Everything Changes

I’m adjusting to being a horsey parent again.

Part of that adjustment? GETTING TO BUY ALL THE TREATS.

Spoiled pony is spoiled because mama works for Dover Saddlery.

I’m hopeless.

It also means I get to smoosh this face whenever* I want.

That faaaaace!

(*only on weekends because fuck living an hour and a half away from your horse…)

It ALSO means an upward tick in my anxiety…because GOD FORBID I DO SOMETHING WITHOUT DRIVING MYSELF INSANE OVER IT.

!11!!!!1

I adore this little horse. He is funny and sweet with just the right amount of attitude and I am TERRIFIED of fucking this one up. He is solid and fun but he needs just a bit of work and it’s all stuff I’m not so good at. So, I’m doing my usual “well, we’ll wing it and see what happens” for awhile…which really means I’m going to obsessively read everything I can about how to work on his particular issues.

And I’m going to try to not drive myself into an anxiety driven panic because WHAT IF I CAN’T DO IT GUYS.

*flail*

Anyway. Here begins a whole new chapter for both myself and this little grey horse. Poor thing ain’t gonna know what hit him when the changes start coming rapid fire!

We started this past weekend. I had Friday off this week because I turned 25 on Monday. Dover is very nice and gives us all a day off each year for our birthday, and I was equally as nice and didn’t actually take Monday the 2nd off. I just started a new position in the company and it is Mach ten, all the time, and I felt bad making someone else do my job on Monday, when EVERYTHING is Mach ten, because Monday. So, I took Friday…and oh, what a glorious Friday it was! We had a lovely, lovely stretch of Indian Summer here in Massachusetts and it was in the mid-seventies. I woke up just an hour or two later than usual, puttered for a bit at home, and headed north to go ride.

One of Sirius’ issues is that he’s not overly fond of being caught. Once he is caught, he’s in your pocket for cookies and snuggles. Convincing him he does want to be caught, however, can take a few minutes. Thankfully, he’s discovered very quickly that I’m a stubborn asshole and don’t give in…so one or two times of “oh, you’re going to move away from me? Here’s a leadrope at your ass, please move faster”, he gives in and faces me. I do sweeten the deal with a cookie when I catch him, because I’m not adverse to bribing. He let me catch him relatively easily all weekend, which was an improvement over the first few times I went into his paddock, so I’ll take it!

Once I had him caught on Friday, I gave him a once over with a curry (“yes moar please”), the hard brush (no response other than an ear flick) and hit a few spots with Shapley’s Easy Out (“OH SWEET JESUS WHAT IS THAT SPRAY THINGEE OF DOom oh wait nevermind I’m over it”). Sigh. I own a grey.

I threw my saddle on and grabbed my training stick to go press some buttons in the ring before getting on. One of Sirius’ other “things” is mounting. Some point along the way, he became tense and nervous about the mounting block. 90%, in my opinion, is knowing that it’s time to go out and play, and we’ve all just been “meh” about correcting horses about anything this summer because WE just wanted to play too! I had a sneaking suspicion that if I worked him on the ground before asking him to stand still for me to get on, we’d have a much different response.

He was a bit of a kite on Friday, but I expected that completely: I am a new human asking things in weird ways and it was his Monday morning. He did, however, pick up on me asking him to change direction at the end of the rope VERY quickly. His “stop” response, however, needs loads of work, both on the ground and under saddle. I didn’t do much drilling of anything because we’re still getting a feel of each other and I really was simply testing him to see where he was at. What I really loved was that after a few minutes of “lsajhdflkjahsdfas WHAT”, I had an ear locked on me. The whole time. No matter where I was or what I asked, I had an ear. He had a mild meltdown over being asked to go to the left at one point (going to the left is definitely his Kryptonite), but I still had an ear. Simba spent the first couple of weeks trying to escape my presence when I asked him to do things that it took forever to really get his attention, so I was impressed and pleased to have him try and pay attention so quickly.

God this makes him look so narrow…he’s not *that* narrow, I swear!

We worked for maybe 20 minutes before I switched him over to his bridle and lined him up with the mounting block. He was a bit tense, but didn’t move as I swung a leg over. I settled in the saddle and he walked off, but we’ll get there — just standing for me to get on got him boatloads of praise. I’ll take it for now! I’ll definitely be starting each ride with groundwork, like I did with Simba, from here on out. I did it both Saturday and Sunday and it definitely helped.

We toodled in the ring for another ten minutes while I tested his attention with circles and bending. He needs to soften up, especially to the left. He has a tendency to really lean on your hands if given the option, and when he gets strong, he can really get to pulling. Needless to say, I’ve had to remind myself heavily that getting into a pulling match with a horse will not work for me in the long run. Translating this to the trails means we’ve done a lot of half halts and a lot of circles when Little Grey decides he’d like to continue being allowed to bomb around like a heathen (which I absolutely contributed to right up until he was mine…because, let’s face it, it’s fun!).

