Monday, November 25, 2013

Well that is inconvenient

The problem with being a contract employee is that the business constantly dangles your mortality over your head. I chose not to let it get to me; life is going to happen whether I'm "full time" or not, and plus, I really liked my job!

Well on Friday, after working there for a year and a half, I got laid off due to budget cuts. I was supposed to have a meeting with HR to discuss my maternity leave, which I had given them plenty of notice about. It turned out that the meeting was actually to give me the axe, so now I am jobless at 5 months pregnant and a month before Christmas. Thanks a bunch, former employer!

I am so lucky that Kenny is supportive of this horse addiction that I have. I was a wreck after I left the office for the last time and called him in tears, but he said all the right things and calmed me down. I immediately went home after being laid off and applied for unemployment (for the first time ever), applied for a few jobs, and put Lucy up for full lease online. I am not sure I'll find someone to lease her, honestly. It's absolutely frigid here right now and not many people are really horse hunting. However, it is worth a shot.

In the mean time, Kenny will continue supporting her and for that, I am so grateful. I'll supplement the unemployment money with saddle pad orders (hopefully!) and any other design work I can get. I hope to get a new job asap. Someone asked if I'm going to just surf on the unemployment wave until the baby comes and honestly, I'd be so bored! I like to go to work and accomplish things.

In all of my newfound spare time, I've been doing a lot of cleaning at home, catching up on projects, helping Kenny with the renovations, painting saddle pads, and I EMT'd for a horse show over the weekend. It was 20 degrees with 45mph winds. BRRR! Luckily it was an indoor show so we were at least out of the wind. I was frozen by the time I went home at 4:30pm. I took a boiling hot shower to warm up and went to bed, exhausted, at 6:30.

I had a fun day at the barn on Saturday. I rode Lucy and she was so chill and happy! I didn't bother lunging her because all the horses got turned out on grass before we rode, and this was the result:

Comic (l) and Lucy (r)

Comic, Lucy, and Brantley

Brantley and Lucy having a zoom

Comic and Brantley had a contest to see who was more manly. Lucy won.

Go Brantley, go!

pretty Lu!

After all that, they were pretty tired and well-behaved under saddle. I was a happy girl!

Amanda is planning on taking her to a show next weekend, so that should be fun! This particular show has an OTTB division, which is really nice. Maddy is going with Brantley, too! It will be a fun day.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Secret Santa

I LOVE this time of year because it is Secret Santa time! I always participate in the CoTH exchange, and my barn also does a Secret Santa.

I love shopping for other people more than I love shopping for myself. It's fun to get my CoTH match because the person I'm buying for is always a total stranger, and I enjoy the challenge of getting them something they'll love based off a few paragraphs about them. Sometimes their letters ask for specific things and other times they are more vague.

I always try to do something creative for them. This year I am painting a saddle pad. I also got her a few fun things at Equine Affaire, and then based off her likes and dislikes (silver jewelry, natural/low-key colours, horse-related bracelets), I bought this off Etsy for her:

Purchased from Beach Side Leathers on

The barn Secret Santa exchange is the best, though, because I actually get to see the person's face when they open my gift, and that is the greatest part! It's also cool because we all know each other in real life, so it's easier to figure out what to get the other person. Some boarders know one another better than others, so it's an opportunity to learn more about someone you may not talk to a lot. Our barn has two separate barns, rough board and full board, and so we don't all see each other all the time. Plus, everyone's schedule is different! I am pretty sure my barn giftee reads my blog so I will have to wait to disclose what I got for her, but don't you worry: IT. IS. AWESOME.

Of course it's also really fun to receive Secret Santa gifts, too! One year someone drew a portrait of Lucy for me and it still hangs in my kitchen. As an artist, I really appreciate and value other artists' work and it was such a sweet and thoughtful gift! I also usually mention my favourite Dark Horse Chocolates (peppermint ponies), and my favourite Stubben Coat Care spray that I can't find anywhere around here. I just ran out of it the other day and I was very sad! Last year at my barn Christmas party, my Secret Santa got me a beautiful Alex and Ani bracelet that I love. So it doesn't have to all be horse-related!

