Lesson with Pearl Classical Dressage 2/6/16 – 2/7/16

I already spilled the beans that I had some amazing rides with Elise this past weekend. I’ve taken my time writing down notes and things I want to be sure to remember because there was so much goodness. That’s not to say that I didn’t struggle. I struggled a lot but I didn’t get frustrated and I didn’t give up – my hip did but more on that later.

Although I want to be an interesting blogger, my primary goal is to be able to reference posts like this in the future when I want to look back. Feel free to breeze past the boring stuff for the meat from the lesson!

I arrived late Friday night to Elise’s house and we stayed up talking horses, dressage and flipping through some books together. Nerdery supreme – and it was awesome! In particular, I was devouring The Elements of Dressage as well as Dressage for the Not-so-perfect horse. The latter book Elise sent home with me because she recently read it cover to cover and marked it up with all kinds of good notes. Yay homework! I definitely want to get a copy of both books for my own collection. They are excellent!

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We woke up Saturday morning and didn’t rush straight to the barn. After a stop for donuts (omg German chocolate donut wut), we ran a couple of errands. I picked up a tube of Ulcergard for Nibbles for the move (1 dose/day for 4 days). I also scored a bag of feed as I will be keeping Nibbles on the feed she’s been on when she moves – Tribute Essential K (2/3# twice daily). For anyone unfamiliar, it is akin to Buckeye’s Gro N Win. It’s a ration balancer with a very low NSC (starch content) which I really like because it doesn’t light her little tail on fire. She’s a fairly easy keeper, too, and when she moves she’ll be back on 24/7 turnout with tons of hay.

After a few errands, we made it to the barn where Nibbles is at. Elise had another lesson before me so I plucked Nibbles from her pasture and decided to groom her. She was by herself in the cross ties and was very wiggly. Cue me panicking – I joked with Elise that I have cross tie PTSD after Joker’s cross tie shenanigans. Of course, Nibbles didn’t do anything dramatic, she was just super wiggly and looking around when she was alone and couldn’t see any other horses. She pawed once or twice, I told her no, and that was that. Nibbles rarely argues which is one thing I love about her.

We tacked up and I borrowed Elise’s stirrups because mine are with Joker (whoops!). We agreed that I should do the warm up and be the first to get on. There’s no time like the present to take the reins!

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Elise lunging Nibbles in December

Guys, my horse is a boss. I put her on the lunge first so Elise could coach me through what they have been working on. I’m not good at play by play so how about a list…

  • Starting out very briefly without side reins then attached them firmly but no where near cranked (third D-ring on the side reins we we using).
  • Flick her shoulder/ribcage to create the correct bend or correct counter flexion.
  • Half halt with the lunge line just like when you are riding.
  • After she’s had a few minutes on a 20m circle, spiral in and out at the trot and canter between 10m, 15m and 20m circles. Carefully keep the bend and do not let her fall in at the shoulder. She has a tendency to do this to the right.
  • Play with transitions within the gait as well. She can really sit if you half halt and send her forward into the contact.
  • The goal is to get her warm and swinging through her back.
  • I didn’t lunge her first on Sunday and could tell a big different in her readiness to get to work and accept contact. Elise agreed it may be wise to lunge her first to warm up her back and get her accepting the contact before I get on for a while.

I was really impressed with Nibbles’ ability to not only canter on a 10m circle, but to do it really freaking well. It’s absolutely clear that Elise has carefully worked on her fitness and balance.

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Another from December

I want to note that lunging like this is not mindless circles and it is not about blowing off steam. It is thoughtful in-hand work to prepare Nibbles mentally and physically for the demands of the rider. She really tuned into me and wanted to work. Her expression was, “What’s next? Wheeee!” She’s such a happy horse.

After I felt like I understood a typical lunging session, it was time to mount up. Long time readers may recall that Nibbles’ was bad about the mounting block. No more! I mounted up and off we went. Although she wasn’t “up” or spicy, Elise had me do an exercise she uses when she is:

From wall to centerline, walk in tight serpentine loops down the longside. You should be able to fit in 6 or more in a dressage arena. Work towards seeing how little rein you can use and really get her moving off your leg and, eventually seat.

When she’s in a working frame of mind, leg yield at the walk in both directions from just off the wall to centerline – straighten – then leg yield back again. Did I mention my horse leg yields like a boss in both walk and trot now? Yeah, that’s a thing.

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Yay, a photo from this lesson!

