Thursday, August 28, 2008

Having My Cake and Eating It Too

Nom nom nom nom. Oh, I'm sorry, did you say something? I was too busy eating my cake while simultaneously having it.

It appears I may get to do a lease on Marve, the horse who lives about 10 minutes from me and who can help me work on dressage and jumping, while also have the opportunity to continue riding Mae if I so choose.

Mae's owner is back (!) and she and I actually managed to connect this week to talk. Wow, I learned a lot...apparently I was getting a lot of misinformation this summer from the barn owner.

It turns out Mae's owner does not want to sell her, not even a little bit.

It turns out Mae is not as experienced/well-trained as I thought she was.

It turns out Mae does not jump and is not even sound to do so, so thank goodness I listened to my instinct and didn't try to jump her.

It turns out she does have a history of rearing, bucking, and other vices I was never aware of -- and I'm almost grateful for that, actually, because we mostly did fine this summer and I wouldn't have felt so comfortable/confident if I had known about these issues, which I believe are exacerbated when the rider is a bundle of nerves, like Mae's owner has been. (Of course, I might also not have been bucked off, but whatever.)

Yeah, it would have been helpful for me to know all these things before I started the lease last spring, but what are you going to do? I'm still alive, no injuries, Mae got exercise and love all summer, I got some riding time/practice in, the owner is happy, so all is well.

The owner is so happy, in fact, that she wants me to continue riding Mae. I actually feel kind of flattered because she went on and on about how happy and in shape Mae looks, and that the barn owner has told her how well I was doing with Mae, etc.

But at this point I have already committed in my mind to lease Marve at Other Barn. I told Mae's owner I would like to continue riding her, but not as frequently as I have been. Maybe once a week or whenever I have time. So we still need to hammer out the details on that, and I'm not 100% sure how it will go. I love Mae, but I have already distanced myself from the situation somewhat. I know the owner is back now, which means Mae gets love and attention from another source, and I'm also really excited about the Marve thing.

I didn't want to write too much about Marve, because it's not final yet. I still have to sign on the dotted line and get some more info. But I really hope it all works out. I'm excited about getting to ride him three days a week. I'm excited about having access to excellent facilities for once. I'm even excited that he is the stable's horse, which means he doesn't have a possessive owner worried that I'm not good enough for him -- instead, I have a barn full of professionals who are looking out for my safety, well-being, and growth as a horsewoman. And yes, I admit it. I'm also excited that I'd get to ride him in the schooling shows (I hear there will be more this year than last year!). That means I can practice with him and ride him in the show -- no more just appearing on show day and being handed a random horse I may not have ridden in a month.

So I'm just excited. I get to ride a horse who fits my needs more, in a better environment, WITHOUT driving 35 minutes, yet I still have the option to ride Mae if I want to. It's pretty sweet. Let's just hope it all works out!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Vapid Fashion Commentary

So I rode Mae Monday evening with no problems -- no bucking, no nerves, no fear. We just did a quick half-hour ride in the indoor. I wasn't nervous at all before getting on, and mostly because I was thinking about how she was standing perfectly still for me to mount, and how when I first started riding her she would never stand like that. In fact, the barn owner told me I should "get used to hopping on while she trots away." Um, no. It just took a little patience on my part but now Mae stands there quietly until I get on, whether I use a mounting block or not.

My random thought for today's post involves riding fashion. When I was growing up, I always wore breeches and high boots to ride, except for when I got older and went through my bareback stage, when really anything was fine. But in general, everyone I knew basically stuck to the breeches and high boots format.

So last year, once I knew for sure I was truly getting back into riding and not just tooling around with a single set of lessons, I invested in some breeches and high boots. And then I slowly realized that the snooty teen riders at Other Barn didn't wear high boots. Ever. They wore paddock boots and half chaps, either with jeans or breeches. I slowly noticed that besides the dude who looks like he's about 65 (on a huge TB...go him), not one person wears high boots. It's half chaps galore.

I wonder whether this current fashion 1) changed with the times, 2) is a regional thing, since I grew up in a different state, 3) is a money issue (though half chaps and paddock boots really don't cost much less than a pair of high boots) or 4) is just another piece of evidence proving that no matter what I do, I never seem to be fashionable or on top of trends. And these are just the horsey trends. We won't even talk regular fashion! Heck, I'm lucky I still don't have bangs that I blow up with a curling iron and then drown in hairspray. Oh, 1980s. You were good to me.

