Life Choices

This article recently popped up on my Facebook news feed: http://horsejunkiesunited.com/?p=86233. It really struck a chord.

"...A few of us were there eating and after a moment an auditor asked if she might have some advice about her horse situation. With a nod from the clinician, the auditor said she had come into some money and finally imported the horse of her dreams. The gelding arrived and within a few months developed some sort of nebulous lameness that vets had not been able to diagnose. That was 4 years ago, the horse was still not sound. No cost was spared, no opinion ignored. The auditor asked what she should do next.
The clinician barely looked up from her plate. “Dump him,” she said, “You’re not getting any younger.” Stunned silence. I hoped she meant to say retire him. She continued after a bite, “It’s gone on too long, get another horse.” It was like the clinician had pulled out a gun and shot the horse herself. The mid-life auditor had tears streaming down her cheeks. She managed to choke out something in an almost-adult voice. No one was fooled.
I took it personally. I had a horse at home with a layered and obscure health concern that I had not been able to help, even after several vets and thousands of dollars. I wanted to shoot the clinician. Even if she was right."
While a bit brash, I get it. It took me a while and a lot of tears, but I get it. The other day hubby turned to me and said, after I had come home from the barn with a smile on my face, "you know what I like best about Avalon?" "What?" "That you don't come home and say your horse needs the vet, is lame again, that you're calling the chiropractor, that you want to try a different supplement, etc., etc." In the two years that I had Finn there was very rarely a day where I would come home happy from the barn. Even when he was sound. Even when we had a good day. There was always something missing. A little bit of fear that kept me from ever truly enjoying him. So maybe getting him was a mistake. But I'd like to think that in the two years I had him I gave him a better life than anyone could. Until I couldn't anymore. And I am okay with that. Like really, truly, 100% okay with my decisions. 
And then with the job. I started today and it went amazingly well. I absolutely love it and can see myself growing within the University. It is a very casual office, yet professional-- something that was sorely lacking at my old job. I am STILL getting text messages from my old boss, even though I don't work there anymore. If I don't reply he keeps texting me with '???". I am not sure how to handle this. The other day he texted me and asked me where stamps were...Really?
I feel like these past six months I've made some very positive life choices. With Avalon and getting a new job, both decisions much better for my family and my life. 

A new way to wear a fly mask

She hates the barn pig



4 months

"My goal with the horse is not to beat someone; it's to win within myself. To do the best job I can do and tomorrow try to do better. You will be working on yourself to accomplish this, not on your horse. You will work to recognize how you feel toward your horse and how your horse answers you back; how he understands you, and how he takes it". -Ray Hunt

Me and Avalon recently celebrated four months together and it still shocks me when I look at pictures of her right after she stepped off the trailer:

To what she looks like now:


Coming together

First off...I got the job! After the in person interview I was fairly confident that I was the right fit. I am so excited to start in a few weeks. For the first time in almost three years I will get vacation time (3 weeks!), have weekends off, and get to leave work at work. I'll also be making double what I'm making now and that will be amazing!

Avalon got a bath this week. This time I washed her with Dawn and it did a very good job on her mane and tail.  She even let me hose her face. I think I'm going to wrap her tail in the fall after a few more good washes so that it will stop getting so dirty.

Tonight I worked with her in a saddle pad and surcingle and hope to attach long lines this week.

She is just absolutely thriving at this barn. She's covered in dapples and growing like a weed!

I feel like everything is coming together. With her, the barn, the job. The next step is finding a trainer to work with us on the ground and breaking her to drive. I won't be breaking her to ride until she is 3.5-4, but would like to find someone that will work with us consistently on the ground. 



Looks like things may be turning around a bit! That job I really wanted? They called me the day after I applied, had a phone interview the day after, and an in person interview today with 4 people from the office. I couldn't have asked it to gone any better and I'm fairly certain I landed the job. I should hear early next week.

After my interview I went up to see Avalon and when I call her name to get her from the paddock she will usually walk over to me. Today though she was in the far corner of the paddock and when I called her name she spun around, whinnied, and galloped full force to me. She came to a sliding stop 3 feet from me. It was terrifying and awesome all at once!! We worked in the indoor for a bit and I've started to clicker train her. I'm trying to teach her some patience so I would click and give her a treat when she turned her head away from me and stood still. She definitely picked up on it quickly. Love her more and more every day!
Camera shy today

Homely face


Not horse related

I've had a major case of writer's block when it comes to this blog lately. I've started blog posts about three times in the past week that I can't seem to finish. Avalon continues to be wonderful, but my personal life has been pretty meh for a while.

When I graduated college, with a 3.9 GPA and a degree in Psychology, I had big dreams of going on to grad school and possibly even getting my doctorate and becoming a therapist. Financially at the time that wasn't possible so I got my first job out of college working for an investment company in a customer service position during the economic downfall. I'd take call after call of people screaming at me about their dwindling investments. I hated that job and moved on to a restaurant management company working for a famous chef as an office manager. That was a great job, but six months in I was dating my hubby and he was transferred to a job in New York and I decided to move with him and take a job at a University in the Registrar's office. Also a great job, but it paid nearly minimum wage. After we got married and I got pregnant we moved back to Massachusetts. Matt bounced around to a few different jobs and this year he finally found a job at a great company that he loves and there is a lot of room for advancement.

