Monday, October 26, 2015

I Bought The Lettuce!

Such a sweet-faced boy.
A week or so I wrote a post I called "Lettuce" about a horse I was considering buying.  In a nutshell, it was about my tendency to overthink/ overanalyze damn near everything, which, instead of helping me make decisions, actually paralyzes me and leaves me spinning in circles of doubt. (Suzanne Adams, if you're reading this, may I join the Convicted Over Thinker's club?)  The post was called "Lettuce" because a fellow crazy-horse-girl friend saw the colossal amount of time it took me to decide on a head of lettuce and totally understood why I would analyze something like buying my next horse eighteen ways 'til Sunday. 

So many wonderful readers commented and offered words of advice and encouragement that moved me closer and closer to making the decision. A longtime reader of AWIP, who goes by the name of Fiberchick, said something that galvanized me and gave me the impetus to finally do the deed. She said, "Buy that lettuce and enjoy the salad!"

So I bought the lettuce. His name is Indy, also known as LJS Endeavor if you want to get fancy. He's a 7 year old grey Oldenburg gelding, and he's just a big bundle of sweetness. He is the equine version of a big, fluffy puppy, he loves people, and he looks at everyone with an adorable little boy face that seems to say, "Hi! I'm Indy! Who are you? Wanna play?" 

He's got a great brain, which is what really attracted me to him in the first place.  When I rode him the first time a pony came running up behind us, bucking and snorting.  Indy just cocked an ear.  One time I rode him in the outdoor ring on a cold, windy, drizzly day. No issue for Indy, he couldn't have cared less. One day after a lesson I took him away from the ring and the other horses for a walk in the fields.  He went on the buckle, looking around with interest but no apprehension. He didn't care one bit that he'd left the rest of the herd behind. 

The biggest selling point, however, was the day  I took a lesson on him and rode abysmally.  I mean I was galactically awful. I couldn't find a distance even if I'd had a GPS. That poor horse had to get us out of one jam after the other, and he did it without a single complaint.  No snarkiness, no grudges, although God knows either would have been justified.  He just continued on to the next fence.

Hi!  Is it playtime?

There's a nearby horse park that I love riding at which has lots of trails and cross country jumps.  Indy's been there, done that, and gone through the water complex, which was another huge point in his favor.  I love doing hunter paces, and I'm looking forward to going through water without a half-hour discussion first.  God bless the Sainted Mare's heart, she did NOT like the water.

I've been concerned that when I did get my next horse that I'd do the comparison thing.  I've stopped worrying about that.  This is going to be such a different journey, there won't be any grounds for comparison.  I'm thinking it's like my kids. They're both wonderful kids, but they are vastly different personalities, and comparing them to each other would be pointless.  Good brains aside, Indy and Sug couldn't be more different, and that's going to be the fun part of this journey.  Sug was 12 when I got her, and most of her job was  teaching me.  Indy is younger, and while I will definitely be learning from him, I'm thinking I'll be teaching him as well.  I always felt Sug and I were peers.  I have the sense that in this new partnership I'll be more of the Mom figure. And I'm totally good with that.

So, to Fiberchick, Karley, Anonymous, Lindsay,  Liz, SprinklerBandit, Marissa, thestorysofarequestrian, and Kitty Kat, a huge thanks for your encouragement and support!

I bought the lettuce. And now I'm going to enjoy the salad. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Getting My Goat...

The other day Noah and I were driving down to the barn.  Noah has his driver's permit and was behind the wheel, so for a good portion of the ride any conversation was limited to my observations about his efforts.

Once I'd lowered my heart rate and breathing and felt sufficiently confident that we were not likely to die, we started talking about less life and death stuff, like how our weeks were going.  Noah is very low-content, and will never use 12 words if 2 will suffice, so his recap took about a minute and a half.  It went something like this, "I went to school; it sucked. I had cross country practice and two meets.  I lowered my time in both.  I have to work Friday night." 

My recap was a bit more long-winded. (I am a high content person.  When I can say something in 2 words, I'll still use 50.  I blathered on about work, the amount of travel I had to do, the questionable decisions being made by my superiors, whether or not I should buy the horse I was considering, my frustration with my health issues, what to make for dinner that night, and all the assorted flotsam and jetsam rolling about in my overactive little brain.