Anyway. I do own a pair of half chaps now, but not because I'm trying to keep up my appearances at Other Barn. (Yeah, I freely admitted to you guys that I drank a Miller High Life. I clearly don't care about appearances.) They're way better than wearing paddock boots alone and provide a nice option when I want to ride in jeans.

My office phone just rang and it jarred me awake. Why am I writing blogs about my inability to keep up with equestrian fashions? Will my jumping position ever improve? Will 80s bangs ever make a comeback? (I hope not.)

I'm off to do some actual work and ponder these questions. More to come soon about leases and my new discoveries about Mae and other such fascinating topics. Till then!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Back in the Saddle Again

Okay, not really (though I do have tentative plans to go riding after work tomorrow -- in the indoor ring only). Saturday, the day after Mae succeeded in throwing me off with one spectacular buck, was also the day I had promised to take a 12-year-old girl to an amusement park. Since I still didn't notice any major effects from my fall on Friday, I kept our plans and off we went.

Luckily, this girl isn't into the big crazy rides, so I wasn't too worried about getting on something that could make any subtle post-buck injuries worse. But guess which ride she wanted to get on first? Yep. The carousel. As we stood in line waiting our turn, I watched it go round and round and began to feel kind of funny. Dizzy, sick. I started to worry that getting on any spinning rides would be a disaster because maybe my head had been jostled a bit in the fall after all, just enough to surface when I stupidly got on amusement park rides the very next day.

I was halfway through imagining some horror story involving me having a panic/vomiting/hallucinatory attack and causing a scene mid-ride when the gates snapped open and we were ushered through the entrance. My pre-teen charge dashed in to pick the two prettiest horses she could find side by side. Under normal circumstances, I would have pointed out it's always best to choose outside horses because they feel like they are going faster, but this time I was perfectly content with a slow inside horse. (My nerves also made me sacrifice the horse sporting a teal and purple polka-dotted saddle pad, by the way.)

I automatically went to the left side of my carousel horse and mounted just as you'd properly mount a real horse, even keeping my heels down once I was on (and then I realized that I had mounted carousel horses that way all through my childhood, which now strikes me as a little obnoxious). But once I was in that plastic saddle, I felt like I had to puke. I think it was a combination of being worried the ride was going to make me sick/injured/etc. when I had to be an adult and take care of a 12-year-old girl and drive her home safely, etc., along with being a little nervous at the idea of getting on anything that vaguely resembles a horse after Bucky McBuckerson had her way with me the other day.

But you know what? The ride went fine, I didn't get sick, and we then proceeded to ride a variety of other mostly tame attractions and I was fine. Later that night, once I was home, my neck felt a bit stiff, but still no major problems. And as much as I intend to joke about Mae being a monstrous bucking beast, when I do get out there next I know I'll be happy to see her. I'll give her carrots and groom her till she's nice and pretty and hopefully we'll have a slow, easy ride.

I am drinking a Miller High Life as I write this, by the way. I'm just saying.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Got Bucked Off Today

My happy little plans to enjoy my Friday by leaving work early, have a nice ride on Mae, and then make it home in time to shower and go out tonight were kind of flattened when she bucked me off. I blame mostly myself but am increasingly becoming angry as I grapple with the possibility that this is something she "does sometimes" and no one told me!

I got the barn, and Mae seemed to be in a fine mood. I longed her briefly. No problems. Tacked up and took her to the outdoor. It was hot today, so strike one. It also kind of buggy and I, uh, forgot to flyspray her. Strike two.

Strike three was me becoming reactive when we had a shitty ride. She was not listening, trying to race all over the place, etc. We basically seemed to be losing all the progress we made this summer, and I was frustrated. I was annoyed. I growled things like "Come ON Mae" and "I do NOT want to lean on this rein!" while trying to get back on track. We rode for 30 minutes and she was pretty sweaty since it was so hot and all. I figured we'd take a short walk through the fields to cool down. This is something we've done multiple times in the past, and no problems.