When Addie was six months old and I was pretty bored sitting home with her I started working with Matt for Matt's old boss as an office assistant. Matt has since moved on from this company, but I have stayed. I've been there over two years now and have been promoted to an office manager position. The job is completely draining. I work part time, but between my boss texting and calling me a hundred times a day, and obsessively checking my work emails, it is really a 40+ hour a week job. I also don't get any vacation time and have not taken more than two days off in a row in over a year. I work weekends and take Wednesdays and Fridays off. But because I've recently taken over some more financial stuff I find myself working from home on Fridays. While my boss was in Italy for two weeks he would text me between 1-3am due to the time difference and I would wake up and respond. When I took off two days last week (my first days off in 21 days) my boss was texting me asking me where stamps were. I can never leave work at work. I can never check out. I am constantly attached to my phone or computer.

This all wouldn't be a problem if I liked the job I did, or felt like I was working for a great company. Or respected my boss. But I don't. Recently, my boss mentioned to me that he is planning on getting rid of the accounting company he uses and using me solely for his accounting. I don't like the way he does business and I know he wants to use me because he can fudge his financial reporting much more easily.

I just feel completely stuck. I have no energy and I can't be happy because I'm constantly stressed. I never want to see my horse because I am always overwhelmed. All I want to do is sleep. I would love to be able to go back to school, but I just can't unless we are both working. We need both incomes. I am exhausted and more than ready for a change. Living in Massachusetts is tough. Everything is expensive and jobs are hard to come by. If my husband didn't love his job so much I'd be looking for work elsewhere. But for now, here we are.

I've applied for a few jobs and hoping to hear back from one I'm very interested in. While it is full-time the benefits and quality of life would be more than worth it. Between holiday, vacation, and sick time, I'd have over a month off every year which is a heck of a lot more than I've had in the past 2+ years. I'm in desperate, desperate need of a change.

Anyways... here's some Avalon pics from the other night!


Do Over

I think often about what I would have done different with Finn. I try to have no regrets, and I absolutely, 100% know that I made the right decision in giving him up and getting Avalon, but still, the last 6 or so months with him were just so strange and difficult.

Since moving to my new barn I thank my lucky stars every day how great my horse has it now. She has a spotless dry stall every day, clean water, hay all day, the best food, the best barn manager, and the safest property I've ever been at. It is honestly horse heaven. I often think about what would have happened to Finn if I had never moved him last summer, and if I had never moved him back to the barn we were at in New Hampshire. Would everything that had happened, have happened? Probably not. He would have still had all the underlying issues that would have limited him, I'm sure, but maybe not to the same extreme. While we were at our last barn he was in a paddock of 6 geldings, mostly Thoroughbreds. One day one of them reared up and managed to come down on Finn's back. In trying to get the other horse off of his back Finn half-reared and knocked the other horse over completely backwards. I did not witness this, but did hear about it from the barn manager. At the time Finn was having back issues but not to the extreme as he was after this.

There were so many times that I would go up to the barn and all the horses were practically attacking each other in the paddocks. There wasn't a week that went by that a horse didn't come in from turnout with an injury that either required stall rest or stitches. All the horses were constantly on edge, rearing while being brought in from turnout, kicking and whinnying in their stalls, pawing in the aisles. It was NEVER just one horse, it was ALL of them. There was nothing about the barn that seemed like it was stressful, or dangerous, but still, the injuries and behaviors spoke for themselves.

My current barn has I think, 15 or so horses, and in the few months I haven't seen the vet for an emergency once, or a horse exhibit ANY bad or aggressive behavior. There is no whinnying, or running. There's a bunch of calm horses that happily go about their day. I'm not sure what the difference is, and I alway wonder if Finn would have been better here, and wish that I would have found this barn last year.

But, I wouldn't trade what I have now, and the bond I have, with my little one for anything. She is such a love, so easy going, and loves to do stuff. I measured her today and she's surprisingly 14hh, and she will be 2 in September. I hope she puts on some more height!

Today she also got her first bath and I couldn't have asked for it to go any better. She stood tied, danced a bit, but really started enjoying it at the end. She has the coolest personality. She loves to watch me do everything. She even let me hose her face!



Today Avalon had her first experience with the equine dentist! While I couldn't be there due to work, hubby was able to go and keep me posted. When Avalon got her Spring shots a couple of months ago I had asked my former vet when she recommended Avalon to start getting her teeth looked at. She told me when we started training, so 3ish. When my barn manager told me last week that the dentist would be up today and if she wanted Avalon looked at I thought it was probably a good idea for him to at least look in her mouth.

I'm sure glad I did!

While I think most vets are great at what they do, when it comes to my horse's mouth I always trust an equine dentist after a bad experience with a vet floating Finn's teeth a couple of years ago.

I've noticed that when Avalon is chewing that she sort of moves her tongue to the side like she's pushing the food back, but I didn't make a big deal of it and just passed it off as how she eats, because I'm trying not to be obsessive and neurotic about things when it comes to her!

