Equine Tuesday

Man the weather made it tough to get anything done. We had snow on Tuesday, bitter cold on Wednesday, rain all weekend… you get the point. Luckily I set small goals in anticipation of this.

Brush each horse at least twice

Sounds easy, but remember how I mentioned rain. Well rain = mud horses. Not muddy horses. Mud horses, literally. They were caked hoof to ear and nose to tail in thick mud.

Lunge each horse for at least 10 minutes each

I ended up lunging these guys on a whim. I had originally planned to fit it in yesterday, but on Thursday I was feeling restless and ready to be outside. So I pulled out a very muddy Finnegan, got him in his lunging outfit (side reins and all), and dragged him to the round pen. He was not in a working mood (hence the use of side reins to help deter some explosions), but my stubbornness and patience outlasted his and eventually I had him going in a nice, albeit a bit slow, walk. We even trotted some! I was so happy just to get him moving in a forward, circular direction rather than a backward scramble. I’m slowly learning what works best with him and what he responds to. Hopefully the next lunging session will end as nicely.

Timbre, on the other hand, was an angel. I can just throw a rope halter on her and she’ll go beautifully. She looked a bit stiff/off to the right, but to the left she went great. I had her do a lot of walking and slow trotting in big circles to work on building her muscles back up.

Work on Finnegan’s attachment issues

Kind of dropped the ball on this one. It is so hard to do this because Finnegan is SO attached. While he is eating dinner, I lead Timbre out into the paddock within view of him. He starts to fret even then. I led her out there a couple of times this week but no where near as much as I should. I really need to be consistent – lead her out the same distance, keep her there until he calms a leetle bit and then bring her back – and increase my distance and my definition of “calm” as he improves. I am a bit pessimistic on this one. Any horse people out there have any suggestions on how to deal with attachment issues?

Next week’s goals

The weather is looking a bit better than it was this past week, but not fabulous. Guess that saying “April showers bring May flowers” will be true this year, at least the April showers part.

  • 2 lunging sessions each (mud-permitting) – 10-15 min max because these guys are so out of shape, I can’t do long lunging sessions because going in circles is tough on an out-of-shape horse’s legs.
  • 2 brushings each
  • A ride?? Maybe two?! – if it isn’t too muddy T and I may be able to get one or two rides in this weekend.. fingers crossed!
  • Work on Finnegan’s attachment issues – EVERY NIGHT
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Equine Tuesday

Does anyone else feel the impatience in the air? Impatience for spring to finally grace us with her presence?

The snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils have ventured out, but the cold air still shows my breath as I shovel manure and throw out hay.

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My horses are feeling the impatience. They have been shedding enough hair for a whole flock of birds to build a bird nest castle.

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Since the forecast this week is rather grim and I will be away this weekend, I am not going to lay out daily goals. Rather a few goals to accomplish when I can.

  • Lunge each horse once for at least 10 minutes
  • Two good brushings per horse
  • Work on Finnegan’s attachment issues

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I’ll be back next week with a more detailed post of how things went and what upcoming plans we have!

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Fitness Friday

This is going to be a long update because I missed last weeks post – I was on vacation in the Caribbean for a blissful internet-free week. To be honest, I didn’t miss the internet one bit. Of course I love reading everyone’s blogs, updating my own, and staying connected in general, but I really needed a break from all the residual stress caused by my attachment to my phone, iPad, laptop, etc.

Saturday (3/8): Went for a fabulous trail ride with T – the weather was gorgeous!

Sunday (3/9): A new friend came over and went on a nice relaxing trail ride with me. Surprisingly the two hooligans were very well behaved… phew!

Monday (3/10): My stomach wasn’t feeling too hot so I biked 6 miles (and read a great book!) instead of running.

Tuesday (3/11): My birthday! I managed to fit in a 2 mile run during a very busy day. I was so rushed I forgot to write down my time! Need to get better about doing that. Due to daylight savings, T and I squeezed in a wonderful sunset trail ride before dinner with my family.

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Wednesday (3/12): Spent the day traveling…

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Thursday (3/13): Hiked, snorkeled, hiked, snorkeled, hiked. We hiked over a giant hill/mountain on a trail that is not very maintained. Then after our first round of snorkeling, we hiked along a “beach” (more rocks than sand) and around a couple points (this involved lots of wading through sea urchins) to a deserted beach from which we went on another snorkeling adventure. It was a great first day (other than slicing open my toe… I think I will be losing that nail. Not to gross anyone out or anything…).

