Sunday, February 18, 2018

When Your Hard Work Goes Unnoticed

Many moons ago (like fifteen years, give or take haha), I submitted open competition points to her national breed organization for my Morgan, Sparky, in carriage driving, dressage, and hunter under saddle.  We never won a ribbon (they only place champion and reserve) but we did end up 9th in singles driving one year and 11th in hunter under saddle another year out of hundreds of horses.  I was pretty proud of that and even though we never won any swag, I still thought it was fun to submit points.
Sparky was a blast to drive!  
When I registered Ellie, I saw they are still holding the open competition program.  Of course, I immediately knew I wanted to submit points and try again with Ellie.
Interestingly enough, this weekend was the annual convention and awards banquet.  After seeing some scuttle on Facebook, from what I understand, they never sent out any preliminary points standings for competitors to double check.  Instead, they just posted final points this past Monday and then everyone left for the convention.  Unfortunately, there were several mistakes, including horses left out of the placings all together, but because the registry office was shut down for the convention, there was no way to contact anyone at the office about the mistakes.  For example, a friend here in Maine earned a 70% in both First and Second Level with her Morgan, yet they don't have her on there and the winner in both divisions are in the 60%s.  So clearly, she would have won both.  Also, this meant that because no one knew what they won until Monday, many people couldn't attend (the banquet is in KY, so it is not a quick drive from Maine).
Not our best dressage photo, but I don't seem to have many digital riding pics and I cannot find any of us jumping (seeing as the last six years we did carriage driving until she retired at age 24 and digital photos didn't become a "thing"until just before she retired LOL)
I have no idea what the response is yet from the registry (notice I am trying hard not to call them out by name, but you know which one I am talking about obviously LOL).  I saw folks on Facebook telling those who had their points messed up that it really didn't matter, because it didn't take away from the fact they still won once the mistakes are fixed.
I never ended up buying her a real sleigh, but the little EZ entry cart had removable wheels you could replace with runners
Ummmmmmm no.  It makes riders feel like all their hard work doesn't matter.  What if it doesn't get fixed because they claim they "lost" the paperwork?  I get that there was obviously a problem with the points somehow and it is hard to tell what it was.  I get that those in this registry are busy with other things.  I get that organizations can be understaffed.  Maybe they don't have a person on staff that oversees the program any longer?  Or maybe the person left and they haven't had a chance to fill the spot?  I don't know.
She LOVED the hazards portion of CDEs.  It was like XC only with a carriage!
But they have been doing this program for YEARS and YEARS.  What happened this year?  Why was no one notified of the preliminary placings at least a week back and given a chance to check for mistakes?  Why was no one given the opportunity to decide to attend the awards banquet if they won something?  This is just plain shoddy and I don't think there is an excuse for it.  This makes me wonder if it is even worth the time to fill out the forms each time I show and submit them all.
Competing at Granite State Morgan in 2005 (I think?) 
I had a weakness of carrying my hands too low while driving LOL!
To add to that, it makes those who show in open competition (most of which are sport horse Morgans) feel as though they don't matter.  There is a lot of tension (that is putting it mildly) between the Saddlebred looking show Morgans and the foundation Justin Morgan type sport horses.  I have said this before, but it really merits its own blog post, because I'd love to get the unbiased opinions of those not fully ensconced in the breed.  Mistakes like this only serve to further divide Morgan owners and riders.  I thought I was leaving behind stupid drama when I left the pleasure Standardbred world haha.  
It should be interesting to see how the registry responds and owns up to their mistakes.  I fully know this is a first world problem, and in the scheme of life, it really doesn't matter.  But it matters to those riders who put in the time, money, and effort to train, show, and submit points.  It matters to me, as someone who is always looking to save time and money, on how I should go forward this year.  I was really excited to submit points in the open competition again, but now I wonder if it is even worth it.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Perfect Pony

I feel like a broken record, constantly writing about how good Ellie has been this winter.  Perhaps I will be singing a different tune writing different blog posts this spring and summer once we are in real work and she starts learning more (because obviously I just jinxed myself)!  Either way, she is super cute and I have lots of media lately and nothing exciting to write about.  So look at cute pony pics on this lovely Friday, the last day of work for me until I return to teaching after a weeklong February break!  ;-) 
Cutest crazy hair pony

Ellie: Ur dumb, cow
Steer: *licks the inside of his nose*
She definitely needs practice on posing though haha. She just cannot stop herself from following me around.  Lots of failure pics that make her look quite oddly shaped haha.

