Friday, December 25, 2015

dreaming of a white christmas

Oh this week has been nothing but rain...and now MUD!  Not only has it got me and the kids stir crazy, the dogs too.  I know Tesla is still getting outside at least :P  I wonder how muddy he will be tomorrow!

No white Christmas is 71!  At least it isn't raining at the moment, but coming back... I'm in major riding deprivation mode.  I seriously have not been on Tesla since Gobble!  I'm praying that I can get some saddle time in around the rain expected Saturday.  If not, I have to wait until 2016....

Some inspirational videos of late I like :)

Why do I ride?

Turn off the Critic inside

Gifts from hubby and kids...blanket for my trailer, new water bottles and multi-tool for the saddle bag, warm fuzzy socks - M&Ms and hot cocoa 

smile emoticon

Monday, December 7, 2015

a long winter's nap

Must feel that way for Tesla - He hasn't had to work since we came back from Gobble!  The holiday hustle and bustle has just not left any time for that.

So now the next two weekends I won't get see him due to scheduling issues, not even "working" the next 2 :(  Hoping to get to ride some over the winter break! I'm due for my Pandora demo/trial saddle any day now too...if that happens while we're in this crazy time I'll need to get creative!

So the past few times I've just groomed and undone the wind knots after finishing up barn chores. He's been in a blanket most of the time, but tonight that was taken off. This week is warming toward 70 by the weekend!  I will say the nice thing, he is so shiny and clean!

must you mom?

I was attempting to show how shiny and knots gone!

Monday, November 23, 2015

1 year!

One year ago today I picked him up!

Picked him up in West Va with the help of some friends Nov 23 2014

And this year has been interesting.  Definitely have wondered from time to time if I did let my dream of the "black stallion" get the better of me, and if I really could handle another green horse...starting over after losing a horse I put so much into and had my heart.  But don't let doubts like that get to you right?  We worked hard to figure out the issues; worked with a trainer when I couldn't give him time while we moved, been taking lessons here and there...enlisted the help of a saddle fitter, equine massage therapist, and a chiropractor.  Taken a few spills, endured some fun and not so fun bucks, highs and lows, and came out a year later with a happy, healthy, athletic horse that I adore.  Sure, he still can be a jerk (he is a guy after all), but he gives you his heart.

Our LD riding alone showed me what he is made of, and what we can do together.  I failed to mention in my last post that he did not buck at all on the ride!  Not even any head tossing until we got within the last 2 miles of the finish - which I wasn't sure if it was about getting ahead of the other 3 around us, or something was sore.  I leaned toward the first and tonight got confirmation.  He had his massage check in and she said he felt and looked great.  No particular issues, no problem spots. He is an athlete recovering nicely from a tough ride and long hauls.  I am so relieved that we are on the right path to keep him comfortable, performing and behaving as we keep hitting those trails.

One of the ride photos I bought (waiting on my print to arrive) - Copyright Peter DeMott Photography

Tonight was our "anniversary" and he thoroughly enjoyed his massage and extra carrots! Now time for some R&R and Turkey!

Anniversary Selfies!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

3 for 3!

We did it!  Much time in between rides, but we made it our 3rd LD and completed! We went all the way to Ohio (about 6.5-7hr haul) but it was fun and an awesome experience.
Earned a hoodie - nice and cozy!

The stars aligned I think for this.  This weekend was a year (11/23/14 actually) since I picked up Tesla with a good friend Karin from an endurance buddy Paula in WVa who went to the KY Diehards ride and grabbed him from Aubree for me (after completing an LD there & top ten).  We stopped for gas at the same exit coincidentally and Aubree & Joe were also at Gobble this year!

After the year I have had, back and forth with him finding our rhythm, losing it, having saddle issues, this weekend was it.  We are partners now, and so look forward to our Decade team goal!

Amanda had to help get him in the trailer with her "Get up there" voice and we were off.  The drive itself was good, until about 50mi from the ride where I had a slew of embarrassing moments I might disclose later..  But we arrived about 4pm, gave him a little walk around, hay/water/grass, and pulled the cooler and then went to vet in.  Vetted in great, tho this vet gave him a 4 body score (5 being ideal) which baffles me as he has put on a good deal of weight since June and has no ribs showing...unlike the score of 4 he received back at the OD where I thought he was thin and agreed with that.  Oh well.

I got an electric site, because it was going to be cold overnight and needed a heater!  The way I was put in I had to set up his corral panels behind the trailer...which bugged me that I couldn't see him from my windows at night.  I always like to look out and see his glow stick munching or sleeping.  And it was darn cold...20 something Friday night.  Tesla was bundled up in his blanket, lots of hay and water when I turned in.  I have my bed area mostly insulated and needed my little space heater on full blast up there, in a sleeping bag with wool blanket, in fleece pjs/socks AND another blanket on top of me and a hat to be a comfortable temp to sleep :P   In the morning I put my clothes in front of the heater for a few as I dressed lol.   Lots of layers!

