Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Letter to 2010

Dear 2010,

It seems like I just celebrated your arrival yesterday, but so much has taken place since then. I have to say that you've been a year of self-discovery, changes and progressions. I hope its not to soon to day it, but 2010, I think you have been my best year to date!

It all started with a silly resolution. "No free refills" or "Stop kissing/ calling boys who you have dated before because if it didn't work then, it won't work now and its a waste of time and energy". Sounds silly but I tell you I think that resolution put some major life changes in to motion. How was I planning to move forward and find a meaningful relationship if I kept taking steps back every time I felt lonely.

In addition to that resolution I felt this new feeling, a feeling that came as a result of graduation. I felt like I was no longer preparing for my life, but actually living it for the first time. I felt like the things that I do now that I am not in school were the things the mattered. I had always been in school in some form or fashion and that was always in preparation for a "better life". But as of January, 2010, the preparation was over and the living had begun! I thought that I had better start living it because I was no longer waiting for anything.

Granite was also only 4 months away from going undersaddle as the ball dropped at midnight on January 1st. I knew that I was out of shape and over weight and could not do my fabulous horse proper justice in that condition. Losing weight wasn't a resolution or even a goal, but finally having a reason bigger/better than my own self-imagine to get into shape is exactly what I needed to get my butt in gear... literally.

These factors put into motion all of the things that have come to fruition this year. I deleted phone numbers of exes and cuddle buddies. I depended on my girl friends to text when I was lonely and I learned to, for the first time in my life, enjoy alone. I got to know Rachel and who she was and what she liked to do when there was no one else around to ask for attention. I realized that I love candles and Jack Johnson and Red Wine and tidying up and reading and enjoying peace and quiet. I dabbled in yoga for flexibility and pilaties for strength. I got very acquainted with some really neat parks and relished in my runs with my dog and the exhilaration I felt when each run was longer and faster. I developed new healthy habits like eating only when I was hungry (what a concept!) and not worrying about what I was eating so long as it was only when I was hungry. I challenged myself to exercise 4-6 days a week regardless of the circumstances. I sought out opportunities to volunteer with young equestrians, to learn more about horses through Horse Management courses and reading, to give blood, to help others. I felt fulfilled and empowered like I never have before. I went out with my girl friends once a week and enjoyed a weekend night with myself once a week.

March Madness came and went and April was upon us. My 4-Hers competed successfully and I got to help Eva find her horsey soul mate. Then Granite was put to the test in training! I was starting to lose weight and truly enjoyed runs. Before I knew it, I had lost 22 pounds. My favorite days were those when Eva came to visit her horse and me and we would run and then go spend time with our critters and talk about our plans the horses and their careers.

In May I watched 3 friends graduate. I cried tears of pride and took pictures. I celebrated and toasted to the success of those I love. I also met TK at one of those celebrations. He took me out on our first date soon after and I knew that this man was for real. We became inseparable almost immediately. As perfect as he is for me, I don't think it would have happened like it did if I hadn't gone through those changes earlier in the year. I knew exactly who I was on the day TK took me out. I knew what I wanted and what I wouldn't accept; in myself and in those around me. I had erased all the meaningless men from my life and truly gave myself time to love me and be a better person. I was ready to find love and then it found me!

The summer brought a whirl wind. I had to get a second job to pay for student loans. I worked all the time and spent the hours when I should have been sleeping developing my new relationship with TK. I went to New York City and experienced the big life then went the the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games and experienced the simple life. I became someone's girlfriend and gained a dependable ally in my life. I spent the summer in highs and lows. I dreaded waiting tables and swooned in the excitement of getting to ride my horse for the first time. Granite was amazing. Then he was terrible. I felt at the end of my rope but then slowly inspired by progress.

With late summer and early fall came some normalcy but I wasn't quite satisfied. I was running less, still working at a miserable establishment, felt less fulfilled in my career, I was also still having trouble with Granite's training but had run out of money for professional help. But as per advice of friends and bloggers, I just "kept swimming". I worked. I hated it. I paid the bills. I kept riding and took all my timelines and threw them away. I relished in "just going forward" and felt liberated that Granite had no more deadlines for his progression.

Then Granite got sick. Training mattered a whole lot less and my life became dictated by snot and antibiotics. I missed my family but felt secure and happy with my boyfriend. Reno left the barn. Granite finally got better. We just kept going forward. I applied for jobs and schemed of ways to get out of waiting tables. I interviewed and interviewed and kept coming up as honorable mention in the race for the jobs. I just kept going forward and enjoying my new progress with Granite.

As the leaves fell and the cold approached, things got better. I threw caution to the wind and quit the horrible restaurant without much of a back up plan. I consolidated student loans and TK and I decided to take the leap to moving in together a bit sooner than we had planned. It would save me money and save us both time and energy every day. We searched for a place and found one. I interviewed for another job, a position I had always hoped for in a nice municipality. I got to spend time with my family for the holidays.

