Goals

Now that you met my new boys the big question is, “what do I want to accomplish with them????”  If you had asked me this question in the beginning of September I would have told you that the only goals I have are to continue to strengthen my back, lose weight, improve my confidence and equitation, return to the show ring, and in general not die. These are still part of my goals but they have grown a little.

My goals with Luther are a little simpler and easier to attain. Since he is semi-retired from jumping I will not be showing him, although I have considered taking him in to a flat class. He is hilarious to ride during a show because he is ON! This is a horse that I have wear spurs and carry a crop with to get to move forward on a regular ride but if I ride when we are hosting a show he moves out like he is 10 years younger. He also loves jumping so much so that when I started riding him and I could not get him to canter I would ride him towards a fence. He would get so excited that he would finally pick up the canter. Recently he has had an increase in his stiffness so my goal with him is to get him back to shape where he can do a small line again. I think that a full course would be too much but I know how much he loves jumping and a small line is achievable. Seriously he loves it! If other horses around him are jumping he gets so excited. I am not sure that this goal will be achieved in the winter though due to extra stiffness from our tundra like winters.

Luther grazing

Goals with Winnie, this is the tougher one. The last time I showed was August 2015 in the 2’3” division before my back surgery. My goal was to get back to showing in 2018 but that was about it. I was pretty satisfied with this as a goal until September 17th. It was the day of Medal Finals and at the end of the day my trainer, D, told me that she had been thinking about it and she decided that my goal is to be in the ride off for the 2’6” division Medal Finals. I was blown away that D believes that I can accomplish that when I didn’t even believe that I could qualify for Medal Finals let alone be in the ride off. (A little insight on me, I am not good in believing myself. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that I suck but I would put myself in the average to below average abilities group.) D setting this goal both elates and scares the crap out of me! I can’t explain what it means to me to have my trainer think that I am good enough but now I am scared about letting her down. Setting a goal for myself means that I am the only person that I have to “answer” to but having her set it puts a lot more pressure on me. I am still not sure I can achieve this one but there is a small seed in me that D planted that says maybe just maybe I can do this.

What are your goals this year?

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Winifred

I would like to introduce you to my lease horse Winnie or as I formally call him Winifred. Since Luther is 21 I call Winifred my young man but really he will be turning 18 soon. While he may be older he really acts like he is closer to 4! He is a gorgeous 17.2 hand Westphalian chestnut. He came to our barn in early 2016 for another barnmate, S, to lease. He was an impressive jumper competing in high levels including at Maclay. S is a great rider who did jumpers for her whole career but after her horse passed she could not bring herself to do jumpers again. They were such a great pair I understand why she needed the change and Winnie could use some settling down.

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When I saw Win I was impressed but he also was intimidating watching him fly around the ring. Winnie definitely still has the jumper mentality! There was a lot of back and forth on whether S was going to purchase Winnie at the end of her lease but she decided that she did not like him that much and passed and my BO scooped him up.

I had been on Luther for a few months and started jumping him but he is limited to very small fences and I wanted to test myself. I asked my trainer and my BO their opinion of me riding Winnie and they agreed to try it but there was concern about my back since he is such a puller. We decided to just do a few lessons before we discussed leasing. I was unsure of him with my first lesson. He was NOT anything I was used to!!! He felt like he was a ball of nerves and I was too. I mentioned to my trainer that I felt like I was falling backwards. Turns out he needed a riser pad. That made a big difference but he still was a different ride than I was used to. Even his walk was/is fast. Then I got to the canter and………… heaven!!! For serious, if you can’t sit for equitation on his horse’s canter then you better get out of the saddle cause holy crap does he suck you into the correct seat. After a few rides I got used to that “ball of nerves” feeling and realized that that is just how he is. With that said, he does tend to be a scaredy-cat. There has been multiple times that he has jumped sideways or spun and tried to runaway just walking in the driveway to and from the arena. He keeps me on my toes. Lol.20280306_10210070180376668_1754991139959790895_o

After a few lessons I decided to lease him. I have been on him for about 7 months now and I already owe him a HUGE thank you! Both my skill level and confidence have greatly increased! Until Win I have been on horses who I needed to add strides on but Win is known for dropping strides. Don’t get me wrong, I still have nerves and butterflies about some of what we do but I know that I am a strong enough and effective enough rider to control him. We still have a lot to work on but I know that we will continue to get better.