Move on to shoulder-fore in both directions. This is still relatively new to Nibbles so don’t over school it. Get a few solid steps then straighten and praise her (scratch her withers and tell her good girl). Praise her before she feels like she can’t hold it anymore and she will get stronger with time. The outside rein is extremely important – do not throw it away or she will trail her hind end. Don’t try to over correct the hind end: correct your outside rein and, like magic, the hind end gets into gear.

If she gets above the bit and/or tense through her back, use an opening rein just off the wall to ask for one step off the track in either direction. It’s amazing how quickly she gets back with the program. Elise rode Nibbles in a clinic with a grand prix trainer and picked up this exercise. Reins should be opening – out but not down. You can do this multiple times down the longside and once, maybe twice, on the short side. We did this in both the walk and trot.

You’ll notice all of these notes are about exercises in the walk and trot. That’s because we were about 45 minutes in when we went to canter for the first time and my body gave a big fat NOPE. As soon as Nibbles went to pick up the canter like a good girl, my right hip started spasming like someone had stuck a hot knife in it. I talked to a PT friend and, without seeing it in person, she hypothesized that perhaps I had been gripping with my lower leg more than I realized. This can create tension and ultimately pain the hips. I think it was a combination of this and me being very, very tight through my hips naturally. I think they were just pushed to their limit considering I hadn’t ridden in the past week and hadn’t done much more than walking in several weeks on Joker. I felt relief only by completely dropping my stirrups.

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Not sending her forward enough, reins could be shorter by the shoulders being improved

Nibbles is green but she is really so easy. My hip was really, really hurting so I kind of freaked out and tried to stretch it in any way possible. This meant one second I was asking her to canter, the next I was frog-legging, bicycling, throwing my leg to the other side like we were going sidesaddle… just trying to find relief. And the mare walked on the buckle like I got you mom. We tried to canter a couple more times. I decided not to drop my stirrups (I was pooped at this point) which in hindsight I wish I had given a shot. We got a 20m circle or two at the canter where I had to really force my hips open. There were a couple of strides where my hips finally relaxed but they would quickly spasm again so I waved the white flag.

We spent a little while thereafter working on the free walk. We didn’t have a correct free walk quite yet – it was more like she swallowed a telephone pole. To her credit, my seat was basically just flopping around trying to stay upright at that point so I don’t blame her.

Unfortunately, my hip pain continued into Sunday which means we made it about 15 minutes into the lesson before, even at the trot, my hips were screaming. It was again primarily my right hip (I think adductor muscle). We didn’t lunge first so Nibbles was colder through her back and not seeking the contact. It wasn’t super pretty but it also wasn’t hopeless – my body was betraying me and she just wasn’t quite ready to get to work. I considered getting off completely but Elise and I had thrown around the idea of going for a road hack and it was 30 degrees and sunny. So we opened up the big loud barn door (good mare don’t care) and headed out.

I’ve never ridden Nibbles outside of the arena. Until Sunday, she’s only ever hacked out alone. Elise says she LOVES trail riding and I was super excited to experience it. Homegirl went on autopilot. She was so happy – ears forward and neck swiveling to look around and take everything in. I say that but she wasn’t looking for something to spook at, I swear she was just enjoying her surroundings.

Elise was on her gelding, Atlas, and we headed up the road together. I dropped my stirrups as we walked because ahhhh relief and Nibbles was showing off her mad skills. Is there anything better than a horse you can hack out on the buckle? Atlas is pretty massive (16.3) and Nibbles is 15.2ish and she was taking her time sight seeing so we were getting left behind. I pushed her into a trot and she happily obliged. I’m pretty sure at this point I was laughing for joy. When I sent Nibbles to Elise, she had a small handful of rides and we had no steering. And now we were trotting up a road with our big girl panties on without a worry in the world. Well, there was one offensive boulder we gave a wide berth. And my hip gave me the bird after 30 seconds of posting. But my joy would not be deterred!

It was a quick hack, up the road, over a small bridge, and back. We had a couple of trucks pass us. I picked up my stirrups for the first one but didn’t bother for the others if that tells you how much she cared about them. When we got back to the barn, it was buzzing as there was a grand prix trainer coming in for a clinic in a little over an hour. So we snapped a quick picture (that I posted yesterday) and put ponies away.