Come December everything started coming together. We had a date set for moving and all of the details in place. I wrote a new budget to insure I could make it financially through the new year without two jobs. Granite began to blow me away when he took easily to small crossrails and simple lead changes. I got a second round interview for a job.

2010, you culminated in a insane and deliriously exciting Christmas Holiday. I packed my old apartment and then accepted a conditional job offer that would land me in a wonderful position and with 36% more income. I spent 6 lovely days at my parents house and enjoyed celebration of togetherness and successes. The Outer Banks experienced 9 inches of snow and my boyfriend earned his sainthood by managing to arrange everything to make sure we were moved into our new home together on time. Our home is coming together and I will soon give my resignation at my first "real" job to move forward to bigger and better things.

I only hope that 2011 will be 1/2 as good to me as you were. I hope that I can accept and excel at the challenge of a new job. I hope Granite and I can find a barn that will treat us as kindly as Becky's has. I hope TK and I continue to grow forward together and as individuals. I hope to live within my means and save money for a better future. I hope to continue gaining knowledge in my career field and about horses. I hope to give back to my community and my county and my friends. I hope to get back to running because I found so much joy in it but have put it on the back burner. I want to read more. I want to chase life and live every moment. I wish you all the same good fortune in the new year.

Thanks for everything 2010. I will never forget you. You changed my life and I plan to continue working to make it the best life it can be, after all, we only get one.

Best Wishes and Happy New Year,


Monday, December 20, 2010

At the intersection of excited and crazy

Well well well, what better use of ones time while slammed with a thousand different things to do than to updated one's "invisible friends" of the recent goings-on in her life...

Let me see, where did we leave off... YES, COLD. Its still cold. High of 41 today however, its a heat wave! Last week I broke down into a pile of worry and guilt over Granite's blanket blunders and called the local tack store for assistance. I have zero expendable capital, but I have a store credit from having to return my tall boots that wouldn't stay in one piece. Despite knowing that I may NEVER own a pair of tall boots, I called up my fave sales girl and asked what she had in the line of a blanket that would stand the test of two devil horses and a three-year old. She told me that Rhino blankets were pretty much awesome and were made out of ballistic material.... for serious. She also told me they are also available in a handy cut called a "wug". Its a high neck as to eliminate shoulder rubs (as I had noted that Granite was encountering on his right shoulder with his cheap-ass-blanket). So, I held my breath and tried not to pass out as she calmly dealt the blow of the $222 price tag to me. I thought "gee, I could get one so much cheaper online, sheesh, I'm never gunna get tall boots, OMG that is firggen ridiculous for a blanket--- and its not even top of the line Rambo!" but then I gulped and realized that I have zero real money so the tack shop was my only option, I was faced with sub-freezing temps and was stuck with a blanket of compromised structural integrity that was ill fitting anyway.... I had to do it. I bought the blanket.

Now my big man is "snug as a bug in his wug". It has lasted (thus far) 4 days without any damage. I will throw a royal conniption fit if it doesn't make it AT LEAST through the remainder of this winter season.

I got some (potentially) positive news on Friday in the form of a phone call from the HR Director that I have interviewed with twice in the past month. He wants me to come in for a meeting "about the available position" this week. I told him that I had planned to go home to my family's house after work today but would rearrange my plans to meet with him tomorrow morning and then drive home. Thats all the info I have right now, but after 8 hours of interviewing and probably 18 of studying for those interviews and 2.5 of driving back and forth to interviews, I'm hoping they are bringing me in to give me their decision... and I hope that decision is a job offer (or I will be royally upset because they know I am delaying my vacation to come in to meet). So yet again, I will ask for finger crossing at 9am tomorrow as they notify me of my fate.

This weekend was low key. Lots of packing because I am moving in SIX days! Tonight is my last night in my current apartment then I will have 5 at my parents' house! My room is a mess and we've spent the weekend boxing and spackling  nail holes and cleaning but after tonight, it should be all ready for the move after christmas holiday. TK and I are so excited about this part of our lives together. I am also ready to be settled in a new place and not living out of two houses and my bookbag anymore. \

I went to visit Granite on Friday, Saturday and Sunday but I only got on his back once. And, it was bareback. The arena was a nix of soggy mud and ice, so I just hopped on bareback (for the first time) and walked him around working on walking and bending and lateral movement. It was a good time.
 First bareback ride 12/19/10

 Tk trying to convince Gran that hes a Wake Forest fan, while in fact, he is actually a UNC fan!

Such a good barn dog!

Alright my friends. I wish you all the best for a wonderful Christmas. I know I can't wait to spend it at home with my family and food (and bowl games). I'll let you all know how moving (and that meeting) go! Be prepared to build my ego back up if they bring me in to tell me that I'm not getting the job!

Be well!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The weather outside is frightful....