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Lucifer

So last I posted about riding I was just starting to get back in the saddle on this amazing warmblood named JB. He was being leased by a girl in our barn and I was so grateful that she let me share him. I started to want to ride more though and so I could not keep sharing him. My trainer then suggested an older quarter horse at our barn named Luther. He is owned by a very lovely woman who cares for him deeply but due to family life and her job she is not able to ride him but maybe once a week. He has quite an impressive resume doing 3’6” hunters and winning lots of titles in the QH circuit including at Congress. Now though he is a nasty old man with an even nastier buck!

I started riding him April of 2016 and let me tell you I HATED him!! He was 20 and you would think that he would have settled with his age but his work ethic was terrible and his MO when he didn’t want to work was to buck and spin. I was also still nervous about my back so the bucking really really bothered me! I was also concerned about hurting myself right before I left for Europe. (I spent 3 weeks in Europe in June 2016.) Not only was he nasty in the saddle but he was nasty on the ground too. The last woman who rode him warned me about that as well so I was prepared. All of this is why I gave him the nickname of Lucifer.

Luther naughty

I gave him 5 rides and I was done! I told my trainer thank you for the opportunity but that was it! She said that she understood but swore that he could be a great horse. He just liked to challenge his rider and told me to give it just one more ride. I was not sure what was going to change in one ride but I told her I would give it a shot. I have no idea what happened or how my trainer knew but the sixth ride was game changer! He was so good and it was such a great ride!

1st good ride

It has now been a year and a half and while Lucifer does make his appearance every now and then I have learned to absolutely LOVE this horse!! He is not going to win any classes anymore. He is difficult to move forward and every now and then he still bucks sometimes out of nastiness and sometimes because he is excited but he is my rock. What I have learned about him is that he needs someone who stands up to him in one second but then show him love and kindness the next second. He puts up a big show but he really loves all of the love and attention. He comes when he sees me and snuggles into me now. My BO has commented on how much better he reacts with everyone now. I had to laugh the first time I went on a business trip. My BO commented that after just two days of me being gone Luther was starting to get naughty again and by the fourth day he was full on grouch to the point that some of the barn workers were back to refusing to go into his stall. Lol. Ok, I should not laugh that he scare some of the workers but I just have to shake my head at my loveable, old, grouchy man.

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World’s Worst Blogger

I am legit the world’s worst blogger! I tend to do really well posting regularly until something major happens (back surgery and then Oscar passing away) and then I take a hiatus. I am kind of superstitious and wonder if I should even start blogging again for fear that something majorly bad will happen again but I am taking that risk. I am taking this risk because I am using this blog as a way to keep track of where I am in my riding, how far I have come, and how far I need to go. Since my last blog was May of 2016 there have clearly been a LOT of changes in my life.