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Friday (3/14): Went for a quick, but hilly bike ride to another beach with great snorkeling. We snorkeled for an hour, relaxed, did some exploring, and then biked back.

Saturday (3/15): Dragged T out of bed at 7:30 am (early for us, especially on vacation) for a mile or so run down to the old ferry dock. Then my cousin took us on a boat to a uninhabited island where we hiked to these awesome “baths” in which we snorkeled and explored for hours.

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Sunday (3/16): Relaxed all morning and then took T on his first dive. An overwhelming experience for him, but he said he’ll try it again sometime. If only it wasn’t so expensive. T returned full of endorphins and dragged me back out for more exercise. He ran to the beach we went to on Friday while I biked there. We arrived almost at the same time because I kept stopping to take photos. After being drenched by a tropical rain storm, we rode back to town and then kept going down to the old ferry dock. We paused for a bit to enjoy the view and then rode home to some much needed showers.

Monday (3/17): Swam with sea turtles. Need I say more? It was awesome.

Tuesday (3/18): Woke up early and went to swim with the sea turtles again. Spent the afternoon relaxing on what is probably one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Wednesday (3/19): After an early morning ferry ride, we spent the rest of the morning walking around Old San Juan before catching our afternoon flight home. We came back to a very rainy, cold Maryland – quite a shock to the system.

Thursday (3/20): Work was totally insane. At lunch time, I had such a bad headache for all the stress so I rushed to the gym for a quick mile (for me, quick = 11 minute mile… I am so slow) before a 1 pm meeting.

Friday (3/21): After an 11 hour work day yesterday, the last thing I wanted to do was be inside all day. So at lunch, I went for a 1.5 mile loop around where I work. My dad ran it with me, which was great since I hadn’t seen him much since getting home. We probably did the loop in about 18 minutes. I tried timing it but then my phone decided to die part way through so I had to depend on my non-digital watch.

Next week

Saturday: My friend and I are taking our pups for a hike at Terrapin Park on Kent Island.

Sunday: Maybe a 2 mile run/walk with T – weather permitting.

Monday: Yoga day.

Tuesday: 1.5 miles (with some speed work possibly)

Wednesday: Core conditioning class and 1 mile.

Thursday: 2 miles!

Friday: 1.75 miles

Almost 2 months until race day! My goal is to run this 5k just a bit faster than my last one (even a few seconds will be fine with me). But I don’t feel like I am getting any faster or stronger in general so perhaps I should just stick with the goal of running the full thing.

Equine Tuesday

Since I am about to leave for vacation tomorrow (cannot wait) and next week’s Equine Tuesday post will also be on vacation, I decided to write about my long-term goals.

Longeing

As I mentioned in my previous post, Finnegan is not good on the long line. He tends to quickly back up in circles or flip out. This past summer I got him going well, but then this fall he fell back into his old ways and would randomly stop and back up in circles. I could not get him going again, despite everything I tried. Those sessions would usually ended with him standing in the middle of the ring looking smug and me banging my head on the round pen fence.

I know Finnegan responds best to consistency and lots of attention. So my long-term goal with him is to be patient and keep trying. The key will be to stop on a good note, even if he’s only been doing one small good thing for 10 seconds. He loves praise and I think I need to be more free with it. Now I just have to get over my frustration and approach our longeing sessions with an open mind and the drive to succeed in any possible way.

Timbre is much better on the long line, i.e. she will actually go in a circle, respond to voice commands, and listen. Because of her foot injury, I want to ease her in to longeing since it can be hard on her legs.

Ring Riding

I don’t have a riding ring, nor do I have a trailer to take the horses to public riding ring. We live on a very hilly piece of property so schooling the horses is often very difficult. Luckily, my neighbors have a riding ring that they let me use. It is a bit of a hassle to get over there, but I am so grateful they let me school my horses in their ring because it has been a life saver a number of times. When my horses haven’t been worked in a while, they get pretty wild and mischievous (like many horses).

1381305_10201039198442017_2083886851_nT and I will be working with Fin and Tim in the ring a lot, not only to work on their behavior, but also to improve our skills and their fitness. I can’t wait to actually canter with them in a controlled fashion within the ring. Maybe by next fall we will be schooling over small jumps – but that could be wishful thinking.

Trail Riding

Finnegan is surprisingly well behaved on the trail. He tends to act up more in a ring (I guess he knows he has to work more in the ring). But he will sometimes startle at a deer running past or a dog running up behind him. He is also very tense when he is out alone, so it will be a while before I trail ride Finegan alone. He will need a lot of consistent riding before we get to that point.