Well, despite the frigid weather, I managed to ride on Thursday and Friday. The ground was still really hard (although we finally got out of the 30s), so I took that as a great opportunity to focus on walk-trot transitions. Granite did really well and didn't get "stuck" at all during our work-outs. I was really proud of him (and myself) for taking our time and working on an issue. I think when I put too much pressure on him, he gets stuck. To alleviate this, I've begun clucking for a trot and barley using my leg aids. I think subconsciously, I ask for a trot more lightly when I use voice and Granite responds much better. I've been working on this and its going well, so I shall continue.... if the weather cooperates!
Day time highs are in the 30s.... all week long! Perfect time for Granite's spare blanket to be ripped to shreds!

There is no fixing this one! Fortunately, his other blanket is still holding on (as far as I know, I haven't gotten a message indicating other wise). The surviving blanket was purchased on Ebay (as a back up since the above blanket WAS still in really good shape). It was inexpensive and cutesy (argyle! love!). And it shows. On the first couple of wears, both D rings and leg straps fell off. I'm just hoping it will survive until after the holidays when I can spare any extra money for a new (or craigslisted/ebayed used one) sturdy one!

I also took pictures to show you the good and the bad of Granite's pasture (so you can scoff at the offending ponies and awwe at the sweet day time crew). 
Wheeler and Splash: The daytime crew (I adore Wheeler, he is a doll!)

Gwen and Merilyn... The Night Time Terrors (doing what they do best: hogging the shelter)

When I brought Granite in on Thursday I was greeted with this:
Break your heart much? Poor guy missed getting the cut ON his eye by a partial centimeter! I don't think I can blame this on the devil horses however, because just last week as I was walking G out of his pasture, he ran smack dab into the gate. He has never been very graceful... I am pretty sure he got in a fight with a stick or something equally as silly. Either way, we go luck here and there was no swelling and it is healing nicely, but it still hurt my heart.

Sadly, I think I will be mostly absent from my boy for the remainder of the month. Of course I am so concerned by the freezing temps and the blanket situation AND the bully horses situation. BUT, I know if Becky noticed any weight loss, or shivering, or any other sign of distress, she will address the issue appropriately even if I am absent. She loves horses and although she is busy and the barn is a business, she will go out of her way every time to make sure the horses are healthy.

I have my 6 hour job interview tomorrow. I'm not looking forward to it at all, but there are exciting things down the pipe after that is over. Wednesday, TK is taking me to the Wake Forest (his team) vs. UNCG (my alma mater) basketball game! Thursday is a late night at work for me. And Fri, Sat and Sun are my last days to pack up my entire apartment before I go home for the holidays. When I return after Christmas on Dec 26th, TK and his friends will already have begun the moving process. I will arrive mid-day to help and supervise production. We should have everything in by Dec 27th, on TK's birthday! I took the day off work to spend with him and get settled in our new home! The next two weeks are going to be stressful/exciting/busy/happy times and I am so ready for January when life can begin to get back to normal and I can get into a routine again (and begin working out again-- I've gotten sooo fat! Poor Granite)!

I will hope to check in at some point, but if I have nothing to report and don't "see" you all until after the Holidays, enjoy the season! I am very grateful for all of my "invisible friends" aka blog buddies!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Winter Woes

I love fall. Its my most favorite season, but sadly, fall only lasts for about two months before I am slammed with winter. Despite the crunchy leaves and pumpkins warning me of what lies right around the corner, I am always caught off guard that first morning when I go to hop in my car for work and realize that my windshield is frosted... and that I can see my breath, and "hurry up heater!!". Winter came quickly and hit us hard this year. It snowed last Saturday (Dec 4th) and daytime highs were in the 30s this week. We have spent most evenings in the teens. Not only is this annoying to me as a coastal born and bred North Carolinian, but its worrisome to me as an animal owner.

Granite lives on pasture board. He is 3.5 years old and he is pushing 16.2 hands. I strongly believe that he should be outside and be a horse as much as possible. This is a fortunate philosophy for me considering that I could not afford stall (full) board if my life depended on it. He lives in a large pasture and had a three-sided run in shed (where a round bale of hay resides). He has a huge tub of water in his pasture and the tub is equipped with a de-icer. He shares this lovely pasture with 2 other horses during the day. A beautiful, big AQHA and a slightly annoying by relatively innocuous pinto arabian.

At night however, these two decent roommates go into their cozy stalls for dinner and bedtime and two demon horses are released into the pasture which my boy calls home 24/7. One horse is a cremello paint and the other is a bay appendix. They are the most herd-bound horses you have ever met! They will literally hurt themselves if their mate is removed. The two stick together and gang up on granite. I went out to check on Granite on the way to a family function Sunday night (it was sooo cold and I wanted to make sure his blanket was on) and while I went to give Granite a treat, the cremello lunged at him and ran him off. While this was happening the appendix found the opportunity to swipe poor TK in the head (with his own head). TK ended up with a concussion and a day off of work (can't combat high school children while dealing with vertigo and migraines).