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Notice one of us stole the other’s stirrups? xD

Like I said, I struggled in places over the weekend but it was awesome – none of it was because Nibbles was saying no or being silly. In fact, except for being wiggly the one time in the cross ties, she was foot perfect. If I asked in the right way, she said “Yes, absolutely!” If I asked in the wrong way (ahem pulling on the reins too much), she was a big fat tattle tale and giraffed it out until I fixed myself/asked correctly. Some other takeaways about my position/riding…

  • Really engage my traps and think about pulling my shoulder blades together (like in a low row at the gym) and softening them down. This is more correct and effective than just “shoulders back.” Desk job is killing my position.
  • Hip to heel line is generally good in walk and trot… cantering I definitely close my hip angle but not sure beyond that from this trip because of my mutinous hip!
  • Hands need to be UP (at least one fist above my saddle) – lower is not kinder.
  • Do not nag her with your hands.
  • Really make the outside rein your anchor, especially tracking right and in the lateral work.
  • Send her forward – she will suck back a little if I let her. Forward is the answer. Always forward, even if you change gait, just keep her on the track.

We knew this from the massage therapist back before her show in September but she is out in her C5 vertebrae and needs a chiropractic adjustments. This shows up especially when tracking and bending right. Her mane is also flipping very closeby and I have a hunch it will go back to one side after a few adjustments. I also want to bump her grain up just a hair; she could stand to gain 30-50 pounds.

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Elise and Atlas in the clinic this week. Stole this from her Instagram like a straight up bandit because GOALS. How amazing do they look?

The Itch

It’s getting worse.

Thank goodness for trainers who text lots of pictures

Thank goodness for trainers who text lots of pictures

I haven’t ridden since my lesson in August. If anything, it only made it worse – the itch to ride again. The itch to have my riding muscles back. The itch to be at the barn, in the saddle, as often as I can. In my heart, mounting up again felt like coming home. My body begged to differ. I know it’s a matter of strength. But building strength takes time in the saddle – something I am short on.

I think I’m normally a pretty positive blogger. I’m feeling a little down so hopefully I can indulge myself in a little self pity and move on.

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The reality is that, with Nibbles in training, my only opportunity to ride is in lessons or through a lease. Being out of shape, I don’t have a whole lot to offer by catch riding or offering to keep horses in shape. Heck, I need them to get me back in riding shape. With a horse in training, I cannot afford to lease another. Actually, I cannot afford to take lessons. That’s really what it boils down to. I’m paying to keep my horse in training – and the results are in incredible. But the consequences are that, right now, I do not get to ride myself. Additionally, some other unplanned for expenses have arisen that, frankly, are large enough to completely squash my ability to even pay for two $45 lessons in a month.

Tucker commiserates with me.

Tucker commiserates with me.

Even at a lesson every other week – when that is all the riding I can do without my own horse – is it really even worth it? I know, woe is me. But that’s where I’m at right now. And I still have the itch. But I cannot scratch. Some days, when I feel like I cannot possible stand the itch anymore, I contemplate selling Nibbles and using the money to pay for lessons or a lease for the next year and a half while hubby finishes MBA program.  I live in (nearly) the middle of no where for now and I know two horse people here, neither of which have something I can ride for free.

Please help this lady. She's wearing me out.

Please help this lady. She’s wearing me out.

Anyone know of a horse in northern Indiana I can adopt until March? I promise endless carrots and curries (the brushing kind, not the cuisine, although my husband is Indian…)! I’m trying my darndest to be patient. I know when winter comes, I’ll calm down a little. But right now, in this gorgeous fall weather – my FAVORITE – I’m slowly dying.

Quo Vadis: Part 3 – What Lies Ahead

Quo Vadis is Latin for “Where are you going?” (Before I decided on a business degree, I was a philosophy and classical studies major so forgive me the chance to toss in a little Latin.) In this mini-series, I’m going to articulate where I’ve been, where we are now, and finally where Nibbles and I are heading. This is a personal exercise to make me think critically about my goals but also to further introduce myself to the wonderful blogging community that has supported me so much already.

If you’re just joining us, check out Part 1: A Riding and Not Riding History and Part 2: Current State of Affairs.

A goal without a plan is just a wish.

I don’t know who said it first but I’ve found this statement to be 100% true. I tend to have a lot of ideas and ambitions but if I don’t set tangible goals along the way of a strategic plan, I don’t arrive at the destination.

