My First “Heart Horse”…

Happy Sunday!
I hope this weekend has been restful for everyone who reads this!
After a tear-jerking story from Miss Anne Leueen from Horse Addict about her gorgeous horse Tommie, I was “inspired” to write and share my own story of a horse that has forever changed my life.


I can’t remember exactly when I met him, but I remember my first time really noticing him because I wrote about it. It was December 31th of 2014. My sister and I went to our neighbor’s barn and she asked if we wanted to brush one of her boarder’s horses. Of course, we jumped at the Chance (and you’ll see why the “C” is capitalized soon enough). Miss J brought him out of the barn and I immediately liked this horse that was walking toward my sister and me. I mean, he was a horse so of course, I liked him, lol!
He was put in the wash rack and Anna and I got to work at grooming him. He was dirty, as all horses are, and he soon put his head down and began sleeping as we curried, brushed and picked out his feet. As we groomed him Miss J explained a little bit (no pun intended, lol!) about him.
His name was Chance. He was an Off-Track-Thoroughbred (discovered later on because of complicated matters), and he was around eight or nine years old, a little over 16hh’s tall.
As she explained things about him my sister and I listened eagerly.
Then when Anna walked into the barn to ask Miss J if she wanted us to put him in his stall or paddock I stayed back with Chance to finish off his grooming, giving his already gorgeous coat the last touching-up of shining.
Then it happened. My stomach flipped with what felt like a million butterflies. I looked at Chance and he looked into my eyes and I suddenly “knew”. Let me know if you have ever experienced a feeling of butterflies with the horse of your dreams. And when I went home that day all I could think about was the look that Chance and I gave each other. It was nothing like I had ever felt before and I never stopped thinking about it.
Every time we went to the barn I would immediately go to say hi to Chance first, tell him I missed him, which I did whenever I wasn’t around him. And every single time we would leave the barn I would tell Chance that I would be seeing him next time.
Then one day Miss J said that he bucked his owner off and she sprained her ankle. Soon after that his owner contemplated putting him up for sale or not.
Is it awful of me that I prayed for Chance to be put up for sale after that?
I had been using the first couple months that I met Chance coming up with plans and putting aside money to buy him, up for sale or not. And at this point, I spoke with my mother about buying him and I just had to talk to my father about it before I really took the “first step”.
Anna and I visited the barn very often and one day as we groomed Chance I did what I never thought I would do because I always thought it “weird” (I never experienced a love for a horse that I felt for Chance at this point): I kissed Chance’s nose and, again, I got the butterflies feeling in my stomach. Looking into his eyes I knew he knew that I loved him.
I whispered into his ear that I loved him and he flicked his ear back to listen to me.
I was determined that even though he bucked his owner off and bucked more after that that I could change him. I studied horse training and watched countless training videos, took notes, talked to my now sister-in-law who has owned and trained horses before, asking her for advice on what to do first. I found trainers that I could send him to while I took lessons to brush up on my horsemanship skills so he could get figured out.
Miss J had told us that Chance was officially up for sale and I squealed in happiness when I got home having heard the news. So I continued my research, continued to educate myself in horse training, horseback riding lessons and spending several hours a day daydreaming about what I would do with Chance when he was officially mine. I wanted to do try Jumping and a little bit of Dressage, but mostly just trail ride until I got skilled enough to try anything else.
Then one day Anna and I went to the barn and Miss J said that she was given Chance by his owner.
I won’t lie and say that I was very excited when I heard the news. I was very disappointed discouraged and I literally felt my heart rip in two when I was home afterward. And I would also be lying if I said that I didn’t cry that night.
Afterward, though, I realized that it was for the best that I hadn’t bought Chance because seeing how happy Miss J was with him, I couldn’t possibly stay disappointed and upset. So I always told myself that no matter what Chance would always be near me and I could see him often and he would be at the barn forever. Plus, being Miss J’s horse, so many things were found out about him (both in his health and bloodlines) that no one could have ever found out except Miss J. Turns out, he practically had royalty coursing through his veins!
June 4th of 2016 my sisters and I went to the barn and met Miss J’s leaser of Chance. Chance wasn’t feeling all too well that day; he was kinda down and Miss J said he was coming down with what she thought was a cold the day before. Nothing that he won’t recover from, she was positive. Before leaving that day I looked at Chance in his stall and said “Goodbye, Chance. I hope you feel better, buddy.” And then I left.
I cried the next day when I was told that Chance was put down that night. I cried because the last words I said weren’t “I love you, Chance,” but “Goodbye”. I cried for Miss J; she had already lost two of her horses under a year of each other.
We still don’t know what happened to Chance. He simply took a turn for the worst. Miss J said she had never seen a horse so sick before putting him down, and she told us afterward that even if she didn’t choose euthanasia that Chance wouldn’t have been able to be one hundred percent “normal” again. He wouldn’t have been comfortable; he probably wouldn’t have been ridden again; he wouldn’t be able to enjoy life like he did when he wasn’t sick.
And even as I cry as I write this, Miss J made the best choice anyone could ever make for their horse with little chances: she put him down. He was no longer in any pain anymore and could enjoy running in wide open pastures that had no limits.
Chance couldn’t have had such an amazing owner as Miss J. She always puts her horse’s needs before hers and works her tail (again, no pun intended!) off to keep them comfortable and happy.
Chance taught me to love every horse you come across, even though it might never truly be a horse you can call yours. He taught me to take every minute you have with horses and soak it in and never let it go. He taught me what it really meant to have a Heart Horse.
I will always remember you, Chance and all that you have taught me. I will take everything I learned from you and apply it to my first horse when I buy it in the future.
How much it pains me to write this, it was his time. No matter who owned him, what could have been done to save him, it would have always been his time to go.
You will never be forgotten, Chance. You are always in my heart as my first Heart Horse♥
DSCN5273

