She’s Home!

After being postponed once last week due to weather, Nibbles arrived home on Friday afternoon. Home, of course, being the boarding barn about 30 minutes south of my house/work where Joker and I have been hanging out. Although this winter has been mild for northern Indiana save a few dumps of snow, it’s apparently decided to make (hopefully) its final stand just in time for Nibbles’ return to me. On Friday, it was about 20*, snowing and quite windy. Perhaps not ideal weather for transport but the roads were not slick so the switch was made.

IMG_6390

fresh off the trailer

I didn’t get very many pictures because my phone dies almost immediately when it gets to be about 20* or below. Wimp. But Nibbles walked on the trailer without batting an eyelash I’m told and hauled like a champ. She unloaded fine (after deciding she’d like to stay in the warm trailer just a little bit longer please), hopped off and walked inside like nbd.

Took off her wraps and took her for a few laps around the indoor. A couple of snorts and that was it. No spooking, no silliness, just taking it in. We put her out in her quarantine paddock and she walked around a bit after we tucked her in. We left her to grab Joker which she didn’t care for much and started screaming a little. I got her a few flakes of hay and that was the end of that.

IMG_6394

nom

Joker hopped on the trailer pretty quickly and off he went. He’s going to be spending some time in bootcamp with Elise at the barn Nibbles was at in Michigan. He’s been on Ulcergard for about 6 days now so hopefully he starts to get some relief.

Saturday was brutally cold and windy with a frostbite warning. I had them keep Nibbles indoors all day because, even with her blanket, she just doesn’t have much of a coat this winter. It was a good decision because the roads were bad and I couldn’t make it out.

IMG_4327

the little black dot is Nibbles

Sunday was Valentine’s Day and my husband was cooking steaks for us at home (he’s an AMAZING cook). While he was meal prepping and finishing some homework, I jetted to the barn to see Nibbles for the first time since Friday. It was 15* and – yes, still snowing –  windchill 0*.

I got to the barn to find it deserted. I must be nuts to want to ride in this. Elise said I’m dedicated. Pretty sure I’m just nuts… The barn is sort of off the beaten path and I’m not sure how often the road gets plowed or salted. The main roads are fine but the road the barn is off of is MIA right now – you can’t tell where the road ends and the fields begin. It’s just solid snow. Everywhere.

IMG_6393

Anyway! I was there and super excited to see my horse. In the barn, I got everything ready. Threw the bridle in the heated lounge, dug through my tack trunk from Michigan (Elise sent my earmuffs and shims, God love her), put my stirrups back on my dressage saddle, staged my riding boots. I intentionally ran around getting things together to try to warm up – except my fingers, it was a success. I grabbed her halter and headed back into the tundra to retrieve the beast. She was munching quietly on hay and let me snuggle her before I put her halter on. I had a nightmare that she was a lunatic and bowed a tendon running around in the frozen mud so I naturally checked her legs. Nothing, clean, tight. Phew!

She followed me into the barn and quietly stood on the cross ties like a normal horse – completely alone in the barn, not a single horse in a stall. This is a situation in which Joker would have been doing his very best to be sent to the looney bin. But Nibbles was fine – albeit I could tell she was cold when I took her blanket off, poor thing. I don’t have a quarter sheet so I speed tacked up and hurried into the arena to get her moving asap.

IMG_4322

post ride. insert cookie here

I walked her around the arena a few times in both directions to let her get a look at things. They have a lot of stuff (read: junk) in the arena; only one corner is even open. In one corner they have a ton of jump standards, a tractor and a barrel of…I’m not sure what but it looks like frozen oil.  In another corner they have corral panels, a four wheeler/gator thing, and a buggy. In the other corner, they have (get ready) insulation for the lounge they’re finishing, a ton of wood, a huge stack of hay bales, tarps and two buzz saws. So really it’s an indoor arena/storage shed/pony death trap. I was prepared to give Nibbles lots of time to console her gerbils.

Except for being tense, she was perfect. That pretty much sum it ups.

She looked at things as we walked around, smelled what she wanted to smell, and we went to work. I put her on the lunge with side reins and told myself we would at least lunge properly, even if riding seemed off the table for our very first day. She wanted to counter bend quite a bit and look but settled in after 15 minutes and gave me some really nice stretching and rhythm. It wasn’t on the same level as at the Michigan barn but I didn’t expect that this time. Frankly, I know I was a bit nervous – it was our first time without training wheels (aka Trainer Elise) since last APRIL… like 10 months ago, what the what.

