Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Another Birthday!

I missed celebrating the Semi Feral Filly's birthday.

OK she's seven years old, but she's still my silly filly.

Enjoy the photos that I took on May 8th, her birthday!

I had just finished bodyclipping her, hence the really pale look, but not too bad for my first real attempt at a proper body clip!

Monday, May 21, 2018

White with Black Stripes?

“When you hear hoofbeats, it’s most likely a horse and not a zebra.”

Part of my struggle as a rider and as an equestrian in general has been pain related.  I have always suffered from a bit of poor luck.  Growing up, I had numerous dislocations and soft tissue injuries: shoulders, knee, ankles, you name it, I injured it.
This horse is also injury prone

In college, I started having some additional chronic pain issues.  Headaches, GI pain, and exhaustion.

By the time I ended up in graduate school, it had combined with some serious drug and food allergies and I was very sick indeed and not a very pleasant person to be around.

It was a time where I ended up with a lot of testing, not a lot of results, and many vague labels and syndromes attached to my chart.

I brought up my concerns to my previous primary care physician who shrugged and was indifferent about my concerns.  After a switch in insurance, I saw my new primary care physician who seemed intrigued by a challenge.  I ended up in a rheumatologist's office (and by far the youngest in the waiting room) and have the diagnosis which I've suspected for the past six or seven years: Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. 

There are different types.  Some much more severe than others.  I am pretty lucky in the sense that my classification doesn't involve some of the most serious consequences.

I am not sure why I feel a bit relieved to finally have just one diagnosis on my chart with everything else still correlating.  The pain is still difficult, but I find the fatigue to be even more aggravating. There are some days that going to the grocery store, I get to the car and just have to sit there before having the energy to drive home.  Work is often a similar affair with just sitting after a shift is done before my hour long commute home.

Anyone else dealing with similar issues?  I have finally ventured onto a couple of EDS related Facebook pages and there are some equestrians, but many more that are concerned on how dangerous equestrian sports are, which is certainly true.  My last major shoulder injury was from showing two excitable yearlings.  I subluxated my pelvis in a dressage lesson the other year and I am having a very difficult time with SI pain on my poor, crooked little horse. 

But in the end, I can't imagine anything else right now?  Even if I am a zebra, I want to hang out with the horses.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Horse Fair

The other weekend was the Midwest Horse Fair, which is a large equine expo in my area.  Vendors, demonstrations, clinicians, and all the usual equine goodness.

The past few years I have been pretty busy with actually taking care of horses at the expo.  Everyone usually thinks it's a great time to take horses to the expo.  But I disagree.  It's not so fun.  You are essentially tied to 5,284 things you need to do a day that if you get 5 seconds to leave the area to run to the restroom, you are bound to run into one of the five thousand equestrians you know and probably one you don't want to know and he or she will inevitably want to chat for at least fifteen minutes to the point that you will be late for your next adventure and not have time to actually use the restroom.  

Riding with Jec Ballou.  I look terrified.  I basically was, LOL!  

But I digress.  My point is that I had zero horses to care for this year.  I just was helping with the Morab and Arabian breed areas and then the rest of the weekend was mine to do as I please.  I brought my camera for a couple days and shot some images of the Arabian, Morab, and Fjord groups just to play around and see if I can improve my photography.

That being said, shooting fast moving horses in dark arenas is certainly a challenge.

I did a little bit of shopping, but I didn't find as many deals as I would have hoped.  I watched a few different clinicians, including Clinton Anderson, but the nice thing with not having to pay per auditing experience, I didn't feel I had to stick it out so I left after a few minutes of CA. 

Here are a few of my favorites images from the weekend.

What's your favorite part of equine expos?  Do you usually get to watch demos?  Clinicians?  Shopping?

Monday, April 9, 2018

Birthday Girl!

 Happy 23rd Birthday to the Original Semi Feral Mare

She's managed to survive some hairy situations including a large colon displacement, an arterial leg laceration, and pneumonia!  Tough stuff for sure.

A friend rode her yesterday and she was still absolutely full of P&V.  Twenty-three going on approximately five years old.  :)

A little more hairy this year.  She was diagnosed last fall with Cushing's, but so far, so good.  Just maintaining the coat and needs to be bodyclipped, but if that's the extent of our troubles, I'll be thankful.

So happy birthday sassy grey momma mare.  Hope we can celebrate many more.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Snapshots and Beyond

Something I've been casually interested in the past few years is photography.

I've never had a formal class and to be honest, I haven't invested a great deal of effort into trying to understand a lot of the detailed information in getting the best performance from my camera which is a Nikon D5000.

