show signs of wear and desperately needed a hardy backup. The Terrains were very comfortable when I tried them out and walked around in the store and so I'm excited to see how they fare out on the trail later this week. 

I also picked up a new is PURPLE and I love it. I actually first asked for graphite black to replace my current one but they didn't have that color in my size but they had it in purple.

I was the tiniest bit hesitant that it was actually too much color but hey, you only live once so purple helmet it was. I trail ride 99.9% of the time and don't do any fancy show riding to merit sticking to plain grey black again and plus more safety precautions- you seriously can't miss this purple helmet bopping around on the trails and roadway. 

I also picked up a new turnout sheet for Quest to backup the current one she has now that I have on my to-do list to repair. Fortunately for me, mareface has been generally pretty good with her clothes that I haven't had to do massive blanket repairs until now. I already got the supplies to patch up the old sheet but figured it was probably time to get her a new one just in case. Quest's size was on backorder though so it'll be shipped to us in a few days time. 

I do usually make a point to buy sheets/blankets used but the store was doing a blowout sale on select sheets and blankets and also a store-wide holiday promotional deal. I was able to take advantage of that and got a nice gift card which I'm planning to to use to pick up a pair of riding pants because my old one is literally in tatters and threadbare after six years. I figure for the sake of my dignity (and saving W from spousal embarrassment) that I get something that won't split down the middle at any point while I ride. 

Last but not least, I managed to snag a like-new Stowaway pommel pack for super cheap though the endurance tack sale group on FB. 

I picked up the English cantle pack a few years ago at a tack sale and absolutely love it. Since then I have been keeping an eye out for the matching pommel pack- most of them were too expensive for their age and condition. I stumbled on this one last week at a steal and had to snatch it up.

Even if it was for essential must-haves, it was really nice doing some retail therapy. I usually have a hard time buying stuff for myself too so it was really good that W was entirely supportive of me getting everything I wanted and reassuring me that it was also everything I needed. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Finding a New Normal

It's been almost two months since the whirlwind of life changes and all has been well so far.

As things have settled down, I've been carving out more time for the barn so Quest and I have been getting in more rides together! We were super lucky with a recent break in the late summer heat and got some gorgeous weather perfect for brisk trail miles with lots of trotting and hill climbs.

Our experiment with regular front shoes is going okay so far and Quest is eating up the gravel roads with gusto. However while mareface is still sound, I can tell and feel that she is a bit tenderfooted after the rockiest rides. Our trails at home aren't easy and while they offer the typical trail scenarios which are great for conditioning for NE-coast endurance, it definitely requires horses be properly outfitted with appropriate footwear for trail riding.

While doing hoofcare, I've noticed Quest's soles have been a bit softer than normal and Farrier D has been noting the same thing. Given the muddy areas in the lower pasture paddock around the hay/feed area, I'm not all that surprised and pretty annoyed that drainage hasn't been improved yet. Ugh.

So the new game plan is to pick up some Durasole the next time I make the long trek to the tack store (the closest one is 40-50 mins away) and we will be switching back to hoof boots so Quest gets some extra protection on the gnarly terrain while we toughen up the front soles. I know that one possibility is to pad the shoes if we really wanted to keep using shoes but that doesn't solve the underlying issue of softer soles. So we're going back to the basics before we complicate things and plus, I don't mind using hoofboots since they actually fit Quest pretty decently.

That aside, mareface is doing excellent and we celebrated our 5th gotcha day earlier last week! I can't believe its already been five years together. Things have panned out much more differently than how I originally had hoped but such is a life that naturally takes interesting turns and twists.

Everything is (hopefully) baby steps in the forward direction though. Right now, I'm slowly gathering supplies for the trailer and making a checklist to prep us for our first haul out to some training trails. I've also picked out some parks that allow horse camping to eventually expose Quest to overnighting in a low stress environment. It might take us 5x as long and we may have to work 20x harder but we'll get on the endurance trails one day. As along as we keep stubborn and stay positive, we will get there.

By the way if folks are curious to what our trails look like, Gonehikin recently did an excellent trail write-up on our neck of the woods. It gives a great overview of the type of terrain that Quest and I get to slog over during our normal trail rides. You might recognize some familiar scenery too!

Monday, July 15, 2019

Hitched and Happy Trails

W and I got married last Sunday! Despite the family drama and emotions in the weeks leading up to the event, our big day went perfectly.

Not surprisingly, I had the ambitious idea to tackle all the flower decorations (garland, bouquets, corsages,etc...) by myself + Team Bride and I'm so proud to report back that WE DID IT. Everything came together beautifully in the end and the venue looked absolutely stunning.

We also got so very lucky with the weather- despite the forecasts, it was blue skies and sunny the entire day and we were able to have our ceremony outdoors and our guests got to enjoy cocktail hour and the reception in all the open spaces. Everyone enjoyed themselves immensely, the food was amazing, and the company even better.

The next day, W and I drove north for our short minimoon at an all-inclusive nature resort in NY. We spoiled ourselves with delicious food every meal and spent the hours in between hiking, lake kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, tomahawk throwing, pool lounging and even did some trail riding!  I got to try a ton of new things including my first ever rock scramble.

Looking back, we're definitely both relieved that the wedding event itself is over but during the entire process, especially now in hindsight, W and I were reminded of just how incredibly blessed we were to have talented, loyal friends along every step of the way who whole-heartedly and gladly celebrated our union with us.

The days after have been the slow gradual return to real life (going back to work, ugh lol), finish setting up our little home, and finding a new normal which includes barn time! This past weekend I was finally able to snag a ride with the mareface and it was SO nice.

