Personal Shizzz

A New Year

I didn't make any normal resolutions for this new year.  I'm constantly struggling to find a balance of eating right/working out enough/spending enough time with my dog/riding Gavin enough/exceling at work/spending time with friends/spending time with Shawn.  It'd be silly to consider any of those things new goals.  It'd just be a continuation of the same struggle.  The struggle made a little easier recently by the fact that I drive about an hour and fifty minutes less every day for work (I actually get out to the barn while it's still sorta light out - HOLLLLAAAA!). 

But that doesn't mean that I'm not excited for the new year.  Au contraire, I'm very excited!  I love fresh starts.  And my fresh start for the new year goes something like this - don't wait around for everything to be perfect before you go out and do what you want.  I'm resolving to be a little looser in my scheduling, a little less rigid in my goal making, and a little kinder to myself.  But I don't think that boils down to me doing less, I think it actually opens me up to do more. because now I'm not going to say to myself "you must reach such and such goal before you can move forward".  I'm going to try to take more chances, and laugh off more failures (more tries = more epic fails, right?).  I actually came upon the idea from a blog post on Chronicle of the Horse.  Find it here.  I found it to be a great article - both inspiring and relaxed at the same time.

 Snow pony gives snow cuddles for treats. 

Snow pony gives snow cuddles for treats. 

Of course, I couldn't NOT go see Gavin today.  I'm glad I did.  The sun was out and he was in an obliging sort of mood.  Really he's in this mood about 95% of the time - the other 5% he's a total crank who likes to pretend bite me then snap his head back with alarm. 

 Proof that I really do own a GIANT ASS pony.  He almost looks a little donkey-ish in this pic.

Proof that I really do own a GIANT ASS pony.  He almost looks a little donkey-ish in this pic.

I know that I have and will always obsess over his canter departs, but they are sooo much better than last year (and by that I mean a year ago, not 2015).  He's stronger now, and that helps him push into the canter and also stay more balanced in it.  I've started working on walk to canter (because why the fuck not? see resolution above).  He definitely gets it on the right lead.  The left lead still needs work, but he definitely gets the idea.  Really, I think it's improved his canter departs at the trot as well; there seems to be a bit more jump into them.

 Gavin's bestie, Sterling.  And my bestie, Laura!

Gavin's bestie, Sterling.  And my bestie, Laura!

I don't talk about Gavin's accomplishments very much.  I'm always so focused on what needs fixing.  But, he and I really have developed as a team in the last two years, which seems odd to me because we've been flying solo trainer-wise for most of that time.  I think it's been good because it's forced me to think things out on my own.  I have to recognize the problem, then I have to think up a possible solution and try it.  It doesn't always work, but that's also something I learn from. 

 Ears pointed firmly to the future.  :)  Grown-out roached mane looking extra Brillo-y

Ears pointed firmly to the future.  :)  Grown-out roached mane looking extra Brillo-y

Having rambled on about the benefits of no trainer (for me, personally), I also recognzie the benefits of being schooled in something you're totally unschooled in (jumping, being bold, the technical aspects of eventing, etc.)  I'm excited to say that I have a lesson coming up this coming Thursday.  She's an eventing instructor recommended by a close horse-friend of mine.  I'm sooooo excited.  Like I said - I'm not going to wait for the perfect barn, the perfect set-up, the perfect truck and trailer combo before I start doing stuff this year.  I'm gonna go for it and see where it leads me.  :)

A Very Merry Christmas

I'm bundled up and warm on this lovely Christmas afternoon.  :) Grateful for many things, including having so many wonderful blogs to read and enjoy.  Though reading through all of them is making me wish that I had gotten in on the gift exchange (I say this every year!) - everyone does such a wonderful job with their equine-related gifts! 

I did a gift exchange with my barn and real-life bestie, Laura, the day before Christmas and was sooooo happy with my present!  She did a portrait of Gavin in colored pencils.  I LOVE IT!  I'm going to get it framed along with his welsh cob papers.  :)

I'm in a bit of a food coma, so I think this'll be the end of this post.  I foresee more puppy cuddling and eating for the remainder of this wonderful day.

