just being together ~ happy new year

After a full day of indoor arena riding at the trail competition on Saturday, we wrapped the weekend up with an outdoor relaxing trail ride on the farm...sigh. We thought about giving the boys the day off, they certainly earned it. But a leisurely ride felt like the right thing to do. Just being together outside, without expectations. We have no snow, and therefore no ice. The sun was shining, it wasn't too cold, the air was mmm fresh...oh how I miss trail riding!!

Last Trail Ride of the Year
Sunday, December 28, 2014

2015 is going to be a fun horse-filled year, I'm so looking forward to it! Thanks much for riding along, and sharing this past year. It means a lot to me. Wishing each of you a Happy & Healthy New Year, full of all the things you love!!


changing the story ~ 2nd in trail course series

Everything feels different towards the end/beginning of a year. There are gatherings filled with memories, anticipation, and reflection. Schedules shift, and everything feels a bit peculiar. When the December trail course date finally arrived, we welcomed the day away and all that it offered! A learning experience filled with challenges, friendships new and old, fun and laughter - lots of laughter - was sooo good for the soul!!

Interestingly enough, there was only one returning rider (besides us) from the first November course. The hosting facility called our trainer to see if we were coming. With only two signed up (guessing the sign up is at their barn?) they were thinking of canceling. Can't blame them, hosting is a lot of work! Good thing they didn't. They ended up with 13 different horses entered to compete, 15 courses ridden, and 2 horse/rider's practicing but not showing. We made sure the host knows now, consider us signed up for the series!

Cute tail on that roping dummy!
The gate rope had attached bells.
Thank goodness we arrived early enough to get some solid practice in, before the arena got busy. They had set up a challenging course, with things none of us thought to practice. Roping? duh! A teardrop back through? what's that? My hubby & I have never seen one (our trainer was kicking herself) and ohhh my, that was one tight serpentine!!

The December trail course:
Start: at Mailbox, retrieve & replace mail 
Walk to gate, turn at will, Work Gate, left hand push, close gate
Walk to 3 cones, turn at will, back through & around in a teardrop shape
Trot to poles, continue & Serpentine 5 poles, circle left & over pole, stop at bridge
Over bridge, stop at roping dummy
Swing & toss rope 
Walk to cone, 270 turn on haunches
Lope off right lead over pole, circle wide between back through cones & bridge, over pole, stop at beginning pole
Side-pass right, over pole
Exit at a Walk

The course was wide, and almost used the entire arena.
When not showing we were asked to use their extra stalls,
or hang out in the aisles or corners.

A snapshot of how our horses did:

Cierra was much better overall. She was great starting out, but as the arena filled up so did the stimulation, and her ability to deal with it. Typical of a young horse. They just don't know how to deal with heightened emotions. Brad has come a long way with her, and helped Cierra deal with the added energy. Our trainer Patty & I watched them work as a team, so proud of both of them! He chose to take the course second with her, completed the course as we cheered them on! Cierra still struggles with standing at the gate, altho she's had lot's of practice. Brad & I gifted our trainer with a new homemade sturdy gate for Christmas, but it only helps so much in new surroundings. Our trainer also showed her later in the course, with similar results.

New gate at our barn!

With Nemo, what can I say? Altho he had trouble dealing with the back through cones in practice (because of his personality) with help he figured it out, and rocked it by show time! Brad & Nemo placed 3rd, our trainer & Nemo placed 5th. He continues to prove to be the amazing horse that he is!! 

I was much more relaxed with Koda this challenge, altho I got the usual lack of effort on his part. When asked if I needed any help 
near the end of practice, I told our trainer I was struggling with keeping the trot through the serpentine (it was tight, the horses had to work) and of course the lope off. Yes I know, more leg. She offered to ride the practice course with Koda. She did, and made sure I knew afterwards that altho I always blame me, it isn't. She feels he isn't doing his part, meeting me half way. I know that, but I feel it's my lack of ability to get him to want to meet me halfway...I have no doubt, it will be a long road but we will figure it out together. I was very proud of Koda for not buying into the craziness a couple of the horses expelled, or better said, their young riders created... 

The two main things I got docked for: The dreaded (270) turn on the haunches...the move we've been struggling with...oh well, I'll keep trying. I also made a mistake on the pattern. Altho we nailed the lope off (I heard the supportive whistles, thanks guys!) I didn't circle wide, and instead took the harder version of the pattern ~ oops! Altho we completed it, I clipped the second pole. I can't complain, we placed fourth!!! 

We made a couple new friends throughout the competition, and ended up watching & hanging out in the "musical corner" (had to be there) where Brad eventually joined us. He picked up on it from across the arena...funny how those with a common outlook find each other without even trying.

Fun corner group
On the way home my hubby told me that now I'll have to change my showing story. I'm sure he's sick of hearing, "I've only ever shown once at a camp show, when I was 12..." I had sooo much stinkin' fun at the trail course competition, learned a bunch, even more then the first course...I didn't even know this was possible.


hand made Christmas equine cards

Sending wishes in the form of hand made cards has all but become a lost craft. Online photo cards are now the norm. These days I receive more of them, then even standard boxed holiday cards. I get it, anyone can create them. Photo cards are a simple way to showcase you & your's, and if you are a labeler, you don't have to write or sign a thing. No doubt, a relief for many in this busy crazy world we live in. Digital anything is fantastic, and who doesn't like to see smiling faces when they receive snail mail?!! Much more fun then opening bills.

While grumbling talking to my mom the other day, surrounded by mounds of carefully selected card parts, I mentioned I had no idea why I was spending countless hours hand making cards, that people promptly throw away December 26. Hardly anybody hand makes cards anymore. With her wise wisdom she said "it's something you enjoy, so just keep doing it"...thanks mom! I almost forgot. I really do enjoy the creative obsessing, process of details, searching for that one missing thing, even the methodical hand work of doing the same sequence 30 times in a row, and finally seeing it all come together in the end!

My cards all start with the photo. This year I wanted to feature Cierra. I've taken many photos of her this past year, but this one stood out. Such a happy beautiful girl, that loves galloping across the field. Then comes finding a sentiment that fits, the hardest part for me. Some years I flip flop the order, and find or take a picture to fit a pre-purchased saying. If I find stamp messages I like, I buy them. I am p-i-c-k-y, and they are hard to find. Enhancing photo's digitally, is always a delicate balance. I was able to make the grass kinda sparkle, and had way too much fun adding warped floating snowflakes! When I do volume, I print out of house since printer ink is so expensive. Card stock is matched, selected, trimmed to size and glued in place. I usually add more background layers, but not this year. I stumbled across a new snowflake corner punch, sitting all by itself. I think it had my name on it? I've never used die cuts on actual photos prior to this card. I'm so glad I experimented. I had previously found snowflake embellishments, in the button aisle, but wasn't going to use them. As you can see, I changed my mind. Something that happens frequently throughout the card making process. A person really can't have a saying like "Sparkle and Bright" and not add sparkles to the words, right? that doesn't take any time at all...and wouldn't it look nice to glue a crystal in the middle of the snowflake? It was then I realized, I must be nuts!!

But it truly makes me smile inside to see my handmade cards. My mom leaves them up all year long, and occasional I hear sincere comments from friends that also display them. If not with these, perhaps other cards I've created just for them. Photo cards, handmade or digitally, are a snap shot that chronicle where we are in our life journey. Many times the chosen photos have special meaning, that only those closest understand. Special memories, captured in time, taking us back to that feeling...

Merry Christmas blogger friends, wishing each of you a sparkling bright 2015!!