As we set off, I realized I (once again) wasn't carrying identification or a cell phone or anything. Typically, I don't like going on the trail or far out of the ring alone, because you never know. But I figured a little cool-down walk through the fields might be good for us since we were struggling in the ring. And she felt fine. So off we went.

She tried stopping once, something she occasionally does outside of the ring. I urged her on and we continued with no problems. Mae is definitely a horse who likes to test people, and if you're wishy-washy she will own you. I've been down this road with her before, and I wasn't going to let her decide when she wanted to stop or turn around for home.

Then we got to the dry, very very slight dip in the ground. The first few times we came across this, she balked and refused to go, so I got off and led her across it. But the last several times she's been fine; she either walks right over it or she'll refuse at first but my firm urging gets her carry on.

Today, she threw a hissy fit. Did not want to keep going; kept backing up and trying to head for the barn. I was firm, which has worked in the past. Wouldn't let her get her head turned around. Urged her on. Growled "Walk...on!" Some flies swarmed at her face and she did not want to go forward, but I kept urging her on. And I guess she decided to end it. By bucking like no other horse I have ridden has ever bucked.

Holy cow! As she flew up in the air and I was unseated, everything seemed to go in slow motion. As I came down on her neck, I thought I could possibly fight for it and remain on her without falling. But it wasn't a sure thing, and who knew if she'd buck again? I decided, midair, that I should probably just fall off and get it over with.

So I did. I landed on my back and my head hit the ground, but I was wearing my helmet as always (THANK GOD). I still had the reins in my hand and my goal was to keep it that way so she couldn't run off. Again, we're still in slow motion here. As I land on the ground and struggle to maintain the reins, I swear Mae and I had a moment of eye contact. On my end, I was pleading, "Please please calm down and don't run away from me." And her look? It said, loud and clear: "HELL NO."

Off she went, with me cooing and calling and hoping to god she'd stop to graze in the tasty fields all around us. Nope. She took off at a determined gallop. I leapt to my feet almost as soon as I had hit the ground and started running after her, still pleading. She made a sharp turn and continued galloping out of my line of sight.

This was the the worst part of the whole experience. We were out in the open, no one was around at the barn, and she was loose. She could run to the road and get hit by a car. Or, maybe she'd just keep running out of terror and I wouldn't be able to find her. The most likely (I hoped) explanation was that she ran right back to the barn, but there was no guarantee of that. As I ran along, I started thinking of the phone calls I'd have to make: the barn owner, Mae's owner...would it be appropriate to call 9-1-1 if she ran off and I couldn't find her? I didn't know, but if she had disappeared for real, I was going to find out.

As I ran, rasping and wheezing, toward the barn (no Mae in sight), I saw a neighbor at the next farm over hurrying in my direction. I started shouting very helpful things like "HEY. HEY! DO YOU SEE HER???" as I ran. The barn dogs were running in circles in the field behind the farmhouse, yapping their heads off. I took this as a very bad sign -- that is the direction away from the barn, and closer to the road.

As the neighbor lady got closer to me, I heard her shout something that sounded like "I just saw her still running through the fields" and oh sweet jesus, I thought that meant Mae was on the lam for good. Neighbor Lady and I met up near the barn entrance and even though by then I was convinced Mae was still running free, I thought I better check the barn first.

As I approached the entrance, I was thrilled to see two deep marks in the loose gravel. You know, the kind that might appear if a frantic, galloping horse had to skid to a stop before entering the barn? Whew. I ran in the barn with Neighbor Lady following me while I babbled, "Please be in your stall, please be in your stall!"

She was. She was dripping with sweat and terrified and maybe a bit pissed, but she was in her stall. Sweet lord. I took her out and started walking her in the indoor ring, and Neighbor Lady and I agreed that she seemed to be walking just fine. (I love Neighbor Lady, by the way. It helped so much to just know another person was around to help me if I needed it.)

Poor Mae was so, so sweaty, which worried me quite a bit. I walked her for almost 20 minutes before I realized that I had been too shaken up to even run up the stirrups or loosen her girth. So I did that and walked her for a few more minutes before untacking her completely before continuing to cool her down. I was starting to panic that she wasn't going to be okay, but I figured there was nothing to do but keep walking her and then hose her down.