I hope everyone is having a very merry Christmas! :)

PS - Jen at Cob Jockey is having a great giveaway right now for an entire Noble Outfitters outfit.  Check it out! :)

Costa Rica

                                                              The Arenal volcano

                                                             The Arenal volcano

Horses are my greatest passion, but another, though admittedly lesser passion of mine is traveling.  I didn't travel much when I was young - couple being poor and having a mom terrified of flying and see how far you get ;)  But since I've been a "grown-up" and able to pay my way for at least one trip a year, I've tried to take it.  It started off with girl trips to different states, and after meeting and moving in with Shawn, it turned into going on one southern trip out of the country every December.  Our first year we went to the Riviera Maya, the year after it was Jamaica, and this year we chose Costa Rica.  We're slowly just going farther and farther south.  I'm assuming at some point we'll wind up in Antarctica.

We flew into Liberia, which was the smallest airport I've ever been to.  Customs took all of 5 minutes and we were out and headed to Arenal.  Arenal is an area in the interior of Costa Rica.  We were directly outside of the small, but active town of La Fortuna.  We were also in the shadow of a HUGE, but dormant volcano (pictured above).  It's only been dormant since 2010, which seems freaky to me, but it doesn't seem to bother the locals at all.

            The center square of La Fortuna.  A very active and fully utilized park and gardens.

           The center square of La Fortuna.  A very active and fully utilized park and gardens.

We tend to be lazy travelers, preferring coffee and slow meanderings as opposed to tours and educational excursions, but seeing as we didn't have an ocean to stare at, we decided to book two tours.

One of the tours was a horseback ride through pastures (think a mix of Kentucky and rainforest.  Sounds weird, but it's stunning), rainforest, and up to the opening of a trail to a rather large waterfall.  Of course they asked who didn't have experience riding horses.  When Shawn and I stayed quiet, they laughed and called us cowboys and gave us their boss mares.  Chiquita and Corena.  The moment I got on Chiquita she peed.  I took that as a good sign and off we went.  It was great.  Being on boss mare meant I was always in the lead.  She was a hardworking little mare, and I made sure to give her plenty of pats and some ear rubs.  The waterfall was incredible.  I've never been to what I can only call "tropical paradise", but we were there.  It was like no picture or video could capture it.  It was truly shockingly beautiful in all of it's cool, mossy, jungle-ness.

                                  Shawn and our guide on our nature hike.

                                 Shawn and our guide on our nature hike.

The next day we went on a nature hike through a protected area where you can see monkeys, sloths, toucans, parrots, etc.  We didn't see ANY of those things.  But that's okay.  It was beautiful and our guide was very informative about the plants, the rainforest, the birds, the snakes, and the lizards (all of which we did see).  We got to walk over multiple suspended bridges.  They weren't quite made of wood and rope, but they still swung and bounced around. 

We spent the rest of our time in Costa Rica making fools of ourselves in the pool, drinking coffee, eating Ceviche (not something I've tried before as I'm not a huge fish lover, but YUM!), and napping.  It was a great trip.  I'd say the most awesome thing I saw was how close and happy the residents were.  Everyone hung out in the park - playing with their dogs, kids playing kick the ball, couples kissing, people talking.  Not a phone in sight.  It was a beautiful thing and something I hope to bring back with me to my life.

                       Los Nenes - some bomb ass ceviche available here.  And a cool bird mural.

                      Los Nenes - some bomb ass ceviche available here.  And a cool bird mural.

A little bit of Erika

So I'm absolutely all on board with this being primarily a blog about my pony adventures, but part of that equation is me - your friendly blog operator.  So after catching you all up on where Gavin is and what he's been up to, I figure I should do some catching up on myself.

During my last blog-run, I let you all know that I got engaged!  The engagement itself was a sweet little affair outside of a restaurant that overlooked some beautiful land.  It was my now-husband's birthday and we were there by his request.  We finished up our dessert and coffee and he started fiddling with this little container that he typically keeps nicotine lozenges in(ex-smoker that he is).  Instead, he pulled out a wad of toilet paper and started unraveling it (I can't make this shit up).  And out-popped a beautiful sapphire ring (the ring that was later stolen in Jamaica).  He knelt and asked.  And of course I said yes!  I love the man!  Fast forward 10 months and we were getting married with Fudge as our ring-bearer.  I wouldn't call it a simple wedding, but I kept it pretty relaxed.  I only had one melt-down and that was the day before when we were setting up the venue and I just started weeping to my older brother about how stressed out I was.  He walked me around the property for about 5 minutes and I got my cool back.  It's been about 6 months since the wedding and honestly, it doesn't feel any different to me.  I mean, it feels great, but not a ton different.  I adore Shawn and seem to grow fonder of him by the day. 