I then opened the gate — from his back, which I can do, because he’s fourteen-freaking-one hands tall — and out we went. He was much happier the second he realized we were trail bound. He really hates the ring. He’ll do it, but he doesn’t have the same joie de vivre he does when we’re out and about.

Exploring the trails. He’s super sure footed and I LOVE IT.

We had a really fabulous ride. I had a forward but attentive horse, one who quietly and promptly came back to me when I asked him after a run, who listened to my leg and seat, who walked on a loose rein, who did some excellent corto-canter-corto transitions. We went exploring on a trail I had never been on and found a super gorgeous pond. We came across B’s husband in the center of town (where I promptly got him mixed up with someone else and called him the wrong name…felt like a douuuuche!) and stopped to chat, and he stood like a gentleman. We both had a blast and when we came back, I sat in the field with him on the end of a lead line with his cooler on to let him graze. It was lovely and I actually cried a little.

Also Sara Bareilles dropped a new album so I cried a lot over that. But I digress.

Anyway! In stark contrast to Friday, I had an obnoxious beast on Saturday!

Groups — especially this group, because he knows them well and is super competitive with one of the mares — make him lose. his. mind. And then I went ahead and really frustrated him this week because instead of allowing him to run around like he’s used to, I firmly told him to mind his damn manners. We had temper tantrums galore! Fortunately, his temper tantrums are mildly pathetic — a tiny half rear, and once I put his nose to my boot and force him in a few tight circles, and he doesn’t attempt it again until the next time I make him mad. He is 9, and while he’s a pretty happy-go-lucky little horse, this “self control” thing is all new to him so I completely do not blame him for not understanding why he’s only now being asked to contain himself a little. He was definitely “getting” it by Sunday, but

Another issue we have been running into is bit rubs. I think we have it fixed now, but it was definitely contributing to his unhappiness on Saturday. My Mylers are just a touch too big for him, and he was getting rubs at the corners of his mouth. I may sell one or two to fund a smaller size, because outside of that, he works well in my them and I much prefer them to any other bits on the market right now.

I got off Saturday ready to break down the ride and figure out where things went “wrong”. He was never terrible but we had many discussions and not all of them were successful. By the end of the ride, we were both tired. Admittedly, I tried to pick too many battles to fight. I really should have made the decision (not let him, but made it my choice) to let him have a nice run, after he gave me a few strides of quiet and soft. I think we both would have been happier and a lot more would have been accomplished.

PLZ TO BE GIVING ME SNACKS KTHX

Sunday, I did just that and we had a much, much better ride. Working with him is going to take some re-wiring of my brain. Simba was very much a “I tell you to do this thing and this thing only” kind of horse, and he did well with that structure. Sirius takes more finessing. Simba required bullying from time to time, which I really didn’t like, but it was occasionally the only way to get through to him. Sirius does not — he requires firmness, perhaps, but never downright pushing around. I also made a change into a Paso Fino bit J had lying around. It’s thicker and smaller, and fit him much better, and he was a MUCH happier horse all around. I’m going to attempt to find one similar. I also didn’t put him at the back of the pack. He’ll learn, eventually, how to ride anywhere in the group, but he’s happiest up in front and I was able to get much more accomplished with a happier horse. We zoomed around a bit, mostly because Gema led the pack at a fast clip and we all had to freaking CANTER to keep up with this mare’s largo (she is a machine!). I also, stupidly, MTG’d his sad, sad little mane on Saturday. Ever tried to ride with rubber reins after putting MTG on a horse’s mane? Note to self: remember riding gloves next week…

Much quieter on Sunday. Three days in a row of work probably helped too!

I was dog tired by the time I slid off of him on Sunday, and zombied my way though cooling him out and putting him back in the paddock. I had ordered a cooler for him from work that I got to put on him on Sunday, and holy crap does he look cute all bundled up to his ears, peering at me hopefully for more snacks. Yes, he got snacks. Many snacks. Especially because he nickers for cookies and I’m a SUCKER.

WOOKIT DAT FAAACE

I barely made it home on Sunday before crawling into bed and passing out. I love, love, LOVE J and her crew and riding with them, and I’m going to miss them all very much when I move Sirius next month, but godDAMN I am not going to miss that drive. I know that I can stay with D, who is only a half hour away from J’s or with J herself, but I am very, very protective of my alone time and really prefer it to be in my own bed when I can (especially because starting this weekend, I’m house sitting until January, essentially).