Look, her head is massively larger than her hind end haha

Lots of derp

This pic almost worked but she had to lick the mounting block, because that's Ellie!
We finally got a heavy snowfall of close to a foot; normally I am NOT a fan of snow, but it helped cushion and cover the ice.

Thank you snow, for making it possible for me to ride without fear of dying on the ice!

Hi Mom!  You still up there?

How freaking cute is this pony?!?

We even got to TROT!  She was super good!
And we FINALLY got a chance to hack out in the big field.  I was like, welp, this could either be totally fine or a disaster.  I figured the snow was cushy enough that if I fell off, it wouldn't hurt that much haha.  We have not hacked out in the field since last fall, but Ellie was calm and happy.  She strutted around the trees and around the fields in a happy walk with happy ears.

The only time she got a little tense was when Dreamy (who forgets she is turning 28 this spring) decided to canter up and down the fence line when we went a little too far to the end of the field for her comfort level.  She's such a dork and Ellie was like WHY IS SHE RUNNING SHOULD I RUN TOO and I just sat deep and assured her all was fine.  So she too decided life was fine.  I am thankful this mare is learning to trust me and thinks before she acts.

Pudgy mare's legs are definitely NOT this long

I will never tire of this view (except I'd choose summer instead)!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Product Review: Tough 1 Hay Hoop Slow Feeder

Last fall, I decided to invest in a Tough 1 Hay Hoop Slow Feeder to hang in Ellie's paddock.  I used to hang a regular hay net for Snappy in an effort to get her to eat more of her hay, but I was hoping the hay hoop would be easier (it is - mostly).  I am generally not a fan of hay nets and prefer horses to eat from the ground, but the area next to the barn is sand and Ellie is a HOOVER.  So I figured this would help with any chances of sand colic problems and keep hay in front of her longer.

The hay net is usually so full first thing in the morning that is sticks out nearly perpendicular to the wall haha
 I didn't do much research before I bought it, which is totally unlike me.  But the price seemed decent and I bought it on Black Friday as kind of an impulse purchase, so I only paid $31.  The only other hay hoops I knew about at the time where the ones my friend, Rachel, uses and I had it in my head they were super expensive (turns out they are not).

I admit, I feed a lot of hay.  Like more than the little Tough 1 hay hoop can realistically hold LOL!  And I am not crazy about the latch, mostly because it can be a pain to actually get to latch onto the wall, but I actually think that is because I stuff way too much hay into the net itself.
This is the latch, which is pretty easy to use if the hay net isn't overstuffed!
So, I ordered a new hay net to hang inside the hoop, and I am hoping this will solve my minor complaints.  Even with buying a new/different net, the price is still cheaper than the Hay Chix hay hoop, which looks like what I will purchase if this one ever breaks.  
Empty hay hoop - there is nothing wrong with this net, it is just tiny
But, honestly, Ellie has had zero issues with the Tough 1 Hay Hoop Slow Feeder and it seems like it will continue to hold up well.  Granted, she has only been using it for three months, but it is in great shape.  She will obviously eat less hay this spring/summer when we have grass again, but I am sure I will always throw a few flakes out for her, especially when weaning her onto grass this spring.  My Standardbreds have never had issues with weaning onto spring grass, but Morgans are a completely different story.  It felt like it took me a month to get Sparky out onto grass full time, between being such an easy keeper and prone to laminitis (happened once in college, in late fall, so we have no idea why she foundered, but it was enough to scare me forever haha).  

Here you can see the little pieces of wood needed to attach it to the side of the barn. 
Darn that board and batten siding haha.  Obviously attaching this to a flat wall (like in a stall) would be easier.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Thanks, Smartpak!

I know there are varying opinions about Smartpak out there, however I have always had great luck with them and I really have no complaints.  I have always had good luck with their customer service, even when things got messed up on their end and they have always made things right.  I have also used their Smartpak supplements for my horses for over ten years.  Generally, I check Smartpak first when I am looking for a horse related item, mostly because I get free shipping (let's be real, paying for shipping is dumb) and because they ship from MA, I generally get orders within two days.

