2015-12-15: Hi! You're probably here because you did a Google search for 'plus sized horseback riders' or you saw my content quoted elsewhere. There are a couple of things I'd like you to know.

I am still here! But I am living away from my horses and not riding often. I could tell you a lie and say that I am, but I have always endeavored to give you the truth here. As a result, I'm not feeling terribly motivated to write blog posts and I feel out of touch with the community.

I'd love for you to stay a while and look back through the archives. Visit the links listed below. We still have an active forum community and I post on the Facebook page from time to time.

I have tentative plans to try to get more involved in the horse world in 2016, and I will absolutely share whatever that adventure becomes with you, so keep checking back!

Friday, December 2, 2011


Everyone has their winter fuzzies on! I went to the barn last night after being away a few nights this week to visit with Bronwyn and it was like overnight, she had grown her full-blown winter fluffy. I even said out loud to her - "you got ready for winter without me!". It has been a crazy month, but every month seems crazy when you're trying to split time between two homes 45 minutes apart and work full time - and I've now come into the time of year when I pick up shifts at the restaurant for extra Christmas cash. Last night, I really felt like I needed to sit on a horse to "rebalance my chi" as I told my boyfriend, but with -2C and the wind starting to pick up in the pitch dark... I satisfied myself with smelling a horse instead.

With that said, the craziness is coming to a close, soon. I will be moving off the farm two weeks from today, into the city, closer to my work place. At this time, the ponies will be staying at the farm, but I am already putting my feelers out to find a place that Bronwyn can call home and come and live closer to me. This will mark the first time that my horses have ever not been kept at home, and it's definitely a different stretch for me. At the beginning of the process, I thought I could just leave her home on the farm and visit from time to time, but realistically, I know that I need to have her somewhere near me so that I can visit her when I want. So THAT has been an interesting endeavour. Finding someone that I trust as much as my family to take care of my horse... finding a new home that will tolerate her "quirks". Most of the boarding facilities around here are full because of a fire that burned one of the larger facilities to the ground and displaced several horses. I have some time, though - she doesn't HAVE to move as soon as I do, so I can wait it out (and would prefer to) until February or March.

And speaking of ponies being cared for by someone else - for those who are wondering - Ari is doing very well in her new home! As I stated before, I had imagined that this would be much, much harder, but Meg has been doing a fantastic job keeping me updated, asking my input on various things, and basically just spoiling my little girl. She participated in the recent Santa Claus parade in their area, and has been learning under several different riders, all of whom love her. Cemented, what a good choice I made for my girl. I am beyond thrilled!

With that said, I am hoping for some mounted time this weekend... though I have two shifts at the restaurant to look forward to! It's definitely hard work, but it really helps to get into the festive feelings since the servings are completely Christmas dinners, and there is live entertainment, beautiful period decorations (the restaurant is set in 1855), and lots of good cheer to go around!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Goodbye Hickstead

I love to watch showjumping. When people ask me what my favourite televised sport is, the answer always includes showjumping. And who doesn't love the Canadian favourites - those teams that go together like bread and butter? Ian Millar & Big Ben, Eric Lamaze & Hickstead...

The news of Hickstead's death at the Verona CSI in Italy today spread quickly among the online equine community. Even if you didn't watch the video of his last moments, we all realized how sudden it is. I don't know about anyone else, but it reminded me of the mortality of our horses.

They make us feel incredible, invincible - a horse can humble or inspire you (and sometimes those two are one in the same). They are the symbol and vehicle of freedom of many, the best friends of many an awkward (and not awkward!) teenage girl, an instrument of livelihoods and leisure times. Treat a horse right and they will have your back, save your life (physically and emotionally), teach you as many lessons as you can open your heart to learn. And as quickly as they come to you, as immediate as the epiphanies they provide you can be - they can go, again. Disappear before your very eyes and leave you gutted - a stronger and better person for having known and loved them - but devastated for that loss.

I had eight hours to come to the realization that Angel was going, that I would have to wake up the next morning and begin to move through my life without her. I cannot even begin to imagine the way it felt when that realization came to Eric, when his steed staggered out from under him after a brilliant round and then died before his eyes. I can imagine the hole in his heart - I know, I have been there. So tonight, as I put my arms around my frustrating, quirky, portly pony, I thought of Hickstead, of his team, and the man with whom he flew. I put my hand on her chest and wondered 'will you ever leave me this way?', my hand on her stomach and asked the same thing. And then I realized - it doesn't matter. Someday, every horse will leave every girl who ever loved them. Behind them, they will leave a legacy - it might not be in the media, as widely televised as the incredible performances of Hickstead - it could just be in the heart of a girl who will never forget them. I think Hickstead will do a little of both. Godspeed, big little horse.

Don't Cry For The Horses
Brenda Riley-Seymore

Don't cry for the horses that life has set free.
A million white horses, forever to be.
Don't cry for the horses now in God's hands.
As they dance and prance to a heavenly band.

They were ours as a gift, but never to keep
As they close their eyes, forever to sleep.
Their spirits unbound, forever to fly.
A million white horses, against the blue sky.

Look up into Heaven. You will see them above.
The horse we lost, the horse we loved.
Manes and tails flying, they gallop through time.
They were never yours, they were never mine.

Don't cry for the horses, they will be back someday.
When our time has come, they will show us the way.
Do you hear that soft nicker close to your ear?
Don't cry for the horses, love the ones that are here.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

If you love something, let it go...

I always thought that saying was silly. I have a hard time letting anything go - a grudge, a cold, money - nevermind something that I love and value. This is why I was so surprised when I walked into the barn last night and right by Ari's empty stall and didn't feel a twinge of sadness. Not any. Not at all.

My personal situation is on the cusp of change at the moment and it is no longer (well, was it ever, really?) reasonable for me to keep three horses that I don't have time for. I had already made a decision to place Rex, my gelding, with a trusted friend of mine, bring Bronwyn with me wherever I go, and let Ari stay on the farm with my family, where I thought she belonged. On a whim, never thinking in a million years that I would find something that would feel "right", I posted Ari for up for a lifetime lease on my Facebook and on the forum. I mean, she is an "aged" mare when it comes to stock horses (she's just turned 8) and she has had maybe a dozen rides on her over those years. She is definitely not a beginner project for anybody, but doesn't have a speck of dirt to be found in her. A few people did inquire about her, but I still didn't have the "this feels right" feeling about any of it... afterall, this is the baby of my baby - she is out of my dearly missed heart horse and sired by my mother's dearly missed heart horse. She was born here and I've watched her grow, seen her in my pasture every day, cried many a tear into her mane.

My friend Maria said "have you talked to Meg? She sounds perfect for Meg!"

