11.30.2015

Moving Day

2

After selling my saddle I went a bit overboard while seeking out new options. I contacted a variety of saddle fitters, only one of which got back to me (my trusted Heather from Saddles101). It's a bit disappointing. Here I am, potentially willing to spend thousands of dollars on a saddle, and yet I can't seem to find fitters willing to come see my horse.


I did make an appointment with Heather for December 28th. She's giving me a month to build as much muscle on Fiction as possible (we've been so lazy these last few months that his condition is horrible). She does have his past tracings on hand, in case we need them.

Friday I hit up the local tack store and took a saddle home for trial without researching it first (stupid, stupid me). I returned it on Saturday without even trying it for various reasons. They had no other saddles I was interested in, so as of now I am at a stand still.

I rode Friday - it was an amazing ride. Fiction was so soft and supple and just fantastic. I needed that ride.


Then came Saturday - Moving day. I headed out early and got another ride in. Fiction was fussy but not horrible, so it was a decent ride. I then gussied him all up for the trailer ride, packed up all of my stuff, and off we went to the new barn!

It was a cold and rainy day so when we arrived I merely stripped off his boots, threw on his rain coat, and tossed him outside with his new pasture mate - an old thoroughbred. They sniffed each other, had a small squeal, and then became instant buddies.

The new BO texted me that night to let me know that Fiction came in quiet and was calmly eating his hay.

Hopefully I'll have a tour up of the new place soon!

11.25.2015

TRM BlogHop - 25 Questions

2

 I know I'm late to the party, but I needed filler, so here it is. Blog hop from The Red Mare.
1. Mares or Geldings? Why? Geldings. I will never own a mare.
2. Green-broke or Fully Broke? To be honest, I would love, for once, to have a broke, seasoned horse. However, I do find quite a bit of satisfaction from training break-throughs with greenies.
3. Would you own a “hotter” breed? I currently own a Thoroughbred, but I've owned a warmblood before and honestly I like them both equally.
This will always be my dream horse - big, black (though sunbleached) warmblood. I'm happy to have owned him, even if it was for a short time.
4. What was your “dream horse” growing up? A petite, black thoroughbred mare. This has changed. I now prefer bigger-boned geldings.
5. What kind of bit(s) do you use and why? A medium-width loose ring french snaffle with a bean in the middle. It's cheap and effective. Fiction goes beautifully in it.
6. Helmets or no helmets? Helmet.
7. Favorite horse color? Black, no chrome of any kind. Buckskins and Bays are tied for second.
Still hate chrome.
8. Least favorite horse color? Paints/pintos unless the markings are perfect. Also chestnuts.
9. Dressage or Jumping? Dressage.
10. How many years have you been riding? 7 years? But I essentially started over 3 years ago and I haven't learned much in that time...
11. Spurs/whip or no spurs/whip? Whips feel weird in my hand and my horse is scared of them, so even though I love the whip as a tool, I hardly use it. I also adore spurs, and my horse desperately needs them but I don't feel confident enough in my legs at this time.
12. Your first fall? I'm pretty sure the first time I fell off was while I was goofing around bareback on my Arabian.
13. When was the last time you rode and what did you do? Saturday. Worked a lot on the canter and relaxation.
14. Most expensive piece of tack you own? I guess since I still own my Hastilow Jump Saddle, it counts as my most expensive item - $3100. If we ignore it because I am in the process of selling it (and we overlook the $3500 I have set aside for a new dressage saddle - which I hopefully won't have to use all of), my most expensive piece of tack is my Albion bridle - $540.
15. How old were you when you started riding? 14.
16. Leather or Nylon halters? I prefer nylon for the barn and leather for shows.
17. Leather or Synthetic saddles? Leather. I like synthetic (my first saddle was a Wintec), but I could never get it to look clean.
18. What “grip” of reins do you like? I like super thin leather reins with an inner rubber lining. Gives the look of leather with the grip of rubber. People always comment on how thin my reins are, but honestly it is the most comfortable set-up for me. Anyone else use thin reins?
19. English or Western? English. But I do love the allure of Western gaming and reining.
20. How many horses do you currently own/lease? One. If I could afford another, I would buy myself a nice Oldenburg baby, or a seasoned school master if I could find one within my budget.
21. Do you board your horse? Self-care/full board? Home board? Full board.
22. Have you ever had to put down a horse that you loved? Not yet, but I have done it with many dogs/cats in the past, so I know I am mentally capable of enduring it when the time comes. I am crazily opposed to seeing an animal suffer in any way.
23. How many saddle pads do you have? Four. I would love a few more but I just can't put out the money right now.
24. Slant-load trailer or straight haul? Straight load. Research shows that horses love space. Slant loads were made to allow a large number of horses to be hauled at once, not because horses love to stand at a slant (not true - please don't believe this). It was for convenience. Fiction doesn't fit in a slant. No horse I will ever own will fit in a slant (I like the big boys). Straight loads offer a roomier hauling experience and access to each horse individually. If there is an emergency, both horses can be unloaded at once, and there is no need to get through a ton of metal to get to another horse if the trailer happens to get into an accident. Also, I highly recommend riding in a trailer before purchasing or trailering your horses. That way you can really experience what they experience while hauling and can adjust your hauling methods to better accommodate them.
Hiking does get me beautiful views like this though!
25. Why do you ride? I'm not quite sure at this point. I know that I enjoy it. I think I keep doing it because without riding I wouldn't really have anything to spice up my life. I have other hobbies of course, but nothing speaks to me like riding does. While I might get some enjoyment from reading, hiking, backpacking, etc., I experience joy every second I am on a horse. Even if it only comes in the form of a gritty sense of achievement.

