Fun with Flash

Another long hot day so instead of saddling up and working on the basics, I hauled myself up bareback with a pocketful of treats. One of Flash’s favorite things is treats, so tonight we played soccer and worked on teaching him “push” (with his nose), “kick” (with his legs), and tonight we added “chase”. Soccer is one of his favorite games so it’s always a blast to play with him this way. I also worked on rewarding Cyrus for sticking with us, he’s always so good but he’s tagging along for his first trail ride in months tomorrow and it never hurts to reward the basics.

His stockings are so handsome!
Only dusty video captures but still fun
Still a bit shocked he picked this up so quickly

I was just in time for a gorgeous sunset too… although they are already coming too early…

Stunning colors
Love this farm
Naughty pony eats the sunflowers!

Messy love

Back to blogging cause the Book of Face is once again being even weirder about stuff…

I will push myself to ride if there’s less than three factors saying “don’t ride”, especially after having been grounded for so much of this year and with summer quickly waning. Today was a no ride day (too hot, tired, sore and Aunt Flo is in town), so I spent a quiet hour with Flash instead.

I watched him eat, got liberally slobbered on, and made him super happy with plenty of scratches and no expectations other than “no don’t step on me.”

The peace from a quiet barn during sunset on a hot summers day while hanging with your horse is really unmatched, and I count myself incredibly lucky for it each day.


Grooming: the process by which the dirt on the horse is transferred to the groom.

– Unknown

Basics are good

Here he has his thinking cap on…

I had to admit to a friend today that despite all my experience in the horse world, I’ve never studied or really learned how to build a horse’s strength and carriage up from the basics. Oh I’ve picked up some tricks here and there, but no consistency.

V says he’s actually pretty good at shoulder in!

My main goal for the next two months, my last of this surrogate pregnancy and first of pregnancy recovery, is to build Flash up to the point that when I’m ready to ride again, he has the strength to carry me (who will definitely be a wobbly mess for awhile). Right now he’s definitely in pasture puff status and while he’s happy to be so, I dream of adventures together so to work we go!

We are so lucky V is working with us both! So much to learn!

Today V showed us a good amount of in hand work, which revealed that Flash is stronger on his right side than his left. I have been asking him to stretch and step under himself every night, which is helping a bit.

Bending and picking up his shoulder

While lunging him Flash got super speedy and started to canter around and give little bucks, telling us he’s anxious and trying to figure out the right answer…and that building up his fitness will be a long process but we have time. Once he figured out the right answer (stretching down and stepping under himself) he calmed down, though breaking into a canter was still easier for him than stretching. But he’s an awesome horse and he’ll get there…with his opinions firmly intact!

The post workout roll is always entertaining!

Every time I see or work with this great golden dude I fall for him a tiny bit more. I’m so excited to finish baking this beautiful baby for his parents and climb back in Flash’s saddle!

Work is hard but pasture life is easy!

A new exercise

Today when I arrived at the barn, someone had left a grid of poles laid out that I was immediately excited to try. Due to various reasons (being pregnant, super busy at work, and the occasional winter doldrums) I haven’t been riding Flash consistently. I brought him home in August and before that he was pretty much a trail horse, but under that cookie seeking exterior is a well trained horse.

We’re back to basics while we’re stuck in the arena, mostly while we really learn each other and build fitness (I won’t really get to keep it but hopefully he will!) Since part of my “be safer while pregnant” agreement is nixing trail rides, the arena is what I get so I’m trying to make the most of it. I’m also half contemplating previously unfathomable ideas like a low key local w/t/maybe canter schooling show. Me, show???? I haven’t bothered to do that since Pony Club!

Blondie thought he was done when I dismounted…🤣

So here’s our attempt at this serpentine grid, and side passing down a pole, serenaded by frogs, coyotes and restless children 🤣

View from the ground

Life has tossed a few loops at me this summer, from Kade's second broken arm, job loss and Tom hopping back and forth to Phoenix, not to mention the unreasonable heat and wildfire smoke hanging over everything. I'm writing this on my friend's living room, PNER Green Bean mug full of coffee in one hand, kid playing on his iPad and stuffing his face full of bagels and remarking on the ducks once again taunting the dogs.