Almost ready to go
Antsy man
There is one thing about him I'm not sure how to work on.  He is really antsy and pushy the morning of a ride. So much that it takes quite a bit to get tacked up. So in my dealing with that, and not actually wearing a watch, we ran later than I hoped and planned for the start!  So, we started 5 min AFTER everyone was gone... I wasn't sure what this was going to bring, but it ended up being great for us!  We walked & trotted out of camp nice and controlled and went off on the 2 mile climb.  I was very glad I put the bells on our saddle as were alone and gave some noise and we did in fact run across some of the youth hunters!  One crazy hop and slide? in the mud almost got me off within the first 10min but we recovered and went on.

And we went and started passing folks... and caught up to a few friends and then kind of was in and out of riding groups for the rest of the first loop.  The Vipers on front held on through AWFUL mud spots, but then 10steps past his pee break one of the cables shredded?!  Ugh, I think boots will be our back up plan.  Went one with 1 boot no issue. Got back to camp for VC1 and I took some time to drop off a few items at the trailer before pulsing in. All As, 40/44 CRI. Bob (vet) comments was he had a freakish HR and was obviously ready for more.  I took off the second front boot as he could easily do the course barefoot. But then it took a bit to get him eating and drinking and then it was time to go again! My camping spot unfortunately got NO sun, so I was trying to move him into a spot that wasn't still frozen and finally got it worked out where he would eat and not try and roll (because I kept tack ON in the cool weather he couldn't roll).  So we went off on the second loop with a fellow GB Stacey and her mare but didn't stay together long. He was ready to keep moving!  We rode with others here and there, and I had pulled the bells at the VC and realized he actually likes them!  He was a bit more distracted, and sometimes pokey without them.  All in all, it was good.  We ended up riding most of the second loop, except for the last 3miles or so, alone as well.  We had deer that he calmly passed by and didn't spook when they ran off, lots of water spots to drink and tried to find some grass. Most of what he grabbed he decided wasn't worth staying for.  Came into the finish, dropped his tack and immediately went to the pulse box.  50.   Then proceeded to the vet for completion.  He got all A's again 44 final HR and a completion :)

All done!

A taste of my ride...Loop 1a

Due to frigid temps the night before, and Amanda and her son primitive camping, they needed to leave Saturday.  We were driving buddies and given my trip up, I felt better not heading back alone.  We gave Tesla a rest and chance to refuel and then hit to road back home. Something I've never done LD going home same day.  Tesla was none to happy about loading, very antsy until we got on the road.  Mad enough NOT to take a carrot from me at our 1st gas stop. We rolled into the barn at 930, tucked the boys in with more food, hay and water and dropped the trailer.  All I brought home was my bag with meds I needed for that night.  I got home at 1045pm.  long day!

I went back today and deconstructed my trailer.  He's looking good today.  Gave him a good brush down and found a few twitchy spots which when Sarah visits him tomorrow can work on for his massage.  A well deserved one!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

countdown to Ohio

Happy Hump Day! and only two more days, then we hit the road for an LD in Ohio :)  I think I'm more nervous about the long haul getting there and back than anything else!  But, Amanda and I are following each other so we won't be completely alone.  Now I'm wishing I had an iPod ready with music to plug in. Always fun to try and find radio stations to keep on...Maybe I'll dig mine up and see what is on it!  I have no idea where all the CD's are at this point so can't even grab those (unless I want toddler songs, Shrek the Musical or Frozen soundtrack lol)

This past weekend and Monday night I've gotten as much pre-work done as I can. Trailer is just missing Tesla, his supplements and another bale of hay to hit the road.  Oh, and of course my bag of stuff and cooler which will be in the truck with me.

The forecast for Gobble last week was looking like rain, but then turned beautiful, and then yesterday morning went back to rain Saturday afternoon and much cooler temps overnight (like now 20s!).  Very glad I'm getting an electric site to run my little space heater and we might bring along heated water buckets for the boys. The insulation I've put in so far has made a difference on inside temps but definitely need to finish it out over the winter!  I have to decide what kind of paneling I want on the walls and ceiling tho. Too many options!

Tomorrow the truck is having a tune up with oil change, tire rotation and an apparently needed replacement of the 7pin/4pin trailer plug. I was having some flickering issues Monday night so I'm just not taking any chances. The brake controller stayed connected this time, but the running lights were flickering a bunch and the fit just isn't as tight as to other plugs.  Also have a tail light on the truck with a loose wire, and one of the license plate lights went out so I'll get that all fixed too.

Next blog update will hopefully find a cold, yet fun completion story from us!  And if not, lessons learned for next season (either way!).

Tesla on Saturday morning napping in the hay

Saturday, November 7, 2015

confidence boost!

