Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Muuuch Better

Lots of riding was enjoyed over the weekend. Saturday I showed up with my game face on, determined to get past the crappy riding of the previous weekend. And I achieved!

First of all I broke out the woolback pad for the season. This thing is heavy and I hesitate to use it in hot weather so it's been waiting patiently in the tack room all summer. I did the leg stretches forward & backward on all 4 legs. Razz loves to stretch his fronts all the way out. We walked around the barn area for a while, then crossed the bridge into the huge corn field. A lap around the perimeter and Razz was loosened up and ready to work. So we made our way over one more field (one not loaded with cork stalk remnants) and got to it!

warm up walk

We went straight to trot and serpentined across the entire field, making tight-ish u turns, taking advantage of the long straight stretches to randomly swap my posting diagonal and feel what was going on underneath me. The right rein has always been Razz's weaker side. I could feel his steady pace waiver a bit in the hind end switching to the left diagonal (is this correct terminology? Posting up w/left shoulder = left diagonal??) Nothing severe, just a rebalance. Switching to the other diagonal he carried on no problems. 

After a couple large laps of trot I asked for a canter the way jenj described asking in her post with gp trainer. Razz popped in to canter easier than ever. I hit the nail on the head the first time, although I wasn't batting 1000. Not being used to giving an aid at such a precise moment, I had some fails. But when I got it right he was seamless and I was grinning from ear to ear.

Every time I made a longside pass down the field headed away from the barn he wanted to bend his barrel left. Like really bad. His pasture is beside the field I was working in, and he's grown extremely chummy with one of his pasturemates. I attributed this odd bending to the fact that he just wanted to go back out with his pal. His diversion. I wrapped my left leg around his side and gave him a firm twist of my heel lower down his ribcage than normal. I have to sit the trot when giving the heel. I've never been good at applying a varying degree of leg aids while posting. And contrary to my recent blog entry where I complain about being out of shape and unable to sit a canter properly, I can sit my trots pretty well without being a potato sack. 

He was trying to get strong with me on our large laps. Especially so in the turns, falling heavy on the forehand and bracing against the rein. I worked on not being so forward in my half seat and made my turns as large as possible. Also focused on keeping my hands super quiet. Hopefully soon I can get hubby to hold him on a lunge line so that I can focus solely on my seat. A real lesson would be even better, but that will have to wait til after the new year. 

Pleased with our work, I pointed him back toward the chewed up corn field to cool out. 

Sunday I got up early and took a hike into the Croatan with one of my closest friends. We found bear tracks, and when I got to the barn later and told everyone they wanted to ride over and see. Back in the Croatan I went. My feet were so sore by the time I got home! 

bear tracks, with friend's size 10
providing vague scale

Monday, December 12, 2016

Blogger Gift Exchange - 2016 Edition

I participated in last year's gift exchange for the first time and had a great experience. The brush and knife I received from Figure have become two of my favorite barn tools and I think about her every time I use them. My gifts were sent to outofashes who was in between horses at the time. I'm so glad she found her Peebs. And again a huge shout out to Tracey for hosting and making all arrangements. Thanks so much :)

When I got home from work on Wednesday there was a box waiting for me at my front door. I let it sit (in the living room, not at the front door) for two days because I don't like to open presents early, but then decided Friday evening to go for it. What was in the box?

I love opening these gifts because they are a true surprise. My husband buys me horse gifts every year, but I pick them out. My gifter this year is Michelle from Cruisen In Stilettos. She took the turquoise theme and ran with it, sending me some tack sponges, new curry, the best tail product I've ever used, and a super awesome extention.

I was trying that tail cream out as soon as I got to the barn Saturday. It smells great and has a light texture. Any tangles in Razz's tail came right out. Couldn't have arrived at a better time either thanks to the harsh, cold, dry air. Static has been so bad that I've barely been able to groom without shocking the hell out of my boy. Too bad I can't use this stuff all over him. It eliminates the charge build up.