Today on my drive home I finally had minimal brain cells to devote to assessing our weekend. He was stellar on Friday, a fruitcake on Saturday, and right smack in the middle on Sunday, leaning towards stellar again. I’m pretty confident this horse, with consistent work, will be a rock star. What’s more, I actually enjoy working with him. He’s not a douchebag. He can be a bit of a snot, but he’s not an all around jerk…and 90% of the time he’s super happy about everything.

So, one week into horse ownership again, and despite my own anxiety driven ridiculousness, I’m happy to be back. My life has changed dramatically in the past two months, and I don’t hate any of it. Sirius’ life is about to change dramatically as well…and, hopefully, he won’t hate it too much either!

We Solemnly Swear We Are Up to No Good

Yesterday was fantastic.

I rode a unicorn. A bouncy, fresh, naughty, silly one. I got to wear my Hogwarts cosplay in public and only be judged a little. We all laughed and whooped and ran around like fools and I had to pick up the pieces of Little Grey’s brain because I made him be polite and it was an amazing Halloween treat to spend it with good friends and excellent horses.
I also bought a horse.

So, without further adieu…everyone, meet Travesura Realizada, aka Sirius, formerly known as Benicio. I chose his barn name because he reminds me very strongly of Sirius Black from Harry Potter. Sirius is fun, loud, brash, fiercely loyal and incredibly big hearted…but he is also reckless and stubborn, with a tendency to act before he thinks. He chooses to do the right thing more often than not, but he’s not perfect. Neither is Little Grey…and that’s what I love about both of them.

“Travesura realizada” is the Spanish translation of “mischief managed”. I figured, seeing as I’m calling him Sirius, he should have a little bit of the Marauder’s Map in his name for good measure…even if I don’t think our mischief will ever be TRULY managed.

He will be staying at J’s through the month of November. Come December, he’ll be moving to a longtime house sitting client’s house, very close to my aunt and right on top of my favorite trails.

I am excited for and by this horse. He is just the right mix between challenging and fun. We have things to work on, but they are small things that will not take long or much effort because he is smart and wants to do the right thing. All of this combined makes me anxious to jump right into building a partnership with him, because I can already tell that he is the kind of horse to lock on to a human, and just get better and better as time goes on.

Not to mention, we are going to get into a hell of a lot of trouble together…

And it’s gonna be epic.

“We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.” 
— Sirius Black, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling

Grey Areas: The Story of Benicio

So.

Little grey horses.

I’ve never been a fan.

I’m a photographer. And mildly obsessive about my horses being clean. So, therefore, clean ponies are important. Keeping a grey clean is next to impossible. I have always said that I would never, ever own a grey.

Also melanomas. 

Mostly, though, because I’m vain.

So, when J said she was regretfully putting her daughter’s little grey gelding, who had been watching us forlornly all summer come and go from the barn, I didn’t even give him a second thought. He was grey. And a gelding. Two strikes and you’re out, buddy. Sorry! Not to mention, I had heavily attached myself to J’s palomino mare, Acerca. I had tried to talk J into maybepossiblyOHGODPRETTYPLEASE selling Acerca to me when she made noises about wanting to cut her numbers down, but at the end of the day, J loves Acerca too. So, with J’s daughter off to college and wanting to move back to trotting horses, it made more sense to sell her horse, Benicio. 



My heart was a little crushed at the fact that I wasn’t going to be able to pry Acerca out of J’s hands, so in an attempt to detach myself from the mare a bit, I decided to take the little grey for a spin. I had ridden him one other time, maybe a year ago, and I was much too heavy for him. It was okay for one quick little trail ride, but I couldn’t even remotely fathom riding him regularly at the weight I was at. Well, now that I’m nearing 90 pounds down (!), I figured that it’d be worth it to hop on him again to see how things felt. It also occurred to me that no one had worked with him for most of the summer, and as a “hey here’s something I can do that might be actually helpful!” type thing, I figured getting a few rides on him while he was on the market couldn’t hurt if someone decided to come look at him.
I wasn’t expecting to click with this horse. I wasn’t expecting to settle onto his back and feel “at home”. I had watched J’s daughter ride him more, and while they got along, A’s electric energy mixed with Benicio’s sensitivity didn’t always make for a great match. I was under the impression he was a bit of a bonehead, and I was prepared to ride a bit of a bonehead.