Today was a good day.
Almost didn't make it tho - had some electrical issues when I hooked up that took a bit to figure out. Still not sure why it wouldn't connect consistently initially. It has happened once before, chalked it up to a bad plug in on my part.

Tesla loaded up like a good boy.  Stood decently while I fumbled for the second time in the barn driveway trying to figure out why the controller kept telling me "No Connection" but eventually it stayed on and off we went!

We got to Lake Anna on time despite running later than I planned in the morning, and having the electrical fun.  My first time there ever - met up with a riding buddy who I don't think we've seen each other in real life since the day I lost Traveler. Melissa was at IMJ and one of a few with cell signal so I could call Doug.  We've stayed in touch, been part of Central VA endurance training Facebook group, and she is on my Green Bean team - Mileage Mamas :)  Finally we got to ride together.  She is getting ready for a 60mile ride later this month on her little rescue Paso mare Holly. Tesla and she did great together.

Tesla did great. Tacked up nicely, moved out when asked. He was happy :)  Not even one buck, let alone a thought of buck, or head tossing!  I think he finally realized things feel good - and things felt great for both of us.  Our Stonewall Saddle was comfy for the faster movement for me too.  Not sore at all and managed to make my saddle pack work with it. Going to keep it without a sheepskin seat at this point.

Getting ready, heard the runners yelling on the road

We rode in the rain for a good deal, so we only did 10.5 or 11.5 miles (depending who's tracker you use) instead of the original plan of 20.  Loading up to going home he balked a few times, but 3rd time we were on without needing Melissa to lend a hand behind for encouragement.


A video - I need to angle the camera down a little, but it was fun to use! Beautiful fall views.  I have a few others, but one had a rain drop on it the whole time tho lol.

All done, and WET!

This ride was the confidence boost I needed.  Tesla is still fit as a fiddle, loves to move, and is doing so now without pain. The saddle is working for me, and I feel secure in it and in him again. No more anxieties over "the next buck." Monday he has a "tune-up" with a short massage then Tues morning we go for fall shots and his health certificate for Gobble! He'll basically be off work until the ride, as I have a lack of time to do much now - maybe some arena work.  We are going to stick with original plan of the LD, and work to move up to the 50 when we return for 2016 :)  I think he is pretty quickly going to be ready - especially in cooler weather. Hot, humid rides will take some more work.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

small steps

It appears last Sunday's session with Tesla, and follow up practice Monday, did some good.
I figured I'd really test it out today and moved the trailer up to the barn where I would normally load up if we were actually going somewhere.  I fully expected Mr. Smarty Pants to put on the brakes but he ran right up there with me twice straight out of the field.  Score!

Then I took him in to get groomed and tacked up for some more arena work with a training martingale.  I used my own saddle and bridle, so a little different than last week's set up and he did pretty well.  We walked a lot and he keeps his head in a nice position there.  Trotting he seems to think the head instantly comes up, but it got better as we worked. Small steps forward :)  He gave no thought to ever bucking either.

Then we went and cleaned up, and back up onto the trailer. No the plan going forward will be to load up at least 1x a week for a while and make sure we are not going to revert again.

Post lunging, ready to get on

I put him back out in the field and got some extra time to get the trailer ready for Gobble in a few weeks, re-organizing and figuring out what needed to stay or go. Finally, took care of the gang for dinner and field rotation and then went home to get ready for Halloween!

We took the kids to the local firehouse, and then off to one of the large neighborhoods near work to do some door to door.  They had fun :)

Sunday, October 25, 2015

lesson day

Today was a good day :)

To top off a great weekend!  Actually, even a pretty good week.... Started out with really good horse news - Monday Tesla had a follow up after his 8weeks off with Sarah for a massage and she said "he is almost a different horse".  She found no re-activity, no sore back - he just had spots he liked and was enjoying it overall.  She also commented how much his personality has changed to be more sure of himself and comfortable in his own skin.  I was truly relieved to hear we are on the right path again and now it is back to getting us in sync.

Long week at work, but Friday was Doug & my 10yr wedding anniversary.  We had a hurricane on our wedding day in 2005, and we've endured a lot of changes over the last 10 years, but our relationship has only changed for the better, stronger.  He is a wonderful husband and father and I'm lucky he's mine <3.

Doug found set of bands made in Hawaii using wood native to Hawaii on Etsy. We ordered them to remember our 10th with a flashback to the honeymoon spot, and then the traditional gift is tin/aluminum.  We both managed to get each other somewhat of the same thing and have cool key-chains to show for it lol.  One more gift of mine to him hasn't made it here yet though. Hopefully this week!
Friday night we enjoyed the Stony Point Carnival - I had to work a bit of it as the PTO treasurer, but still had a chance to enjoy some bounce house and face painting with the kids :)

Saturday was pumpkin picking and dinner out with the kids. Then we stopped for an ice-cream cake to eat after they were in bed!