Timbre, on the other hand, is the opposite of a cool cucumber. She tends to get herself worked up once we pass a certain point on the trail. She feels like a ticking bomb ready to explode at any time – certainly not material for a peaceful ride. She tries to wheel around and rush home. I do a lot of circling with her and we are slowly working our way further and further along the trail. The key is to refocus her energy and make her work a little so she can’t focus as much on her nervousness. Before a riding accident a year and a half ago, she was going really well on the trail. But now I feel like I am starting over again. At least I know she can be calm, which gives me something to work slowly toward.

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The key for all these goals will be for me to find the time and the will to confront these problems. Like I said in past posts, my confidence is not what it used to be, so while my horses take baby steps in their training, I will be taking baby steps in building my confidence. This is why I started these weekly posts – to create small weekly goals to work toward.

When I return from vacation, I will dive headfirst into working with Fin and Tim and writing weekly goals and updates.

Equine Tuesday

As some of you may have noticed, I have many many interests. As a result, this blog has no real focus – it is not a photography blog, a running blog, a writing blog, or an equestrian blog. I just can’t seem to confine myself to one of those areas. Perhaps I should as that would probably build readership. But alas, it probably will not happen. So! Without further ado, I present… Equine Tuesdays!

Equine Tuesdays will feature the progress (I hope) that I am making with my two rather barn-sour horses. For my non-equestrian readers, barn-sour means that my horses do not like leaving the barn (or each other) and act up as a result. I talked last fall about how I lost all of my confidence as an equestrian. In order to face those fears, I signed up for riding lessons and they really helped. I plan to sign up for another round once the weather is nicer. But I also want/need to conquer my fear of riding my own two horses. I decided to start these weekly posts about my progress because I need something to push me and hold me accountable, but also because I hope my adventures (or mis-adventures) will reach the eyes and ears of other equestrians struggling with the same problems.

Let me introduce you to my two demons (I love them dearly).

Meet Sweet Timbre

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Nicknames: Timbre, Tim, Timmi, Tim Tim, Stubborn, Miss Piggy

Gender: Mare (female)

Breed: Quarter Horse/Warmblood cross

Color: Chestnut (the color of a copper penny)

Age: 15-17?

Markings: 4 white socks, adorable white stripe

Height: about 15.3 hands (1 hand = 4 inches)

Timbre is a food-driven boss. She rules the barn and whatever she says goes. She is sweet as can be to any human who wants to feed her a carrot or two and give her a good brushing. She’s an angel on the lounge line as well. While riding, she likes to hold her nose in the air and constantly tries to bolt back to the barn. She feels like a coiled spring of nervous energy. My goals with her are to work her on the lounge line to get her back into shape (slowly) and to refocus her energy when she tries to run home. Easier said than done, her nervous energy makes me nervous too!

Last summer, she had a deep tissue bruise in her front foot and was out of commission for months. After a round of shoes and lots of time off, she seems to be better, but it’s something to watch as I ease her back into training.

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Meet Finnegan

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Nicknames: Fin, Finners, Fin Fin, Pig, Snorty, Clown, Crazy One

Gender: Gelding (castrated male)

Breed: Cleveland Bay

Color: Bay (dark brown with black mane, tail and legs)

Age: 12/13

Markings: One little white coronet band on hind foot

Height: about 16.1 hands

Everyone falls in love with Finnegan. When he is bored, he shakes his head up and down, snorting like a pig. Even the vet does not know why he does this. He’s a wonderful mover, but a true jokester. If he gets bored or just doesn’t feel like working, he’ll start pulling tricks. In order to ride him, you have to be prepared for anything and be willing to outlast his stubbornness. In general, he’s an easy ride, especially if he is being worked regularly (he loves attention). But there’s one caveat… Finnegan LOVES Timbre. He goes nuts whenever she leaves without him. He won’t come in to eat if she’s not there first. Thus, it’s hard for me to ride him alone. He’s not awful, but he feels anxious and I am afraid one day he’ll just lose it. He’s also terrible on the lounge line. So my goals are to get him working well on the line, work on his attachment issues, and increase my confidence while riding him.

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In short, I have a lot of work to do with my horses to get us all back in to mental and physical riding shape. I’m hoping that setting weekly goals for us and signing up for riding lessons will help me face down my fears and bring my ponies back to their former glory.

