Thursday, April 10, 2014

Throwback Thursday/Happy Birthday Rex!

On Monday, Rex turned 8. Yes, I know I'm late posting about this... but! Better late than never, and it allows me to tie in a little "Throwback Thursday" with the post honouring him.

As the house hunt has (finally) officially begun, we came across a house in the listings a couple of weeks ago that we really loved. I could already imagine watching our horses in the field while I shelled peas in the kitchen sink (yes, I know, very specific!). Since we're pretty early on, we don't have all of our down payment saved yet so we were brainstorming which of our possessions we could sell to come up with it. Of course, the horses came up (in jest!). I explained, of course, that the horse market isn't "like that" and that my horses, in the grand scheme of things, aren't really worth that much. Rex, particularly, who is little more than a beautiful pasture puff, is worth very little to anyone... except me.

For eight years, I've scolded him when he tries to bite, scolded him when he tries to kick the trimmer, scolded him when he chases the broodmares... okay, I do a lot of scolding. But there's a lot of good, too. He knows just when I need a pocket pony to come and give me a snuggle in the pasture (since Bronwyn is way too busy and important for that stuff these days). He helped my heart heal when we lost Angel. In fact, even if he is nothing more than a beautiful pasture puff for eighteen more years, that's perfectly okay.

So in honour of Rexy Perplexy's birthday, I wanted to share with you eight pictures - so you, too, can appreciate his beautiful uselessness. Then I came across more than eight and thought... what the heck, it's my blog and I do what I want! :) Enjoy.

Spring 2006

Summer 2006

Winter 2008 (Apparently I hated him when he was a yearling because I have pretty much ZERO pictures of him in 2007)

Winter 2009

Spring 2009

Fall 2009

Spring 2010

Summer 2010

Summer 2011

Fall 2011

Summer 2013

Summer 2013

Winter 2014

Friday, March 14, 2014

Is Fat Really The Worst Thing A Human Being Can Be?

You know how they say if you don't want to hear something that will upset you, you shouldn't eavesdrop? It's kind of the same with Google, I think.

I was going to write an entry about how good Lola (aka bebe pone) has been doing and how nice it is that March is here and horses are shedding and stuff, but then I fell down an internet rabbit hole.

I read an article about how Google search's main page has changed, and for a lack of anything else to search, I punched in "A Fat Girl A Fat Horse". I do this from time to time to see what sorts of keywords pull the blog, etc - as a matter of marketing and knowing how people are finding me. The fatal error I made was that I then checked out "images". Of course there were tons of images that I had posted on the blog (fair enough), but then I caught sight of this picture:

Pretty much cropped off below my knees, used on a site called Memegenerator where people put words on stock images and then post them on Facebook and think they're clever. I saw a couple on the main search page but then clicked through to the memegenerator site itself.

I won't post the memes that were generated using this picture, but I will tell you there were 9 pages of them, the least insulting of them being "Dave's Girlfriend" (trust me, Dave should be so lucky!). Many of them insinuated a sexual relationship with this horse, most of them were about the horse's back breaking,

I'm not immune to this stuff. I often put on a brave face but the instances that hurt me the most are when I don't have the opportunity to engage in a sensible discussion with someone, when things are said or done in a "hit and run" style that are clearly meant only to hurt. So I was incredulous, then I was hurt, and then I regrouped. It didn't take long, maybe 30 minutes, for me to lift my head back up and remember a few things.

If someone isn't human enough to ask me more, to find out the story, before passing judgement or worse, trying to pass my existence off as humor... well, I don't have time for that. Waaaaaay too busy being fabulous!

The truth is, friends, the internet is a wondrous and horrifying place all at the same time. It is a great place to network, find people with similar interests - support, friendship, and all of the things that build us up and make us happy and healthy. The internet is also a mostly anonymous outlet for hateful people to spew their vitriol with little to no consequence. People get to air alllllll their ugly out there, and other ugly people can find them and give them a virtual high five and perpetuate that ugly.

Now, about that picture. Though some anonymous assholes on the internet have used it for the butt of their joke -- that picture represents pride, it represents happiness, it represents freedom and the beginning of a whole change of heart about how I felt about myself. Angel has been gone for almost 8 years now. I am so much different now than I was then. Amanda then probably could not have looked at this and realized that the problem is with them, not with me. Amanda then probably would have had a crying jag (I didn't even shed a single tear this time!), and then done something self destructive which probably would have involved rage-eating or some other type of overindulgence. Amanda then couldn't have, after the initial shock and sadness, felt sorry for the people who have nothing better to do with their life than to make fun of an anonymous person without knowing a single thing about their life other than their body size. Amanda now has got this in the bag.

