Wednesday Evening Diary – let’s dance!

Cee Cee and I after we danced 🤣

I would like to formally introduce you all to Cee Cee. She is a 5 year old quarter horse, the newest addition to our lesson program, and the youngest horse I’ve ever ridden.

Cee Cee has been a part of our lesson program for a couple of months now. I was one of the first adults to ride her when she first entered the program. Our first ride went very well. She was a bit out of shape, and very new to the English riding world, so after about 40 min of working exercises all at a walk, she was tired. That is not the case now lol.

In the last few weeks, she has not only embraced her new life as an English horse, but she has shown she is fearless when it comes to trotting over poles and small cross rails. Watching her body get into shape with muscle so quickly has truly been a sight to see. Youth is on her side for sure.

Now, I’ve been making huge strides with Copper, which I am very proud of. But as I’ve said before, riding other horses has so much benefit, so I asked my trainer last week if I could ride her for my Tuesday lesson. The idea seemed great at the time, after all, I had already ridden her once before, and I not only survived being on a young non-arthritic horse who has a very forward walk, but I enjoyed it.

As the week went by and Tuesday started to get closer I realized something…was I getting in over my head? I have witnessed this horses transformation – she’s not the out of shape horse she was weeks ago…she’s got muscle…and stamina…and a lot of pep in her step. I could feel the self doubt creep in, and my confidence that is so strong with Copper, was now burying itself deep in the recesses of my brain. 😳

It’s now Tuesday. And I’m nervous. People always say horses humble you, which they do. But this wasn’t me being humbled. I didn’t come into this 2nd lesson with her with grand plans of accomplishing anything magnificent other than me getting on and safely walking her around the arena. If the walking went well, perhaps we would trot a little, but it was all dependent on how the walk went.

One of the many reasons why I love dressage is because it reminds me of dancing, you are dancing with your horse. To be honest, all horseback riding is like dancing. So my dance partner last night was Cee Cee. I had in mind a nice slow waltz…she had in mind – a little tango.

As I climb the steps of the mounting block, I take several deep breaths and exhale. I get on, and we walk into the arena. We stop as my trainer Kari makes a few adjustments to the girth. We check my stirrup length, quickly check over the rest of the tack and we get the OK to walk to the rail of the arena. Kari slowly walks away from us to adjust the stirrups of the other student who was lessoning with me, while Cee Cee and I didn’t walk to the rail of the arena…we trotted.

When a person is scared, their body automatically goes into a fetal position. When you are on a horse and scared, your body starts to lean forward. Some horses when they feel your upper body move forward to hunch over stop whatever they are doing, other horses pick up speed. Cee Cee is one of those horses who picks up speed. I wasn’t at all prepared for that very forward trot. As I’m trying to get a better hold of the reins, a little “woo” comes out of my mouth. It would’ve made more sense if I had followed up my “woo” with a “woe Cee Cee” but that didn’t happen. Instead, I attempted to sit myself back – which was pretty impossible to do as I was scared, but I steered her towards Kari and we came to a stop.

The old me, the truly scared timid rider would’ve gotten off. I would’ve ended the ride in defeat. The harm in that would’ve set back my riding, not slightly but a lot. All that I had accomplished with Copper would be a distant memory for a bit. Mind you, this was a moment on Cee Cee but the seeds of fear and doubt would’ve leaked into all aspects of riding and handling horses on the ground. It took all the courage I could muster up to not only stay on the horse, but finish the lesson.

Kari walked next to us for a good portion of the lesson. She was able to see when I was getting more comfortable with Cee Cee and she slowly started to step away. We worked lots of circles, spending a lot of time going in the direction that is more challenging for her. We worked on one of my favorite exercises called the box, where we use quarter turns to basically walk a box shape. That exercise helps with bend and control and suppleness. At the end of the lesson, Kari asked if I wanted to trot, and I politely declined. I wanted to end the lesson with what I had accomplished – not just stepping out of my comfort zone, but free-falling out of it.

As I dismounted, and landed my feet to the ground, I felt my knees buckle slightly. I realized at that moment just how scared and tense I had been through that 35 min lesson. I stood there, next to Cee Cee for a good 5 min, talking with Kari about the lesson, just trying to get the strength back in my legs. As we slowly walked out of the arena to the grooming stall, I could feel the tears welling in my eyes. Tears of relief, tears of excitement, and tears of shock.