Back in December, I saw a great deal on the Smartpak Winter Overpants, which were marked down from $76 to $45.  As I just wrote, because I am in Maine, my Smartpak orders generally arrive within a couple days.  However, due to a snow storm (and the fact it was just before Christmas), the order was delayed and I think it took five days.  Honestly, it really didn't matter to me because I wasn't in any rush to receive them.  Besides, ALL my online Christmas orders were behind because UPS didn't deliver during the snow storm (a smart move in my eyes), and let's face it, ordering something just ten days before the holiday is bound to take a little longer.  It's the Christmas season and the mail just gets bogged down.

Anyway, I received my pants and have worn them several times.  I'll do a review at some point, but basically I love them and they were totally worth the $45.  I put the slight shipping delay out of my mind, because it really didn't even register with me at the time.

However, much to my surprise, just a few days ago I received an emailed apology from Smartpak.  I admit, it's a little long winded and I nearly missed the coupon code at the end haha!  ;-)  But I was seriously impressed with the fact they owned up to their mistakes (and I am assuming they are responding to criticism from those who felt they should have received their packages sooner).  

Hi Elizabeth,

We're writing today to thank you for being a SmartPak customer, and to apologize for the fact that we recently let you down. 

Our records indicate that one or more of the orders you placed over the last few months was impacted by the shipping delays we experienced in our Plymouth, MA warehouse, and we want to state firmly and clearly - these delays were completely unacceptable. We are embarrassed, ashamed, and deeply sorry. Our commitment to customer service has been core to our mission from day one, and over these past few months, we've failed to live up to that. While we wish there was something we could do to change that, all we can do is assure you that our leadership team has worked aggressively to solve the problem completely, and we're actively working to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.
Regarding what happened, as you may have heard from social media or our Customer Care team, it truly was a "perfect storm" of events, from an unprecedented influx of new products to limited warehouse space, and labor shortages to extreme weather events. On their own, each of these shocks to the system is something we could've handled (and have easily handled similar situations in the past). But together, they had a compounding effect that none of us expected and before we knew it we were in over our heads.
Throughout this, on the aggregate, we were still shipping close to 90% of total orders on time, thanks in large part to the fact that back in 2015 we invested in opening a second distribution center to better serve our West Coast customers, and the fact that supplements in SmartPaks were always shipped on time. However, even 90% is nowhere near good enough for us, and we know it doesn't make a difference to those of you whose orders were shipped late. (We're not sharing that in an attempt to make an excuse, we're sharing it to help you understand why this wasn't treated with more urgency more quickly.) On the plus side, what was previously a blind spot for us is now an area of focus, as we're building out automated reports and alerts that will help us better understand the status of all orders in the building.  

And that's just the first of many improvements we're making to our systems, website, and processes so that we can be smarter in the future. However, we don't expect you to take our word for it. We know that this was a disappointing experience, and we want to give you a reason to give us another chance, risk-free. That's why we're including a $25 gift towards your next purchase, as an investment in our continued relationship with you. To redeem your gift, simply enter the gift code (I deleted it haha) at checkout and your discount will be applied to your order - no exclusions, no minimum, no kidding. And because we know good things take time, we're giving you plenty of time to use the gift code - it will be valid until 3/31/2018.

We hope you'll accept this gift, and most importantly, our sincerest apologies. Since 1999, we've been honored to be your partner in the care of your horse, and we're committed to delivering you the kind of exceptional service experience we'd want, as riders and horse owners ourselves. We're actively working to be smarter in the future, and we hope that you'll be willing to give us a chance to prove that we're still the same SmartPak you've always known and loved (if anything, a little wiser).

I wrote them back a thank you email, because while I don't feel they needed to send me a $25 gift certificate, let's face it, I am not going to refuse it either!  I totally understand that the weather happens, crap happens, and nothing is perfect.  

Happily, I just ordered two new buckets (in hunter green, of course), a new sponge for baths (someday it will warm up for baths haha), and a new small hole haynet for Ellie's paddock hay hoop (I am hoping it is larger than the one that came with the hay hoop holder thingy) and only spent $16.  
Ordered on 2/6 and will receive 2/8 - two day shipping is the norm for me from Smartpak
So, thanks Smartpak, for being a good company in my eyes and owning your mistakes.  Not everyone in the world has the guts to sincerely apologize like that.  I appreciate the apology and definitely appreciate the $25 gift!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Winter Rides: Like Money in the Bank

I admit, there comes a point where I am totally sick of winter and want to throat punch all the folks who complain how "bored" they are riding in indoor arenas hahaha!  That point has arrived!  ;-)  After the intense frigid temps, we are now in a thaw/rain/freeze cycle that has made everything icy and crappy.  We had a lot of rain and icing overnight Sunday and are looking at a major snow storm upcoming on Wednesday.  I'd give anything to board my horse at an indoor right now LOL!