Edited to add: Now that I am over being shocked and upset, I think the thing that bothers me the most is that they used an image with my beloved deceased Angel in it in this way. I think the humor of it on images of Bronwyn and I wouldn't have been as tough as the one-two punch of not only seeing the cruel words used but also my dead horse.

Edited AGAIN to add: If, by sharing my image of me riding Angel, in the four year life of this blog, I have inspired EVEN ONE reader to STOP putting things off until the time is right and their body is perfect, then this grief has all been worth it!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Throwback Thursday 2/20/2014

It's Throwback Thursday - a day where everybody likes to post pictures of yesteryear. I think it's cool to take a trip down memory lane so my TBT picture is of Rex. He would have been a couple of months old in this photo - taken in spring/early summer before his mom died (so this would have been 2006). He was such a cute babe, all boy!

He's a grown man these days, grown and with an opinion, as my trimmer, Z, can attest to based on her experience with him yesterday! As far as the trimming goes, I have been having him trimmed with the barefoot performance trim that Bronwyn has been trimmed with for a while. He took some time for his feet to start looking like much but with some changes to his feed and some time, he is finally starting to slough off some old sole and his feet are starting to look great. Bronwyn was kind of a pro in that area, since she had pretty awesome feet to begin with. If I remember correctly, it was only a couple of trims in when she started to have that same kind of growth/development that Rex is now having.

As a side news note, I also got to spend a bit of time with Lola, working on a couple of skills. Z trimmed her feet (I was quite proud of how she behaved!) and we tied her for the first time. I think being good about being tied is perhaps THE most important skill besides "personal space awareness" that a horse can have (incidentally, I believe that tying helps develop that as well), so I like to teach it young when I can. She was a bit sooky about the whole thing, but overall, did better than I originally anticipated. She shoved her head in her empty feed bucket and tossed it a bit and then stuck her nose in it and chewed air when she realized that she was tied and couldn't go anywhere, but no real freaking out. We kept the session short because I believe in multiple short positive training sessions (in pretty much any context) are better than long, roller coaster type ones, and then we will eventually build time. She will, at some point, probably closer to spring when she gets too big for the little box stall she's in, stand tied overnight like the rest of the gang, and out for the majority of the day. And as soon as some of this snow goes away, we're going to work on loading on the trailer!

Rex Summer 2013 for comparison

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Product Review: A Horse Box/The Equibox

Disclaimer: I actually recieved this product over the summer, when I had a lot going on. I should have reviewed it within a couple of weeks but I wanted to be able to take the products in the box to the farm and try them out so I could give mini-reviews on each product in the box. As things snowballed, I procrastinated, and here I am several months after the fact writing the review. My sincerest apologies to A Horse Box Canada (now The Equibox) and A Horse Box who initially reached out to me to request the review. My current plan is to do more in depth review of the products when things warm up a bit. For now, preview of the items in the box!

As a kid, I used to love those "surprise bags" you could buy at the corner store. A paper bag you couldn't see into that contained a variety of small trinkets and candies. I don't know if it was all about the surprise itself or the "deal" of getting all that stuff for $1, or the fact that I didn't have to spend energy and time picking out all those small things to buy on their own (those who know me know I am not a happy shopper!). As I grew up, I graduated to love things like Christmas hampers. And now, for the grown up equestrienne in me - A Horse Box/The Equibox! 

Essentially, you pay a monthly fee (in some cases, the per-month is reduced if you buy several months ahead of time), and for each month that you pay, you receive a "surprise bag" of equestrian products. Some of the items may be full sized, some may be sample sized, you could also receive coupons or special offers for products that aren't physically included in the box.

A Horse Box offers a couple of options - their monthly box which is $22 on a month-to-month basis or $17 if you buy it six months at a time. Their website allows you to subscribe with Paypal, which means it automatically renews until you tell it not to.

A Horse Box also offers what they call "A Tack Box" for $20, which is not a recurring subscription and according to the website, includes "everyday essentials for competing during show season".

The Equibox is $30 on a month-to-month basis, which reduces to $25 per month when you buy it six months at a time.


At the time that I was contacted to try out A Horse Box, my box was shipped from "A Horse Box Canada" which has since become The Equibox. At the time, the shipping was quick and tidy, well packaged and everything inside was well protected.

The best part is that shipping is always freeeeeeeee. (I can live with shopping online but hate paying for shipping.)