This week I probably won’t get much riding in due to an early March snowstorm and frigid temperatures. So I’ll be cleaning my (English) tack in preparation for all this upcoming riding.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am siked for the time change next weekend – more daylight after work! This means more riding, running, playing, etc. Stay tuned for next week!

Fitness Friday

Saturday: Beautiful day! Went for a quick trail ride in the mud.

Sunday: Due to the mud, we rode some in my neighbors ring. We discovered that all four of us (T, the horses, and I) are pretty out of shape. I sense a lot more trotting in our future.

Monday: Supposed to run 1.5 miles and row for 5 minutes, but the rowing machine was occupied by the time I finish 1.5 miles so I stayed on the treadmill and ran 2 miles.

  • 1 mile: 10:47
  • 1.5 miles: 16:04
  • 2 miles: 22:02.

That’s a record for me!

Tuesday: Supposed to do yoga – got distracted and totally forgot until 11 pm! Oops.

Wednesday: The day started pretty crazily when I discovered everything was coated in ice. I went in to work late and managed to squeeze a quick 1.25 mile run in.

Thursday: A friend asked if I wanted to meet for lunch, so obviously I chose to see her over going to the gym.

Friday: Today was a lot busier than normal but I managed to fit a one miler (10:46) at the end of the day. Not my scheduled 2 miles but better than nothing!

So clearly I did not stick to my workout plan this week. For a while, I felt pretty stressed about this. But then I realized that I did not skip the gym because I was lazy, but rather because life got in the way. I feel good about what I did accomplish (2 miles in 22:02!!). But having a plan does help! So without further ado:

Monday: 1.5 miles. 5 minutes rowing (let’s try this again)

Tuesday: Yoga night! (Will be perfect after my 7 am meeting that morning)

Wednesday: Squeeze 1.5 miles in before another big meeting

Thursday: 2 miler

Friday: Rest day! (We’re going skiing next weekend. I need to save my legs since I haven’t been in a good seven years)

Keep an eye out for my first DIY post next week!

A look back and a look ahead

Another year has passed. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! I am lounging in my boyfriend’s recliner on the last day of my wonderful week-long vacation (going back to work tomorrow is going to be so hard!). We are having a very relaxing New Year’s Day after ringing in 2014 in downtown Annapolis.

Throughout the year, I am always making goals, completing goals, and reflecting on goals. In honor of New Year’s, I thought this post would be a good time to reflect on what a great year 2013 was and write about my current goals.

2013 was a fabulous year and a difficult year. It was the first year I wasn’t a full-time student; instead I was a full-time adult. Going to work 5 days a week, 8 hours a day has definitely been an adjustment. I spent a lot of time reflecting, thinking, trying to be patient with myself this year. But enough of that, there are many many positive memories that I want to cherish from 2013!

Highlights of 2013

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Molly entered my life and changed it forever. I discovered a love of dog training. She brings me joy everyday!

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I bought my very own car, was rear-ended in said car 5 months later, then bought my second very own car (same car, lighter shade of blue) after my car was declared a total loss. 

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I traveled to Italy with my family to visit my sister who was studying in Siena. 

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Returning to my love of photography, I bought a DSLR camera and have been slowly learning through practice. 

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I spent many hours on the water fishing and crabbing with T. 

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T and I traveled to Germany and Austria. It was his first international trip and our first large trip together. We had the time of our lives. 

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I started running and finished my first 5K – something I never imagined I could do. 

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I faced my fears, signed up for riding lessons, and started getting serious about riding again. 

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T and I drove to South Carolina for a quick, but wonderful weekend visit with his family. 

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I went on my first business trip – a week in Brasilia, Brazil! While there, I not only met many of my colleagues who work for other companies, but I also interacted with representatives from over 70 countries. 

For some reason… I also took a Statistics class (no picture needed for that torture).

2014: A look ahead

The Old

I have been writing about my goals and progress over the last couple of months so I will revisit them here. I have completed a number of goals – taking a statistics course (thank god that’s over), applying to graduate school (and now we wait…), updating my wardrobe (can I actually say this is complete?), and finishing my grandmother’s biography (presented the iBook to the family on Christmas Day, now I just have to send it to the printers).

1) Donate my hair – It’s still growing! My hair is quite wavy, so on a whim last night I straightened it for the first time all year probably. It now reaches my shoulder blades! I still have a ways to go and I am still very determined to complete this goal!