Today I got to spend my afternoon with Tesla and doing horse stuff. Nice end to the weekend!
Amanda and I finally were able to spend time working on a few things, so we put Tesla through the ringer.
Started off with trailer loading.  She finally saw first hand the issue I was dealing with with him fighting me to go on.  I was leading him in, but also using the bar upfront for some leverage for when he pulled back with my lunge line. First "fight" he lost and then stood at the door licking and chewing.  Second time he pulled back my line broke! (flat nylon line that is at least 10yr old) ok, slight win there for Tesla....  We fixed that and went for a 3rd try.  He pulled back again but darted to the other side (toward the tack door) and I was between the rope and the wall so I learned you CAN get rope burn through your clothes before having to let him "win" - at which point Amanda was pushing him back toward the trailer with my whip.  4th try, up and on.  We stayed in a moment...backed off and repeated 3 or so more times without Amanda's help and no tension on the line.
Then decided we'll take a lesson too!  Telsa got to learn about a training martingale and not tossing his head constantly.  Definitely full of himself to start with, but a quick learner.  Let me just say, I've never seen so much 'action' in his step!  I got to watch him move on the line and when he is showy boy is he fancy! He also is Mr. Attitude with several of his Arab "blows" to express his feelings at the moment.  It is always nice to have a set of hands and brains right there with more training experience that can tell me what I need to change and help Tesla to understand what is being asked of him. Makes me feel a bit less lost in my working with him which keeps both our frustration levels down.  He did really well, got good and sweaty and then we untacked cleaned up and loaded on the trailer one last time!  Minimal balk on walking up, but he quickly realized it was better to come with, stayed on a moment for some praise and backed off nicely. Then we called it a day :)
Amanda had him on the lunge line to get used to her tack and get him thinking

I've also working on getting my trailer insulation completed and am now done with the roof other than the bends to walls and the nose point where I have a too many bends to easily get foam board into....  Not sure if I will be done for the Gobble ride, but I am getting an electric site to help with the cold nights anyway! The rest will take a bit more figuring and concentration to work on!

Tomorrow is another Monday... I might get a chance to take him out into the arena again, not sure.  Tuesday is a chiro appointment and see how his back is holding up from his adjustments in Sept. Hopefully we won't need them again for a few months after this!  Farrier this week too.  Busy one for Tesla!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

fear and success

So I realized something this week driving home one night.  For some reason, when it comes to Tesla I am terrified.  Terrified of him or me getting hurt.  When I stop and think, I know it stems from my accident with Traveler.  He was a horse I knew to the nth degree; I knew when to push him or when to back off. How to get through to him when he has those "TB" moments of absolute flight above all. Yet we had this freak accident, and I lost him.  I have no idea how I didn't get hurt myself, but he kept me on.  Now here I am with Tesla, really any other horse, and all I see are potential hazards and the possible scary outcomes (Kind of like I do with my kids).  I'm afraid of pushing him too far, hurting him or myself.  Something I know will take time to get through...just not sure how or how long.

On the success side, after a refresher with Amanda Friday, I had minimal issues loading him alone Saturday morning!  So we actually managed to get to trail ride. First time back at Pleasant Grove since Aug 8!
He actually did pretty well out there all alone - he had his hay and happily munched among the many trailers as it was a beautiful day!
Where are all the horses?

I adjusted the saddle and switched to the Matrix without inserts and we went rolling out on the trails with 3 of my wonderful friends who came back to the trail-head to pick us up as I couldn't get out early as I wanted to be at Asher's soccer game.
Checking it out
Almost ready to head out

He was significantly better than Tuesday night; a few tries at bucking at the trot which he listened to the verbal reprimands about - which seemed more about temper tantrums than pain.  Some nice cantering & extended trotting. We moved at a fast pace for 5miles or so, and he wasn't huffing. So he is in better shape than I gave him credit for after all that time off and weight put on!

Some sweat post ride - looks a good fit!
Got a little sweaty, and then gave me issues with loading again :P  Fortunately another rider came to my aid before pulling out and as she got remotely close to us he jumped right up.  I hate needing a second set of hands!!!

apparently this is what he thought of the day

Friday night I talked with a trainer about an hour away I may set up a day with him. Same charge whether it takes 1 or 10 hours, but he will get Tesla loading on command.  I've seen videos of other horses he has worked with at the farm and when they've gone home.  Don't really have time to do it till after Gobble till You Wobble in Nov, and MAYBE between now and then we'll have it worked out ourselves, but this is in my back pocket.

I finally remembered to give him his stall toy too. He is quite the playful thing, so I thought he might enjoy it. He kept dodging my attempts to get a picture, but finally got a good one of him playing!

