Thursday, 26 November 2015

Anxiety... Bitch That She Is

As I've discussed before, I struggle with anxiety surrounding jumping. After I had my wreck, it got worse and worse until it developed into full-blown panic attacks.

I had multiple sessions with a psychologist (also a 3* eventer) this summer and I really noticed a difference. After my first session with her in July I was able to finish out my show season without any crippling anxiety.

I also take sporadic clinics with the good Dr. It's great to have a team that gets it.

I had planned to take the first part of our off-sesaon to focus strictly on dressage. And then I got offered one of the last spots in a Jessica Phoenix clinic. I couldn't turn that down! I started doing weekly jumping lessons again, in preperation for the clinic. The first two went well, ending with us bopping around a 3' course like NBD. For some reason the next one is where everything fell apart.

The course had some really challenging elements but was definitely within our abilities. The first time around the course was fine. And then the fences went up two holes (bringing the fences anywhere from 2'9"-3'3"), and it all fell apart. I struggled to cope with the meteoric rise in anxiety. I utilized all the tools that had allowed me to have such a wonderful summer.

It just wasn't enough. While I didn't have an actual panic attack, I did feel like one was building. I guess I did succeed in recognizing it, but I didn't feel like I could get past it. My instructor actually made me grab the neck strap with both hands and I was not allowed to let go. Thankfully Dee steers really well off my seat and legs and has a good understanding of neck reining. This really took most of the responsibility out of my hands and Dee carted me around like the Best Pony she is.

Its frustrating and demoralizing to have lesson like these ones. While I did end on a decent note, it wasn't fun, I didn't feel like I learned anything and more than anything it felt like a step back.

Then today my ballroom instructor posted this on Facebook.

So I guess I'll just Cha-Cha my way into the clinic this weekend. And schedule another appointment with the psychologist.

Friday, 13 November 2015

$900FB Pony Blog Hop: Top 5 Horse Show Essentials

1. It's been said, multiple times, but my absolute must have horse show essential is my Stanley trunk. My show stuff lives in it and only requires a quick double check before loading it into the trailer.

2. Back on Track socks and ankle brace.  Horse shows invariably require tons of walking on less than perfect surfaces. This consistently will lead to me limping and losing mobility in my ankle (it hates anything that isn't completely flat). When I wear the brace and socks I retain way more mobility and have less people stop and ask me if I'm ok, and did I fall off. Actually, all the BoT stuff is essential.  Dee's mesh blanket, no-bows and bell boots must go to every show as well. Gotta help out the old lady body every way we can.

3. Ecolicious Blinded by the White. I've got a pinto with white legs. Enough said.

4. Hanging bucket hooks. I have enough to outfit 3 stalls with 2 water buckets and a feed bucket each. I love them. I will never go back to hanging buckets with twine, bridle hooks or chains.

5. Virkon.  I always spray down every surface in the stall before Dee is put into it. Biosecurity is important folks.

Bonus item! I've worn my Straight Shot Metal Smashing Courage bracelet for every XC course this year. The only stop we had was when the footing was terrible ad we slipped (so it doesn't really count), otherwise we had no XC penalties. It's my good luck charm, especially since my Good JuJu charm fell off of it's hook somewhere on the South Peace XC course.
Good luck charm

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Thank You....

I read this post and it made me reflect on how grateful I am to have horses in my life.. Our Canadian Thanksgiving has come and gone but it's always prudent to give thanks where thanks are due.

I'm very lucky in that I grew up with horses. There is no time in my life where horses have not been a central focus. I can never articulate everything that I am thankful for but I do know that they have radically changed my life for the better.

1. Thank you for giving confidence, and for teaching me that life is easier when you're confident (or at least faking confident)

Any rider can tell you that a lack of confidence is picked up on by your horse and things don't go as smoothly. Even if you aren't confident, fake it 'til you make it, in horses and life.

2. Thank you for teaching me humility.

It's not possible to be around horses for any length of time without being given a lesson in humility. They have an uncanny ability to knock you down a peg when you need it the most.

3. Thank you for bringing me into a world where my friends cross all demographics.

This may be what I am most thankful for. I have a fabulous group of friends, many of whom I would never have crossed paths with without horses. I'm lucky to count people from all walks of life, all ages, and all tax brackets as friends. This diverse group has helped shape me into the person I am today.
Two of the best friends a girl could ask for.
Brought into my life by horses, kept in my life by complete awesome-ness 

4. Thank you for giving me wings to fly.

The freedom and joy felt in soaring (over fences or over fields) is exquisite and incomparable.