I was wrong. Sure, he wiggled and gleefully humped his back in a pathetic, playful buck, and he was all around kind of goofy, but once he got that out of his system, I was sincerely surprised by the horse underneath me. He boogied down the dirt roads like it was going out of style. He desperately asked over and over and over again to PLEASE be allowed to gallop, pell mell, up any hill that was in front of him, but after some discussion, patiently waited for me to say okay.  I am quickly came to realize that the horse underneath me is a sensitive, smart, intuitive horse who very much wanted to do the right thing. He is just the right kind of crazy, with exactly zero of the dangerous kind of crazy…and when you get up out of the saddle and give him his head, this horse can fly.
I came back from that first ride breathless from laughter and exhilaration.

Then our second ride was equally as awesome, followed by a third and fourth. 

I was not prepared for this to happen. Because he is grey and a gelding.



I spent the rest of the fourth weekend fumbling helplessly with the thoughts in my own head, trying to wrap my brain around how quickly my attention has shifted from Acerca, who I thought was perfect, to a horse I had barely looked at twice all summer. Acerca, bless her, is easy. She is point and shoot, and she doesn’t ask questions either way. She is sweet but doesn’t try to go above and beyond, and that was so perfect for me this summer. Little Grey is also easy, but he is constantly asking what he should be doing next. It is a two way discussion instead of a dictatorship, and I’m more interested in that sort of partnership. I thought I wanted an Acerca, where neither of us have to do much thinking or discussing. Then I got on Benicio and was reminded what it was like to have a horse that WANTS to discuss things with you, who tries his heart out no matter what you ask. Illusion shattered. Back to square one in my thinking, and back to wondering if the horse I need is directly in front of my face. What was holding me back?

In trying to figure it out, I had this conversation with my very best good friend Saturday after riding:
Me: also: oh my jesus I am the most indecisive motherfucker on the planet. because I can’t decide whether I like this horse enough to buy him. I think I do but I’m so gunshy after Simba that I’m second guessing everything. 
Her: Well its a big decision. I’d be flip flopping too. 
Me: we work well together. he makes me laugh. he is crazy in the safest way possible. he is sweet with just enough sass to be interesting. he wants to please. he likes to learn. he’s smart and picks things up crazy fast. he is bold and confident. he’s not spooky. he loves the trails. he’s athletic and has tons of potential. what is wrong with me?! hahaha!


The second I finished typing and hit enter, I realized what was wrong with me: he is grey. And a gelding. I had this stupid daydream about what I absolutely wanted my next horse to be. Everything fit except those two superficial details. I was mad at myself and my shallowness, but it was enough of a hang up to make me waffle. 

So, I waffled. 
Then J IM’ed me on Facebook and said “hey, someone wants to come look at Benicio, how interested are you?” 

I typed back: “Very interested, but don’t hold him for me, because I’m still waffling.” while internally going “NOOOOOoooooOOOOooooo!!111!” 

That’s when I had an idea that maybe my mind was already made up. However, the final decision came after I realized that maybe I should pop out alone on the little grey horse, just to see how he handled it. He hadn’t once said no to me during our short stint as riding partners, but going out alone is a whole other game. I flew up to NH after work one day last week, tossed my tack on him, and off we went.

Now, I didn’t realize this as I was getting on, but apparently it had been awhile since he was out alone, and what was more, he hadn’t been out by himself very often. It was also dinnertime, which is usually a recipe for a cranky pony. After our usual mounting block discussion (one of his few vices that we’ve already managed to work on a bit), I got on and off we went. I was prepared to have a lot more horse underneath me with a lot more tension.

The first minute or so he was a little confused. I pushed him forward. Once he realized that yes, we were going out and no, no one else was coming with us…he got over it. Completely. We had an amazing ride that included a gallop across the same dam as the previous video and the most beautiful consistent corto I’ve ever ridden down the road. He was attentive and constantly checking in. He spooked once at something totally legitimate, because whatever it was scared the bajeepers out of me too. I turned on music and sang along, and he seemed to match his pace to the beat of the song. It was a little bit magical.

I climbed off of him that evening with no more questions left. This was what it was supposed to feel like — exciting and electric and full of possibilities and maybe just a little bit terrifying because my heart with all its cracks and missing pieces was beating just a little stronger for this horse. I don’t let me heart get away from me often, but it has, without a doubt, grabbed onto this little grey gelding and is not letting go.



So, here we are. We make everything official this Saturday, after we parade around on our horses in costume (which may or may not include a unicorn horn for Little Grey). I will move him to a longtime house sitting client’s house the beginning of December. I don’t know what’s in store for us, but I hope there will be laughter and gallops, teaching moments and humbling moments, and a lot of hugs around the neck and kisses on the nose. 

I do know we’ll figure it out along the way. 

I can’t wait to get started.

Another Chapter

I have so, so, SO much to say but so little energy and time to write it. I’m working on it, I swear…but until then, maybe these will tide you over?

If you couldn’t tell, I made my decision.

