Saturday, April 30, 2016

(Big) Baby Steps

This week has been all about progress. Progress in my riding career and progress in my professional career.

The progress in my riding career has been a high- it wasn't a major step forward, but I schooled a small 2'6" vertical alone for the first time on Lexie. Due to work, I missed my lesson this week, so I schooled on my own (and in a thunderstorm- whoops). We worked on a bending line from a trot fence/cavaletti cantering to a 2'6 vertical going straight to halt in the corner, and then switched to a long approach to the vertical, down to the trot for the cavaletti. It was a lot of focus on keeping my weight in my heels, staying quiet, and giving Lexie a generous release. I'm trying to fine tune my body and my aids to find a combination to keep Lexie quiet and forward after fences. We took a few fliers on the long approach, but it was still a comfortable (mostly) controlled ride.

The professional progress was definitely one of my lows, but a critical part of my job. My heart still hurts 24 hours later.

I am so sad to not be in my old Kentucky home at Rolex, and I am working all weekend, so ponies will have to wait until tomorrow to get groomed and ridden. It's been a bittersweet week, and I am 1/5 of the way through my clinical year.

- K & C & L

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Everyday I'm Hustlin' (Otherwise Known as "I Don't Sleep")

I got back from my externship on Sunday (I promise a blog post is coming about baby horses...), and started my next rotation on Community Practice- general small animal veterinary medicine. In an effort to keep the SO content, I've changed my riding schedule. Now that I don't have to get up at the crack of dawn to go in for my rotation (Critical Care- lookin' at you!), I get up before the crack of dawn to be on my horse by the crack of dawn to be in for clinics at 7:30.

The first two days went pretty well, I'll be honest. Lexie colicked over the weekend and had been stalled all weekend. So, that, in combination with two weeks off due to rain, Lexie was a bit ready to go Monday morning. Like... really ready to go. We had a few words about not pawing, standing still, and nipping me for not tacking her up fast enough. Then a few more words about not standing still at the mounting block. Finally, she stood still for 5 seconds, I hopped on, and we were off. We just did a light ride- 10 minutes of walk, 5 of trot, 5 just meandering around, since I wanted to ease her in and not risk her colicking again. Brought Candy in for a groom, and of course, Lexie screamed to her boyfriend after being separated from him for 3 days (unimaginable!).

Tuesday's ride was solid- we were lifting through our back, and balanced (as long as I kept my leg on). I didn't think I'd like to see the sun rise, but I enjoy the sunrise on the back of a horse. She felt much better and moved better yesterday morning.
You better tolerate me. I bring cookies.
Favorite man in the whole wide world.

Wednesday evening, I squeezed in a quick lesson. We did a small 2'6 (2'5ish) course of rollbacks, working on keeping her collected or "manhandled" as H likes to call it. A lot of hand, a lot more leg. She's getting there! We had a few wonky distances, and a few fire breathing mare moments, but I'm not panicking nearly as much, and I'm able to reason through the moments, "Add leg, pulse the reins, less hand, more bend" rather than just yanking on her face. It's slowly starting to (hopefully) hit that turning point where "bad"/"problems" are getting "fun" and becoming challenges rather than impossible tasks. It might be my big girl helmet. It might be my confidence.
Most likely the big girl helmet. You can't be a weenie in a Speed Air.
But I enjoyed my lesson Wednesday night, and I think Lexie did too! Now to break my nasty habit of pinching with my knee!

I noticed my saddle is rocking with the Thinline half pad, which I tried on Lexie to relieve wither pressure that my Beval wool half pad was creating. She hated the Thinline, and preferred the Beval, but I want her withers freed up and comfortable. We'll have to keep playing musical half pads, since a custom saddle is out of the question for a lease/vet student budget at the moment. Suggestions?

- K & C & L

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Sun Shirt Showdown

Almost every blogger has done a comparison of the most popular sun shirts on the market, and being 2 steps behind as always, I am no exception. Let's put a personal twist on this.

Rider's stats: 5'8, average build (34" chest, 27" waist, whateva). Heat sensitive- giant hot weather weenie. Small obsession with my Black Olive TS Trophy Hunters. Bigger obsession with my leopard needlepoint belt.