I still miss Oscar every day (literally tearing up right now). He was a once in a lifetime dog that no one could ever replace. With that said, my house was far too quiet and empty without a four-legged child in it so enter my terrorist also known as Finnley (or Finnie the Foo, Foo-fur-son, Fooer, Finsta, Block Head, Honey Bear, psycho-pants, and of course just Finn). I wanted to stay with a Catahoula but my family begged me not to. They loved Oscar too much and thought that a dog that looked like him would be too painful for them until I showed them that Catahoula come in red leopard too. It was an instant “we need to find you one of those moments”!  Not sure if I ever mentioned that I had been looking for the last 2 years of Oscar’s life for another Catahoula to rescue. I don’t want to get too much into this because it still upsets me but I found lots of them in the southern chapter of the Catahoula Rescue group but I was told that since I was from Michigan that I had to adopt through the northern chapter. Well in the 2 years that I looked the northern chapter had never once had a single dog. I hoped that I could just have a representative from the northern chapter come and do a home check and I offered to drive to Texas so that they could meet Oscar and see Oz interact with the dogs but they told me no! I found a few (non-Catahoula) dogs up around me that I liked and applied to 4 different rescues. Of those four, two of them I never even heard from, one called one of my references but then I never heard back from them (I swear my reference was good!), and one did come through completely. They approved me and I met the dog, Asher, that I was interested in. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. He nipped at me when I touched his ear. If it was truly just me I would work with him on that but I have nephews that come over and I could not risk them. Good news on Asher though. I saw him about a year later at a random dog event and he was adopted by a woman who adores him and he looked so happy!

I finally gave up and started searching for reputable breeders. I found one in Corinth, Kentucky which is about 6 hours south of me. From the first time that I talked to N I knew that she was who I was going to get my puppy from. Not only was she a horse person but she really cares for her dogs, doesn’t over breed, and keeps in touch with you after. I also liked that her husband made sure that I had experience with Catahoulas because they are not a breed for everyone! A couple more things that drew me to them was that they require that if you cannot for any reason keep your dog you must give it back to them (while I understand that is not really enforceable it was in the contract and I liked that they thought about it) and I thought it was cool that the KY state police reserve dogs from them to use for the KY state K-9 unit.

Finnley was born on 5/17/16 and I brought him home on 7/17/16. He is NOTHING like Oscar!!! This is good because Oscar was a one of a kind but sometimes I wish Finn would settle down a bit. He is such a clown! He literally makes me laugh every day and you can see that he makes himself laugh too. I do still struggle with his boundaries, such as this week he stole the tv remote off the table and chewed it, but I love him anyway. He is lucky he is cute! Lol

Luckily and completely unplanned, three of my friends from the barn got puppies at the same time and they were all born within a week and a half of each other! One of them my friend, J, got is a German Short Haired pointer named Gus. He is truly Finnley’s bestest friend! The other two are Ibizan Hound sisters, Cleo and Callie, adopted by C and T. Finn has every man’s dream of twins as his girlfriends. The girls LOVE him. Don’t get me wrong they love to play with Gus too but Finnley is the apple of their eyes (especially Callie’s). We call them the HR Puppy Squad and got matching collars. (For those of you who didn’t know I ride at Hunter’s Run hence “HR”.) Below is a picture from their Halloween party. To solidify their three-some relationship Finnley was a hotdog and the girls with ketchup and mustard. LOL! Gus was a super cute Superman.

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Oh by the way you can follow all of Finnley’s shenanigans on his Instagram page, Finnley.the.cata_whattt

Well this is running long and I have so much more to update on like ponies. Yes I said that plural! I have two handsome ponies in my life right now. I know, lucky girl! I will give them each their own posts soon. My goal is to post at least once a month but for now I will post a bit more just to catch up and so that you can meet my new men.

Happiness & Guilt

I know that I still have not written about how my riding is going, but I am having a hard time not feeling guilty when I am happy. I sat down to write about my riding but it felt wrong to write how amazing it made me feel from the very moment I sat on JB when I am overall still so heavy hearted. It hasn’t even been 2 weeks since I lost my best friend so it just feels wrong to write happy things yet.

I am also feeling guilty that I am looking at new dogs. This is yet another mixed emotion for me. On one hand it does lighten my heart to think of a new dog in my now oh-so-empty home. But on the other hand is it disrespectful to Oscar to consider this so soon? My friend, M, has been spear heading the search. He told me that the best way to get over an ex is to get a new boyfriend and it is the same for a dog. While I do not necessarily believe in that there is some things that only a dog will be able to heal in me. Do you think I am moving too fast?