I didn’t give up. I didn’t run away. I challenged myself on purpose to keep the doors of learning open. Cee Cee is a young horse who has shown she loves to learn new things. I am an older rider who has overcome lots of fear and anxiety when it comes to riding, and I have a lot to teach her.

Last night, Cee Cee lead our dance, with me taking the lead a handful of times. The next dance we share will be a bit different. I might not get to fully lead, but eventually, we will get there, just like Copper and I have. Cheers to us Cee Cee and many more evening dances.❤️🐴💃🏻

Friday evening diary – kicking it up a notch

Happy New Year folks! Something amazing has happened. It’s been 7 years of riding in the making, but I finally punched through the glass ceiling that has been holding my confidence hostage. Copper and I – we’ve made HUGE strides the last few weeks.

Let me rewind a bit. When I purchased Copper, I vaguely remember his former owner telling me that when she had purchased him, he had shoes on all 4 feet. When I purchased him, he only had shoes on his front feet. Well, in the excitement of welcoming Copper I forgot that one little detail.

Copper has minor scoliosis and because of that, he started to slightly drag his back left foot when trotting. X-rays of his hock revealed some arthritis so hock injections were done as well as him starting a daily pain medication and twice a year joint supplement injections. After all that, he was still dragging that one foot. So it was time to try back shoes to see if that would help.

For the first few weeks after he got his back shoes, his back was sore. The shoes helped give him support in his hind end and back, and once he adjusted, his back pain stopped. What we have now is a horse who takes much less time to warm up and has an incredibly forward trot.

Knowing that Copper is feeling great is a relief. Now, back to that glass ceiling we broke through. Forward motion – it’s crucial to doing anything with horses. Copper has forward motion now. In fact, once he fully warms up, he will easily pick up a canter instead of just a trot.

We have been working on trot to canter to trot transitions, and for the first time ever, I’ve managed to do that for a full lap in the arena! This is HUGE for me as I was afraid of the canter for the majority of the time I’ve been riding.

Copper and I have really become an incredible team. I am now taking 3 lessons a week, and although each lesson isn’t perfect, it doesn’t matter. Every lesson is a learning opportunity. Below are some pictures of us cantering – I can’t wait to see where this journey goes for us.❤️🐴

Cantering fools we are ❤️
I’m so focused – I swear I do enjoy cantering lol.
Movin and Groovin

Sunday evening diary – It’s been awhile – let’s catch up!

Hi everyone. My deepest apologies for being MIA for so long, but lots of changes have happened since the summer, so let’s dive right in.

First off, Alfie and Copper are fine. The changes that happened had to do with the management at our barn. In August, after a little over 2 years, the barn manager at our barn was let go so she could pursue her own business, and we were officially on the hunt for a new manager.

During that time, my role and assistance with things at the barn increased – and it has been incredibly empowering, rewarding and has added to my love of horses.

I have often been the newbie when it came to horses. Having only owned Alfie 6 1/2 years, that is a short time compared to many who’ve been involved with horses for 25 or more years. In the time I’ve been a horse owner, Alfie has experienced – colic, stepping on a roofing nail, various front leg tendon issues, severe digestive issues (thankfully not an issue anymore), severe arthritis, a fallen coffin bone in his hoof – fixed now but developed navicular, cataracts in both eyes – not to mention anxiety. Throw in Copper’s issues – hock injections, back shoes to support his back, scoliosis and various allergies, you can call me well versed in many medical conditions. I have spent 1000s of hours with my horses, I know them both better than anyone, and now, with new management at our barn, it was time for me to step up and share my experiences.

Our new manager is a wonderful woman, with a fabulous family. She has 4 horses, 2 that were adopted from a local rescue, 1 that was adopted from a thoroughbred rescue and the 4th horse, a beautiful mare that has entered our lesson program.

The 2 horses that were adopted from the rescue, Shiloh and Flame, are wonderful animals that have very different backgrounds. Shiloh is almost 4, and he was born at the rescue. Flame, a 13 hand pony, came from a neglect/abuse situation – very similar to Alfie. Shiloh, being a youngster, is just starting his training. And guess who has the privilege of working with him – ME! I was asked to help with ground work and manners – and working on understanding what a mounting block is. Being able to be given this opportunity was huge. I wasn’t looked at as the newbie anymore.