When Meg contacted me and began to tell me her story, I started to get that "this is right" feeling. She fit many of my "requirements" - a lifetime of experience with horses, a great support structure, a good understanding of common sense, and most important of all - a true love and care for equine-kind, regardless of their usefulness to her. We sent long emails back and forth for quite a while, detailing everything that I knew about Ari and exactly what Meg was looking for. Without going into too many details - Meg was thrown and nearly paralyzed by her standardbred whose list of past owners reads like a "should be banned from owning animals" list. In short, she needed a confidence builder that reminded her how to have fun on the back of a horse and not to be afraid.

The trip to haul her was longer than I anticipated and with more stresses than I had planned on (as if leaving my little girl behind wasn't stressful enough!), but in the end, I am glad we chose to haul her ourselves. Not just because this gave me an opportunity to put a face to words in emails, to see the facility. In retrospect, some of the best parts of the trip were seeing the little girls at the barn so excited to see the pretty new horse, staying up way too late eating cookies and talking horse with Meg and Maria, and seeing someone else - someone who is clearly capable and willing - spending more saddle time on Ari than I had in the last year. Those were the things that cemented, for me, that this was the right decision - even more so than seeing the facility, signing the contract, meeting the barn owner.

When Meg sat on her, they were perfectly sized for one another. She moves like a horse that wants to play with western pleasure but could be athletic enough to cut or rein - and that's right up Meg's alley.

I won't lie and say I didn't shed a tear or two, because I did. I was fortunate to have my dad with me - at one point, he consoled me by saying "She's going to look after her." and I said "I know, and that might be the part that bothers me the most." - the fact that I didn't have the time to appreciate her as much as Meg clearly was going to.

She has been gone almost a week. I have gotten glowing reports from Meg. She loves her. I imagined that it would be much, much harder to let something that I loved so much go. It was a lot easier to leave her with someone who clearly loves her as much as I do. Someone who appreciates her for the quiet little mare that she is. And most of all, it has been easier since I put it into perspective: Once upon a time, someone provided me with an opportunity with a horse that I really needed... I didn't know how much I needed her at that time, and it took me a long time to figure it out. I was reminded the last night when I sat on her in our muddy yard, in the pitch dark, in 2C weather that Bronwyn is the horse that I need. Rex and Ari are the horses that I love and care for, but Bronwyn is that horse that I need. I am paying it forward.

The photos in this post are courtesy of the marvellously talented Maria Casey, who was there, snapping away and being supportive the whole time! :)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Taking Responsibility

It's Friday, I know, I am supposed to write a favourite. Thing is, I have something else on my mind. It's not really horse related, but it's applicable, and it is relevant, and it belongs to both of my blogs. Maybe this tough-love entry is for my benefit more than anybody else's, but hey - maybe someone else can benefit from it, too.

My life has undergone a few drastic changes in the last couple of years - it started with my brain, that part of myself that suddenly decided to find worth and value in myself as a person - the part that realized that if I wanted something to happen, I was going to have to work toward making it happen myself. That doesn't mean that I haven't had help along the way from an excellent support structure but that does mean that I had to start the ball rolling, nobody else could do it for me. And it's a lot easier to get help to get to your final destination if you're already on the journey - don't forget that everybody else is on their own journey and had to find their motivation to get onto that journey on their own, they don't have the energy left to start you out. This falls into the category of "you can really only help those who help themselves".

This also falls into the category of "fall down seven times, get up eight." Even if you have a couple of false starts, it is better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all. They don't write news reports and history books about people who never had the strength to start the journey in the first place. When is the last time you heard about a guy who never waged a war against inequality?

What counts is that you don't let yourself down. If you're not happy with where you are, change it. This doesn't mean that you're going to go from homeless to rockstar in one day (unless, of course, you make it on some reality talent show, of course) - and I think that is the part where many people get frustrated and give up before they even begin. They get overwhelmed by the magnitude of their dream - they neglect to work out a road map so that they can measure their progress and consider anything except the realization of the goal to be failure. Start small. Make the small changes in your life that will add up to the big ones. Set small goals that make up the large goals. Celebrate the progress. Take it one day at a time.

Sometimes the progress is going to be just getting out of bed in the morning, looking yourself in the mirror and smiling, whether you feel like it or not.

Set a big goal today. Track the progress. Tell somebody - share it - make the good things happen for yourself. You deserve it as much as anybody does - maybe more!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Keep moving toward your goals!

(I am crossposting a variation of this today on both of my blogs, A Fat Girl & A Fat Horse and Love it, then lose it., because I think it needs to be said on both a healthy lifestyle vein and also the horsey vein!)

I love these little tidbits that I get everyday from SparkPeople.com in my email - they are almost always applicable to the personal emotional journey that I am on in addition to my weight loss journey. This showed up in my email this morning:

Be not afraid of going slowly; be afraid only of standing still.
- Chinese Proverb

A lot of you guys out there are what the horse world calls "re-riders" - which means you rode when you were younger and then life, family and/or career stopped you from riding for a period of time and you are now facing more free time, more free money, etc. A lot of you guys are here because you are both a re-rider and a plus sized rider.

It can be SO frustrating getting back into the saddle after some time off. Your body might not work the way you are used to it working - you could be heavier than you were when you rode before - you could be older, or have experienced medical/physical setbacks during your time away from the saddle. You may have your confidence shaken and all you can manage is a walk or a jog. It's frustrating. You want to be able to do the things you once did - or even if you've never ridden before, you want to be able to do everything right away.

I am a great one for getting some good steam going - a quick pace, and then burning out. I'm talking about various aspects of my life, really - weight loss, emotional issues, riding, career... Because going slow is scary. Being behind everyone is terrifying for me. I am used to excelling at life, being competitive and good at most things that I put my mind to.

When I graduated from high school, I decided to take a year off to work and then go back to university to complete my BSW specializing in Child Welfare. By the time I got back to university, I was already a year behind all of the friends I had graduated with - my mother graciously suggested, since I did not have enough of a student loan to both keep my apartment and pay my tuition and so would have to work through the school year, that I take part time courses. I didn't want to be any farther behind my friends, so I insisted on taking a full course load and working full time - to get to my goal faster.

The disadvantage to this is that I was so caught up in getting to my destination that I missed a lot of the journey. (For those wondering, student loan pulled all of my finding because I had worked too much and I ended up burning out and dropping out of university and haven't been back since - now I am way more than just 1 year behind my friends!).

If you want to ride horses, find a way to make it happen. Work toward your goal - even if you go slow, you are still going. As I have mentioned before, recognize your limitations and


Saturday, September 17, 2011

For the love of an animal...

At the end of the day, when an animal cannot make a decision itself, we are essentially the only ones who are responsible for doing the right thing for them. It is a heavy burden, and the right choice can sometimes be overshadowed by selfishness. Of course we want to keep our furry familiars with us, sometimes even when it is not the best choice for the animal.

A year ago today, a young woman who is very special to me and who I have mentioned in this blog several times as my partner in crime and sister made a decision to do the right thing for a dog that she loved very much. Bella was plagued by demons that none of us could really understand and after three years of blood, sweat, tears, and a lot of money to try to help Bella, my then 17 year old sister helped her best friend cross the Rainbow Bridge with dignity and let her find peace.