I’ve seen a lot of you write goals on your blogs and I’ve always admired the practice. I took a stab at goals for Nibbles in spring of 2014 and made progress or accomplished 50% of them. Very shortly thereafter, I lessoned with a trainer who asked me what my goal was with horses. My answer: I honestly don’t know right now.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and I’ve come to two conclusions:

  1. My riding is important enough to me to deserve a strategic plan.
  2. That strategic plan, once written, can change.

I’ve hesitated over writing out goals because I didn’t think my plan could change. Silly, I know, but I had that mental hurdle. But who says your goals can’t change? Right now, I want to compete. Maybe I’ll get a few shows in and go, you know, I enjoy this a heck of a lot more at home. Or maybe I’ll say man, this is my jam, we gotta up those competitive goals. And that’s the beauty and genius of goals – they can be fluid if you let them.

And because I am that person and I love strategy and lists, I’m going to push myself to make these goals S.M.A.R.T.

SMART-Goals

So, readers, here are my fluid but S.M.A.R.T. goals. This is where we are headed.

Short Term Riding Goals

  • Commit to bi-weekly lessons to primarily improve my in-the-saddle fitness and prepare for taking over Nibbles’ primary training by October 1, 2015.
    • The goal is not perfection. The goal is getting my mind and body saddle-fit.
  • When Nibbles arrives, commit to 4 rides per week for the first 30 days. Evaluate number of rides per week thereafter.
    • This is more about me managing my time better than a matter of what Nibbles needs so it may adjust if she mentally needs more/less.
  • Compete in one (dressage) schooling show (on Nibbles or another horse) in at least Intro C by December 31, 2015.
    • Ideally on Nibbles but since I’m a recycled-green-bean myself, I’m flexible.

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Short Term Nibbles Goals

  • Research and reserve a boarding barn in my area within a 40 minute commute and with an indoor arena by October 1, 2015.
    • This is already under way and it looks like stall board is my only option. More $$ than I hoped. No really promising leads yet however.
  • Maintain level of training at all gaits and including leg yields through May 1, 2015 (AKA when winter is finally gone from this far north). Evaluate strength for more complex work or additional training thereafter.
    • This is conservative. I want trainers’ opinions on how hard to push and what to add to her repertoire when.
  • Obtain saddle fitting and reflocking to ensure optimum comfort by December 31, 2015.

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Short Term Together Goals (after Nibbles is local to me)

  • Commit to bi-weekly lessons that advance both myself and Nibbles’ training towards Training Level through December 31, 2015.
  • Schedule trail rides at least twice monthly depending on buddy availability to continue Nibbles’ exposure to all the things through December 31, 2015.
  • Continue incorporating trot poles and cavaletti into Nibbles’ training regime. If possible, introduce cross rails for cross training, strength and confidence building by December 31, 2015.

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Long Term Together Goals (aka the scary but awesome)

  • Obtain our USDF Bronze Medal by December 31, 2020.
  • Complete a limited distance ride by December 31, 2016.
  • Break Nibbles to drive because why not whenever I can find someone with a harness and cart.
  • Take my stepdaughter to her first leadline class on Nibbles by December 31, 2017.
  • Ride bridleless. Someday.
And maybe even have a baby one of these sometime...

And maybe even have a baby one of these sometime…

Frank Sinatra Gives Me a Lesson

The verdict on my first lesson in over a year can be summed up in two words: humbling and amazing. It was a balmy 90 degrees and muggy with rain storms on the way. My parents were in town and my husband came as well which meant that a) I would have media and b) everyone would see that I’m basically a beginner all over again.

Meet Frank Sinatra

Meet Frank Sinatra

My ride for the day was a 16.3 hand Hanoverian/Paint gelding named Frankie (short for Frank Sinatra). Frank is a confidence builder supreme and let me flop around while I struggled to find my balance. Being used to 15 hand Arabians, Frank was a tank to me but I really, really enjoyed him.

blue eyed boy

blue eyed boy

As soon as I mounted (using a massive mounting block I might add), my right hip started spasming. I’ve always had weak hips and it didn’t take long for my body to remind me that I’m no longer a teenager. The instructor – we’ll call her Trainer J – showed me some stretches that were challenging but really beneficial. And off we went!

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The first thing I noticed was how tight my body was and Trainer J noticed the same. My seat wanted to stretch tall and long and be supple but there was a massive amount of rust. One of the first things I appreciated about J’s teaching style was her incorporation of baby yoga stretches. Frankie was content to plod along no matter how I contorted my body.