So that's what I did -- almost 45 minutes of hand walking, and then I gave her a bath and hand grazed her for a while, and by then she seemed fine. While I'd been walking her, a few other boarders showed up at the barn and I told them what happened. And do you know what one woman said?

"Oh no, she bucked you off? I hear she does that sometimes. In fact, she bucked off [Mae's owner] a few months ago."

Excuse me? Apparently, and it's possible this is hearsay, but apparently Mae bucked her owner off in the outdoor ring "because she just didn't feel like being ridden." And then I remembered a little conversation I had with the barn manager right at the beginning of the lease, when Mae's owner was still around:

Barn Manager: Yeah, [Mae's owner] just fell off her the other day.
Me: Oh no. What happened? Is there anything I need to know?
BM: No, it's fine. She just fell off. Rolls her eyes, indicating that Mae's owner is kind of a mess and is afraid of riding so will jump off at the slightest notice of something going wrong.

I'm now realizing that the boarder who told me the owner was bucked off moved into the barn not long before Mae's owner left for the summer, so exactly how many falling incidents would have occurred around this time? I am pissed that no one thought to mention this little, "Yeah, Mae might try to buck you off" thing.

Of course, she and I haven't had any problems this summer. Certainly no bucking or signs of aggression. And during those 45 minutes that I hand-walked her today, I was totally beating myself up. It must be all my fault. Not only for taking her out of the ring and riding through the fields alone, with no one around (yep, I KNOW that was stupid, never gonna happen again) but for pushing her to go on when she was clearly in a tiff about it. Of course, if I had known she might, you know, try to buck me off, I might have been a little more conservative.

I should point out that "pushing her on" did not include any whips, crops, spurs, etc. I never ride her with any of those things. Instead, I was being firm and not letting her decide to whip around and trot merrily back to the barn. I was using leg pressure, clucks and some kicks to get her going, and I wasn't taking no for an answer. This has worked fine in the past; she realizes she's not going to get away with being a brat and walks on. But what do you think? Does it sound like I pushed her too hard? Did I deserve to be bucked off? (I have seen videos of total asshats who then get bucked off and I'm like "Whoo-hoo for the horse!" but I don't think I was being unreasonable to her.

Anyway. I don't blame this whole incident on Mae, and trust me, I'm thankful that I had my helmet on and she ran straight to the barn and seems to be doing okay, but I think it kind of made my decision to stop her lease and pick up the other one a little easier.

As for me, I think I'm okay. I spent all that time hand-walking her, chatting with the boarders, giving her a bath, etc. and felt fine. But then I got in my car to drive home and started to feel a little funny. I have a history of anxiety issues, and this is the kind of incident that sets it off. I couldn't tell if I was feeling dizzy/whoozy and about to run myself off the road from a concussion or because I was having an anxiety attack. Luckily, my gas tank was on empty anyway, so I pulled into a gas station and called my SO. Chatted to him for a bit and he calmed me down, as always. I turned into a blubbering mess when I talked to him, though. I felt totally fine, emotionally and physically, back at the barn, but talking to him made me realize I just got freaking bucked off the horse I trusted and she went on a wild gallop back to the barn while I worried she was hit by a car or something.

Anyway, after our phone chat I was fine. I ran a bunch of errands on the way back because I knew once I got home and in the shower I wasn't going to want to leave the house again. I ate and then read for about two and a half hours. My head hurts a little, but nothing big and I think I'm just fine.

My enthusiasm for driving all the way out there to ride again this weekend is completely gone, though. I didn't get back on Mae again once I saw she was okay, mostly because she was so sweaty and overheated I didn't even want to get on her back, and also because I'd left my helmet by her stall and didn't feel like leaving her to get it, and also the mounting block was still outside. I can (and do) get on from the ground, but at that moment the thought of dragging myself up from the ground was NOT enticing.

When I was a kid, I was always told to get right back on after a fall because otherwise you might start to develop fear and never want to get back in the saddle again. Is there even any truth to that? I don't know. I'm not worried about getting on her again in general, but I can tell you I am NEVER riding her outside a ring alone again. I might still do a trail ride with a trail riding buddy, but I might be a little anxious about that at first.

