Going Alone

Going Alone

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Yesterday, I went to the barn for the first time alone since The Finger Incident.

It was 18 degrees, and I was not feeling it. But apparently I didn’t need that much motivation to go since it took one, “[Beau]’s probably missing you,” text from le garcon to get me to go.

It took a solid half hour for the shuttle to pick me up to get to my car, then another solid 15 minutes to dig out my car from the foot of snow Ohio decided to dump on us the night before.

But I was excited to get there.

I groomed him in his stall since he was munching away at his hay. It’s funny how much better he is with us being in his stall when he’s eating. He used to be so cranky when we first got him.

Then I put on his fancy halter (shout out to our awesome barn family!) and walked him down to the big indoor.

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Of course on the way down, he had to walk into the giant snowbank, but he was posing like he knew I was taking pictures (he probably did).

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Once in the ring, I took him off lead and let him roll around, and then we worked on walking and stopping off lead with me, which he was perfect for. The only thing he didn’t do was go over the cross rail, but he did go around to come stand by me. Good try, bubba.

Then another horse came into the ring (Otto, I think). It’s funny how much he changes with other horses. He was FOCUSED on this guy. I had put his lead back on but just draped it over his neck and worked to get his attention back.

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We did a bit more “off” lead work then moved to the hula hoop. He was looking at it for a second, but then decided it wasn’t worth caring about.

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So, he was a really good, relaxed boy, and it always makes me happy when he wants to follow me because he can.

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My one downfall was trying to get his blanket back on with one hand, but I made it work.

Then I got snuggles and he got a candy cane and a couple of his favorite dry cookies (aka not Stud Muffins), which are butterscotch.

It was a good day.

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1 Month In: Learning to Love Again

1 Month In: Learning to Love Again

Heart

As you might imagine, breaking my finger for the second time in six months because Beau can’t behave himself (just this time, first time was totally my fault) has given me some trust issues.

I’ve been to the barn about twice since I broke my pinky the first week of January. Never alone. Hopefully, that will change soon, as my leaser has agreed to switch days with me, which works better with my new semester schedule.

Beau is a good boy. He’s saved my butt multiple times over the course of our almost-three-year relationship. I really do love his cutie-pie face.

I remember hearing once that a good performance horse will always come with quirks, problems, or maintenance.

I suppose I lucked out with a horse that *knock on wood* has been lame all of 2 days, both because his feet were sore (shoeing/hard ground).

His quirk could be any number of things: his obsession with licking, his need to eat salt blocks in four days, his baby tendency to eat the cross ties when he’s nervous or worried.

Now while I’m not a huge fan of the word, “problem,” Beau definitely has his own set of issues. He would rather go sideways than straight, is      s  l   o  w l  y    learning that the bit won’t eat him if he accepts it, is protective of his food, and throws tantrums when he’s being turned out.

And yet, he has so much going for him.

He would jump 5′ everytime we rode if I let him. I’ve never ridden a horse that loves to jump so much.

He’s blissfully happy outside. As long as he gets turnout, he’s a happy camper.

He can do the dressage movements. He’s got an awesome floaty, extended trot, a good collected trot, and a great leg-yield.

What he can’t do, he tries to learn. Sure, he has bad days where he doesn’t want to move or throws tantrums. But the majority of days, he’s trying to figure out my awkward cues and more importantly, he’s already come so far.

Lastly, this horse has a heart of gold, the heart of a champion. He’s loyal, affectionate (read: will try to lick you to death), and knows his rider. For example, two weeks ago he carted around my muggle (non-equestrian) friend through a beginner ride with a slow walk and an even slower jog (perfect for learning!). Then last week he gave another friend who has a Thoroughbred of her own a much more forward ride and challenged her to figure him out. Because of this, I trust him.

Sure, I might catch a few broken bones in the process, but he has so much to teach me. He’ll push me, then he’ll love on me (so that I can’t even be upset!).

Mission accomplished: I’m ready to love riding again for sure. I see a trip to the barn in the near future!

I Did This to Myself…Again.

I Did This to Myself…Again.

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When will I learn to keep my hands closed?!