The extension suits my alternative personality. Now I have a punk pony hehe. First time I attached it via a braid binder and it stuck out at a weird angle. So I took that down and attached it directly via the loop on top of the extension and braided it in. It stayed in place throughout my hour long flat school. I will begin using this anytime I have plenty of time to groom because it is a fun little addition.

The lighting in Razz's barn sucks. I had to adjust these shots to get the extension to show up. The down side of being a lone wolf is no media while riding the horse. I'm sure his tail was silky and flowing. And colorful.

In addition to the cool gifts I also have a new blog to follow. Thanks so much for everything Michelle!!! Tesla is quite the looker and I love her name. Also fyi, your card was beautiful and your artwork would look great on a shirt.  :)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


Reality came crashing down on me over the weekend. My lifestyle needs to change. The thought is daunting and I'm not sure where to begin. Like horses, I am very much a creature of habit. Cultivating these changes is gonna be tough since I'm in new territory. 

I've been riding out with a group since Halloween. Not for any reason in particular. That's just the way things happened. The Croatan is ridable again and the weather nice, so we all want to put a few miles on our ponies. These are quintessential trail rides...loose rein, lots of chatter and laughing. Once we return to the barn I make a few laps in the field and put Razz through the few movements he knows. 

Saturday felt weird from the start. It was odd travelling to the barn alone (cause hubby has been riding lately too). It was odd that no one else was there to ride when I arrived. It was odd that I didn't have to keep an eye on time during the grooming process (I tend to groom way more than my fellow riders and if I mismanage my time they end up waiting on me). The quiet of the barnyard was rather overwhelming too. My pony was glad to see me when I arrived. I pulled up all the remaining carrots out of my garden, cleaned up the nicest ones and brought them with me.

Grooming was a chore on Saturday. Razz has a full winter coat and I hadn't ridden since before thanksgiving. His halter needed to be let out a notch because his face is so fuzzy. He's also gained some weight during his time off. 

no, I haven't noticed that long
eyelash til now, also note my
reflection in his eye. its like
an Escher self portrait
that is one fat pony

Okay. He's not as big as that pic makes him look. But he's still awfully hefty. And he was behind my leg from the moment I climbed on. We started in the arena. He's never excited about riding in there. He was stiff. I was stiff. I couldn't sit a canter to save my life. I expected Razz to be rusty but not me, not that bad. The barn owners have cameras all over the place, and I decided I didn't want to be seen riding so horribly. We got the hell out after maybe fifteen minutes, and went down to the huge fields below the barn. 

After making one lap around the perimeter of the largest field I trotted over to its smaller neighbor. That field is much better for flatting. Razz was willing out here, although initially he still offered a buck when I asked for more laborious efforts. My riding was just as horrible as earlier. I have never ridden so badly in my life. What's the problem? I don't feel balanced at all. My stamina is shit. My hip angle is locked. When I try to loosen up I ride like the sack of potatoes so many of you have referenced in the past. I could see him pinning his ears as I flailed around on his back. Once up in two point I felt ok until I asked for tighter turns. My butt just felt so heavy. Like a train caboose that wasn't on the track, being recklessly dragged along by the engine. I tried so hard to get things back on track but it wasn't working out. At this point I was super depressed. 

My riding sucks because I haven't been riding that much at all. Life has required my attention be in other areas lately. And I'm only a couple years away from 40. My body is unfortunately shifting into middle age mode. I am now going to have to work for things that have always come naturally to me. The stamina and athleticism, once called upon when needed and never given a second thought afterward, now has to be maintained if I expect to have it at all. The metabolism that used to make light work of all the calories I consumed doesn't burn so hot anymore either. I have a neuroma on the bottom of my left foot that bothers me at least four days out of the week. My right leg has phlebitis in a minor outer vein, although it doesn't look that minor at all when it's flared up. I'm on my feet too much already (that's why the neuroma & phlebitis exist), the last thing I feel like doing is more moving.

