I am still here!

 

Sorry that I have been a little absent lately. There is nothing wrong, in fact, quite the opposite. The weather has finally started to turn a little nicer and to be honest, I have not wanted to be at my computer any longer than I needed to be. I also have been very busy with my belt sales. For real, I am SO excited about the response that I have gotten. If you haven’t already go check out RMBelts on Facebook. I just put in a big order of some spring and summer colors that I can’t wait to get!

My weight has been a bit of a plateau but I also have cheated a few times. Hey, I was perfect for like 4 month. As of this morning, I am down 45.2lbs so I am not complaining. I also got my saddle pad! I thought I got a picture of it on Winifred but either I am wrong or I somehow deleted. I guess that will have to be in a different post which is fine because I have enough for this post!

The boys are mostly good. Luther is giving me some anxiety again. I am worried that he may have Cushings. He is shedding but I am starting to wonder if his immune system is lowered. He had that terrible infection from his puncture wound this winter. I didn’t think anything of that but he currently has a HORRIBLE case of fungus on his back legs. Like seriously HORRIBLE!! He has no hair on his lower legs and it is all crusted and swollen. I was out at the barn last week Thursday and gave him a full groom like norm and he was fine. Due to my work schedule and some family obligations, I was not able to get out on Friday or Saturday. I could see it as soon as I walked up to his stall on Sunday. He already was swollen and lost all his hair. How does it get THAT bad in two days?!?!?! This quick progression is why I am thinking his immune system might be compromised. I am doing my best to keep his legs clean, dry, and coated with Banix. They have gotten better but we still have an uphill climb. He is still my Mr. Stoic so he is acting like nothing is wrong at all.

20180216_173442916361441.jpg
Just gives me coooooookies please!

Winifred has been good but we still have had a few refusals which have been driving me crazy!! TS tells me that I am still tipping but I swear I do not feel like I am! I was very lucky though because I got to have a great talk with TS over dinner recently. It is hard sometimes to get into the nitpick details during a lesson because I do not want to take up someone else’s time so getting to talk to her at dinner was great. I told her that in the past I fully admit that I got sucked into Winifred’s running at the fence and thought that he was going jump. I went up and then he did not. The last few refusals, including the one at the show, I was holding him back from running but then about two strides out I would soften my hands so that we could move forward. I was not thinking that we were actually jumping so I was not going into position and doing a typical tip. TS explained that while that is what most horses need and would jump fine with, Winifred needs some form of constant support. By me softening my hands, I do in fact lower my shoulders a little with that and no contact on his mouth he felt completely unsupported and for him that means he slams the breaks. She went on saying that I need some sort of contact with him and really that should be my leg. Even when he is being a freight train I need to do what I have been with softening but as soon as I soften I need to really add a lot of leg. That idea seemed a little weird to me since he likes to go fast but I gave it a try last week. Guys it was………… AWESOME!!! Winifred was jumping so confidently! He didn’t get all crazy hyped up like I thought a lot of leg would do. I mean life changing!

I had a lesson this morning and it was a good test to my new light bulb moment. He actually came out pretty lazy. One of the riders boyfriend came out and was in the corner sitting on the straw bales. Winifred was fine with him to the right but once we went to the left it was like that guy became the Boogieman!

giphy (1)

Why is he so crazy? Oh well, this made our jumping a bit jazzy. The first jump took him a little by surprise but then he was on. Our first line was decent but then we really argued over the into the diagonal line but because I sat back and legged. Surprisingly, I kept my cool and we made it out great. The next line got a little tight and we knocked the rail on the out but hey, we didn’t drop a stride or refuse so hell yeah I will take that! You would think that after that our next jump might not be great but he was SO responsive and our last jump was probably our best.

Then again maybe his current confident jumping also has a bit to do with the recent massage I got him. He was really not sure about it at first but then he realized that…..wait…..this kind of feels good! Even though we are not showing a lot this year, I will be doing a massage a month for him.

20190502_20105466167629362333866.jpg
Um excuse me miss, what are you doing back there??

RMBelts

I know, I know I have not been posting but I have been super busy. First, the semi-disappointing thing is that I have not been loosing very much weight. In the last two weeks, I have only lost 1.2 lbs. I know it is a loss and I should be happy but come on, yo, I have been working hard and it is not showing. I have another weigh in tomorrow but I have not seen my home scale go down at all so I am not expecting anything good. I really need to start changing up my routine and doing harder workouts.

The thing that has been keeping me most busy though (other than riding and getting out with Finn) is that I have started a small business venture.