IMG_4325

I really needn’t have worried. Tension was our biggest hurdle – and there were definitely moments when she relaxed over her topline. I lunged her for about half an hour, maybe a smidge more. She was blowing ever so slightly and definitely hadn’t broken a sweat.

So I got on. I was consciously tense and cold so I know I affected her. But she was such a good girl. We walked in both directions and had one spook at the large back door when the wind banged it loudly. Spooking was a crouch and hop then walking on like oh, we’re alive, ok, onwards. We did our tight-loop serpentines but I didn’t add in any lateral work this time. We trotted in both directions and got a few nice moments on the 20m circle. It was a little fussy and tense overall. After a particularly nice trot, I decided to end there – short, sweet and positive. I stuffed her with a few carrots and many “good girls” before taking her back out. I opened the barn door to be literally blinded by snow. Nibbles went back to her hay without any complaints.

IMG_4330

outdoor arena or ice rink?

Had Elise been the one riding her, I’m sure she could have asked for more and gotten it. This ride was just as much about proving to myself that I could do it as it was proving that Nibbles could handle it. I was thrilled with her. If tension is our biggest problem, I feel like we’re in a great position moving forward. She was never silly or ignoring me – just looky and then responding to my lack of relaxation.

What do you do when you know you’re tense come time to ride? Any tricks before and after mounting?

Chchchchchanges

Happy October, everyone! The leaves are changing, our wardrobes are changing, and some things are changing for Miss Nibbles. But before we get to that, can we just take a moment to appreciate fall? It’s finally fall while means boots and cute sweaters and breezes and bonfires and pumpkins and orchards and cider and hard cider and hot cider with alcohol and the most beautiful time of the yearrrrrr.

not my photo but ♥

not my photo but ♥

Okay, now that that is out of my system….

Nibbles has moved barns! Before you panic (because let’s be honest, you are uber invested in Nibbles’ story hahaha), she is still in training with Super Trainer E. Trainer E ended up leaving her position at the farm she was managing and where Nibbles was boarded. A big time trainer is taking the reins there so we have moved on and while figuring out exactly where things will land, Nibbles is at a friend’s beautiful little farm near to Trainer E’s home.

12083698_10153342521468019_1007326961_n

Nibbles loaded right up with Trainer E’s warmblood gelding, Atlas, and settled in pretty quickly. Good mare!

12086825_10153342521413019_1027832867_n

12053381_10153342521913019_67381685_n

Nibbles is probably going to enjoy the change as she will get a ton more turnout and she didn’t even have to give up her love interest, Atlas.

Atlas' 16.3 hands dwarfs Nibbles' 15.2. She cares not.

Atlas’ 16.3 hands dwarfs Nibbles’ 15.2. She cares not.

12048450_10153342520933019_396022941_n

Nibbles had her first ride there yesterday which I’m told went well aside from reassuring her that that hay wagons do not in fact care for horse meat.

Isn't this pano neat?

Isn’t this pano neat?

This arrangement may change in the near future but until things shake out, I think this place is just too cute and I’m so pleased Nibbles is taking the change in stride.

headless horse is curious and loves her window

headless horse is curious and loves her window

Quo Vadis: Part 2 – Current State of Affairs

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.

Last time, I covered where we’ve been.

This time, I’m going to try to objectively talk about where we are now. To help organize my thoughts and not drag you all through a giant narrative, I’ll break this up into my non-horse life, my riding life (or lack thereof) and Nibbles’ life.

My Non-Horse Life Status

Woo, actual headers to break up my ramblings! I think it’s important to reflect on where I’m at now in my life outside of horses because we all know it has a big impact on what we can realistically commit to horses and riding. In the past 3 months, I’ve experienced a massive amount of change. I got married (in June) and we moved for my husband’s two-year MBA program. That means I left my old job (working in the marketing world with many equine clients) and started a new job (that I really enjoy but has nothing to do with horses). Don’t they say the most stressful things in life are starting a new job and getting married? If not for my husband’s amazing support, I couldn’t have accomplished both at the same time. Throw in a European honeymoon and we’ve been, literally, all over the place!

