Friday, August 12, 2016

Writing about Riding

I find myself struggling with this blog lately. Not due to lack of material. We've got plenty going on at the barn lately. This week, we've gone out a couple of times after work. On Tuesday, I rode Buttercup and Brian rode Stormy. Yesterday, I rode Stormy. Brian worked with King and his owner.

King? Buttercup? Stormy? I have not mentioned any of these horses here before. They are not ours, but we're doing some work with them. Which is a bit ironic because we've never set out to position ourselves as expert horsemen. I know my level of skill at riding and handling horses is light-years behind the true masters of horsemanship I aspire to learn from.

And yet, it seems we frequently meet people who are struggling with their horses, and the things they struggle with are things we can easily help with. So we end up helping. And suddenly Brian and I both have multiple students, and we're putting time into horses that aren't ours.

In many ways, it's great. Every horse we can work with is an invaluable opportunity for new learning. And any person we can teach to get along with a horse even just a little better is a net gain to all. What's tricky is I don't necessarily feel comfortable writing publicly about the details of what we're doing. I don't want to say anything a student might read and misunderstand.

Because, really, that's the crux of it. It's so hard to talk and write about horses in a way that conveys the meaning you're after. This is true with teaching also, of course. It often takes multiple attempts and analogies to get an idea across the student. But with a student, you are there with them, in the same place. You've got a living, breathing horse providing instant feedback. You both know where you're starting from, and what your goals are.

The internet is a mushier place. It seems I often write or post things people misunderstand.

So much of it is context. It's like reading ads about sale horses. Perusing the classifieds, you'd think every horse is the same. "Very quiet. Soft on the bit. Moves off the leg. Good for the vet and farrier. 100% sound." And yet, anyone who has ever shopped for a horse knows the high probability of showing up and discovering one or more of these classic sale ad statements not to be "true."


The problem isn't that all horse owners are liars. The problem is "soft on the bit" is a subjective statement. What is soft? What is light? What is quiet? What is good? I know what these words mean to me, but there's no way to convey my understanding of them to another person through language alone.

So basically, I'm finding it impossible to say anything at all about a horse without leaving the door open for someone to come in and point out how my choice of phrasing is incorrect or inaccurate, or I'm not doing justice to the horse because I'm pigeonholing him by defining him with a certain term, or how if I did X differently, Y wouldn't be a problem anyway. This, of course, always comes from people who have never even seen me handle or ride a horse, much less observed the situation I'm writing about. And the vast majority are responding to what they think I mean, which is often light years off from what I'm actually trying to say.

The result is lately I feel stuck and exhausted the moment I sit down to blog. I find myself rereading every sentence I write for how it might be twisted into something I don't intend. After a while, I lose motivation to dodge my way through the proverbial minefield, and just don't post anything.

I started blogging about Steen all those years ago because I felt like I was learning a lot. Recording my experiences felt both fun and useful.

I still feel like I'm learning a lot, but increasingly I'm finding the things I learn very difficult to put into words.


Friday, May 27, 2016

A Navicular Diagnosis

When I started Piper in early 2015, she was sound. However, as we moved past the first few rides and got going a little, at times I felt she was a little off at the trot. It was always really hard to pin down, or even be sure of. Some days it was maybe, maybe there. Some days it definitely wasn't. It was never anything as distinct as a limp or a head bob. It was just this feeling I had that her movement was mildly inhibited, or a little hitchy at times. I could always come up with a plausible explanation. She is small, and wasn't yet used to carrying a rider. The sand in our arena is a little deep and uneven in places, so she had to work harder in those spots. She can get tense in new situations, and that leads to choppy or uncertain movement at times.


So, the spring turned into summer. When I started riding Piper outside the arenas, exploring the grassy pastures we like to ride in, she seemed much better. I thought she'd gained strength and confidence and whatever had been maybe a little wrong was a thing of the past.