Belt Logo

You all know that I am fat, so finding cute, in style, hunter belts has been hard. I love the TS quilted ones but they just don’t fit my fat-ass (actually technically my fat waist). I was so happy when the elastic belts hit the scene but with the most popular brand coming in at $90-100 I could not afford them. I decided to just make my own! They turned out really nice and friends started asking me top make belts for them. I was really surprised at the different reasons that people really liked them. Of course, quality and price as a big one but one that I did not expect was how much kids and parents liked them. I had no idea that a lot of belts do not fit in kids breeches so me offering 1 and 1.5″ options was really exciting to them. The parents also like that since they were both adjustable and elastic there was plenty of room for their kids to grow. The kids really liked the style and some of their reactions were priceless! One kid freaked out because in her words, “it doesn’t feel like I am wearing a belt at all!” She said that her other one poked at her especially while she was jumping. There was also a roar of laughter when one kid yelled from the bathroom, “oh my God this is so easy to go pee in a hurry!” LOL. I even had non-riders purchase them for everyday wear. This little venture has progressed from me making myself belts to I now have a Facebook page where I am selling them to everyone (within the US).

57882360_2447673748837652_3520399368987344896_o
1.5″ Woven Navy with silver 3-circles clasp 1.5″ Woven Black with silver 3-circles clasp

I have spent months sourcing different elastics and clasps. I have made test after test and had friends try different elastic types. I settled on offering 2 types of elastic, one that is thick and stiffer and another that is thinner and more flexible. Please go check out my page on Facebook, RMBelts. Please like the page so you can receive posts. These are completely custom belts. If you go to the photos section there is a folder Order Options. There you can see the different sizes, descriptions of elastic types, belt widths, colors, and clasps. I am still sourcing more vendors to find new colors and clasps. If there is something someone wants I am more than happy to try to find it. So the big question………how much are these belts???? They are $25 each or two for $45.

56842624_869627183381929_235511619688333312_n

 

Horses: The Great Age Equalizer

A couple of years ago, I sat back on my couch, looked at the girls/women gathered in my living room watching Mean Girls, and realized that my non-horse friends would find my group very odd. Gathered in my house was a 14 year old, two 17 year olds, a college sophomore, and two 30-somethings (three including me). This is not your typical friend-group age demographic but yet it seems pretty natural in the horse world.

3f1086d856037478283479f69dc7f09926de7e63
This is not a phenomenon that non-horse people understand and sometimes even I have a hard time with it. I have thought a lot about why it happens though, and I have a couple ideas. The first is that horse people are weird. I mean this in the nicest way possible, but we are, and we love to talk about what is such a HUGE part of our life! The downside of wanting to talk about it is that my non-horse friends really do not understand when I complain about how Winifred used to do the 1.2m jumpers and has won at Maclay but yet he will refuse a 2’3” fence if you do not ride him perfectly up to it! They have no idea what that means and then I get both guilty for making them listen to me and a little frustrated that they don’t understand. On the other hand, I can talk to the now 16 year old and, not only does she get it, but she can share her experiences. I think that these friendships are more common because we all compete at the same shows. I cannot think of any other sport that you will have people over 30 competing at the exact same event at the same time as a child.

n5jry
Even though it is pretty common in the horse world, I have to admit that I still sit back and have to think about my place in all of this. I have 3 nephews who I absolutely adore and so many of their friends also call me aunt but it still has a different feel taking them to the movies as it does going out to a post-lesson dinner with high school and college kids. At some points, it feels like a true friendship but then other moments I have a total maternal, or better yet auntal (yep I just made up a new word) feel to our relationship. I am especially reminded of this awkward middle ground when I hang out with the moms, which I love to do!
Maybe I am weird even among the horse world. Does anyone else have friends that their non-horse people would think is weird to hang out with? As weird as it is, I will not be giving up my young friends anytime soon. Perhaps being friends with them keeps me young in some way.
P.S. I just had to share a little funny from this weekend. We had a baby shower for a barn-mate and TD looked over at me and said, “I have known you since you were 8 but why does it freak me out way more to see you drink coffee than seeing you drink alcohol?” LOL

16797374_10208708748301717_1493558962045693880_o
Luther would prefer not to have friends who do shit like this to him!

Weigh in & Finnley Friday

 

I was a little worried to step on the scale this morning. With the horse show last weekend I had a couple “bad” meals. I packed some food but you know how shows are, I ended up there a lot longer than I had planned. Saturday my dinner was pizza and then Sunday I had a walking taco cause hello, horse show staple! I worked really hard the rest of the time though and with the extra exercise from schooling two horses and running around for TS on Friday and then showing Saturday and Sunday must have really helped.

Week: -3lbs

Total: -38.4lbs

**I don’t know what happened last week because I know that I wrote up a Friday post but it was never actually posted. I lost 1.2lbs last week.