Photo by Jamie Abitz Photography

Photo by Jamie Abitz Photography

As stressful as that sounds – and it was – things are better than they have been for me probably ever. I have an amazing support system, steady employment, and I know I’ll be in this location until at least May 2017 (MBA and all).

What does that mean for what you care about, the horse part of my life? It means I can finally look at a budget I know isn’t changing anytime soon, look at my other commitments requiring a lot of my time, and carve out what can be “spent” on horses and riding.

It’s taken a long, long time to get here. I know it won’t always be smooth sailing. Exhibit A: Surprise, we have to buy husband a new laptop for grad school. But it feels good to finally be mostly stable.

 

My Horse Life Status

The last time I rode was visiting Nibbles July 13th and before that was in April. But I’ve taken the first step to change that:

I scheduled a lesson with a local trainer. I am beyond excited. My last lesson was last May and, while I was annoyed with what I couldn’t make my body do, I had a blast. This Saturday can hurry up and get here as far as I’m concerned. I’ll be riding one of the trainer’s school horses since Nibbles is still 4 hours away and will be until at least after her first show on September 20th.

Ok so those half chaps ARE pretty fugly...

Ok so those half chaps ARE pretty fugly…

Additionally, I’m trying to sell my trailer. It needs some work so I’m not asking much and hoping that will lead to a relatively quick sale. In fact, I’m working with a local dealership to trade it in for a flatbed trailer that I can then sell (I hope) much easier.

As far as tack goes, I really don’t need anything right now. I have everything I need to ride. Given, I still have my ugly helmet that does need replacing but that will come after I’ve committed to regular lessons (as a little incentive, ya know?). Given that we now live pretty far north (think Chicago-ish), I have a feeling I’ll be investing in some winter riding pants and boots. But for now, I’m going to delude myself into thinking I can survive with what I have and pat my wallet.

Hoping this is not in my future with Nibbles

Hoping this is not in my future with Nibbles

Nibbles’ Little Life Update

Nibbles is broke. I love writing that sentence! That was the whole point of sending her for training and it’s definitely been accomplished. She’s green but she is most definitely broke.

August 11 - photo by Trainer E

August 11 – photo by Trainer E

I’ve committed to sending her to her first dressage show on September 20th. I’ll be heading up there as groom, cheerleader and photographer. After that, it seems likely that she will be making her appearance in my neck of the woods which means I am fervently looking for the right boarding situation (hopefully even at the barn of whomever I decide to lesson with). She’s green and I’m out of riding shape so I want to be as close to a support system as I can be.

Next up: the good stuff – where we are going in the future.

 

Third Ride

photo (6)

After four days of not getting on her, Nibbles got ridden again last night. That makes it her third ride. She did get worked on the line on one of those four days but I wanted to let the puffiness go down (it did) and I needed to work with my other mare (we did).

Nibbles was more distracted than normal last night. Part of me considered not getting on. She wasn’t actually doing anything bad, was just jittery and kept wanting to look out OTI (Our Tiny Indoor) doors. I decided I felt confident in my ability to handle if she bucked or bolted and my sister was on the same page. So I hopped on and she didn’t do anything wrong. She was still looky and I felt like she was holding her pelvis up as though she had to pee. I hopped off and tried to see if she’d go but no success. So got back on and we set to work. The trot was more rushed with a little more tension than last time (the first time) but it was there in both directions on the lunge. I sort of laughed to myself because she’s done exceptionally well so far that I sort of forgot how green she really is. How she was last night is how I’d expect a greenie to be.

photo (7)

When we untacked, she dropped the bridle completely calmly. That was an issue just two weeks ago. She’s progressing by leaps and bounds in so many little details. I’m immensely proud of her. After we brushed her off, we went to practice trailer loading. This has been a goal for us as the last time she loaded, it took over an hour. She had a bad experience loading two times before (as in flipped herself over backwards).

Strategically, I brought her dinner to feed to her on the trailer. Before we even shook the bucket, she walked straight on the dang thing after maybe 2 seconds of looking at it. I’ll take it! So we praised her and rubbed her and let her eat.

Wouldn’t you know it: while she was standing quietly on the trailer, she peed. I knew she was holding it in! It explained what I was feeling what I was on her. After that, she got to go back out with her friends with a little unwrapped poultice on her back legs for good measure.