Friday, December 30, 2016

2017 Goals

I'm really wondering if there's a point to writing this post.

At the end of 2015 I wanted to do YEH with Runkle. I wanted to start competing him come spring and that went up in flames. We finally started getting off the farm in the summer and I realized I had a horse whose anxiety rivaled my own. That's cool, Runkle. So I dealt with that by not competing at all and just going on really exhausting field trips to horse trials with my basket case horse in tow.

Just when he started to get his head on straight Godzilla showed up and ruined all the things.

Of course I want to compete next year, that's a given. I want to go to every stupid tiny jumper show, dressage show, and hunter pace. I need to wear my purple jacket no matter how small the venue. I want to scoot around a beginner novice or two, if Mars is in a favorable house or whatever planets need to be aligned for it to happen for us.

I'm not one for making resolutions but I somehow came up with a list of fifteen or so things I want to do next year. Maybe not exactly resolutions but more of a 'to do' list of being awesome. But I couldn't bring myself to write them down here to really commit to them.

I know this time next year I'll look back at this post and be like oh, silly girl, you thought you could nail yourself down. Why do you keep trying.

So my 2017 goal is really simple and can be applied to anything: make 2017 better than 2016.

It hasn't even ticked over yet but my personal life has had a really serious upswing (when does that happen??) so I'm actually feeling optimistic. The open ended nature of it means I can go in any direction I want. Just make it better. Make it more fun. Learn more. Be a better friend. Maybe keep my apartment less of a disaster area. Make time for the things I always tell myself I'll do 'if I have time'.

Tailgate more events, go on trail rides, gallop faster, jump higher, love harder. Just make it better.

Cheers bitches. Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

2016 Year in Review

Didn't I just write one of these? For 2015? I think I did.

Instead of doing a month by month, because frankly my life isn't that exciting, I'm going to make a list of the most critical things that happened to me each season this year.

Summer: Runkle and I started competing

We did one in house show at the end of 2015 but 2016 actually saw us leave the farm on more than one occasion. Working through Runkles PTSD (or stupidity, haven't decided which yet) was my main focus. And when he kept his head on straight and I managed to stay in the saddle, we actually won stuff!

Probably one of my favorite moments though was the last in house show where he was able to sit and camp near jumping while people were running around warming up and doing their rounds. Only a month before he dumped my ass even thinking about hanging out near the warm up.

Fall: I ran a half marathon
I was really tired (pun?) of my own lack of fitness so on a whim in the first week of June I signed up for a half marathon. It taught me so much about my own limits, both mental and physical, and also about how to train for fitness work which I'm hoping will extrapolate to horses. It also gave me an excellent outlet for Runkle being broken.

One of my many bridge runs.
I think if I hadn't had the race to focus on in the past few months I would've lost my damn mind. I was feeling pretty crazy as it was, but having to get up and run four miles before work tempered any pent up rage I was harboring from not being able to ride my horse.

Winter: Runkle had the splint from hell.
Initially just squashing my dreams for a Beginner Novice outing this season, it went so far as to convince me my horse would never be rideable again. There were a lot of tears and very few answers as I just had to wait it out. Of course only Runkle would pop a splint and have the whole thing go so tits up the vet would recommend surgery and now my insurance is blown as he's gotten all sorts of fancy treatments.


Thank you, insurance company.

Like, buddy, you were in race training for four years and never had an issue with your splints. I take him out of heavy galloping and jumping and he immediately breaks. Why do horses make no sense? They make no sense.

Spring: #pinkygate2016
Easily the most influential thing that ended up happening this year. If you want to see what a horse person is made of take away their ability to ride. Unfortunately the kind of stuff I was made of, at the time, was crumbly not-that-strong-stuff that collapsed when I didn't have my horsie outlet.

I could barely stand to go to the barn at all. I tried to keep Runkle in training, but ended up having to pull him out purely because I ran out of money.

I even had to wear a sling.
It was only once I had that ripped away that I could comprehend how miserable I really was. Runkle was the rose colored glasses that made my life livable, but I realized that that wasn't enough to go on. I needed more than a horse to keep myself happy. I ended up quitting my job and changing careers and if the splint incident has taught me anything at all it's that I made the right decision. I haven't been able to ride, and dealing with the splint has been just as frustrating (if not more so) than my pinky ever was, but I'm still happy. I buried myself in work and tons of other activities and I made it through a really stressful time with Runkle not too much the worse for wear.

I feel like I've left a lot of things behind this year, things that made me unhappy or didn't fit in with what I wanted for my life. I thought 2015 was the year I did a lot of growing, living in London and playing permanent tourist and expat. But it's easy to get outside your comfort zone when you're living outside your comfort zone. It's harder to make radical changes when you're sitting where you always have.