Kindness…

Hello, bloggers!
I know that I have not blogged about any lessons I’ve had lately, but I will not be riding for probably the next two weeks due to a whole bunch of certain things going on in my family in the upcoming two weeks.



I was thinking about something this morning while I was working in the barn and hosing down/vacuuming my brother’s car out (yes, I’m that type of sister to do that for my brother! Lol!) and that was “Am I a kind person“?
It sounds weird and you’re probably thinking why I would think about something like that, but after you just get home from work, kittens are sleeping and you’re vacuuming a car out anything comes to mind that starts you thinking.
Have you ever had one of those moments when you ask yourself if you’re a specific person? In this case, kind?

kind·ness
[ˈkīn(d)nəs]

 
NOUN
  1. the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate

Well, I asked myself that as I hosed my brother’s car off. 
I have never really thought of myself as a kind person. And I don’t mean that in a way of not being nice. I mean I just never thought of myself as being kind a lot of the time.
My brothers and sisters? They are so kind. 
My father and mother? Kind; both of them so, so much.
Elisabeth Elliot? She was kind.
I have never met them before, only read their book, but Anna Sophia and Elizabeth Botkin? They are kind young Christian women.
Paster B’s wife at Church? She is incredibly kind.
But for me? Nah. At least not in my mind. 
Just a couple weeks ago my brother was talking to me and said that he and his wife (my sister-in-law) were talking about me the night before. He said that they spoke of what a kind heart I have. My initial reaction was “What? Me? Kind?” I even said, “You think I have a kind heart?”
I kinda had a panicking moment because if you have siblings then you understand that when they say they have been talking about you, you kind of panic and say “Why? What did I do?” Lol! Have you experienced that with your sibling(s)? 
It never occurred to me that my actions would come to look kind, not that I am ashamed of that though! Lol. I never put myself in the category of being generous, considerate and I can be far from friendly in certain situations. I prefer to not socialize outside of my close-knit circle of family and handful of friends, thank you very much. I literally cannot put myself out in a crowd and be like “My name is so and so and I want to strike up a conversation about *insert certain category*” You know what I mean? It literally makes my stomach turn to simply go out in public and possibly have to talk to a cashier or someone that I have never met before. Pretty bad, I know.
When my dog had to be put down back in late May of this year, my sister-in-law said to me a few days later “You really have a kind heart, you know. You took such good care of Harley [my dog] even though she was so old.” Harley was seventeen years old. Yeah. Not lying.
Whenever I would give Harley her dinner or brush her or simply give her a bath I never thought of it being so much of a kind act; I was only thinking that Harley had done so much for my family in keeping us safe and being such a good dog that the least thing I could do was to keep her as comfortable and loved as possible. It never occurred to me that it might be a kind act until my sister-in-law said something about it. She also said that I was very patient, but that is another topic for another post, lol! Far am I from being patient! Lol!
There are very few things that make the kindness subject sink in, and the number one Thing is GOD’s Word. I guess I always prayed to be given kindness and I was, but I just kept my eyes from being able to see it.
I struggle with “loving others”, and that’s probably where I need to incorporate the kindness in me that everyone seems to be seeing except myself.

Matthew 22:26-39
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”
Jesus said to him, You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
 “And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

But being kind doesn’t mean to become obnoxious about certain things.
I am more considerate than you.”
I am more generous than you.”
I am more friendly than you.”
Do you remember what happened to Satan when he said “I” so many times? If you are not familiar with it, then read Isaiah 14:13-14 then  Ezekiel 28:17 and then Luke 10:18.
Satan was/is a very prideful being who wants to corrupt everyone, especially us Christians to sin. He wants to enclose us so that we can never get out.