I first noticed some small cuts and scrapes on Granite after the devil horses moved in to the barn about a month or so ago (only surface wounds) then I began to notice them teaming up to run Granite away from his water tub (his routine after I turn him out from a workout or grooming session is to immediately go get a drink)! Then, when I arrived on Tuesday (sub-freezing, blisteringly windy evening after work), I noticed Granite standing about 15 feet out of the run-in shed staring at those two horses munching on the round bale! They won't seem to let him in {grant it that I am not at the barn much (an hour or two 4 or 5 days a week if I'm lucky) and it may be that they do allow him free reign in the pasture some/most of the time}. This is obviously concerning to me!

To top it off, I got Granite a lovely blue argyle turnout last year at the end of the season because his Rider's International Turnout was starting to look a little worse for wear (he was previously in a pasture with 2 other adolescent horses- we called it the romper room pasture). I started Granite off in this blanket last week (as I typically don't being blanketing until it hits the freezing mark). Within two wears, the blanket had lost the D ring and associated leg strap on BOTH sides of the blanket, then on wear 3, I noticed a rub on his right shoulder. So, I figured I would switch him back to the dependable, yet filthy, Rider's International Blanket. Unfortunately, I got a message yesterday morning from the barn owner letting me know that Granite's blanket was in shreds. I can only assume the devil horses were the culprits, considering this blanket made it all of last winter with 3 youngsters in the pasture, yet only 1 day this time around!!!

So, its cold. Very cold. And Granite isn't stalled. The barn owner tells me that she thinks he handles the cold fine and that we should only be concerned about a blanket during the freezing rain. I would be inclined to agree if I knew for certain that my horse was getting enough to drink and that he was able to get into the shelter and have hay as he pleases. Somehow, my intuition tells me this isn't true. So I have a couple problems with which to grapple.
A) Buying a new blanket. The cheap/cute one is missing leg straps and rubbing. Old faithful has died. I have no money (christmas, down to 1 job, moving expenses). I could use the store credit I had waiting on me to save enough money to add to it to buy tall boots---
And, do I continue my long-standing tradition of blanketing under 32 degrees, or do I take a more liberal approach and only blanket in freezing rain?

B) The devil horses! My BO has been so good to me for the 1.5 years we have been at her place. She has helped me when I needed to make payments. She has called the vet for recommendations so I wouldn't have to endure a farm call fee. Shes a great barn owner.... But, I do pay board. I am never late on my board check-- ever. Do I ask that she rearrange him. I know for certain that two (of the remaining 3, other than his current) pastures would be "rougher" for him. The horses are more aggressive and granite is very passive. If she would split the herd bound horses (and royally piss off their owners), I think it would alleviate the problem. I don't want to put her in a tough place, but I want my boy healthy!

Apparently the cold is on the minds of many other horse owners locally. I get a weekly email from the cooperative extension service (4-H.... for grown ups) and one of the articles was regarding the cold and horses.... it made me feel a bit better about my situation, although there were no devil horses to take into account.

 Is it to Cold for horses to be outside??

As you all know, even those that live under a rock….Its COLD!  Yesterday I received 2 phone calls (one included a reporter) complaining about seeing horses outside and just standing out in the field and nobody appeared to be looking after the horse that was outside. Sometimes the [problem we have in animal agriculture is sometimes the problem we face today may not be one of ethics in the use of animals for the production of food and fiber, but rather it is a problem of affluence within the general public and their lack of understanding of production agriculture. So education is very important for those not involved in animal agriculture as well as those within animal agriculture.

So, when is the winter temperature too cold for a horse to stay outside?

If the horse is acclimated to being outside and has an opportunity to grow a winter coat, the horse will be O.K. all winter. If you are going to house a horse outside, here are a couple of things to consider:

1) Make sure the horse has adequate water available. Horses may become dehydrated, even in the cold weather, if the water is frozen most of the time. The horse will not consume enough snow to meet its water requirement.

2) If you are going to blanket the horse, make sure that the blanket is intended for a horse living outside. The outer surface of the blanket will be made of a more durable material, usually a canvas-like fabric, which will stand up better to being outside than the quilted blankets used on stalled horses. Also make sure the blanket is checked regularly for any damage that may create a place for the horse to get caught in the blanket. If the horse is acclimated and has shelter, it can be comfortable without a blanket even when living outdoors.

We do not recommend hooding a horse that is living outdoors. There is too much opportunity for issues to arise such as the horse to get the hood caught on something and become injured trying to get free.

Finally, provide the horse with plenty of hay throughout the winter. Digesting the forage produces heat, which assists the horse in maintaining its body temperature.