Of course, I only have approximately one week left in this lease anyway. After a drama-free summer with Mae, this feels like a weird way to go out. I really hope our next ride is calm and relaxing. And BUCK-FREE, thank you very much.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Return of Marve

I can hear it now. Any blog reader is looking at the content of this post and exhaling a unanimous "Oh sweet jesus I'm tired of hearing this just make a DECISION!"

As you might be able to tell from my last post, I kinda gave up on leasing the TB at Other Barn. This was based on not hearing anything from them a month after they said I'd be a match, as well as a crappy experience at Other Barn last week that kind of soured me on the place in general. (But this was mostly just crankiness and temporary annoyance, kind of like when Mae's barn's riding rings were "out of service" for several days.)

But I heard from them yesterday, and I got to ride Marve again. And it went really well! He was responsive and awesome and not rushed at all. We cantered in both directions and while he sometimes got quick in the trot after that, I was able to regulate it. No crazy scary runaway TB, thank goodness. It was a super fun ride, and it has restored my faith that I might be able to handle him after all. I will be getting a call in the next week to discuss the details of a lease! I still can't believe I could possibly be leasing a horse that is a delicious 3 miles from my home (5-6 on the scenic bike route) instead of a 35-minute drive away.

Then, of course, I thought of Mae and how awesome she's been and how I found a trail riding buddy at last and UUUGHGH. Maybe I could start leasing Marve in September but also keep my lease on Mae for a bit, too. That's totally reasonable and not ridiculous at all, right?

It appears that ultimately, I am heading in the direction of Mr. Marve the TB. But I'm waiting on a call back from Mae's owner, too, so we'll see what that brings.

Happy Thursday!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Reality Check

Mae's owner is coming back! I don't have an exact date, but it will be soon -- probably within the next two weeks. I knew all along this was going to happen at some point, but I feel really unprepared. I practically had a free horse of my own all summer and now it's about to end. It's possible the lease will continue (though I haven't talked to the owner about that yet) but it won't be the same because I'll never know when I'll run into the owner. It's kind of awkward when I'm grooming and tacking up Mae to have the owner suddenly appear and then kind of stand around watching me. Makes me feel self conscious, or like a weird horse stalker or something.

If the owner is okay with me continuing the lease, then I probably will. I haven't heard any news from Other Barn about that TB, and I don't really feel like pushing the issue. Again, if it happens, it happens. Right now I feel that Mae is my comfort zone.

As far as horse hunting goes, I'm taking it slow. The last thing I want to do is rush into buying a horse who doesn't totally suit my needs. Also, I think I really want it to be at least part draft, if possible. :)

Just for fun, here are some drafties I looked up on DreamHorse. I didn't specify location so they are kind of all over the place. I'm still fairly new to horse hunting online, but I already have a hard time believing most of what I read. :)

Belgian cross, apparently has some dressage experience:

Shire cross

This one is younger than I'd prefer (I generally search in the 7 to 15 year age range, though about 12 would be perfect) and I can't tell from the ad exactly how advanced of a rider she needs:

Percheron mare, also young:

Sounds like a good all-around horse:


I'm not 100% married to the idea of getting a draft/draft cross, but it would be nice. I'm hoping that if I just keep my ears open, the perfect horse (for me) will one day appear in my area and it will all work out. It's nice to not be in a hurry. Plus, casually browsing the listings takes my mind off the fact that my lease with Mae might be up in the air soon...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Hello Out There

So the last week totally sucked. I was so exhausted from my weekend travels and then crazy work schedule that I didn't have the energy to do my laundry or the dishes, much less post new blogs. Then, a series of annoying/crappy things happened (at everywhere from the stable to work) that left me in a blech mood. I started to write a post about all that garbage, and then I decided no one needed to hear me whine. get back into the swing of things, I thought I'd post about something superficial: clothing.

Right now I'm at work, wearing my riding jeans that haven't been washed in weeks. Leaving work and going directly to the stable presents a changing problem that is way more complicated than it needs to be. There's really no good place to change at Mae's barn, so I do it here, where I can either cram myself into a teeny, tiny bathroom stall that's close to my desk or walk about two miles through this huge building to a larger and more private bathroom, which also happens to be even farther away from where I park my car (already like a mile away) on the rare days I drive to work. So this morning I woke up and decided, screw it, I'm wearing the jeans. It's much easier to change into a sports bra and t-shirt in the itty bitty bathroom instead of doing an entire change.