Eventually, my hips started to swing and my leg got a little longer and draped a little better. She also had my exaggerate pulling my shoulders back. A few years behind a desk will really destroy your posture! Looking at photos and videos after makes me realize my shoulders weren’t near as far back as it felt like they were. That was eye opening!

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Trainer J encouraged me to keep the same width between my collar bones as between my shoulder blades. I think this may be a Sally Swift thing but that image really helped me. After getting my joints loosened up at the walk, we moved on to trotting. Boy, I better get used to eating humble pie.

While I can certainly post and I haven’t forgotten my diagonals, the rest of my trot work needs rebuilding. Immediately she called me out on posting much too far out of the saddle and not allowing Frankie’s motion to create the movement. I also started tilting forward and undoing my work to get my shoulders back and core engaged. Darn it!

Best husband ever took some video on his iPhone. Blogging is about the journey and being honest, right? Here you go. I wish it was longer but hubby had limited memory space.

Obviously my toe starts leaving the building but I’m ok with that because I know it’s a lack of strength. She laughed when I told her everything she was saying made sense, I just had to get my body to listen up.

I will say that by the end of the lesson, I felt a lot more confident and I could see a big difference in my leg. Big difference meaning instead of looking like a sack of potatoes I looked like a solid handful – but I’ll take it!

As humbling as it was to be hit in the face with yes, you are a beginner again, I haven’t been so happy since, well, the last time I was on a horse. I am completely consciously incompetent and I have never been so excited to be a novice.

My big takeaways and homework are:

  • Post from your inner thigh, not your knee. Let your leg drape and your toe come in by engaging the inner thigh and not pinching elsewhere.
  • The distance between your collar bones should be the same as the distance between your shoulder blades. Even though my shoulders felt jammed back, seeing myself proves that they definitely were not.
  • Keep a following feel in my elbows while keeping my upper arm draped loosely by my side. This is the only way that I can (eventually) establish elastic contact.
  • Let the horse’s motion create the post. I don’t need to come high out of the saddle, just barely and briefly (which if you switch to is way harder!).
  • Practice stretching my hips (she showed me a few yoga poses) as well as keeping my shoulders back and stretching them regularly at my desk.

Another thing that made me like J is that she brought up lunge lessons. I may have said “YES PLEASE” before she finished her sentence. I would love nothing more than to be put on the lunge line and have my reins and stirrups taken away. Sign me up for independent seat bootcamp!

Money is tight right now with Nibbles’ show so my next lesson won’t be until around September 1st. I’m counting it down.

Quo Vadis: Part 1 – A Riding and Not-Riding History

Quo Vadis is Latin for “Where are you going?” (Before I decided on a business degree, I was a philosophy and classical studies major so forgive me the chance to toss in a little Latin.) In this mini-series, I’m going to articulate where I’ve been, where we are now, and finally where Nibbles and I are heading. This is a personal exercise to make me think critically about my goals but also to further introduce myself to the wonderful blogging community that has supported me so much already.

I haven’t talked all that much about my riding history on this blog. Heck, as far as you guys know, I don’t even ride my beasts. But I promise, I really did used to be competitive and I really am getting back in the saddle (when Nibbles returns home from Trainer E and hopefully even before). I think it’s obvious Nibbles is with a dressage trainer so that is our present aim. I don’t have any long term goals at the moment that I’m willing to utter out loud. As far as I’m concerned, completing the goal of getting her broke is still worthy of celebration. I failed to do that with my past main-mare. That being said, full-training doesn’t last forever which means it’s almost time to look at setting goals for myself and my horse. *gasp*

So before we dive into where we are going, I thought it would be useful to look at where I have been. If you’ve read my About page on this blog, you have heard some of this before.

I started taking lessons when I was 8 years old. I started at an Arabian barn that showed on the Arabian A-circuit – that’s a world in and of itself. I should really scan photos because in looking for a picture of me in those early days, I can’t find anything digital…that ages me a bit.

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Spanish-bred Arabian mare, LF Majorca “Morkie”

In 1998, at age 8, I was showing as a hunter on said Arabian circuit and the mare I was riding helped me win Regionals at KHP. I had been riding for a little less than a year at the time. To say I loved riding and competing was an understatement – even as a kid, I dealt pretty well with the nerves because I just loved being out there so much. To say Morkie was the best teacher isn’t enough – she was just as competitive as me but knew infinitely more.