The horse has two natural defenses against cold, a long hair coat and a layer of fat beneath the skin. Both provide an excellent means of insulation against the cold. The long winter hair coat serves as insulation by reducing the loss of body heat and provides the first line of defense against the cold. Its insulating value is lost when the horse becomes wet and/or is covered with mud. This is why it is important to provide a dry sheltered area in cold wet weather and regular grooming. In damp weather, be alert for skin problems. If unchecked, problems can result in hair loss and irritation to the horse. It is very important to keep the horse from loosing its hair coat and body weight and approaching an energy deficient state (the horse must be properly fed).

A heavy winter hair coat is a horse's first defense from the cold. When allowed to grow, a horse's natural hair coat acts as a tremendous insulator and provides as much warmth as the best blankets. Horses that are to be maintained outside should be allowed to grow a long hair coat, plus the hair within the ears and around the fetlocks should not be clipped throughout the winter months. Cold weather causes the hair to stand up, trapping and retaining body heat. Once the hair coat becomes wet, the hair lies down and loses its insulating ability. A long fuzzy hair coat can be deceiving of a horse's true body condition. The most accurate assessment of body condition is done through feeling the condition over the horse's ribs, plus visual inspection of overall condition.

While horses need shelter from cold winds, rain and snow; it is not necessary to keep them in a closed barn throughout the winter. Horses kept outdoors in the winter with access to a run-in shed, which opens away from the normal wind patterns, will generally have fewer respiratory disease problems than horses kept in poorly ventilated, heated barns. With a three-sided shed, the horse can take shelter during a rain or snowstorm and its insulating hair remains dry and fluffed. When the storm is over, the horse can emerge and be comfortable even though the mercury has drops below zero. Horses maintained in an enclosed barn should be exercised regularly, to maintain muscling and health.
Show horses with hair coats that are artificially short should not be turned outside in bitter winter cold without protection of a blanket or windbreak. If you do have a show horse that is housed in a barn during most of the winter, the barn should be adequately ventilated in order to reduce the risk of respiratory disease. Proper ventilation eliminates excess moisture and condensation buildup. Care should be taken to also prevent a direct draft on the horse; this will cause stress and additional problems. Even in cold weather horses frequently prefer to be outdoors. The horse, when given the opportunity, will acclimate to cold temperatures without much difficulty.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bubba, its cold outside!

OMG, the high today? Is 36 degrees! YES, I live in North Carolina... which, I thought, was in the South. Its not even technically winter yet!


I only rode 3 times last week (I know thats sad, considering I finally have 4 of my 5 week day evenings free). Monday it was just too damned cold and I had only brought a sweatshirt to wear to the barn (poor planning). I went to visit G and groomed and gave candy and kisses. Tuesday it was rainy, so I skipped the barn all together.  Wednesday I finally got my butt in gear and tacked up. Granite was exceptional. He went through his paces really well. Our canter transitions have gotten so quick (when, just a few months ago, we had none at all). We went over a cross rail and did a set of 5 trot-poles twice, without hitting ANY! He finally knows where his feet are!

Wednesday, I learned that I was a finalist for that job. There are 3 of us and we each interview next week on a different day. Mine is Tuesday, from 9:30am-3:30pm!!! I have a meeting with the City Manger, a panel interview, a mock press conference in which I will act as the City Spokeperson, a lunch, then a writing assessment! I have to study a lot about the current state of the City and be prepared for a billion questions. This will be JUST what I need in the middle of packing for a move, 6 days at home/holidays and moving... But, its a great opportunity and I think it would be a great career move for me if I were to get it. Keep those fingers crossed!

Thursday was my Town Meeting (2.5 hours.... and the case was tabled!). Friday, I got to ride again. Another perfect ride. We cantered a trot pole and Granite did so well with it! I was really proud of him and keep thinking about what a great horse he is turning into. I am so proud of the big guy.

Friday night, TK hijacked me for a date night. He took me to dinner at a little local spot, then for a drink at the bar where we had our first date, then to see a movie. It was fabulous and so sweet of him!

Saturday TK and I went to the barn. It was freezing (Granite seems to enjoy the cold as opposed to heat however). Granite started of alright and even got pretty good. He jumped a few cross rails then went back to flat work. Then, we hit a wall. I asked for the trot (our trot transitions are still a bit sticky) and he stopped. I asked him to move forward and got NOTHING. The I asked him to turn-- still nothing. I finally got a walk then a trot. Then as I walked him out I asked him to move faster, and he stopped again. And would. not. proceed. at. all. It was reallllly frustrating. I'm hoping he was just tired and annoyed and that we won't have that issue tonight. But, it was a good reminder that we need to master the basics before going to far forward (we've been working on simple lead changes and cross rails). I think tonight, I may not even canter. I may just trot transition him all night long. That will either improve the issue or frustrate him further and lead us down a negative path. I will have to react to his reactions in order to try to create a positive lesson.

Any way, please enjoy TK's skills as our paparazzo.

my favorite image captures (he is stretchy and relaxed)

my face is saying "good boy"

My kids bundled up for the cold

That dog follows me everywhere.

We got our first snow of the season Saturday (about an hour after my ride!)