Shiloh

Flame, or “Curly Fry” as I like to call him is about 7 years old. He came to the rescue very thin, and very scared of humans. When I look at him, all I see is a smaller version of Alfie. I could see the shaking, and the terror in his eyes. My heart broke for him but I knew I could help him. I was there when both he and Shiloh arrived from the rescue. Flame had terrible rain rot on his mane, and was just so weak from malnutrition. I instinctively approached him like I did Alfie. Slow and stead movements, calm and soothing voice, led to him trusting me early on. Because of my experience with Alfie, I have been able to share ways to approach situations with Flame, and it’s been such a heartwarming experience to see him slowly start to trust humans – and I’ve played a part in that.

Flame

Flame is thriving under our care. “Our care.” It is “our” care, because my role has become a part of the care of all of the horses boarded at the barn. At times while we were searching for additional people to join our team, I had to do AM feedings and PM feedings alone, which is hard, but it is such a privilege to care for these animals.

A few weeks ago, one of our lesson horses was experiencing what appeared to be a colic episode. From the minute the text came through, I quickly got dressed and drove to the barn, while I gave instructions to our barn manager to keep him walking until I could get there to help asses him. 28 min later, I was at the barn, ear to his belly to see if I could hear any “gut sounds.” When I heard very little sounds, we told my trainer to call the vet. The vet was on the way, and I was instructed to give some medication to the horse to help ease his pain. By the time the vet got to the barn, our Ziggy had pooped and appeared to be feeling better. The vet listened to his belly and could hear normal gut sounds which was a relief. She treated him with a mineral oil flush and in a few hours he was back to normal. The emotions of that day, colic can go from being mild to deadly in a matter of minutes, knowing I jumped into action and helped this horse with my experience – I was proud of what I was able to bring to help Ziggy.

Ziggy – he loves to dress up for Halloween

Now for the Alfie and Copper updates. Alfie is doing well. He’s had some lameness issues again, due to a bad abscess and foot bruise and a badly arthritic knee. Despite those challenges, he still trots up the driveway to get to his field in the morning, he hasn’t let any of his issues slow him down at all.

Alfie – still begging for cookies

Copper – my little pepperoni horse, is doing fabulous. He has recently had back shoes put on to help support his hind end and his scoliosis in his back. Since the addition of the shoes, he is taking much less time to warm up and has the most beautiful forward trot. He is also learning how to jump cross rails – the brave lesson kids are working with him on that – his mama is way to chicken lol – and he’s doing great.

Copper and I working at getting into our corners.

2022 has been a whirlwind of a year. Lots of ups and downs. Lots of challenges. Lots of eye opening experiences. A few failures, and a lot of success. I know I say this all the time, but I’m going to keep on saying it – I am BLESSED. I am blessed with a wonderful family, which includes my barn family. I am BLESSED with the 2 most perfect horses in the world for me. I am BLESSED.

Wishing all of my fans and followers, a wonderful holiday season and a very Happy and Healthy New Year!❤️🐴❤️🐴

Wednesday Afternoon Diary – a little navicular isn’t gonna stand in our way.

Oh Alfie, getting older really isn’t easy. A couple months ago, Alfie developed a severe lameness that came out of nowhere. After an extensive vet visit and a bunch of X-rays later, Alfie was diagnosed with navicular.

Navicular is a degenerative condition that can cause lameness in the front legs. It’s very common in quarter horses, which is what Alfie is. Many years ago, having a horse with navicular was a death sentence as there weren’t many treatment options. Thankfully, that’s not the case now. With some corrective shoes and a new pain medication, Alfie is completely sound and feeling good.

In fact, he’s moving so well that we recently started taking lessons again – not riding lessons, but in hand lessons. Our in hand lessons consist of an obstacle course set up in our arena where he walks over poles and we can do some light jogging in straight lines. We’ve had 3 lessons so far, and Alfie’s muscle definition is coming back.

Retirement life for Alfie wasn’t something he adjusted well to. Since he’s been retired, he’s had to deal with his arthritis progressing as well as various hoof issues, and now navicular. But through all of this, he never lost his desire to work. Now that he’s feeling good, and 🤞🏻he stays this way, we can enjoy our weekly lessons, just like old times.

Below are pictures from our lesson, doesn’t he look good for being a horse in his mid 30s?❤️🐴

Walking over poles
Turn on the haunch
Completed turn on the haunch
Backing up
Walking on

Monday Afternoon Diary – We are champions…

What an eventful day yesterday was. Just take a look…

See that big ribbon – that’s a Champion ribbon
Copper & I won HUGE!!