As always, Quest went from sitting in a pasture for a month to back to trail riding with quiet ease and zero fuss. We hit up a trail that we had not done in awhile and got some lovely lake views along the way. Mareface was definitely excited for an adventure though and was raring to go on the way home. That being the case, we finished up our trail ride with a quick but effective indoor arena session reviewing dressage basics and fundamentals to brush off the cobwebs. Afterwards Quest got a nice bath and her treats.

What a week! A lot of changes but I'm looking forward to what the future holds (: 

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Barn Photoshoot Outing

I got my hair done all fancy a couple weeks ago and stopped by the barn for an impromptu photoshoot. Quest was so compliant despite being surrounded by the world's most tempting grass salad buffet haha

And rest in peace pink plaid blouse...I did laundry, retrieved it from the wash, and found a huge rip along the arm ):

Everything about this photo is love, esp Quest. She's so pretty.

Easy relaxed canter with happy ears (: 

Best mareface <3

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Been Awhile

Hi and hello from TeamQuest- we're still here and all doing well.

The past few months have been nothing short of sheer insanity but things turned out well...the angst, worry, and crazy stress I've been enduring during all this time since paid off and I have yet another big life-related piece of news to share with everyone: As of a month ago, I became a homeowner! It was a huge project but W and I finally closed on the house after a very tedious multi month-long ordeal.

The process occupied much of my time and free moments in between work and life but it was worth every bit of effort.

As for the mareface, Quest did great through winter this year and held her weight excellently. The barn staff have been good about keeping in touch with me from time to time and it is assuring to know that she is still thriving with the 24/7 pasture life-style.

After Mel moved back to the old barn, I worried that Quest would work herself up to a frenzy from being alone but....nope. Despite being completely by her lonesome for about 2-3 weeks, mareface was completely okay with it and handled the change with no issues at all.

Quest's new pasture friend is now a pretty chestnut TB mare named Penny who came back to OF after a few years away. Back in the day when I used to work with Rori, I had ridden in a hunt pace with Penny and her owner, H. It was good to see a familiar face back at the barn again. The two girls get along well and I'm glad that Quest shares pasture just as well with a mare as she does with a gelding. Her being so versatile in terms of buddy options is definitely good to know.

With the weather finally turning for the better and the increasing daylight, we have been doing as many long trail rides as we can fit in. Quest has been nothing short of amazing and has stayed entirely sound.

Inevitably, I have been feeling the pull to do endurance and compete again but still being limited without a proper tow vehicle. However this may soon change, I hope? I've also been giving thought to trying out mounted orienteering which may be a good medium for Quest and me to try out if we don't have the time nowadays to properly train for endurance. Or we can just go with our endurance plan but just take our time and turtle every ride lol At this point, I'm simply hoping to start our journey and don't even care about accolades- I just want happy and sound for every moment of our adventure together.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Hello 2019

Wow, I can't quite believe we're already halfway into January. But yes...happy belated New Year everyone! I hope you had a great end to 2018 and a wonderful start to 2019 so far.

Quest and I are doing well though there have been some big changes at the barn recently. Last weekend, A moved Mel back to the Dust Bowl barn. There were a lot of things that factored into the decision but bottom line A was never quite happy at OF. Also our barn schedules didn't coordinate for us to do as many rides together as we had hoped so Quest and I were solo 90% of the time. Oh well. 

With Mel now gone, Quest has been without a pasture mate for the past few days while the barn staff figure out a new arrangement. Hopefully whoever they decide to place with her will be a compatible fit with little to no drama so fingers crossed!

Asides from that, Quest and I have been getting in some good solid rides. The weather has now become bitterly cold so we've been doing pretty much all bareback rides both on the trails and in the arena. Gotta make use of the fuzzy butt heater lol

Trail stuff is very limited and we only go out in certain conditions though due to the melting snow or rainfall that freezes right into ice, making the roads EXTREMELY dangerous. In fact, I had to emergency dismount once a few weeks ago when Quest took misstep and started slipping on a hidden patch of ice. She didn't go down and I hopped away quickly to safety. We came out of it totally fine but that was a reminder to exercise more caution.

That being said, the indoor arena has been our usual fare so far this winter and fortunately, it is not all that bad. My goal this season has been collection and better seat communication. We have been chipping at it slowly at our own pace doing simple dressage stuff and fundamentals. Quest is getting the gist of it and looking pretty good for our efforts I daresay.

The undersaddle work has seem to transfer to a better relationship out of saddle as well or for whatever reason Quest has been surprisingly more snuggly with me. When I fetch her from pasture, she often leans her head against my arm and just breathes me in. In the arena, she follows me around while I toddle back and forth with a laden manure fork cleaning up after her. It's also good to see that she's maintaining her weight too. The whole lack of pasture-mate thing might set us back due to her running around and worrying but I hope that will be resolved quickly.

As for riding/event plans for 2019, things are VERY much in the air at the moment due to all the big life things that will be taking place this year. W and I are in the throes of wedding planning and also just restarted our efforts in looking for a home together. We'll also be attending 3 of our friends' weddings before ours in July and have several trips to do all before summer happens. Things are chaotic lol but it'll be fun.

Its in the crazy moments that I fully realize how lucky I am for Quest being as steady and constant as she is. While mareface does have her Arabian moments, being able to just swing up for a quick, no fuss bareback ride on the trails or arena when I need to get away from life is a immeasurable gift of relief and solace itself.