Then, in late November, one day she was suddenly mildly but definitively off in the left front. We couldn't find any evidence of why. No injury, heat, bumps, swelling, sore spots, stone bruises. Nothing. We figured she'd strained a muscle or a tendon, and decided to give her some time off.

All through the winter, the problem would come and go. In January we had a few good rides with no sign of the problem. A few weeks later, I got on her back and felt it - this hitch in her step. So I got off again two minutes later. We tried TheraPlate treatments, massage, linament rubs. Nothing made any difference.

Finally, about a month ago, the horses got turned out into the bigger pasture. And suddenly Piper was limping even at the walk, even without a rider, even on grass. It seemed to get worse by the day. We still couldn't find any sign of why. We had the farrier look at her. He was perplexed. We called in a vet. And yesterday, Piper was diagnosed with navicular syndrome.


The causes of navicular are unknown, though there are plenty of theories. Piper is not a classic risk case. She wasn't even started (much less ridden hard or jumped) until she was five, and we rode her very lightly. She's a small horse, with good-sized feet that aren't excessively upright or narrow. But she is a Quarter Horse, and some Quarter Horses get navicular.

Navicular cannot be cured, but it can often be successfully managed. Looking back with the clarity of hindsight, I see that stickiness I felt on and off riding her last spring was probably the earliest signs of the condition. She's a textbook case. What starts as mild and intermittent offness progresses into a horse that's in constant pain.

While this is not good news at all, I feel oddly relieved to have a definitive answer and explanation for what's been a protracted and confusing situation. Now, at least, we can make informed choices about where to go from here. Fortunately, a shoeing strategy that lifts the heel to reduce pressure on the navicular bone can often help. So our next step is to get back with the farrier.

Horseback Hours YTD: 48:30

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Taking What's Offered

I thought I had a great ride on Nevada last Saturday, but Sunday's left it in the dust. Nevada and I had the kind of day together that leaves me grinning the whole way home. In the outdoor arena, we got great work done at all three gaits, and also continued our work with lateral movements.

The week was busy. We didn't get out to the barn again until Friday. It had rained, but the footing was ok in the outdoor arena, so we rode out there again.

The herds had just gotten turned out into the big pasture, which is wonderful, but this kind of change often gives rise to a little extra energy. When I got on Nevada on Friday, she was the most distracted she'd ever been outside - really wanting to stare at the horizon and the horses on the distant hillside. When we worked at the trot, it was the first time I ever felt her get a little forward, ahead of me, and unbalanced. So we worked on circles to balance her back out and after a little while she really settled. The ride wrapped up beautifully.


Saturday, it rained the entire day. Like, relentlessly. While we do have an indoor arena, when it's actively raining it gets so loud with the water falling on the metal roof it's pretty unpleasant in there. Multiple times Brian and I have rallied our enthusiasm on such days only to sort of end up wishing we'd stayed home. So we just skipped riding.

This morning things were still dreary, but we headed out early in hopes of beating another storm. We found the horses pretty happy to come in. Things were too sloppy everywhere to ride anywhere but inside.

Tacking up, Nevada flinched when cinched. Last year right around the period when she got explosive, she got super touchy about her girth area and flanks. So we rubbed her around there and she seemed fine. I'm pretty sure Piper is in heat, and while I haven't seen as much direct evidence with Nevada, we did think there was some connection to her trouble last year and her cycle.

She was fine with groundwork, so I got on, though she had another little moment of flinching when I touched her girth again. I explored the region more, and again she didn't seem bothered. As soon as I was on board, though, she felt more unsettled than I've ever felt her. When I'd barely nudge her with my calf to ask her to step over, she'd wring her tail. She didn't want to move out at first -- another behavior that preceded her bolting and bucking melt-downs with Brian last year. So I was pretty ready for things to get Western.

