Monday, May 18, 2015

Living for the Weekends

This past weekend was a good one for me and Joey. The weather was good enough and both rides were just great.

I've been slowly, slowly working on flying changes with him. Like slowly over years, LOL. Which started with simple changes, then simple changes with only one trot step between, to clunky flying changes to every once in awhile a perfect change.

Last year he was getting pretty good at remembering to complete the entire change and not swap only in front and have to catch up behind. Coming out of the winter back in March, after a few rides, just for fun I asked him to change across the diagonal. Nope, it was a big hop followed by a little buck to catch up the lead and I loosened the reins and just pushed him forward. He wasn't fit enough yet to give what I wanted so I quit and didn't frustrate him.

This weekend was a different story, he's been under saddle 3-4 times a week for the past month. This Saturday I asked for the change across the diagonal after he was well warmed-up and he just did the change and cantered smoothly through the corner! Almost surprised me how effortlessly he did it!

Asked again on Sunday, same result. Then he started thinking every time we circled he was going to be asked to change as he neared the center of the ring. He tries so hard he over thinks what I'm going to do. So I over exaggerated the "hold" with my outside leg and inside bend to direct him and kept pushing forward to keep him from assuming the change. He understood. We jumped a few low fences and quit with that.

It's gotten much harder for me to ride during the week. I live for the weekends. I can't wait to ride my good pony again.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Painting Class Tonight!

So excited! I attended another "Sip 'n' Paint" class tonight.
 Looked forward to a relaxing 2 hours of creativity.

 Here's the result of the evening. 

"Starfish Beach"

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

What Can I Accomplish With Only 20 Minutes To RIde?

Yesterday was probably the only day out of this week I'll get to ride. I was looking forward to it. The work day was long and before I knew it the clock said 6:25PM and I wanted to be on my way to the barn by at least 6:00.


I now feed and water all the horses at my barn in the evenings to help bring down my boarding costs. I've been rediscovering my barn worker skills lately in order to better afford my horse. (It's definitely easier when you're in your 20's than when you're on the cusp of turning 50, I'll say that.)

That being said, leaving work late means with all I have to do before I can get my horse tacked and in the ring to ride, all I'll get is about 20 minutes before I really lose daylight.

Is it worth it to even ride?

I was tempted to just groom him a bit after feeding and watering and that would be it. But we just got through a long, cold bitter winter where Joey and I had 3 months with no riding. That, and the lessons ingrained in me over years of competitive riding overrode the thought to be lazy. Any time spent in the saddle with a positive outcome will add to the hours needed to make a good horse.

So with a thorough but quick grooming (which is a chore in itself since Joey is shedding like crazy) I saddled up, zipped on my half chaps and buckled on my helmet and out we went.

 I'd rather be eating, mom but okay let's go.

Once I mounted up, my thought was, "what exactly am I planning to do?"

And I really didn't know. I really only felt like I had the energy for a leisurely walk around the ring but that's a waste. I got here, now let's do something.

So I started riding bending lines and adding walking over ground poles that were in the arena from lessons earlier in the day. We pushed into the rail from the quarter track and out again to do some work off the leg. We halted and backed. We rode long rein and on contact. We even trotted a few circles starting at 20 meters and spiraling in then out.

Then we walked out of the arena and up the driveway to a small grassy hill and walked up and down that hill to change up working on a flat surface.

And then it was dark enough to quit. And my 20 minute ride made it to 30 minutes, just walking and trotting a bit. But look at all the small things we did. There's always something to work on or refresh. So many little details that add up to a nicely trained horse.

It was quality work. Even just at the walk. 30 more positive minutes to add to Joey's resumé.

If you only get 20 minutes to ride, don't take the easy way out, use them. No minute in the saddle is ever wasted.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Rediscovering Myself

I'm a professional artist. I design Halloween costumes, accessories, and seasonal novelty items. It's been my career for the past 28 years. So my days are spent creating things for the company I work for. And it's challenging and can be lots of fun. But after that, I rarely create anything simply for the sake of creating to make me happy.

Art used to make me happy. I used to enjoy drawing and painting and still had the energy to express ideas for me, not just for work. It's been years since I created for me. Sure, I've always loved to do projects with the kids and show them how to make a "thing" then watch them go with it. Sometimes I'd even make a little something for myself but I never wanted to over shadow their expression. I didn't want them to feel intimidated by my skill so I would rein it in and encourage them.

After losing my mom, and having to work through the process of clearing out her things, I was saddened further by all the creative projects she started and never finished. There were sweaters left on knitting needles, baby blankets half crocheted and abandoned. Bags of yarn bought for projects that she didn't start. I know her arthritic hands and her eyesight prevented her from completing a project in enough time to not lose interest in it. I got angry as I threw away unfinished knitting that had gotten dusty and tangled. I donated the yarn that would never become what she'd intended it for. I don't knit and couldn't finish or start any of them.

But oh, how I would have loved if more of her crafts were completed. To use the afghan, wear the sweater and know each stitch came from her would have been a treasure. Not that she never finished anything, There are a few sweaters and several afghans that she completed and those are very special to all of us now.

I decided then that I have to go back to creating things that make me happy. What would I be able to leave behind for my family? I started picking up needlework again.

