Sunday, March 15, 2015

F*&%k Winter. No, Seriously, F*&%k Winter. C'mon Spring!

No riding.  It's too cold and I already have my pajamas on.
Ok, so yeah, I know winter's almost over and Spring is coming and we had Daylight Savings Time and the days are longer and blah blah blah.  (Spring ahead, my ass. All I know is I lost an hour of sleep that day.)  Almost over doesn't quite cut it for me, because saying something is "almost over" means it is still here.

Why am I in such a strop?  Because winter is not quite gone, it's still cold, and for the umpteenth time I damn near killed myself trying to get out of my Under Armour. You know what I mean, the base layer you wear in the vain hope that you won't freeze your ass off. . You come home from a ride and you're all sweaty and you have to be a flipping contortionist to get out of  your sweaty Under Armour.  It's bad enough trying to get into it in the first place, but getting out of sweaty Under Armour requires the skills of a Chinese acrobat. Seriously, when I try to take my winter weight turtle neck off the neck hole is so tight I feel like I'm trying to hang myself.  Inevitably during the struggle to get my top off I trip on something and go down like a box of rocks. So then I am writhing on the floor, still trying to extricate myself  and swearing like a sailor. Cue the inevitable trip to the chiropractor, where I feel like I need to make something up because saying I threw my back out while trying to get out of my workout gear just sounds wrong.

My winter riding apparel usually consists of a base layer (Under Armour or something similar) and then a long sleeve technical shirt and a 1/4 zip pullover, which is usually made of fleece or technical fabric. Which brings me to another issue.  Why does every piece of technical/workout clothing make a mildly-fluffy middle aged women look like the Michelin tire dude?? Seriously?  We're trying to deal with work, the kids' schedules and the onset of hot flashes and hormone changes and you want to piss us off by making us feel fat?  You know one day we're gonna crack and force those skinny stick figures who design this stuff to eat dozens of donuts. An hour.  For a month.  And then we'll make them wedge
Not a good look.
Another issue riders who spend their winters in the frozen tundra face is shrinkage. As in, when you put on a base layer under breeches and a top, it feels like everything is a little bit smaller.  If you are already shoehorning yourself into a pair of breeches that are a size smaller than you really need (because dammit, you're not going to go out and buy the bigger size, you'll duct tape your mouth shut before you'll go there) this can be difficult.  As in, Chinese acrobat difficult.
For example, ever try to go to the bathroom with 2 layers on?  You can't wait until the situation is dire, because you know it's gonna take five minutes to wiggle out of your layers.  Then when you're done, you have to wiggle struggle back into them. This is why I hate wearing side-zip breeches in the winter. Everything's tight, so I have to suck my stomach in. Then I have to turn to the left side while trying to use my arm to push my boob out of the way so I can see the hooks and zipper.  Then comes the suck-in-shimmy-curse-pull-say-heartfelt-prayer-last-yank-before-you-pass-out maneuver and for a moment I'm giddy with success.  That lasts for a split second until I realize that I've given myself the mother of all wedgies and my underwear is halfway up my digestive track.  Sigh.
Then there's the whole temperature management thing that happens when getting the horse ready.  You curry, you brush, you comb, and suddenly things are getting a bit warm, so you take off your jacket.  You're fine for a few minutes until you actually get on the horse.  While warming up at the walk you start to feel the chill again, so you put your jacket back on.  That doesn't last long, because after five minutes of trotting you're breaking a sweat.  Off comes the jacket. Although it's never that easy. Nope, because you try to pull the jacket sleeve off over the glove, where it gets stuck. So then you're holding the reins with one hand while trying to pull the glove off with your teeth.  You get the first arm off and proceed to the second one.  This involves additional contortions where you then find yourself blinded because you've gotten your jacket caught over your head and the other sleeve is stuck on your glove and you're pulling and swearing and praying to God that your horse doesn't decide to spook at the cooler that's laying over the edge of the arena wall.  And now you've given yourself another wedgie.
So you've groomed and ridden and groomed again and where does that leave you?  If you're me, on the floor of my bedroom, kicking and pulling and yanking and cursing as I try to remove my sweaty Under Amour/sausage casing.  So yeah, I'm looking forward to Spring, mostly because my breeches will fit better without the extra layer underneath and I can indulge in the fantasy that I've lost weight.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Remembering "The Other Sugar"

The "other Sugar." Such a pretty girl.
Sometimes things come out of the blue and completely throw you for a loop.  I felt that way tonight when I opened Facebook and read a friend's post.  She'd written that her mare had sustained a serious injury and had been euthanized.  I'd be devastated to learn that any friend had lost their beloved horse, but this one?  This one hit very close to home.

My friend is someone I'd met through A Work In Progress, a fellow blogger who was originally from New Jersey and, in one of those bizarre coincidences life will throw at you, also had a mare named Sugar.  Through our blogs and Facebook friendship we kept up with each other's equestrian ups and downs, and shared news of our exploits with our Sugars.  We even met up when I was on a business trip to her area, and I got to meet her Sugar, a gorgeously voluptuous woman of color. (That was another thing we had in common, lusciously curvaceous mares!)  When I spoke of my friend and her mare to my family, I spoke of them as "the other Sugar and her Mom."

When my Sugar left this earth, my friend was one of the first to reach out to me, and she supported me from afar with words of support, both on the blog and on Facebook.  A few years ago I'd had a saddle pad trimmed with a pink and green polka dot ribbon and embroidered with Sugar's name.  After I lost the Sainted Mare, I wrapped that up for my friend and sent it up to her, thinking it would look wonderful on her "pinto pony" and that maybe it would be a way to keep the "Sugar connection" going.

A friend of hers left a post on my friend's Facebook page, and I think it does a better job of saying what I mean to say better than any words I can think up on my own.  My heart goes out to you, my friend.  I'd like to think that both our Sugars are up there together, comparing notes and swapping stories about their crazy mothers.

If you bury her in this spot, the secret of which you must already have, she will come to you when you call – come to you over the far dim pastures of death, and down the remembered paths to your side again. And though you ride other living horses through life, they shall not shy at her or resent her coming, for she is yours and she belongs there.

 People may scoff at you, who see no lightest blade of grass bent by her footfall, who hear no nicker pitched too fine for insensitive ears. people who may never really love a horse, smile at them, for you shall know something that is hidden from them, and which is well worth knowing.
The one place to bury a horse is in the heart of her mistress.

Author Unknown

Godspeed, Sugar.  You will be missed.