Friday, October 12, 2018

Unofficial Boarding Barn Rules

*Note this is one of the many drafts that have been hanging out in my draft folder that I have finally gotten the motivation to edit and post*

Most equestrians end up at a boarding facility at least some point during their lives. No matter the reason, I have discovered there are seven unofficial rules that should be followed at every barn.

7. If you take it out, put it away

Grooming tools, blankets, halters, lead ropes, tack, these are all items that when left out in the barn aisles can clutter them up and make it difficult for others to work. By keeping spaces clean and neat you are encouraging an environment of respect for your horse and the other riders at the barn. If you're unsure of where something belongs then ask, don't just leave it laying around the barn for another person to hang up.
6. Pick up after your horse

Poop happens, pick it up and put it in the designated disposal location. Not the flowerbeds, not the grass behind the cross ties, not hidden behind the spare fence post pile. Make sure to put it where your barn wants to see it placed. If you don't know where this is then make sure to ask your barn manager or a fellow rider. No one wants to step in random piles of poop, or have to clean up the wash rack after your horse.
5. Clean borrowed items

We have all had a moment where we want to try a new piece of tack, or need to borrow something from a friend, before buying one of our own. Once you have used the item, clean it and put it back in the proper place. No one wants to lend a bit out and have it come back covered in slobber and chewed hay.
4. Read the notice board

If a arena is closed, or a paddock is being rested, it can typically be found on a central message location. Read what is listed and make sure to follow the requests. If you have any questions about what is on the board do not hesitate to ask someone.
3. Own up to broken items

As the owner of a chronic cribber I have had to notify my barn owner of several broken fence boards. If you or your horse break something, admit it to the owner of the item and take ownership for replacing or repairing that item. Barn owners would rather be aware of an issue than discover it after the fact.

2. Clean up after yourself

If you have a snack, enjoy a drink, or simply make a mess, be sure to clean up after yourself. Nothing is worse than coming out to the barn to discover it covered in ants because someone dropped food and did not pick it up. On a similar note, if you bring something to the barn be sure to take it home or put it in your locker/trunk. A clean barn provides a much happier environment for all of the horses and riders who utilize it.
1. Don't cause drama

Gossip and drama create an unhappy barn environment. If you have a problem with someone or something, speak in a diplomatic fashion to the barn owner or responsible individual. Spreading rumors and bringing up issues to people who are powerless just creates a tense environment that carries over to everyone involved with the barn.

We are all guilty of breaking these rules occasionally, but by acknowledging them and trying to follow them we are all able to make boarding a much more pleasant experience.

**Which unwritten rules does your barn have or do you wish it had?**

Sunday, July 15, 2018

My Daith Piercing Experience

Ever since I received my second piercing (second lobe) I have been in love with piercings and creating fun looks with my earrings. On July 2nd I acquired my right daith piercing. I picked the daith piercing because of the supposed migraine curing properties and because I love the idea of a small, hidden piercing that can have unique jewelry like a heart or moon inserted.

Originally, I was going to wait until the fall to get the daith piercing, then my plan was to drag a friend with me while in DC but the day with her was too busy and I missed that window of opportunity. So, on July 2nd, while walking around the National Zoo I decided to call the piercing studio, Fatty’s Tattoos & Piercings, and see if their piercer had availability. She did so I dashed over to Chipotle for a quick lunch and then over to their DuPont Circle location to get my daith piercing done! 

Once I arrived in DuPont Circle (thank you DC Metro!) I located the piercing studio and let the receptionist know that I was there for a daith piercing. She was extremely polite and took my basic information after letting the piercer know that a client had arrived. The piercer, Valerie, quickly came over to introduce herself and speak with me about the piercing. After looking at my daith she confirmed that there would be enough room to perform the piercing and have it sit correctly. She did inform me that once she was finally in my ear, performing the piercing, she might have to downsize from a 16 gauge to an 18 gauge based on my ear structure. 