I love to do needlepoint and within weeks created two needlepoint eyeglass cases. One for myself:

And this one I created for my friend using her business logo on the front:

And the initial of her first name on the back.

 Then I taught my son how to do latch hook. It was always a favorite craft when I was a child about his age and once he got the hang of it he really got into it:

 Then I was inspired to make something latch hook, so I bid on and won this item from Ebay. It's a vintage latch hook kit, unopened! I only just started it. I'll post pics as I go with it.

And something I've always wanted to do was to take a "Paint 'n' Sip" class. Where wine and snacks are served, all materials are provided and you are given a subject to work on and paint along step by step with the painting teacher. Below is the seahorse I painted in my very first class:

Painting that seahorse was so good for my soul. I haven't painted a finished painting in years. Once I started, the brush and the smoothness of the paint flowing over the canvas just lifted my heart. I missed it. Most of the other folks in the class were beginners and casual artists. When the instructor asked if I had any previous painting experience I shrugged it off that I loved to paint in school. I tried so hard to downplay the fact that I've got a degree from a college of the arts and have been a professional artist most of my life. I didn't want attention, I wanted to play.

I have another Paint 'n' Sip class this week. I'm looking forward to feeling free for two hours again with brushes and canvas. I'll share the outcome with you here. :)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Still here after a Year

Looking back at "A Good Horse", I see my last post was just a year ago. Well, first off I'm glad it certainly hasn't been longer than that since I last had something to say.


(excuse me, Blogger but you mean to tell me you haven't added emoji's to the blogs yet?)

Many times I had thought about adding a blog post but just didn't feel up to the task of expressing myself. I guess I also defaulted to Facebook for a faster snippet update of my life.

So much has happened in the past year, so I guess I was just busy and tired too at the end of the day.

Some things are still the same. This wonderful fellow is still the horsey love of my life. :)

Still enjoy working with this boy. He's been healthy and happy (knock on wood) and continues to be a source of joy in an otherwise stressful world.

I've had some losses. The hardest one was my mother passing away suddenly this past autumn. I'm still hurting and healing from that. She and I were so close. It's been rough.

Other things, just part of life I guess have been happening. Don't know how much to share, maybe time will give me the chance to open up more. But I want to bring this blog back. Maybe the writing and posting will help me find my way. Sharing what horsey musings and experiences I've had were always helpful to me and hopefully to some of you.

Keep an eye out for me, I plan to stick around.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Struggle of the Tall Boots

Tall boots.

They are the English riding discipline's staple item. Some riders live in them. Some break them in and save them for shows, preferring to school in paddock boots and half chaps. Some ride wearing dress boots such as dressage riders or field hunters and the rest of us wear field boots with the lacings over the ankle.

Whichever way you wear your tall boots, there's one thing they often have in common. They aren't cheap and they usually only fit well when custom-made.

And if you have uncommon leg measurements, you are pretty much stuck with expensive custom boots to get the proper show look.

That's my struggle. Fat calves and long legs. Nobody makes a stock boot that fits my leg measurements. My calves are 16-3/4" and I need a 19-1/2 - 20" tall boot. Ladies size 10 foot. Good luck with that one. Even with zippers and elastic up the back, nobody makes a boot tall enough. I always needed custom boots, and as a junior and a young adult amateur, I had both Der-Dau and Dehner custom boots and they were perfect! However, age and having kids and working full time have insured that my perfect boots will NOT ever fit me again.

With more responsibilities and less money, chucking $1000+ on a pair of custom boots is pretty frivolous, especially since horse shows are a rare (but wonderful) treat.

Besides. I have to buy a horse trailer first. So whatever money I've been squirreling away is for that expense. I can't and won't spend more than $350.00 on leather field boots right now. And if I can get them for less it would be even better.

I own a pair of Mountain Horse field boots that fit my calves but now that they have broken-in they drop 2" lower and look rather sloppy so far below the back of my knee. My dress boots were the old style, nicely priced, Devon Aire Camden back zips. They fit and at 19" tall are not too bad. I went back to buy them in field boots -

and they have been discontinued.


I scoured the internet. Stalked Ebay. Nothing. I can't find any of the old stock of the field boots around in my size.

They have come out with a new model of the Devon-Aire Camden boots, but now they are more money and all the sizes are - SHORTER!! Like a good inch shorter. Why would they do that?!?

It's depressing. And I'm only 5'9" tall! I know there are ladies taller than me who need TALL tall boots.  And many equestrians have wide calves because - nature of the sport.

Recently I bought a pair of the Tredstep Da Vinci field boots when was selling them for a nice price. I studied that size chart like it was finals in high school. I measured and remeasured my legs. I went back and forth and back and forth and then took a chance and bought them (They do not take returns).

Long story short - the size chart lied and they don't fit. They are beautiful boots, brand new, packaged perfectly with all the extras. And I can't wear them or return them. So now I will probably lose money just trying to get rid of them on Ebay. If anyone reading this is interested in a brand new pair of black field boots with back zips, ladies size 10 shoe, $225.00 shipped in the USA - message me.

So, if you see me post pictures riding with my stupid, short tall boots. Trust me, I KNOW they are too short. I know the proper show ring look. It's just that the companies who make decently priced tall riding boots don't make anything that fits a person like me.