At the same time, though, I really didn't want to push her back over that edge. Steen has been Nevada's safety net since the day Brian got on her back for the first time, so we started off sort of following Steen and Brian around a little. Once she got going, she really wanted to keep moving. Brian suggested we practice some turnarounds when she got ahead.

So we played a super slow motion version of "cow." When Nevada got ahead of Steen, Brian would stop and step Steen's front around. I'd asked Nevada to do the same. Steen loves these games and gets super motivated by them. Nevada had never played one before. She got the idea quickly, and soon was giving me very light, fluid turnarounds, mirroring Steen. For a while I thought I'd misread all the signs, and she was totally fine.

We did that for a little while, then took a break. She spooked a minute later, hopping into the trot from a standstill when the wind gusted through the door. I was so ready for her to explode I just grabbed my night latch and settled in, but she only trotted about half a lap. I was able to softly bend her to a stop without further trouble.

We worked on more walking, bending, etc. for quite a while, and things stayed on edge. She was bothered by one end of the arena and by being on the rail. She prefers to watch the world out her left eye, so going in circles to the left she kept sagging through my leg and counter bending. At one point I decided I was one more sign away from getting off and doing more groundwork.

But then, she hopped into the trot of her own volition again when we were by the door. I decided just to take the trot and do some good with it. We trotted all over the arena for many minutes. Where I could get with her, I did so. Where I couldn't, we just worked on finding something positive - some yield, some give, some try. She came down bit by bit. Steen is like this also. Sometimes when he's all wound up and full of anxiety, the best thing is to just let him move out. None of our other horses have ever been quite the same. Many of them get more anxious if turned loose when troubled.

Today, though, it did the trick with Nevada. Our "togetherness" got more consistent. Soon I was able to start working in some lateral movements. Shortly after that, she remembered about my leg in left turns and not collapsing through it. After she settled, she was lighter to my legs than I've ever felt before.

After about 50 minutes had gone by, the trouble was a thing of the past. It's the perfect illustration of the kind of scenario I would have "gotten wrong" a few years ago. I used to think a nervous and distracted horse needed to be shut down, their attention brought back to me this instant at any cost. Because of this, I picked more than one fight that only achieved the opposite.

A year or two ago, we watched a few Joe Wolter videos that made such an impression on me. He was working with a couple really young, really energetic, really just-this-side-of-explosive mares. And he just kept talking about how you can take all the energy and you can oppose it or bottle it up and then you have a rough time and the horse has a rough time and if you're lucky you don't do any lasting damage. He said he preferred to take the energy and use it, and I was surprised at the number of little behaviors he didn't try to correct at all -- things I'd heard many trainers put in the category of "you can never, ever, let a horse get away with this." Because obviously horses who "get away" with these things turn into unruly monsters.


I've been thinking about this idea of taking what the horse can give for a long time, but I don't think I've ever had quite so clear an illustration of how well it can work. I've no doubt Nevada and I could have had our worst ride ever today. But we didn't. We actually had a great ride. By the end, all of the trouble was gone. She was soft, focused, lively, and happy. I was happy too. I never kicked, yanked, whacked, spurred, whipped, or got angry. I'm particularly encouraged by the way she held it together the couple times she got really close to the edge.

If this is Nevada on a bad day, I think we're going to continue to get along just fine.

Horseback Hours YTD: 42:25

Saturday, April 23, 2016

58 vs 580

I don't actually know how much time I've spent riding Steen. I started keeping track in 2011, and since then I've spent 580 hours on his back (this doesn't count the riding Brian has done). I can safely say I've spent vastly more time on Steen than any other single horse in my life.

Today, when I got off Nevada, I'd logged her 58th hour. That is, Brian has ridden her for 32 hours, I have ridden her for 26.

We rode today in the outdoor arena. The footing was a little softer than last time, and Nevada was happy to move out. We did more trotting than usual, which was super nice. She's got a great cadence and usually pretty good energy, but in my experience most horses struggle with motivation when ridden mostly in an indoor arena for months on end. It is so nice to be able to get her out into the world a little.


