HI! It’s been a minute since I’ve updated the blog. Sorry about that! Life took over this winter, in the best of ways…
First and foremost in the news department is that I am pregnant with Child Numero Dos! Yes, very exciting. We’re all thrilled and looking forward/bracing ourselves for the big change coming this summer.
I am due at the end of July, which is a great time to have a baby, but also means no horse showing for me this year. It’s OK. I knew I wanted to take a year off from competing anyway, so that we could be solid Third Level with changes by the time we came back out. I didn’t want to show Second Level again, but am not ready for Third yet. Taking a year to focus on training, and oh yes–have a baby–is the right decision.
Anyway, I have been riding through this pregnancy just like I did last time, and have been feeling pretty great. I thought I did some of my best riding during my first pregnancy, and I feel that way again this time.
I don’t know if it’s the Relaxin hormone working its magic to allow my seat to be deeper, or if it’s the mental focus that comes with knowing you’re going to have to stop riding at some point for a while so you better take advantage of the time you have, or if the baby bump just forces me to SIT BACK DAMMIT….It’s probably all of the above.
Once again, Clay has been a total rockstar and hasn’t stepped one toe out of line while I have been pregnant. I feel SO grateful to have a horse this sensitive and intuitive and safe, who can also Dressage his little ass off. If he were any other way, I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking the risk of riding while pregnant.
Of course, I’m still being more careful than usual…No spring trail rides (boohoo for me, but I will let someone else go have fun with him in the woods so that at least he doesn’t have to miss out on the fun.)
It just feels great to be able to do the thing that makes me feel most ME during this time of great change. I am so, so grateful for the winter we just had. It was full of lessons, learning, and peaceful bonding time with my pony. I can’t believe I am saying this, because winters usually suck around here, but it was a wonderful winter.
Why was this winter so much different than winters past? Well, for starters, I have been boarding at a heated barn since fall. With a wonderful full-time dressage trainer at my disposal. And regular monthly clinics with Kate Phillips. Hallelujah!
I cannot express what a luxury it has been to be able to take lessons weekly and do clinics monthly. After years of being largely on our own, with only occasional clinics with Gina and Kate to keep us going, I can really appreciate the benefits of having access to consistent, quality instruction.
And did I mention HEAT? It made it so that I could consistently ride all winter, no matter how wickedly cold it was outside. Hallelujah x2!
Another difference was that Child Numero Uno is now in daycare twice a week, leaving me with two whole days to get my work done, meal plan/prep, do any errands that are difficult to do with her along, plan learning activities for the days she is home with me, and still have time to visit/ride my horse a couple times. This is called balance, and it’s a very elusive, nearly impossible thing to achieve in one’s life. We got a little bit closer to achieving it this winter, thanks to our wonderful daycare. My husband even took up running, because he had time to do something for himself for once. The mental-health benefits for our entire family have been REAL.
Lastly, I wasn’t teaching lessons this winter. This decision made me sad, but it was a necessary one for many reasons. The downside is that I miss my students and I miss doing something I really love to do. The upside is having a lot more time for my family, and not standing in a FREEZING cold barn for hours every day, feeling the energy being zapped out of me.
Clay seems a lot happier too. I’m not projecting here. He has gone through several periods of being incredibly hard to catch in the pasture over the past couple years. It happened again right after we moved to the new barn. He seemed like he wanted to avoid work at all costs, and it was really disheartening.
I talked the issue through with my vet, my trainer and several friends who have experience getting through to the quirkier horses of the world. We ruled out anything medical, so I spent several weeks just grooming him and doing lots of gentle ground-work with him.
My goal was to better establish our connection on the ground (our connection under saddle has always been amazing, but he’s a bit of a different beast on the ground). I also moved him to indoor/outdoor board (rather than exclusively outdoor), so that he would get into the routine of coming into the barn daily rather than just when he’s getting worked.
Within a week of these changes, I saw a completely different horse emerge. He’s not avoiding work, he’s coming to the pasture gate to greet whatever human is approaching, he’s turning to greet us in his stall instead of hiding in the corner, and his demeanor both under saddle and on the ground is more relaxed and cheerful.
Once I am far enough along in this pregnancy where I need to stop riding, I plan to continue the ground-work/connection work with him several times a week. I think it makes a huge difference. I’ve come to realize that he’s a little high maintenance when it comes to how much attention he needs in order to feel relaxed, trusting and bonded with a human.
If you disappear from his life for a few weeks, he’s going to be skeptical when you show back up. He needs routine. And he’s a tiny bit diva. He knows he’s worth your time and attention, and he kind of holds a grudge if you’re not delivering. I’m glad I know this about him. Now I can make sure to give him what he needs to be his best self.
So, that’s the update from around here! I’ll do a post soon about everything we’ve been working on in our lessons and clinics. So much exciting progress!
Thanks for checking in and following along on our journey. I hope everyone out there has weathered the winter well. Happy spring!
Peace, love, horses,