And we've had a cold snap here.  Saturday night was the first frost...Gypsy now says the wood floors are too cold, but her pillow in our room is too far from the she commandeered the older bean bag chair and Skyler joined her.
Rough life huh?!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


After all the trouble I've had with our Santa Fe this year, we decided to trade it in. Been looking for a few weeks, and over the weekend I went and test drove a Ford Edge.  Decided it was a good option and sought out the best deal (learned well from my Dad).
Tuesday I went and bought one :)  Got a good deal on a low mileage 2013, PLUS it is "certified pre-owned" and with a warranty for another 100K miles and a pre-paid maintenance program I can take to any Ford or Lincoln for service.

So, since it took more than 1/2 the day to do (dealer was an hour away), I took the rest of it continuing as a personal day and was able to meet Amanda for a short trail ride before working at the barn.

8 weeks Tesla has been off of serious work, two short rides around the farm since the layup, and then today...Finally, some riding squeezed in!

The past few weeks all I've been doing is grooming, hiking, etc with Tesla.  He is happily at a good weight so now it is time to get fit again for a ride on Nov 21.  We have a saddle that was given a green light by the fitter, but after today I'm still not sure...He wasn't horrible, but things still aren't right.  Will try changing to another saddle padding option (Matrix, no inserts) and there is one more pad to look into beyond that...just more expensive as I already own option #2!

Tacked up, munching on Hay.

I am definitely feeling set back.  Tesla and I had clicked and had a great time in April, but since June we have just been battling and losing our rhythm. I hope with our pick back up into training and working more together we find it again.  We are both trying to get used a new saddle, and being out of competition shape.  I didn't push him hard today, but he ended a little sweaty so I got to see good patterns for the saddle! I think we did about 3 miles?  mostly walking, some trotting

Despite the battles, he is such a sweet boy.  He always watches me leave and I managed to grab a few photos of him doing so as it wasn't dark yet  :)

So what's next?  Hoping to get out for a longer slow ride this weekend, trying the matrix.  I'll be sending photos to the saddle fitter and saddle maker to get some feedback on what to adjust as well.

Friday, September 25, 2015


Sometimes I think the definition of Endurance is: a test of one's resilience to bounce back from the hills, valleys, and curve balls life throws at you.

In my life, I tend to be drawn to those who have fought the battles and won. Coming out on top to enjoy another day....especially when it comes our pets!

Traveler had a mostly unknown and shady past, coming into my life at what we think was 10years old.  He was a mess that I worked years to straighten out with the help of friends and trainers...what I got was a horse devoted to me.  Not against others, but no one could compare to his mama. You had to really earn his trust for him to allow you love on him.  But, as long as I was there to let him know things would be OK, he moved from barn to barn better each time (we endured a few moves together) and would come to meet me most times through the field.

Examples in a few of my dogs...Cherokee, who turned out to be THE BEST kids dog in the world...left at a shelter with his sister by 6months old.  She was adopted quickly, being smaller, but he was left behind...7mos old and 75lbs with humongous feet when I found him there.   He grew to 100lbs of pure protective love bug.  You had to be "Introduced" to him properly.  No one could cross the street in front of our house without us knowing it...but, he in reality probably wouldn't hurt a fly!  Now, he did kill a raccoon and opossum but they trespassed! lol  Boy do we miss him.
Gypsy...a stray from TX that we adopted through SSRR.  Total sweetheart, interested in the attention of people above anything...well, maybe not over food!  But, she will seek out a person to love on at a dog park and is a mama's girl that follows me everywhere in the house.
Then we added Obiwan...he is a whole 'nother form of messed up. Knowing of at least 5 homes he'd been through in just his first 15mos of life. He has been traumatized by leashes and scared of any loud noise, but he is gentle and has the classic "goofy" golden moments. He's improved much over the last year+ with us, and I think he's realizing things aren't going to be like they were.  He still 'shuts down' to a degree on a leash, and the lights go off in his head when there is a storm, but we have our routines down on how to help him cope.

Finally, there is my Tesla.  The story I heard had me at owner # 4 or 5... I've touched base with the breeder to learn more about his parents, and she is happy to know he is safe and well.  But little did I know he hadn't always been...
When I was searching for a horse again several people said "give a rescue horse a chance' or buy from the auction.  I was not mentally in a position to take that on after losing Traveler.  I found Aubree and went to visit Tesla and others at her barn in KY. He was green, but willing and at a good age to begin again.  He was (and is still) a lovable guy, playful, and proud (err, maybe that is stubborn?!).  We began our journey together last November and have had rocky times, but his personality never fails to be just that.
Recently I was contacted by Sharon on Facebook.  She had Tesla before Aubree...and I got more of his story.  Sharon saved him from starvation; I have the pictures upon his arrival to her and the lovely soul she brought him back to be after a year of caring for him when he left with Aubree.  She told me how that personality was always there, no matter how bad he felt or looked - he still ran around with his tail flagged and head high, and was the lovable puppy dog type personality always.