11.24.2015

Suddenly Saddleless

6

So, after a crazy sequence of events, I am now saddleless.

It all started on Saturday. Fiction was great under saddle. We had a 45 minute ride. A lot of it was spent on halting and standing still because the wind was blowing exceptionally hard and he wasn't keen on listening to me. But, after he calmed down, we had some great canter work. We even went over some poles, which caused him a good deal of anxiety, but he eventually chilled out enough. I think next time I'll start him on poles in a circle and then move to a straight line when he relaxes.

Anyways, I spent a lot of the ride concentrating on my position and I had a horrible time of it. My legs kept shooting forward and no matter how hard I tried to sit on my seatbones my hips just kept rotating to put me in a perched position on my crotch. It was frustrating. I felt like I was constantly fighting my body.


This isn't a new revelation. The Albion's stirrup bars are set too far forward and have always given me a sort of a chair seat. And the crotch perching has always been bad but I have lived with thinking the fault lied solely with me, of which I'm not so sure anymore.

In essence, I have never felt comfortable in that saddle and have voiced selling it many times. I just didn't want to face the hassle that comes with selling a saddle (I still haven't managed to get rid of my Hastilow despite dropping the price significantly!).

So when a fellow boarder briefly mentioned as an aside that if I was ever interested in selling my saddle that she would love to try it out, I kept this option open in the back of my mind. Then, after the ride on Saturday, in frustration, I left the saddle at the barn and messaged her that she is more than welcome to try it out and what I wanted for it if she was interested in purchasing.

Fast forward to Monday. She messaged me saying that she had a saddle fitter out, wanted to buy the saddle right then (so the fitter can work on it), and wanted to know if I would drop the price. I stood firm on price, as I was still sort of on the fence and thought that might deter her. Nope.

Within the hour I was saddleless and to be honest, it feels like a big weight has lifted off of my shoulders haha.


Now the hunt begins. I already reached out to a couple of fitters in my area, including the one I usually always work with. I got such a good price for my saddle that I can easily get one of equal quality for just a few hundred extra. I have been eyeballing Hastilows only because of their adaptability and because of how at home I felt in my Hastilow Jump saddle. However, I am open to anything at this point as long as it fits me properly!

So, any suggestions on brands to look at? I'm not opposed to used. Must be wool flocked. Adjustable tree/gullet preferred because Fiction likes to change from medium to wide at the drop of a hat.

Also, for those of you with monoflaps, do you feel that it makes a significant difference in your riding?

PS: I am currently contemplating selling my Albion dressage girth only because it is too big. Size 28" I believe. Feel free to email me if interested :)

11.20.2015

Mud Lover

3

It wasn't until I started unpacking my car at the barn last night when I realized that I had previously taken all of my saddle pads home to wash them and had subsequently forgotten to bring any back out.

