Sunday, December 1, 2019

Ten Things

It’s been a while since I did a post like this:

1. Right after I was feeling smug about riding five days in a week, we got a snow storm that dumped almost 20” of snow and followed that with frigid temps. It was still pretty sketch when I tried to get to the barn on Saturday and I was thankful for four wheel drive making it down the driveway.

This was almost 12” on Tuesday morning. It snowed heavily for another day.

2. For the first time since Sept of 2016, we pulled Ashke’s shoes. It will give his hooves a rest from the nails and shoes, will allow me to ride outside in the snow without risking ice balling up on his hooves, and will let us see if he is sound without them. He got his left hock done the 16th of October and hasn’t been on the previcox since that point. He is moving fantastic.

3. We have new family members. 

Meet Mia (My-ahh) Tristan’s new puppy.
She is so sweet. 

She is sixteen weeks and has taken to living with us really well.
Housebroke, but a chewer.

Figuring out the ins and outs of life from the older dogs

Meet Boo. My birthday present from T
She is a cute little thing

The calico is Lia, who is B’s kitten.
She is much happier with a friend.

They play together and it keeps Lia from sticking her head in “Lily’s mouth.

4. We had a lesson today that included two big spooks resulting in almost falling on his head. There was snow and ice sliding off the roof and making him very tense. We used that as good practice for the shows, since he felt as tight and reactive as he does when we are showing. He is never going to be a bomb proof horse. I just have to learn to ride through it and ignore his antics. We finished the lesson with a figure eight with changes ridden left handed and he gave me the cleanest right to left change we have ever had. Amanda smirked and gently said “so maybe that tells us you are blocking him with your hands”. I smirked back and said “guess I should just ride one handed all the time.” So, guess what I will be doing going forward . . . 

5.  Sauna time happens pretty much every day and seems to be helping with the pain I am dealing with in my right shoulder. I have found some Lakota chant music to play while sitting in the hot steam.

6. We have settled into our new home. There is a tree in the garage waiting for the tree stand to be delivered by Amazon. I have a bunch of lights up and two new deer in the front of the house. We need to get lights on the tree and our new bird feeder hung but those things should happen this week. I really love this holiday.

7. We did Thanksgiving at home as a family for the first time. I prepped most of the stuff the day before, so just had to get the turkey in the oven in the morning. I woke the kids up about an hour before and told them it was time to eat. T said “wow, mom, you did all of this stuff by yourself?” Pause. “Well, I guess you always did.” The food was delicious and the kids kept me laughing through the meal. They are incredibly easy to live with and they are doing a decent job of keeping their space clean. 

8. This makes me really happy.

9. We have a company party this coming weekend. Last Friday, after the hordes of peoples had mostly left the store, we went shopping for pretty clothes. T needed all the things but I think it was worth it.

I think they call this style a smoking jacket.
He sure is smokin’ hot.

10. Hope you all have a wonderful weekend and had plenty to eat, fun things to keep you occupied and loved ones around you.

Monday, November 18, 2019

5 Days

The biggest issue I have faced this year has been fitting in time for Ashke around the craziness of divorce, house shopping, tending to hearts and souls, moving. Some weeks, my lesson was my only ride, and there were some weeks where we didn’t even get that done. It’s not a surprise that Ashke has lost some muscle and topline.

This week we rode five days: Sunday, Tuesday, Weds, Friday and Saturday. I think this will be our riding schedule going forward. Saturday was a “resting work” day and we went out in the bareback pad.

He already looks better.
And he got a trace clip because he was getting a little warm, plus his hair pulls where the girth runs.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Reveal: Home Addition

The past eight months has been one of the most stress-filled, trying times I have ever experienced. It took a lot of hard work both physically and emotionally to get Tristan and I (and his girl B) to a safe harbor without damaging us in the process. The journey that took us from the condo to our new house was an interesting one.