But anyway, I guess what I am trying to say is that I will try to open my eyes to see the kindness that others are seeing in me, even though I don’t necessarily see it myself.
I trust my family when they tell me something, and if they see kindness in me then I will work to grow that kindness even though I don’t feel very kind, friendly, generous or considerate most of the time.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post today.
I challenge you to do something kind for someone this week, whether that be complimenting someone you know or a stranger, baking something for your family or simply doing something around the house that your mother or father needs to be done that you can do to help them. Let me know what your kind act is/was!
Mine is this, right now: Even though I have never met any of you before, I will be praying for you!
I hope you are having a wonderful Tuesday!
Happy trails and GOD bless!

A Word Of Inspiration…

I know that this post is going to be super, super short, but I wanted to show y’all something that I just found and thought was very encouraging. I hope you feel the same way about it that I do if you are a beginner rider like me…

Inspiration

I hope you had a wonderful and relaxing Saturday, everyone! My Saturday included caring for four abandoned kittens my brother found Thursday night! They are super fluffy and adorable! I could cuddle all day long with them, just as long as they do not go to the bathroom on me although they already have countless times! Oh well. Working around horses doesn’t just harden you to not feel grossed out about the only things horses do, does it?!
I hope you have a wonderful weekend, everyone!
Happy trails! 

Exciting Beginnings & Bittersweet Endings…

Hello, everyone!
I pray you are having a wonderful Thursday so far!
Today is the type of day that I decided to sit down and just write. But it won’t be about horses, although this blog is supposed to be about what I learn from horses on a daily basis! Ha, ha!



I just finished the wonderful Chronicles Of Narnia series but C.S. Lewis, and oh my. The last three chapters of The Last Battle almost had me in tears. Totally not even joking; I’m being so honest here. The realization of finishing the books and the feeling of “I’m done” never really leaves you. It’s like after you finish watching a really good television show that is suddenly canceled after only four seasons (been there, done that!), and that horrible feeling of knowing that it can never be the same again creeps into you.
Even though I have seen all the movies (the BBC version is still the best, no matter what!) I had never exactly read the books until a few months ago. I decided to sit down with The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and escape to the wonderful land of Narnia.
Ever since I was little I have always dreamed of going to Narnia. Like, you have no idea how many times I prayed, begging to be sent to Narnia to aid Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy in their battles. What I would have been good for considering that I am terrible at shooting bows and sword fighting, I have no idea.
And some people might think that it is weird that I still want to go to Narnia. Every so often I’ll ask my nieces “Are you going to go to Narnia with me?”, to which they reply “Yes!”
Every day I wish that I could go to Narnia. I see certain things outside and think “That reminds me of Narnia” and then I go into my whole thought process of what I would do if I was suddenly thrust into Narnia right then and there. Yeah. That’s how I work.
My sister bought my sisters and I the Unofficial Narnia Cookbook by Dinah Bucholz for Christmas one year and I feel more connected to it than I did before reading the books. As I flip through the pages and read the delicious recipes inside I’m constantly wanting to go camping and live like Narnians for a week. Literally. Just the other day I made homemade sandwich bread and the egg salad recipe from the book simply because I read in The Last Battle that King Tarian ate an egg salad sandwich after Jill Pole and Eustace Scrubb rescued him when they were brought back to Narnia (P.S. Not a spoiler alert! It says it on the back of the book!).
My favorite books of all are The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, and The Horse and His Boy. I think the reason for the first book because it all starts with four siblings, and I come from a big family (9 siblings in total, to be exact!) so I can relate to having brothers and sisters. And The Horse and His Boy because I work around horses and ride them and the fact that Bree (the Horse) can talk makes me fall in love with not only that book even more, but also fall in love with horses so, so much more then I did before reading that book.
Narnia 1
How true that is C.S. Lewis! Maybe I shouldn’t think about wanting to go to Narnia and will finally happen to me! Ha, ha!
I have always been the type of person to love adventure and anything that has to do with anything battles, close encounters, and literally everything roaming around the forest! I’m bad now about liking to walk around in the woods, but I fear how much worse better it will change when I am finally able to buy my first horse! If that makes sense, ha, ha!
I will admit that the newest movies are wonderful, though. The cast that portrayed every character embodied them perfectly. I mean, seriously; is Lucy not what you imagined she looked like in the 2005 version? And the music! How I feel so much more connected to the music as well!
You simply 
must listen to Imogen Heap’s Can’t Take It In, both the film version and the album version. Cue the tears from me every single time I listen to the song now that I have read the books and seen the movies!
The music is enough to make you cry, let alone the books themselves!
C.W. Lewis will always be remembered, and I thank him for giving me such an amazing story to believe in, because in his words about Narnia: ↓
Narnia 2
And I most certainly believe!