Rescue horses, dogs, cats, whatever, are the definition of Resilience.  They bounce back.  They learn to trust and love again. They blossom and grow.  They teach us in the process, and heal not only their hearts but ours.  Tesla is helping me heal from losing so much last year, Cherokee and Traveler. While he can try my patience, he forgives my screw ups and moves on, we try again.  We regroup, we take time off, we do nothing but groom or graze.  Tomorrow is planned to 'restart' our journey to a 50 this year.  The weather might foil that for us, but we'll enjoy some time together regardless and bounce back again!

Great perspective put in front of me by one of my friends and training buddies - She earned her 500 and 750mile endurance patches this season - after not earning any miles in 7 years.  In her words "It's never too late to pursue your dreams!" While the miles may not come as fast I want, we have time to get there :)

Sunday, September 20, 2015

can't always get what you want, but you get what you need.

I headed into this weekend feeling extremely frustrated and defeated, after having yet another week that just made me feel like I just can't come up with the time, etc to get us ready for another ride.

I consider myself adaptable, but I hate being disappointed. Disappointed in myself is the that off with disappointed in other people, and then disappointed at work... Some days it just feels like it never ends.

And guilty...guilty that my passion and goals cost money.  We have a house my husband has a list a mile long of things to do with it, plus we want to clear land to build a small barn and bring Tesla (+1 to come) home.  Until then I am paying board for him, and bought a new to me trailer this spring to make my travels easier (on myself and the horse). We have two young kids, one old enough to start sports so now we all do karate, and he also has soccer this fall.  We want to refinance the house in a few years and we need to look at getting a new car as the Hyundai is driving us absolutely nuts (currently in the shop trying to figure out why it doesn't want to start all the time).  We've had one of those years where there has always been something costly and unexpected every month from cars or pets... we finally took our first vacation in over 3 years, which is never cheap.  Not that we don't have money in savings, but we are hoping to keep it all for refinancing later!

I haven't had a real ride since early August...when saddle fit issues left me giving Tesla time off while waiting on a new one.  We got to ride for 30min for a fit check when it came (yay for passing that!) and then this weekend my first shot since....5weeks+ off.

So I "work" two nights a week at the barn to help offset monthly cost of board - feeding and cleaning stalls.  Saturday eve's being one of those - I ended up not being able to go as early as I wanted and being on a time crunch to get not the time I was expecting to get with Tesla and debated what I was going to do with it. I decided a little saddle time was better than none, and still took my time grooming him to heck his back and letting him check out the saddle he hadn't seen in weeks.  We lunged a bit, I made a few adjustments and then legged up and we walked around the arena.  Tried a little trotting, but he wasn't having it. Saddle slipped forward onto his withers a bit -- need to get the girth and padding worked out.

He's lost confidence I've noticed while being off work. Much bigger jumps when he spooks, and just generally more reactive than he has been before...not sure what to do with that one.  His back is getting better though, and the chiro is finally due out Monday morning so we'll have definitive answers on his L/S area.

Now while I didn't get the ride I wanted, I got what I needed.  I got Tesla, being his complete puppy dog loving self, behaving like a perfect gentleman (something we've been battling with respect and rubbing, and generally standing still)...even standing still at the mounting block!  He wasn't bucking on the line, wasn't giving an attitude, just being a good boy.  We may have only walked but he was happy...ears forward, enjoying the time together.

When we got to trotting he objected, but without bucking (score!).  I didn't push him and realize we have a little more saddle fitting work to do to make things right again. And I need to find my rhythm in this new saddle... I know he's got bad memories now and associates some pain, so we've got to work past that slowly.  Now how do I find the time?

So while I started the weekend frustrated and defeated, I am not ending it that way.  The art of Endurance riding is just this...Enduring. Ever changing priorities in life, the twists horses throw at us with injuries, growing pains, attitude adjustments. I will endure the journey with Tesla, as I did with Traveler and we will be all the better for it.  I know I will still have moments of frustration, doubt and feelings of failure...just hope I don't whine too much for my readers!

must get that head down at the trot

Sunday, September 13, 2015

what a wind...

Went to see Tesla today with hopes to ride, or at least lunge him in the saddle. Beautiful weather, but WINDY as all get-out.... so, He was way too agitated to even fight to get the saddle on so we just groomed, lunged and then went for a 1.5mi walk. Once we got into the woods he settled down nicely and was much more relaxed.

Here's a clip of WHY I decide not to ride...  I could just tell when grooming it wasn't going to be a 'good' day for us.  But, he was barely reactive at all to the curry comb so I know his back was feeling better! Once my 2nd one loads I think that one has a buck captured on video lol

We went down the arena, and I closed the gate and unhooked him, turned my back to go up to the barn for the longer line that I forgot and he went running and bucking around! So I went back in a few in of the nonsense, put him back on the line and refocused.  Then we went out for our walk...