So, riding last night was canceled.


Instead I dragged the beast in and gave him a good grooming. He was absolutely filthy. We've had quite a bit of rain lately and unfortunately Fiction loves mud.

Checked his feet - thrush is still gone and cracks in his frog are starting to heal.

I stuffed peppermints into his face, turned him back out, and then decided to spend the rest of my night at the gym.

11.17.2015

No Muscle

4

Not going to lie - Fiction looks horrible. He's lost so much muscle over the last few months that his saddle no longer fits him and I now have to double pad. This was to be expected though - we took a lot of time off and then just diddled around for a while, so this loss of muscle is most definitely not a shock.

Lately Fiction has been responding very well to our light workouts, so I decided to up the difficulty of what I was asking him. On Sunday I went out to ride with the following goals in mind:


    • 45 minute ride, including warmup, cool down, and one walk break.
    • Stretchy trot and some stretchy canter work.
    • Soft, relaxed walk.
    • Soft, relaxed trot.
    • Soft, relaxed canter - on the straight too.
We started off per usual - walk/halt circles to get his brain thinking. We moved on to trot, did some sitting trot, some trot down the long wall, and finally moved into the canter (which was honestly the focus of the ride, since his trot and walk have gotten so nice).

To the right he was OK. Stiff, crooked, but calmed down and relaxed after a bit. He's still not taking too kindly to the canter transition, but honestly I think I've figured out the problem.

Over the past few years Fiction has grown dead to my leg. I have this annoying habit of egging him on with my legs every other stride. This was taught to me, not something I just started doing. However, this sort of action deadens a horse to leg aides, so to get the response I need for, say, a canter transition, I really have to apply the leg in a relatively extreme manner, which not only results in throwing me off balance due to the strain, but it also pisses off the horse.

This is something I'm going to have to untrain from myself. In the mean time, to assist with transitions, I'm going to have to utilize a whip and re-train Fiction to be sensitive to my leg. Otherwise we get incredibly nasty canter departures.


To the left he was definitely NQR. He pinned his ears and protested considerably. I've never seen him react this way - he was reluctant to move forward and threw his head up in agitation. He eventually worked out of it, but I think a chiro visit is in order. He's not showing any signs of swelling/lameness, so it may just be a sore muscle issue too. Nevertheless, I'll keep an eye on his behavior.

Anyways, we did get some nice canter work, even down the straight wall. This took a bit of work to achieve because he likes to bolt at the canter when moved straight.

I'm still too stiff in my elbows at the canter and too heavy in my hands, so that will take a lot of willpower to fix, but I can confidently say that I am way more conscious of my body parts and the strength in which they are utilized.

The beastie was super sweaty by the time we were done so I untacked him, threw on his cooler, and let him graze a bit in the sun while I rubbed him down with Sore No More.

11.16.2015

Of a Different Pace

3

We had gorgeous weather this past weekend.

Saturday never climbed out of the 40s but it was sunny and I just couldn't resist the temptation of a trail ride.


Trail rides are never great with Fiction. He is intensely barn sour. Hacks normally go as follows:

    • First 5 minutes are calm, on the buckle walking.
    • First turn around a corner out of sight of the barn results in some small anxiety, but nothing too serious.
    • The moment we reverse and head back in the direction of the barn (even if that is not actual our destination), queue the crazies. Cow hopping, head tossing, bolting, prancing in place, shooting sideways, chomping of the bit, rooting.....you name it.
    • Rest of the trail ride is spent fighting for control.

So, despite my love for hacking outside, I have never had an enjoyable trail ride with Fiction. That is, until Saturday.

The ride started off as normal. If anything, he seemed more lethargic than usual.

We turned the first corner as we normally do and....nothing happened.

We eventually started heading back in the direction we had come from and....one small head toss, one small bout of prancing and then....walking!


We headed back away from the barn, down and around a huge field, and then eventually started back in the direction of the barn again. It was at this point, while we were traversing up a hill, that we had a small, minor breakdown.

Fiction wanted to bolt up the hill. I disagreed. However, instead of fighting him or forcefully redirecting him into some sort of work as I usually do, I simply turned him in small circles and slowly spiraled up the hill. By the time we got to the top (about 7 circles), he was walking again. The rest of the trail ride was smooth sailing.