So this is where things start to really suck. I have to find the motivation to get out of the comfort zone I've known my whole life. Make it a point to work out. Make it a point to ride even if my foot is killing me. Cut out the midnight snack I'm so fond of. 2016 has been a bit more stressful than most years and I confess to a bit of stress eating. I don't want to give up everything I enjoy.

Back to the ride on Saturday, after flatting a while in the second field I crossed the road over to a third field. The field where the mini longhorn steers live. I began to mull over all my thoughts as I made my way around the edge of their pasture. Then Razz decided he was going to get spooky over a leaky water hose that was filling one of the cattle troughs. My rock solid trail horse was scared shitless of the strobe effect the drip was giving off as it caught the light of the setting sun. Silly pony. We walked zig zag past the hose instead of straight by.

finally got a pic of the helmet
hubby bought me :)
The ride finished uneventful. That's not a bad thing. I will find a way to get healthy. To get the train back on track. And hopefully be a better rider when I come out on the other side. 

Razz you are not starved, plz stop eating
long enough for me to get a good shot

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

catch up

It's been pretty quiet at my little corner of the blogosphere lately. There really isn't anything exciting going on in my horse world right now. I take an extra long trail ride every Sunday, and fit other rides in when I have a chance. My attention has been focused on a couple important things since returning from Tryon. That trip seems forever ago already.

I've visited four colleges with my daughter in the past two months. She picked her favorite, applied early, and just got her acceptance letter last week. I am so freakin' thrilled for her...but now the FAFSA and scholarship process comes in. I hate filling out forms and applications. Too bad for me, huh? All the forms all at once.

Western Carolina University

As far as my own future is concerned, I've been laying the foundation of a new business. It's nothing big, even if it takes off I never really want it to be huge. Just enough to keep me comfortable. My father has raised bees for several years now. He always threw away the wax until I insisted he stop. I now utilize the wax in a bunch of all natural skin products. Throw in some t-shirts and what do you get?

a six foot booth

a ten foot booth

This is not the final incarnation of my long term goal. It is tailored to what would sell at craft fairs and gift shows here on the NC coast. I set up for three holiday fairs and did ok, I'm extremely hopeful for the future. Right now I'm figuring things out and having fun, and seeing where this path leads.

On the pony front, it's all same same. Light jumping. Polishing up on my ability to ask for particular leads while in the air over a jump. Razz responds really well when I get my shit together. I'm using a kimberwicke now. First time the boy has ever had a curb chain used on him. I keep it in the second loop so it barely makes contact, I even contemplated removing it entirely but decided against it. For now. 

A bunch of us barn mates got together and cleaned the summer growth off the main trail into the Croatan. We spent three hours and got plenty of work done. I managed to collect some wild stuff for yule decorations as well. The biting flies are completely gone and the mosquitos are all but. It's a beautiful time of year in there. It's also hunting season and Sunday is the only day no one is supposed to be hunting on federal land so that's when we ride.

the powerlines, just after hurricane matthew

beautiful fall rides in the Croatan

Hubby has started joining us on our Sunday rides. He fell in love with my Peruvian Paso pal I've mentioned before. So things are mostly good for me. Thanksgiving break will come with some much needed time hiking in the mother land. 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Four Days in the Mountains: AECs and Asheville

Monday and Tuesday came and went. They seemingly took forever though. First thing Wednesday my husband and I jumped in the car and headed out of town, far away from the ocean. We stopped by the barn long enough for me to leave my board check. Razz was on the opposite side of his night paddock. I could see he was content so I never let him know I was there. It would have been another half hour if I'd called him over, and we were ready to hit the road.

Wednesday was basically a travel day. We spent the first night at my parents' house. I hadn't been up to see them since Thanksgiving and it felt good to be home. The state incorporated a new bypass on our route which knocked a whole thirty minutes off the drive. After a bite to eat we rode with my dad even farther into the mountains to his bee supply store. I would love to become a bee keeper, or apiarist, but it's really hard to keep your bees healthy anymore. Even the lifelong bee keepers are at a loss, the bees have so many adversaries and the struggle truly is real. I'm not sure if I want to get started in something that depressing. There are molds that proliferate the hive, beetles and moths that take over, and the stupid Japanese hornets that show up and annihilate the entire hive in minutes. Japanese hornets are also my one phobia. Some days my dad hangs out next to his hives with a badminton racquet killing the hornets when they come around.