There was not a whole lot that Shay wanted more in this world than to be able to keep Bella with her... but she made the decision, as the only one who could, to cease her demons. Many times, she has questioned herself - even today, a year later, there are times when she wonders if she made the right choice. I know that she did. And so does Bella.

I spoke to a friend of mine last weekend who has an intuition for animals. She said to me that animals come here for whatever period of time they have, for a purpose - to teach us a lesson or show us something we didn't know about ourselves - and when their purpose has been completed, they leave us, to make room for the other animals that will teach us other lessons that they were not able to. When they depart this earth, it is their time, whether we feel that it is or not, so there is no resentment, no distrust of a human that may have to make that decision for their creature, because the time is right, whether we know it or not. I choose to believe this.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday Favourite: Courageous Comet & Rebecca Holder 2011 WEG Cross Country Run

Thanks to one of our Facebook Fans for sharing this video on the wall yesterday!

I don't think that ANYBODY could tell me that this woman and her horse are not athletes - and he is not an enormous horse, either - tremendous, yes, but enormous, no. Love the pricked ears and pleasant expression - he clearly LOVES his job and is not bothered by any extra pounds his rider may be carrying.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Miss you, miss you, miss you.

The Grandest Foal
Author Unknown

I'll lend you for a little while,
my grandest foal, God said.
For you to love while he's alive,
and mourn for when he's dead.

It may be one or twenty years,
or days or months, you see.
But will you, til I take him back,
Take care of him for me?

He'll bring his charms to gladden you
and should his stay be brief,
you'll have those treasured memories,
as solace for your grief.

I cannot promise he will stay,
since all from earth return.
But there are lessons taught on earth
I want this foal to learn.

I've looked the wide world over
in my search for teachers true.
And from the throngs that crowd life's lanes,
with trust, I have selected you.

Now will you give him all your love?
Nor think the labor vain.
Nor hate me when I come
to take him back again?

I know you'll give him tenderness
and love will bloom each day.
And for the happiness you've known,
you will forever-grateful stay.

But should I come and call for him
much sooner than you'd planned,
you'll brave the bitter grief that comes,
and maybe understand.

Five years ago today, my earth Angel went home. I miss her every day but I also know that without losing her, Bronwyn would never have come into my life. It is because of Angel that I have any passion for horses at all. I will never forget the desperate bond I forged with baby Rex who was still on his mom when she colicked and died that night. I needed him as badly as he needed me. I have truly enjoyed him this summer, and tonight it was, once again, he and I, in the barn, having some quiet time while I doctored the wound he got on his leg last week.

The hardest part for me was recognizing the lessons I had learned - both in Angel's life and in her death, and forgetting about the unfairness of it all. I remember thinking to myself that there were much worse horse owners out there than I - I even know some of them in person - and they get to keep their beloved equine friends while mine was taken away from me after only 5 short years together. There is something about some time and some distance that helps you to realize that nothing happens for no reason - everything has a purpose - and you will grow and learn from it all - even if you can't see that when you're standing in the epicenter of what you think is the worst disaster or pain you've ever felt.

With that said, Irene is just blowing into town for us this evening (she's mostly just a blustery evening so far) - I hope everyone's ponies are healthy, happy, and safe. Give 'em a big hug from Canada.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


One of my forum ladies posted a link to this woman's Facebook photos, which showed a couple of shots of a very confident and professional lady that was rocking white breeches and certainly not weighing 98lbs soaking wet. Talk about inspiration! I Google'd her name and found her website. Lady! This is not just a plus sized rider TALKING about riding (like I do!), she is DOING it - and she's DOING IT WELL - AND she is instructing others on how to do it well!

Short gist:
Susan Hoffman Peacock is a National Clinician, USDF 4th Level Certified Instructor/Trainer, USDF Silver Medalist and National Champion. She owns and operates the beautiful Hidden River Ranch in Corona, California.

Nothing to scoff about if you ask me! What an inspiring (and not to mention stunning!) lady!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

CYA - or Cover Your Assets

This is just a fly-by posting but I thought that the timeliness of all of this crossing my radar was just too serendipitous not to share.

See Courtney King-Dye on her beautiful horse, Mythilus:

See Courtney King-Dye after her accident when she was not wearing a helmet, because (paraphrasing her own words), she was in too much of a hurry to put one on and because this horse "had never done a naughty thing": Riders4Helmets Interview (sorry, no embedding is allowed, you'll have to click the link the old fashioned way!)

And also, today's Tack of the Day deal is a ridiculously well priced riding helmet. If those don't strike your fancy, google Troxel or Tipperary and find helmets for every price range. No reason not to "buckle one on"!

Love and light and a real entry coming soon for you readers!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Where you find yourself now...

This morning when I was doing the chores, Serenity was nickering over her stall wall to me, hanging her head over, and generally just begging for scritches. The only way to describe her is charismatic. She's sweet and she draws you in but she's also sassy and full of herself. To say that we love her is an understatement. She's just so full of personality, loves to be scratched and petted, picks up her feet, wears her halter and working on leading. When she goes out with mama, she runs circles around her, kicking and jumping and stretching her legs.

As I was rubbing Serenity's ears, it made me consider Bronwyn, who is, even still, "a little funny" about her ears. Imagine if Bronwyn had had the same kind of start that Serenity is having. Regular handling from the time she was born, taught to pick up her feet and lead when she was a wee wiffet instead of when she was four years old and 1300lbs, fed well, exposed to things. Where would she be now? Not with me, that's for certain. Who knows what she could be doing now? She could be pulling a wagon, competing in low level dressage, a trail string pony, a broodmare - any number of things that she is not, at this time, or may never be, while in my possession. So yes, she did have a rough start in life, but I am convinced that were it not for that rough start, her path would never have led her to me.

I struggled with depression for a long time when I was a teen - from about the age of 12 on to 18 or 19, I was not a happy person. My unhappiness sprung from a variety of different places, including (but not limited to) my weight. I grew up a big girl - I was born 10lbs 11oz - and very little changed after that. There were times when I wished that I was skinny and traditionally beautiful and imagined that so many more opportunities and experiences would open up for me.

It's funny how it is only in retrospect that you can fully appreciate the path you have traveled to end up where you are. I fully acknowledge that I still have a lot of road to travel but I am happy. Somewhere along the road, I came to realize that the number on the scale is not an indication of my self worth. Even if I am overweight, I am still a fundamentally good person, and the cause of my weight - whether it is genetics, lack of willpower, medical conditions - whatever it is - it is no greater a sin or character flaw than anything that any person of average weight carries - nobody is perfect.

It's interesting to consider what a different destination I might have ended up at if any of the components of my journey had been different. There have certainly been times that I have wanted to shake my fist at whatever governing power there is in the universe and ask them if they're playing a sick joke on me, but it is sometimes those changes or turns of events that you resist the most that end up being some of the best things that ever happened to you.