Welcome to my life, Little Grey Gelding…here’s to the beginning of our story.

Shades of Grey

(No, not the 50 shades kind)

I have a problem.
Okay, I have many problems, but that’s beside the point. This problem is relevant!
This is Benicio.
He is grey.
And a gelding.
I don’t want a grey.
I don’t want a gelding.
Except I kindasortamaybe like this grey (Paso Fino) gelding. Because of things like this:

And this:

I will write more tomorrow* when I’m not half asleep from a benadryl (hello, allergies, nice to see you again…) because I have a lot to say about this little grey horse…

(*hopefully tomorrow but you all know how good I am about keeping those particular promises)

The Princess and the Apple

Two weekends ago (bad blogger! Bad!)  I got to ride my favorite blonde princess after about a month off. J’s main mare, Tica, managed to booboo herself so J was down a horse. I bowed out as I’m the only non family/non paying person on our Saturday rides, so it only made sense for me to sit things out until Tica was recovered. Of course, I have other horses to ride, but I’m pretty sure it’s clear as day that my most favorite mount/people to ride with are Acerca and J’s crew. I honestly took most of August off for that reason…and also because bugs.

So, I was excited to go ride last Saturday. I was coming from home, so I readied myself for a long drive (hour and a half to J’s…yes, I am batshit!). I toodled up there and was happy to find Acerca already waiting for me in a stall. We tacked up and hustled out the door.

Tica was in rare form after quite some time off, so we cruised along at a decent clip, chatting and laughing like usual. While we were tacking up, I had mentioned in passing that I would love to go visit the abandoned apple orchard J had mentioned a few times. J was happy to acquiesce, and we left the minis and carts on the road to go down the windy path into the apple orchard.

I was prepared for a bit of bushwhacking. What I wasn’t prepared for was all the beautiful, perfect, AMAZING, tasty as hell apples all over the place!!

GUYS WE FOUND SNACKS.

We all squealed with delight when we realized how many apples were on the trees, and that they were almost perfectly ripe. These trees are entirely untended, so obviously there was some careful inspection before we dug in, but 90% of them were untouched and lovely. Acerca happily stuffed her face into a tree and tried like hell to grab a treat. She kept knocking them off, so she was content to share mine after she realized that her lips weren’t THAT prehensile.

We began to weave our way out of the trees, and, while juggling multiple apples in my hands, I made noises about being upset that I didn’t have saddle bags to bring some apples home. J giggled and I looked over at her. She had a telltale shit eating grin and glint of mischief in her eye that I KNOW precedes a ridiculous but amazing idea.

“I’m putting mine in my bra.”

J, you are a GENIUS.

I unabashedly loaded up my sports bra with apples. I’m pretty sure that I had at least ten in there, which I can do now because my bras are huge and 99% ineffective at this point. Not to mention, my fancy riding bra has two parts two it, so it was a perfect little “bag” for apples!

We hooted and giggled about our lumpy boobs as we ducked out of the orchard and settled back on the dirt roads. I spent the rest of the ride with the reins looped over the pommel of my saddle (real safe — don’t follow my lead, kids!) and rode home with one hand tangled in Acerca’s mane, the other holding my apple-boobs in place. J got a super flattering video of me and S galloping back up to her and Tica with my hands firmly over my chest, and then promptly posted a screenshot to Facebook. Thanks, J. /sarcasm

We got back to the barn and I unloaded in my car before untacking Acerca. We giggled the rest of the time I was there about our adventures, and I continued to giggle the entire ride home. One of my favorite things about riding with J is that every ride has me in stitches at least once!

I have this weekend’s ride to write about too, as well as my escapades with Tiny Corgi 1.0 and 2.0, beach trips, and upcoming concert insanity! Stay tuned!

Out of the Loop

I had such good intentions to actually write, I SWEAR.

But…then…life?

Once I got back from Rolex, my life immediately went bananas. House sitting, ponies to ride, concerts, adventures, hiking, friends…

What IS this madness?

Seriously guys. I don’t know what happened. I am a level ten introvert with a personal bubble the size of Texas. I am consistently overwhelmed by socializing and the human race, so it’s been both amazing and a little disconcerting to be this insanely busy! I am going to narrow it down to the cliff notes version, with pictures, and pray that I have the time/energy/sanity/brainpower to keep on top of it from here on out!

HORSES

Once the good weather really hit, I began feeling that familiar pang to be in the saddle again. This was both AWESOME because I was dead scared I had completely burnt myself out on horses and sad because…well, no pony!

However, amazing friends to the rescue! I have been riding at least once a week, sometimes twice, sometimes way more, all summer! Thanks to my weight loss (70 lbs and counting, bitches!), a lot more horses have become available for me to safely ride.