Between April and July, everything in the house was sorted, boxed and moved to storage, leaving only the necessary items in the condo that we needed day to day. The flooring in the walk-out was removed, damage to the dry wall and floor was fixed, the condo was painted, and new carpet and baseboards were installed.

On July 3, the condo went on the market. T, B and I went out with our realtor on the 4th to look at houses. I had been in discussions with the loan officer and my realtor and understood where my price range fell. T, B and I had talked about what we wanted in a new house: a yard for the dogs, a nice kitchen, and a separate living space for the kids (basement they could make their own). I already knew that my best option would be an older home built sometime between 1960 and 1980, since most newer homes have tiny yards. 

We saw eight homes that day, none of which wowed us, although there were a couple that might have worked. Most homes built during this time frame have small rooms, and although they have the square footage we were hoping for (1900 - 2100 sf) in some the rooms were awkward and the layout uncomfortable (like the kitchen where you could either open the fridge door or exit the space, but not both at the same time . . . or the house with a murder room in the basement . . . or the house that backed onto the highway with a rocked in back yard). T was wonderful during this process: he was so humorous and lighthearted about everything we looked at, that he kept me and my realtor in stitches. 

We made plans to go out again the following Sunday, with a new list of places to look at. The second to last house we visited ended up being the house I ultimately bought. It is a bi-level with about 1000 sf upstairs and downstairs, with the largest yard we looked at anywhere, and a two car garage. We absolutely fell in love. Hard. It didn't hurt that there was Deadpool everywhere you looked in the house.

 And a life-sized Deadpool in the garage.

T and B posing with the Merc with a Mouth

Ultimately, Deadpool and Marvel Comics is why we ended up with the house we wanted.

By the end of the day on Sunday, we had decided to put in an offer on the bi-level house with the Deadpool memorabilia. My realtor helped me put together the offer and we submitted it. The word came back that there were more than one offer on the table and asked for a second counter offer. I was already at the top of my range, so we stood firm. When I told T, he asked if he could write a letter to the seller. I checked with my realtor and she said it couldn't hurt. T wrote the following:

Hello! Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Tristan XXXXX. Recently my family underwent some restructuring and some members decided not to stay. Unfortunately we have decided to move houses. This means that I’m leaving the house I grew up in. Luckily, there are upsides. Besides a direct upgrade in living quality, I’m also getting to move in with my SO. This is exciting for both of us, as it’s the next big chapter in our saga. We started our search, leading us to your wonderful home. We wanted to share our thoughts and feelings about your house.
First and foremost, we absolutely loved the clear obsession with DeadPool, and my SO is incredibly jealous of the signed autograph. Beyond all of that, we absolutely loved the house! We have been at the search for a new place, and have had a lot of different houses to look at, but out of all of them this was truly the first house that we had only positive things to say. It was easy to picture how we as a family would use the given space, and had a wonderful time imagining living there. The house accommodates every single one of our desires, and for the first time since we started looking we all agreed it was beautiful. Every little detail spoke to us. From the wonderful
Sized yard for our ever growing family of furry friends, to the beautiful view on the balconies. To the stylish wooden doors leading to each room, and the masterful layout of both bathrooms. Thank you for the privilege of letting us inside your home. We hope you don’t mind but we snagged a group photo with the nice Mercenary in the garage :)

Ps: the large black cat is an ABSOLUTE UNIT

They accepted our offer. We wrote the contract and made it contingent on the condo going under contract. 

Then we went six weeks with four viewings of the condo. We fell out of contract with the house we wanted and waited. The end of July, we finally got an offer on the condo. The house we wanted had gone under contract and then fell out again. T, B and I went out and looked at houses for two days and every house we walked through we were like "it's nice, but it's not the Deadpool house".

I finally talked to the realtor about making another offer on the house we loved. We submitted it and went back under contract.

Then the condo fell out of contract. There was a provision in the contract on our new house that released us from the contract if the condo didn't sell, but no real way to release us from the contract early. We reached out to the realtor for the house to see if they wanted to be released and the seller said no. He was willing to wait for us.