You might not have come to the point in your journey yet where you can look back and say "thank God for all I've missed because it led me here to this", but I think it's important to realize that yes, you are on a journey, and the destination you are at now probably isn't going to be the same in a couple of days, weeks, months, years or decades. And just because you are in a position that you don't care for at the moment, doesn't mean that you are undeserving of the good things and desirable final destination that you're going to end up in.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Friday Favourite: Trawling the feed store on a Friday night...

I haven't been home to the farm in a few days until tonight. Man, I have missed my ponies! It's pretty clear that even though the next year or so could be some upheaval (physically) in my life, a pony is going to have to come with me.

Anyways - my Friday Favourite today is about 14 minutes late if you're in the same time zone as me but I think I have enough Mid and West Coast readers to balance it out there a little bit. :)

I stopped by the feed store on the way home to pick up a bag of beet pulp for my "Mission: Make Rex A Fat Horse" project that has been ongoing for a little bit now, and I wandered through the aisles of the horse section. It's not huge and the prices aren't cheap (well, online has kind of spoiled me), but once in a while, a few purchases make me happy.

I ended up coming out with a mineral block for Rex and one for our broodmare, a new bottle of fly spray, a bag of treats for Bronwyn and a hay net for Rex. Little things. Not a lot of money, and not flashy - functional, useful things that aren't glamorous and will get used up very shortly. But they make me happy. I guess it is knowing that I can provide for my horses. It helps me stomach my job a little better to use the money that I make from it to make life a little nicer for my ponies. :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The product/piece of equipment you CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT.

I was pondering, this morning, while standing in my driveway longing Rex in my pj shorts and tank top, the stuff that makes my life easier. What prompted this was my longe line:

It's made by Coastal Pet/Accent Halters, and I might be a little biased because my mom is the only dealer of these products in our region, but we have been using their products for years and years. They have great halters, too, which every horse in my barn currently wears and has for the last 10 years... but I love this longe line. The rubber grip on it slides up and down the line easily so you can feed out or bring in quite easily depending on the horse that you're longing, and then you can lock it by holding it and it doesn't move around. I think it's probably the most genius idea ever, as someone who doesn't like to wear gloves (I feel like it lessens my 'feel') and who owns a horse (*cough*Bronwyn*cough*) who used to take great pleasure at running through my hands on the longeline.

Another thing that I really love (and this is another thing that my mom also deals, haha) is Premier Equine's Rose Oil Conditioner. Considering that probably 80% of my grooming routine with Bronwyn is mane and tail maintenance, this is an important one to me. I also really dig using it on mostly white horses (read: Rex) because it helps them stay cleaner and deflect dirt. As a side bonus, no silicone AND I can get it in concentrate, which is good, because I use copious amounts of product to deal with 2 feet of mane!

For my US readers - both of these products are available quite readily through a variety of online sites and maybe in your local stores. Canadians and otherwise? I'm not sure, sorry - but do encourage you to give them a try!

Those are just a couple of the invaluable products that make my life easier everyday. I think it's always good to share these resources with our friends, so go ahead - fill the comments with your "must haves"!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Like my new gelding?

Okay, so before anyone panics, I did not buy a new horse. Rex (one of my non-fat horses) was gelded Thursday morning. Textbook procedure, seems to be healing really well. I worry over the incision, of course - this is actually the first time I've ever had a "fresh" gelding - the last time I even owned a gelding at all was when I was 12 and he was castrated long before he got here!

The gelding procedure combined with watching an AQHA/open show on Saturday (and, I'll admit, sitting in a few western show saddles that I can't afford!) have really given me a hankering to ride western pleasure again. Rex is my western pleasure ticket. He's all but had somebody on him so as soon as he is healed up and I put the last 50lbs on him that I want, up I go! In the meantime, I am going to work on getting fitter.

It has been so dang hot around here lately that I have hardly touched Bronwyn. She doesn't tolerate the heat very well and, quite frankly, neither do I. I waver between really wanting to show her and get out and do stuff and on the other hand, wanting to just putter on trails in the evenings and on weekends. I know either way, she's a ton of fun. :)

This isn't much of an entry, but hey it's an update, and that's a good dang start!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday Favourites: The Healing Power of Horses

I've talked about it before, but this article drove the point home again for me. I have also written about it at least once, and really... I think you could really say that that is mostly what this blog is about, isn't it? Perhaps not the emotional or mental damage to the extent that the veterans mentioned in the Chronicle Of The Horse article above, but many of us are using the healing power of horses to overcome confidence issues, self worth issues, and the like.

Interesting, isn't it? If you look at it, I don't think there are very many people involved in horses on the hobby/amateur competitor level that haven't used horses as a healing tool in some realm - whether it was keeping them out of trouble when they were kids, healing emotional wounds from relationships gone wrong, etc.

Slightly unrelated, but also slightly related, I thought I'd share this pic, but not too much of the story. Let's just say that I know this woman believes in the healing power of horses. This is one of my blog readers and good friends, Jo. My boyfriend and I spent a lovely weekend with her and her daughter this past weekend, soaking up some sun (a little too much in my case!) and participating in a good blend of horsey, beachy, and touristy things. We also spent some time with another blog reader/good friend, Krista... and I'm sure we snapped some pictures of her horses, but I believe they're on my boyfriend's camera. I will share when I can get my grubby paws on them! :)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

I have not forgotten about you all!!

I know, I know! I missed two Friday favourites AND I have ridden four times in the last week and we have a lot to catch up on, but I am on the way out the door to a wedding, and last week was watching my sister graduate... but I WILL get to you this week! AND I will have some photoadventures next weekend as I am going to go visit a couple of blog readers/forum posters. :-D

Have a great holiday weekend!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I remember...

It seems like as long as I can remember, it always comes down to me and my dad, and a horse.

I've made it no secret that my parents were the ones who fostered my great love of horses. I had a pony from the time I was old enough to sit on one alone, and before that, I spent enough time on the front of a saddle that I actually have a recollection of a real trail ride when I was about 2. My mother and father took a lot of pride in the breeding and training operation that they ran and we always had good, sound, sane horses and a steady guiding hand. Together, they supported us, but I have more than a handful of memories of my dad and I and a horse.

My dad is a fine horseman. He has just the right touch of "cowboy" to look at things logically and get them done when it comes to a horse. He is compassionate and though he hates to admit it, cares very deeply about our animals - he'll hate for me to admit it - but I have seen the tears in his eyes with every dog young and old that we have put down in the last ten years. He is an excellent father - he will let you make your own mistakes, learn your own lessons, and be there at the end to make sure you got the lesson straight, and comfort you when you've made a mess. My dad would give the shirt off his back or all of his waking hours to help a neighbour and if I someday have children who have a father who is even half of the man that my father is, I will be a blessed woman.