But enough heart-warming, barf-inducing, love stuff.  The other exciting thing that happened was I recently was offered and accepted a new position at a new company.  I loved working for my company (a large non-profit healthcare administration company that worked for CU Medical School).  Problem was - it took me about an hour to get there and an hour to get home or to the horse.  (L is shaking her head and calling me a pansy complaining about that commute).  But it was killlllling me!  So I went looking closer to home.  I found a job 10 minutes from my house and about 15 minutes from my pony.  I am so excited to get an extra hour and a half on each workday.  I'm hoping to utilize this time with more puppy-walks, horse-riding, and general lounging and life-enjoyment.

And finally, for the exciting thing right around the corner - I'm going to Costa Rica in a week and a half and will be there for about a week.  It's a very belated honeymoon.  I'm soooo excited, and this time I won't be bringing my ring with me for anyone to steal. ;)

Do Over

Welcome to my new blog!  A new site, a new name, and a new set of rules.  I've been off the air waves for a little under a year now - and that was for several reasons.

  1. Undoubtedly, laziness ranks high among the reasons I quit blogging.  It's easy and fun for me to ride my horse.  Less easy and fun to put it all out there on the internet.
  2. Fear of judgment.  This didn't come from my fellow bloggers.  The bloggers I interacted with on the regular were all very supportive and all came ready to share ideas and help if I asked.  This fear actually developed when I was made fun of via Facebook by my real-life friends.  I'll admit that I'm not great at taking criticism, and when it comes in the form of my friends mocking me for talking equine-love, I kinda shut off wanting to share.
  3. Lack of awesome material.  I thoroughly enjoy reading my regular pony blogs (some of which I comment on, others I just creep on).  One thing that the good blogs have in common is their seemingly never-ending source of good horsey material.  This was something I felt lacking in (see #2).  Sometimes I just felt like all I did was complain about my canter depart.

Regardless of the above 3 reasons for going on blog hiatus, I always missed it.  Blogging to me was a great outlet for my creativity (I'm an accountant, but somewhere deep down I do have a creative side trying desperately to get out - typically I stuff that bitch back down into the darkness, but she never quits trying to come out).  Not only did it allow me to release some of my creative energy, but it also gave me a history of my equine trials and tribulations.  Which is awesome.  It's fun to look back and go, oh - we've so got that down now.  And lastly, it kept me focused on new goals and sometimes my lovely readers would have helpful tips for me on those goals.

So, as you already know, I decided to restart my blog, but with some changes.

  1. Name change - I liked "An Optimist, a Pony, and a Pug" because I felt like it made sense and was descriptive of my life, BUT with my new rules I wanted a new name.  For some reason when I was a teenager, my online handle was always warriorpony (the embarrassing email address I have to begrudgingly recite to people).  I had the handle long before I had Gavin.  It just spoke to me.  So I decided to be true to my bad-ass-pony-loving self, and go with my original, albeit embarrassing name.
  2. New site - I just really wanted my own domain.  Blogger was awesome, but I'm really liking squarespace.  Check the logo!  Super easy for the creative-impaired.
  3. New rules - Don't share blog with real life peeps.  This includes horse friends, trainers, barn owners, trail buddies, etc.  This is a place for me to connect with other horse-lovers on a relatively anonymous basis.  Sometimes I wanted to talk mad shit about my old trainer, or discuss my frustration with my horse-loving bff.  I couldn't do that.  They knew about my blog and read it.  Another rule?  I've committed myself to doing at least one horsey continuing education a month.  It'll help me stay fresh in the horse realm and also give me fresh ideas to discuss.

Gavin and I are a bit older since the last time I left you all, so my next post will be an update on my very own roly-poly-pony.