I usually wear business casual clothing to work, but jeans are okay sometimes as long as I don't overdo it. For what it's worth, I tried to dress up the jeans with a nicer shirt and some jewelry. I asked the SO if he could tell I was wearing my horsey jeans, but he said there were no problems. And I can't detect any horsey smells (although you know what they say -- if you can't smell it, then it must be REALLY bad to everyone else).

Until recently, I wore breeches almost every time I rode. I'm not exactly fond of how they look (why why WHY do breeches have to be the single most unflattering type of clothing ever invented??) but they are comfortable and stretchy, so I like to wear them. I have a few pairs of riding tights that don't quite make me look like a sea cow, so those coupled with my high boots or half-chaps to balance out my lower leg is usually my first choice.

Until the bugs, that is. The non-sea-cow breeches also happen to be thin, and the last few times I wore them outside, I got attacked by bugs and didn't even know it until I started scratching my bum and discovered huge welts all over my lower body. Fantastic. So the jeans, while not as comfy, offer better bug protection. I might look into buying a pair of specially designed riding jeans -- the kind with flat seems, etc., not the kind with knee patches or some weird version of denim breeches (which is what my local tack shop tried to push on me when I asked what type of 'riding jeans' they had).

In conclusion, let's all hope I get through the day at work without any higher ups noticing that I care more about riding than I do about looking presentable at work. :)

On a happier note, this weekend I took Mae on a nice long trail ride with someone else from the barn! She did much better than I expected. A few spooks, and was very very "perky" as I say the whole time (read: I couldn't just sit back and relax the whole time). I don't think she's had much experience on the trail at all, but at least this time she didn't try to stop or refuse to go through the "ditch" (a very slight, dry dip on good terrain). Also, sometimes when I ride her out in fields or on the trail, she feels really crooked, especially at the trot and canter. It's weird, like she's not used to riding straight instead of in circles. Is this a common problem?

My riding buddy this weekend knows I have been sort of considering buying a horse. So when I mentioned it was possible Mae's owner might want to sell Mae, she was like, "There you go!! Just buy her."

I admit I thought about it. I know Mae, and compared to the problems other horses can have, she would be a somewhat safe bet. But I'm not thrilled with the fact that she's smaller than I'd like (I'm very tall and would like a nice big, chunky horse), her feet aren't the greatest (she will probably always require shoes), she likes to chew her stall up and she clearly is not the best trail horse in the world. If her owner outright asks me if I'm interested in buying Mae, I might at least speak to her about it. Not sure what will happen, though. I should probably make my first horse be more in line with what I want, right?

The trail ride was just part of my super relaxing, awesome weekend that featured naps, reading on the couch with my cat, a walk in the park and a fun night out with my SO. I finally feel refreshed and ready to face this week. Here's hoping it's better than the last. :)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I'm Back...

...but I'm wiped. I got back from a short but exhausting vacation only to be immediately slammed at work. Not only will the next few weeks be crazy, but I'm looking ahead at our schedule for the next year and it's only going to get worse. I'll have to start working harder and smarter to get it all done.

Besides the oh-so-fun prospect of working 12 and 13 hour days this week, one of the company heads started dropping negative hints about my department. Apparently we are not stacking up against the competition and it is not getting better. He slipped in some reference to "it's not too far of a drop to go from failing to folded." Yikes.

And this, of course, ties into my horse purchasing considerations. If I lost my job next year, next month, or even tomorrow, I'd be okay. I really would. I'd take on freelance work, take a break from a regular day job, and live off my savings for a little bit. But that would all change if I had a horse. My savings would be gone and I'd have to worry about finding work immediately to support my equine friend.

Speaking of horse hunting, I was visiting some (non-horsey) friends this weekend. When I told them I was considering buying a horse, they gave me that polite, blank stare you might give to a slightly crazy person trying to make conversation with you in public. I think what they were thinking was, "Why not use that money to buy a nice house?" but managed to muster an "Oh...well, if that makes you happy, then go for it." Oh, well. We already know non-horsey people don't always understand this obsession. :)

At the moment I feel too busy and overwhelmed to delve deeply into horse hunting or even to make a final decision about whether I'm truly ready. When things calm down I will contact the woman with the draft cross mare so I can at least get my first experience of checking out a horse. My SO even volunteered to come and take pictures and maybe video for me, which would be helpful.