My father and I are more alike than we like to think. We are both fairly sociable animals, both of us are a little bit emotional. We both can have the patience of Job at some aspects of our lives and absolutely no patience in other areas. It frustrates the both of us when someone or something does (or doesn't do) something because they "should know better". The first place either of us will usually go to cool down after an argument or a blow out or when we're just feeling down is the barn.

And so I remember... I remember when I was 16 and my father who had been a trucker and only sporadically present most of my childhood came home off the road and tried to step immediately into an authoritative father role and I balked at the idea, and we finally came to see eye to eye across the withers of my old sorrel gelding, Boots. I cried a lot of tears into Boots' mane when we were struggling to understand one another, and so it was fitting that we figured things out with Boots standing between us.

I remember when I was 20 and my Angel was dying and we both knew it and we stood in front of her stall and he watched me say my last goodbye to her and he ushered me into the house so that I didn't have to see her final painful moments. I remember him standing in the doorway of my bedroom while I cried and cried with her silly poofy pony forelock that I hated so much - I don't think he knows how much grief that little braid of hair got me through after losing her. I remember him telling me that "everything happens for a reason" and me resenting that for over a year... until Bronwyn came into my life and I began to realize what a profound role she would play in my life.

I remember when I first got Bronwyn and we tied her for the first time so I could give her a good grooming and he stood with me while I painstakingly combed tangles out of her tail while trying not to move too quickly and frighten her. When he tied her in her straight stall for the first time, when he held her so I could swing my leg over her for the first time, when he later told me that he had had his concerns about her hurting me but that first time that she let me sit on her and I sat there with confidence, that he would never doubt the mare again. When he hauled me to our first trail ride, and then our first horse show and when he rode shotgun with her while I tried to figure out how to pull a trailer with a horse in it for the first time. When he played doting groom and ribbon holder at the quarter horse show and held her for me at our first trail ride and tried to play nice even though the two of them are not the best of friends.

I remember when I first doubted being able to ride as an overweight rider. When my dad said "stop worrying and just ride", when he reminded me "you're not going to hurt that horse". My daddy is many things, but he is not a liar. He may have had to say it to me a million times, but eventually - I believed him. It is largely because of him that I began to write this blog at all.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday Favourites: Maya Angelou

I can't even remember where or when, but somewhere, once upon a time, someone on the internet pointed me in the direction of this incredible poem by the beautiful, inspirational, strong Maya Angelou, and while it doesn't have anything to do with riding, it has a lot to do with how I choose to think about myself and the life that I try to live. At the time that it was shown to me, it was something that I really needed. I printed it out and it hangs on the wall of my bedroom so it is the first thing that my eyes go to when I get out of bed. Sometimes I say the best bits aloud to remind myself of exactly what I deserve, who I am, and where I am going.

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Happy Friday, ladies. I have been working on a "real" blog entry for some time now but Friday always seems to sneak up first! LOL Working on it, I promise!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Friday Favourite: Soft, silky foals...

So! Those of you who are on the Facebook Fanpage are aware of this already, but the horse, Robin, that we bought from Wyoming in the fall foaled this week! She was a little bit early (a few weeks) and there was some touch and go time at the beginning where she just COULD NOT figure out the nursing thing but she is slurping and sassy as ever, now.

She is truly a blessing. We have called her "Serenity" - my mother wanted to call her Patience but I think Serenity is a little more suitable, and it will be hilarious when she's a grown up "red mare" type of spitfire with a name like Serenity.

So without further ado, because I know that all you come here for is pictures... welcome Serenity - out of Perpetualized Kid and by Hot Scotch Te Go.

There will be better pictures after this weekend when she takes her first trip out into the pasture, I expect! Happy weekend, everyone - I have another blog post coming soon!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Friday Favourites: Spanish Norman Horses

I don't think it's any secret that I am drawn to the "war horse" archetype when it comes to horses - I mean... look at mine!

I have also always been a fan of the Baroque breeds, with Andalusians topping the list. You can see where this is going, right?

If money were no issue, I would have a barn full of these:

(okay, so I can't imbed the image, but follow the link below to see the gallery)

(You can see the full gallery here. Get a tissue ready for drool wiping!)

Seriously. If any of you loyal readers out there ever win the lottery, think of me. :)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Favourites: Standardbred Placement

Guess what! It's Friday again!

The last month or so has been crazy busy in my world. We hit two big trade fairs with my mom's show clothing booth. I got to meet and visit with some blog readers/forum posters, got a home visit from a blog reader (!), and saw some gorgeous horses, bought a few neat things, and really got bit by the horse bug again. This time of year always does it to me!

But at one of the trade fairs, I was sitting across the aisle from a really great group. There was a table for the Maritime Standardbred Pleasure Horse Association, a group that acts as a middle man to bring standardbreds from the tracks and farms and into homes with people that will use them as (obviously) pleasure horses.

This particular group really appeals to be for a couple of reasons. They're making "use" of a breed that traditionally only has ONE use... and versatility is the name of the game for me - and also because I have a huge soft spot for standardbreds.

I can't remember if I have ever talked about it on the blog before, but right after graduation, I skipped town with stars in my eyes for Ontario. I couldn't wait to be out of Hicksville, Canada and figured that the "city" would satisfy me (long story short, it didn't, but....). I spent several months working for a standardbred racehorse owner. My mom's first horse was a standardbred pony type horse - but they had never occured to me as a horse of much value, to be quite honest.

I learned SO MUCH in the short time that I was there, and most of it was direct from the horse's mouth, so to speak. In the end, I came away a much richer person, knowledge and passionwise. The standardbreds I met made me think outside the box more than any horses had to that point (Bronwyn holds that title now) - I learned how to wrap well and quickly (because EVERYONE wears wraps there!), I laughed more than should be allowed (particularly at the hands of a mare named Noble Sami who was extremely demanding when it came to attention!) - I proved boys wrong (by having no problems at all harnessing and handling the "man eating colt" that I was not even allowed to muck a stall for when I first arrived) - I helped halter break and put in the jog cart for the first time a now-record holding pacer, Gold Dust Beach - I learned patience and quietness (a great horse named Potamos taught me this one).

It warms my heart to know that these little (and big!) horses with so much try, so much heart, and so much BIG PERSONALITY are being moved to pleasure horse homes where people who are not in the "industry" will have the time to appreciate them for their individual awesomeness.

We have two of these organizations in the Maritimes - the above mentioned MSPHA is a middle man to get horses from the tracks into homes, and Morningstar Acres which actually brings them in and does the necessary rehab and training to get them moved out into pleasure homes. Particularly with a recent development within the government that has pulled funding for the popular Atlantic Sires Stakes in the Maritimes, these two organizations are going to have their hands full and will need all of the support that they can get. Consider a standardbred today. :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fears that don't relate to not being good enough for my horse.