Ohhhh snow, ice, yuck footing but at least it was warm (and therefore semi safe)!

However, I have been making an effort to try to ride as much as I can, even though I am so over winter it isn't even funny.  Right now, that is about 2-3 times a week, which is better than nothing.  Most of this is at the walk, since the footing is crappy.  But I keep telling myself that at least I am doing SOMETHING and a little something is like money in the bank.  Every time I groom, tack up, and ride, it is giving Ellie just a little more experience and confidence.  We won't be starting at zero when spring truly arrives because I haven't been on her for months; instead we have been quietly and slowly plugging away at things as much as we can.  

Ellie is surprisingly good despite our slow efforts.  I haven't been lunging her, which I wanted to phase out anyway, but I am especially proud of her since we are not riding much.  She has become quite used to being on the crossties and knowing what to expect, instead of being "up" and worried.  She finally doesn't jump when I pull down the stirrups and has no issue standing still while I get on.  She still has a few moments when I first get on her where she definitely won't walk on a loose rein, which is my preferred way to start a ride, but it takes less and less time for her to relax and listen.  She's nearly convinced that leg doesn't always just mean FORWARD, and it can mean step over or even (HEAVEN FORBID) to halt.  It is nice to see her start learning more than just baby horse cues and remember them!  I think all of my boring winter rides will definitely pay off this spring once we can actually start working on a more consistent basis.

Horse show dates are starting to roll in and I am trying to decide what exactly I want to expose her to this year.  I am thinking little local dressage shows, 2-phases, and maybe a Morgan breed show or two.  And of course, lots of lessons and trail riding!  

My photographer brought out a little snack and Ellie thought she ought to try a bite haha

I can start dressage lessons anytime I am ready with a local trainer I really respect, who is about 45 minutes away.  We have chatted and she suggested I start with a few private half hour lessons for her to get to know Ellie and for Ellie to get used to her indoor, etc.  And then I hope to join another adult amateur on a school horse in semi private hour lessons.  This will help my budget ($80 private lessons vs. $45 semi private lessons) so I can lesson more often.  Granted, there may be times I want a full private, but I also think there are benefits to riding in a group (and saving money).  
A sugar cube for a good mare

As far as jumping lessons, there is a farm about an hour away (in the opposite direction haha) that does the local eventing circuit that I do, and the instructor there will take me anytime I am ready as well.  I hope to get in some basic jumping lessons, maybe a XC school or two this summer/fall, and to hang out with the barn at events.  While I know I can go it alone, especially at the tadpole level we are at right now, but I really want to get Ellie off the farm and establish student-instructor relationships because there will come a point that I know I will definitely need/want the help and support.  I don't want any holes in this horse's training if I can help it.  I want to take my time and develop her into a horse who can do upper level work (all depending on her, of course).  I know I have bad habits as a rider that I don't want to establish into habits with Ellie, so lessons will keep us on the right track.  I got away from lessoning much on Snappy in the past few years, because well, I knew she wasn't going to go further than Dreamy (who was showing BN/schooling Novice and showing First Level/schooling Second when she retired), and there wasn't much an instructor was going to tell me about Snappy that I already wasn't aware of and working on.  

So, despite the fact I am intensely feeling the doldrums of winter, I have to remind myself that every little bit I do with this mare will help in the long run!  C'mon warm weather!!  :-)

Thanks Prisma, for being an app that makes my photos look so artsy haha

Monday, January 29, 2018

Maine Morgan Horse Club Banquet and Annual Meeting 2017

Owning Ellie sparked me to renew my Maine Morgan and AMHA memberships after a roughly fifteen year hiatus.  (This also means that I dropped my US Trotting membership, which was kinda sad, but there is no real reason for me to stay a member any longer.)  