We looked at the jewelry options and I selected a simple captive bead ring with an imitation amethyst because it was one of the titanium options within my budget and would be subtle yet add enough sparkle to be fun. I will be honest that I was dying to get the $300 rose gold ring but it simply was not within my budget. After selecting the jewelry and confirming that I understood the risks involved with the piercing, Valerie left to go prep the room and ensure the jewelry was sterilized. While she did this I completed the final paperwork with the receptionist and purchased the cleaning spray that was recommended by the studio. 

I did not have to wait long before I was called back to the piercing room. It was extremely reassuring to see that the entire room was clean and smelled fresh yet disinfected. Valerie had me lay back on the piercing table with my head tilted to the left so that she could disinfect and mark the piercing location. While doing this she walked me through how the actual piercing would go and what I might expect pain wise. 

During the actual piercing part I was instructed to inhale, then exhale slowly through my mouth while the piercing was performed. There was a sharp flash of pain that quickly gave way to a feeling of extreme pressure. I was able to hear the exit hole crunch but overall I would rank the pain a 3 out of 10. It was not fun but I have had worse from migraines or silly injuries. After the needle was properly inserted it was left in place for a few seconds and used to thread the jewelry through. This was an odd sensation, almost like wearing chain threaded earrings but not unbearable. The ball was placed and there was another feeling of strong pressure and a slight tinge of pain while the ring was closed. 

Once the piercing and jewelry insertion was completed the feeling of pressure went away and all I felt was a slight ringing in my ear and being extremely aware of the ring placement. Valerie cleaned the piercing, and stopped the bleeding, then sprayed it with sterile saline. She then walked me through the aftercare, which consists of cleaning twice daily with sterile saline (piercing specific with no additives) and letting it soak in warm water while in the shower. Beyond that, I was instructed to leave the piercing alone and it would heal within 6-12 months depending on various factors. If I wanted the jewelry changed after a few months then I could go to a piercer and have them change it but I was advised to stay with internally threaded jewelry that is titanium or higher quality.

Overall, the daith piercing process was extremely simple. It was not the most pleasant feeling but it was not the worst piercing I have ever experienced. That award would go to getting my helix done with a gun at Claire's, 0 out of 10 recommend that experience (Reminder, guns are bad for piercings. Don't be stupid like 18-year-old Laura was.). I was able to walk out of the shop without feeling lightheaded or in pain, just with a slight heaviness in my ear due to the blood rush and addition of jewelry in a strange location. Within a few hours of leaving the shop, I did not feel any different than when I had arrived at the shop.
My right ear set up immediately after the piercing was complete
Now for the important part, how did I pick the piercing location and piercer.

1) Reviews.

I searched for a shop that consistently received positive reviews from their customers and was located in a good section of town. This last part was simply because I do not know DC and did not want to end up completely lost.

2) Artist

After locating several shops with positive reviews I looked up each individual artist and located their portfolio, Facebook, or Instagram page. I wanted to see which piercer had consistent placement with how I wanted my daith to look. During my research on the daith piercing, I discovered that several piercers tended to place them too shallow in the ear and did not create the illusion that the ring was coming out of the ear canal. As strange as that sounds this is placement I was looking for, so I narrowed my selection down to only piercers that had this placement consistently.

Once I confirmed that both these requirements were met I picked Fatty's based off Valerie's consistency with placement and one review that stated she was not afraid to say a piercing would work due to the anatomy of the client. This ability to say no was extremely important to me because I would rather be told the piercing wouldn't work then have a piercing that was improperly placed.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Grooming the Grey - Dawn

After the ketchup experiment, I decided that I needed to try something more heavy duty to pull the yellow stains from Cupid's tail. While picking at her tail I did realize that sections of hair at the top are growing in "blonde" so it is very possible that the bottom section is naturally blonde. But because there was fading from the ketchup, I do believe that the yellow is staining.
Tail after the ketchup experiment
Today's experiment consisted of V05 strawberry shampoo and conditioner, and Dawn Dish Soap (the blue bottle). I know several people who use Dawn as their primary shampoo for their horses but have never tried it myself. I do keep a large bottle in my tack locker for bucket and bit cleaning purposes.