But anywho, this post was random, I know. But I just felt like I needed to acknowledge the fact that these books have forever changed my life, both spiritually and also my horse-life (read The Horse and His Boy to understand!).
I cannot describe what I fully want to say about Narnia, so I will just end this post here.
And with such an exciting beginning to such a wonderful book series comes a bittersweet ending.
The best things about books, though, is that you can go back to them every time you need to go somewhere to escape. So in reality, I never will leave Narnia, no matter how old I get♥
Final Narnia

Sometimes It’s Hard…

Happy Sunday, everyone!
I know that I didn’t post sooner my ride this week, but here it is!
I rode F and we started out with walking outside of the arena a couple times to start things up.
We were trying to beat the heat, so my lesson didn’t really feel very long to me, ha, ha!
We walked around for a few minutes and I was pretty stiff, sending that to F and making him shorten his gait because in his mind I was asking him to halt, when in reality I was asking him to walk. Ugh! Beginner struggles, ha, ha!
It’s funny; when we walked by where F spooked last week I kinda tensed up and got a little nervous, to which Miss H laughed and said, “I could see it in your face that you were worried about that. But if you worry about something that most likely isn’t there, then the horse will feel that there really is something to be afraid of when there exactly isn’t.” But thankfully that feeling of “He’s going to spook again” didn’t really come back too much to haunt me *wink*.
After warming up and shaking myself around to loosen up (it helps!) we moved into trot work.
I kept tightening with my knees and made F’s gait slower than what it should have been and afterward Miss H said that I was accidentally causing him to go into a collected trot (whoops! My bad!) which was making it harder for me to post to. I kinda felt both really good about being able to do that and also kinda bad about it; I have no idea why, though! Ha, ha!
But I was able to post pretty well and we ended the lesson on a good note so that I could remember the feeling of what correctly posting is supposed to feel like. I shall try my hardest to remember for the next time I ride!

And because I didn’t want this post to be too short, I decided to blog about something that has been on my mind for a long time now. Forgive me if I cannot find the proper words.
Being a new rider comes with so many new learning of different things, and with that so much wisdom from those around you telling you how they learned to do this or that. But also, for someone especially like me, there are really good days and really bad days. And I’m not talking about riding in general. I’m talking about the fact that most beginners like me do not start out their riding journey with a horse of their own.
Again, some days it’s really easy to just say to myself “Okay, I can ride once a week on my instructor’s horse. It’s part of the journey!” And then there are other days when I am so discouraged because I can’t practice on the days that I don’t have a lesson. I’m not trying to sound ungrateful at all, but when I constantly hear “It would be a lot easier if you had a horse of your own to practice on in between lessons” it really makes me feel like a failure, and don’t ask me why.
Maybe it’s because I look at my instructor and my neighbor and think “You can at least work on your riding more than once a week.” For someone without a horse of their own, I find it very difficult.
Sometimes it’s hard. It’s hard to realize that I don’t have a horse of my own.
I watch several people on Youtube who has horses and train them and they look at the horses they have and say “I wish I could just sell this horse. I don’t even like riding him; he’s just not even pretty.” To someone like me, your horse is drop-dead gorgeous! And you want to sell him because he simply “isn’t pretty enough”. And that discourages me probably even more because here I am working my tail off (no pun intended! lol!) for my horse and you have several horses and want to sell one because he doesn’t have the right shade of brown on his coat.
*Sigh* I get discouraged very easily about things like these and I seriously cry about it sometimes because no matter what I do I always feel discouraged when I hear the words “It would be a lot easier IF…”
I guess that that just makes me work harder.
And that’s what I encourage you to do if you do not own a horse and are reading this: work hard. It’s all you can do really.
I’m sorry that this probably turned into a rant of some sort; I truly didn’t mean it to.
But something that I want you to remember is to stay encouraged, no matter what makes you feel discouraged. In the words of Dory: ↓

DORY

And that’s all you really can do.
Happy trails!

Beat The Heat

Hello, fellow equestrians!
I hope you are having an awesome week so far; I know I have been!
What did y’all do for Independence Day? I relaxed and did literally nothing, which was well needed!
Today is super, super hot out and so I figured that it was only perfect that I made a post on how to beat the heat of these hot summer days, especially when you are at the barn working or riding. You know, because air-conditioned barns are so rare, ha, ha!
When Anna and I were working today I could feel the heat take its toll very slowly but not to the point of getting heat exhaustion or heat stroke. It was just my body telling me “It’s time to slow it down a bit or else”. So thankful for barn fans in the stalls though!
People who live in the South can understand that the summer can get very bad here, and today was 96.1 degrees Fahrenheit with 65% humidity which made it feel like it was 123 degrees Fahrenheit! Yikes!
So hydration is your number 1 priority right now, especially when you are working in the sun trying to get the heavy cut grass out of the pastures as quick as possible.
I will share what I do to beat the heat in the sweltering Southern heat during the summer.

