Finnley Friday Birthday Edition!

I can’t believe he is 2!! My little man is growing up and maturing. We do a group walk every Sunday but this week we went to an event at a nice restaurant where he had to sit quietly. He did amazing! So proud of him!


For more Finnley fun follow him on Instagram @finnley.the.cata_whattt

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Haircuts, horse shoes, and hocks

I know that I haven’t written in a couple of weeks but non-horse life has been a little crazy. Life has been quite stressful but I like to keep this blog on the positive side of life so I don’t tend to post those things. When I get stressed this much I get severe headaches. By the time our lesson came along I had a headache for 2 days straight.

On one positive note, we had our first outside lesson!! Winifred was pretty good to start but once some deer came out he was pretty sure they were going to kill him and that there were more killer deer hiding all around the ring. He really was not that bad but having to work harder made my head pound more and more. The look on my face must have been noticeable cause trainer S (TS) asked if I was ok. I ended up not jumping much because every time we landed my head felt like it was going to explode! We just did the warm-up X and then one line. Between my head splitting and the fact that he was super calm on the line, I called it a day.

Mom, you brought cookies right?!

With big progress made on some work projects and great friends who helped me relax this weekend I am feeling much more like myself! It also helped to give Luther, the fluff ball, a haircut. That may sound like a weird thing to relax me but I have said it before, that horse is my rock and just being near him centers me.

I am working from home all week so I planned on plenty of pony rides! Winifred and I usually ride on Sunday and then he has Monday off but since I clipped Lou on Sunday I decided to change Winifred’s schedule and ride on Monday. Again, yay working from home! Came out Monday all ready to ride Winifred in the beautiful sunshine only to find that Win was missing a shoe 😦 Trainer D (TD) just shook her head and informed me that the farrier left maybe 20 minutes ago! He comes on Mondays and he is usually there when I get there but he came early this week so he finished early. He is not able to come out until next week so looks like Winifred has a week off.

***New contest: let’s see who can write my eulogy since next week I will lesson after he has had a week off. Lol.***

Still trying to remain positive and figured I would just plop around on Luther this week except that he get his hocks done. I thought it was next week but TS reminded me that the vet is coming out this week. So much for plenty of pony rides this week! Oh boys! Lol. Actually super happy that Lou is getting his hocks done this week. He has been pretty stiff lately and he is overdue. He will never go back to jumping courses but he deserves to be comfortable.

Stall rest after hock juice
Lots of grazing this week

Redemption (sort of)

After the catastrophic end of last weekend’s showing my trainer (TS) told me that I would be showing again this weekend. This was not a show that I had planned on doing so it is a little sting to my budget but I agreed with her. This show was a rated show but not with either of the divisions that I am riding in but there was an unrated division called the Suitable Hunter. I honestly have no idea where the name came from but whatever. It was designed for those who are looking to step up from the Beginner division but not quite ready for something too big. In our circuit, the Beginners jump 2’ and no oxers. The Suitable Hunter division does 2’ verticals with 2’3” oxers.  It felt a little silly on my beast to do 2’ but hey after two nasty falls last weekend I will do whatever TS says I need to do to gain confidence back again.

Friday we schooled with a couple of my barn mates who also jump 2’6”. We did the regular warmup single together then TS told me she would finish them then lower the jumps for me. My barn mates finished then TS started to lower the fences. There was a lot going on in the ring and in the clubhouse and my nerves were building. To try to elevate my nerves I was telling myself how stinking small the jumps were but unfortunately TS didn’t understand was I was doing and replied “oh they are not that small. I am only going one hole lower than your norm.” To which my response was, “Damn it TS do you not see that I am trying to calm myself?!?” She laughed then got on board telling me that I could easily just walk over these. Lol.

Schooling went fine. Our first course started with a single on the diagonal then the outside line in 5. We ended up doing a 6. That line heads right at the mounting block where people are sitting and moving in and out of the ring so the first time down it he tends to back off a little. Since we added down that line I tried to add down the next line but Winifred said NOPE and I got caught behind a little. This is better than my tendency lately of tipping forward which gets me tossed so both TS and I were ok with it. Win, on the other hand, wasn’t as happy and played a little off the line which with my nerves meant that I circled before heading to the next line. Thank God TS is so patient with me!

