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!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

It's Been A Good Week...

Admittedly, last time I checked in, I was super anxious. I have always had my horses at the old farm. Always, with the exception of the time Bronwyn spent at the boarding barn (which produced a lot of anxiety, too!). Somehow, the exact same conditions/environment, in a different locale, makes me nervous. Beyond nervous. Seriously - I have worried about everything from weather to coyotes to will they respect the fence to is there enough feed, etc.

So Ari and Jessie settled in well. Saturday morning, my dad planned to bring Bronwyn. He would load her at the old farm alone because we still had some address updating, etc, to do in town since moving to the new place. And the plan was that I would be there when he unloaded. Unfortunately, we got caught up and while I was standing in line at the grocery store picking up a few necessities, my mom tagged me on Facebook in this picture:

Not gonna lie, I totally teared up standing in the checkout line! G thought I was nutters, which was okay. I wrote it off as pregnant lady hormones. She doesn't show up very often, but occasionally, CPL (Crazy Pregnant Lady) shows up and you can't talk her out of tears, or fears, or thinking her husband is cheating on her (that one was a tough one to explain to my extremely faithful, very anti-cheating husband when he got home a little later than normal after stopping at his own brother's house to pick up some sheet rock for our impending kitchen mini-reno). So she cried in the middle of the Superstore, and that was okay too (coincidentally, we got free groceries because of a "market minute" promotion they had going on, so I could have easily been crying tears of happiness for that!). 

She unloaded and hardly even made a grump face at Ari. When I got home, they were all grazing quietly near one another. Clearly, if Ari thought that Bronwyn was a threat, she wouldn't be comfortable enough to graze a couple feet away. I watched them the rest of the day and there were the occasional 'Move! *grumpy mare face, stalks her off two steps*', but nothing serious -- nothing like what had been happening at home for the last six months every time I tried to re-integrate Ari into the herd.

So my plan worked! And it was probably better that I wasn't there to wring my hands and stress about it while it was happening. Sometimes the most important part of the equation is to take me away from it and let someone else with an outside view who doesn't spend hours obsessing over the bad things that can happen inside her mind. My parents were both there, are both competent horsepeople (I mean, I did learn almost everything I know from them!), and they read the situation as well (maybe better than!) as I could have.

Less than 12 hours later, I saw this:

And then on Sunday morning, this:

I would say my plan to trick Bronwyn into loving Ari again was a resounding success!

I was originally planning to bring Rex this weekend...but I'm still having trouble catching Bronwyn so until that is going smoothly, I think he'll stay at the farm alone. It's good for him to eat a *little* humble pie (don't worry, I won't give him too much!), and I think it will go further toward cementing my herd back the way they were before. 

I fully admit to cheating by calling them to the gate a couple of times per day and feeding treats. At this point, with the ground wet in some spots and uneven in others, and myself in as bad of shape as I am, I don't have the physical ability to push her around the field until I catch her (though I do think my fitness is improving as it's downhill a bit from the house to the paddock and if I walk out the paddock at all, I'm out of breath when I come back!), so I am okay with re-establishing our relationship with the currency she understands: food. If we were at a different place in our relationship (instead of so out of touch that I couldn't even say I've consistently seen/handled her biweekly for the last six months or so), I absolutely wouldn't do this. But right now (and especially with hubby extra nervy about me getting kicked last week!), I have to do the best with what I can, and that's lure her and bribe her. Once our working relationship is re-established, I'll have different expectations, but I do feel like I'm starting from scratch all over again at this point.

She does come in close and will eat out of the palm of my hand, but I haven't made a grab for her yet. I'd like to get to her shoulder and scratch a few times before I make an attempt to catch.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Guess What?! (And Amanda Learns A Lesson About Complacency)

Thaaaat's right! Ponies (some of them) are here at the new house. We moved in on the 23rd and my dad, bless him, has been working tirelessly to get the pasture ready. I've always said I wanted to be able to see my horses from my kitchen window...and tonight, as I was getting dinner ready, I could see them from there!

We've been having some herd dynamic issues since Ari came home in November, but I'm hoping the new land will level the playing field a bit better. So in anticipation of what issues we may have, I decided to bring Ari and Jessie, who get along well, first, and give them a chance to get comfortable with the area and the fence. We will give them a couple days and try to introduce Bronwyn on the weekend. Bronwyn will chase Ari a bit, but will stop eventually, and just make stinky eye as long as there's enough feed. We are hoping they'll assimilate into their own little herd, though.

Rex will come along a bit later. I'm hoping the combination of him being absent from 'the herd' for the week and him being alone for a week might make his introduction smoother. He is a jerk (there's a reason I refer to him as my 'pretty asshole') in the pasture and he would give pretty significant chase to Ari. If Bronwyn makes a herd with Ari and Jessie, she'll protect Ari from the outsider -- just hoping a week makes him the outsider. I prefer to have a mixed herd to minimize buddy dependency, but if I can't make that work, we'll put the two mares (siiiiiisters, they share the same sire) in a separate paddock from my two idiot children.

I would be lying if I said I hadn't thought about selling Rex more than once this week. Based on the complications he poses to my herd dynamic and also...Tuesday, he kicked me.

It wasn't that long ago I said to G that I had never been kicked by a horse, and I worked around my own very comfortably and never worried about it. And then, of course, because I said that...

I was having Ari trimmed in the alley behind the straight stalls Bronwyn and Rex stand in. I was standing on the correct side of her with Ari between Rex and I and then the trimmer asked me to swing her butt a little bit to make it easier for her to access. Then I crossed in front of her and turned my back to Rex to ask Ari to move. I barely realized he got me until afterwards when I saw both my trimmers (my regular and her awesome apprentice) giving me the 'omg' face. He hit me in the buttcheek, thankfully, and it wasn't hard enough to even leave a bruise or a sore spot. But mark that -- the first time I've ever been kicked. It wasn't his fault - he definitely wasn't kicking AT me - he shouldn't have kicked but I also shouldn't have stood there and turned my back.

Of course, this makes G anxious. I'm 21 weeks pregnant and of course we would be devastated if anything happened to harm our unborn child. I had to remind him that this is something I've done my whole life and the reason this happened this time is because I had gotten too comfortable and wasn't paying attention. Because he's not a horse person, I get that it makes him nervous, but I reminded him to trust me - this is something I've done forever.

I'd be lying if I said it didn't make me question my ability and maybe my clarity of mind since I've been pregnant, but deep down I know I can still do this, I just have to do it smarter and eliminate as much risk as I can. And fortunately, I have mom and dad close by to help out when I need it. 

(As a side note, I had my first OB appointment today - I was worried after hearing horror stories that I would have a bad time because I've gained a pretty significant amount of weight, but the experience turned out to be way easier and less stressful than I imagined. I have been fortunate to this point to have health professionals that listen to me and trust that I know my body, but I always worry the next corner will bring me someone who sees the number on the scale and doesn't hear what I'm saying. I was pleasantly surprised. And, as the ultrasound technician last week noted, we have a crazy active baby. I told the tech the baby is practicing for rodeo - kicking their fat stubborn pony. :) )