How many of you guys participate in a Secret Santa exchange? What is your favourite gift you've ever gotten?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

another great day!

First, I actually succeeded in getting Kenny to the barn in a somewhat clean ensemble, with the dog; and also I managed to clean the 2" of dirt off Lucy that I found her covered in this morning. I even had to shampoo her legs - they were disgusting!

Maddy took the photo for me and..drumroll please....

everyone's looking (kind of) at the camera!!! SUCCESS!!!
Then I tacked up and had another super ride, and this time, I got photos!

YAY! Good pony! I should go buy a lottery ticket or something.

Then Amanda got on for a few minutes:

AND she got to ride Merlot the dreamliner.

Then Maddy got really brave and decided to jump Brantley over one of the XC fences:

So all in all, it was an A+++++ day and everyone had a super time!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Lucifer tones it down a notch

My biggest issue with lunging Lucy before riding is that it tends to heat her up more than tire her out. She starts out pretty chill on the line but as she warms up, she just goes and goes and goes. I also end up with an overly-fit horse in a short amount of time. On top of all that, due to her injury I don't love the idea of her running around in a small circle.

All of that being said, in response to her horrible behaviour under saddle earlier in the week, I lunged the crap out of her yesterday. She was an unholy DEMON. She had all this pent-up energy and it exploded in the form of Lucifer like I have never seen her before. Let's just say I quickly had to go get a lunge line with a chain on it because my nice little cotton one without a chain got us nowhere. Actually, it got me dragged (on my feet) across the ring. She was so far ahead of me that she decided to circle back and leap over a stack of poles that were in the middle of the ring from when it was last dragged. The standards for the jumps that the poles used to be a part of were arranged neatly on either side of this stack of poles. When she jumped the poles, the lunge line got caught on the top of the standards and knocked them all over like dominoes. I was horrified. It was like a train wreck.

The chain brought her brain back down from orbit and we ended on a good note, but it took me forever to cool her out and then I went home thinking "why the heck do I even bother?". There are many things I could easily spend $500+ a month on that were looking a heck of a lot more enticing than this nut job horse. I was so frustrated.

Today I went back and decided to give it another shot. It was 65 degrees and it felt like Springtime, and you can't ask for more than that in November in New England! I borrowed my barn owner's Vienna reins and lunged her in those. They worked very well for her because she was not able to fling her head around and get stupid, but they did not hold her down. As long as she carried her head fairly level, she had no pressure on her face. If she stretched down, she got even more of a release. She figured the system out quickly and went *beautifully* in them with a soft look in her eye the whole time.

I hopped on and found myself riding a completely different horse from the last time I rode her. I don't know if she was tired from yesterday's all-out brawl, or limber from warming up in the Vienna reins, or if some magical being came down and trained her for me overnight, but damn that horse went like a million bucks today. There was no hint of psycho to be found. She tried leaning on my inside leg right at the beginning of the ride and when I asked her to get off of it, she was offended and had a tiny (TINY) protest but I booted her with my inside leg and that was the end of that!

We walked, trotted, and cantered consistently on the bit in a dignified and civilized manner, without attitude, with happy ears and soft eyes, and I am so bummed no one was there to capture this on camera!! At least my barn owner was there riding with me, so I have a witness.

I spent a total of four hours at the barn today between riding and doing all my chores. I was so motivated by the warm weather that I cleaned the barn from top to bottom, blew all the leaves out of her paddock with my little electric leaf blower, cleaned her paddock, emptied and scrubbed her water tank, installed the drain-mounted tank heater I ordered last week (harder to install than one might think!), did her stall, and groomed her to perfection.

I'm hoping to get our annual holiday photo tomorrow since the weather is going to be just as beautiful as it was today!!