Saturday came and all I had was the warm-up and one OF course. From the moment I got on to warm up, I could tell that Winifred was in a mood. Just great! This got my nerves to maybe an all-time high! Not even joking I was shaking by the time we got into the ring for our warm up. Later Kristen (Stampy and the Brain) told me that she looked at our other barn mate and proclaimed, “she is freaking out!” All in all we survived. Even though the fences were uber small he wanted to run at them but I sat back in an almost unnatural way and we got over everything. Our 2nd round he was up even more but it could not have looked that bad cause we got 1st. There were only 4 of us in the class and I got to see 2 of the other riders. They both did the adds whereas we did the strides. I am guessing that is why we won. There is one from our barn who is on a really nice seasoned horse and the girl is a good rider so if they did the strides I am sure they would have beat us.

Sunday it was like I had a different horse! We had our flat first and it was finally nice enough to warm up outside. I could not believe how calm and hunter-y he was! My friend Casey came out to watch us for the first time and she now thinks that I am lying about him being a psycho-pants. Lol. Casey and I grew up showing together and she has this weird ability to take the hottest hot head and turn them into a deadhead. I think even just being around her calmed him down and now she has to come to every show we ride in! He wasn’t quite as hunter-y in the show ring for our flat but he was a MILLION times better than he was last weekend in the flat. We ended up 2nd which again I was a little surprised with. I thought we would be 3rd or 4th just cause even being a good boy he just doesn’t move like a hunter. TS and I decided to scrap the warm up. He gets worked up the more he does and we tend to use up the good Winifred on the warm-up. He was amazing! I really feel like we earned our blue ribbon in the OF that day. And can we talk about how smart he is to land all of his correct leads?!? Thank you Kristen for the video.

We ended up with the champion ribbon! I am really hoping that I have learned my lesson to sit the hell back! I feel a bit redeemed but for full redemption, I need to complete a show in my divisions without falling off. Lol

As usual, TS was spot on with knowing what I needed to get my confidence back up. It was so heartwarming to have the support of so many of my barn mates.  Not only did I have so many of them there but all three of our trainers were at the ring to watch our rounds. I am so incredibly blessed!

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Such a good pony!

Win or Bruise

Do you want the good news or bad news first?

We had a show this weekend and let me tell you, I was both nervous and excited! My plan this year was to do the intermediate division but for some reason, no one signed up for the intermediate division for Saturday! Rude! Trainers S and D and I decided to do the intermediate classes on Sunday still but to also add in the primary division.

Saturday I had primary Eq OTF, primary U/S, primary warm-up (which was judged), primary hunter, and primary eq) OF. My classes went first thing in the morning with my over fences classes running first. He was SOOOOOOO good!!! Trainer S told me to feel free to add in the warm-up if I wanted but that we have been doing just fine with the strides. The course started on a long approach to a single on the diagonal then a 5 down the outside line headed home. I planned on doing the strides but for the first time ever I didn’t pull on him but got to stride #4 and went shit the 5 is going to be way too long so I had to package him up for the add. The problem with that is that he was ready for the steps on the next 2 lines but for consistency, I had to force him to do the adds. It must not have looked too bad though because we got 1st. The hunter course was a regular hunter course but starting on the other diagonal. Did the strides this time and O-M-G he was SOOOOOO good!! We took 1st again. Last over fences class was our Eq and this judge put together a super fun course! We got 1st in that class too! Wooo-hoooo!!

 

Super fun Eq course!
Super fun eq course!

Got into the flat classes and I lost my good boy. He just is not a fan of flat classes. Without having fences to concentrate on he tends to notice all of the scary things in life. We took 4th in both the U/S and the Eq class. I don’t think that the judge noticed his freak out in the eq class since it happened right below her judge’s observation box area. She did tell me after the show as over that I was one of the top riders until she noticed that we broke into the canter at one point. I am pretty sure if she saw the freak out she would have marked us down even more.

We finished early and would have loved to put him outside but it was pouring. The weather this weekend was awful with massive wind, rain, and freezing temperatures. Booooooo!!!! This meant no turnout and no lunging and all of that equals a psycho Winifred on Sunday!