Earlier today, I posted the link to this story about two horses being lifted by a tornado and deposited into a pool on the blog Facebook fanpage. It is kind of "oh, haha" funny in retrospect, but I can't even imagine the sick feeling of seeing my horses gone from my pasture following destruction like that, or having to leave them somewhere when I was forced into an emergency evacuation.

I am really fortunate where I live - we are on the East Coast of Canada:

As a general rule, nature is not our enemy. We don't live near any bodies of water, so no flooding. Not living on any major fault lines - the most recent earthquake that we could feel was perhaps a million years ago. My dad remembers one small tornado when he was a kid that knocked down the neighbour's shed and (according to my dad) sucked all the water out of the duck pond and then put it down in the same place. We're not right on the coast so most hurricanes are blown out by the time they get to us... we get some wicked winter storms but as a general rule, are very lucky when it comes to natural disasters.

A lot of what has been going on in the last little while - the tornadoes, massive earthquakes... have made me consider - what is my "emergency plan"? I take a lot for granted because we have been so lucky in the past... but I shouldn't always rest on my luck like that!

Up until last summer, we didn't have a trailer, either. For where we are located, if there were ever an emergency evacuation, the closest trailer I can think of is over 30 minutes away and they would be likely to have to evacuate, too. I have long felt uncomfortable with not having a trailer, and feel a lot better now - if I have to make emergency trips to the vet, if we have to evacuate, if we need to help somebody do the above... With that said, though - all told, we have nearly 200 head of livestock here on the farm and 1 piddly 2-horse trailer won't move everything in nearly a short enough time if we ever had to evacuate!

People say that animals are unpredictable, and I agree. However, one thing that I like about animals, as a general rule, is that they can often be reasoned with. There's a motivation - food, water, dominance, reproduction, relief of pain or threat - behind the majority of their behaviour and you can make life easier for yourself if you can provide it or at least get out of its path. Weather and nature don't have those motivations - you can't reason with it, if a tornado is coming for your town, you get out of Dodge, no questions asked, because you're not going to provide a tsunami with the food that it requires to mold the behaviour into something you desire.

My heart truly goes out to all of those who are living with the aftermath of natural disasters right now - or living in the common path of them. I think I speak for all of my readers who are more fortunate in saying that we are hoping for the best for all of you, that you stay safe and secure with no losses.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Friday Favourite: Jane Savoie

I know, quite technically, where I live, it's past midnight so it's not Friday anymore, but I have been going non stop since I left the office, and hey... it's the thought that counts!

As a motivator to get me writing more, even when there is not anything going on with Bronwyn and I, I want to start a weekly favourite feature... a product, website, concept, horse, person, etc... something that I LOVE. It was really convenient that someone on the forum brought this over from Facebook today (or maybe it was yesterday, the days are blurring together!). It takes many points that I try to make on a regular basis and sums them up in one nice, easy to read commentary... So without further ado... from Jane Savoie's Facebook Fanpage... something for all of you ladies out there who aren't riding right now, or are second guessing yourselves at every turn - a letter from Moshi, the horse:

Weight. There, I said it. Human society is incredibly obsessed with body size. How many people don’t ride or stopped riding because they think they are too fat? How many people hide their talents and abilities behind a wall of shame because of their BMI (Body Mass Index)?

When I hear people talking about weight issues, it makes me so glad I’m a horse! We are expected to have a big, round “hip” and be well fleshed. Unless you’re a racehorse, it’s perfectly okay to be plump. In fact, we are “fattened up” for halter classes and viewed as healthier when we have some meat on our bones. Why aren’t people like that? I hear it’s mostly because of movies, TV, and magazines. Back when food was scarce and only the rich were plump, “Rubenesque” women were all the rage. But now that food is abundant for almost all people, you’re expected to be waif thin and wrinkle free if you want to be “in.” The media perpetuates this ideal simply by glorifying the skinny and the young.

I understand there are health ramifications for being obese, but that’s not the point here. Plump is normal for a lot of people. Your hormones, genetics, age, and body structure have a whole lot to do with what is normal and healthy for YOU as an individual. You can be very fit and still look “fat” based on what you’ve been conditioned to believe. Are you one of those who stopped doing what you love in life because you don’t fit the Hollywood ideal?

Horses are incredibly strong. Light riding has a lot more to do with balance and technique than what a bathroom scale says about you. You can be overweight by today’s standards and still be very comfortable for your horse to carry.

If you want to make some changes, decide to be as fit as you can so you can ride well. Decide you’re going to be strong and healthy, no matter what you weigh. Exercise with the idea of being fit, not simply with the goal of being thin, and you will find a different kind of inspiration to keep going. If you’re one of those whose nerves I’ve just agitated, please know that I do understand how painful this issue might be. You just have to put your focus on your successes and not concentrate on the mental feedback loop that says you’re not okay. You ARE okay, just as you are! If anyone says anything different, it’s their problem, not yours.

I realize this is a very prickly subject for many people, but I want you to know that the “Scarlet F” need not stop you from living life to the fullest. Take a deep breath, recognize your worth, and realize that extra pounds do NOT decide you who you are. Get out there and ride your horse! He can carry you!

Love, Moshi

With that said, I am going to take a snooze. It's been a long week, and I have a full day ahead tomorrow. Topping that list would be dislodging the resident pig from my horse trailer and combing the summer paddock for the halter that Bronwyn has already lost twice! Have a great long weekend, everybody. :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Slippery, Sickly SPRING!

I think I have said before (if not on the blog, then definitely on the Facebook fan page) that shedding season is THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEEEEEEEAR (yes, in the Christmas song themed tune!). I think when I was delirious with the excitement of the hair lifting off of my horses in giant gobs and beginning to reveal their slick summer coats underneath, I forgot that SPRING follows shedding and that I dislike spring. Immensely.

The weather is SO nice and I want to ride SO badly. Unfortunately, the ground isn't co operating yet. If I had a nice arena with sand (which is my "project" for this summer!), it might not be so bad. On Sunday, I was tempted by some bare patches at the top of the driveway in the paddock... reasonably flat (little bit of a grade to it) and quite a few bare spots. Once I actually got up there, I discovered that it was so slippery that there wasn't much that could be done - Bronwyn slipped a few times and was completely blowing me off (flipped her tongue over the bit) and I had a brief thought of "it would serve you right to fall!" but then remembered that I would likely be crushed by the expansive bulk that she developed over the winter!

The big truth is that we both need to get in shape! I was awfully sore after that short ride on Sunday, which isn't good. She's sooo round, like a butterball turkey with fur. And filthy! Holy dust on her. That's what happens when they sit all winter doing mostly nothing. Once she sheds out, all those gorgeous dapples will show and I will again agonize over a few white hairs here and there and think to myself "OMG, is she going grey?!".. granted that she is 6 this year, the likelihood of her going grey now is quite slim, I do believe, but I do hold out hope.

This time last week, the ground looked like this:

With any luck, soon, there will be absolutely NO traces of this snow, including the wet muckiness!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spring Cleaning!