First of all, here is Acerca de Tiempo de Pluma, who is fondly called Gigi, Steak (I still don’t know how she got that nickname), and Blondie.

Acerca is the main reason I’m so excited to be back into the horse world again. She is a lovely, sweet, willing Paso Fino mare who was reminded me WHY I love ponies. She’s point and shoot for the most part, but is just so spunky and happy about life in general that she makes me laugh. She has a really fabulous gait that just eats up the ground and REALLY knows how to kick it up to mach ten when I ask her to. She is so, so soft in her aids and I feel a bit like I’ve come home every time I climb into the saddle and I’ve never felt more relaxed on a horse. I’d have to pry her out of my coworker J’s cold, dead hands but she is officially the basis of what I want in my next horse!

Realizing I only have ear shots of most of these horses…oooops!

I have also spent time riding this pretty lady. Her name is Gema and she’s also a Paso Fino.

Horse of many (clashing) colors!

She is, quite possibly, the weirdest horse I’ve ever ridden. She has a largo that none of J’s other horse’s can match, and there is literally nothing that bothers her. She is a little less sensitive to aids, so she’s a perfect match for beginner riders…and for when you REALLY don’t want to worry on horseback! I do have a strong preference for Acerca but occasionally switch it up with Gema when I’m able!

Then, there’s Gracie…who is not graceful at all, sadly!

This adorable chunk of a Tennesee Walking Horse mare has the smoooooothest rack on the face of the planet. It is literally like riding on air. I love videoing from this horse because I literally do. not. move. She is a little bit more of a challenge, because she’s definitely a worrier and has a good sideways shy to her if you’re not on your game, but she is just a sweet girl who loves to go out and play! She’s a little hard on my hips and knees because she’s as wide as a truck, but I suck it up and deal because not only does it mean I get to ride her, it means I get to ride with one of my favorite coworkers, N. N is the sassiest but kindest lady on the planet. She is in her 70s, and most of us in the office have decided that we want to be N when we grow up…still kicking ass and taking names, and riding all the time to boot!

Lastly, and most recently, is Chism, aka CheezIt, who is a (surprise, surprise!) big red Quarter Horse.

Look! Not through the ears for once!

My back gets pretty cranky, pretty quick when I ride the trotters these days but Cheez has a really lovely trot, and all this regular riding has really helped me get my seat back, so I’m not struggling as much as I would have otherwise. I’ve just started riding Cheez, and he’s just a funny old man who is a no-worries ride and reminds me so much of GP. Cheez is owned by (surprise, again!) more coworkers — K, who sits directly next to me at work (tolerant soul!) owns the big beast and her daughter, L, who worked with us for a stint, rides out on her big Thoroughbred gelding, Holden. We have much exploring to do together, and hopefully some beach rides/hunter paces in our future!

“Are you taking pictures!? My ass is flying ten feet out of the saddle because I’ve forgotten how to ride a stock horse canter!”

So! Those are all my ponies! I could go back and recount each ride thanks to a short chronicle/photo post on Facebook each time I climb up on a horse, but that’d take forever and I am actually lazy af. So, short synopsis it is. I am so eternally grateful for all the fabulous people who have offered me their horses to ride this year. I love that I’ve gotten to ride so many incredible horses on a regular basis and that people seem to think I’m neat enough to let me come back and ride more than once!!

CONCERTS

If you didn’t know, I love music. I’m not a musician, I can’t sing (REALLY can’t sing), but I love talented, passionate musicians who have voices that don’t need to be touched by autotune or anything artificial. I didn’t spend enough time galavanting around to concerts last summer, and vowed to make up for it this summer. So far, I have seen:

Mary Lambert:

Mary came to Boston Pride this year (which is always a hoot, no matter what). It was a free concert, and though I had to be across the other side of the city for Lindsey Stirling the same day, this was totally worth it. Kelsey of Blonde Bomber Acres fame came down and we watched some of the parade before hoofing it over to city hall and watching the concert. I snagged meet and greet tickets for us and while it was mildly lackluster due to Mary getting stuck in traffic, it was cool to meet her. Also, hey, that dress looks a bit familiar…

Mary wore the dress better in her Secrets video above, but I still LOVE that dress!

Lindsey Stirling:

I’ll be the first to tell you I do not like classical music. Or electronic dance music. I usually want/need lyrics to get into a song…but I LOVE Lindsey Stirling. Love. I don’t know if it’s because she has a super awesome pop vibe or if it’s because she’s a video game nerd, but I adore her. Hannah from The Longest Format came with me to this one, and we thoroughly enjoyed her concert together. Her sets and backup dancers had more “flash” than I’m used to, so it was just fun all around!