But the word comes with more distractions. Today she was a little stiffer on the hackamore at times. I worked on this in various ways. Then Brian mentioned Steen was a little nervy at some gaits (he's still not as settled with Brian as he is with me), and I told him lateral work often softens Steen up nicely. Then I realized I should be doing more lateral work with Nevada as well. So we did some leg-yields and side passes, and she just lightened up all throughout her body. We got glimmers of awesome collected movement for the first time.

Right now, we're at a point with Nevada that the basics are there, but still need reinforcement. Beyond that, we've put in the broad strokes of some more advanced skills. I'm sure plenty of horses who have 58 hours under their cinches have done a lot more, but given that Nevada is the first horse we ever started from absolute zero, I'm pretty please with how she's going. Today was definitely my best ride on her to date, but at one point I was watching Brian and Steen and I thought, "We're a long way from being that effortless."


But then, a few minutes later Brian turned around and talked about how he and Steen still have to work a bit to get totally aligned some of time. The difference is, Steen has over 600 hours of combined riding time, and Nevada has less than 60. It's hard to totally comprehend that kind of differential.

Horseback Hours YTD: 39:00

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Long Spring

Yesterday we rode outside for the first time since last fall. Usually we manage to get out earlier than this, but conditions were muddy the entire winter (excepting short stretches when it was bitterly cold), which means footing was really bad in all the places we usually ride.

Friday afternoon, however, I found myself sitting on Nevada in the outdoor arena, enjoying the feel of the afternoon sun on my skin and the ability to gaze into the distance. It was my first time on Nevada outside of the indoor arena, and only her 3rd of 4th time riding outside in her whole life. I'd already taught my Friday lesson and was feeling a bit worn out from some work drama that unfolded earlier in the day, but we had a nice time mostly working on the basics.


Today, we graduated from the arena to the strip. This was Nevada's first time being ridden in a space without a fence around it. I was a little 'ready' starting out. As quiet as she is, Nevada's got some life at times. I thought there was a chance the new environment would bring her energy up some. It did, but she wasn't nervous at all. We walked and trotted around for an hour with no drama at all. Of course things weren't quite as refined as they are in the indoor arena, but we got a lot of nice little movements, plus some good trotting.


With these two successes under our belt, I'm really looking forward to pushing our boundaries a bit more.

Horseback Hours YTD: 38:00

Saturday, March 19, 2016

A Different Ratio

A few days ago, Brian and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary. I got Steen roughly one year before we married, which means I've had Steen almost eight years. In that time, while we've had plenty of other horses as well and I've spent lots of time riding them, I've always spent more time on Steen than everyone else combined.

For the moment, that has changed. Here's my riding breakdown for 2016 so far:



This is the first year in recorded history I've spent the bulk of my saddle time on a horse other than Steen. Granted, it's only March. There's a solid chance things will shift back. Lately, though, I've been riding Nevada. Quite a lot.

For spring break this year, Brian and I decided to stay home. We didn't work, but we also didn't travel. We adulted a fair bit, doing things like yard work and getting my car to the shop and taking care of lots of the mundane tasks that always seem to get bumped off the bottom of the to-do list. But also, we've ridden horses every day except Tuesday. Which means, after tomorrow, I'll have put eight rides on Nevada in nine days.

Things continue to go really well with her. Her strength and balance have improved a lot in short order. Her walk and trot are solid. We've got cantering working in both directions, her stop is awesome, and all in all she's starting to feel pretty familiar when I swing my leg over her back. She's got over 50 hours of total saddle time under her belt now, 16.5 of those with me in the last few weeks. Her foundation is starting to solidify.