I don't know about the rest of you, but I think we've got winter just about beat here in Atlantic Canada. It has been increasingly frustrating for me because my riding ring (and by ring, I mean the relatively flat space that is unfenced that I use to ride in - though this is my summer project this year!) is still under snow but the weather is SO NICE that I am itching to ride! My options are a very small circle in our muddy dooryard, up our driveway and down the road where the shoulders are getting nice and bare, and none of those are very satisfactory for someone who enjoys schooling or 2-4 hour long trail rides with friends as much as Bronwyn and I do! Furthermore, I am DYING to get some REAL WORK in with my new saddle!

The last month has been busy, filled with joy and also disappointment, panic, health issues, but today, the 31st, I think I can safely say that I have survived March and am looking forward to the springtime promise of April! I haven't written much because I haven't felt that I have had much to say about Bronwyn and I, but I've since made the decision that I don't always have to write an awe inspiring post or about an outing that Bronwyn and I have made - I think I have some interesting "other" things to say and I'm going to say them!

I will fill you in on what March held for me, though! As many of you know, I was scheduled to go to Arizona from March 22nd to 30th to ride my favourite suffolk punch mare in the world and visit with my best gal, Carina... that didn't happen. On March 11th, I went to outpatients with severe deep pain in my left calf. They detained me for blood tests and my d dimer score (which is supposed to be 200) was 3000 - they immediately put me on blood thinners and I spent the weekend presenting at a hospital every 12 hours for a shot of Lovenox (did I mention that the two hospitals I had the choice of are each an hour from my home?). I went back for an ultrasound on Monday but the tech told me, more or less, that since it was below the knee, they probably wouldn't do anything. When the ultrasound results came back, the doctor told me that the ultrasound was negative and I was fine...

I was still in pain for 4-5 days afterward, and had an unrelated doctor's appointment on Monday, the 21st. My doctor had acquired my test results/report from the hospital that I went to on the 11th and she was so alarmed by my test results that she sent me back to the hospital for a shot of Tinseparin (spelling?), a different blood thinner, which left me with a baseball sized BLACK bruise (which is still there after over a week!) that night as well as more blood. She told me in no uncertain terms that I was not to fly the next day, and had me back in the hospital for another ultrasound on Tuesday, the 22nd - the day I was meant to fly. I spent THE ENTIRE DAY in the outpatients waiting room, and three hours alone after I had already had the ultrasound to talk to a doctor who told me that the ultrasound was negative and that he didn't believe that I had had a blood clot at all. His reasoning? Because I had no family history of it! At the same time, he would not give me a firm "yes" or "no" to being able to fly, work out, ride, etc, and said instead "you are of average risk". Talk about unsatisfying!

I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, so... there was a reason I didn't get to go to Arizona this time, which may or may not become clear to me in the near future. I am satisfied with that now, though still disappointed. I decided I'd try to get some other things done, like hauling Bronwyn out to an indoor. At the end of things, I went back to work a week early, and couldn't get the wiring straightened out on my trailer soon enough to get her to an indoor. More disappointment there.

I did, however, get the opportunity to spend lots of time with the guy I've been dating since November, which was nice (and almost rare since we live an hour apart and don't get to see each other TOO much), and I got to spend some time with my father, which also seems to be getting rare... I started clicker training with Bronwyn again... I spent a lot of time using a shedding blade on the horses!

Poor Rex, I lobbed off his mane (thick, tangled, and he (and I both!) hates his mane being pulled, so I just cut it off... stopped short of a roach but it's not far off! I took almost a whole horse off of him. I'd like to put 50 or 75 extra pounds on him and start him this spring.

I guess the important thing is that spring is here... new life starts... our lambs and goat kids are coming soon (we do have one early set of goat kids on the ground), clinics and trade fairs are right around the corner so I'll get to see all my horsey friends again (and spend too much shopping for new things!)... my draft-riding friends are antsy to get back out on the trails, and I have a renewed thirst for instruction and learning on horseback. Overall, though March didn't treat me too well, I still have a sense of excited anticipation for what is to come. :)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

I've been thinking a lot about courage lately...

I think it's mostly because I have found myself in some situations, recently, work and personal, that have pushed me outside of my comfort zone and I've had no choice but to swallow any anxiety and truck through it.

Then, someone sent an email forward to me last week about this woman:

What you are seeing is right. This woman's name is Bettina Eistel and not only does she have no arms, she also competes (very successfully, I might add!) at high levels of competition, has medaled at the Paralympics and has won championships in Germany and Belgium. I'm sorry, but this lady is amazing.

What I find the most impressive, actually, is something that the numerous other bloggers and articles haven't mentioned. This woman was born without arms, so it is not like she once had a great love and talent for horses and then lost her arms and found a way around it - no - she endeavored to ride without arms from the very beginning. But not only does she ride, she also tacks up, hoses down, brushes, blankets, wraps, etc -- nothing short of incredible!

Her horse's name is Fabuleax 5 and he looks like he is one heck of a horse - not only talented but also one of those "considerate" horses who just seems to "know".

Looking at all of this, I thought to myself "What kind of courage must it take to go out there, physically handicapped and not fitting a "rider" stereotype? What kind of challenges does she face socially in addition to physically?"

Everyone knows it takes some courage to get on a horse in the first place. If you're like me and you've been doing it forever, that fear is foolishly not present most of the time - but occasionally thoughts do cross my mind - what if I fall? What if I am horribly injured? What if I'm hurt so badly that I am never able to ride again? I'm sure many of those same thoughts cross the minds of both plus and average sized riders across the world every time that they saddle up. I mean, if you're smart, those kinds of thoughts are present! You are, afterall, settling onto a 1200+lb animal who has a mind of its own and a spring-loaded ejection seat like those cars you see in the cartoons.

Imagine not having arms to break or cushion your fall, or give you leverage to get your horse under control. I think many of us, even though we pack around a few extra pounds, are fortunate, and I think we need to take advantage of that and use it to our best potential. It might take a big shot of courage, a friend to give you the confidence you require, or a visit to our forum to find support and encouragement, but I guarantee - if Bettina can do it, so can we.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Ahh, the new year.

I realize it is no longer the 1st of January so really "past" the time for resolutions, but I'm going to talk about them anyway. I was still caught up in the emotional exhaustion of what my November and December turned out to be on January 1st so I chose not to make any resolutions, except for one, that I have managed, thus far, to keep quite well...

With all of the work in November/December, I was drinking a lot of coffee. A LOT. I am a water drinker by nature but I kept pumping in the coffee and cola soft drinks to try and keep my energy up instead of just resorting to a Red Bull or something else - and I was, as a result, not drinking enough water. I can state proudly that since Christmas Day, I have only had two small glasses of 7Up (they were mixed with wine, haha) on the day after New Year's. Other than that, no pop or coffee at all. I feel pretty good and most days, I don't even want any. I have taken to drinking chai tea in the mornings, but that is it - my water intake has increased significantly, as a result.