Sunday I had both intermediate and primary with intermediate going first but not until the end of the day. God, I wish I could have lunged him! We had flat first this time. No one else signed up for intermediate U/S so we just did the eq. Since it was so nasty out we had no riding time before the class started. Winifred turned an bolted away from the clubhouse. The only thing I could think was that there was a guy standing at the window, but really?!?! He made quite a scene but I got him to go a little forward and just cut the ring short each time around. We ended up with a red and I was thankful that it was not an U/S class. His actions though made it clear that jumping was going to be a battle. 😦

He was very very strong and while I was able to handle him for our warmup and intermediate hunter and got 1st in both of those classes. The classes that I was looking forward to the most were intermediate eq OF and intermediate medal. Those are the classes that I was really looking to maybe get year-end awards in. The eq course started with the in of the diagonal, roll back to the out of the outside line, long approach to the diagonal, then to the other outside line. My course started great. My man loves himself some rollbacks! But he was getting stronger and stronger. The first 3 jumps went well although I was starting to fall into old habits and tipped slightly ahead at the long approach diagonal but when I did it again at the 4th jump Winifred said NOPE! I came down on my head and shoulder. But most bruised was my pride. Trainer S let me get back on to do the single diagonal jump but DAMNIT I did it again!! This time I must have really flown cause I flipped and landed flat on my back, which was actually more preferable to the first fall cause it was distributed evenly in my body. But now my confidence was SHOT!!! I admit, I cried. Not from the pain but from questioning whether I am a shitty rider who should not even be doing any of this! Trainer S was great and convinced me that I needed to get back on and complete a jump even if it was just a trot fence. I decided to scratch the rest of my day. Now, I wish I had at least finished the primary division but I needed a little time to come to that and by then the show as over.

I owe a big thank you to both my trainers and my friends for helping to pick me up after this but one of the best conversations that I had was with the judge after the show was over. I think it was the best because she doesn’t know me, she didn’t have to say anything to me but she saught me out in the clubhouse to tell me not only to get back on but that I had a good seat. That is when she told me about seeing him break into the canter and having to mark me down. She also said that she could see that he was not an easy ride but I seemed to handle him well.

Trainer S thinks that we just need to focus on sitting back but also getting a better pre-show routine. The girl who leased him before me used to give him Perfect Prep pellets for a week before the show then a tube of it each show day and lunged him a ton each day. This weekend I just used a tube of Smart Calm Ultra each day. Trainer thinks that Perfect Prep may be a better supplement for him. She also thinks that not having any turnout or lunging played a big negative role in his hyper-ness.

Sitting at the end of the day sharing a beer with my trainers and some other barn family, looking at all my blue ribbons and taking a mortin I realized that I either got 1st or I fell off. We all shared a good laugh when trainer S proclaimed that I don’t Win or Loose, I Win or Bruise!

 

How Rachel Got Her Groove Back

I have had 3 jumping lessons since my last riding post. Each one has had little victories leading up to a major one last night!

**Side note on how I am reporting my trainers names. My barn is owned by sisters so they are both technically the barn owners and they both are trainers but I tend to ride more with trainer S so I have called her “trainer” and the other one the BO. But then it gets confusing when I do have a lesson with BO so I am just calling them TS for trainer S and TD for trainer D.**

Two weeks ago TS was out of town so TD gave my lesson. I love TS but sometimes it is nice to have a lesson with TD because she sees me with fresh eyes and picks up on different things. Winifred was SO dead on the flat! I had to push the crap out of him but I knew he was just saving his energy for jumping. The second I asked him to pick up his trot for our warm up fence holy shit did he wake up! My fellow lessoner laughed and said, “you called it!” He really was not horrible but there was NO way he was doing the adds. Victory at this lesson was that I nailed the long approach to the single that I have been completely flubbing on (and almost fell off at during the show). Literally in the air I let out a “YE-AH!” to which TD gave me a puzzled look. Lol

Last week I did not do much jumping. I had been having weird waves of not feeling well all day. We did out warm up x and line then did a two stride. The first time I did not have enough canter going in but Winifred being as amazing as he is made up for it and stretched his strides out like you would not believe to make the 2 strides. Good Boy! I am blaming my lack of leg on the fact that I have never had to leg this horse into a fence. Lol. We came back around to do it again and nailed it but when I landed I got very light headed, major hot flash, and thought I was going to vomit. Friend, K, told me my face was bright red. I told TS that I was done.

Last night I came into the barn to see that one of Winifred’s pasture mates tried to rip his throat out! I should have gotten a picture! He is ok and while it looked ugly it didn’t seem to bother him. The boys in his pasture like to play a little too much. Lol. K’s horse keeps losing halters, Winifred’s blanket is swiss cheese with the filling literally hanging out of it, C’s horse has nicks all over, and D’s horse’s throat has looked a lot like Win’s. I do not know when they do all this because anytime we ever see them they are all happily hanging out with each other. Boys will be boys I guess but I am off topic. Back to the lesson. Our flat was good. Win was a little up but in a happy way not his nervous way. We were the only one to jump so it was kind of a private lesson. Did our normal trot X and he was good. He was excited but not bad. The warm up line was a 6 trotting in and while we have been focusing on doing the adds TS said to do the 6 cause it was a tight 6. That rode beautifully.