Our first away horse show was a HUGE success, not only for me but for another young lady named Mila who also rode Copper and she won champion in her division.

The last several months have been medically challenging for Copper. He was diagnosed and treated for chronic Lyme’s disease – he is due for more blood work next month to see what his Lyme number is 🤞🏻 it has come down. He also just had his hocks injected for arthritis – they inject a combination of a steroid and joint lubricant to make his hocks feel and move a bit better. With the treatment for the Lyme’s and the hock injections, Copper basically had his 100,000 mile tune up and he’s feeling pretty good.

The horse show. Picture this everyone, May 22, 2022 – the normal temperature for the end of May in NY should be around the mid 70s, maybe low 80s. Well, yesterday the weather was 94 with high humidity and blazing sun. It was hot. Not warm, just plain hot. I’m not sure how much water I drank yesterday but at one point during my class, the judge announced that the rider on the pretty red and white horse needed water NOW. So everyone paused so I could have some water which I not only drank but poured down the front and back of my shirt. At this point, I truly didn’t care how much of a hot mess I looked like, I wasn’t about to pass out at my first show with my boy, who was absolutely perfect.

Copper has a pretty extensive show history, so I wasn’t worried about him spooking or not understanding what to do at a show. But this was my first time riding him off property and at a show, so my anxiety was up. Once I got into the saddle, and felt how calm and cool Copper was, my anxiety was gone.

The classes we competed in was a walk, trot and poles class. We were judged at equitation, pleasure and how well we managed to trot over poles. Prior to the start of my classes I asked my trainer which class was first, equitation or pleasure. She told me but honestly with the heat I totally forgot what she said, so my reign length didn’t change much between classes. For equitation, your reigns are a bit shorter, you are being judged at how your seat and body position looks. For pleasure, the reigns are let out a bit and the horse is judged on their form, and how “pleasurable” they are to ride. I scored 3rd place in both the equitation and pleasure class. I won 1st place for the poles.

The poles. My nemesis. Originally, the class was going to have each rider trot an opening circle, trot over the small course of poles and then finish with a closing circle. Well, because of the heat, they nixed the opening and closing circles. I’m not gonna lie, I was happy about that. Copper and I have been working for months on trotting circles. We can walk a circle beautifully, but trotting them is an entirely different story. By the last few lessons we really came together and I figured we had a fighting chance of actually being able to do it. Well I can tell you, I did do a trotting circle. During the class when all the horses were trotting, I was getting close to the horse in front of me so I turned Copper towards the inside to trot a circle so we could get some distance between us and the rider in front, and that trot circle was PERFECT.

Copper was very forward while we went over the poles and my half seat was very good considering my body felt like a puddle of goo. My diagonals were spot on during the entire competition, I wasn’t going to lose points because of being on the wrong diagonal.

Determination

So I won 2 third place and 1 first place ribbon. Tears of joy literally flowed from my eyes.

So much emotion.
I love him.

Now…the champion ribbon. I had literally no idea I won it. I had left the arena to un-tack Copper and was watching him finally drink some water when one of the other students from our barn came to me and said “Judy, I think you won champion”. I look at her and said nah, no way. She says “there was only one Judy in the class.” So I hand her Copper to hold and I head back towards the arena. Coming at me is Maddie, another rider from my barn, and in her hand is a champion ribbon. Then she tells me she got champion as well, we were tied.

I’m in a state of shock!

Then there were more tears. And then I called my mom. My mom, who’s my best friend and whose health has been a bit rocky lately, she answers the phone with “how did you do” and I reply, “we got champion mommy.” Yes, I’m 46 years old, and still call her mommy. I texted my husband who just started a new job and he couldn’t come to the show, and his reply was “AMAZING HONEY, SO PROUD OF YOU.”

Rocking and rolling.

I mentioned that Copper not only took me to champion status but he did it for Mila as well. Mila competed in her division first and honestly that’s where my tears started flowing first. I was so happy for her and so proud of the team they have become. A proud horse owner moment.

She loves him
Getting the champion ribbon – with our amazing trainer Kari
My boy ❤️

So there you have it folks. Champion. Does this mean every single ride we take is going to be perfect, nope. Will I have a bit more confidence with riding now that we conquered an away show – ABSOLUTELY!!