Thursday morning hubby and I were up early yet again. Today was the day. I'd been excited about this for a few months now. We were headed to Tryon for the AECs!! It was a two hour drive since my parents live close to the NC/VA border and the showgrounds are closer to the SC border. This place is just as everyone else has described: big and fancy. 

We arrived mid morning and got to watch a good portion of the intermediate dressage in ring four. There was an elevated, covered observer's breezeway with tables and bar stools, and everyone was pulling the stools over creating ringside seating. Lucky enough to be in the front row, we could feel the pounding hoofbeats of huge horses as they came by for warm up. Damn there were some nice horses here. 

I didn't get too many pics of dressage. I spent a lot of time whispering to husband what to look for (with my limited knowledge), and the purpose of each movement, and watch how the rider asks for the movements. Dressage is akin to watching paint dry for my husband. Thats understandable considering he doesn't ride, and the dressage shows he's attended in the past were all beginner levels. This time around the test asked for enough variety that he could discern the various movements as being more than just w/t/c. By the time we finished he knew shoulder in, haunches in, lengthening, counter canter, and some rider aids. Good job hubby :)

One thing I couldn't figure out is why everyone was consistently making their final halt at different points in the ring. Some halted at x, some rode all the way up to the judge's booth, and some made the final turn down center and immediately halted. Why? weren't they all performing the same test? These were all intermediate competitors. I'm surprised that many riders at this level were confused on where to halt. Or am I the one confused? One rider totally forgot where to rein back and the judge actually stopped her and informed her she was on the wrong side. The rider thanked the judge and continued her test as if nothing happened. I'm assuming she received a technical though, I don't recall seeing them anymore after dressage. What a bummer for such a fixable mistake.

After dressage we walked around the grounds a bit to get a feel for the place. Most of cross country was set up in a huge field in front of a large grandstand. A lot of construction was still going on, and a fine layer of red dirt was in the air and turning everything orange. Flat land is few and far between in this area. There's no telling just how much grading and land prep went into this place already. Land Rover had their vehicles everywhere and were offering test drives on an off-road course behind the main xc field. You didn't even need a license, kids were welcome to drive too.

majority of xc is in this pic

Once familiarized with the grounds, we went to the Italian restaurant. My understanding is this restaurant was rushed to be finished for AECs. We were dining at an off hour, on a not so busy day, and there were only a few other people inside. But the pizza we got was perfect, just the right size for two, covered in veg and only $10 or something like that. If you go to Tryon and want pizza, totally skip on the outdoor vending cart pie, instead go enjoy some a/c and a booth.

Our pizza was knocked out pretty quickly, and it was off to the shopping tent. I wanted a new helmet. Mine is labelled 2012 and the time has come for a new one. I had the Charles Owen lady fit me professionally. That was a first for me. I told her my old helmet was a size 7 ovation and it was too round for my forehead but otherwise I loved it. She put me in a 6 7/8 that is more oval than round and it fit like a glove. I was all set to get a leather covered double piped version for $520, because I've never had anything that nice & was totally gonna treat myself. The rep was on the phone with someone having a difficult time confirming my color options (lime piping was the culprit), and during this 5 or so minute call, I continued to entertain myself by trying on every helmet in sight. And I put a suede navy jr8 on my head and fell in love. So after all the trouble of trying to find my lime piping, I settled on a standard option that was $300 cheaper.

Which meant I now had money for more stuff. And so I hit the clearance bins and got a pair of $40 kerrits, a noble outfitters tank for $11, and a full set of classic equine open fronts for $35 that may or may not work out. I also grabbed a nice set of woof brushing boots (not on clearance) and they will be my go to's. 