So what has changed? I'm not ashamed to admit that I have. Those times on the trail that he got tense? Instead of tensing up myself and pulling back, I fought my instincts, took some very deep breaths, and gave him his head. That's it.

Even when we did our circles, I took deep breaths, gave him his head, and the fighting stopped.

11.12.2015

Outfitting The Trailer

10

I'm a new trailer owner. I wont be using the trailer too often until next year, especially since it really needs two new tires before any significant hauling is done, but I do want to start accumulating items for it.


So, those of you who own trailers/show a lot (especially if you go alone!) - what essential items do you find yourself packing along for the ride?

Oh, and I have already looked into a membership with US Rider, but if someone knows of a different/better plan, please share!

11.11.2015

On This Road Together

2

Fiction was covered in mud when I made it out to see him last night, but a quick brush down got him nice and shiny again.

I threw his tack on, meandered into the arena, set an alarm for 30 minutes, and hopped on.

My goals for this ride:


    • Softness and acceptance at the working walk.
    • Softness and acceptance at the trot.
    • Softness and acceptance at the canter.

That is it. I'm keeping our goals very simple and our riding sessions very short because all that matters right now is his mental state.

He started off immediately in a beautiful, soft walk with no weird shuffling stutter-steps like he normally has (his walk is his worst gait by far). We did some of the walk-halt circle exercises and then moved into the trot.


The trot was a bit wonky at first - there were poles set up in the middle of the arena and he couldn't stop focusing on them. This horse is so traumatized by jumps that even poles on the ground upset him. If I would have gone over them a few times he probably would have relaxed, but that was not one of my goals, and he really should learn to relax and listen to me when I ask, not when he decides to.

I incorporated a bunch of sitting trot to try to work on my position/legs. He never is too happy at the sitting trot and I think it is either because I originally held him back too much and rode front-to-back at the sitting trot (so he has some trauma from that), or that his saddle might need to be re-flocked/he needs a chiro appointment. There doesn't seem to be any back pain or soreness though, so I'm inclined to believe that he is just being fussy because he expects me to hold him back.

Trot work turned into canter work. Same thing here - he didn't want to pick up the canter/pinned his ears and kicked out despite my very gentle contact with his mouth. I'm convinced that this is trauma related to past training and that he will move through it, especially if we find an instructor who understands how to get him to move forward past this obstacle. For now, however, I do believe I should start riding in small spurs, because he was not as keen off my leg as I would have liked and he attempted to run into the canter at times.

The canter work was pretty gross starting off, but eventually I figured out a formula that got him soft and relaxed. Steady outside rein, inside leg lightly applied, inside rein lightly applied to soften. We had some super nice canter work without leaning, but my legs weren't too happy by the end.

C'mon let's go already!
We finished with some walking leg yields as a cool down. I know lateral work for this horse should be used as a warm-up, but he gets so worked up over leg yielding right now that I don't want to start with it and set a bad tone for the rest of the ride.

He was very good this time around though, and while he balked a bit in one direction (can't remember which), I tried to implement more feeling into my approach. Dressage In Harmony, which I am currently reading, stated that the leg aides for leg yields should be applied when the inside hind leg lands on the ground. You can only influence a leg before it moves, not while it is moving. When I started thinking in these terms, Fiction started responding better to my aides.

He wasn't even sweaty by the time we were done (we did so much walking). I brushed some of the now-dried mud off, and then treated his feet for thrush (even though it is gone). The entire time he kept nuzzling my butt/back and nibbling on me. I normally dislike this type of behavior, but I didn't reprimand him for it this time because I was genuinely just so happy to see him relaxed and bright-eyed after a ride. It felt like, for a moment, we were friends again, with no resentment between us.

It was wonderful.

11.10.2015

Selecting an Instructor

10

Throughout my riding career I've only worked with two instructors and one instructor/trainer.


The first instructor was a young woman, early 20s, who had clearly spent her life around horses but had no actual credentials. She helped me learn the basics of riding, and I moved on when I outgrew her.

The second instructor was an older woman who was actively working towards her bronze medal in Dressage, but was having little success. I took lessons with her on and off for a while, but gradually began to realize that I learned more from books than I did from her.