The Awesome Stuff Inside

- An issue of Equine Wellness & exclusive offer for a 1 year subscription for $24 (issue retail: $5.95)
- A full sized Horscotti treat (retail: 4 for $5)
- 80ml sample of Buckley's ZEV Cough Remedy For Horses (retail: unsure)
- 100ml sample of Equicell-R Liquid vit-min supplement (retail: unsure)
- 56g pouch of Quench Lyte electrolyte formula for horses (retail: $1.86)
- 1/4lb (guestimate?) sample bag of Hoffman's Horse Ration (retail: unsure)
- Full sized (236mL) bottle of EcoLicious De-Stress Intensive Restructuring & Detangling Treatment (retail: $23.95)
- 10% off coupon up to $20 value for orders of custom horse hair jewelery by Galla Designs

The Verdict

I love it! Sure, there are items I won't make much use of (horse ration since it's not available here, and the cough remedy primarily), but I think this is awesome - and as you can see by the retail prices, the whole box itself would have been worth it for the mane & tail treatment alone!

This is really a brilliant idea. Think of it this way: I have a Costco membership, and G and I shop there pretty much weekly (at least twice a month typically). The majority of the grocery items that we buy there were, at one point, at one of the sample booths. We tried it, we liked it, it generated further business. It just makes good sense. And this way, you don't have to sink, for example, $23.95 into a bottle of mane and tail conditioner that may possibly not work for you.

Added Bonus

I think a subscription to a box would be a smart, obvious and well appreciated gift from the non-horsey SO that I talked about last entry. This way, they don't have to risk being overwhelmed in the tack shop, buying you something that despite the best intentions is not something you can use, etc.

I should also note - this was the inaugural box from A Horse Box Canada - the box has probably evolved significantly since I received it in the summer, and I am hoping to buy a box once things warm up a bit, so I can report back!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Life With The Non-Horsey Significant Other (or... "Can Anybody Find Me Somebody To Love?")

Single horse girls who feel alone on Valentine's Day, let me talk at ya a minute here.

There once was a time that I was convinced that the only person I could spend my life with was someone who was raised exactly the same way that I was - on a farm, with a love for horses, and a methodology that was all ask and give, not demand and take.

You grow up hearing horror stories as a horse girl, right? The non-horsey SO (significant other) that rolls his eyes when you show up with a bit of hay in your hair or smelling of manure, complains because you've spent too long at the barn (or worse yet gets upset when you spend too long at the barn with a sick horse!), does not even bother to look at the horse as anything but a money pit. You know the stories I am talking about. The ones where, even though at the beginning, it seems like your SO is really into "whatever makes you happy" but when it comes straight down to it, there is always an underlying jealousy of the equestrian activities in your life, and a resentment that will bubble up at the worst times (like when you are already butting heads about something else and the horses become a weapon intended only to wound you). I grew up scared. I grew up convinced that I could only date someone who ALREADY KNEW about all of these things because they lived it.

There was a period of time where I was pretty convinced my life would play out like this:

  • Date a few men who eventually got sick of the horses getting all the attention.
  • Become a spinster with a collection of horses and herding dogs and an uncompromising attitude toward men.

G and I have been together a little over three years now. I'm not going to be completely outrageous and say that I have all the answers or that we have the perfect relationship, but I would not call him a "horse person". He's not really a city boy but he also isn't the same level of "country folk" that I consider myself and my family to be. Up until two years ago, he was almost 30 and had never been on a horse. He doesn't instinctively know which side to lead the horse from, and sometimes I have to explain the reasoning and safety motivations behind the things that I do/feed/buy... sometimes I have to explain those more than once.

But it's all okay - because G, even though he does not share my passion for horses, nor is he interested in owning his own, understands, in the best way that someone who doesn't know horses can, how important they are to me. There was a period of time in our relationship where I was living away from the farm, with him, in the city and the distance was making me antsy. I would feel guilty for not being at the farm when I was in the city, and then when I went to the farm, I would feel guilty for not being with G. I felt like I was being pulled in a million different directions and I just couldn't "normalize" - as a result, I felt terrible the majority of the time. This was just before we made the decision to move Bronwyn into the city.

The most important thing that ever happened was when G verbally acknowledged the difference in me, mentally, once she was closer and I could see her in a neutral place without feeling guilt in either direction. I really think that was the point where it crossed from "oh my girlfriend likes horses" to "my girlfriend has horses in her blood", and he stopped thinking it was so funny when I always told him I had horses instead of paying therapists.

When board increased, as it does, he did not bat an eyelash, even though our finances have been together for some time - at one point, we were paying over half of what we paid in rent for ourselves on board. While I eventually made the more common sense decision on my own to move her home so we could save more money to eventually have a home where she and Rex could be with us, he never initiated it, never complained, never sat down and "had a talk".