To start I soaked Cupid's tail with water and spread the strawberry shampoo through it. This was then combed through to remove as much surface dirt as possible. The shampoo smelled great and really got all of the surface dirt out, but did not do anything to remove the staining.
After the initial shampoo
After the shampoo was fully rinsed off I coated Cupid's tail with Dawn, avoiding her tailbone. This created a ton of lather that I used on her feet. Lately, we have been having issues with scratches and I wanted to remove the excess grease from the ointment. I allowed the Dawn to soak into her tail for approximately 10 minutes while I soaked her hay cubes and conditioned her mane with Cholesterol Cream.
Clearly super thrilled about standing around while she got bathed
Rinsing the Dawn from her tail did take forever. The suds kept bubbling off the tail which did make me a bit nervous about possibly leaving too much residue that would attract dirt. Once the Dawn seemed to be rinsed out completely I coated her tail in the strawberry conditioner to restore moisture. While massaging the conditioner into the tail I discovered that there was still Dawn in the tail. Yay for soap suds mixed with conditioner.

I left the conditioner sit while I put away our tack and then rinsed it out. Thankfully the conditioner and the remaining bits of Dawn completely rinsed out within a few minutes. I left Cupid to dry on the cross ties. Once fully dry, I sprayed the usual hair moisturizer onto her mane, tail, and coat.

Overall the Dawn did seem to remove some of the staining from Cupid's tail. It was not a miracle product but it was good enough that I would use it again. I do believe that it dried out her tail a bit more than desirable, but it was not as brittle as it had been when I first got her. As you can see we're slowly getting the tail back to a clean and acceptable color, but it's a long process due to the amount of staining I allowed to build up.
Not bad but still a long way to go

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Grooming the Grey - Ketchup Tails

My dream horse was always a pure black with a small star and an angled snip. Owning a grey was the complete opposite end of what I wanted. Grey horses are a pain to get clean and seem determined to be as stained as humanly possible. Cupid, thankfully, is a bit picky about where she rolls and lays down. Plus she has a HUGE mud/water/pee spot phobia so I don't need to worry about those stains! But no matter how prissy my girl is I still have to deal with the typical grey stains, including a lovely yellow stained tail. Thus, I introduce the new post series "Grooming the Grey". 
Sweet and innocent, but awful to keep clean
*Note* Please use all suggestions with caution. I can only speak to my own experiences with all products recommended.
Before - A lovely black/grey fade to yellow tail
Hours of digging through Chronicle of the Horse led me to discover several alternative methods for cleaning stains out of a grey horse. One of the stranger methods involves soaking their tail in ketchup. Supposedly the acidity of ketchup pulls the yellow stains from tail hairs without causing as much damage as bleach. Because I had an expired bottle of ketchup in my fridge I figured this would be my first try at turning Cue's lovely grey/white, black and yellow tail into grey, white and black.

Step one was to shampoo the tail with Shiny Silver Ultra from Sally's Beauty Supply. This was on sale last year so I grabbed a few bottles. It does brighten Cupid's coat and mane, but only takes a little bit of the yellow staining out of her tail. I figured a clean tail would allow the ketchup to penetrate better. 
After the first shampoo
After the shampoo was completely rinsed out I coated it with ketchup. Naturally, Cupid kept swishing her tail getting ketchup water all over the barn and me. Because the bottle was almost empty I stuffed her tail into the ketchup bottle as far as it would go. I did not go past her tailbone because the staining was not too bad at that point and I did not want to irritate her skin. 
Ketchup coated tail
The ketchup sat on her tail for approximately 10 minutes while I stuffed her full of carrots. Because I wanted to ensure that it was all removed I reshampooed her with the Shiny Silver after I rinsed the ketchup out. I was also afraid of her tail smelling like ketchup and getting eaten off by one of her pasture mates. After both shampoo and ketchup were completely rinsed out I covered her tail with a deep conditioner. I used Suave 2 Minute Super Conditioner Intense Moisture because it has been hanging out in my shower forever and I wanted to see it gone. 
Shampoo and Conditioner
Once the conditioner was rinsed out and her tail was dried I was pleased to see that the yellow was faded more than shampoo alone would have done. and that her tail was not dried out. It was easy to comb through and felt healthy. 
Post-ketchup in the sun
Overall, I don't believe the ketchup would have been a good last minute treatment before a show but it was a good "get the tail back to normal" option. I would do this again, but next time I would attempt to leave the ketchup in longer. 
Post-ketchup tail in the shade