#1. Stay Hydrated. Drink tons of water. I usually mix coconut water into my water bottle because coconut water is more hydrating than water itself. Also, drink lots of Gatorade to replenish the lost electrolytes you lose when you sweat.
I also mix coconut water into my Gatorade to give myself the extra “WAM!” of hydration.

#2. Wear Cool Clothing. Don’t go to the barn wearing a sweatshirt in the summer! Work, ride and visit in loose, light clothes such as tank tops (I roast in t-shirts, so I do not recommend them in the summer!), riding tights, and wear your hair up out of your face and away from your shoulders. For those of you who have long, thick hair I totally feel the struggle of figuring out how to keep your hair out of your face and keep you cool. After cutting my hair after beginning working at the barn last year, my hair is finally long to put in a braid and keep out of my eyes as well as from sticking to my sweaty face. It’s a struggle. I feel your pain, ha, ha!
As for shirts, I have seen advertisements for a shirt brand called Ice Fil on Kerrits‘ website. I have never bought one of their shirts before so I cannot give a review on them, but they are supposed to lower your body temperature up to 5 degrees! Plus they have 30-50% UPF protection. If you do not want to pay too much money for a shirt, then I suggest getting a Dri-More tank top by Danskin. While they do not provide protection from the sun, they are very cooling and have a bright color variety at Walmart for only $5. But remember to choose a bright color to shoot the sun away from you instead of soaking in the heat like if you were wearing black.
You should also wear sunglasses to block the sun from your eyes and also a baseball cap if you are not riding.
Also, wear sunblock and bug spray to ward off the sun and the bugs!

Ice Fil tank top- $39.00. Only one of the several patterns available.


#3. Invest In A Good Water-Bottle. One that locks in the coldness of your water/Gatorade/coconut water, etc. Try going for a bottle that is sweating-resistant so that the inside of your barn bag isn’t wet! You can usually find pretty good bottles at Walmart or Amazon.com. Steel might be nice because plastic sometimes can leave a funky taste.

#4. Listen To Your Body. If you feel like your body is telling you something and it is swelteringly hot out, don’t just shove that thought aside! Listen to your body and what it is telling you and know the signs of heatstroke and heat exhaustion. Too many times do people not pay attention to their body and end up in the ER because of it. So please be careful and if something doesn’t feel right, sit down and drink water and don’t overdue it!

#5. Make Popsicles To Stay Cool. I just made my brothers popsicles for when they work outside today and I’ll share my recipe with y’all! Note: I never measure, like, ever, so I am going on a guessing game of how much I used in these, ha, ha!

Hydration Popsicles

1 cup watermelon cubes
5 strawberries cut in half
2 tbsp coconut water
1 tbsp coconut milk
1 tbsp white sugar (optional. It just helps them not taste “bland”)
1 generous squeeze of lemon or lime juice (whichever you like best. I used lemon juice because I didn’t have limes, ha, ha!)

Add everything to a blender and chop/pulse until well blended. Pour into popsicle molds, put into the freezer and set the timer for 20 minutes. Insert popsicle sticks into the center and freeze overnight.
Enjoy!
Note: You can even squeeze fresh lime juice over them as you eat them to give them that extra refreshing kick.

I hope you enjoyed this post today, and if you tried my popsicle recipe let me know how you liked them!
Happy trails everyone and safe riding in the heat of summer! 

 