He is looking great too! At a really good weight, now we need to get back into work and muscle him up.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Family time

So we have a saddle that fits!  The stonewall was a success, now I just need time to ride in it... Hoping for a fall ride, 50 maybe?

So far September has been busy with family stuff - The first is my oldest's birthday and his party was the following weekend.  The next day we took off for our first family vacation in 3.5years.  We had originally planned to go to Asheville around the Biltmore Hope for Horses ride, but our vacation time needed and left demanded that we go the week before and use the Labor Day 'free' day to our advantage (and then there was not riding anymore consideration due to saddle fit).

I found a nice little house on Home-Away to rent south of town in Hendersonville, each kid had their own room, there was a playset and hammock out back, even a hot tub :) Unfortunately it was right outside the youngest's bedroom so we didn't get to use it.  We had a lot planned, but day with no plans too so when rain came we just changed things up a bit.

Kids seemed to have had a lot of fun, and Skyler did great for the first time away from home (other than her hospital stint).

Now we are home :)  Tomorrow hope to visit Tesla, maybe even ride a bit or least get the saddle on and a few pictures and take him for a hike after lunging.  He's been off for 4w now and the body worker said he felt really good this last session (while I was away) and hoping we get the Chiro out soon.

Then on Monday the youngest turns 3!  Her party is next weekend, then maybe things will get back to normal?

A few pictures of the fun we had...

Family selfie

my horse girl in the making

we all made it to the top of Chimney Rock (26 flights)

Apple picking

Me & my girl

Saturday, August 29, 2015

saddle success!

Yippeee!  We have a saddle and pad combo that works :)

The winning saddle is a Stonewall Classic with my HAF 8200 pad. We can also use the Matrix sans inserts, but the plan is to search for a good deal on a pure sheepskin pad for future use.  I do need to get a 22" western cinch, or a converter for the rigging to english....  Dang horse has a tiny barrel! that is a pony sized cinch lol

First, I'll back track a little.  Tesla has been out of under saddle work since 8/10 and the findings at his massage session with Sarah.  We have done just lunge work and/or grooming with massage and stretching since then.  The Stonewall was supposed to ship on the 17th, plenty of time for our appointment with the fitter on the 29th that I had scheduled once I knew I was getting a saddle I had high hopes for working for us.  The 21st rolled around with no update on the FedEx tracking so I checked in and FedEx had held it without letting the shipper know because there was a spray adhesive in the box (for the shim kit).  So, it finally left CA on the 25th and arrived about an hour before I needed to leave for the barn today :P  Cutting it close!

Our day started out with me moving 3 saddles and 4 pads to the barn with girths and then wrangling Tesla from the woods.   I was armed with the Stonewall, an OrthoFlex and my Bandos with a wider pommel.  We started with a quick check of his bod, and he is still showing tight and sore at the right side L/S with a major knot near his ribs. sigh. 
So we got the impression pad set up and the Stonewall and headed out the barn.  Something, we have no idea what, spooked or got Tesla as we walked out.  He bucked as I was leading him using his reins down to the arena, then spun around and continued to buck and bolt ripping the reins from my hands.  OMG, now we have a runaway horse with reins hanging.... can you say Oh sh*t?!  fearing the worst could happen and hoping the reins or bridle would snap if so...He took off at a gallop, ran along side the arena and into the woods onto the path that runs behind the house and back to the driveway (that we have done together often), then continued off back towards the 2 fields of his buddies.  Which of course set them all in motion and bucking around...argh.  Once his field buddies stopped at the fence so did he and I was able to catch him and bring him back.  Somehow he also managed to have the impression pad slip out from under the saddle (though everything was tight when leaving the barn!) so I tied him in his stall and went on the hunt for the pad. Found that, Melissa re-rolled it out and back to the assessment we went!  This time we walked out and around the barn and then came back to face the area he freaked out at. Nothing happened to set him off again so we went out to the arena and lunged a few, made a few adjustments to the rigging as the saddle kept wanting to slide forward then On I went for the first time in 3 weeks. Still some head tossing, but generally good ride though he was in a spooky mood and a pipe for a jump and the barn owner coming out to say hi made him stop and spin.  We did our time with the pad and then checked the results - Good!  No major pressure points without any saddle pad :)  No lateral movement, no front to back movement, no hair swirls, good sweat pattern. Then we worked through what pads I owned that would be good... At least I have 2 that will work, but may not be the best for 50-100 mile rides.

We also took a look at my Bandos, and unfortunately the left shoulder was still getting pressure even with the wider pommel.  Then the Orthoflex, which turns out to be too long for his back.  So, I have no backup saddle (again), but at least I have a saddle to ride in now!  I also learned that while he measures a 12" tree for RP that I can look for up to a 13" used that can be modified to him.  Someday maybe I'll get a Heraldic saddle yet...  I am also going to test run the Pandora sometime.