The other concern that I have with getting a new dog is the incredible bond that Oscar and I had. I know that most people think that they have a great bond with their animal but I have never felt or seen a bond like he and I had. It literally started from the first day we met when he broke free from the lady fostering him and ran directly to me then sat and leaned on my leg like that was exactly where he belonged. Once she caught up he jumped into my lap and put his paw on my face. In a very movie like moment he chose me. I know I know that I will find a new bond with a new dog and it won’t be the same but it will be there. But how do you beat the story of your puppy choosing you from across the room?

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Did I mention how cool Oscar was? He was totally secure enough in his manhood to rock pink blinged out sunglasses!

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He loved water so much that he even thought he might want to join us in the hot tub. When I told him no he splashed me!

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So tired after a day at the lake that he couldn’t even hold his head up on the way home.

The Toughest Decision & Hardest Goodbye

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Just looking handsome

I know that I dropped the big news that I started riding again and then disappeared. This has been the hardest month of my life (and for those who know me know I have lived through some very difficult things). It has taken me a week to even post this.

I made the decision to put Oscar down on April 23rd. He had been battling various symptoms of sickness for 3 weeks prior and on Friday he woke up with a huge swollen hind leg. I took him to the vet and they x-rayed it. It was an infection causing edema and he was given antibiotics. Oscar was pretty good that day and even walked around the yard a bit. The night though was bad. He as in a lot of pain and stress. By morning he would not eat or drink and he was very dehydrated. I took him in again and they did blood work. His red blood cells were off the chart low and his white blood cells were high. He was having some autoimmune reaction and the swelling in his leg was caused by him bleeding into it. The vet at my office (not my vet she was gone this whole weekend) sent me to the animal hospital where she wanted him to spend the weekend getting iv doses of antibiotics and steroids as well as have a blood transfusion.

The vets there did not have a positive outlook on this and neither did my friend’s friend who is a vet tech at an animal hospital. She said that most dogs who have to get transfusions are gone within 2 weeks after the transfusion anyhow. The vet we saw was very kind and told me that with the 2 issues of the autoimmune and the leg infection/bleeding that it was not a great chance of survival. It was the hardest decision I have ever had to make but I decided it would be more selfish of me to put him through all the pain and stress especially since I had to leave for DC the following Wednesday-Sunday. Once I told the vet that I made the decision to put him to sleep she agreed that it was the choice she would have made because she really felt that the other course of action was just a bandaid and that he would be back in the hospital while I was gone. I would never ever forgive myself if I was not there for him in his last moments.

I asked the vet if she could give him some pain meds to help make him comfortable for a few hours so he could have a good last day.

We went to see his bestie, Zoey, where the meds finally kicked in and he played with her. They ran the fence line like they always did. He sun bathed on the deck, had a ribeye for dinner (luckily he got his appetite back since the pain was gone), I took him to our favorite ice cream place we used to go to all the time especially after my nephews’ baseball games and got his pup cup, we then went home.

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Oscar and Zoey. They ran that fence line so much there is a trench.

He walked around the yard a little but at this point his head was low and his tail was down. We went back in the house and he just laid in the bed. My mom and I loved on him for a while and then my sister came with the boys and when he saw them he lifted his head for the first time since he had been in bed. They used to play every day with each other. With my whole family there I told my mom that I could not make the decision to leave and asked her to say it.

He was back to panting when my mom said it was time. He actually perked up a bit and went to the car. He laid in the back seat with me and smiled the whole way. When we got to the office he did not act scared like he normally did. He climbed up on their couch and my mom and I loved on him. When they did it I knelt next to him and just held on to him as hard as I could. The vet tech held his head so it would go down easy. He went very peacefully. I held him a bit longer and apologized to him that I could not fix him.