The third instructor, my most recent teacher, was also a trainer and helped me start Fiction in jumping and basic flat work. She had raised and trained many thoroughbreds before him, and her jumping knowledge base was wonderful.


I was coming off of a 5 year no-horse spell when I bought Fiction. I essentially had to learn how to ride again, on a hot horse that was a far cry from the warmblood I had owned previously. With new insecurities blossoming by the minute, I took this instructor/trainer's word as gospel, and together we did some pretty darn cool things with Fiction.

But as time progressed I began to realize a few things. First and foremost - Fiction didn't seem happy. Secondly, I wasn't happy. Our moods began to feed each other in a never-ending circle until I began to contemplate quitting.

And then I took a clinic with Nicky Vogel.


Now, Nicky isn't perfect. No instructor is. But Nicky gave me something I had never experienced with an instructor - complete and utter faith in their ability to understand me and my horse. It was a level of comfort that I can only equate to the type of understanding that, as a rider, I seek to establish with my equine partner.

That was when I began to realize, for the very first time in my equestrian career, that not every instructor is a fit for every rider or for every horse.

Of course, now I consistently berate myself for taking so long to come to this understanding, but time can not be retracted.

This isn't to say that my past instructors were bad. I have learned a lot from them over the years. They have each been pivotal in my progression. But I understand now that none of them have been a true fit for me, nor for my horse. After all, not every shoe can fit every foot.


With the impending move to the new barn and the introduction of three new possible instructors, I have begun to compile a list of qualities to look for when selecting who I will ride with. They are as follows:

    • The willingness to listen. I know my horse far better than any instructor. I understand how fussy and sensitive he can be and I need an instructor who will listen to my concerns and attempt to formulate a viable lesson plan to match my horse's learning style.
    • Attentiveness. One of the best things about Nicky was her ability to point out every single thing that I was doing wrong at the exact moment I was doing it. She never stopped talking; never stopped correcting me. I need that. I need constant reminders until it sinks in. Telling me once to keep my legs back will not help me keep my legs back. Ping me every time they slide forward, please.
    • Believes in a classical approach to riding. No heavy hands, no throwing a horse into a wall if he wont stop, no forcing the horse into a movement or position he feels uncomfortable in. Fiction benefits tremendously from a calm, structured, repetitive teaching style that focuses on learning through cooperation, not through force. That is how I wish to ride him from this point forward and I need a like-minded instructor.
    • The willingness to allow me to be a part of the instruction. What I mean by this is an open mind to any and all suggestions I might have to exercises or ideas for me and my horse. I want to feel as if I can raise possible objections to what is being taught and not be ridiculed for possible ignorance when I have a genuine question or concern.
    • The ability to make me and my horse feel comfortable. I want to look forward to my lessons, regardless of whether or not I have made any headway since the last.
    • And finally, credentials. I want to see viable accomplishments. A bronze or silver medal, judge certification, prestigious competition background, etc. I'm at the point in my life where money has become a very valuable commodity and I refuse to waste it.


A few of these ideas may seem nit-picky, but ultimately I am a customer paying for a service. The instructor works for me. I know I may not find an ideal fit, of course, but I am willing to compromise as long as at the end of the day my horse and I are comfortable and happy.

So what about you? How did you decide on the instructors you use now? Are you still looking for that ideal fit?

11.09.2015

A Ride

1

After I happily discovered Fiction's thrush was gone, I quickly tacked him up for a ride on Thursday night. In an effort to be more productive during my rides, I formulated three goals:

1. Steadiness/softness at the walk (but not meandering around)
2. Steadiness/softness at the trot
3. Lateral work

I got on, set a timer for 25 minutes, and started out at the walk, working immediately.

We practiced the exercise Ingrid had taught us at our last clinic: 20m circle, halting at each of the four points. I added 1-2 steps of backing up after each stop for the first two circles, then progressed to just stopping, and then finally full circles without halting at the walk.

Fall cleanup day at the new barn - clearing trails!
This was done in both directions and I was careful not to do it for too long, lest he get bored. After some walk work, we progressed into trot work. He flailed and got crazy excited when A brought her new OTTB into the arena (Fiction is in love with him), but instead of getting tense and pulling like I normally do, I changed nothing except for my seat: I sat two beats at every point of the circle and breathed out through my mouth. Within moments we were both calm and Fiction began to listen to me again.