TS had some fun jumps set up so next warm up pattern trot the X, roll back to a skinny (red) this was at the end of the arena so the right turn that came after was pretty tight, then long approach to the square oxer (purple). If you have been reading my blog you will know that recently long approaches and I have NOT gotten along but it is amazing things that happen when you sit up tall and trust yourself to see the correct spot! After warm up we usually do a hunter course then an eq course. The hunter course was to canter into the outside line, orange diagonal, long approach to the purple oxer, then blue diagonal. TS gave me the option of doing the adds if I wanted but I was feeling confident after I nailed the mini course so I planned on doing the steps which were 5, 4, and 4. O-M-G the course rode PERFECTLY!!!Presentation1

Seriously, I am not normally one to be egotistical but my God did it feel good to have such a great round again! Not once did I question my spots and Winifred and I flowed again! He wasn’t fighting me to go faster. He played a little in the corners but he always does and he came right back to me as we headed to the next line. I need to remember to talk to him. He LOVES to be talked to! A little “easy bub” and he generally calms down. The only thing that could have been improved was after the last fence I kind of collapsed on him to pat him and say thank you and he took that as invite to cut our turn and go fast. Lol. This caused TS to have to yell at me to sit up but to Win a good turn and burn is a reward. Lol. I looked over at TS and she had a huge smile on her face. She told me that was the best she has seen me jump in a long time and told me she could see that my confidence was back. I was very conflicted cause I wanted to jump more but at the same time that was so amazing and with the issues I had been having TS and I decided to end on that very high note. It feels so good to be back!

I am hoping that I can slide into the lesson on Saturday since I leave for Shanghai on Tuesday. I hate missing out on pony time!

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Cookies for this perfect pony!

30 Things You May Not Know About Me

I have been catching up on reading the blogs I follow and $900Facebook Pony and HelloMyOlivia just had a blog hop of 30 things you may not know about me. I thought it looked fun so I thought I would join in. I tried to make them as little about horses as possible. Lol

  1. I have 3 nephews. They are 18, 17, and 9 and they amaze me every day!
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OMG they make my heart happy just thinking of them! All cozy on their way to FL for spring break last year.

2. I grew up Catholic and while I do not attend church as regularly as I should I still talk to God every day and try to be a good Christian.

3. I love to travel! I am very fortunate with my job that I get to visit some beautiful places that I would never have gone on my own. I am getting ready for my third trip to China in 2 weeks (Shanghai this time but have also been to Beijing and Hong Kong). My longest trip was 3 weeks in Europe (Rome, Budapest, Vienna, and Prague). I have also been to a few places in England and Scotland as well as within the US. An Alaskan cruise is high on my bucket list!Beijing.jpg

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I got up at 4am just to get pictures of Charles Bridge without it being crowded with people.
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Looking at Prague Castle from the Charles Bridge. I learned an awesome story of how the castle got it’s lights. I need to do a whole blog on what I learned traveling!
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The Spanish Riding School was absolute HEAVEN!
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My view from hiking the Dragon’s Back trail through the mountains. I ended my hike at that beach and dove right in!

Hong Kong

4. I have always wanted to live in a different country for ~6 months to a year.

5. I am petrified to live far from my family and friends even for a short time. Lol.

6. One of my favorite things to do when visiting another country is to go into a grocery store.

7. I have Hashimoto’s disease. This makes life a little difficult at times and losing weight is hard but I deal.

8. I have 3 tattoos but I have been tattooed 4 times. My first tattoo was a butterfly on the back of my neck when I was 21. The artist talked me out of the butterfly that I wanted. Instead he gave me a super simple one. I found out years later that he just sucked and that is why he went simple and why the color faded so quickly. I got a better butterfly over it like I wanted in the first place. Tattoos

9. I am a huge Potterphile!!!! I love Harry Potter (although Ron is my favorite)! I have been to multiple Pottercons and I have waited in line to get the midnight release of the Harry Potter books and movies! I have also gone to Chicago for a weekend just to see the temporary exhibit they had in the Chicago Science Museum. And yes, if I am ever in England again I WILL go to Platform 9 3/4!

Me every time a new book or movie came out!

10. I used to show western pleasure. That is a dirty dark secret in my barn. Lol

11. Sushi is my favorite food! But I am a snob about it. It has to be good sushi not grocery store sushi! EWWWWWWWW!!!!

12. I will try almost anything once. That goes for food or jumping off a cliff although I have gotten more cautious about some things in my old age.