I always like to take some time and reflect on my resolutions from the past year when I start to think about new ones. I discovered last year that general things are easier to keep, and easier not to disappoint myself about. I think it was helpful.

So, without further ado:

Last Year:
I want to be "visible" with Bronwyn - in whatever context that ends up to be - horse show, clinic, demos and trade fairs.

I also want to be talking about plus sized riders in person. I go to a lot of equine trade fairs, shows and events with my mother who runs a small home based horse show clothing business (yes, she does make plus sized clothes). I'd like to take a flyer or maybe some business cards along with me. Maybe someday it will develop into talks and demonstrations. Have to start small!

...my "non-horsey" resolution is also health related. My resolution this year is to allow my health to take priority on a daily basis. This means taking the time every day to prepare myself healthier foods, go for a walk, work out, etc. This also means looking after my mental health, which is likely going to mean more time spent on horseback.

I also have a non-horsey resolution to get my completed romantic suspense manuscript into the hands of an agent - ideally published by the end of 2010 (or at least in plans for publication), but into the hands of an agent is a good start.

So... how did I do?

I would say that Bronwyn and I were definitely more visible last year. We attended one show and two public trail rides, as well as a local parade. I would love to expound on this a little more, and take in a clinic, continue with the trail rides, and also plan to bring her along with me to the Equine Review in late April, which is a trade fair with demos, etc. Ideally, I would like to do a demo on clicker training and with our draft under saddle club. I would also like to show her under saddle at at least one show.

I would also say that I succeeded in talking to more plus sized riders - not just in person, but online. I made a forum to go along with the blog and we have built a safe, comfortable, supportive community there where we encourage and challenge one another to be the best that we can be in all aspects of our lives. I brought business cards and a powerpoint presentation that I set up at trade fairs we went to - and talked to many a person - this year, with Bronwyn along, maybe I'll talk to even more people!

As for my non horsey related goals?

...to allow my health to take priority on a daily basis. This means taking the time every day to prepare myself healthier foods, go for a walk, work out, etc. This also means looking after my mental health, which is likely going to mean more time spent on horseback.

I also have a non-horsey resolution to get my completed romantic suspense manuscript into the hands of an agent - ideally published by the end of 2010 (or at least in plans for publication), but into the hands of an agent is a good start.

I would say on the first point, I was reasonably successful. In the year of 2010, I lost probably 50lbs, and kept it off. I stood up for myself emotionally (sometimes it took a little longer to do it, but I always did). I spent more time on horseback than I have in quite a few years, I would say. I developed a deeper connection with Bronwyn and challenged us both, physically and mentally (hello, four hour trail ride anyone?). I would consider that a successful resolution.

As for my novel? Epic fail on that one, though I have begun to consider a different route for the manuscript (e-publisher) and that is something I aim to pursue in 2011 a little more. I just ran out of time and steam in 2010!

So, for this year? I'm going to up the ante a little!

Horse Related

- One show under saddle, one clinic, one mounted parade, one beach ride and one trailride (with the people I ride with, I know the trail ride issue at the very least will exceed my goal!).
- More saddle time in general.
- More opportunity to share my horses with those around me who don't have those opportunities.
- And the most specific one? For my family of four to be able to go on a Christmas day trail ride - this means I have two horses to get broke this year!

Health Related
- 500 miles in 365 days (either with my Leslie Sansone DVD, or on a piece of gym equipment).
- 5k marathon, EVEN IF I JUST WALK.
- 100lb total loss by the end of the year - this means since my beginning weight, which will put me at 225lbs.

Life in General
- Give myself a break emotionally once in a while.
- (I've already got a good start on this one...) Embrace the idea that comfortable and easy trumps dramatic and stressful every. single. time.
- Enjoy the blessings that I have been given. :)

So... how about everyone else? By now, you all should probably have had a chance to move toward your goals and see how they're going to work out for you. What's the word? Your resolutions?

Monday, January 10, 2011

It's here! It's here!

AND I have gotten a chance to ride in it!

I am just going to say it right now: I am never, ever trying to buy a "non" name brand saddle again. The difference in craftsmanship, leather quality, EVERYTHING, is so significant. Sure, I had to expand my budget a little bit, but I think I mentioned in my last entry that I had a wonderful experience with a seller who was willing to work with me. (So Nora, if you're reading this, thank you again! I know I've said it a million times, but I'd keep saying it!)

I picked it up at my postbox across the border on Tuesday, the 4th, but in my excitement, even though I knew (believe me, I kept reading the specs on the saddle over and over) that it is rigged for a dressage girth, I "forgot" and so didn't have a suitable girth to use... so it sat in my living room on my saddle rack while I admired it from across the room until Saturday morning when I was finally able to get to a local tack shop and pick one up.

I ended up with a 26", which WILL girth up and go up several holes, but I am told is a little too short. Anyways - I had to get a girth and that was the only option I had and if I didn't get something soon, I was going to strap it down with balertwine and sit in it! With the holidays and troublesome weather on the East coast, it took just short of three weeks to arrive, so I was pretty anxious.

So Saturday rolled around and I headed to town, went to the gym, picked up the girth, ate some sushi, headed home, and immediately changed my clothes and headed out to the barn. We've been getting some snow, so I knew I couldn't do too much but I needed to at least SIT in that saddle!

Anyways... this is what you're all here for! The pictures!

For comparison's sake, I am first going to refresh your memory with a couple of pictures from the 18" Thorowgood that I bought a while back. The extended panels were too long for her short, stout back, and she was pinched at the shoulders. It also really didn't fit me, like, at all.

Now, the new saddle!

If that doesn't look like a happy horse, I don't know what does!

I normally am very cautious riding in the snow but I was so excited about this saddle and the obvious difference in how easily and pleasantly she moved out that I just had to see what a canter in a well fitted saddle felt like. We have not done a lot of canter, DUE to the saddle issues we have had because of slipping (anyone remember me getting deposited on my head at the canter from a saddle that slipped all the way around Bronwyn's belly?) and also due to the ill fitting saddles, she had some issues (ducking, veering, etc) when we weren't in a roundpen in a "forced" circle.

We took off up through the snow... straight, balanced, comfortable and SO MUCH FUN.

I have had a few offers to buy this saddle from me (before I even got a chance to sit in it) but I have said more than once that I love this one so much I think I might have it buried with me, haha! If anything, it is a smidge too wide for Bronwyn, but I would rather a little too wide than too narrow, and still a little tight for me but I think it works for the length of my leg, just gotta work some of my butt off.

Now I feel that I can finally move forward instead of just floundering around in the same place. I have things I need to work on (hands out of my crotch, no piano hands, and eyes up, to name a few things!) and I feel like I can work on those now that I am not obsessively thinking "Is this saddle hurting my horse? Is this causing her pain?" - I feel like I can comfortably spend more time in the saddle now - it's refreshing and makes 2011 seem pretty bright and exciting to me!