Fight or Flight…

Happy Friday, everyone! I’m not sure about you but I sure am ready for the weekend!
This week has been so incredibly long and I found myself waking up this morning thinking to myself “why can’t it be Saturday?” Ha, ha! But I am not wishing the day away at all, as I hope you are not either, no matter what you’re going through today because in each day there is always something good; you just have to look for it. I want you to remember that when you’re having a rough day. It could simply be the blue sky, the sunset, something out in nature (for some reason I feel weird writing the word “nature”. I have no idea why, though!) or even a bird you see outside your window. There is always something good about every day.
Before I go into today’s post, I wanted to give a shout-out to those of y’all who have viewed my blog and have come back to read my posts. It means a lot to me and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
So, today Anna and I went to the barn and did our usual “thang” (Walking Dead fans will understand that reference, ha, ha!). Right as I finished A’s stall and heading to G’s stall Miss H told me to go ahead and quit there so I could get ready to ride before the weather got too hot. And while she got F ready to ride, Miss H had me use a specific chair to help loosen up my hips and pelvis. *Note: I have a very tight pelvis and my hips can be super, super tight and uncooperative, hence why I do Yoga to help with my riding (to which it does help!).
After loosening up and preparing myself for today’s lesson with less confidence and excitement that I probably should have had, I boot my boots and half-chaps on and led F out to the arena.
Miss H came out and I mounted, and we were off. I felt a little stiff in the beginning which, again, is normal for me but after using the chair I think that doing the specific exercises helped me tremendously.
Miss H had me drop my stirrups and do a bunch of Bicycles, Scissors and then a few Ankle Circles because I kept locking my ankles trying to keep my heels down and it was causing my whole body to tense up and slow F’s movement. After doing those I felt much deeper in the saddle and my stirrups actually felt too short, which is a good sign of me stretching down deeper in the saddle! I felt pretty nicely balanced, which is surprising to me considering that before I got ready to ride I had tripped several times over myself, ha, ha! I guess that Equestrians have much better balance on horseback then when walking on the ground! Would you agree?
After walking around for a bit, Miss H said it was time to trot which I wasn’t expecting today, especially considering last week’s lesson (go to the previous post to read about it). But I most certainly did not object to trotting today! It took me a few circles to fully get back into it, but I finally did and I had a really good time. Then Miss H switched the lunge line to the other side and we were walking in a circle to the left. We asked F for a trot and he started trotting off happily.
One thing I noticed about F today is that when he gets to trot and he goes into a walk he seems super excited and ready to go. I love that about him!
Nobody saw any warning signs for something in the woods spooking F. Yeah. He went flying to the left away from whatever scared him. I lost both my stirrups, the bucking strap broke when he went flying and I grabbed it, and all I heard was Miss H saying “Sit back! Sit back! Don’t lean forward!” At this point there was nothing she could do but tell me what to do and wait it out. And it wasn’t until the very end when it was over that I leaned forward, and do you know what? I DIDN’T FALL! I STUCK IT! WOOHOO!
Once I realized what happened I leaned forward and stroked F’s neck and told him that he was okay. So needless to say, I feel pretty amazing right now! Ha, ha! If something makes you feel like you could do anything it’s sticking a pretty big spook on an enormous horse and I did!
And guess what? We kept going at my lesson and successfully trotted twice more before ending it on a good note!
Afterward, I praised F so much because he was such a good boy, even during his spook, and all I could think about was the meme below.

Horse Meme

Yeah. Not sure if F planned that spook, but I sure did learn how to handle that type of situation and how important it is to be the leader your horse needs.
Balance is an amazing thing and if I had not done the exercises to deepen my seat in the saddle I probably would have fallen off, although I did feel like I was going to fall towards the end of his spook, ha, ha!
Miss H explained to me afterward that, yes, something spooked F and his response was to protect himself and to also protect me as his rider. He recognized me as his leader and knew that he needed to keep me safe, and the safest place was to be away from whatever thing he spooked at.
And that is the most incredible feeling I have ever felt in my riding journey so far. I was able to establish enough of a bond with F that he knew he had to keep me safe and look to me for guidance and even though he spooked, he kept me safe and did what I asked afterward and completely forgot about whatever spooked him in the woods.
I’m so proud of F and his willingness to listen to me, a beginner. He did so well and taught me how to handle a spook and what to do after one.
It’s going to sound crazy, but the spook actually gave me an adrenaline rush! It was quite fun to ride his spook! Imagine Dragons‘ song Whatever It Takes comes to my mind right now, ha, ha!
Horses are “fight or flight” creatures, meaning that they will either fight when something is threatening them or run away from the threat because they are very much prey animals; easy targets. In mine and F’s case, he ran from the “threat” (whatever that was! ha, ha!) to keep himself and myself safe from it by running from it. And, again, I am so proud of him for handling it so well!
Miss H also told me that on a smaller horse it wouldn’t have felt really big, but because F is so big it was a big spook!
Afterward, when I was hosing F’s legs down from an anti-fungal shampoo I could see it in his eyes that he almost held more respect towards me. Not that he didn’t before, but it was just different. You know what I mean? He just seemed to look at me like “you’ve proved yourself to me that you’re a worthy enough leader to keep me safe”. And I’m never going to forget that look. Ever.
It felt so good to see that look in his eye.
So that was my lesson today. I hope you enjoyed reading it, and thank you so much for taking the time to.
I’d love to hear about what you’re doing with your horse this week!
Happy Trails, everybody!

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This picture I took kinda reminds me of Jack & The Beanstalk! Does it remind you of that too?

 

 

Four Steps Back…

I will be the first one to say that I have rides that I come away very disappointed with at the end of the day. When I rode yesterday, I kind of left the arena with my head hanging low and feeling very discouraged. Not everything goes really well forever; there are days when everything happens just the way you want and then others when the rain just keeps coming down without any let-up. And that was my week (quite literally because we got a downpour of rain every single day for the past week and a half!)
My sister and I got to the barn and I waited for Miss H to let me know when to get F ready. He was really good when I was grooming him and tacking him up, even when I brushed his ticklish spot near his belly. I put his saddle pad on, his saddle, girthed him up; he was practically ready to go except for no bridle on. Then Miss H came in the barn and said that the saddle was looking too far forward. I was thinking that as well, but I just kept telling myself, “No. It’s not too far forward.” *Slaps hand to face in shame*
New Rider problems, 2017 edition…
After she fixed the saddle it was time to get on. Mounting was really good. I had done a lot of what Miss H usually asks out in the arena if I’d done already; such things as lengthening the stirrups down one hole, etc.
I got on and I felt really, really excited. Started walking and I was a little tense, but nothing that doesn’t go away in the beginning for me anyway. But after about twenty minutes I was still tense. We halted, well, I would hardly call it “halting”. Yeah. That was my first “halt” of the day. Didn’t end very nicely, for me anyway.
Miss H helped loosen my legs up by swinging my legs back and forth in the saddle, had me drop my stirrups when we started walking again to feel how important it is to stay loose.

