4.21.2017

Difficult Decisions

15


After asking a week or so ago, I finally got confirmation last night. When Fiction returns from training, he will be moved to 24/7 field board.

This has been a decision I've been mulling over for months. As it stands now, more than 1/4th of my salary every month goes to my horse. The rest goes to bills (student loans, car stuff, you name it). I don't pay rent and I've cut back on everything else that I possibly can (only $100/month for food if that, no eating out, no new personal items, dealing with severely scratched glasses bc I can't afford new ones, running tires down to dangerous thread levels as I push it as long as possible, etc). Scheduling a trip to Japan/Korea on a complete whim was, to be honest, me lashing out at not having an actual life outside of my horse. (A huge part of me regrets this decision, but another part recognizes it as partially necessary for my sanity - judge me as you wish).

In essence, it feels like I'm struggling to stay above the water with no long term plan in sight. Something needed to change. And if I've made sacrifices everywhere else that I possibly could, the only thing left was Fiction.

A part of me knows he'll be fine. He was 24/7 field boarded in Maryland before I bought him. The fields are OK at my barn (when it's not dumping rain), they supplement with hay in the winter, he has shelter, and I splurged this past year and bought him really nice clothes. Plus he runs hot and never seems to get too cold when he's outside. The other part of me feels horrible - like I'm taking his home away from him.

But if I want to continue showing, taking lessons, and providing my animals optimum veterinary care, while also moving ahead in my personal life, this is a necessary change. So, if anyone has experience field boarding and wants to share any helpful advice (like managing flies/feet/winter, etc), please let me know :)

4.18.2017

2 Weeks Down

5


Fiction has been in training for two weeks now. Reports say he's doing well but I have yet to see anything in person and I have not been on him yet. Finances are prohibiting me from lessons at this time until I can figure out a way to both support my animals and eat. You know - horse people problems. (And the fact that the dogs both got intense ear infections at the same time and the cat desperately needed a teeth cleaning).


I visited him this past weekend on both Saturday and Sunday to clean up some bumps and bruises he got from playing out in the field. In two weeks he has put on a bunch of weight, which is wonderful. Trainer has found a diet that works well for him, so we can hopefully replicate it when he moves back.

4.03.2017

First Day of Boot Camp

4

On April 1st I packed up the trailer and took Fiction to his new home for the next two months.

He settled right in and began to dig into the enormous amount of hay they had piled in his stall.


Trainer sent me a report that night stating he enjoyed his nightly alfalfa and was doing well. Then, yesterday, she took him out under saddle for the first time on a hack around the property. She sent me another update of him enjoying his sloppy dinner afterwards and let me know he did really well. He was then turned out with the mild geldings and there wasn't a peep from anyone.

I'll be going out on Wednesday to love on him and replenish his supplements, and then hopefully I'll be out on Friday to watch her ride him.

3.22.2017

T-10 Days

8

Fiction leaves on April 1st.

I, admittedly, haven't been riding much lately. The past few weeks just haven't been too great for me. Fiction doesn't mind, I'm sure.

I went to a PBR tour and the pickup guy was riding literally the most beautiful mare I have ever seen in my life. I would have killed to own this horse. My potato picture just doesn't do her justice.
Our ride on Monday was pretty good. We had some fantastic walk work - lots of nice halt transitions, shoulder-ins, and leg yields. We went straight from walk to canter work since he was acting all upset at the trot. He was a bit nasty - probably from being off for an entire week at that point - but he responded well. We did a lot of trot-canter transitions.

Finished the ride off with some nice trot + leg yields down the long side. Some birds were fighting outside of the arena and thoroughly spooked him, so we had to work on circling in that one area until he calmed down. Didn't take long.

I spoke with our Trainer on what she has planned for him and clarified his diet, etc. I think she's honestly going to be surprised, as it seems she's still under the impression he has his rushing problems from before winter. We solved those so hopefully she won't need to work on that during her time with him.

The guy's gelding was nice too, but I was more interested in the accessories haha.
I'll still be taking lessons on him during his training, so I can keep up with his progress. Technically I'm more advanced than he is, but I can't seem to solve his mental barriers, so that is why he's going into training. Once we're over that hump hopefully we can just gradually progress upwards.

3.09.2017

Priorities

9

I recently posted about how I've come to discover that while horses are an important part of my life, they are not at all the most important part. That being said, I love progressing in my riding, and I love showing. I want to be known as a good rider and to do well by my horse, even if it takes us a while. In order to do so, I need to set us both up for success.

Back when I was delusional (read: with my previous trainer), I went on shopping binges to fill gaps I felt in my riding. New breeches for shows in my show colors. New fancy air-vest. Expensive tack. Fancy bits. You name it, I probably bought it. I even fell into that Olgivy craze and bought a bunch of their saddle pads and half pad, all of which were completely useless in the long run (I don't even use a half pad anymore - no need with a properly fitted saddle).