2) Keep on running – I ran my first 5K in November! It felt so good, even though there were many, many, many moments when I didn’t think I would possibly complete the race. Now I have and I am ready for my next one! Reality hit right after the race and exercise/running fell to the back burner. I traveled a lot, work got insanely busy, and the holidays arrived. I tried to run as much as possible but honestly probably haven’t run more than 10 times since the race. Now that the holidays are over, I will be back at the gym every day at lunch either running or taking a class. I can’t wait to start running outside again when the weather improves because I loath, despise, hate treadmills. They are better than nothing I guess. My next race will most likely be in May for the Chestertown Tea Party Festival. I hope to run a couple others this year, including a 10K next November across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge (if we can get a slot!).

3) Move out of my childhood home – As much as I have been anticipating this, I am actually terrified. I am at war with my inner child and my need to be an adult. I am also a little nervous about moving in with a boy… and totally excited too! I am sure I will be writing a lot more about this as the time approaches.

4) Go outside and walk – I really need to do this more. T and I took a run down to the river and back the other day. He did an extra little loop while I walked around some and visited my old pup’s grave. It was so refreshing to clear my head, breathe the crisp air, and feel the winter sun on my skin.

5) Ride as much as possible – I am facing my fears of riding head on by taking riding lesson. I just finished the quarter I signed up for. I plan to register for the next quarter in the spring when it is a bit warmer. For now, T and I will be riding my ponies around the place. Trail riding is my favorite, especially in the winter when there are no flies. Now I just have to face my fear of riding down to the river. I know both of us can do it. I just need to find trust that my horse will not spaz (easier said than done).

6) Start volunteering – Technically this is an old goal, but I haven’t done anything about this so I will count it as a new goal. I hope that once T and I move in together, some time will be freed up to start volunteering at an animal rescue or environmental organization.

7) Write, write, write – Over the past couple of months, I have toyed with the idea of writing a book. I am still thinking about it. I don’t know why I am afraid to commit myself to doing it, but I am. Maybe I am afraid that what I write will be crap or that my idea is unoriginal. But I should write a book for myself, not for others. So this year, I will get started. I will at least try.

8) Embrace patience – Still working on this one. I think this goal will always be a challenge for me. I wish I could say that I have come up with a magic solution. But I haven’t. When I start feeling impatient with my life, I try to find a change of scenery by walking outside, going to the gym (if I am at work), training Molly to do a new trick, or picking up a book.

9) Knit a sweater – My progress on my sweater was a bit delayed with Christmas projects. I made T a hat and his cousin (my Secret Santa) a scarf. I finished the back of the sweater over Christmas vacation. I finished the ribbing for the front and am now starting my very first cable…. I got a lesson in the basics from my grandmother, but now she is in Puerto Rico for the winter, so I am on my own! I love the pattern though and I am very excited to see and wear the final product.

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The New

Of course I also have a number of new goals to share too!

10) Develop my photography skills – I received a new lens for Christmas (a 50 mm f1.8 lens). It is my first fixed length lens and I love it. My favorite type of photography, other than landscape, is portraiture so this lens seems like a perfect start. My favorite subjects? Molly, Cali, the horses, and T – of course! I have a ton to learn. A ton. I cannot wait to learn and share.

11) Dance again – I danced throughout college, minored in it, graduated, and haven’t danced since. Hopefully sometime this year I can take a dance class with my friend. That would involve us living less than an hour apart. But I can dream! Or perhaps I will get the nerve to take a dance class on my own.

12) Dog training – I’ve been taking Molly to Wigglebutts Dog Training. Molly and I have completed 4 courses with Tammy and I love it. She’s learned a number of tricks, such as roll over, play dead, bow, and close the door. It’s so fun to see her learn and put things together. I want to dedicate more time to working with her on my own and in another class. Maybe we’ll even try some agility training!

13) Read 150 books – I love to read. I will read anything and everything. Last year, I read 100 books (and tracked it on GoodReads). This year? 150.

14) Nourish existing friendships and create new ones – With distance between me and most of my friends, it is especially important to nourish our friendship by talking and visiting (when possible). I hope to travel to Disney World (for the first time) to visit my friend who works there. T and I also want to visit another friend of mine in Michigan for a weekend of camping. I made a couple new friends this past year and I can’t wait to make more. As someone who’s rather shy and reserved at first, it’s always a challenge to meet people and form a friendship. I am work on stepping out of my shell everyday.

15) Actively write on this blog – I created this blog as an outlet for my thoughts. Although it fell to the wayside for the past two months, I plan on writing more and participating more in the blogging community this year! I have a number of posts in draft form and can’t wait to share!

2014 I can’t wait to see what exciting new adventures you bring! Happy New Year everyone!