My plans for this weekend -- besides working, ugh! -- include taking Mae out on the trail with another rider at the stable, going to watch a dressage show, and hopefully catching up on the Olympics. I sure hope is archiving the events in addition to streaming them live, because right now I can't imagine when I will have time to sit down and watch them!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Back in a Few

If you think my silence in the next few days is caused by me running out and buying a horse on impulse, you'll be wrong! :) I'm going out of town and won't be able to post for a couple of days. But when I come back, I'm sure the to-buy-or-not-to-buy drama will pick right up where it left off. Till then!

Deep Breath

Calm down. I repeat, CALM DOWN.

No, I'm not talking to you guys. That's a little pep talk for me because I can't believe I contacted someone about a horse! I emailed the woman who owns the draft cross mare. She wrote back with videos, photos, and more information. It turns out this horse is almost an hour and a half away, but I'm still considering going to check her out. (Who knows when, though, since my next two weekends are booked and I don't want to make that crazy drive after work.)

I'm a little freaked out that I'm actually considering going to look at a horse for sale. But this doesn't mean I'm necessarily buying...just thinking about it. :) But I feel so unprepared. If I go to look at her I might first go by myself, but if I ever get serious about buying her or another horse, I'll need someone more experienced to help me out. I know some people at Mae's barn and Other Barn, but am not really close enough with any of them to say, "Hey, you wanna spend an entire day driving to the middle of nowhere with me to help me consider a horse?" But if I do get serious about this, I'd find a way.

If I can cut out of work early today, I might have time to swing by that boarding stable I mentioned earlier. Hmm, for someone not buying a horse, I seem to be taking a lot of pre-horse-purchase steps, no?

Here's a recap of reasons I'm terrified to buy a horse:

1. Location/being tied down.
This is also why I am not a homeowner. I've moved and traveled a lot and hate the thought of being tied down to one area. Never mind that I've been in this city for over 4 years now, with a job I like and have no plans of leaving anytime soon. On the other hand, one day I'd like to go to grad school, preferably across the country, and I want to feel free to do that. I also just plain want to end up on the west coast (or at least the mountain states) some day, and I originally thought it would be easier to wait until I made such a huge move before buying a horse. But who knows when that will happen? And yeah, I know a horse could come with me, but a long-distance trip like with a horse that sounds scary, expensive, and a huge hassle.

2. Money. As of right now, my finances appear capable of supporting a horse. But I am very careful about money and am used to save, save, saving it all the time. I wouldn't be saving anymore if I bought a horse! Plus, the economy sucks and there is always a possibility my job could disappear without any notice. I guess I could sell a horse if times get hard, but if they get even harder for everyone and the market becomes more difficult, what to do? Letting go of a horse would be difficult enough, never mind if you can't find a good home for him. Plus, if I wanted to go to grad school, how would I afford to keep the horse?

3. Time. I ride Mae an average of 3 times a week, sometimes 4. Might be more if she were closer. Admittedly, lately I've been thinking about riding all the time, and if I had my own horse on my own terms, I'd probably ride more. But 3 times a week also seems like a perfect half-lease situation.

On the other hand, I'd love my own horse, I think I'd be a good horse owner, I'd finally have the freedom to do exactly the kind of riding I want, and maybe I should just relax and go with it instead of over-analyzing and second guessing everything. So I don't know, but I can tell you that right now I am leaning toward doing it. Yikes!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Horse Fever

Soooo I really can't stop thinking about buying a horse. When I went to the tack shop this weekend all I could imagine was buying new supplies for a horse of the my own. (Don't you just love tack shops, by the way? I still feel like an enthralled little kid when I go.) I also may have found a boarding stable that I actually like. It's only about 20 minutes away, hooked up to some awesome trails, has good riding facilities, etc. I know a girl who takes lessons with me at Other Barn who boards there and she seems to like it. I have to check it out some more, though, and I think they have a waiting list. I mean, it's not that I have a horse or anything, ha. But if I do decide to buy a horse and want to board there, it might be awkward if nothing is available.