Finally, the condo went under contract again. We shuffled dates around on the new home to accommodate the change. On 10/7 the condo sold. On 10/8, I closed on the new house. We moved out of the condo on the 14, and moved into the new house on the 19th. My mom came out for two weeks and helped us get settled.

We are mostly moved in and there are pictures hung on the wall. The dogs are pretty much settled in and things are set up the way we want. So, here are some pics:

The sauna I have wanted for almost twenty years is installed in the garage.
It is a dry/steam sauna that will sit six (but fits three pretty comfortably).
I have sauna'd at least once a day since we got it hooked up. We need to figure out the flooring to keep the cold from rising from the concrete floor, but that is a minor irritant.

The front room

The other side of the front room.
The front door opens into a small entry way with a door to the garage, a set of stairs down and a set of stairs up.

The master bedroom.

The other viewpoint.
There is a walk in closet to the left of the picture.

The door and dresser.
All of the doors were upgrades to the house.

The backyard with T's new puppy, Mia.

The backyard from the deck.

The right side of the backyard.
The far corner needs to be addressed this weekend.

The straw I added, because there was no ground cover.
And the mud being tracked in was overwhelming.

The pups are enjoying being able to terrorize the neighbors.
And each other.

Dining Room table, just off the living room.

Basement for the kids

The double TV set up with a multitude of gaming options

Kitchen from the dining area

Gas stove is the bomb.

A side table I added to the kitchen.
Dog treats are kept inside.

Center island
Yes, there are some holiday decorations I have been working on.

There is a second bedroom upstairs with a nice closet, the kids have a great bedroom downstairs with lots of windows and plenty of room for their stuff. They have their own little apartment downstairs. It's been really easy to live with both of them.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Birthday Tattoo

You might not have heard of a super hero film by the name of Captain Marvel, film number 21 in the Marvel Comic Universe, and if you haven’t you need to educate yourself on it right away. It is the best origin story in the 22 film arc and I love Brie Larson in the role. I saw it five times in the theater, and have watched it numerous times since it came out on video. It will be the go-to movie for me when I am feeling a little bit down or in need of a reminder. 

My truck is named Marvel and has Captain Marvel’s symbol on her in two different places. To say I am a little obsessed might be an understatement. So, of course, a Captain Marvel tattoo seemed in order:

Line work done.
Let no one tell you that the inside of the elbow is a comfortable place to tattoo.

Shading in place prior to color.

Pausing at the end to contemplate the outcome and any final touches.
This was the point at which I developed a severe case of Turrets.
Several M’fers were uttered. 

Finished tattoo.
Captain Marvel materializing out of me.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Changes Bareback

Bareback Changes

I hadn't ridden since Weds night. The temps have changed and fall is definitely here. Snow is expected on Thursday. There was a tractor loading manure onto a flatbed trailer right next to the arena. He was perfect. Light. Connected. Listening.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019


We went from fall temps of mid-70's to early 80's to cold, wet and raining with a high of 50. When I talked to Amanda about Ashke she said he was still warm, but I might want to pull a blanket out and toss on him for the night. I was already planning on being at the barn to pick up the start/finish gates for the National Championship show and getting them over to Chris to pack in the trailer, so I figured I would throw the blanket on him when I got there.

He saw me and came out whinnying and tossing his head. I was walking to the barn in a light drizzle and said "are you cold? Do you want a blanket?" He reared and spun, trotting the length of his run to meet me at his stall. His hair was standing on end when I said hi, and I got the impression from him of a slight shiver running the length of his body. I started searching for his light weight blanket, but then was reminded that his neighbor helped strip the top layer off of it last spring and I threw it away. I grabbed the mid-weight and carried it back to where Ashke was impatiently waiting.

I said "it's a little heavier than you might need, but you will be warm. Do you still want it?"

He nickered and tossed his head.

I opened the stall door and went to step inside and he moved to position himself so that I could toss the blanket on him (he never does that). I got it snapped and buckled while he tossed his head violently up and down in a "yes do that please" movement. Once all the straps were hooked up, he took a deep breath and settled. Just like a kid curled up on a corner of the couch under a blanket.