By now it was close to five, the skies had opened up and poured for 20 minutes or better, and when it stopped I was ready to get the hell out of the sales tent and explore other options. Our 15th anniversary is later this month and we both adore the mountains, so part of our trip would be spent doing couples stuff and not horse show. 

pretend the power lines aren't there

Chimney Rock village is where we ended up for dinner. we sat outside on a porch flanked in huge ferns looking up toward the best view in town. I had roasted red pepper bisque with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella on the side and it was to die for. When we got back in the car I proceeded to map our hotel but I had no signal. Well, I'm in the bottom of a gorge, that's not surprising. I know the way back to the interstate so I take off and pull over on the curb of the entrance ramp to get my directions. Still no signal. Well, shit. After sitting there for a minute trying to figure out wtf, I decide that people used to get around before cell phones just fine, and there's no reason to surrender all my common sense to google. I drove until I saw the exit for the town our hotel is in. All the blue info signs for gas and food pointed left. There was a sign for lodging but it was blank. I went left since everything else was that direction. And drove. And drove. 35 mph. 25 mph. We def got the downtown tour. No hotel. I pulled over in a movie rental store parking lot (yes I was shocked they were still in business). Tried to call the hotel. Can't even make a call. My network was completely down. Fortunately the chick working the rental store knew exactly where we were headed and wrote down perfect directions. Big thanks to her!!

We got checked in and settled in, and day one was complete.

Friday morning we woke up and turned the weather on tv. This was the day Hermine was making her way across the southeast, and she brought some of her outer bands as far inland as Charlotte. The sky was grey and overcast. The temps had dropped from 90s the day before to highs in the 70s. I packed one pair of jeans just in case, but I never anticipated this. Hubby and I decided today would be the best day to do non horse show stuff so we went to Asheville for the day. We drove past the eq center exit and I commented that there'd probably be some extra fancy moves in the dressage rings with the temperature change. Advanced was dressaging today and I was a little bummed not to watch but I knew before we left home that my time would be divided, and that's ok.

Asheville was cool, it's pretty much the same downtown Asheville vibe it's always been. We had the best meal of or trip at a neat little Indian restaurant. We perused all the art stores and street vendors, then went down the Blue Ridge Parkway to the southern highlands crafters' guild. We didn't know exact directions to the guild at first, and my phone was STILL DOWN. And I got the bright idea to reboot it. That fixed everything, duh!! A flood of notifications came in, I browsed them super quick to see if anything concerned emergencies back home, saw nothing and mapped out the guild. That place was loaded with all sorts of wonderful things, and I fought really hard with myself over buying a wicked awesome stoneware blue jay that looked to be made with a raku glaze. I'm not exactly sure of the process, but I left it on the store shelf, deciding I could get three riding lessons out of the price of that blue jay. We finished the evening in the small towns of Montreat and Black Mountain. Dinner followed by a blues band at a small club we stumbled upon with tons of character.

grove arcade, asheville

Saturday was horse day all day. We arrived at the grounds shortly after 9. An early stadium class was handing out final placements for their division and a lipizzaner mare came in first. Go grey pony!! Every competitor was turned out nicely, all the fancy tack, braids, tall boots. And they all had a huge smile on their faces, regardless of rank. Even the horses appeared to enjoy the victory laps. The prizes awarded to the top placers were nothing to sneeze at either.

handing out first place

I felt much more comfortable walking around on Saturday. This place is pretty big, it was nice knowing the layout before advanced xc day when many more spectators were showing up.  Walking paths were covered with copious amounts of mulch to spare everyone from the red dirt. Tryon didn't want anyone walking on the grass that was struggling to grow in the heat and humidity. XC began in a dirt arena and carried over into the large grass field, then downhill to the back edge of the developed property and up the other side, ending again in the large grass field. I would have personally preferred a longer, more winding course. Most of the jumps were common xc fixtures that we're all familiar with. There was a rifle jump with some clay targets in the large field, and this one below in the form of bee hives on the downhill gallop: 

i texted this one home to dad
Hubby and I decided we would begin watching xc at the lower water complex. This area was on the second half of the course between the bottom of the hill and the grass field. There were bleachers directly in front of the water that would seat one hundred people, and a covered patio viewing area just up the hill. A large projector screen was turned on for advanced. We sat in the very top row and took advantage of the breeze blowing over our backs. The breeze began to wain not long after advanced got started. I had put on three layers of sunblock at this point but it didn't matter. My skin was cooking. After a handful of riders came thru we gave up our good seats and went to the covered observation deck just above for a beer and a water. We downed our beers under the tent, then walked to the bottom of the hill with our waters.