After some trot work, we moved into lateral work - leg yielding from the quarter line. This started out sticky but progressed very well and was a great cool down for the both of us.

Also, throughout the ride I concentrated on legs back and wrapped around his body rather than just engaged when asking for something. This was actually far easier than I anticipated and the more I concentrated on wrapping my legs around him, the better my posture became and the softer my seat grew.

He was a bit sweaty after I finished, but he seemed happy and relaxed. The whole ride had been quite enjoyable.

I gave him a peppermint, brushed him out, and treated his feet with Tomorrow.

11.06.2015

Magic

10

I want to take a moment to tell you about the miracle that is Tomorrow Dry Cow Mastitis treatment.

This stuff is amazing.

I have been battling an unusually bad case of thrush in Fiction's back feet over the past week or two now, with nothing working. I tried Thrush Buster, Espom salt, Kopertox, Sore No More the Sauce, scrubbing with betadine, etc.

Now, granted, it was getting a little bit better but not fast enough for my liking and I was afraid that if I missed a day of treatment it would just relapse like crazy. Especially with all the rain we have been getting lately.

So, a few internet searches later, I came across the recommendation for the Tomorrow treatment. I picked it up from my local TSC for $39.99 but you can get it off of the internet for a few bucks cheaper (since shipping negates most of the savings).


The box comes with 12 syringes.

The first night I applied it, I started by cleaning out his feet the best I could, and then squirted it into the problem areas, packed those areas with cotton, and soaked the cotton in the liquid. I held his feet up for a bit to let it soak in, and then proceeded to put him back out. I ended up using 1 and 1/2 tubes for all 4 feet.

Fast forward two days to last night. By then most of the cotton had fallen out. I pulled out whatever was left and eyeballed his feet.

It was gone. Completely gone. No smell, no gross goop, nothing. Magic, I tell ya. Magic.

To be on the safe side, I used a little over 1/2 of a tube across the previously infected areas, sans-cotton.

Two tubes, no thrush. How awesome is that?

If you're struggling with thrush, or you battle it frequently (like I do), I highly recommend trying some of this stuff out.

11.05.2015

Sensitive Horses

2

I've been battling an unusually strong case of thrush in Fiction's back feet this past week. Of course, because it weighs heavily on my mind, I tend to talk about it a lot.

I was out at the barn on Tuesday night treating Fiction's thrush when the SO texted me to ask where I was. His response to my location/activity was: "He sure is a sensitive horse."

This, of course, was almost identical to the reaction that my Father had given me earlier in the day when I had mentioned the thrush. He also pointed out that 'Fiction sure is a lot of work.'


When I first got Fiction, I had a tendency to freak out over the smallest scratch which gave the illusion that something horrible was happening to the horse every other day. Now, I look at scratches with light disdain, smack on some cream, and call it a day. The thrush this time around has been slightly different because it is actually the first case that has ever caused him discomfort.

Anyways, thus far this year, Fiction has come into many different skin scratches, cuts, abscesses, skin fungus, and two splints. I had the vet out twice - once for his splint, and once for his colic. And, in hindsight, the splint vet call was more to make myself feel better - it wasn't actually needed.

The only ailments that really consumed my time were the skin fungus (almost 2 weeks of daily bathing), the splint (a few days of wrapping), the colic (a night and day of watching), and now the thrush (treating every day, to every other day now that it has cleared up quite a bit).


In my honest opinion, save for the colic and the splints, none of these instances are really 'high maintenance.' In fact, I consider them to be a normal part of horse ownership. Never have I known a horse that hasn't had thrush or a skin fungus at least once. And scratches/cuts are a part of daily life.

I know that it is hard for non-horse people to understand that, so I explained to the SO and made him aware that there are far worse things that I could be managing - say, a soft tissue injury. As for my dad, well, he used to own hardy quarter horses, so he tends to over exaggerate Fiction's ailments in his head.

So, what are your thoughts on what makes a 'sensitive/high maintenance horse'? And how have you explained to non-horse people that most time-consuming ailments are normal?