The day after a show is hard. Your body is tired and sore but you are still riding that high from accomplishing something you never thought you could. There were a total of 9 riders in my class. The class was for people with more than 2 years of riding experience – no age limit. Yes, I was the oldest rider in the class, I could’ve been all those kids’ mother lol. Everyone who rode yesterday were winners. It takes courage to go out there and ride with 8 other horses in an arena that is large but not that large. It takes talent to maneuver yourself among the other horses. I am proud of everyone that competed and it was an honor to share the arena with my fellow barn students.❤️🐴

Love

Saturday evening diary – courage comes in small by mighty steps

Happy Saturday everyone! We had an amazing day today at the barn. It was our spring cleaning day, and with the help of the boarders, students and parents, our barn got a deep cleaning it desperately needed.

The cleanup started around 10 and didn’t end until 2, so during the cleanup process things were moved all over the barn. Our entire grain room took up residence in our barn aisle so everything could be cleaned and reorganized. During this time, lessons were happening and all the horses took things in stride, except…Copper. It’s been just under 10 months since Copper joined my family and the two of us are more alike than I first realized. Neither one of us do well with change, even when that change is temporary. As I walked out the barn to head to the field to get Copper, I felt my anxiety rise and I started to sing to get my anxiety down a bit before I got to Copper’s field.

I was feeling more calm by the time I get to the field, and I try my best to reassure my boy that all is OK, even though the barn is in a bit of disarray. As we walk towards the barn, he snorts at the shelves that are outside drying, he snorts at the wash stall that is being scrubbed cleaned, he quickly darts passed the large garbage can that normally isn’t in the aisle, and when he sees all the stuff from the grain room piled around his eyes get super big and he rushes into his stall. I point him towards his hay and tell him it’s ok. Before my lesson I helped put things back into the grain room which immediately made my anxiety go down.

I groom Copper, singing softly which keeps me calm and focused and makes him super relaxed. I’ve suffered from anxiety most of my life, I just didn’t know what it was that I was feeling until I was in my 30s. I mean, honestly, why should I have anxiety because our barn is getting cleaned? Stupid right? I tend to not question the why anymore, but I focus on getting through my anxiety as best I can. I’ve learned over the years that when I’m anxious, my horse is going to be anxious. I’ve worked so hard to try and bury my anxiety only to have made it worse – that didn’t help my riding when it came to Alfie. So I’m trying to approach things differently with Copper. If I just let the anxiety happen and not try to bury it, and work through it, he will feel the difference in the energy I’m putting out there and our ride and our trust of each other will be better. Well guess what folks, it’s working.

Our lesson starts and he’s pretty relaxed, but still slightly on edge from all the activity happening around the barn. But I kept my focus on our ride and lesson and did my best to be the confident, non anxiety controlled rider he deserves. We worked on the exercises we will be doing at our first off property horse show we are going to in May. I managed to complete our poles course, all at a trot, complete with 2 circles at a trot. We worked on our pleasure and equitation exercises, had some fun with our sit trot and when our lounge was getting vacuumed and he tensed up, I gave him a reassuring squeeze that all was fine, no one was going to vacuum him lol.

As our lesson finished, and I was cooling him out, I gave him a lot of reassuring pats and I even patted myself on the shoulder.

Working on our sit trot

My first off property horse show with Alfie happened after several years of being partners. My first off property horse show with Copper will happen in month 11 of us being a team, less than 1 year together. I realize just how much courage I have these days. I was anxious today, yet I didn’t fight the anxiety, I just put it to the side so I could be there for Copper, who still needs some reassurance at times. I was extremely anxious a few weeks ago when our barn welcomed a new pony and Copper was super excited to get to know her, and he ignored all my instructions when he wouldn’t stop his forward prancing walk because he was trying to impress her. But I managed to stay in control and eventually won by getting him focused back on me and not on her lol.

Our forward walk

Anxiety. It’s real, it stinks, it comes at the most random of times, over the most random of things. It’s a part of me, but I refuse to let it control me. If it insists on being a part of me, than I am going to continue to learn to co-exist with it. My hope, actually it’s more than hope, my GOAL is to be able to shove it so far to the side that it falls away for good. Copper is helping me achieve that, each and every time I put my foot in that stirrup and sit in that saddle.❤️🐴

My friend Judy – yes we are both Judy’s – Maestro aka Thunder Baby Shark and Copper and I at the end of our lesson with our amazing trainer Kari in the middle.