(Note: If you want someone to listen to your troubles and pat your hand and say "Poor baby" Noah is not your guy.  Emotion is not his thing.  His response is to an emotional outpouring is normally more likely to be something between Mr. Spock's "That is highly illogical" or "Suck it up, Buttercup.")

After a while I stopped my verbal vomiting and the car was quiet.  Out of nowhere, Noah says,
"You should get a goat."

HUH????  Where the actual hell did that come from?? I had no earthly idea where the kid was coming from.  My inner dialogue went something like this, "A goat?  Why a goat? I have nowhere to put a goat. What did I say that made him think I needed a goat? What kind of goat? A Nubian? Australian mini? Should I get a bunch of goats and start an artisanal goat cheese business?"  Aaaaannnnnnddddd it's off! My brain, perpetually on overdrive.

After that little mental meandering I managed to circle back to ask him why he thought I needed a goat.

"You know how some trainers get goats to calm high-strung horses? Like thoroughbreds at the track? You need a goat."

Anyone know where I can get a goat?

Friday, October 16, 2015

My Happy Place...

You know, the whole riding thing is wonderful. The feeling that you and your horse are communicating and working together toward a common goal, or just out there having fun together.

I love riding, but sometimes I think I love just hanging out with the horses more. I love the grooming, the grazing, and just standing there with them in their stalls and breathing them in. I like making them feel good by massaging them and scratching their itchies. Just seeing them enjoying something makes me happy.

I absolutely adore Tiki, the horse the kids ride. He's just such a special boy, and one of the most social horses I've ever met. I could hang out and play with him all day and not be bored. This is a video my son took the other night, and I look at it whenever I'm stressed or in need of a smile.

Because how can you not smile at this?

Sunday, October 11, 2015


I've been looking for a new horse.  I mean, I've been looking for a while now, but before it was more like a kinda/sorta/maybe it'll happen/waiting for the right one to fall in my lap (not literally, I bruise like a peach). I still think it'll happen as it's supposed to happen, but am now at the point where I'm proactively putting myself in a place to make it happen.

That being said, I haven't wanted to blog about it.  It just feels weird. Maybe it's because it feels like I'm cheating on Sug by taking a step that concretely places her in the past. Yes, I do know she is in the past, but there's a difference between accepting a fact and beating your head against the brick wall of it.

Maybe it's because I don't want to announce anything until it's a done deal. Maybe because blogging about it makes it real. Maybe I'm afraid that people will say something negative.  I'm not really sure what the heck my issue is, exactly, but that's probably the short list.

So I've found a horse that I like a lot.  He's in my barn, and I've had the opportunity to lesson on him and hack on him several times.  He's young, and very green in many ways, but he has a fabulous brain and a very good sense of humor, which is the main characteristic I'm looking for.  He's great in the ring, willingly jumps anything you point him at and doesn't hold a grudge if you botch the distance, hit him in the mouth, or lose balance and crash down on his back. He's very happy to hack out in the field or go on trails.  And he loves people, and clearly want to be someone's pocket pony.

That being said, I've been over-analyzing things to death, which is what I do.  About everything. Often to the point of paralysis. I'm doing that now about this horse.

A friend of mine has been a wonderful sounding board throughout this whole process, listening as I go through my feelings:  I'm used to older, more educated horses; would I be able to teach a young horse?  I'm in a good program and would have the support of my trainer and barn manager and others to guide me through the process, so that's a plus.  Would I have the patience to take my time and teach him?  I've been pretty good with my kids, but a 1200lb child is a bit different.  I mean, I'm used to getting on and being able to do a leg yield.  Will I have the patience and willingness to teach a horse how to do a leg yield?  Or will I get frustrated easily because I'm trying to do a leg yield and he's not understanding what I'm asking?

My concerns are more about my abilities, or lack thereof, not about the horse's.  I want us both to be happy together, and we won't be if one of us is constantly worried or frustrated.  If I get him I want to raise him right, to be a good parent.  Make sense?  I mean, we all make mistakes as parents, but to my way of thinking the goal is to raise kids that needed less therapy than you did.  I don't want him needing the equine equivalent of Dr. Phil.