I had some weird notion in my head that I needed these items. I needed separate show bridles and pads and clothing. I needed everything to match and look pretty. Why? Who knows. At that time I thought everything was going pretty well in our training, though I had no doubts about our inexperience. But I figured hey - if we're going to spook going into the dressage arena, at least we'll look good doing it!


And now? Well, I came to my senses. Sure, certain pieces of equipment are very helpful when it comes to riding. I know my properly fitted and maintained saddle not only helps Fiction move freely but it puts me in a nice, secure position. But outside of the essentials, nothing else matters right now. What does matter is the training, of both Fiction and myself.

We will never go anywhere without training. No amount of fancy tack or fancy clothes will get us our Bronze medal. No matter how desperately I want that $100 sparkly browband or purple Majyk Equipe boots or custom stock tie, I recognize that these are not the items that will help me succeed in progressing in my partnership with Fiction.

So as I stare forlornly at the thousands of dollars put away for Fiction's upcoming training while simultaneously yearning for a new bridle or new boots (mine aren't too far from kicking the bucket), I stop to remind myself of what really matters to me. Fiction and I could be the best dressed pair at the show, but without the training and lessons behind us we're just playing the role, not performing it.

3.06.2017

Winter Accomplishments

4

I know the winter isn't over yet, but it sure feels like it is. Trainer will be back for lessons starting March 18th and then Fiction will be leaving for two months of training at the beginning of April. This winter basically blinked past me. I didn't get too much riding in (lost shoe = one week of lost riding; perpetually battling a cold virus; accutane meds combined w/ no sunlight = complete exhaustion), but some serious accomplishments were made nonetheless.


Here is a list of things Fiction can now do that he couldn't handle at the beginning of the winter:

    • Poles. He no longer bolts through them or freaks out approaching them. He still eyeballs them warily, but we're getting to the point that they are nbd.
    • The canter. We can canter down the long side without blasting full speed. We can adjust the canter - collected, working, and, well, extended is another story unfortunately.
    • Trot transitions - 50% there. He no longer throws his face up as high as possible when asking for the transition, but he still does tense up.
    • Consistency - he remains relatively consistent in frame/relaxation at the trot, even down the long sides.
    • Warmups - warming up takes significantly less time. We can hop right into work with little effort.

So, while he's a bit out of shape and a little chubby (much preferred over too-thin), we've managed a lot this winter. Enough to be proud of, anyways.

2.21.2017

Equestrian Chill

7

Nothing new to report. I got halfway through bareback month before I had to retire back to the saddle. Fiction is too full of energy and I'm too weak from fighting off a virus + accutane that I need the security of a saddle.

We've kept to a steady schedule. Fiction continues to be amazing. Warms up immediately. Zero fuss. Yesterday we worked on canter extensions and collections on a circle, while maintaining loose and fluid contact. It was the first time we were able to achieve this without Fiction getting strung out. My seat has also improved - I no longer shift forward and then pop back (thus catching air) at the canter.

I wanted to briefly talk about just how much has changed over the past year. Yes, I've improved with my riding, and Fiction has improved with his training, but there is now a fundamental difference with how I approach my riding career that I believe has played an important role.


I no longer ride with a hard-set goal in mind or a thirst for competition.

Before, it was always Rolex this, Rolex that. That eventually melted down to potentially running Intermediate. Then when we dropped to Dressage - getting our gold medal.

Now? Maybe we'll eventually get our Bronze medal and then see where life takes us.

This isn't to say that I don't intend to show. I do. In fact, I have 3-4 schooling shows penned in alongside a handful of recognized shows, provided Fiction and I are ready for First. And I still love competition, but now there is no rush. No pressure. I'm riding purely for fun and enjoyment, with the added perk of showing.

I used to look at more dedicated riders with a sense of anxiety. Would I ever catch up to them? People say you never get anywhere without hard work and dedication. Am I dedicated enough? Will we ever even be able to show at a recognized show? Will anyone ever look at me and call me a good rider?


Then I realized that while someone people live and breath this sport, I don't. I love my horse and I love riding, but I also love a lot of other things. I love to hang out with my friends, walk my dogs, exercise, play video games, read books, binge-watch Netflix, travel....all of which also takes up time. I'm not the type of person to be out to the barn 7 days a week training, and that is OK.

I needed to give myself permission to be myself, and once I did I began to relax and enjoy riding for what it was to me: a fun hobby. And guess what? My relationship with Fiction is better than ever. He has become the biggest cuddle bug and seems genuinely happy to see me (something he did with everyone else but me before), while I'm content to snuggle him, stuff apples in his face, and chill on his back for some very zen riding (whether it's just a trail ride or actual work).

So yeah. I'm happy. Fiction's happy. And that's all that really matters anymore.