2000 on Morkie at San N' Tone (Shelbyville, KY)

2000 on Morkie at San N’ Tone (Shelbyville, KY)

In late 2000, my family moved for my father’s job, meaning I had to leave my first-and-only trainer. Since starting in 1997, I hadn’t purchased a horse of my own because my family couldn’t afford it. Instead, my trainer bought a gelding named Shelby she scouted for me and I helped start him and then took him to his first show. He has a very famous brother, HSA Halley’s Comet. Shelby had a penchant for terrorizing my trainer (we’re talking scary bronco style) but he was like the heart horse who was never mine and never tried anything with me. My trainer coached me through teaching him how to drive which he LOVED.

2005

2005 during a visit

After moving in 2000, I didn’t buy Shelby but instead got the once in a lifetime chance to “buy” Morkie for a song. To give a little context, Morkie was born in 1986 and was purchased for $35,000 as a foal. Although she was older when she came into my life, Morkie was a nice mare and an even better teacher. She was the perfect first horse.

Finding a new trainer was hard, especially at a young age. I tried a few who claimed to know a lot but turned out to know very little (as in throw them in side reins and then throw the kid on at the last second). I bounced around barns with Morkie and taught beginner lessons for fun after people who saw me ride asked for help. I backed a lot of horses, catch rode in a few local shows, and even tried showing in 4-H with Morkie. Fun fact – 4-H judges don’t care so much for Arabians in the south. Ask me how I know. But we had fun!

Around 2004, I found a home as a working student with a BNT (at least in the Arabian dressage world). I helped handle her stallions, breed mares, imprint the foals, leased a solid Second Level gelding and in turn got to take lessons. I rode there for a couple years and moved on.

We landed next at a small barn that I ended up running the summer camp for. I started a couple OTTB’s and rode Morkie. It was then that I also rescued Tiki and started down a (very long) natural horsemanship rabbit hole. This is around 2008: I’m not in a regular lesson program with anyone, and am slowly telling myself I’m not good enough to ride my horse or I’ll hurt him. Morkie is still around at this time but was diagnosed with DSLD so was enjoying retirement.

First under saddle trot for Tiki, 2008ish

First under saddle trot for Tiki, 2008ish

In 2009, I bought a four year old, super athletic mare (and just months later, Morkie passed…). I had every intention of backing new mare myself (which I did) and showing her (which I did not but once). That same fall, I started on my bachelors fulltime. I had graduated high school four years earlier (at 16 if you’re doing the math and scratching your head) and struggled with the decision of making horses a career. I ultimately decided to go to business school and get an Equine Business degree that conveniently is a Bachelors in Business Administration meaning it could be multi-purpose.

Pro tip: don’t buy a baby horse with no trainer and start college the same year.

...no matter how pretty

…no matter how pretty

While in college for four years, I took a few lessons from natural horsemanship trainers. They were helpful, don’t get me wrong, but I had no real plan or tangible goals. I also found a dressage trainer who gave me bareback lessons in a hackamore on her schoolmaster. That was fun until she started with some disturbing behavior. The whole we-don’t-use-saddles-here-ever thing should have been a give away but I digress.

In 2013, I was graduating college. While in college, a series of offers led me to putting together a breeding small program (beginning with pretty, super athletic grey mare). Not long after, I lost an imported broodmare who was 90-days in foal to my stallion and that was the start to things careening off the track I thought was right. Tiki had to be put down after a long battle with EPM (that he had when I rescued him I learned later). Morkie has been gone for four years by now. I was able to sell a project horse. But I still had a lot of (unbroke) breeding horses, realized breeding was a money pit (at least for that breed in the post-2008 market), and no clear goals.

By January 2015, I managed to sell two mares, leased out one (whose foal you see sporadically here), and then had to put down my fantastic breeding stallion after a freak pasture accident. That left me with Nibbles whose backing I chronicled on this blog. In May 2015, Nibbles left for Trainer E, getting the kind of education I am way too rusty to give her.

All told, I’ve been out of the saddle since 2009 and I haven’t been taking regular lessons since I was a kid.

Fat mare has moves - 2013

Fat Nibbles has moves – 2013

Nibbles will come home before too long. It will be up to me to continue her training unless I can find another trainer in the right situation (cost, location, all that). This time, I will approach my plans strategically instead of sailing along, letting time pass me by while nice horses become pasture ornaments.

But here’s the beauty of it, no matter how tempting it is to feel sorry for myself – that is my history. The past. It doesn’t define where I’m going.

Stay tuned for Part 2!