5. Thank you for teaching me when to whisper and when to shout.

Sometimes you need to pony-club kick and sometimes you just need to flex a thigh muscle. Both have a time and a place and the skill to know when each is applicable is tricky but powerful.

6. Thank you for soothing my soul.

Even just a close proximity to horses has the ability to make things better, and to make problems not feel so insurmountable.
This was 2 weeks post surgery, all I wanted was to
pet my pony and sit in the barn and absorb the utter barn-ness

7. Thank you for teaching me that honesty is powerful.

You cannot lie to a horse. They are wise and insightful and will always know when you don't mean what you say. The ability to be honest with yourself and those around you is a powerful tool.

8. Thank you for being a constant in an ever changing world.

Nothing centers me like inhaling that fabulous aroma that is horse. No matter what is going on in the world or my life, I can always count on going to the barn and finding a little bit of peace.

9. Thank you for helping to raise me.

I grew up on the back of a horse.  I would not be who I am today without their kindness, patience and unconscious support.

Partner, the best babysitter

10. Thank you for teaching me to value money.

I'm a master budgeter because all horse expenses became my responsibility once I turned 18 and moved out. It's where my blog name comes from. I was a starving student and grain (and board) always came before my own groceries in the priorities list.

11. Thank you for teaching me to step outside my box.

I've been lucky enough to come from a varied equine background. I feel that it gives me a larger toolbox to work with. Sometimes, you just need to do something new, something that scares you.

12. Thank you for teaching me how to let go.

Sometimes it's just when it's time to take a step back and let a horse go on to a new home and sometimes it's saying that final goodbye to end suffering and allow dignity.

Stella, you were loved enough by multiple people to let you go when you said it was time.

While writing this post, I kept thinking of my favourite quote, it just feels appropriate.

“Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of solitaire. It is a grand passion. It seizes a person whole and once it has done so, he/she will have to accept that his life will be radically changed.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Fuzzbutt Is Not So Fuzzy

5 years ago I decided that it was ridiculous to pay someone to clip my horse when after 2 clips it would completely cover the cost of buying my own clippers.

So after googling like a maniac and reading every review I could dig up I bought the Andis AGC2 Super 2-Speed clippers. I only had one horse to clip twice a year so I figured a smaller clipper would be sufficient for me.

I love these clippers when clipping a regular horse. They don't cut it when you have to shave a yak. Last year I would wear out the (plastic) blade driver half way through Dee's clip. It was an exercise in frustration considering she had to be clipped 3 times between September and January.

Cute and fuzzy, like a pony or a yak

So this year I figured it was time to upgrade to some heavy-duty clippers. I purchased a set of Lister Star's off of a FB group back in June. I was really excited about them as when I had originally done my research they were my second choice. Unfortunately they never arrived and the seller (whom I had met 6 months before at a clinic and she seemed legit) has been a nightmare to get a hold of. Basically I can kiss both my money and the clippers goodbye. Sometimes people just suck.

So this left me out the money I had for clippers and without a set of clippers that would work for my beast. I decided that clippers were more important than that one last schooling show and was able to find a set on FB from someone local.

I now have a set of Oster Clipmaster's. Not my first choice, but I was able to snag them for less than 1/2 of retail and they've hardly been used.

I decided that this year I was not even going to try and start with a trace clip (last year Dee's clip got more aggressive every time) she's just too fuzzy. So a modified hunter clip was the aim.

Not pictured, the cat who tried to make this pile her bed

I'm not sure what got into Dee but she was a cow to clip. She wouldn't stand still for anything. so her clip ended up looking a little jagged. I figure the clipper tracks will be gone within a week or so and I'll clean up the edges on her next clip. That's the best part, no matter how bad you screw up, it grows back.
This looks better in pictures than in real life

While the heavy duty clipper are awesome in that they don't quit half way, they do leave some things to desire. They are much more heavy and awkward than my AGC2's. But the worst thing is by far that they blow hair all over, and by all over I really mean right into my eyes. If you cover the openign with your hand they heat up super quick. It's not a deal breaker but it is super annoying. I figure one day I'll learn to hold them the right way so I don't get nearly as much hair in my face.

The Boy says I can no longer call her FuzzButt since I took away all her fuzz. I let him keep his delusions that she won't be fuzzy again in 2 weeks.