When I saw a Facebook event for the Maine Morgan banquet and annual meeting, I had a fleeting thought I should attend.  After all, it was being held at Pineland Farm, which is just under an hour away (that's close when you live where I do in rural Maine haha) and it is a phenomenal facility.  I always think it is important to be social, even though I am naturally not a social person.  And, they were honoring Miss Gardiner in a Hall of Fame induction, so I thought it might be nice to be a part of that, considering I now own one of her Kennbec Morgans.
Pineland is slightly gorgeous!  ;-)
(Side note: Pineland is no longer the dressage facility it boasts about on the website.  Just last month, they cleaned house and now a Morgan trainer is there in one of the barns.  Pineland is a unique 5000 acres, that includes three farms, owned by a non profit charitable foundation.  Basically, a really rich lady donated millions of dollars to build these farms.  It's kind of neat and unique, but sadly the equestrian center has never really taken off in the way I thought it would.  But, this isn't a post about Pineland.)

Anyway, I ended up deciding to attend at the last minute and I am glad I did.  There was a catered dinner, year end awards, a board meeting (which was mostly about honoring many of the past officers and board of directors), and of course, the first three inductees into the Hall of Fame.  Afterwards, we all went to the indoor to watch a few Morgans presented in hand, in carriage, and under saddle.

It was definitely an honor to be considered a part of the "Kennebec crew".  I admit I got a little teary as they talked about Miss Gardiner's life and how she has dedicated herself to breeding over two hundred wonderful sport Morgans since the 1940s.  She will be 96 years old next month, and as I have alluded to before, her breeding program is in its twilight.  I will always count my blessings that I am able to own Ellie and continue Miss Gardiner's legacy.  

Miss Gardiner is seated on left in a red coat.  That is her neice next to her, who came
up from Boston to see her aunt honored.  The rest of us own Kennebec Morgans!  That's me in the middle with the white sweater and scarf, which is probably one of the few photos of me on here without a riding helmet hahaha! 

A page from the banquet program of Miss Gardiner

We even made the cover photo for the club's FB page hahaha!  
The Kennebec barn manager rode her eventing horse in the first demo, jumping him a few times and then a local Morgan saddleseat trainer rode him, which was pretty much the funniest thing I have ever seen haha.  He even jumped him (the fence was lowered!) and it was really fun.  There is a video on her Facebook page that is public, so hopefully you all can see.  

Next they brought out a 3 year old driving horse, and he nearly had an explosion while they were hooking him.  :-(  I was definitely nervous watching him, because clearly he had never seen a crowd and was quite riled up.  I am not really someone who gets super nervous with horses, but having seen carriage wrecks (and having been in a carriage wreck with Sparky myself), I was ready to go home.  The remaining four horses they were showing off were all saddleseat horses anyway (someday I should write about my feelings on the way the Morgan breed has shifted from sport horses to Saddlebred look-alikes, but let's keep it positive today!) and I wasn't really that interested.  

I should have stayed, because the Kennebec BM ended up riding one of the saddleseat horses after he was presented.  How fun to have horse swaps and it was all an "auction" where riders paid (a donation to the club) for the honor of riding the horse!  :-)

All in all, I am glad I went.  Maybe someday Ellie and I will qualify for year end awards through Maine Morgan!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Uncommon Praise - An Unofficial Blog Hop

Amanda at Bel Joeor wrote a lovely post, Uncommon Praise, about the ways our horses are special that are not the typical reasons (such as we might list on a sales ad).  I really liked her post, beyond the fact that she is a good writer, because it is so true that I love my horses in ways that other riders may not understand.  Her words made me think of the ways I adore my mares and I thought I would share.  I love to wax poetic about my horses (who doesn't!) and I tried not to get too ridiculously sappy.  

(Also, I don't know that Amanda wanted it to be a blog hop, hence my use of unofficial in the title haha!  ;-)

I will always love Sparky fiercely because she was my first horse, and she stuck by my side longer than anyone else ever has (not that she had a choice haha).  I loved her in a way that only a thirteen year old horse crazy girl could.  She definitely had a wall that she spent years trying to keep up, not quite wanting to let me in at times, having been abused and misused by humans before I owned her.  She filled a part of me that needed to be filled, and she was with me for just over twenty two years.  She taught me more about life than anyone else ever has, in ways that made me transform from a hesitant teenager into a confident woman.  She taught me how to grow up and she wasn't always an easy horse.  She was by my side through high school, college, a first marriage, a first child, and a divorce.  She was with me until I had been dating with my now husband for about eight months, and it was almost like she knew it was OK to leave me, because I had started to grow into what I see as one of my best versions of myself so far in life.  I don't think there is anything more special than your first horse, your first love.