So, not so proud of the run-away horse moment, but learned some lessons there though so hopefully won't happen again!

Now I need to find time to ride again :)

Sorry no pictures yet :(  My mind was a little preoccupied with finding something that works and forgot to snap a shot of him wearing it!

We will continue bi-weekly sessions with Sarah for body work, and I'm waiting on the Chiro to get on the schedule and just dealing with a $200 bill (saving $90 by not doing acupuncture this time) for his adjustment of the S/I area that we think is causing all the muscle tension.

Friday, August 21, 2015

ups and downs of life

So after our last riding weekend and all my reflections Tesla had an appointment with the equine body worker again.  He was showing new areas of issue, even though he did feel really good in the Ortho Flex...Not sure if he got a few muscles tweaked during the big spooks, or we just aren't pinning down what is causing him issue. So decided no more riding until the saddle fitter is out again. 
In other words, no Iron Mountain.  I'm not sure I'm all the bummed about it either...I had reservations about going back there this year, emotionally, but at the same time I wanted to get back there and visit Traveler's final resting spot.  I might have still gone and volunteered (heavily armed with friends and drinks) if it wasn't the only Saturday I could work with the fitter.

Another "downer" for me, we said goodbye to my oldest cat Arial on Friday the 14th. 
She would have been 19 November 7th, and I've had her since she was 3mos old. She was the last our of original 8 pets before kids started adding in (yes, 8! We had 4 dogs, 3 cats and a horse when Asher was born).  Now we have 2 young kids, 2 dogs, a cat and a horse - all of which have come in the last 3 years as we lost our fury gang.

2010 - Fury kids now have all gone over the Rainbow Bridge but not forgotten
On the upside, I bought a used Stonewall that will arrive next week. I have the OrthoFlex borrowed for a bit longer, and I have my treeless with a swapped wide pommel insert to assess fit on all of them the 29th with the fitter again.  Whichever works the best is the direction we will go!  And if none of that works, I don't have a clue... I can't afford a custom Reactor Panel Heraldic saddle.

This weekend marks a year since I lost Traveler.  Not a ride goes by that I don't think of him. I can't look at the trail the same...every branch across the path I skip a beat and pray it won't trip Tesla up.  I get angry too...angry at myself for the "jerk" and "jackass" comments I made to him as he shoved me around that day... I know he was doing it to tell me something, but I was only concerned with keeping him calm and still until we had vet help.  I knew in the back of mind that the situation was very bad from the instant I got off, but couldn't face it.  I regret not being the last thing he saw...I have held every one of our pets as they've passed, but for him I was advised to turn away, go down the path a bit, as I had never been with horse for process before and how he would go down was an unknown with a broken shoulder. My engineering mind wonders if there was a way we could have walked him out that day ... but in my heart I couldn't ask him to spend hours trying to get back to the road, and months in a stall. I didn't care that he could never be ridden again, that he would be a pasture puff IF he made it through the recovery, he would still be with me...but it was the IF, I couldn't put him through. His quality of life would not have been acceptable to him, he would have been depressed and I knew it.  He would have done his damnedest to walk out of there with me, that is just what we had together, but I couldn't ask him to bare that pain for miles and hours.  He was far from perfect, but we had been through the ringer together. Overcoming fear, trust, and training/abuse issues...we had an understanding of each other. I knew when he couldn't handle the situation at hand and he knew when I needed comfort.  He was with me when I had complications with Asher's pregnancy and was visibly worried when I didn't return for week. I spent hours grooming him when I wasn't allowed to ride. I remember the week after I lost Cherokee I went to see him, I found him standing in the pasture funny and not moving to me (not his normal) and I about had a heart attack worried I would lose him too.  Turned out to just be a lazy moment and odd stance but I couldn't bear the thought of what might have been.

Now the commitments of life make it hard to spend the time I really want to with Tesla, and maybe I use that as and excuse as to why we haven't bonded closely yet, or maybe I'm afraid to. When I got Traveler I had Doug, work and the other pets.  I spent nearly every night with him building a relationship for months.  Now I'm lucky to see Tesla 2x a week and I wonder if I am doing him justice some days.  I can't wait till I can move him home...but that is probably a few years away.  Maybe something will work out next year with the land down the street, but it isn't to be this year.  For Saturday my plan is to just groom and do some ground work and stretching.  Hoping he sees the need in me for horse healing.

RIP Traveler...not a day goes by that I don't think of you.
MI Spring 2008
TN Summer 2009

TN Summer 2010

TN Fall 2011

A very pregnant me, TN Aug 2012

3rd Place Trail Challenge TN June 2013

Silly Face VA June 2014