Well, once the dentist was inside her mouth she had tons of points that were actually wearing on the inside of her mouth and clearly very uncomfortable. The dentist told hubby that it is a misconception that younger horses shouldn't get looked at/worked on, as that is the most important time to check out their mouths. He also took out her wolf teeth so we wouldn't have to do it a few years down the road. She was super well behaved too, and the dentist did everything possible to make it a positive experience for her. I'm sure her mouth feels a whole lot better now!

Wolf teeth!


June Goals and May Goals Review

Oh boy where did the month go!? I'm finding that not having a horse that is lame all the time is leaving a lot more time and money to do other things than worry and stress. It's so nice spending time with the family now that the warmer days are here!

Avalon continues to be amazing. I really didn't do much with her this month, but we still accomplished a lot. She is turned out so much more at the new barn (most days 7am-7pm), and all that turnout is making for a tired, happy pony! She's also put on lots of weight and is so shiny. 

Here's our May review:
1. Walks! I want to take Avalon on lots of walks- trails, road, indoor, outdoor, around the property. Done. We've been walking all over, through puddles, up hills, outdoor, indoor, around the property, down the road. She hasn't said no to anywhere I've asked her to go.

2. Work more on tying. Meh. She really is not great at standing tied, especially in her stall. We've been working on giving to pressure. Although we didn't do great with standing tied see below for our biggest accomplishment to date!

3. Give her a bath. Nope! The weather this past month has been horrible. Rain, rain, and more rain. Bath this month for sure. 

4. Expose her more to clippers and spray. Clippers she's doing pretty good with, and spray she is doing awesome with!! I'm now able to spray her whole body, mane, and tail, without her really moving at all. 

5. Expose her to tarps and other scary objects. The tarp doesn't faze her, and everything else that she's been exposed to on property (including kiddie pool), she's good with. 

6. Take a field trip. Unfortunately barn mates didn't go anywhere this past month. Hopefully something we will accomplish by the end of the summer, or I need a trailer!

7. Expose her to long lines.  We didn't start this either, but it will definitely be something we're going to start this week. 

Now for some big news!

While Avalon is not great at standing tied and tends to dance around....we kind of skipped that and moved right on to cross ties!! She is now very successfully cross tied. She will stand for 40+ minutes, I can brush her, pick all of her feet, walk behind her, spray her, and use clippers for a short amount of time. She barely moves and is excellent about standing and giving to pressure on cross ties. I'm pretty amazed at how easy it was to get her cross tied, as she never was before. Today I even threw a pillow wrap over her back as a makeshift saddle pad. 

She is also so butt high and awkward right now. I think she'll be putting on some height this summer.

Here are our June Goals:

1. Give her a bath.
2. Work with long line attached to her halter and possibly with a surcingle too. 
3. Work more with clippers and give her a bridle path. 
4. Work more in the outdoor ring.
5. Take her for a walk on the trails. 


May Goals: Tarp and Standing Tied

Today I worked on two of our May goals. This is the first time Avalon has ever seen the tarp, and while she won't go over it, she does not mind wearing it or having it flap around. She was so good about it!!

After about 10 minutes with the tarp we moved on to working on standing tied in the aisle. This did not go that smoothly as she had to mouth everything, dance around, and look at everything. I think I will work on ground tying and getting her to stand in the indoor, as well as short sessions actually standing tied. I had her tied to the outside of one of the stalls, and I also had a crosstie attached to one side of her halter. 

I'm trying to keep our sessions short, I don't want to overload her, but she's so cute and awesome it's tough not to keep working with her!!


Every day

This whole seeing my pony every day? It's pretty awesome!! And it's making for a very friendly pony!


May Goals and Purchases

I feel like I finally have a horse that I can set small goals with and actually, maybe, achieve them! Here are a few that we'll be working on:

1. Walks! I want to take Avalon on lots of walks- trails, road, indoor, outdoor, around the property. I want to expose her to everything.
2. Work more on tying. Avalon ties fine in her stall (still sometimes pulls back). I'd like to be able to tie her in the aisle or on the hitching post where the wash stall is. Once she can consistently tie for 30 minutes we will start working on cross tying.
3. Give her a bath. Baby girl desperately needs her tail washed and put up in a tail wrap to keep it clean and long.
4. Expose her more to clippers and spray. I've brought the clippers out a few times and she's okay with them, but we definitely need to work on using them more. Same with spray. She can handle a couple of sprays of coat conditioner/fly spray, but then she will get nervous and start dancing around.
5. Expose her to tarps and other scary objects I can think up. Work on them not being scary things.
6. Hopefully take a field trip somewhere with barn mates. I'd love to get her back on the trailer and tag along to a show or clinic, just to get her off the property.
7. Expose her to long lines (attached to halter) and get her to walk forward and turn.

Things I want to purchase this month:
1. Fly mask (flies are already getting bad!).
2. Fly spray
3. Shampoo, blueing shampoo, conditioner, sweat scrape, sponge (I threw out all my old bathing supplies)

Things that need to get done this month:
1. Worm with Panacur
2. Hoof trim