Ingrid Michaelson:

This was a cool one for me and K, my friend who obsesses over Castle and Stana Katic with me. We splurged for the meet and greet because K loves Ingrid the way I love Sara Bareilles. She was a mild nervous wreck while we waited (for forever it seemed like), and then got ushered in to meet her. Ingrid is a tiny little human and I’d like to put her in my pocket and take her home. We all got pictures with her, and then got to go backstage and poke around a bit. Seeing the venue from the “other side” was really neat and hanging out with Ingrid was a blast! She is super sweet, and amazing live.

Blue Hills Bank Pavilion from the stage…so cool!

K, Ingrid and me!

Kelly Clarkson and Pentatonix:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/d4_6N-k5VS4?feature=player_embedded

This concert was mostly unplanned and kind of last minute. I missed Pentatonix coming around the first time on their solo tour, so when Kelly Clarkson (who I liked before but now LOVE) announced PTX was touring with her, I jumped. I surprised my coworker and friend H, who leaves for ENGLAND (!) to go to grad school shortly, and took her with me. I also jumped on meet and greets because why the hell not? AND IT WAS WORTH IT. I love, love, LOVE PTX and if you haven’t heard of them, please take a minute and watch that video. They’re an acapella group and they totally SLAY. The tall blond guy and the shorter black haired dude, Scott and Mitch, also have a YouTube show called Superfruit (yes, they’re both very gay…hence the name) that is both hysterical and amazing. It was SO COOL to meet them. They are all superduper nice! They rocked the house and so did Kelly Clarkson, who is ADORABLE and performs barefoot and made me sob like a baby through one of her songs (and she NOTICED because we were front row and it was MORTIFYING…but the wink and the wave was nice of her).

From left to right — Avi, Kirstie, Scott, me (hah), Mitch and Kevin

SO CLOSE.

She has one hell of a voice!

Upcoming this/next month I have: a musical that was written by Sara Bareilles (which should be FABULOUS, knowing Sara’s love of cuss words and incredible songwriting talent), Matt Nathanson, Taylor Davis, and the crowning glory…front fucking row at Ed Sheeran at Gillette Stadium. If all goes to plan, I’ll have stalked, met, and properly seduced the awkward British ginger hobbit and he’ll have proposed to me by the end of next month. SHH DON’T RUIN MY STORY WITH YOUR LOGIC.

HOW CAN YOU NOT LOVE HIM LOOK AT HIM CUDDLING A LITTLE PUG 

TIME FOR A NEW HORSE?

I will admit: I have been casually looking. I know, I know — I SWORE I wouldn’t even think about it until at least a year after Simba, but all of this riding has reminded me WHY I like these obnoxious critters. If nothing falls into my lap by the end of this month, everything goes back on hold until spring. I’m not getting another horse at the beginning of winter again. That was dumb and I don’t like making dumb mistakes more than once (okay so I did that one twice but NO ONE ASKED YOU PEANUT GALLERY JEEZ).

OTHER NEWS

My sister is getting married! I’m one of the maids of honor! This is terrifying! Exclamations!!!

I briefly mentioned it, but I’m down 70 lbs. I would like to make it an even 100 by the time the new year rolls around, but we’ll see. I’m hiking 4-5 days a week and riding on top of that. I have a metric fuckton more energy and it’s been a rewarding journey. I have a lot to go, and am still struggling with some obnoxious medical issues, but a lot has improved with just the amount that I’ve lost so far.

I stalked my manager at her horse show and got some shots for the catalog…so, no big deal, I’m going to be a credited photographer in next year’s Dover Saddlery catalog:

It was a TERRIBLY hot day and we were all miserable. Lighting was shit as well. I don’t know what one they chose but I do know one will be in there!

(*silently freaks out!*)

I also learned how to shoot a gun, stalked Taylor Swift’s tour truck on the highway (one of many, I’m sure), took some pretty pictures for a coworker, and have basically not stopped house sitting since June. All in all, I am exhausted and running around like a chicken with my head cut off, but it’s all for good reasons!

One of my favorites from a recent shoot.

I think that’s everything major that has gone on in my life since fracking APRIL. I’m hopeful that I’ll keep on top of things now! I hope you are all well, especially those of you we don’t hear from often in the blog world. Now, to finish doing other productive things, or throw on yet another episode of Sense8 on Netflix…?

Yeah. Netflix wins. Happy Sunday, everyone!

Rolex Report: Prologue

I WENT TO ROLEX.