TK and I decorated the tree at his dad's shop.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Nuthin Much

I haven't ridden the pony in over a week (I was out of town for 6 days then cold and rain hit). I am aiming for tonight and the blue skies look promising for some time in the saddle!

My interview last week didn't go so well and I haven't heard anything despite the HR Director telling me that they would let me know something either way within the next couple of days. His response to my "thank you follow up" was a cryptic "It was a pleasure meeting you Rachel. You will hear from us soon." I'm thinking thats code for "your rejection letter is in the mail; thanks for playing." Oh well. I tried my best and now have even more interview experience (and fewer towns that I will have the guts to apply in ever again).
This just in: I am a finalist for the job. There will be a follow up interview and assessments to evaluate my abilities and compatibility for the job. I will find out more by the end of the week...

Thanksgiving break was amazing! I rode home with Eva. It was lovely having 3.5 hours to catch up. We have both gone through some changes in the past few months and its straining on friendships, but we have been through everything and anything since 5th grade (to date myself, thats about 12ish years now) and its great to know that no matter what life throws you, you have someone who knows you like the back of their hand who will be with you regardless. Everyone should be so lucky. Anyway, we got some QT and I got to give her her birthday gift! I was sooo jazzed about it. I found out about Juliette and Honeysuckle Faire Custom Posters through Kristen over at SweetHorsesBreath. I have wanted one of her pieces for myself for forever, but couldn't justify it. When I was thinking about what to get the bff, she came to mind and I knew that would make the greatest gift. It turned out wonderfully and was so reasonably prices. Check it out-- you won't regret it! Eva loved it, which is the best part.

Thanksgiving break was exceptional. I got to run (finally) and thrift shop (my favorite thing to do at home bc there are so many brand new brand name items at the beach thrift shops-- I got 3 pairs of pants, 1 jacket and 4 shirts for $22 this weekend). My mom and dad spoiled me rotten as usual. The food was amazing and the view is always perfect. TK came down Thursday night and spent the weekend with us. He fits in  so well with my family!
"Granny" bought Daphne a dog bed for our new apartment... Shes still learning.

Eva's Birthday Oyster Roast

TK and I on the back deck at sunset <3

TK and Daddy "jammed" for nearly 4 hours... I read my book :)

The family after the (disappointing redskins' game)

Now its back to reality, which is actually a nice one since I'm only working my real job. I'm sooo poor and frugal, but my disposition has changed and I feel hopeful every day instead of fearful (I still have anxiety dreams about waiting tables-- yep, I'm kinda crazy). 

Hopefully, I will be back with horsie updates before too long!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Revising the Resume(s)

Howdy Blogland! I'm back to share with you an interesting week.

Sadly, last week was lacking in horse time! Monday and Tuesday evenings rained. Its ok though because I got to spend Monday night getting excited about the MNF Redskins game. Sadly, it was a beat down and I had to turn it off before 1/2 time as to not loose my sanity. I had gotten tickets but had to turn them down for work and budgetary reasons, it was a blessing in disguise! Tuesday, TK's band had a 'gig' but things were crazy and we showed up completely underdressed! I pitched a fit and ended up wandering around in the middle of small town NC waiting for him to finish playing!

Wednesday was a blast:
I heard that Granite's brother was for sale and I was nosey, so I found him on DreamHorse. His ad described Granite to a T. Being the nosey kid I am, I emailed his owner explaining who I was and that I would love to hear about Guiness and maybe see pictures. He is 2 years older than Granite and has started over fences and began showing. Kristen sent me some photos and the similarity is striking. Check it out.

The similarity is incredible. Same eyes and nose!

BIG jump! Lets hope Granite takes to jumping too!

Before leaving work for the day I got some more good news. I was called for an interview for a great job about 40 minutes out of town. This is actually a position that I wouldn't mind retiring from. I interview on Tuesday (23rd) before heading home for the holidays. Everyone keep your fingers crossed. This would be an amazing professional opportunity and would come with a raise just big enough to ease some financial worries! I'm not getting my hopes  up too high, but its exciting. Time to dust off that resume!

Wednesday evening, I forfeited time with Granite, but for good cause. Blogger, Marissa, of Tucker the Wunderkid blog was in NC on business! She was about 1.5 hours from my house but happened to be staying in the same city where my bff Eva lives! So, I skipped out of work early and drove down to meet the ladies for dinner. Dinner turned in to 3.5 hours of horsey talk! This was the first time that we had met Marissa and it felt like we had all been friends for years! It was worth the drive and the 5:15am wake up call to get back to work on Thursday :)

Thursday brought good news to me! The folks at my apartment complex were bestowed with some sense (or realized that I was not paying for entire carpet replacement with out fight) and called to tell me that they "May have Found" some carpet that would match in order to allow them to only replace MY room! The carpet they may have found and associated installation will cost me $250.52. I like how exact that is considering the term "may" was used. Verbiage aside, this was an incredible relief and brightened my ENTIRE outlook on this moving experience! Quitting my part-time job a month before I am actually moving and realizing associated savings has been extremely difficult and scary, but knowing that I can afford the carpet replacement and it wont be some 4 digit amount is wonderful!