A photo posted by Robin (@aridingrobin) on

The last few rides, I've been adding in more lateral work, including some shoulder yielding exercises I couldn't get working with Steen until I'd had him for about six years. It's interesting, how much a young horse can do when no one has ever taught her to brace or be afraid. When Nevada gets stuck, if I just give her a little time she always tries something. And if it's not the right thing, she tries a different thing. She is the first horse I've ever ridden who has absolutely no defenses in place. She just has no idea that people can be unfair and harsh and confusing. She'd only been haltered a few times before she came to us, and since then only Brian and I have handled her.

To have a slate that clean to work with is pretty great, but it's also challenging in its own way. I don't want to be the first person who lets her down. Riding her is pretty different feel from dinking around on super steady Steen, who went through the ringer before he ever came to me, and who I have made mistake after mistake on while he patiently put up with my failures and progressed in spite of all the times I got in his way.


But spending solid time on Nevada has been super fun, too. A horse with no reason to be defensive learns very quickly. I can't believe how far we've come this week. Hopefully the early spring it looks like we might have will stick around and we can get her out of the arena and into the world a little bit soon.

Horseback Hours YTD: 28:00

Monday, March 07, 2016

Me and Nevada

Nevada is Brian's horse. He got her about a year and a half ago to train up as an eventual replacement for Bear. He got her started and going nicely. Then a combination of life and circumstances and a handful of rough rides got him a bit derailed. We figured out the saddle Brian was riding Nevada in didn't fit her well, but the saddle we had that fit her better has too small a seat for him. He has a hip that gets super sore and inflamed in certain kinds of seats, so he basically couldn't ride her. I rode her a few times in a different saddle and things went quite well. Brian had a new saddle on order so he figured he's just wait for that. But right when it arrived, Nevada injured her leg.

All of a sudden it was early 2016 and the horse that's supposed to turn into Brian's main mount is still super duper green. While we have a saddle that fits both her and him now, the explosions caused by the ill-fitting one were pretty significant. Brian rode through all of the crazy stuff with her, but then came off Laredo kind of hard in the fall (his first wreck in years). All that combined with having several months of barely riding at all left him feeling a certain lack of confidence. We talked it over and decided it might be better for everyone for me to take Nevada over for a while - get her going nicely again and hopefully settled into a good place.

I have spent 6.5 hours on Nevada's back this year, and they've been great. She's really an incredible horse. I'm probably biased, but I don't think it can be denied Brian did a fabulous job starting her. She's super soft, has a great attitude, and has learned to learn really well. This makes her super rewarding to work with. Beyond that, she's athletic, has great gaits, and is naturally a bit more on the forward side than both Laredo and Piper. I prefer horses with more life, so all this suits me just fine. No hint of whatever was bothering her a few months ago has surfaced, and we're feeling more confident together each ride.


Her leg injury caused her to learn to carry herself just a bit crooked, and she doesn't really want to engage behind on the left side sometimes. I've been building her up to bend and balance better bit by bit, and she's getting stronger already. On Sunday we had a nice canter for the first time since last year. When I first put a few rides on her after the times she exploded on Brian, she'd gotten pretty angsty about moving out in general. When asked to canter, she'd careen around at top speed, throwing in some kick-outs here and there. I was prepared for that this time too. Instead she just went into a super smooth, balanced gait. We did a lap and I eased her down to a stop. So, fingers crossed the hardest part about this is going to be giving her back to Brian when the time comes. Here's a little video of one of our early rides:



So that's the Nevada update. I'll do a quick run-down on everyone else too.

Steen

I've been able to leave Steen's blanket off for a few long periods, and his itching is much better. He has stopped rubbing new bare patches and his coat is even growing back in places. Still, he's not 100% over the problem. We had a cold snap recently. After a couple days watching him get notably skinnier every time we went to the barn, I caved and put his blanket back on. The itching came back a little over the next week, but now it's warm and he's naked again and he's already improving. I do think he's not going to be entirely over this until he gets rid of his winter coat.

They're so comfortable together they even get the yawns sometimes. 