I like this young boy a great deal, but haven't yet fallen in love with him.  And part of me has bought in to the whole romance novel/Hallmark "You'll know when it's right" crapola.  However, I did not love Sug when I first tried her.  It was more of a "She's nice, very forgiving, this could be a good match for a year's lease."  I didn't fall in love with her immediately, and even after I leased her for a year and loved her to pieces I waffled about buying her. I worried that she was older and that I wouldn't have time with her, that she'd be plagued with senior horse issues and need a fortune in management, yadda yadda yadda.  I mean, if I waffled about her, a horse I'd had and loved for the better part of a year, it's okay to waffle about a horse I've only really known a couple weeks, right?

So I've gone on and on about this with my friend.  Most recently we discussed the topic while we were at the local grocery store picking up items we needed for dinner.  We were in the produce aisle, and I was trying to choose the right bag of romaine hearts.  My daughter likes romaine hearts, as do I, but I don't like my lettuce too leafy.  I like it crisp.  So finding the bag with the right ratio of green leafy stuff to crispy bits meant I picked up damn near every bag to examine it to the nth degree.  The entire lettuce-choosing process took about 10 minutes, during which time my friend stood patiently, taking it all in.

I was still going back and forth about this horse when we were back at the house preparing dinner, dissecting every tidbit of info I knew about this sweet boy from every angle I possibly could.  Finally I just looked at my friend and said something along the lines of, "I just don't know what to do.  I suck at making quick decisions."

"I know," she said.  "I've seen you buy lettuce."

Well, there you have it.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Lack of Support...

Have you ever left the house and realized you forgot to put on deodorant?  Or brush your
teeth? You're on your way to work and BAM!  All of a sudden it hits you and you think, "Aaaack, I forgot my deodorant! I'm going to be the malodorous person in the office and co-workers will be forced to mouth-breathe around me!"  Horrifying, yes?

Something like that happened to me on the way to the barn the other night.  I was driving and had an itch, so I reached over to my right shoulder to scratch it.  My fingers caught on my bra strap and the strap gave way much too easily.  "That's not right,' I thought, and tugged on the strap again.  Again, it stretched with little effort.  Ruh-roh!  Not good!  I realized I'd forgotten to change out of the comfy sleep bra I sometimes lounge around the house in and in to a heavy-duty sports bra.  This is an error of GALACTICAL proprtions when you're sporting a huge set of fun-bags and need a bra with the kind of support that could hold up the Brooklyn Bridge.

My brain went into overdrive mode, because I was supposed to have a lesson and there was NO WAY I could do that given the level of boobage bounce that would undoubtedly ensue.  I needed a solution, and I needed it fast. WHAT could I possibly use??  My brain remained stuck on that loop for a while until the solution finally presented itself.  Polo wraps!  I would bind myself with polo wraps!!

So when I got to the barn I ran to my barn manager to tell him the situation and that I would be a bit late for my lesson and why.  (Needless to say he laughed his ass off.)  Then I ran to my trunk and grabbed 4 polo wraps.  I needed to do barn laundry, so I had one pair of black polos and one set of the pink ones I'd used on a breast cancer ride I'd done a while back.  Okay, no biggie, no one would see. I holed up in the bathroom and proceeded to go to work.

I did the first black wrap in criss-cross fashion across my chest, thinking Lift and Separate, kinda like the old Cross Your Heart bras. Wrap 2 started with another criss-cross, then I wrapped the polo around the Girls to hold them down against my chest. You know, Cross Your Heart meets compression sports bra. It was a good start, but not sturdy enough.  Clearly sterner measures needed to be taken.

So I used one of the pink polos to do another round of binding. I was starting to feel as if I were engaged in an act of self-mummification.  After that I still needed a bit more support so I finished with another criss-cross/bind maneuver.

As I was out of polos, four wraps would have to do the trick.  "Better than nothing," I thought  as I put my shirt on and looked at myself in the mirror.  First off, I looked like a giant box of Good & Plenty licorice candies. I also looked like I was wearing my cross-country protective vest under my shirt.  Definitely not a good look. 

All in all, my hastily constructed pseudo-bra did the job admirably.  I'll admit I had visions of the wraps coming undone during the sitting trot and trailing out from behind like a ridiculously long trail of toilet paper. I'm happy to say they held together, even through the jumping part of the lesson. 

It's not like I'd ever recommend polo-mummifying your boobs over wearing the right bra, but if you ever find yourself in a bind (pun intended) the polo wrap thing is a viable alternative.

You're welcome.