13. I used to lie to my trainer at horse shows and my friend would lie to her grandma that we were staying in each other’s trailer/camper but we would sneak into the show arena with our other friends to do stupid things like play football, chat, and/or play music/sing (its not as corny as it sounds my friend David was a really good guitar player).

14. Our senior year one of the facilities that we used to show at a lot put a sign above it that says “mommas don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys” cause David and I used to seem it all the time. Turns out we weren’t so sneaky but our parents and trainers let it go because we really didn’t do anything too bad.

15. I love mud! One of the most fun things I have ever done was to run in a Mud Factor 5k obstacle course. I have also done multiple mud volleyball tournaments. We even won one of them! I am all about diving in!

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Yep that’s me!

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16. How do you follow up saying that you love mud……. By saying the complete opposite, I was once in a fashion show. Lol. It was based off the Sex and the City episode where they had professional models and then a few regular customers. I got to wear 3 different dresses. It was so much fun!

17. I was voted Most Likely to Come Back and Prove All My Teachers Wrong and Most Likely to Become The Next SNL Cheerleader my senior year of high school. (No I was not an actual cheerleader.)

18. I graduated from the University of Michigan where in my junior and senior year I taught an Organic Chemistry lab there. I loved it!! The only problem I had was with a few students who were older than me and had an issue with me being younger. I spent my 21st birthday administering and then grading over 800 exams!

19. I am a fanatic about theme parks! I could live in Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Universal, etc! I love feeling like I am in a new and magical place. I am happy right now just thinking of walking through Frontier Land in Disney. I can’t wait to go to Universal to see the newer Harry Potter land and ride the Hogwarts Express this fall!!!!!!

20. The book I have read the most in my life is The Outsiders. I have seriously read the whole thing in 1 day. I do not even know how many times I have read it. I still say “Let’s do it for Johnny man! Let’s do it for Johnny!” and “Stay golden” but I get weird looks a lot for it.

21. I am a huge nerd! I love doing scavenger hunts, escape rooms, and murder mystery games and yes even dressing up in the character. In fact I am such a nerd that at one of the murder mystery games my bestie and I went to we impressed the  actors who organized it so much with our detailed FULL background on the murder,victim, and murderer that they said they were going to make it part of their act from then on.

22. In high school basketball was my favorite sport (besides riding). It was the only contact sport for girls.

23. I cannot only fold my tongue in half but then in half again.

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24. I had to take an art class in college and had a piece picked for a student art show. I cannot draw to save my life but I am ok with paint.

25. I am a slave driver on vacations. I have 2 friends who travel with me and think I am crazy but I can’t help it I want to see everything! Plus I am not a chill on the beach kind of person. Thank God I have the best friends ever who deal with me.

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Casey doesn’t take pictures so all I can show you is Lisa. She is the only person I know who can travel with me for 3 weeks and didn’t want to kill me. Well at least she didn’t act on it if she did! LOL

26. I am really good at making tasty and fancy cakes and cupcakes but I don’t do it very often. My kitchen is small and I am a perfectionist so it stresses me out to make them cause they MUST BE PERFECT!

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I hated the corset cause I got rushed doing the lacing up part and it looks like complete shit! Not sure why I even put it on here.

27. I was mugged in Beijing but in a karma flip I was invited into a private mass service in the restricted area of St. Peter’s Basilica when I was in Rome. It was so beautiful and such a blessing that I teared up.

28. I once sang the Star Spangled Banner before a horse show.

29. I truly believe in angels and know that I was saved by them at least twice in my life. Once as a kid I was caught out on a boat in the middle of the lake when 3 tornadoes hit the lake. My dad got my cousin and I on to land but in the time it took for him to get back to my mom my cousin and I lost them. All I remember is an arm pulling me into their house. A wonderful couple let us bunker with them until the storm let up and then helped us find my parents.  The 2nd time was in Boston when I was 22. Someone must have slipped something in my drink at a bar and was being walked out by 2 guys when some girl stopped them and took me to the bathroom. I distinctly remember her telling me that she told my friend Sarah to come to the bathroom. She stayed with me until Sarah came into the bathroom but Sarah said I  was alone and no one came to get her and could not explain why she came to the bathroom.

30. If I was independently wealthy I would be a substitute teacher cause I would have summers off to horse show, could set my own schedule if I wanted to work any day, and I enjoyed teaching in college. Since I wouldn’t need the paycheck I would donate all of it to charity.