Wednesday morning diary – welcome Spring

Ok, it’s not officially the first day of spring, but it certainly feels it. This winter wasn’t an awful one in comparison to other years, but we did see a fair amount of ICE this winter which is not fun for anyone, especially horses.

Alfie came out of the winter pretty good. His arthritis has been bothering him a bit, especially with the hard ground. This was Alfie’s first winter without shoes, and my old man did pretty well. The thawing ground should make him feel and move much better.

Alfie ❤️

Now for the update on Copper. About 7 weeks ago or so, we noticed that Copper started dragging his back left foot while trotting. He had been dragging it every now and then but during the cold winter, it became much more apparent and it was time for a vet visit. The vet came out and did a lameness exam on him, and found that he had a mild lameness in his back left leg. Based on that exam, she felt it was his hock that was bothering him. So she took X-Rays to see what was going on, and guess what we found…3 small areas of arthritis. Now if he has arthritis in one hock, chances are he’s got it elsewhere as well. I can now report that he is on the same arthritis treatment plan Alfie is on, and it’s working!

Within a matter of days, Copper stopped dragging his back foot, and he’s moving better every day. While the vet was here, I also had her take some blood so he could be tested for Lyme’s disease. When I purchased him, his former owner had told me he had been treated for Lyme’s in the past. Once horses have Lyme’s, it can flare up, just like it does in people. Well, Copper started to spook at very random things, cones, poles, jump standards, all things he sees all the time. Lyme’s can effect vision, can make arthritis worse and can make horses more edgy and paranoid in their behavior. So when his Lyme’s test came back positive – at a level that is considered “chronic” – he was started on the antibiotic immediately. He’s been on the medication 7 days, I rode him yesterday and could see a difference, he didn’t spook at all.🙏🏻

My sweet Copper ❤️

My journey with horses started over 6 years ago. Looking back from where I started to where I am now, it’s like night and day. I am very proud of all that I have learned and all that I continue to learn every day. I am grateful that the universe brought both my boys into my life, I’m honored that I was chosen out of everyone else in the world to be their owner. ❤️🐴❤️🐴

Sunday Morning Diary – welcome winter

Happy New Year!!

Winter has officially arrived in New York. After a fairly mild and calm December, January has started out cold and icy. It’s Sunday, and we are getting hit with freezing rain and sleet so no barn for me today.

YES!!

Last night scrolling through one of the many horse groups I belong to on Facebook, someone posted this image. I want everyone to stop and read this statement out loud, shout it from the rooftop, let it really sink in.

I’ve talked about learning how to speak horse for years, and that it’s truly a work in progress. Learning to communicate with your horse is something that never stops. I’ve watched so many riders blaming the horse for not doing what the rider is asking when the fault lays with the rider.

My current hurdle I’m trying to overcome is getting Copper to pick up the correct lead going in his harder direction at the canter. At first, I was having such difficulties getting it right, I thought perhaps there was something wrong with him, like maybe he was in discomfort somewhere, so I asked my trainer to hop on him to see if it was him or me. Well, no surprise here, the issue is me. I’m not giving him the proper cues. The signals I’m sending out with my body position and seat are full of static and he is doing the best he can with what I’m telling him.

I find myself apologizing to Copper pretty regularly, in a tone that is full of love and compassion. I mean he is giving me his all and I’m the one dropping the ball. But that is what this process is all about. That is what makes us a team. There are things I’m really good at communicating properly and he struggles to learn it and I’m right there with him every step of the way, it is a true partnership. This way of thinking is fairly new for me.

When I look back at when I first started to learn how to ride 6 years ago, I was such a hot mess lol. I remember it taking what felt like years just to learn how to post while trotting. I also remember how when I started to get just a little bit of experience, skill and knowledge under my belt, I felt like I knew it all. Any time Alfie wasn’t doing exactly what I asked for, I put blame on him. Statements like “why won’t he just trot”, or “why doesn’t he do this”, “Alfie why can’t you be like (insert name of any other horse in the arena).” I imagine that those statements are pretty common place with riders but how many actually admit it?

My thought process changed when I started to learn how to better communicate with Alfie. So many of our issues we had with riding were totally my fault, and that made me feel like the worst rider. But worse than that, I had let my partner down – but he never gave up on me – something I’m so incredibly grateful for.