I got a strong impression of warmth and contentment, mixed with a heart-felt thank you.

My poor thin skinned desert horse.

Monday, September 30, 2019

PSA: Portable Saddle Racks

Have you seen one of these?

Saturday, I had Ashke tied in the same spot he is usually tied in, while I groomed and got him ready to ride. One of my friend's had her Friesian in the crossties half way down the row, and we were chatting as we got ready to ride. There was a portable saddle rack hooked over the rail next to where Ashke was tied, but it was turned away from him, with the pokie part facing into the feed stall. I went into get my saddle and heard my friend yelling whoa. I came around the corner and saw Ashke on his hind feet, pulling back, with the portable saddle rack attached to his face. 

He must have lowered his head and hooked the back hook onto the side of his halter.

I dropped the saddle and said, "Ashke, whoa. Stand."

He dropped down, and although he was trying to stare threateningly at the object attached to his cheek, he stood. I calmly, but quickly, walked out and put my hand on his shoulder, using my other hand to steady the rack until I could get it unhooked. He was shaking and snorting, but trusted me to take care of it. I put it out of harms way and then spent a little bit of time running my hands over his neck and back, telling him how proud I was that he listened and waited for me to save him. I told him over and over what a good boy he was, while I waited for the adrenaline shakes to stop.

Then both he and the Friesian (who was alarmed by not overwhelmed by Ashke's reaction) got peppermints for being great horses.

Teach your horse the command "stand". That is like the fourth time it has saved either me or Ashke from a trainwreck. And be careful with those saddle racks. I had no idea he could do that to himself with one.

Sunday, September 22, 2019


Ashke seems to have gotten past whatever might have been causing pain in his left hock. I’m beginning to believe it was caused by a game of kick-me, kick-you with the gelding in the run next to him, since I caught them kicking at each other when I drove up the other day. For now, I’m pretty happy with how he is moving.

Saturday, a friend’s daughter came out and learned a little bit about horses. She learned how to hold a lead rope correctly (no loops), how to groom and pick out feet, watched the saddling process and held Ashke while I went to the bathroom. I rode him and then she untacked him, brushed him down and took him over for what is likely his last bath of the year. 

This was at the end of our Saturday ride.
He is working on keeping himself straight when we do a line of changes. 
It is definitely getting better every ride.

Don’t we all want our own 13 year old horse crazy girl groom?

What I did at work on Friday.
There were more than a 100 legal sized Banker Boxes on that trailer. T and I moved them from the office to the storage unit across the highway. Marvel handled it like a champ and none of the boxes fell off.

I wanted to share a pic of how Ashke’s neck muscle is looking. It used to be that it tipped to the left, but now it remains pretty straight in front of me. I am going to let his mane grow out and see what size it tips to.

Lily laying on my feet. One of her favorite places to lay.

Life is moving forward and hopefully in a month this part of my life will be fully behind me and I will be moving forward into a new reality.

Thursday, September 19, 2019


I started riding when I was about 2, mostly holding onto the saddle in front of my mom while she directed the horse in the direction it was going. By six, I was clinging like a monkey to the back of her saddle, fingers wrapped around the curling edge of the cantle, short legs clenched against the flanks of the big black mare she rode. By eight, I had a shithead pony that I rode all over the county, along with several other horses and a few calves. All of the time I rode bareback. I didn’t get a saddle (other than borrowing one to use for the 4-H shows at the end of the summer) until I was sixteen. Riding bareback is one of the reasons I don’t post the trot. It also developed the balance and seat that allowed me to ride the EOH course at McCook last fall with a totally loose girth - I don’t balance on my stirrups.

That said, I haven’t really dared to ride bareback since coming back to riding seven years ago. I didn’t trust my body and I was really afraid that Ashke would over react to me being on him bare. (Amanda had the same fear last night.) I decided that since I am riding but taking it somewhat easy, that I would schedule a bareback lesson, where we could start him on the lunge line and see how it went.