On Wednesday, January 3rd, I saddled up for a lesson as my first ride in about a week. It was a 20-degree day, a right heat wave compared to the single digits in the days before and after.

He was very alert and slightly mouthy in the cross ties, which was an indication of a hyper pony. I was pleasantly surprised to have a very calm if forward horse on the lunge. I popped on, and immediately felt him tense. If you’ve ever ridden a hyper, tense, you’d know that they usually have a feel. Beau feels like a very tightly wound coil, ready to spring up or out at any time.

Bending work usually helps him with that, so I started on that as well as attempting to fight everything in me saying “hold him, hold him” and push him forward instead. We worked on the walk and trot for a bit. On the long side going away from home, we went over the poles. On the long side going towards home, I sat his first explosion.

We went back to trotting on the close side of the arena in a circle, working on leg yielding circles in and out and actually getting a pretty nice trot. Then, back down the poles. Same spot, same explosion. Except this time he got me a bit forward, and me being me, I was determined to NOT fall off (mission accomplished). I put my hands down to support myself, and he basically pushed his shoulder out into my open hand, specifically my pinky (my poor abused pinky).

I got Beau back in control with two 10m (ish) circles and got to the other long side before I halted him in pain. After consulting with my trainer to make sure I wasn’t overreacting, I got off. I don’t do well with pain. Both my dad and I have a long history of laying down in the arena after any injury, basically in shock. I did that this time too.

By the time the feeling had passed, my trainer, being the awesome person she is, had Beau almost put away. I helped with one hand and then booked it home. The one good thing about the cold weather is that I could stick my hand out my window on the drive home as an “ice pack.”

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The doctor’s visit the next day resulted in xrays, my doctor attempting to fix my dislocated top phalanx (the tip of my finger), and getting a referral to a hand surgeon (or orthopedic doctor). The official diagnosis was that my break from September had never healed (this is called a nonunion break), and I had only widened the fracture this time, as well as re-dislocating it.

 

Today, I had an appointment with the hand surgeon who told me two things:

  1. I’m getting surgery.

Plan A is to pin it through the skin and possibly a small incision to scrape out old scar tissue. Plan B is to plate and screw the bone itself, which is not optimal, since my fingers are so small.

  1. I should have had surgery the first time I broke it, in September.

My surgeon was actually a bit annoyed I wasn’t sent to see him in September. Luckily, I’ve got a good doctor who can fix it, but the scar tissue that may have formed and the wear from using it for so long will make it complicated (hence, Plan B).

My surgery is scheduled for Thursday morning. I’m getting a custom splint Monday morning, then my post-op appointment is the next Monday. If all goes well, I should be out of my splint in 4-6 weeks. Then it’s physical therapy to keep use of that finger!

All in all, I’m glad it’s getting fixed, but I’m definitely going to struggle to stay off my horse for a month!

 

Friday Feature: Bridle and Bone Wellness

Friday Feature: Bridle and Bone Wellness

2018 is bringing a new segment to OTTBs and Oxers called Feature Fridays. These pieces are written on small businesses, artists, etc., who I believe merit the attention. These pieces are not paid – they are built on the trust of mutual sharing. Enjoy!

Bridle & Bone Wellness Logo
© Bridle and Bone Wellness

Bridle and Bone is a holistic wellness business run by co-founders Heather Wallace and Danelle Stukas in New Jersey.

Meet Bridle & Bone Wellness: Holistic Wellness for Horses & Dogs
© Bridle and Bone Wellness

Heather is a Certified Equine Sports Massage Therapist, Certified Canine Massage Therapist, and an Aromatherapist.

Meet Bridle & Bone Wellness: Holistic Wellness for Horses & Dogs
© Bridle and Bone Wellness

Danelle is a Certified Equine Sports Massage Therapist, Certified Canine Massage Therapist, and Reiki practitioner.

Together, they provide wellness services to the animals in New Jersey. Although I have not personally used Heather or Danelle as they are states away, Beau has had a massage therapy session that he loved, so I can definitely recommend the service itself.

© Bridle and Bone Wellness

You can check out Bridle and Bone’s Shop, where their services and products are listed in one easy place. This includes everything from healing salve to fly and tick spray to equine and canine massage. Everything is very reasonably priced as well, even compared to national brands.