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

2018 Celebration Half Marathon Recap

On Sunday, I had the honor of running both the Celebration Half Marathon and my fastest half marathon since I moved to Florida!

I woke up at the lovely hour of 5:00am and arrived at Celebration around 5:45. Thankfully, I was able to find parking and relax (more like nap) for a bit before heading over to the starting line.

The start was clearly marked with the various pace groups and I decided to line up between the 2:30 and 2:45 group. My goal for this race was to run consistently between an 11:00-minute and 12: 00-minute mile. I really wanted to try for a sub 2:30 but because I had been sick the entire week leading up to the race, I figured I would be better off trying to stay with a consistent pace.

The race started and I settled into my pace. I went a bit fast at the start to find a nice spot in the pack but settled into my run/walk intervals after about 5 minutes. The first mile was completed at an easy 11:51, the slow speed felt wrong but I knew that I was making the right choice to hold myself back. Mile 2 took 11:17, and as I neared the end of it I realized that I really had to use the restroom. Thankfully I knew that there would be one around the 2.5-mile mark so I hustled through that half mile in 6:40 to get there with time to waste. Unfortunately while pausing my Garmin I bumped it and ended the activity, so my data for this race is separated into two different Garmin entries. I swear, I'll eventually learn how to use this watch!

From mile 2.5 to approximately 6.5 I was able to maintain a consistent pace between 10:57 and 11:45. It was at that 6.5-mile mark that they were handing out gels, so I took my time walking to finish it. I accidentally grabbed the Double Expresso gel and was surprised to find that it worked extremely well for me! The taste wasn't bad and my stomach really seemed to agree with it!

From there my pace ranged from 11:00 to 13:17. The 13:17 occurred on a huge stretch of the boardwalk where I got boxed in behind some other runners. Normally, this would have upset me but the scenery was so pretty that I decided to focus on enjoying the race. Once the boardwalk ended I was able to pass the other runners and settle back into a steady 11:45 pace. This section went through the neighborhood and then back onto the boardwalks.

My least favorite part of this race was honestly the last boardwalk section. I knew that the finish line was coming up quickly and was actually disappointed by this. I crossed the finish in 2:40:48, which should be disappointing because I have run faster half marathons, but this was the fasted half I have completed since moving to Florida!

This race helped prove to me that I can race properly and I do have the ability to successfully run a half marathon. My pace was the most consistent it has ever been, and I felt great after the race. Usually, I am exhausted and feel as if my legs are going to give out but this race left me feeling fine! I want to be a sub 2-hour half marathoner, but this race proved to me that I need to focus more on maintaining a consistent pace as opposed to racing against the clock.
After seeing that I can complete a half, in Florida, in 2:40 I have decided to set my goal for Princess at 2:35. That's enough time to shave off and feel successful, but not too much that I'll have to really push myself.
The awesome blanket that was part of the swag for this race!
Overall, I would fully recommend the Celebration Half Marathon to anyone looking for a nice small race in the Central Florida area! I have already decided that I'll be signing up for the 2019 race as soon as it opens!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Steele My Heart 1 Year Anniversary