 This past year, I have just started playing around and my 2018 goal is to be more competent and have more technically skill in the camera compared to just random lucky shots.

I am not particularly interested in being a professional, but rather improving another skill set.  I've joined a few equine photography groups and it is nice to see some generally helpful individuals sharing settings and offering feedback to all the aspiring equestrian photographers and hobbyists out there.  :)

One other thing that I'm excited about this year is that I received a nice Tamron F2.8 lens for Christmas so I should be able to hopefully play around in some lower light (read: indoor arena) situations and try to maintain some quality of images. 

I am also interested in slowly beginning to understand how to manipulate images in a more useful format in Lightroom and Photoshop.  A coworker and avid photography hobbyist is doing a self-based online class with LR & Photoshop and her insight has been a big motivator and inspiration to just push beyond just randomly clicking buttons, to hopefully one day understanding what I am doing and to be able to take simple objects out of the background like unattractive fencing.

We will see how it goes!

Any other photography enthusiasts out there?  Any resources you like to share or input for a hobbyist that would like to take the next jump?  :)

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Regionals 2017

With my 2017 absence from the blog, I wanted to bring forth some positive things that happened in 2017.

One was showing at regionals.  The last time I showed at regionals was in 2014 and Chili was three years old.  We showed in two in-hand classes and managed to be regional champion in both of them.

I didn't have as high of expectations, but of course, it would always be great to place again.  There are some phenomenal horses in my region that usually take top honors on the national level. 

My dressage classes weren't as spectacular as I had hoped.  I failed to keep track of time and somehow managed to get on my horse as they were ringing the bell to go into the ring.  Because of my work schedule and illness, I hadn't ridden my horse for three days.  So I went into the ring on a blustery cold day with a storm on the horizon on a baby Arabian that hadn't been ridden in three days.

But to be honest, it was OK.  I am slowly learning to be more confident in different situations.  I need to work through my show nerves to be a more effective rider in the ring. 

But on the positive side, I did end up with a regional top five in hand and a reserve regional championship as well in amateur and open sport horse in hand.

Both mares that beat me are absolutely high quality mares.  One with a previous national championship.

I am proud of my little backyard bred, rough board kept, self-trained semi feral. 

Plus she does a pretty awesome bowing trick which looks pretty snazzy in rosettes. 

Our goal now is to keep improving our skills undersaddle with setting goals to attend the 2019 Arabian Sport Horse Nationals which will just be held a couple hours from us!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Lesson Reflection

I've had a few lessons lately on Mr Montana.  While it's a bit of a drive (1.5 hours one way, a big deal here), I feel that I've been trying to learn more feel to take back to my own semi feral horses.

One of my last lessons, I was working on simple changes, which of course, seems simple enough.  In theory. 

However, this isn't theory and this is my life, so nothing is ever truly simple.

Montana is well schooled, so by taking him across the diagonal, he was anticipating flying changes.  It was a good example for me to play around what truly a mysterious half halt is from horse to horse.  For me, I ended up having to close his shoulders with my knees, sink my weight back in my stirrups and then ask him to slow on the outside rein.  If I just stopped cantering with my body, he'd come to a halt and if I didn't close his shoulders and just changed the bend, he would do a flying change. 

It is also harder for me as I am very asymmetric from left to right.  Most of us have a strong side and a weak side, but I've had a plethora of injuries on my left side that have created a very strong right side and a left side that's along for the ride.  Riding a well trained horse points this out just about each time I ride him. 

At least at this point and time, I have stopped (mostly) running over my instructor while cantering to the left.  Some days it's a little suspect still.  

Much to still work on.  This was from this past summer.  Hopefully making progress.

However, I am making progress tweaking the small things like proper geometry and a good square halt.  It's enlightening to ride a well trained horse to realize I need to basically half halt and warn the horse before going from movement to movement.

Of course, you always hear about this, but always riding green horses, I haven't always been very good at preplanning what I need to do and subsequently, have at times, been unfair to the horse.

Oh look, I'm going to halt at X.  OK, at X I ask for the halt, the horse slams on the brakes, dumps on the forehand, and the head goes up.

This last lesson, I was circling and coming in to halt at X and a few strides before, my instructor had me prepping for the halt, reminding the horse, and amazing enough, by the time I completely closed my legs and asked for the halt, I was exactly on X, straight, and square.

Who would have thought?

My goal today is to ride Chili and do at least 5 quality trot to halt transitions, focusing on straightness with proper preparation and impulsion into the halt.