I have a short series planned that I’ve already begun to write, but as a start to kind of get the ball rolling, here’s a quick rundown:

1. Fourteen hour drives, even split into two days, SUCK.
2. KENTUCKY IS BEAUTIFUL. I DID NOT WANT TO LEAVE.
3. If you have never done Rolex, you HAVE to go with someone who is a seasoned pro. They know the ins, outs, secrets, and important hidey holes to go to for viewing and meeting people.
4. It’s also helpful to have someone who is not as awestruck as you are to point out when you are standing and chatting casually with one of the riders you were following AND YOU DIDN’T EVEN EFFING NOTICE HER BADGE.
5. Fair food. ‘Nuff said.
6. If it is cross country day, it will rain.
7. Volunteering, especially if you get a good “position”, makes you feel REALLY COOL…until you miss actually watching the last of the showjumping round D:
8. EXCEPT THEN YOU GET TO PAT PHILLIP DUTTON’S HORSE AND EVERYTHING IS OKAY AGAIN.

I arrived in KY on Thursday and literally got home at noon today (after a harrowing ride through NYC…never. again). It was the most awesome thing I’ve done in years and I can’t wait to share everything in depth with you guys!

Here’s an XC shot from Saturday as a teaser for more when I have part one written up!

Tim Bourke (IRE) and Luckaun Quality.

Grand Old Mares

Guys. GUYS.

I rode.

I almost didn’t because winter made a sudden reappearance on Saturday morning but after a viewing of The Second Best Marigold Hotel (cute, but it was a 10 AM showing and I was the only one under 50 in the theater…hah), the snow had stopped and it was a lovely, balmy, 40 degrees.

So, I said “screw it” and went and rode a pony. She had four legs and a mane and tail and we walked and trotted and cantered (sort of, holy weirdass canter on this mare!) and I hugged her neck and it was FUN!

PROOF!:

Footing here in Massachusetts is still not spectacular. Fuck you, winter. Go away!

It was wonderful. These cute black ears belong to a coworker’s horse. Her name is Casey, and she is a 21 year old Welsh Cob/Thoroughbred cross mare who toted my VERY out of shape behind around without any fuss. She also looked fab in my bright blue tack. She’s not particularly tall, but the cob gave her the body of a wee draft and the Thoroughbred lended its athleticism and lightened her just enough to make me feel like I was riding a saddle horse, and not a draft masquerading as one. And she had a BARREL. I didn’t once feel like I was going to squish her or that I was causing her undue stress. She also had dinner plates for feet, which I stupidly did not get pictures of.

Baaaad lighting…she looks mildly possessed, but I swear, she was sweet as the day is long!

I hadn’t ever ridden any of this coworker’s critters before so I found myself feeling nervous as I stepped up into the saddle…and then REALLY irritated at myself for being nervous. I got on and everything was fine, but man, I was not prepared for that little bit of niggling fear in the back of my head. What the frickfrack was that about? I can only guess it’s residual from my Image days (big black pony = YOU’RE GOING TO BE UNCEREMONIOUSLY BUCKED OFF NOW!), anticipating an hour long battle with a horse a la Simba, or just me being completely out of practice. Who knows? I told it to fuck off and got on anyway.

Thankfully, I had no reason to be nervous in the end. Casey was very much agreeable to toodling around the snow covered riding ring. She, too, was quite out of shape and we were both only good for a couple of laps of trot at a time. I was delighted to find I can still sit the trot without looking like a complete sack of potatoes, and while her canter was like riding a dolphin jumping through the waves and I probably looked like a dumbass, that was fun too! It likely didn’t help that the second she launched (and I mean LAUNCHED) into her canter, I burst into hysterical laughter and could only two point my way through it. After we were done, she was content to stand around and let me talk to my coworker J, my other coworker I who showed up to ride her horse — bareback, with just a halter and lead line…she sat some impressive acrobatics as her horse hadn’t been ridden since January. I may hate her and her velcro butt a little…! — and for some barn girls to love on her. She let me squeeze her in between I’s truck and my car so I could load my saddle back into my trunk without having to haul it up and down the driveway, and then stood while we all chatted some more and let me use her as a headrest.

Image left me with such a soft spot for big, round black horses, and I was already predisposed to adore grand old mares that are worth their weight in gold, that I couldn’t help but be enamored with this lovely lady. She took care of me and I’m so glad J seemed more than happy to have me hop on her. In short, it was a good, solid reintroduction into riding for the season. I’m really hopeful that despite the fact that I am horseless, I will not be riding-less this spring and summer. I just want to ride a lot of fun horses with a lot of fun people in a lot of fun places. Is that so much to ask…?!

In other news, I bought a car that doesn’t make me worry about it blowing up, got really sick, had some medical stuff done, had to make some serious lifestyle changes, and have lost close to 40 pounds.

So, in closing…

Dear winter:

Neener neener,
Amanda