The Good, The Bad, & The Blue Ribbon Dismount

Well, I did it, I did my first show since falling off on schooling day at finals. There were some highs, lows, and heart racing moments. It was a very small show but luckily my barn mate rode both her lease horse and old lease pony so our division could run without being combined with the juniors. She didn’t do eq so I did have to ride with the juniors for those classes. Unfortunately, I do not have any media.

Let’s start with the good.

Ribbons with bag

20190326_120039803064299627628517.jpg
Finnley really likes the hat! Lol

Yep, we won champion for our hunter division! Saturday was interesting scheduling wise so we had a flat then 3 hours later another flat then 2 hours after that we jumped. It really was not planned out well but it got done. Our 2 flats that day were both eq (even though I was not jumping in my higher division I still did my eq OTF) and I was in with the juniors. My first one we ended up 6th out of 6 because Winifred just finds the walk a useless gait. He was actually pretty good but he decided to bust into the canter right were the judge could see. It was not dramatic. He got one stride before I got him back. The sad thing is that the exact moment I got him back the announcer called for the canter. I mean really if she had announced it literally one second earlier we would have been so slick! Lol. He did a trot step from the walk in the other eq OTF but the judge may have missed that and we ended up 2nd. He was not spooking he just sees absolutely no use for the walk. LOL

Our first time on course started out really well but then the damn long approach and we had a refusal. We just did not have a spot and I dropped my hands. I am still working on seeing a spot farther out and riding to it. Love Winifred but if you do not ride perfectly to the spot he is not likely to help you find it. On the good side we came right back around and jumped it beautifully then finished the last line nicely. Unfortunately, since there was a tack change I had to stay in the ring. We normally must take a mental break for Win but had to go right away. This means that he was ready to run! This time the course started with the long approach halleluiah it was gorgeous! I mean seriously guys it was in perfect right off the stride flow! He was hella strong though for the rest of the course but pat myself on my shoulder because I sat my ass back pulled and did not allow him to drop a single stride.

Sunday we only had one hack and it was clear to me that he was JAZZED up! It took everything I had to keep him under control but somehow we must have made it look good cause we got 1st and quite a few people told me how good he looked. Uh ok. We went right into our last hunter round without a warm-up. I am really proud of that course. It started with on a 5 stride on the diagonal (well a 4 but TS and I decided to make him do the adds to help keep him from getting even more jazzed), outside line in a 6, long approach to a single on the diagonal (which this time went super smooth), then to the other outside line in 6. When we first jumped that line even on schooling day he was concerned about the green box. Why though?!?!!? This I the same green box we have jumped a hundred times! Back to our Sunday course, it was our last line and he came around the corner wide-eyed and clearly backing off. This is the line that I am most proud of this weekend. I had to force him over that fence but then had to MAJORLY whoa after. I did it though! I still made him do the add and again it must not have looked as bad as it felt because we got 1st again. We did get a breather round before heading into our eq OF. I was incredibly disappointed in the course. Can we please have an actual eq course?!?!? The show was at our barn but it was hosted by a different barn so the course was not designed by TS or else it would likely have been an actual eq course. The course was just the single vertical on the diagonal but this time headed home, the other diagonal, outside line, then the single diagonal again but headed to the clubhouse like we had been jumping it, then ending on the green box outside line. I am still annoyed. SOOOOOO BORING!!!!

The course started good but then he grabbed the bit and tried to run to the long approach. I sat back and pulled and thought we approached at a good tempo but he slammed the breaks. I stayed on but I was frustrated because I swear to you I did not tip!! TS said that the spot was there and I softened when we got there but I did not then leg up. She said that when you are on a runaway freight train your instinct it to only hit the breaks and it is not natural to then hit the gas. Came back around and tried it again this time with legging him at the fence. TS said I rode that approach perfect but at that point Winifred was nervous and he refused again. This time though I ended up coming off. Luckily, I landed on my feet on top of the straw bale facing the judge so what do you do when that happens? You raise your arms in a gymnast fashion! The judge said that I received a blue ribbon for that dismount. Too bad I don’t have video!

Not the way I wanted it to end and I am still frustrated with myself but I am trying to remind myself that overall it was a positive experience. TD and I talked after and she tried to put it in perspective and be happy with the small things. She reminded me how the girl who had Win before me also had refusals but also very frequently dropped strides so me getting him to do adds is actually making him do 2 more strides in a line. I know that it doesn’t sound like a big win but I will take any win that I can get.

0323191518a5636576693676682293.jpg

Weigh in & Finnley Friday

 

Another great week! I had my first real “have you lost weight” Wednesday night.  I say ‘real’ because it was from someone who did not know that I have been trying to lose.  I can’t wait to get my show clothes on and see if I can see a difference. Between the weight loss and some marginally nice weather, I am in such a fantastic mood! Oh yeah, and it is a FRIDAY!!!!