This area is set up with another covered observation deck like the one we just left. The beehive jump pictured earlier is barely out of view at the top of the hill preceding this complex. The faster times were cutting through the weeds and tall growth down here to shave those extra seconds. Once they headed back up hill it was a small gallop to the water complex I began watching at. 

Below is cross country warm up. The warm ups are just as fun to watch as the actual course imo. Everyone approaches it in a slightly different manner and amateurs could learn a little bit spending time here observing the pros.

After advanced xc, we watched intermediate stadium. Sitting in the shade was quite refreshing after a full day of brutal sun. Some of the horses were pretty tired by now, and I found myself trying to help the struggling ponies over the jumps by going through the motions of adding some extra leg one stride out. Britt from House on a Hill was cool enough to join me for the second half of the class. I really had fun meeting another blogger!! Britt, I hope I didn't drive you insane since I was chatting about 90 miles an hour. Smitty pony sounds super fun and I'm crossing fingers that he works out for her in every way, as well as continued happy retirement for Foster. 

intermediate stadium

stadium warm up

After dinner at a local Mexican place, we hit the showers and the sack. About fifteen minutes of tv and we were both out. 

Sunday morning we took our time checking out of the hotel. The final stadium class I wanted to see started shortly after 11, we arrived early enough to watch the 14 and under class finish up. The horses were pony sized to warmblood, solid coats to leopard app. A small paint pony won, and all the riders were offering pats and "good boy"s or otherwise during their rounds, and each one left the ring with the biggest smiles on their faces. It was just a good round of jumping with a great group of kids from all over the country.

As soon as the last junior rider left the ring, the tractors came in to water and drag, and the jumps were placed and raised for advanced stadium. Buck Davidson had the coolest quarter marks on his horses. Ryan Wood finished first and second. He had four horses total in this division, others had two, three or four as well. Those riders definitely got their workouts for the weekend. Some of the names I recognized, some were new to me. Getting to watch so many great riders in one place for several days is a real treat.

i don't recall which horse & rider this was,
but they were lovely

buck davidson & park trader

just outside GM arena, waiting for ribbon ceremony
I ended up talking to the Stubben dealer for a good twenty minutes on my way out. Their saddles are beyond words. I have only ridden in the old close contact stubbens that are older than me. Sitting in the new ones will make you want to ride in one. And I'm sure riding in one will only make you want to buy one. 

I have a single regret with this whole trip. I'd reached out to Sara at The Roaming Rider once I read on her blog that she, too, would be here. She tried to email me about saying hello on Friday morning. I can only figure in all my phone stupidity that this email got overlooked and I missed it until Saturday morning, at which point was too late. I sincerely apologize Sara. Even though I didn't go to Tryon on Friday, I drove right past here and it would have been no big deal at all to stop. I find a lot in common with her posts on beginning dressage as an adult after a lifetime in the saddle. I think we would have viewed the AECs through a similar lens as well. I hope to meet Sara in the future :)

AECs were such an awesome experience. If they come anywhere close to an area nearby you in the future I recommend making the drive over just to witness all the nice horses and great riding first hand. And you might pick up a cool pair of riding pants for $40 too :)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Saturday Safari

I was still riding my high from such an awesome week when Saturday (two Saturdays ago) rolled around. Hubby and I packed up our double kayak & our bikes and drove over to the neighboring town of Beaufort for a fun day outdoors. I almost felt like a tourist hehe.