Brian's been riding him quite a lot since I've taken over Nevada, and they're getting along really well. It's actually a pretty cool side effect that Brian suddenly has a reason to ride him regularly. Steen has always been so much my horse, and he's a super sensitive, highly emotional fellow to being with. Anyone else riding him gets him flustered. Not to the point that he acts out or can't do his job, but there is a level of refinement I get with him that Brian's never been able to feel. That's starting to smooth out now and they're working well together. It's neat to see. Here's another short video of them riding without reins:


Piper

Piper is still a little off. Whatever she did to her shoulder in the fall seemed to recover, but now it seems a little worse again. It's tough because she's not lame, exactly. It's more like she's got kind of a general weirdness to her locomotion that is difficult to trace to any one spot or issue. She's got no specific soreness or injury but something just isn't right. So we're mostly leaving her alone and hoping it will clear up on its own. The conditions in the pasture have been absolutely terrible for months. I don't think it's unreasonable to hope that as things warm up and the environment improves, she'll do the same.



Laredo

Laredo is the big news. Nothing is 100% settled, but it's looking like he might be relocating to Arizona to move in with my parents and become my sister's main squeeze. Hopefully we'll get the details squared away and get him shipped within the next few weeks.



Horseback Hours YTD: 17:35

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Phantom Itch

I was hoping to start 2016 with a clean slate, leave all the hiccups of last year in the dust, and get back into a better pattern with the horses. Unfortunately, that's not quite how things have gone.

Right before we left for our holiday travels, Steen came up itchy. And I mean really, really, really inexplicably itchy. Like, you basically could not touch him without inducing "I need to scratch so bad" spasms that involved contorting in half and nearly knocking himself over.

Our vet looked at him, gave him a few big shots, and prescribed antibiotics and antihistamines. We then had to leave for our holiday travels, and were gone for two weeks. Our barn owner gave Steen his meds while we were gone. She seemed to think he improved in our absence, but we got back about two days after the meds ran out and I was dismayed to find he was just as itchy as before, if not more so.

I called our vet only to discover he's having health issues and isn't working. My barn owner did manage to get in touch with him via text. He prescribed two more weeks of the antihistamines at a double dose. It then took me over a week to actually get my hands on the meds (that's a long, massively frustrating story that's not even worth telling). In the meantime, Steen rubbed large patches bare on his haunches.

At this point I set about eliminating everything that could have changed recently from his life/diet/environment. Unfortunately, that wasn't very many things. Steen has been at this same barn for seven years, eating the same hay (which they grow themselves in surrounding pastures), living in the same lot, and rarely leaving the premises. The one thing I did do was wash our winter blankets with a different detergent this year. (Rambo blanket wash.) Ironically, in years passed I always just used the same stuff we use to wash our own clothing.

Friday the 15th, I put him in a brand new blanket. The next day, we finally got the new meds and started those. We visited the barn morning and night for two weeks to give him the pills. He was still itchy. Very, very itchy.

The blanket swap.

Things I knew at this point:

  • his blood work came back normal
  • he had a clear fecal shortly before the itching started
  • there are no other itchy horses in our herd or at our barn
  • he has no symptoms that match up with any parasite known to the internet, other than itching
  • his environment and diet have not changed in years
  • antihistamines might help a little, but not much
  • dexamethasone does not help
  • the itching is everywhere, but he reacts strongest when touched on the hocks and in the groin area
  • his appetite is good, temp is normal, and his overall attitude and energy level are good
  • his skin is not dry or flaky 
  • there is is no rash, no bumps or lumps, no swelling, no physical indicator of a problem
  • his coat is shiny and healthy and full, other than the areas he's rubbed off
I got in touch with another vet, but she was on vacation. In sending her an email about his case, I wrote up a detailed timeline of everything that had happened. Reading it, I became increasingly convinced it had to be the blanket. I found a couple forum posts about people whose horses reacted to detergents and blanket washes. Several said it took months for the horse to fully recover.