Week: -1.8lbs

Total: -34.2lbs

With my Mardi Gras trip, I did not do an official weigh in but unofficially I was up 1.5lbs so really this week I lost 3.3lbs!

And now your weekly dose of cuteness….

To show or not to show…..

….that is the question. I just wanted to show you that I am a well rounded cultured person so I decided to get a little Shakespearian on you. Lol. I am really trying to make this decision though. I have had 2 jump lessons since my last riding post and I am really proud of them. Well, I am REALLY proud of the one and just regular proud of the second. Lol.

The lesson that I am REALLY proud of was on Friday. TS was at an away show so TD had to cover my lesson. TS is who most people think of as the “main” trainer at the barn because she is the one who still does the training rides and shows and because of that some people prefer to lesson with just her. I do love lessoning with TS but I also really love when I get to lesson with TD. Just because TD isn’t full time riding now doesn’t mean she hasn’t been there done that. She has a great show record but since they are sisters in this business TD focuses more on the management of the barn and not hardcore training aspect but she still knows her shit! Anyway, I really like riding with her sometimes because she sees different things than TS does. Plus I think that I emotionally connect with her a little more because I know that she has had some riding anxiety issues too. Like I said, she has shown it all but I think that she experiences a little anxiety like I do whereas TS is SUCH a confident rider.

Winifred was a little up because he hadn’t been ridden a lot while I was gone so of course my nerves were perked. We had the same super fun grid set up that we had a couple weeks ago (trot in to a 1 stride then to a 2 stride). Did the hunter course with that as our start and it went really well. Since he was so up we made him do the adds to keep him somewhat contained. He was pretty focused at the jumps but around each corner he was…..as J put it…..’animated’. Lol. I love the words we come up with when we want to describe a naughty horse without calling him naughty. As animated as he was on the corners and during his lead changes he became laser focused when he locked on to a fence.  J went then TD put some of the fences up higher and all the oxers up, looked at me and said, “ok I know that you have had some issues this winter but it is time to get over them now! You will do the same course and you WILL give me that EXACT same ride. The jump changes do not matter.”   And we did! Well… not quite the exact same. I did have a flub in the grid (thank you Winifred for being so damn athletic and saving our asses!). I was actually being too soft coming into the grid so instead of fully jumping the first fence he tripped over it but bless his athletic heart he was able to get us out without a single issue. TD said I could ride it again but I was so happy with the rest of the course and since it wasn’t my normal tipping issue I decided to end on that. I knew what I did wrong and it is an easy fix.

Tuesday we were back with TS. I was feeling good, Winifred was feeling good but then on our last line which was the diagonal home I made a critical mistake. We jumped in great but in my effort to be nice and soft with him I did not pull up fast enough to make the 5. We were clearly on a pace to do a 4 so I pulled up at our third stride and even when I did my thought was, “awe shit that was too late!” We ended up on the half stride, no big surprise there when your rider is a potato, and he slammed the breaks. I knew it was coming though and didn’t tip so I stayed on. TS knew that my thought was to be soft with him but she reminded me that you cannot be soft with him. If you are soft with him he will take advantage of you every time. Now I am not saying that you have to yank the crap out of his mouth every single time but you do need to have good contact and in this case more than just good contact because we were on the line headed straight for the exit. This is something that I know but I was so happy with how he had been I let that side of me falter just a little. I am happy though that I didn’t let it get to me. I gave myself credit for recognizing my problem and for sitting back so I didn’t fall off then I circled right around and jumped the line again this time taking control of him and doing the 5.

Now we return to the original question. We have a home, indoor show March 23-24th. Do I show? I asked TS after the lesson and I didn’t get the most positive answer. I got, “well what do you want to ride in?” She said that she was fine with me doing up to 2’3” but nothing bigger since we are just getting our groove back and haven’t done a ton. I was already questioning if I wanted to show because I do feel like we are just getting our confidence back and I am concerned that if it doesn’t go well I will be back to where I started. He is already a nervous horse, horse shows make it worse, and then indoor shows are even more terrifying to him. Let me change that, outdoor shows don’t really make him nervous he just gets very excited and when he gets excited his response is to RUUUUUNNNNNN! He loves jumping so much he just wants to get there sooner but that makes me nervous and that is when I tip. I just do not want to backslide just as I am making good progress. I talked a little with TD about this yesterday and she put me a little more at ease with first let’s just wait and see what the weather is like and second if we only do a warm-up class then, hey, we only do a warm-up class. What do you guys think? Should I risk the new confidence or wait until the show at the end of April show?

31218612_10211983363565052_2439968519970881536_n
This was us last year at this show. (Also hoping my pictures this year will be slimmer!)