All that being said, this year kind of sucked and I would never ever do it again. But I'm still glad it happened the way it did. I feel weird using the word glad considering what a trial it's been. And I did get to do a lot of amazing things, some of which I haven't even gotten to blog about yet!

I got to meet lots of bloggers...

These fools. And I don't have a picture of Allison,
but fun fact: she's the sweetest person ever

The best kind of bloggers: who are down for whatever.
And have wheels.
I went to Montana...

I shot a gun for the first time...

My parents sold and moved out of my childhood home...

💜 end of an era @dkdumps by @kieshorse

My best friend got a puppy (a friend getting a puppy is awesome, shut up)...

I even got to gallop racehorses...

So there you go, those are the shitstorms that defined my year. None of which I expected when the clock ticked over to 2016. Let's see what's next, shall we?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Viva Carlos Blog Hop: Ornaments

I have two kinds of ornaments: cats and horses. Probably because two things are important: cats and horses. I also have a box of plain ol' balls that I believe my grandma got for 10 cents way, way back in the day to make me look a little less crazy, or so I'd like to think.

Have a holly jolly Christmas.
I was excited to write this, because no one comes to my apartment which means no one gets to admire my tree!! It's a shame. However before I could, tragedy struck. Because I have cats.

And before you're like omg, megan, stfu, that's what cats do, destroy trees, then let me tell you my previous cats have never bothered my tree. And it's not like they haven't had reason to.

My beautiful Roxanne. RIP.

But when I got back from London in 2015, less one cat, I got a new cat. And he is... well... he's kind of a piece of shit. But I love him anyway.

He's a ninja when it comes to getting out of my apartment.
He only has three legs (and cat AIDS). But I wanted a male black cat (number of legs unspecified) and it was his last day at the shelter so... welcome to the family, Poe.

By far the worst thing about him is his obsession with the tree.

Note the bottom half of the lights no longer working.

I have no idea how he broke the lights but HE DEFINITELY DID IT.

And then the cherry on top (or the star? on top of the tree?) was I came home the other day to this:

I didn't do it.
Can't even hide from the scene of the crime properly. Somehow through all that carnage only ONE ornament broke!

But enough is enough, he needs to stop taking it out on the tree. I have no idea what his vendetta is against Christmas.

No idea at all....

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Festivus, whatever your choice of holiday might be. Go enjoy some eggnog and cuddle your animals, even if they are bad tree ruiners.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Adrenaline Junkie

I judge people who like doing really crazy shit to get their jollies.

Human beings will stop at nothing to get their heart pumping. Maybe they watch scary movies, or go to haunted houses. Sometimes they need to go big and really scare the crap out of themselves by bungee jumping off a bridge or leaping out of a plane. And then there are the weirdos/hardcores who bang in public places or do heroin. I'm pretty risk averse (I work for a freakin' insurance company) so all of this seems utterly abhorrent to me.

But I'm starting to think I'm worse than all of them.

We're officially in Week 3 of pony rehab and it's been interesting. Runkle is definitely feeling better, and also feeling ring sour from being stuck in the indoor and his stall for months. I have to walk the fine line of Dorm to keep him from totally losing his shit and breaking all his legs. But if I give him too much he turns into a mule and won't move.

Tuesday night he was being a nappy little pony about the trot and I knew we were going to have it out. Once I really pushed that button he was going to give it to me but I didn't see any way around it. So I double checked my crash vest (which I've been wearing for every ride), shortened my reins, and booted him in the side to ask him to trot.

He exploded.

Artist's Dramatization.
He squealed like a wild mustang, did four enormous bucks and then begrudgingly picked up a trot.

It was then that I realized I might be less sane than a person who does heroin and jumps out of a plane and eats ghost peppers. At the same time.

I wouldn't say rehabbing a five year old Thoroughbred on three months of stall rest exactly gives me 'jollies'. But that almost makes it worse -- at least the people who ride roller coasters enjoy the roller coaster. They don't say "Oh Jesus, I have to ride this roller coaster tonight I hope the safety protocols have been checked recently but if not at least I'm wearing my Road ID, so when they find my dead body they'll have a phone number to call to tell someone to feed my cats".

The long and short of it is, Runkle is rehabbing and he feels great. Almost... too great.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Blog Hop: Location³

I've been enjoying these posts, courtesy of A Soft Spot for Stars (which incidentally is an adorable blog name). And not just because I like to stalk people and now I know where all of you live. I mean, what?