Here are some photos of Cairo being adorable today:

sock monkey love

Friday, November 15, 2013

I have a problem

Last weekend at Equine Affaire, I got a $50 gift card to SmartPak for participating in a discussion group with them.

Great, right?

Yeah, except I have NO idea what to spend it on! It's tough to buy horsey stuff when I know I'm not going to be riding very much in the near future. My horse has plenty of tack/accessories/saddle pads/boots, doesn't need a blanket, doesn't need a cooler, and goodness knows my first aid kit is WELL stocked.

I don't want to buy breeches just in case I need a different size post-baby.

I've spent a significant amount of time shuffling through the pages upon pages of products they sell and not one single thing has jumped out at me. I could use a pair of Muck Co. boots but those are $75 more than the gift card. Is it worth the extra cash to get them?

Help a girl out! If you had $50 to spend at SmartPak, what would you buy?

I could be totally boring and put the credit toward next month's supplement order...nah, way too lame.

ps - check out the contest over at My Equine Odyssey, where you can win something from EquiSpa :D

Thursday, November 14, 2013

my girl(s)

Horsie and baby

Tonight's ride was not great. Lucy was in a mood right from the start and had no interest in behaving, especially not on a long rein. She walked just fine but when I asked her to pick up a trot she was an insta-idiot. Every little sound set her off and she really wanted to be bad. So, she got her butt handed to her by moi, and she did a lot of leg yields at all three gaits.

The ride turned out ok in the end. I think this was a night she could have really used some time to either zoom in the indoor and get the sillies out, which I do not like doing but sometimes it's unavoidable, or I could have put her on a line and let her warm up really well without a rider before getting on.

That's right, horse.

She was especially bad at the canter. You can almost smell the attitude here.

Hell yeah, look at that heel. Even out of shape I still know how to stick!

Sigh...I guess every ride post-time-off can't be great.

After this ride, though, I am wondering if it's smart to continue working her under saddle. I think I'll give it one more shot, maybe giving her a better chance to warm up first/zoom. If she's still a wild child, that will be it for me. Not worth the risk.

Diamond rings and the barn do not mix.

On Tuesday I wasn't going to ride, but our new boarder Natalie arrived at the barn just as I was finishing up with chores and got her new horse, Comic, all tacked up. I thought, hmmmmm, maybe I will tack Lucy up too! So I did, and we headed over to the indoor together and hopped on our horses. I let Lucy walk for a very long time, letting her stretch, then collecting her, then letting her stretch again. She felt so supple, and was responding to my inside leg nicely instead of leaning on it.

I picked up a little trot and she was a very good girl, so we moved onto the canter. She was great, especially to the right. I just love her.

I went home, made dinner, spent some time on the computer, and went to bed. Yesterday morning, I got up and went through my normal morning routine, but then could not find my wedding rings anywhere. I searched the whole house as fast as I could, looked in my car, and looked in/around my desk at work. No sign of them! Finally I called Kenny and broke the news to him. He asked me the age-old question: "When do you last remember seeing them?" I stared at him blankly. I had no idea!

I am horrible about taking them off without really thinking about what I am doing. I leave them laying around all the time. I am notorious for taking them off at the barn when I'm going to ride because they pinch my ring finger when I'm holding the reins. I was petrified that I had taken them off at the barn before my ride on Tuesday, put them in my jean pocket or jacket, and that they had fallen out somewhere at the barn.

After work yesterday, I zoomed to the barn and started searching. I looked through the whole barn, sifted through Lucy's bedding in case they had fallen out in her stall, looked in the barn driveway (which, of course, is rock/gravel), walked down the path to the indoor, and then did the famous zig-zag pattern through the whole indoor, scanning the footing as I walked.


I contemplated the possibility that they had fallen out in the stall, she had eaten them, and they were going to be pooped out in her paddock. I was about ready to panic.

I found a friend who could hook me up with a metal detector so I decided to wait until I had the chance to search with that, especially in the indoor since the footing is so fluffy that it could easily cover up the rings if a horse walked close to where they fell. She wasn't going to be able to get me the detector until tonight (Thursday) or Friday at the earliest, though, so I resigned myself to being ringless and went home.