We got a little later start than usual, and arrived on the waterfront around 10 a.m. Fortunately it wasn't too crowded. It took no time at all for us to launch, and off we went. Our destination was Carrot Island, also known as the Rachel Carson Reserve

It was a simple effort to paddle over. The tide was low and still going out, and all we had to do was steer as the water carried us to our first stop. I was on the hunt for something specific and hubby knows all the spots, most days when I am at the barn he is in the water. He pulled us up on the deserted west facing shore that had exposed oyster beds thanks to the low tide. 

looking toward Duke University Marine Lab

Hubs was on the right track. He led me over to a small nook in the tree line, and on the ground was overwhelming evidence that what I was looking for uses this spot as a hang out. But no one was currently hanging out. So we spent roughly fifteen minutes walking around looking for shells or anything else that struck our fancy.

the hangout

fresh tracks

The only thing on this small stretch of beach, aside from us, were tons of crabs. It's difficult to get a picture of them with your cell. They're very quick, and they scatter at the slightest movement. 

After leaving the oyster shore we paddled closer to the inlet and state port. Advantages of kayaks are access to areas the motorized crowd can't get to, like this huge tidal pool pictured above. I couldn't help but think how badly I needed a carriage whip as my husband walked us across the pool. As soon as I snapped this pic, I jumped out and started walking also. The water was so warm. No clouds in the sky. A perfect beach day. We made it across the tidal pool and immediately I saw more evidence of what I was looking for.

large and small? this could only mean one thing

More fresh tracks, and that was all. I had only missed them by a little bit. Damn.

We left the kayak and continued walking across the narrow sandbar toward the beach. This is the oceanfront side of the island, but technically there is one more island between us and the ocean so this stretch of water is considered part of the inlet. 

We beached it here for a couple hours. Once our towels were laid out and we'd staked our claim, I had a quick snack and then jumped in the water. The ocean was calm and there were no currents to spoil the fun of being lazy in water up to your chin. I would go back and forth between the really deep wading water, and closer to shore where I could sit down but still be up to my neck. I dug around in the sand with my hands and toes, and found all types of shell-bound life forms. Sometimes I came up with hermit crabs. Sometimes I came up with another type of crab which closely resembled a shrimp. I also found tons of sand dollars. Most I didn't get pics of because phones and water, ya know?

tiny shrimp legs protruding out front

After a couple hours of back and forth in the water and a relaxing 20 minute beach nap, we packed up and got back in the kayak. The tidal pool we walked across earlier was getting deeper, and I paddled us out while hubby got all his stuff organized. I still hadn't seen what I really wanted to see. 

We were gonna try one more spot. A lagoon in the middle of carrot island that, like the tidal pool, only kayaks and paddle boards can access. This is a highly dependable spot for viewing wildlife, and I felt guaranteed success in finding something in there.

The paddle to get there was much more strenuous than paddling to the beach. We backtracked the morning path and went all the way to the other end of Beaufort waterfront. It really is a lovely small town with such a rich history.

turn right to enter the lagoon

I cold not believe that for the first time ever I was only seeing birds in here, nothing more. Don't get me wrong, the birds are of all varieties and fascinating in their own right and we took the time to enjoy them, but I was frustrated and put my phone away while we paddled around in the lagoon. 

After making one large lap along the lagoon shoreline we worked our way back to the kayak launch. I was tired and sun baked by now. We locked the yak up in public dry storage and grabbed our bikes off the back of the truck.

finishing up

Across the road from dry storage is the visitor's center. It's the former town post office and I had no idea it changed to a visitor's center. I tucked inside quickly for a bathroom break and on the way through the lobby I was greeted with a set of murals across the top of the walls. There were four paintings, all WPA, showing various aspects of local life here on the coast. I am a history and art fanatic, how have I lived here 15 years and not heard of these paintings' existence? 

I think they need one more sign out front

The largest painting ran the entire length of the short side of the lobby. It depicts sailors being rescued from a shipwreck. Our coast line is known as the graveyard of the Atlantic. Blackbeard's ship, the Queen Anne's Revenge, was discovered just off shore from here. One day many years ago I came over on my lunch break to see a cannon that had just been removed from the water. It was covered in barnacles and a dude was hosing it down the entire time it was on display, which was only a half hour or so. It was then carried to ECU for three or four years of restoration and brought back to our maritime museum in Beaufort.