I've been treating it as a 'where would I go if I moved' because I always keep that lodged in the back of my mind. I live in middle of the vaunted Area II, and have been here for five years almost exactly. It's the longest I've lived anywhere.

Okay maybe not the geographic middle, but it feels like it.
I live in Philly and Runkle lives in NJ about 18 miles from me. This can take anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour and a half depending on how badly people are driving.

I've lived a couple of different places around the country, and where I am now is the first place that has everything I need. With my career I can only work in major cities (NYC, Denver, Chicago) and finding ways to ride out of a large city like that can be difficult and involve a lot of driving. Philly is the easiest place I've found where I can live IN the city, walking distance from work, and still commutable to a barn with good turnout.

I had to ask my trainer how much they pay for hay because the last time I really paid attention to the price of hay was about ten years ago, and it was $5 a bale. Nowadays it runs about $8. Plus my barn has access to two huge hay fields so they grow and cut some of their own.

Board varies by your amenities and exact location. Stall board can range between $500-1000, depending on the place and the exact location. Pasture board can be even lower but since I ride wimpy Thoroughbreds they need stalls. I pay on the higher end of that scale. It includes blanketing, stall cleaning, all the good stuff. We have an indoor, an outdoor with the best footing ever, a jump field, and a conditioning trail around the perimeter of the property. There's private turnout available but usually they're turned out in groups of 3-6 in big fields.

Home sweet home :)
There's also a lounge, tack room, hot water in the wash stalls, all the supplement feeding you can want and changing of boots or blankets between turnout and being in the stall. The farm hosts clinics and has four ESDCTA certified in-house shows a year.

I'm not sure how much full training board is. Lessons run about $40-50, $80 if you are riding with a big name trainer in the area. And because of the location this includes everyone from Sally Cousins to Phillip Dutton.

Sally Cousins teaching.

Jennie Brannigan getting real pumped.

A barefoot trim will run you $40, and I pay $80 for front shoes for Runkle. I'm assuming one day he'll need hinds and that'll cost me $160. If you get pads or any other fancy-ness it's $180 or more. I freakin' love my farrier. He's very patient with Runkle trying to lay down during his farrier appointments. He's not the main 'barn' farrier who comes on a schedule and does all the horses but I like him better as he's more reasonably priced, will come out after work for me which is awesome because I like asking a million questions about every nick and divot in Runkle's feet. And he will also tack shoes back on when Runkle throws them. Wrote if and deleted it. No if's about it.

Riding Demographic
Every time I think of moving I change my mind because anywhere I'd want to move (cough Seattle cough) is nowhere near as good riding wise, particularly for eventing. Within a two hour drive I can hit four or five different recognized events, with plenty of them running divisions all the way up to Advanced. That's how I was able to jump judge so much this season. And that's not even including the plethora of unrecognized events all over the place. Flora Lea may not be the world's fanciest venue, but it's only fifteen minutes away and they hold four or five events a year.

Phillip Dutton at his 'local' CIC 3*, Plantation Field
Runkle and I at our 'local' two phase, Flora Lea :P
Emma & Isabelle, at an easy day trip to Fair Hill.
If you're willing to drive a little farther you can add in all the big events in Maryland and VA, including Loch Moy and the Virginia Horse Park. I've never gone farther than four hours for an event, and only stayed overnight at one once. Even the drive to Aiken isn't too bad, it's a fourteen or so hour trip straight down mostly highways.

WELCOME SHADOW at Great Meadow, a weekend trip.
And it isn't just eventing. Back when I did the jumpers and equitation this was the hot spot to be as well. It's not coincidence that so many Olympians make their home around here. There is a huge 4H scene that I used to be a part of as well, and I'm not too far from the Cowtown Rodeo which is the longest running rodeo in the US.

The Devon Horse Show is a half hour from me.
So yeah. There are some horses here.

Now I feel like I've thoroughly convinced myself to never leave the area so thanks for that. This is the loop I get constantly stuck in every time I get frustrated and think I want to up and move. Because... where else would I go?

Friday, December 9, 2016

A Half Marathoner is Born

I ran my half, and have very dutifully made a scientific mile by mile record of how it went. How to run a half marathon, in seventeen easy steps.

I'm in the purple corral 😏😏💜💜 #phillyhalf by @kieshorse

Start: The pacer group promised a 'nice slow start' to the race as mile 1 is our warm up. Next to me were two 50+ year old women. I looked forward to them kicking my ass.

Mile 1: The pacer group took off like a shot and I let them go. I actually let most people go, because the horn went and everyone broke out like it was the Kentucky Derby. I had been warned by everyone against this and frankly I am no speed demon so I was fine lolloping along letting everyone pass me.