In addition to providing services to her clients, Heather is also the founder of her blog, aptly named Bridle and Bone. The purpose of the blog is to provide insight on holistic wellness to her clients and others interested in the services. Her blog is also known for the Confessions of a Timid Rider series, which follows Heather’s personal riding experiences as an adult re-rider. (I personally loved this series!)

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© Heather Wallace 

Heather is responsible for the Equestrian Blog Hops that I try to write each month. Check out my last entry, Blog Hop: Year in Review! The idea is to create a topic each month, which is written about by bloggers all over the world who link their blogs to each other to support and send readers to each other. I really like how it worked in 2017!


Heather is also the author of the Equestrian Handbook of Excuses, a 2017 Literary Selection for the Equus Film Festival!

Equestrian Handbook of Excuses
© Bridle and Bone Wellness

As equestrians we are united by our love of horses. Let’s face it. Whether you own, lease, or borrow sometimes you don’t feel like riding. My handy book provides the perfect collection of excuses for you to tell yourself or your trainer.

Buy it here!


Heather has been a real asset to me in starting and growing this blog. She is a social media mastermind, willing to aid in blog set-up questions, and started the Blog Hops that keep me motivated to write at least once a month (although I’m planning on writing more in 2018!). I’m grateful to have stumbled upon her, her business, and her blog, and I recommend you check out all three!

Bridle and Bone Wellness’s Contact Us Page
Email: info@bridleandbone.com
Phone: (732) 784-7195

Bridle and Bone Blog’s Partnership Page
Email:  bridleandbone@gmail.com
Phone: 732-784-7195

Heather Wallace’s Personal Website

Interested in being a part of Feature Fridays? Email me at eventerat14@gmail.com!

Blog Hop: Year in Review

Blog Hop: Year in Review

This month’s blog hop is about the past year. I can’t believe 2017 is over – it went so fast!

December Equestrian Blog Hop

Early Winter 2017

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Most of early winter was spent at my out-of state college that I have since transferred out of to be closer to home. I was only able to ride Beau on my Christmas and Easter/spring breaks. My rides were okay that I can remember. My leaser and my dad kept Beau busy!

At school, I was able to ride a lovely Hanoverian mare, Portia. She was a fantastic way to keep my riding fresh so that I didn’t forget it all! I certainly won’t forget her anytime soon.

Spring 2017

Spring is always an interesting time. The weather warms up, and all you want to do is ride all the time in the nice weather. However, it’s that perfect weather where all the ponies want to do is play, too. It’s too hot to be stiff and too cold to be tired, so it’s the time for ALL the bucks.

(Video should automatically start at 15:00 for the fall – and yes, I do have the super pitiful video of me crawling to Beau, but it will never see the light of day!)

In February 2017, I flipped off Beau, hitting the outdoor arena fence in the process. I was alone. I couldn’t walk, but Beau ran to the opposite side of the arena and caught his leg in his reins. I was so worried, I crawled halfway to him before people found me. It shook me, and much of my summer was spent regaining my confidence.

In March 2017, I started OTTBs and Oxers. I converted it over from my older, smaller blog U:Equestrian. I’m still very happy with the design of my blog!

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Summer 2017

Summer was all about riding as much as I could. I don’t think we really progressed much in this season, but it was a lot of fun and relaxing rides. I had my cousins come out to walk around on Beau, who was a saint. There was plenty of jumping and lots of continuing to develop Beau’s muscles. I’m sure if we compared Beau in summer 2016 to summer 2017 there would be a big difference; he’s come so far!

We also placed 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 6th, and 4th at our second hunter show together. He went extremely well, and I really felt like things were clicking that day!

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Fall 2017

Fall was when Beau and I really started to connect with our new trainer. We really saw a difference, even in the matter of a few weeks. She is giving me the skills necessary to advance Beau to the next level on the flat and is finessing my jumping to give me the confidence boost I need.

(I also broke my pinky by jamming it into Beau’s neck over a jump – 0/10 do NOT recommend. My pinky will probably always be slightly disfigured from it.)