The first of the three smaller paintings featured Canada geese. Many species of waterfowl spend all or part of the winter in the area due to our temperate climate (relatively speaking) and available habitat. I assume the tent is a duck blind?? I have no idea what those things are sticking up out of the water.

This one shows our beloved Cape Lookout lighthouse. It's built on the other island that stood between the ocean and the beach I just spent my afternoon on. I've never seen a boat fully enclosed exactly like that one, a few local boat builders still make a square style boat that is only half covered and open in the back.

The last one is obviously my favorite. That is what I was looking for all day long. Our banker ponies!! Looks like this was the only ponies I was gonna see today. I still have no freakin clue what those things in the background are :/

I also snapped a pic of this tidbit of info. Last year's stats. So far this year we've had four healthy foals and a couple more expected. 

Hubs and I proceeded to bike across town via residential streets to a tiny new craft brewery behind his place of employment. We drank a couple pints and then ate a huge dinner. After all the food we loaded up our gear and came home and crashed. Sunday was a barn day the first half, the second half was a bit chill, a bit preparing for the week ahead. Now if I could just get past Monday and Tuesday...

Wednesday, August 31, 2016


That song came on the radio a few nights ago as I was headed home and I thought "you know, this is how I feel right now". Not in the traditional sense of the word, but concerning all the things going on right now, all aspects of my life, I am loving it all right now. My trip on Cloud 9 began last week.

In August of 2010 I showed up at the Subaru dealership with no cash, just my old car (a shite dodge) and a smile. I'd never owned a brand new car before and I wasn't sure how things were gonna go for me, having no down payment to give. I'd been looking online and knew there was one car in particular that had been in their inventory for a while. I figured that was my best bet.

Long story short, the car came home with me and I just made my last payment.

Next on the list are my half sleeves. I started my right arm October 2014. It is my horse arm and began with a sort of cover up. That arm was finished early spring of 2015 and then I started my left arm this past fall. I generally prefer to not get tattooed during the summer so I don't have to worry about keeping sunblock on a piece that's still healing. There was only one small area on my shoulder to fill in and finish, and I had that knocked out last week too. Project complete!!

The herd of three at the barn has settled down. No more drama and no more battle scars on my pony. Just this alone would have made my week.

Rotten pony sure does look like a bay in this pic. When he's out in the light his coat is totally bleached and damaged, his mane, tail & feet are dark brown and the rest of his coat is a reddish dun. 

But good attitudes aren't the only thing going on at the barn...

I found a riding instructor!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I've known A for a few years now. She was the former working student at my old barn. Now she's doing her own thing, at her own barn (which is filled with her own horses). And she travels out for lessons too. I already had her number stored in my phone, and once I found out she was coaching I immediately hit her up. Several texts later I found myself tacking up for a lesson on Thursday night. We started at 8, and after spending the first five minutes or so hugging and grinning from ear to ear, we got down to business. I rode until 10 with lots of walk breaks and had so much fun even though I was bustin' ass. Razz was totally whooped when we finished, and he fell asleep standing next to my paid off car while A and I chatted for another 20 minutes or so.

A was the first one to lease Razz when he originally showed up at the old barn, so she is very familiar even if it has been several years since she's ridden him. I've only ridden under one other instructor before, and the differences in their teaching styles was instantly apparent. Although A was WS with my old coach, she's been riding with two big names out of the Raleigh area, in addition to two other instructors well known in eastern NC. My old instructor really emphasized bend, bend, bend. A is all about softening first and letting everything else come into place naturally. Razz and I have a shit load of work to do. I will be going to her barn for half my lessons so that I can focus strictly on me. We vaguely discussed some future plans (hauling off to fancy farms for schooling, maybe showing?!?!).

Friday kicked my ass after such a late night on Thursday. But I didn't have time to slow down yet...