It looked almost exactly like this. Except Sylvester Stallone wasn't there.
Mile 2: All those people who bolted past me? I caught up. Also my parents were there! The course ran around City Hall. I would've appreciated it for being cooler if I weren't worried about my impending death. We also hit our first water stop and I accidentally took a mouthful of Gatorade, expecting it to be water, and nearly spit it all over the volunteer who handed it to me.

Mile 3: Went back past the start and the Art Museum. Saw my parents again, as you could easily hit two spots on the course without walking much.

Mile 4: My biggest incentive during the run was eating the stupid gels. The banana ones and the apple cinnamon ones. The apple cinnamon tasted like pie, I think I got through the first three miles because I wanted pie.

Fat kid dreams

Mile 5: We were out of the city and the spectators were pretty sparse. Even though I had lost the pacer group I could still see them about 100 yards or so ahead of me and they weren't getting any farther away, which was shocking to me. I finally actually felt good too, usually it takes three or four miles for me to feel warmed up properly.

Mile 6: Ran past Boathouse Row. They're probably my favorite part of the 'Philly landscape' and I  really liked that we swung past them on the new course.

This is what they looked like during the race

They're cooler at night
Mile 7, Hill #1: The course doubled back on itself here. The people coming back out of the woods were at my level, but we went on a steep downhill into the woods. Oh no. We hit our first hill after going down into the woods and... it was okay.

Mile 8, Hill #2: This is less okay.

Mile 8, Hill #3: I hate everything, and this is the dumbest idea I've ever had.

Mile 9, Hill #4: Passed by a kid being pushed in a stroller... wanted to climb in the stroller. Or cry and lay on the ground.

I don't think I actually would've stopped but at mile 9 I really hated my life, and didn't want to run anymore. I walked a little up the hill. I knew there was a water stop, and my marathon running psycho friend and her cute dog and boyfriend were at the top of the hill. So I told myself maybe make it to there and don't be crying when you see them, you giant pussy.

However at the top of the hill there was a cheer spot, which included a DJ and in this case a water stop and about forty people dancing. They all had signs of varying levels of inappropriateness and were on a sliding scale of drunk. They were VERY loud and enthusiastic and I felt like my whole body took a breath and said "yep, you got this."

And get this - I was actually SMILING when I ran into my friends!! Little did they know I had been picking out burial sites next to the road fifty feet before.

Mile 10.1: Whelp, this is officially the farthest I've ever run.

Mile 11: Two more miles Megan. Maybe try going a little faster? Somehow I actually did go faster.


Also there were photographers at mile 12 and I tried to smile but I look like I'm pooping. The pictures did not turn out good.

Mile 12.75ish: Someone on the sideline yells that we're some hundred odd yards from the finish and in a desperate bid to leave it all on the table (or just be done as soon as possible) I started sprinting in. It was really cool passing people limping through that last mile. Even though everything hurt a LOT I was so proud I could kick it into gear. My last mile I did at 8:00 min pace!

2:36:42. Never running again 😜 #phillyhalf #DONE #ice #somuchice by @kieshorse


Mile 13.2: Soft pretzels.

Total Time: 2:36:42. Considering even my best ten mile runs were on the high side of 2:10, I was satisfied with that time. It was good enough while giving me something (breaking 2:30) to work towards next time.

And yes, there will be a next time. In fact, I already signed up. Rutgers New Brunswick, 4/09/17.

Wait.... that means... I have to train in the winter.

Oh no.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

12 Days of Splintmas

I wrote a song for you to celebrate Splintmas, or lackthereof since on December 1st I actually got on my horse, and we all lived.

On the twelfth day of Splintmas, I gave to my pony:

Twelve bags of ice


Eleven rounds of Splintex

Ten minute walkies


Nine weeks of stall rest

Eight vet call charges

Seven pounds of poultice

Six x-ray pictures (and one ultrasound!)

Shrug, I'm no doctor.
Five cc's of dorm

Four vet opinions

Three shockwave treatments

Two sheepskin earstuffs

The stuffies are under the soundproof bonnet.
And a shot of Osphos for my pony.

Runkle is finally under saddle again after all that and let me tell you, pardon my French but it's really fucking great. I was so worried he wouldn't come back and I couldn't stop imagining the worst. The ultrasound didn't look 100% normal but it's not something that can be diagnosed. Right now I just need to start putting him back to work and hoping that nothing is irritating the suspensory. So far so good, and thank God for Dormosedan and sound proof bonnets. And my crash vest. Do you know how high a horse can leap straight up into the air? Ask a five year old Thoroughbred on stall rest.

Merry Splintmas everyone. Go hug your pony's splints.