I picked up blogging (again!) as a way to remain somewhat publicly accountable for my new exercise plan. Since my last post I've only put in two solid bike rides, although I've been working out a different way; horse back riding, schooling horses in the ring, on my feet or in the saddle a good chunk of the day.

I have so many horse people I look up to, from the newly Tevis buckled Jala Neufeld to my old Fjord and Dales farm owner Marcy Baer, still going strong in Vermont. I have long held an educational view, accepting I will never know everything about horses, but by golly I'll spend a lifetime trying. Due to this I always look around the horse world from a learner's mindset, hoovering up everything and filing things away for later. I rarely toss anything out as complete hogwash, always mindful of the
occasionally huge leaps between disciplines.

There are a few basic things I hold to as someone whose goal is to be called 'horsewoman', mainly being mindful of the horse's point of view in what we ask them to do; letting predators on their backs, trailering to strange places, tolerating everything we toss at them, and always trying to keep their comfort levels in their terms in mind.
So for someone who still and always views themselves as a learner, it's taken some doing to gracefully accept that in a small way, I do have some wisdom and knowledge to share.
(I swear this isn't a humble brag post, stick with me!)

Since my day job was cut, I've been spending the bulk of my days helping a friend with her still relatively new boarding facility up in Washington. And by helping I mean giving lessons, evaluating horses, and giving horses some tune ups. Me, giving lessons! Helping other people not only be better riders, but figure out how to enjoy their horses more.
Despite the heat, long hours on my feet, a general weird feeling to be teaching people *cough* mildly older than myself, and a weird case of what was probably pink eye…. I've loved every moment of it, of watching concepts click in someone's mind or seat, of hearing owners gush over how much calmer their horse is. Even Tom has seen how much calmer and happier and flat out excited I am, and is fully supportive of trying to make this training concept work, however we can.

I've been in full on research mode the past few weeks, reading and plotting and mulling ideas about *gulp* setting up an actual horse business. I have already identified my niche- kids and reriders or older new riders, people who want to work on themselves and making their lives with their horses easier and more enjoyable. I know where my gaps are as a rider and horse person, which is why I'm as dedicated to learning as ever. I still have big goals for myself (Tevis 2020 anyone?) but this doesn't discount what I do know.

Part of this post was to finally process how I feel about the whole experience (weird! Excited! Happy!) but also toss my little shingle into the wide ring of horse people in the Pacific Northwest. If you find yourself looking for lessons or boarding near Olympia Washington, give T and A Ranch a look. It's the facility I would build given the time and inclination, and it's a fantastic place to learn to ride or keep working on things 🙂

See ya on the trail!

Oh, those whiskery muzzles!

On Saturday while driving to the barn to muck stalls & work with horses, I had one of those insights that comes so seldom to me. I’m not an introspective person by nature, but with good parenting, life experience, therapy & writing, I can usually take a gander at what I’m feeling at any given moment.
This thought was triggered by the fact that I’ve “rediscovered” music I used to listen to in college- Big & Rich, Owl City, Modest Mouse, etc. I’m that type of person to listen to a song incessantly for months…& then not for years. So I was listening to Big & Rich on the drive over, & it reminded me that I use to belt out with these same songs years ago, driving to another barn to muck stalls & work horses. The wheel turns & turns again, but certain things follow you. I was a relatively carefree college student with a pretty clear life plan; now I’m a mom & an office peon with wants & needs but a murkier path. But the horses are still there, though I never imagined them quite this way. I don’t own a horse or even have regular riding access right now, but I still get to handle some every week, & I’ve just signed up for a 12 week ground training course to keep learning.
When I became a mother, then a bit later when I “gave up” horses for a while, I was determined not to be a 40 year old re-rider, those girls who grew up horse mad & lost them while they pursued careers & raised children, got married & couldn’t find time or money to fit the horses until near retirement or the kids were in college. I’ve formed good friendships through endurance riding, & now through the local horse rescue. I am working towards taking regular dressage lessons again, time & money permitting.
Even though I don’t own horses, I’m not driving a carriage or working on a draft powered farm, I haven’t lost the horses, & now I’m just about able to start introducing them to Kaeden. He actually came home early from his grandparent’s house to go to the barn with me (though I think that’s more because of the trampoline & mud puddles, but still!) In a year or two he’ll be old enough to take lessons of his own, & we’ll see if this kid has even half the horse fever of his mother!