Your legs are supposed to be snuggled on the horse’s sides like a wet towel instead of clenched on for dear life

Reading and saying that is a whole lot easier than actually doing it, for a beginner like me at least.
So we spent the rest of the lesson doing circles, halting, trying my hardest to loosen up so F’s gait would be long and relaxed. We never got to trot because Miss H was wanting me to loosen up and allow F to do the same. He could feel my Negative Tension!
So after I finished my lesson I walked F back to the barn and untacked him and hosed him down, all the while Miss H was telling me how I need to go back to the lunge line fully again until I can have the ability to loosen up and also be able to fully understand halting and communicating with the horse. I would be lying if I said that I did not feel in the least bit frustrated at myself for just not getting it.
Miss H told me not to feel frustrated at myself because at the Spanish Riding School the students spend the entire two years on the lunge line in order to achieve the perfect seat and looseness. I have been riding for one year and have been off the lunge line quite a few times and feel more confident then I did when I first started riding, although I still have my “I’m going to fall and die!” moments. Everyone has those, I know this, but it is nonetheless very hard for me to overcome these struggles.
After F was put back in his stall and I gave him many treats to thank him for his patience and how much of a good boy he was through it all, I started to clean the tack and Miss H called me over to look at the saddle. She said there were clear marks from where I was gripping with my legs and said that we were just going to work on it all in the saddle and that it takes a long time to achieve the appropriate looseness and Positive Tension in the saddle. Even the best-of-the-best riders still have trouble sometimes, she told me. I just have to work on it for a while until I get it, and won’t be able to go anywhere else until I do.
Bless Miss H’s heart; she’s so patient, kind and gentle when it comes to when I ride. Even if I think I have a not-so-great lesson she always tells me as I leave the barn: “You did a really great job today!” I so admire her for her positivity.
When my Mom picked Anna and me up from the barn I left with literally a cloud over my head. I felt beaten and kept trying to remember what Miss H said about not feeling frustrated at myself. I’m not going to lie though; it’s really hard not to feel frustrated when something finally clicks in your riding and you take an enormous step forward, and then something like being extremely tense and nervous makes you take four steps back and go back to square-one. I know I’ve already said it several times, but I am so discouraged. But all I can do is go into the next lesson with an open and ready mind and take whatever comes at me with a positive attitude.
Oh well. Everyone’s allowed to have one of those rides every now and again, right?
On a good note, I was able to halt F on the center-line of the arena. That might not be a huge accomplishment to some, but that is a pretty nice one for me!
One thing I have to remember is to always end any ride with something positive!
I hope that y’all are having a totally awesome weekend. What are you working on with your horse this weekend? I’d love to hear!
Happy trails! 

Thursday Thankfullness

Hello, Thursday! Bring on the weekend! Woo!
As I write this post, my cat, Figaro is currently sitting directly in front of the computer screen, so I am writing the beginning of this post with having to look around him to make sure I am not making any mistakes.
I decided that I wanted to come up with a blog series called “Thursday Thankfulness“. No, I did not get the idea from the typical Thanksgiving tradition in standing up and saying what you are most thankful for. This I came up with by myself. Instead of the “Thanksgiving Thankfulness,” I will be saying what I am most thankful for about our Heavenly Father.
Today I am thankful that GOD has a plan for my life, even though I have really no idea what that plan is. HE is always over a hundred steps ahead of me no matter what, and HE knows what’s going to happen next when I do not, and all I have to do is to trust in HIM through whatever happens. A lot easier said than done, I know.
I can speak through personal experiences that I didn’t always like trusting GOD and putting my faith in HIM, and the truth is that the more I tried to control the situation the more everything went out of control and the more stressed (both physically, emotionally and spiritually) I became. Then I realized that I couldn’t control anything and that everything is in HIS Hands. I just had to lay down my own control of the situation and give it all to HIM. And do you know what? I am so glad that I know that my life is in the Hands of Someone who actually knows what HE’S doing! I have no idea what I’m doing when I try to take the steering wheel! All I ever do is crash, recover slowly and then start all over again. But with GOD in the Driver’s Seat, I know that HE will drive me on a Straight Road. And for that, I am so thankful!
This road will not and is not easy, but I can put my trust in GOD and what HE plans to do in my life.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths. (NKJV)

What are you thankful for this week? I’d love to hear!