Once home, I was pretty cold from being out at the barn searching, so I went to my closet and pulled out a hot pink zip-up hoodie. I happened to be wearing it the night my rings went missing, too, and although I searched through my jean pockets, jacket pockets, pants I wore to bed (and even peeled back the sheets to see if they fell out of my pj pants pocket when I was sleeping!!), I forgot that I had put the sweatshirt on and so I didn't check it.

Well, in the pocket of the sweatshirt were my two rings, safe and sound. I must have taken them off when I was sitting at my computer, and slipped them into the pocket.

I felt so relieved and happy (and STUPID!) but I am just so glad they aren't lost.

To end this happy story, here is a photo of Lucy and her new lookalike boyfriend Comic Book ("Comic"), obviously having a dance-off:

photo by Maddy

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Nice Lucy returns

Lucy has been going exceptionally well. I've been on her here and there and she has been happy and well-behaved. I did contact the chiropractor and saddle fitter to have her checked out but honestly, I think she's fine and was just having a bad week when she was showing a bit of 'tude.

Amanda has also been having good rides. Here are some shots from the other day:

I sucked at photography on this day, unfortunately!

cute, y/y??
mostly I just snuggle with her and clean up after her :)
Baby Taylor is getting bigger and I finally felt her kicking last weekend. I was so happy! I had my 5 month ultrasound yesterday and everything looked great.

hellooooo, baby!
We've been working on some fairly significant home renovations, too:

this WAS our apartment that we rented out, but it will soon be a big family
room with a huge couch and a nice big TV to enjoy. I'm excited! We are also
re-doing our main bathroom, and of course the baby's room has to be done too.

Kenny and my Dad, who is an electrical engineer, sorting out the wiring
Cairo has even been helping! Here she is approving of the hardware Kenny needed
at Home Depot. I love that they allow dogs in there!

occasionally I lend a hand, too. Here I am nailing up the new insulation. Goooo preggo!
As you can see, life is pretty busy but I am still around! I'm also starting to work on Christmas orders for saddle pads and ornaments so if you're thinking about ordering something, please get the orders in asap so I can budget time appropriately. Examples and prices are over at Polar Square Designs.

Also, check out the contest over at Equestrian at Hart to win a jar of Higher Standards Leather Care soap!

Equine Affaire 2013

On Thursday, Maddy and I ventured to West Springfield, MA for Equine Affaire. The only item on my agenda for the day was to attend a 2 hour marketing discussion for SmartPak that I had signed up for (not gonna lie, I was totally hoping we'd get free stuff and that's the only reason I agreed to spend two precious hours of my one day at EA talking to SP about their marketing), but we had time before the SP thing to watch a bit of the versatility.

This little mare was so cool and tried very hard!

After watching that for a while, we zipped through a portion of the vendors and then headed to the SmartPak meeting. It was more or less a brainstorming session for them to ask us, the customer, about some of their products and their ideas for upcoming projects. I took the opportunity to tell them things I really liked about their program, and things I thought totally sucked. They asked questions about their products, including blankets, breeches, and what brands we preferred. The great part about SmartPak is that they actually LISTEN to their customers, which is why I didn't really mind spending the time to talk to them. I didn't worry that my time and feedback was going to be wasted on a company that didn't care what the customers wanted.

Some of the feedback I gave them included asking them to put some kind of measuring chart on blankets so we know not only how big the blanket measures, but how it fits. Is it REALLY a 78, or is it an 81 with a tag that says 78 (Rambo/WeatherBeeta, anyone?). Will it fit a horse with a thick neck? Big hip? Short back? Simply measuring from the chest to the butt is not a all-encompassing measurement and I hate getting a blanket that does not fit right! I suggested getting some horsey models that represent some of the body types out there, like tall/lean TB, stocky QH, thick pony, draft, draft cross, Arabian, etc, giving their measurements, and giving examples of brands and models of blankets that work well for that particular horse. That would make it much easier to compare your own horse to the horsey models and figure out which blanket to buy.