I couldn't bathe him because it was too cold and I couldn't turn him out without a blanket for the same reason. (Steen, never inclined to carry much padding to begin with, drops weight at an alarming rate when not blanketed in harsh conditions.) So I had little choice. I kept waiting.

Fortunately, on Wednesday the weather took a turn for the warmer. I pulled Steen's blanket. He's been naked for a few days, and already he seems much better. Today I was actually able to groom him without causing him to shake and shudder and tie himself in knots.

Fingers crossed we're on our path to an itch free future. After seven weeks of dealing with this, I'm hesitant to believe it's really over. I suppose time will tell.

A photo posted by Robin (@aridingrobin) on

Horseback Hours YTD: 8:10

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The State of Piper

It's hard to believe it's been a year since Piper came into our lives. Having her this long wasn't totally the plan. My plan was to get her started in the spring, ride her a ton in the summer, and most likely sell her in the fall. If I kept her this long, I imagined it would be because I was enjoying having a younger horse to refine and and ride a bit harder than I can ride Steen these days.


The good news with regards to Piper is she's a total doll. Her ground manners are impeccable. She's sweet and soft and likes being around people. She's green still, and can get tense in certain situations, but she handles her own anxiety well and calms down quickly given a little space and support.

The bad news is I put a lot less time into riding her last year than I intended.

But really, it's not that the situation is bad. My reasons for not riding Piper have had little actually to do with Piper herself. Starting her was smooth. Every time she's gotten a few weeks (or months) off because life got in the way, getting back on has been no big deal.

The same was true of yesterday when I climbed onto Piper's back for the first time since November 1st. It's crazy it had been that long, but first she had a minor shoulder strain, and then we were traveling. Since we've been back it's been brutally cold, and I've had other horse issues to worry about (more on that soon).

I was ready for Piper to feel pretty rough around the edges. She didn't. The first thing we did was walk some circles. Brian's comment watching us: "I guess she's been practicing those without you."


We went on to some figure eights, and she was fabulous with those too. From there the ride continued to go well, though I could feel she lacks fitness and was a bit tight in the hind from standing around on ice in sub zero temps these last weeks. So we kept things short and non-challenging. My plan is to get her back in regular light work and build her strength back up so we're poised for lots of good long rides when the weather breaks. Then I'm hopeful we can find the perfect people to take over her education some time in the summer.

That's the plan, anyway. We'll see how things pan out. Fingers crossed 2016 will be a little more conducive to following through than 2015 was.

Ride Time: 0:30
Horseback Hours YTD: 4:10

Piper is feeling a little disheveled after her first ride of 2016. #themane #palomino #horsesofinstagram

A photo posted by Robin (@aridingrobin) on

Friday, January 22, 2016

2015 in Review

I'm more than a little late on my year end post, which is pretty much indicative of 2015 as a whole. For me, it was the year that somehow happened without happening.

I realize that makes no sense. It's not that nothing went down in 2015. It's that so many of the things that did happen seemed unplanned or off track somehow. It was like everything I experienced or accomplished somehow canceled itself out in some way. Mostly, the year just felt so fast - like I simply didn't have a chance to get focused on the things I wanted to focus on.

The Numbers

I suppose it was bound to happen, but after quite a few years of a steady increase in saddle time, 2015 led to way, way fewer hours on horseback for me:

Total saddle time in 2015
130 hours, 55 minutes

Here's my chart of each year since I've been keeping track:

Here's my breakdown by horse:


I'm keeping my goals for 2016 modest. I'd like to get Piper going again in earnest and find her a good home in the summer. Meanwhile, I hope to keep Steen is good condition. He'll be 16 this year. I want to do everything I can to keep him healthy and happy as he gets older.

I'm not sure what my blogging goals are. I keep going back and forth between feeling like I should get back to this blog in earnest and thinking I might be done with the medium for a while. I guess we'll just see what happens.

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