It's hard to believe that a year ago I was dashing over to the barn on my lunch break to sign Cupid's sales contract.
This past year has been filled with plenty of ups and downs:
We spent hours working on her canter leads.
We stood around working on being quiet for what felt like an eternity.
We went from going around like a drunk, one wheel car, to straight lines and deep corners.
We showed over fences successfully and received our first reserve champion ribbons.
We moved barns.
Started dressage.
Broke down several brick walls and stall panels.
Loaded and unloaded from a trailer quietly.
Worked through a fear of water.
Survived a hurricane (and didn't jump the paddock fence that broke!)
Rode bareback and without stirrups.
And so many other things.
I couldn't have asked for a better partner, and I'm honestly blessed to have found Cupid. Here's to another year of our ever-growing partnership. I can't wait to see where we go and how else this little mare can Steele My Heart!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Weekly Update 1/1/18-1/7/18

Monday was absolutely gross, it was cold and rainy, and I had been out super late the night before at Manager's New Year's Eve party. Because of this, I spent the day cleaning my house, reorganizing my closet, and preparing my planner for the year. I did briefly leave to run to the barn, pay Cupid's board, and make sure she had her rain sheet on. Aside from this, it was a Netflix and snack type of day.

Tuesday I did my first run of 2018, a slow 3 miler through my neighborhood, without a watch to encourage myself to enjoy the run and not think about time. Currently, the Bluetooth on my phone is broken which means I have to plug my Garmin into my computer to sync it with Garmin Connect. Because of this, I've been extremely lazy about actually using my Garmin to track my runs because syncing the data is a bit of a pain.

Wednesday I dashed out of the barn after work. The temperature really plummeted and I may have panicked and bought Cupid a medium weight blanket. Thankfully I have Amazon Prime and was able to get same-day delivery. The blanket didn't arrive at my house until 8:00 so I had to go find her in her paddock in the dark. I'm lucky that Cupid is super nosey and wandered up to me to investigate what I was doing out in the dark. It was slightly creepy being at the barn in the dark, but it was also extremely peaceful just listening to the horses and seeing them relaxed.

Thursday I went back out to the barn after work, then headed home. I felt absolutely awful and just wanted to sleep.

Friday I made up for missing my runs earlier in the week and did a solid 45-minute training run. I went about 3.5 miles and felt really good after it. I thought about pushing the pace but because of the cold, I decided to take it slow.

Saturday I dashed out to the barn to hack Cupid and spend time with her. We worked through the intro dressage movements and on her simple changes through the center of the ring. One major item that we're having issues with is performing the changes on a diagonal as opposed to a straight line. After we finished our ride we ended up standing and talking to our trainer while she warmed up the kids. It amazes me that a year ago Cupid couldn't stand still but now she'll willingly stand for several minutes while I talk. My little pony is growing up!

After I got home from the barn I went for a quick run of 3 miles then came home to practice for orchestra. I ran my scales on both the flute and bari, then ran New World Symphony on the flute. It makes me so happy to finally play the entire New World Symphony, especially because it's one of my favorite pieces!

Sunday I accidentally overslept and ended up getting to the barn extremely late. By the time I got out there most of the usual Sunday crowd had finished and was heading home. Cupid and I just worked on our walk to trot transitions and trot to halt. She's gotten so much better at halting squarely when asked, so long as my cue is clear and consistent.

Later Sunday evening I had the first orchestra rehearsal of 2018. We ran the 1st and 4th movements of New World Symphony and received two new pieces for the summer concert. It's so nice to be back with the orchestra and finally get the chance to start putting the spring concert together. I'm super excited for this coming year with the orchestra, and can't wait to see if I get selected for any of the choir shows.

Total books completed this week: 3
Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger, The Stone Girl by Alyssa B. Sheinmel, Red Heart Tattoo by Lurlene McDaniel.

Unofficial Boarding Barn Rules

*Note this is one of the many drafts that have been hanging out in my draft folder that I have finally gotten the motivation to edit and pos...