I want to thank my family for being there for him (and me). I also want to thank Nettie for being there with me and helping me give him a great last day. And also for letting me bring Zoey home with me as my “loaner” dog to help comfort me. He loved her so much even though a Catahoula and Pitbull looked like such an odd couple. Lol

Oscar was the most amazing dog. He was the mascot for my nephews’ baseball teams, all time tackle when they played football, he went everywhere with me (camping, the lake, horse shows, hiking) and everywhere I took him he brought joy to people. While his eyes were unique it was his smile that people most commented on. My 2-lap dog (he thought he was a lap dog but it took 2 laps to hold him). As hard as this is I still thank God that 9 and a half years ago Oscar found me and jumped on to my lap at Quarter Horse Congress. It really was one of those life changing moments. Before I even saw him he knew that I was his. I say it that way because I don’t kid myself, I did not own him because the reality was he owned me. He was my soulmate, my best friend, my baby bear….

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He loved spending time at the lake. If there was water he was in it and would swim until he exhausted himself then would panic until I came and held him in the water. Lol

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He tolerated my nephews so well!

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I got it!

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My bed feels so empty now. 

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The best face in the world to wake up to.

Oscar was always such a talker. My house was not a quite one. Every day I came home he would meet me at the door then after a hug would run to the bed where I had to come and give him more love and attention. This was when he talked the most and would tell me all about his day. The video below is a day when I took too long getting to him so this was his bitch session. Lol! Notice how it all goes away when he hears a certain word.

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Goodbye my happy happy boy! You will be missed more than you could ever possibly know! You brought so much joy to my life that I could never re-pay.

 

The View from Up Here

My big news is that I have gotten back in the saddle! And I cannot express how excited I am that my return is on the one and only amazing JB! As you know from my last post it has been 8 months since my butt has sat in a saddle and it has been a LONG 8 months! While my core strength is not where I want it I could no longer last without riding.

JB View

Oh how I have missed this view!

If you have ever felt the pain that I did you will understand why I was so scared to try riding but if you are reading this blog you are probably like me and understand that my insides would not heal without being able to ride. Riding is just part of who we are. That drive out weighed my fear and I asked my trainer, S, 3 weeks ago if she had anyone that I could ride. This was a tricky decision because I definitely needed a horse that was super smooth and would be tolerant of my atrophy of equitation skills. Lol. While I absolutely adore and love Tango I am afraid that his gait is part of what lead to my back issue so he was out of the question besides he has a great new partner right now. S’s horse, Newman, has been broken for some time from too much play in the pasture so he was out. Our schooling pool is very pony rich but only 4 horses. And of those that we do have; Rusty is way too bumpy, Pie is amazingly smooth but she has a full lesson schedule so it would not be fair to add another rider to her, Radar is decently smooth but busy like Pie, and then there is Willy but he older and for the little kids. My booty would be mean to him. Lol. I got a little frustrated but I understood and knew it would be hard to find the right one.

My jaw dropped when I got a text from S a few days later that said “Do you want to ride JB?” To understand why my jaw dropped I need to give you background on JB. He came to our barn in September and is being leased by A. The first time I noticed him in the pasture I just remember my eyes getting huge and I think I drooled a little!

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The amazingly handsome mammoth, JB!

JB is a 17.2 10 year old warmblood. He has done everything from 2’6” hunters to the 1.35 meter jumpers. A will be showing him in the 3’6” jumpers and open eq. I got to see A jump him in a clinic held at our barn in November and I was in awe of his athletic ability! A is amazing with him and fearless! I remember commenting that I was in love but at the same time I am not sure I could ever imagine feeling confident on such an athlete. Granted I will not be jumping him but even sitting on him was like a dream!

I am starting slow with just once a week only walking and trotting. I will talk about maiden ride in my next post. Today I just wanted to show off this handsome mammoth!

JB Selfie

Selfies are hard when you have a giant head!

JB Creeper

I was hanging out at A’s lesson when I felt someone watching me and turned around to see JB creeping on me from behind a standard! Lol

Oscar Feet

Oscar had to prove that JB isn’t the only animal creeper in my life. LOL