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Rain & Riding…

Ah, yes. The rain has begun, and the thunder and lightning have been here all week long. Lovely…not really for someone who (for as long as I can remember) has been afraid of thunder and lightning since I was little.
This month my theme song for the weather is Thunder by Imagine Dragons.
The morning started out with going to the park with my sister-in-law and niece to play before the really bad weather came, and right as we were leaving literally ten minutes later, the downpour started. Driving over the Bay was not fun. We literally couldn’t see more than twenty feet in front of the car and add to that the windows were fogging up from the heat difference of four people in the car and the cold rain outside. So in between “Oh, my goodness; this is really bad!” we were wiping the windshield to be able to see. Yeah. Southern rain problems.
For those of you who live in the South, you know what I mean. What’s the worst weather you have experienced? Mine was during Hurricane Katrina. Mattresses up against the door, the radio on all night long and green and black skies, plus such powerful wind that literally blew you over. Yep. That was good ol’ Katrina.
Today, however, was not Katrina bad, although it was really bad. I consider not being able to see twenty feet in front of the car pretty scary. Be Thou My Vision is the perfect Hymn for that situation…
Yesterday the weather cooperated enough to allow me to ride. As I walked F (my lesson horse) into the arena I really only had one thought: I’m so excited to ride! Remember the post I did on Positive Thoughts VS Negative Thoughts? *wink*
First off, can I just say that F is such an incredible lesson horse?!
I was a little tense, I will admit, but considering that I haven’t ridden in over two weeks I think that that is a given. My instructor had me do a bunch of exercises to loosen up and deepen my seat in the saddle: Zombie, Mummy (same as Zombie but only your fingertips are stretching out in front of yourself), Airplane, Pinwheel, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Freestyle Swim, and she even had me play the piano. Not literally, but she had me hold my hands in riding position, keep my thumb on my pointer, like usual, but move my middle, ring, and pinkie fingers at the same time like I was playing the piano, all the while keeping my thumb and pointer still. It worked in helping me loosen up.
We moved into the trot and it felt so good to post! It took me a few tries to get back into the groove of things, but towards the end, I was posting several circles in a row without stopping! Woo!
Then as I praised F for being such a good boy, Miss H was explaining the importance of Positive Tension VS Negative Tension. It’s basically the same thing as the Positive Thoughts VS Negative Thoughts but has some differences.

Positive Tension.
Relaxed body in both the rider and the horse. Enough Tension to allow
your joints to absorb the huge movement of the horse. Both horse and
rider are moving freely and are visibly relaxed.
Negative Tension.
Clear rigidness in the rider; legs are clamped on the horses’ sides instead
of just hanging there like a wet towel. Locked ankles, sending the horse
your tension and transforming him/her from a fluid horse to a tense,
rigid horse. Discomfort is clearly seen in both horse and rider and
moving freely is not even an option.

In order to receive Positive Tension in the saddle is not only spending hours in the saddle getting in lots of practice but also learning to be loose from early-on. When I first got on the back of a horse Miss H immediately had me doing exercises to loosen up. As I have said before, I have fear in my riding that really makes it difficult for me to truly be loose when I ride. Practicing looseness both in and OUT of the saddle is the perfect start to having Positive Tension IN the saddle. Make sense?
One of the many things that Miss H has told my sister and me to do is dance. Look at ballerinas and any dancer out there. They cannot be tense at all or else their dance is going to look…pretty awful. Replace that 
Negative Tension with Positive Tension and you have a beautiful, fluid dance. I have done enough Ballet in workouts to understand that you need even the tiniest bit of tension in order to dance correctly and not injure yourself. Same goes for riding.
Miss H also told me that, in other words: 

 

                                 “With Positive Tension comes great responsibility.”

 

Basically, whenever you ride, you are the leader and the horse is the follower.
Being a leader comes with a lot of responsibility. The horse is trusting you to watch over him and protect him if something bad happens, and if you are really tense and nervous (admit it; we’ve all been there at least once in our riding journey) then your horse is going to feed off of you and become nervous and tense as well. And we all know that a tense and nervous rider mixed with a tense and nervous horse really don’t mix very well. Oil and vinegar big time. So it is very important to be a good leader to your horse and also to send Positive Tension to him/her from yourself and have confidence that you can have those two important things while you ride. Does that make sense?
So my quote of the week is:

With Positive Tension comes great responsibility”


I hope that you will practice having Positive Tension in your riding this week whenever you ride. It really makes an enormous difference! It sends such good vibes to your horse you can enjoy your ride so much more!
What are you working on with your horse this week? Let me know in the comments if these exercises are helping you!
Happy trails!