Friday was FABULOUS! It was my first friday night off in months! I think I counted 3 friday nights that I had previously had off since May! I rode Granite with my free time-- obviously! I was tacking him up and taking with Becky and Kansas and Becky mentioned how surprised she was that I hadn't tried him out over some cross-rails yet. In my mind, I want to have transitions smooth and quick and many more on-the-flat issues corrected before I even contemplated jumping. But, I have been going over trotting poles for some time now and I've noticed a drastic improvement in him not clipping them and being able to adjust his stride to clear them. I had a great evening ride alone in the arena and I thought "what the heck, lets set up an itty bitty cross-rail". So I put up two trotting poles and a very tiny crossrail. I steered Granite over it and he did the trotting poles then hesitated then walked over the "jump". The next go round he hesitated briefly then trotted over the "jump". The third time he wasn't very straight in our approach but he picked both front feet up and JUMPED the little crossrail! No hesitation, like he had been doing it his whole life! I was sooooo proud! I fist pumped the air! It was a great moment. If I could bottle that feeling for any time in the future when I thought it would be easier to sell him, it may not be worth it, or he wouldn't become the horse I hoped he would. Granite will be upgrading his resume to include "started over fences"!!!

Saturday was a blast as well. I got up early and went to ride. I brought TK and he took some photos for you. I felt like the ride was great, despite the photographic evidence displaying otherwise. Granite jumped 3 more times on Saturday. I was really proud. After the barn we got cleaned up and headed to the Wake Forest football game. My friend JB joined us! A great time was had by all (except for the Wake Football players who went home after quite a defeat).

Sunday was non-horsey but nice. It was TK's mom's birthday. So we spent all day eating and celebrating with a slight break to watch the Redskins pull out a close victory over the TN Titans. Go skins!

I'm heading home for the holidays tomorrow (after my interview). Tonight will be my last ride/Granite time until next Monday! Thank god for great barn owners who I can trust with my man while I'm away. I hope you all have a great holiday filled with family, food, fun and football. Until next week, enjoy some photos from last week and this week's rides :)
 Daphne and her brother

 Baby Cross-Rail
 Trot Poles!
 TK's first time on Granite... They both look confused!
Pretty boy!

Monday, November 15, 2010

A mixed bag.

Well.... This past week has been interesting. Good and bad.

TK and I went to our new apt. complex on Monday only to be treated poorly and to discover that the unit we wanted had been previously leased but it wasn't properly noted. We left disappointed and upset but after reevaluating decided that we would give them another shot (only meeting with the woman who originally showed us around).

I gave up a second day of riding on Tuesday to go back to the apt complex. It was a much more favorable experience and we applied and were accepted for a 768sq foot 3rd floor 1 bedroom apartment. We move in the day after Christmas (and the day before TK's birthday). We are thrilled!

I had Veteran's Day off. I slept in a bit before heading over to the barn for a farrier appointment. His "special fin" is looking good and the farrier seemed pleased. I rode him and he was great. He was very forward and responsive. I spent 4 hours at the farm cleaning tack, grazing my boy, riding and whatnot. We also have FOUR new horses at the barn. Reno left on Thursday :( and was replaced by 2 QHs, 1 Cremello Paint and an Appendix. Unfortunately with new horses come people and their children. I am not a fan. The barn is my quiet place. My happy quiet place where I want to be left alone to be with Granite, not make small talk and try to ignore children. Oh well, I guess 1.5 years of quiet was enough. Hopefully it won't be too much of an adjustment.

I worked at the Restaurant on Friday. I was supposed to be the last server off (of 5) and at 7PM on a Friday night the manager told me that the owner changed me to first off and that I could go home. At 7PM on a FRIDAY NIGHT! I made $30 and was pissed. I was scheduled to work this Wednesday as well, but they can forget about it. I gave a two weeks notice and tried to be the bigger person here, but clearly they had to have the last laugh. I'll gladly drop off my apron this week and tell them to forget Wednesday! Then on the way home Friday night, I ran over a bunny! I had wine as a result and TK brought home a dozen roses to make me feel better. He is such a knight.
Saturday was fantastic! My roommate was out of Town and so was TK. This left me with a whole day in my apartment to myself to do a big cleaning. I did a billion loads of laundry and cleaned and dusted and organized. It was great! I feel so peaceful when everything is tidy and I know my chores are caught up. I got in a run on Saturday then went out with two of my favorite girlfriends that night. It was a really productive and nice day all around.

Sunday morning was a lazy coffee morning with my friend Jordan who stayed the night. We chatted and relaxed until TK got home. Then TK and I headed to the barn and to run some errands. We spent the evening with his family and had another super-relaxing day! I was feeling so peaceful.