The group in the room was quite diverse, with riders from all disciplines represented, including Western riders. At the end of the discussion we all got $50 gift cards to SmartPak and we were thrilled!!! Maddy and I beelined it down to the SmartPak booth and she bought Brantley a beautiful new cooler that will have his name embroidered on it. I didn't see anything I really needed or wanted so I saved mine.

We spent the rest of the day watching a few clinics and looking at the rest of the vendor booths. I bought a sweet padded leather bracelet with Honolulu engraved on it. I have wanted one for so long but couldn't justify spending $30+ on one. A booth at EA had them for $15 so I bought one and am so excited to finally be wearing it! It has pink leather padding and looks very sharp.

trying to take a photo of your own hand is totally awkward.

I also got Cairo's jacket embroidered with her name and an image of a Ridgeback on it. It looks so cute!

modeling it during our walk on Friday
All in all it was a great day!

You need one of these.

My friend Alicia made me a mini Lucy!

She crocheted it by hand and matched the markings perfectly to Lulu's dainty stripe and three socks.


So is Lucy!

mom I wanna snuggle it!
She is taking orders for the holidays so if you want your own mini version of your horse, email Alicia at Alicia_torres5990 AT As a bonus, these hand made bundles of cuteness do not cost you monthly boarding fees, do not need their little hooves trimmed every six weeks, do not poop in water buckets, do not bash you in the face when you try to hug them, and do not gleefully roll in the mud upon seeing you approach their paddock wearing breeches and holding a halter.

She has priced them so reasonably that they would also make awesome Secret Santa gifts for your friends/family/CoTH people/barn parties. 

Here is Alicia and her horse Mollie, who is the chestnut mare I rode over the summer while Lucy was still Broken. Mollie moved to a new barn with what is possibly the most gorgeous indoor I have ever seen in my life.

the light! the footing! it was so nice.
And here are a couple nice headshots I got of Mollie, who has two expressions: "I don't give a crap about whatever is going on here and I am going to look totally bored and unimpressed," and, "Oh look how cute and sweet and lovely I am with my pricked ears and soft eyes and super cool blaze!"

Luckily we got the second expression on camera:

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

One year

This week marks one year since the horrible day Lucy got away from me after being spooked by a dog in the woods during an early morning ride. We were scheduled to participate in a Really Fancy Clinic at Equine Affaire in just a few days, but all that came crashing down when she slipped and fell while running through rush hour traffic. I think that was truly the worst day I have ever experienced with horses. I will never forget running down the road thinking "Please don't let her get hit by a car". That, my friends, is something I hope none of you EVER have to pray for.


 The months following that day were filled with many questions. She had been x-ray'd up the wazoo the day of the accident, and no breaks or fractures were found. Still, something was wrong. Some days she was great to ride and on others, she was awful. Thus began months and months of vet visits, tests, and ultimately a three day stay at Tuft's, where she was diagnosed with a ligament injury in her back.

Then she got lots of time off, and ultimately was cleared to start rehabbing. Two months later, she was cleared to start going under saddle again. She has been doing great for a few months now, and that brings us full circle, closing out an entire year our partnership.

A month or so before the accident; not a care in the world.
About a week before the accident, with Lauren

I have never wrapped, bandaged, cold hosed, cleaned, scrubbed, hand-walked, or medicated a horse so much in my life as I have done in the past year with Lucy, but I am just glad she's healthy, happy, and sound. I am very well-aware that the outcome of that horrible day last November could have been much, much worse.

thrilled to be out handwalking!

As much as I was sad to miss out on riding during my last summer before I would become a mother to my own child, I knew it would be worth the wait in the end. I am very relieved she came back to work with a new, more relaxed outlook on life, because she easily could have gone the other way and been a total psycho!

kind of like this.
I like Sweet Lucy much better.

So here's to you, Honolulu. Please don't ever pull that shit again.