Had an excellent ride on Mae the other day. We just keep getting better and better. Plus, another rider at that barn discovered a whole new trail, bless her heart! So I took Mae out and it was awesome. Well, Mae is a little finicky on the trail, especially by herself. I normally wouldn't trail ride alone -- I can't help thinking of all the disastrous possibilities, plus I wasn't even carrying a cell phone or identification! -- but I was itching to go on the trail and so we did. She did pretty well overall, and next time I'll try to set it up so I can go with someone else.

If Mae's owner, you know, decided to give her away for free, I would take her. :) Obviously that won't happen. If Mae's owner does decide to move on, she would sell her, and for goodness knows how much. As much as I adore Mae, and I do, she's not the type of horse I'd want to rush out and buy. Her feet aren't the best, she sometimes cribs, and since I'm so tall I think I'd prefer a bigger/stockier horse.

Which brings me to...what is my dream horse? I don't really know. Well, actually, my dream horse might be -- wait for it -- Brego! Ha ha ha, watch out Daun. But seriously, I love drafts/draft crosses, big chunky horses like that, but I'm also into doing some lower level dressage and some very low jumps. So a Brego-type horse would be awesome. :) I saw an ad at the tack shop for a draft cross mare who goes up through first level and does some low jumps, but she is grade and priced at $4,000. Being registered doesn't matter to me, but 4k seems a little high considering that the horse market is struggling so much. Or am I asking for too much?

Anyway, besides a draft cross like that, I'm not sure what kind of horse I prefer. I grew up riding Arabians and will always have a soft spot for them. I think they are beautiful and smart and I'll always love them, but I don't think I'll be in the market for one anytime soon. Again, I'm into stockier horses. I've never been crazy about TBs but can see the good in them, and I wouldn't be surprised if I ended up with one someday just because they are so plentiful and it would be nice to give an OTTB a new job. I like quarter horses, too, and pretty much any other breed or combination as long as they are sound and sane.

My true love on a day-to-day basis would be trail riding, so a horse who is comfortable on the trail, even by himself, would be awesome. But I also love schooling shows, so it would be good if the horse is capable of some dressage (I'm talking training level test 1 and test 2 here, nothing fancy!) and also some low jumps because I'd love to jump a little. But I'm also reluctant to spend a ton of money, mostly because I know there are a lot of good horses out there who need homes.

So I feel like I'm asking for a lot, kinda like someone looking for an apartment in the city and demanding all amenities, a balcony with a tree view, a safe and trendy neighborhood AND affordable rent all in one.

Oh well. I'm not exactly ready to rush out and buy a horse, that's for sure. I need to give it some serious thought. If Marve works out then sticking with a half lease for a while would be good. But my coworkers better look the other way because I'm going to be on Dream Horse like every day from here on out. :)

Friday, August 1, 2008

I Couldn't Do It

So it's August 1, and the time to decide about Mae's lease has come and gone. And I keep it up through the rest of August. I just couldn't cut it short! She and I have been doing so well together. I almost paid for only half of August and then decided, screw it. The amount I pay is so small (again, I pay just about the same in gas to get out there) that it will be worth it even if I only get up there once or twice a week at the end of the month.

I took her saddle pad and bit home today to give them both a good washing. There are all these little details you don't think of unless you actually own a horse. But leasing Mae has shown me that my interest in horses is definitely real and back in my life, and isn't just a passing whim that came out of nostalgia. And while I may forget lots of little silly things and need to continuously ask questions, I think this lease has also shown me that I will be a good horse owner when the time comes.

When the time comes...hmm. As much as I constantly keep saying now isn't the time for a horse, I keep thinking about it more and more. And I can't stop checking DreamHorse. I know I'm not there yet, but I'm going to keep it in the back of my mind. Tomorrow, in addition to driving all the way out into the boonies to go to the nearest tack shop for more fly spray and supplies, I also am going to check out a few stables just to feel them out for boarding.

You know, I think if Other Barn simply had grass turnout, I'd already have a horse and be moving it there despite the high boarding fees, ha ha.

Still no definite news on leasing Marve. I don't feel so rushed about it, though. If it happens, it happens. If not, maybe I'll just freak out and buy a horse, ha. :)