Well, this diary entry turned into something I didn’t expect, a true confessional, an admittance of ignorance, attitude and fault. Yes, I’ve made mistakes, tons of them, and I take 100% responsibility for making every single one of them. Having no knowledge about something isn’t dangerous, having just a little bit and shutting out learning further is what’s dangerous. I spent about 3 years putting the fault on our riding struggles solely on Alfie. At the time, I knew I didn’t know everything but for whatever reason I felt like I did.

I say it all the time, riding isn’t easy. This sport isn’t easy. Horses aren’t easy. If it was easy, everyone who rides would be a gold medal winner at the Olympics. This is a journey of learning. Whether you’ve been around horses for 6 years or 60 years, the learning never stops, unless you choose it to. My Alfie never gave up on me, even though at times I gave up on him. Again, I admit my faults, but those faults and mistakes I made forced me to take 1000 steps backwards to get it right with him. He waited patiently for me to get my s*it together, and when I finally did, we had the best 2 years of riding before his retirement. Those lessons Alfie taught me are there every time I ride Copper. ❤️🐴

My Alfie ❤️
Copper ❤️

Sunday Evening Diary…a month filled with blessings

Relaxing after a nice hot shower after a super busy cold day at the barn, my heart is filled with such joy and happiness. Let me bring you all up to date with the adventures of Alfie and Copper.

Alfie and Copper enjoying the first snow of the season.

I can officially announce to the world – Alfie is barefoot. He no longer requires custom shoes. He has been barefoot for 4 weeks, and he’s doing great. His feet are adjusting nicely to not having shoes in a very long time. The crack that developed in his heel in March, grew out completely and his feet look fantastic. The day I got the call that Alfie was officially barefoot, I cried hysterically in the parking lot of my local supermarket, tears of pure joy and relief for him. My boy finally caught a break with his feet.

Full on ugly cry – so happy for Alfie

With Alfie’s feet feeling good and his arthritis pain being managed with some extra supplements, we have resumed our Sunday workouts. Sundays are for Alfie, and he really does enjoy our time together. While I groom Alfie I sing to him – although my singing voice is awful, Alfie doesn’t care, he loves when I sing to him. We then have fun in the arena. We jog together, we hop over poles on the ground together and when I need to sit and catch my breath, we play tug of war with his lead rope – I always let him win.

He’s just so perfect.
My world
Being goofy ❤️
Copper’s stocking ❤️
Alfie’s stocking ❤️
Copper looking stylish ❤️

Now for an update on Copper – in a nutshell – he’s wonderful. It’s been almost 6 months since this beautiful red head joined my family and he’s letting his guard down a bit so his personality is coming out which is great. I was worried about dividing my time between both boys, making Copper feel loved while giving equal attention to Alfie. At times I felt myself literally being pulled in separate directions, worrying about Alfie’s feelings while earning the trust and love of Copper. But, all those hours spent building a relationship with Copper have paid off. He knows who I am, he knows I’m his human. He also knows I love him.

I know you are on the edge of your seat with anticipation, you want to know how our riding is going . We are doing AMAZING together! I am an official member of the “Canter Club” as I like to call it. That’s right, I am not only walking and trotting but I’m learning to canter. The canter gait has always been a challenge for me, but I’m doing it.

Copper

Just when I had given up hope in finding an Alfie 2.0 the universe stepped in and brought me Copper. Many people may have doubted us as a riding pair. I mean, Copper is a registered horse with an impressive show history, and here I am, an intermediate beginner who is a timid rider. But Copper brought out the courages side of me. For the first time, I wasn’t afraid of taking a little risk. I wasn’t afraid to step out of my comfort zone. And by trusting my skills and my horse, we are making huge strides.

Copper has a pretty big fan club when it comes to the younger students who ride him. Right now, there are 4 kids who want to show him in horse shows in the spring – and I want to compete with him as well. What’s so great is while I am doing dressage with him, the younger students are jumping over small jumps with him, which he really loves. I get to watch most of the lessons with the students and my heart swells with joy when I see how they appreciate him for who he is. Everyone that rides him seems to fall in love with him which is what he deserves.

❤️

As 2021 winds down, I can’t help but smile. I started out the year as a single horse household. All was good until March when our riding time abruptly ended. Months of serious lameness issues would follow until a 2nd opinion from a different vet changed everything for Alfie for the better, but I desperately wanted another horse to love, another soul to save and another riding partner to call my own. The month of June brought Copper into my world.

To all my fans, supporters and readers, thank you for the love you have shown Alfie, Copper and myself this year. May the joys of the season fill your hearts with love.❤️🐴❤️🐴