Ashke being wild poneh over small leather bareback pad

My friend Chris lent me her Parelli bareback pad (anyone with one of those for sale, please let me know - I am in the market for one). It attached with one of my western cinches, and although Ashke was a fire-breathing dragon when I first put it on him, his skepticism was fairly short lived. I didn’t want to ride him without Amanda’s help to start, so I took him outside and lunged for the first time in probably three years.

As you can see he is wary, wary scardt of the pad.

I got him back inside, bridle on, and layered his halter over the top with the lunge line attached. I wanted to make sure he wasn’t going to be throwing any shenanigans our first time out. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust him, but rather, didn’t know if I could trust my body to respond correctly to his movement. Being older sucks. 

Amanda did ask me if I wanted to ride a bit to tire him out before I got on.
I told her I was pretty comfortable with her on the other end of the line.
I figured I would know pretty quick if I was going to be able to ride him this way.

We did a brief canter in each direction while still on the lunge line and he was amazeballs.

At that point, the lesson became a normal lesson.
We worked on all of the stuff that we normally work on until my legs and core felt like spaghetti.

We even got a couple of changes, which can not be ridden one handed while holding on.
Ashke was like WTF, mom?!

So, a couple of things: Ashke was foot perfect and absolutely wonderful. There was not a moment in our ride where he thought about being anything other than the gentleman and full partner he is. Second, he is always a little looky in the arena. There is a ton of stuff laying around that gets moved on a regular basis. Last night, although he peeked at those objects, his body did not fill with tension. He remained relaxed between my legs. Third, his braces through the base of his neck and Amanda reminds me during our lessons to ask for relaxation and to not brace. That was not an issue last night. He was relaxed and soft in the base of his neck and his poll. His contact was solid, but not leaning, and he was fully present and available to me. Finally, other than a small bobble on a canter circle early on, I had no issues with riding him bareback. I can feel the difference in my core and lower back muscles today, but they are a soreness, not a pain, so I am sure I was using them more fully than I have in the past. My balance was perfect and except for allowing my fear to win the battle at the beginning of our first change, I had no issue riding any of the things. I did have to lift and move myself back into position after our trot lengthening, but I was able to do that with just my legs.

I can’t wait to continue to ride bareback this winter. It will be a great option when it is cold.


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Outlaw Ashke Wales

Awkward stall photos are the best.
New fly mask which he doesn't try to remove.
Come to find out, it was a vision issue and he can see in this one.

He even lowers his head so I can get it on.

Some nights I don't have time to ride, so he gets to run.

 His GF Kat. Friesian/Arab mix.

She is a pretty horse.
Ashke loves her.

Sometimes he runs like a rabbit.

Day's End.
Just leaving the barn.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Nine Months

On December 2, I did a clinic with a woman named Nicole Harrington. She was there to help the competitive dressage riders with various items and Amanda suggested I ride with her one time. I was struggling with cueing Ashke properly for our flying changes and we were really struggling. This was before I realized how much his hocks were impacting his ability to collect. At this point, I was just looking to be able to ask for the change and have him understand what I wanted.

Our very first clean changes

Since that break through, we have been working on our changes every ride. Even with my sporadic riding schedule of maybe three days a week, and sometimes it’s only my lesson day, he has still progressed. I am getting better at recognizing tension and stopping to reassure him that he is okay. That kind of helps reset his brain. Sometimes I tell him what I am wanting him to do, so that the picture in my mind is really clear. That also seems to help keep him from getting muddled.

Today, working on our half-pass to flying change work.

As you can see he has a harder time going from right to left, but I think that’s because I biomechanically sit harder on the left, due to an injury that damaged the muscle in my torso in 2006. It has been pretty obvious I sit harder to the left than to the right. I am working to improve that, but its still an issue. He is getting much better at listening and waiting for me to let him know when it is I want the change. We do transition work after the changes, because other wise he just gets more and more amped.