I also started contributing Bridle and Bone’s Blog Hop during the fall, and it’s so nice to be a part of such a great group of bloggers!

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Late Winter 2017

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I think right now I’m most proud of how Beau is handling winter. This will be our third winter together, and it is the first time I haven’t had a fire-breathing dragon the majority of my rides. Does he get wound up? Sure. But he’s learning to settle, and I’m learning the tools I need to help him.

We placed 2nd and 6th (Christmas colors!) at our last show at South Farm, and I couldn’t be prouder. It was our first *jumper* show together, and we both handled the twists and turns well.

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I think if I had to change anything, I wouldn’t be so hard on myself. I tend to really criticize myself and Beau and struggle to see our process. Maybe it’s because I had a good ride today, but the more positive I am, the more positive our rides tend to be. I need to remember that!

I would also be sure to post more, consistently. That’s definitely something I would change, and plan to change for 2018 – so be sure to check back in for regular posts here on OTTBs and Oxers!

Click the button below to visit the other blogs in this hop!

National Day of the Horse

National Day of the Horse

National Day of the Horse is December 13.

Okay, maybe I missed it. But here is a post about how grateful I am that horses have been a part of my life six days late.

First up, my handsome boy, Beau:

  • Off the track Thoroughbred
  • 17hh
  • Gelding
  • Slightly crazy

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Next, Norman.

  • Passed away on December 16, 2014.
  • Warmblood
  • Gelding
  • We were going to buy him, but he passed from an infected hock injury.
  • I rarely rode him (he was really my dad’s), but I loved him.

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Crosby.

  • Off track Thoroughbred
  • 15.3hh
  • Gelding
  • My first true lease, and I loved him very much.
  • Passed away within the past year.

 

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Magic.

  • Off track Thoroughbred (sense a theme yet?)
  • First horse my dad and I shared
  • 16.2hh
  • Gelding
  • Currently teaching little ones at a lovely barn in central Ohio.

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Hank.

  • The Original Thoroughbred (that I worked with…)
  • Gelding
  • Passed away in 2013, the first horse I ever loved.

Obviously, I can’t put all the horses who have made an impact in my life on here, I’d be here forever. But I’m very happy to be able to list these select few that I loved more than anything in the world.

Safety Initiatives in U.S. Eventing

Safety Initiatives in U.S. Eventing

With all of the back and forth on safety in eventing after the euthanization of Boyd Martin’s Crackerjack at Les Etoiles de Pau, Doug Payne’s Facebook post (a copy of the post by Denis Glaccum) has raised over $1500 in donations to safety research after laying out the scope of safety efforts in relation to the fatality itself.

But what is the USEA already doing to research safety in eventing before a fall occurs?

In the comments of the post, one USEA member brought up the idea of transparency – how can the association members see what the board and committees see? I brought up the idea of an annual report – which already exists – but the fact that I didn’t even know about it shows that it is not enough in of itself.

Next, Rob Burk, the CEO of the USEA, was brought into the conversation. He linked a series of useful pages – which, again, I didn’t know existed. However, the information on the pages, while explained well, was wordy even to me, a nerdy college student with way too much time on her hands. Of course, I had to be extra and make the infographic I suggested myself.

So, I’ve done the work for you! Below is a series of graphics that pull out the main points from each report in an easy-to-understand way. Obviously, by doing it this way, you lose context and other factors, so I’ve also included the links to the pages themselves in case something strikes your attention.

I believe the USEA is doing a phenomenal job increasing safety in conjunction with the other national and international associations and governing bodies. Do we have a long way to go? Yes. But it’s important to see how far we’ve come and how much we are doing. Many people believe eventers live on the edge all the time (okay, maybe we do), but we also care. We give 110% to make this sport better every, single day.

I hope you find this useful and learn something new!

If you feel inclined to donate to the USEA, there is a donate button at the bottom of Doug’s post.

If you would like to download a PDF version of this infographic, click HERE.

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(The links won’t work in the picture, so I’ve copied them below.)

Sources:

Other Good Links:

If you spot a mistake or would like to speak with me about this topic, email me at eventerat14@gmail.com. Thanks for reading!