November 30, 2012

Postpartum no longer...contemplations on riding

Winter is rapidly approaching, although it's been quite wintery here for a while. Fall doesn't exactly hang around Montana for long. The change of the seasons, arrival of the holidays, and end of the year always causes me to become a bit reflective and start preparing for changes for the year to come.

It occurred to me today, that Jr. turned seven months old yesterday and I guess technically we are probably past the postpartum phase. It's also the end of the school semester. I've been teaching what I do for a living as an adjunct at a University this fall. It has been a great experience, but between teaching twice a week and all the prep that goes into it and coaching the IHSA team and being a mom to Jr., I've had zero down time and no time for Rose.

Now the semester is ending though. I'm not teaching in the spring, but I will have the IHSA team to coach again and my private sector business will ramp back up to pre maternity-leave levels. Financially this is a good thing, and will actually be less time consuming and more flexible than giving lectures and grading assignments. So, although things will be getting going again in the spring, for the holiday break I will have five weeks during Dec-Jan where things will be quiet and I will get to ride more often! Also, Jr. will be a bit older in the spring and his schedule should become easier, freeing me up to ride in the evenings on work days again.

Normally I give my horses a month and a bit off between Turkey Day and New Years. However, given that Rose has mostly had the last year and a half off, no vacation for her this year. It's time to ramp things back up. We both need to get in shape, and we need to seriously start working on our course work. Now that she's doing automatic changes I'm very excited to get her around a course. All good things to come.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

November 29, 2012

Attention Family Members: My Christmas List

It's that time of year again, and just in case any of my family actually read this blog, you can find my updated wish list here: Thing that I would love to receive!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

November 27, 2012

The overly friendly barn cat

We recently added two new barn cats to our stable, as our old and overweight tabby wasn't doing much mousing. They are kittens and spent their first two months locked in the barn office. Now however, they have free rein of the barn. There is a fast, sly, short haired grey one that is always hiding somewhere, and a fluffy tri-colored friendly cat.

Crazy friendly barn cat.

Meet the friendly cat. She's cute and I've happily given her a scratch or two before. Usually others are around and she's on someone else's lap or perched on a shoulder. However, Sunday I was the only one at the barn, which made me friend number one. I greeted her with a hello and a scratch, because even though I'm allergic to cats I really like them, and she is just too darn cute and fluffy to resist. She instantly became my shadow...and I was bent over to put on my muck boots she jumped on my back! LOL. I was not sure what to do. With much difficulty, I managed to stand up and get her off my back without her claws tearing into my down jacket. However, with the taste of success on her lips she would not give up her quest to ride on my shoulders. She jumped on my tack trunk and on various saddles in an attempt to get higher up and fly launch onto my back. I started laughing out loud, the whole thing was ridiculously funny at the time. Crazy friendly cat trying desperately to ride on my shoulders, and me running a muck trying to keep her off of me. Oh, to be a fly on the wall and watch what was going on. I'm sure I would have been rolling in laughter!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

November 25, 2012

A snowy Sunday with changes in the air.

This blog post is dedicated to my Mother-in-law. 

Both my in-laws have been here all week for the holiday and to help us renovate our laundry room. MIL has been a huge help with Jr. and happily baby sat so that I could escape and get some "me" time. Up until today, that "me" time has included dentist, doctor, hair cut, etc...maintenance appointments. Finally, today though, I got to the barn. So thank you MIL, you rock!
Snowy entry drive.
We woke up to softly falling snow this morning. I love snow. There is something about it that just makes me happy. I love donning sweaters, and drinking hot tea, and listening to holiday music. Hum, reading that sentence, if you didn't know anything else about me you would think I was a sentimental old woman that has eight cats and spends her days knitting. I am not, and I do not (actually I do knit). Regardless, I love the snow. There was a good couple inches on the ground when I went to the barn this morning and by the time I left the barn there were four inches of snow!

Paddock boots in the snow make for chilly feet...
I must remember to wear my pack boots!
Rose in the snow. Gasp! Standing like a good girl,
albeit giraffe like, outside.
Rose was a disgusting and hot mess when I arrived. EB is home for the holidays, and only rode her on Tuesday. Although...I'm thinking she didn't ride her after all. Rose was hot, hot, hot. She was also completely covered in grime. She hasn't acted like this big of a fool in the cross ties for some time now. Eventually she settled down, but I made sure to longe her before my ride. Since we were alone in the arena I free longed her. She dutifully went around me in a circle. I may not be pregnant anymore, but lord is it nice to longe a horse, classically, without a longeline. That is perhaps one of the best "side effects" that came out of my pregnancy.