11.04.2015

The Stable Hunt

6

I'm not sure exactly when the hunt for a new stable began. I know that a year ago I reached a breaking point and started actually visiting and viewing different stables, but when I couldn't find one that I felt comfortable in, I stopped venturing out and resigned myself to internet stalking.

Last night after some ground work.
There were a few things on my list of wants that were non-negotiable (aside from the standard good care, feed, etc):

    • Small-medium size adult-centered stable
    • Turnout in small groups, sans halters.
    • Indoor arena with OK footing (doesn't have to be super fancy)
    • Outdoor arena with OK footing (same as above)
    • Clean barn (a dirty barn is a fire hazard in my opinion)
    • Comfortable atmosphere (This was a biggie - I wanted to feel at home)
    • Freedom
      • This is a bit harder to explain. Essentially I wanted to feel as if I had the freedom to decide what to do with my horse, when to do it, etc., within reason. And without feeling judged.
    • Multiple Trainers onsite OR the option to bring in a trainer
    • Within 40 minute drive of my house

And there were a few things on my list that were classified as 'nice to have' but not necessities:
    • Hot/Cold washrack
    • Lounge
    • Blanketing/Booting/Farrier Holding services
    • Run-ins in the fields for the horses
    • Trails
    • Trailer parking
    • Few to no children around (I've been to barns where children run around freely, spooking the horses and creating a mess)


Unfortunately, I live on the wrong side of a major town. On my side, the majority of the barns are Hunter/Jumper barns. They also tend to be small barns without a lot of amenities, or barns flooded with children. On the other hand, the other side of the city has great barns but they tend to be on the expensive side. I couldn't afford to go up much in board price, so I was a bit limited.

I spent months perusing stables online, even calling a few to talk to them. I was about to give up hope and resign myself to trailering out for lessons (very hard for me to do, considering my schedule), when an awesome blog reader reached out to me in regards to a Trainer/Boarding option.

I contacted the Trainer I was referred to, who then proceeded to mention that she's pretty booked at her barn (which lacks an indoor), but that she does teach at another stable and that I should check it out.


So, after a preliminary search of the stable online, I reached out to the owner. I was immediately impressed with her on the phone and I remember thinking: this is how I would want to run a barn. So I scheduled an appointment to come out to view the stable on a lesson day so I could also see the Trainer in action.

Aside from being a bit higher in price and a bit less modern than my current barn, this stable had everything I was looking for. I instantly felt at home there and even the SO, who went with me, remarked that the atmosphere was so much more relaxed than my current location.

And the best part? The stable includes everything from both of my lists and more! I'll be sure to do a full write-up on the place after I move in, but I am exceptionally excited. The new BO even invited me to a barn cleanup/bonfire/BBQ party this weekend. I wont be able to attend the whole day, but I do intend to stop by.

Counting down the days~

11.03.2015

Moving

4

Welcome to the new blog!

A variety of changes in my life, the way I view horsemanship, and the way I want to approach riding have prompted a desire for a change in scenery. In more ways than one.


First, is this blog. The old blog will remain around until January of 2016. It will then be disabled to serve only as an archive for myself. My hope is that you wonderful readers will continue along with me on my new journey with Fiction.

Side note: this blog will retain a blogspot url until December 1st, when the domain nolongerfiction will be moved from the previous blog to this one.

The second move is a bit more involved. At the end of this month, Fiction and I will be packing up and moving to a different stable.

While Fiction receives impeccable care at my current stable, it has been a while since I've truly felt at home there. It's like they say: one size doesn't fit all.


Through a series of interesting circumstances, I was finally able to find a stable that fit all of my criteria. I will detail the journey in a future post. For now, what I will tell you, is that this new stable feels like home already. The people there are warm and friendly, the atmosphere is beyond relaxed, and there are three trainers available for me to lesson with.

Fiction and I haven't done much as of late. We are battling an intense case of thrush in his back feet, so soaking and treating it takes up the majority of my allotted barn time. When we do manage to get into the arena, we go through ground work in-hand. He is learning to respect my space and put himself where I want him. He is also learning to relax while walking beside me, with his head lowered and his attention focused on me.

Once I get the thrush a bit more under control, we will start with some light work under saddle.