Taken at Sparky's 30th birthday party
 I love Snappy because she represented a second chance and transformation, both for her and for myself.  She came into my life as I was readying to leave my first marriage, and acquiring another horse probably was not the smartest idea.  I gave her a second chance and a second career (third if you count her brief stint as a broodmare who rejected her first and only foal).  Snappy was a plain brown mare, a throwaway of the racing industry after twelve years on the track, who was never going to be a high level riding horse in any sense, but she gave me hope when I needed it.  Snappy was the type of horse who gave me everything she had and she trusted me without question, which sometimes surprised me because she was a complete B.I.T.C.H as a racehorse.  That is what they called her, the bitch mare and she cow kicked directly towards my head the first time I ever brushed her (the day we met).  I never saw that side of her once she became officially mine.  It is almost as though she knew I needed her (even if it wasn't the most financially sound plan at the time).  She was quietly courageous and steadfast and completely trustworthy.  She could do no wrong in my eyes.
Photo used with permission.  The photographer asked me to leave her watermark on the pics if I posted them online.  I promise I NEVER steal photos!!
I love Dreamy because she is one of the most authentic horses I have ever had the privilege of knowing.  I don't know if I can adequately describe in words her sense of fairness.  She is a horse who is acutely aware of all fairness (and unfairness) of life.  She's very black and white and craves routine (though she has somewhat mellowed out in her older years haha but only a little).  She is an incredibly respectful horse and never takes advantage of anyone UNLESS she thinks you are being unfair.  When I call her out in a way she perceives as fair, she listens.  But if you are unfair with her in any way, she is not impressed and totally gives you the middle hoof in the most respectful way possible haha.  It is as though she treats me as an equal, which is a weird concept in some ways, but it works for us as a partnership.  I swear she lives her life like the Golden Rule.  There are definitely times when I feel like she simply puts up with me but over the years together she has softened up a lot.  She doesn't like other horses and has to be turned out alone because she beats the crap out of everyone (double barrel kicks pretty much within five minutes of turnout with ANYONE lol), but I have always just respected that about her and accommodated her need to be solitary.  Humans don't generally get along with her either, not that she ever does anything wrong or rude with them, she just has this attitude with everyone but me; we just have an really solid understanding of each other for some reason.  It is almost as if she looks down on everyone else but somehow I have earned a spot of being her equal.  I respect and accommodate who she is without being a doormat, and I think she respects me back for that haha. Now that I think about it, we are both loners and maybe that is why we connect with each other.
Our photoshoot at Popham Beach with Barbara Livingston for the Standardbred Old Friends book
And while I may have only owned Ellie just shy of five months, I love her for giving me a sense of homeI watch Ellie graze, trot, and canter around my front field, and I see my childhood.  I see that typey Morgan head and body and distinctive trot, and I see the horses I grew up with.  She feels like home.  Riding her is so familiar, that short coupled little compact Morgan horse on which I first learned how to ride.  She immediately just felt like she fit, which was tough at first because I was in deep, raw mourning for Snappy.  We had an immediate connection and she has been so open to accepting me as her person.  I love her inquisitiveness without any fear, her desire to be physically close to me without being pushy, her sunny personality without being obnoxious.  It sounds so hokey, but she quite honestly just wants to be my best friend (and she wants cookies, let's be real), because it is just her sweet disposition.  She does this thing where she just touches my arm or hand with her nose in a reassuring way, and in the very beginning, I was like get out of my space baby horse! and I soon realized it is just HER.  She's not doing it to get in my space; I think she is doing it to reassure herself.  Or maybe sometimes to reassure me.  It is just her endearing little bright eyed self.  She stands pressed up against her plastic covered stall chain at night, before I close their stall doors at night check, and every single cell of her is waiting for me to give her attention (and cookies bahaha!).  But she is not obnoxious, she doesn't paw, she doesn't actively try to get my attention other than standing there in quiet anticipation, watching me intently, with her chest against the stall chain.  As I creep towards the age of forty, she makes me feel like a little kid again, giddy with the excitement of what our future together holds.
The moment before I loaded her onto my trailer and brought her home!
It is easy to forget how much these horses hold my heart, how much gratitude I owe them for being in my life quite literally until their last breath.  Never mind the horse show ribbons we earn, the matchy-matchy tack and equipment I love to collect, all the cool adventures they have given me.  Writing this makes me realize just how much these horses have made me into the person I am, and I will always be forever grateful.