Post ride posers. No more baby fat on this momma!
After the longe session I hopped on and she was well behaved and focused. We warmed up, practiced a couple training level dressage patterns, and then I decided to drill her at figure eights with...hold your horses...flying changes at the canter. She nailed them! Her balance has improved greatly over the last year, as have her transitions, so she no longer needs to kick out to get the change. Clearly it is time to start asking and expecting her to do them from now on.  I am so happy that we have finally reached the five year old maturity that everyone told me would eventually arrive.

Sweaty girl modeling her Rambo cooler.
She looks so good in blue!

As for postpartum weight loss, I'm all done! About a month ago I hit my pre-pregnancy weight. I was quite happy about that, but it also became noticeable that I was still losing weight and my milk supply was starting to dip, so I started upping my calorie intake a bit. Now all is well, my weight is staying steady, and I am happily re-discovering my wardrobe. Now I just need to ride more so I can get my muscle tone back. Rest assured though, if you are a first time equestrian mom out there, you will get back to pre-pregnancy weight and fitting in your breeches within six months if you are breastfeeding, without exercise. Just don't over eat and you will be all good. I imagine if I'd had a way to ride regularly I would have lost the weight even faster. But hey, 40lbs in six months with no effort isn't half bad!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

November 18, 2012

Taking it off!

I made it to the barn on Saturday, after a three week absence. There was perfect storm of weekend events this past month that kept me away from the barn, by hundreds of miles each week. My weekend obligations have now ended thank goodness, and I have no plans to be away again until February! I am looking forward to finally getting some dedicated pony time. Now if Jr. will start being consistently easy for Hubs in the evenings, perhaps I will be able to squeak out a couple week nights at the barn too. That may be wishful thinking though. We shall see. The one thing this new mom stuff has taught me is to not plan on anything, and just go with the flow...hence no more set plans for a long time.

Saturday was a beautiful sunny winter day. There is still some snow on the ground from the storm a week ago, so the barn looks like a winter wonder land. Despite the chilly weather, Rose was a good girl and I was delighted that there were two other boarders (that's pretty much all of us) tacking up at the barn when I arrived, so I got to have some adult non-work conversation. It was great. Also, because I was not alone, I did something that I've been longing to do for a while now. After our ride, I pulled my saddle and hopped on Rose bareback! I had only done this once before, when she was three, shortly after she was started. Back then she was skinny and I felt like there was nothing to hang onto, she was also unpredictable, bad a steering, and spooky at times, so that was the one and only time I rode her bareback. Now however, she is as comfortable as a couch and so well behaved. I think that I can certainly ride her bareback when no one else is around now. I plan on doing plenty more!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

November 17, 2012

Book Review: The Long Ride

I was recently asked to review a lovely book titled The Long Ride by Lucian Spataro Jr., Ph.D. Published 2011 by Green Rider LLC.

It is a lovely coffee table size book about an inch thick. Since life slows drastically when a baby is in the picture, it took me some time to give it a fair read. The book is about the journey that Lucian took riding from coast to coast (California to Maryland) in 1989. He was riding to draw attention to the environmental damage and destruction being done to the world's rainforests among other environmental issues. Lucian didn't just ride through rural areas either, he rode right through urban settings. And he's still doing endurance rides...check out his Facebook page to see where he is now.

Lucian's route.

It is an interesting story, and the book is full of wonderful photos and illustrations and is a fun read. It has gained a fairly permanent position on my coffee table as it is rather attractive, fun for me and guests to flip through, and has certainly given me something very interesting to read during my many nursing sessions over the past months. I think this would make a great Christmas present for any horsey person you know!

Here is a link to the author's website:
The Facebook page:
A link to purchase it on Amazon:The Long Ride

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

November 1, 2012

Trailering Diva!

I have a small confession to make. All these years, I have successfully avoided ever having to haul any horse I've owned or leased myself. I have on occassion driven a truck hauling a trailer, but always with hubs or someone else in the passenger seat.

That is until this last week.

Circumstances were such that I had to haul a horse for one of my students in the evening to practice. That meant that hubs couldn't help because he was on baby duty. One more unexpected way that being a parent has effected my horse life. So, I had to pull up my big girl pants and just do it.

I rocked that truck driving, trailer hauling, horse moving thing!

I had to haul her horse again this week, so of course I did, and now I'm feeling quite comfortable with it. So much so that I'm now daydreaming about my new found freedom and all the places that I would like to haul Rose to, now that I know I can do it on my own. I'm also thinking that maybe I can squeak out riding her more often if I haul her to practice and then hop on her for a bit while I teach. That may not be that practical or possible, but it is a thought to be mulled over more.
Happy trails and swooshing tails!


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