While they had many opportunities to "get to know one another" and Bronwyn soon recognized him as her treat dispenser and official groom/slave, G still does not have a passion for horses. What he does have is an understanding. Part of this is that I made an effort to make it very clear to anyone I invested myself in emotionally that I also had a significant long term investment in horses. They didn't have to share it, they didn't have to learn to love it, they just had to accept it and try to understand it. Though I ask him to come to the farm/barn and visit once in a while, I never demand it and more often than not, he is not sitting at home waiting for me to come home. We both have our individual interests and feel independent and confident enough to be able to go out and enjoy those things - sometimes with other people - and then come back together over the common interests that we have.

So no, I have discovered - I don't need a man who already knows and loves horses. Besides, I would hate to have to butt heads over training methods or beliefs. Sure, there won't be many times that I can sleep in and expect him to go feed the horses and clean stalls and do all of the work that I have committed myself to on the long term - but if I was to go the spinster route, I'd have had to do it myself anyways.

What I do have, at the end of the day, is someone who will give me a hand when I ask for one. He won't know the things to do before I ask him to do them, so our communication skills will continue to develop and grow stronger, because I won't expect him to know those things, either. I will have a partner who will hold my hand and support me when things don't go the way I hope they will - not because he understands the other implications of what that will mean, but he will understand that I am disappointed and it's not just 'a silly horse thing'. He will keep me realistic, but he will indulge my silly side once in a while. He will want to know what the vet said. He will come to the barn and take pictures when I ask him. He might even get on a horse if I beg. He will support me without sharing my passion.

Girls - if you are growing up the way that I did - thinking you will have to find a cowboy if you want to spend your life with someone or spend your life alone - think again, think outside the round pen, so to speak. :) Be clear, be concise, don't be unreasonable or uncompromising, but understand and recognize where you will draw the lines of compromise for yourself. Give it a shot, you might end up with something you didn't think was possible. :)

Monday, January 27, 2014

My Equine Bucket List

I don't know why I like them so much but I am a big fan of bucket lists. I tend to write them up, imagining the things I want to accomplish and see before I don't have the opportunity anymore. This morning, I found this AMAZING video on Facebook of what's called "working equitation". I will let it speak for itself!

The dedication... stamina, athleticism, precision and freaking horsemanship in this video is fan-freaking-tastic.

Anyways, it led me to think about my horse-related bucket list because, you guessed it, andalusians are on it! (You might recognize that my love for them comes from my love of Spanish Normans.) So without any further ado, not necessarily related to my goals for my own horses, and in no particular order....

Amanda's Equine Bucket List

  • Ride an Andalusian
  • Ride a Friesian
  • Gallop on the beach
  • Learn how to work cattle
  • Learn how to be a teamster
  • See Cavalia or one of the associated shows
  • Meet a Sable Island horse
  • Canter bareback
  • Visit the Spanish Riding School
  • Clinic with Buck Brannaman
  • Learn from Carolyn Resnick
  • Facilitate or volunteer at an equestrian camp for at risk youth
  • Introduce children to horses
  • Volunteer for a therapeutic riding facility
  • Participate in an overnight trail ride, complete with a chuckwagon and picket lines
  • Attend the World Equestrian Games (if it ends up getting awarded to Bromont, this is possible!)
  • Go horse trekking in Ireland or Scotland
I feel like more things will be added to this, so stay tuned and if - no, when I cross each item off, I'll share with you!

Tell me in the comments - what's on your equine bucket list?

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Farm Visit Sunday!

Guys, winter sucks. I mean, I trade a lot of the other stuff to have to deal with winter - sweltering heat, tornadoes, earthquakes, large populations of poisonous animals, etc - and every year, when winter starts and the snowflakes are kind of cute and romantic, I say "oh well, it's just winter". Yeah. Right about now, I am counting down the days until winter is over.

I was out to the farm a couple of times last week - Sunday to meet up with my trimmer so she could give my kids fancy pedicures, and then again through the week to visit/basically spend time with the horses. Though the weather was mild, the ice on the ground was freaking ridiculous, so my original fantasies about going on just one tiny little stroll bareback through the snow were pretty much dashed. And so it goes with winter. Stinking winter. 

Now that we've had tons of mild weather and rain, the snow is mostly gone but I am stuck in the office. So goes with life. Stinking life. Anyways, here are some pictures I snapped with the new camera that G gave me for Christmas. It's water, dust, shock and cold proof which means the intent with which he gave it was so that I could take it to the barn/riding and stop using his camera for those things and putting it in harm's way every time. :) Enjoy!

Bronwyn sez "I see you have come to feed me treats."

Bronwyn sez "Please also feed my filly, Lola, treats as well."


Rex, Serenity and Lola are the derpiest of derps. Bronwyn cannot associate with them.

My three, er... two horses.