And then... today happened. Its Monday. I am busy. But, my mind is completely pre-occupied with drama. Scary and potentially expensive drama. As I may have mentioned. Daphne ate some carpet in my current bedroom. Its at most 3ftx2ft. Its by the door because she escaped from her kennel one day and because of her separation anxiety, she tried to escape. Thankfully she didn't damage the door. Anyhoo-- as I have signed a "roommate release" so that my roommate can take over our whole lease and I can be released to leave at the end of December. I also wanted to get the carpet damaged repaired and paid for so that everything would be cleanly separated for me to begin leasing at another location. I notified the office staff and they had their maintenance staff examine the damage. I received a follow-up email today alterting me that they "don't do partial replacements" and will have to replace the ENTIRE unit! They seem to expect me to pay for "furniture removal" (since my roommie is clearly staying there for at least another 6 months and has her furnishings in place) and for carpet (which they claim has 2.5 years remaining on it) and installation. This is completely asinine to me. How on earth is it logical to tell me that I have to replace an entire apartment with carpet when there was only damage done to one 1/2 of one room (because a seam separates 1/2 of the room from the damaged portion). Has anyone had experience with this? I told them that I was obligated to at most pay for replacement of the entire bedroom and associated installation fees but would not be willing to pay for anything else. I know they've probably protected themselves in the lease (which I need to dig up and review tonight). But I would rather pay an attorney to review this for me than to let them win. First because I can't afford to carpet an entire apartment (last time this happened it cost me $185, so I allocated $300 for this instance) and second because my principals tell me that they are trying to do what they had to do anyways on my dime and it is an injustice! And now I'm crying at work.... fabulous.

Sorry for the rant.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sunshine and Gleefulness

Oh yes, you read it right. This Negative Nancy is turning things around! I have lots of good news and photos to show you.

Where to start?

How about I start with last week. I asked Kansas to begin riding Granite once a week. This is tough for me and I am nervous but it frees me up a little and insures that the big man gets more time under saddle. She is now riding on wednesdays and she rode for the first time last week. She said he was fairly good, so thats a start.

I only got two rides in last week myself but they were really good. Marissa is always right when she tells me just to keep going forward and working through issues without overthinking them. He has already improved in ducking below the bit. I just keep asking him to go forward and leaving his head alone and he seems to work out the issues independently. I am so proud of him, I just have to learn not to harp on the small stuff just yet. We are getting more canter transitions and more flexibility in lateral movement and tempo at the trot. I feel like Granite is figuring out where his hooves belong and how to user his big body and muscles.

I rode Saturday morning and was rudely reminded that winter is almost here! It was 41 degrees at 8:30am when I drug my lovely bf and puppy to the barn with me. Granite was great. TK played photog and I have lots of photos to share with you as a result! I love looking at them and comparing them to the photos taken in early summer. There is so much improvement! YAY!

Want to hear some of the best news? In less than two weeks I will have my choice of 4 weekday evening during which to ride my horse every week! Why is that??? Because on Friday, I gave my 2 weeks notice at the Restaurant! I am sooo thrilled. That place was slowly killing my spirit. I am moving soon which will save me quite a bit of money and I've made some contacts asking if anyone knows of someone needing barn sitting etc, but the solidifying factor in quitting now was that TK's mom's "cleaning lady" recently had surgery and is out for a few months. TK's mom has offered me $100 each day to clean her house two times a month. This was JUST enough to get me by at least until I move! I started on Saturday and although its a relatively awkward situation, me cleaning my bf's parent's house, it isnt waiting tables. I get to bring Daphne with me and I get cash for only 2 days of work a month! I get my week day evenings back and escape the stress of waiting tables! WAHOOOOOOOOO. I feel like a have a new lease on life now that I know the light at the end of that tunnel is quickly approaching!

Speaking of Leases.... TK and I spent all day Saturday searching for a new place to call home. By moving into a 1 bedroom apartment, he is getting out of his parent's house and I am saving money (enough to quit!) and gaining so much time to be with my horse! We found a great place that is close to Di-Aunts (where I drop the pup daily... so it will save me time and gas money too). Its inexpensive and safe and the floor plan is 780sq feet. We are going to turn our applications in after work TODAY! If everything goes as planned, we hope to have a moving date of January 1, 2011 :)

In other news, I had an interview last week. It was really promising although I haven't heard anything about a second interview yet. I also applied for a position with another municipality. I haven't heard from them yet, but I am hoping to secure an interview since I have a friend who knows the HR director. I still have many hurtles to conquer and money is still a big issue, but TK and I (and Granite and Daphne) seem to finally be moving in a positive direction. I am freeing myself up to be with my horse and save time and money and energy. If I get a new and more challenging and rewarding job, I will be on cloud 1,000 :)

Enjoy some Photos :) I enjoyed the ride during which they were taken.

(TK and the Coon Hound puppy that he wants and CANNOT keep...Daphne being jealous)