The Shirts:

EIS COOL Shirt, size M, in Seabreeze and Black and Tan- retails for $86
Sleeve length: 20"

Kastel Denmark Charlotte Shirt, size M, Brown with Light Brown- retails for $75
Sleeve Length: 21"

Tailored Sportsman Ice-Fil Shirt, size S, Apricot- retails for $65
Sleeve Length: Pending.


The Tailored Sportsman and EIS likely run the same. The EIS are a touch too big, but the TS is way too tight. Some of my issue with the fit of the TS may be related to the fact that I was expecting a light coral, and got a "it rubs the lotion on its skin" color, and it's very very sheer. Kastel fits me beautifully. Overall, the Kastel Denmark shirts seem to run small while the TS and EIS run true to size.


I'm going to be honest here, when it's 90 degrees out in 80% humidity, I ditch the sleeves, and opt for my other hot weather riding top: Nike Dri-Fit V-Neck Tees. When weather is a few degrees cooler than Hell, I reach for my TS first, Kastel second, and EIS third. While I think the TS is a little too snug for my vet-school cushioned figure, it does a fantastic job wicking sweat away to keep me cool. The Kastel and EIS are comfortable for 60 degree days where I warm up as I go, and work up a small sweat as I ride. If I'm sweating walking from my house to my car- I'll wear a short sleeve v-neck.

Bits and Bobs

I really love the EIS fabric; it's more of a knit tech fabric rather than a straight tech fabric like Kastel or TS; this may also be why it holds heat the most out of the 3 brands. The zipper pulls are all ergonomic plastic, and feel high quality and durable.

The seabreeze EIS has picked up a few weird stains that have yet to come out despite multiple washes, OxyClean, and a myriad of stain removers- so I would be cautious about the lighter colors. I haven't had the same issue with my TS sun shirt.

As I mentioned above, the TS shirt is very sheer; I can only wear nude sports bras with it, whereas I can get away with other colors under the seabreeze EIS.

Overall verdict?

I like these shirts- I like them for hiking, running, and riding in temperate weather. I'm going to be the Debbie Downer- I don't think they're ideal or even helpful in hotter-than-Hades, moist weather. I love a good quarter zip, and live in an area where these are perfect 3/4 of the year, but I can't wear them for mid-summer riding- it's too warm.

Looking for something to keep you comfortable in 60-70 degree spring weather? These are fantastic.

Looking for something to keep you cool in 80+ degrees? Let me know- because I am still looking for the perfect shirt.

I haven't been riding the last week and a half- I've been in Kentucky on externship! I'll be posting a summary about my experience externing at one of the leading equine hospitals in the world after my externship is over. I'm going a little stir crazy not riding, but I'm having a blast in my old Kentucky Home.

- K & C & L

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Grumbles in the Night

In this day and age, it's hard not to compare yourself to other riders, and lately, I've been finding myself regretting my career path and wishing I had chosen a more financially rewarding path in favor of bigger jumps and better horses.

Like many riders, I can certainly be prideful, and used to consider myself a competent rider. I'm just now beginning to find my footing over 2'6" jumps on Lexie, and, when I remember 4 years ago, I was schooling 3'-3'6", it stings. I almost feel like my riding has regressed. I've been so busy studying, working, and now, traveling to externships, for the last 3 years that my riding has suffered greatly. 

Is it normal? Probably.
Am I making the best choice for both my riding career and work career? Maybe.

I plan on putting financial stability on hold for another four to five to six years to pursue an internship, possibly specialty internship, and residency all in the pursuit of becoming a boarded criticalist. What does this mean? Four to six years of making a very very low salary, while student loan interest accumulates on itself. Four to six years of living uncomfortably paycheck to paycheck working 80-120 hours a week, all in hopes of sitting through yet another massive exam in addition to case reports, and research papers to add another handful of letters to the end of my name. Is it worth it?

I'm not sure. For the first time, what I want, what I think I should want, and what I can actually achieve are all diverging. Do I want to work away for pennies, unable to ride until my student debt is paid off? Or hit the ground running in the work force to fund horses and give up on my dreams of becoming board certified in critical care?

This is more of vent or a cry into the void for guidance. I'm not sure where I'm headed, and that uncertainty is scary to me.

- K & C & L