And here is some running video of him out with Kat a week ago, stretching their legs.


Wednesday, August 7, 2019


So, I'm struggling to find the proper label for this post. It's hard because there are so many pieces floating around in the air, that nothing seems to fit. So, aftermath it is.

First, I have been asked when I will start blogging again, or if I ever will. My intention is to come back to this space, eventually, but it's hard to blog about your horse when you never see him. A friend of mine went through the sale and purchase, plus moving, of a house at the beginning of the year and she didn't ride for three months. That was with her horses on property (like could see them from her front door). I figure part of my lack of time is just the time suck this process takes. There is light at the end of the tunnel, however, since the condo is under contract (still waiting for the inspection results) right now.That means this should all be completely over by the end of September.

So, for some updates:

Current screen saver


I have made some short term decisions about Ashke. He is going to continue in weekly lessons with Amanda, since we are making huge strides in our progress, but we are going to take a hiatus as far as showing in Working Equitation for at least a year. He can handle the dressage test just fine, but the tight turns required in the Ease of Handling test are too much for his left hind hock. He is currently getting injections when he indicates that he is in pain, and I have started him on daily previcox, which has really helped. Since we are needing both to keep him comfortable, it doesn't make sense to put him in a situation where he is required to really rock back on his hocks. 

Instead, I might look at some Western Dressage next year. It's one or two dressage tests over one or two days, and the tests have very similar elements to the Intermediate level tests in WE. The other benefit is that I could go with the group of women from my barn as part of Amanda's student group, which means having more than one hand around to help with stuff.

Additionally, I want to get back out on trail, even if that means hauling out and riding by myself. I miss the long riding we used to do and want to get back to it. There are a lot of trails we can explore that were closed to us in the past because they were too difficult for a bike. I may not have the time before next spring, but being able to ride for long distances with elevation gains and loses will help strengthen his back and butt. And he loves being out and I love being with him.

We are currently working on bending off my legs at the trot, half-pass and leg yield at the canter, flying changes when I ask for them, rather than when he thinks he should (such an overachiever), although his anticipation the other night gave me the incentive to try a line of two tempis, which were not nearly as much fun at my request as the bouncing from one lead to another every couple of strides. I have started using my voice again, asking him to relax and wait. I had silenced my voice because we can't use our voice when we show, so I had stopped. But, we both prefer it when I talk to him.

I know he is missing me. Some weeks I have only made it out on my lesson day. On Monday night, as he followed me to the outdoor arena, he kept reaching forward and bumping me with his nose.

T has started his second sleeve. He wanted a thorn bush surrounding his rose, so they added bugs in the leaves of the thorns. Centipede for the win. It will have some red in it after his next session.

The rose was the first part of this tattoo. The moth was added at the bottom. It will also have a little bit of red in it.

And final bug is a stag beetle. It will also have red in it. The top part of the sleeve with consist of thorn bushes with a cardinal on the inside of his upper arm (it will hurt a lot), and a stag in an opening in the bushes on the deltoid (upper outside arm). It will be at least two if not three more seesions.

 B's Harley Quinn tatttoo after her touch up.
I really wish I had a pic of the original, because the change was amazing.
I am thinking of having the tattoo on my left calf fixed. I have never liked the horse in that one, and Rachel said she could fix it.

In the meantime, I have a tattoo scheduled for 9/15. I will unveil it when it is done.
I am beyond excited about it.

I have started reading again. I am reading on my kindle and the books that are holding my interest the most right now are apocalyptic novels. I think it is apropos to my current personal apocalypse.

This wonderful little cat left my life today. She was taken to her new home unexpectedly.
We didn't get a change to say goodbye.
I will miss her so much. 

My new grill. It was just about $200 and works a treat.
I do need to learn how to cook peaches and pineapple on it, however. The meat I have down, but the fruit and veggies are another story.

 I think sunsets are the Universe's way of reminding us that beauty can be found after things end.
Sometimes hope is all that keeps us moving.