Thursday, January 18, 2018

NO! Don't Pee There!

Potty training sucks, no matter what. However, there's a lot of articles out there to help you through the process with your baby, kitten, or puppy. There's experts to call, and established training plans that are known to work.
Pictured: My two hardest potty training projects. Ever.
Unfortunately, there are not a lot of articles helping you potty train your 5 year old horse. This is especially unfortunate, because I need the help. Badly.
"That wet spot back there? Definitely did not pee there. Nope. Not I!"
Let me paint you a picture in pee. It's 8:45 on a Wednesday night, and I am standing in the barn. It's 19 degrees out, and everything is frozen solid. My baby racehorse is standing in the crossties, patiently waiting for me to make his evening snack and untack him. I walk away to prepare his grain ration, only to return exactly a minute later to him standing in a gigantic puddle of steaming urine with a contented look on his face. Some might call the look smug.
This is not the face of attrition, Bast.
I turn around and grab a shovel to layer sawdust on before what is now steaming turns to ice. Just as I finish cleaning up the yellow slushy mess and put away the buckets and shovels, Bast lifts his tail and deposits steaming pile of a different kind. He proceeds to put his foot in the pile, then walk around in the crossties.
"I would never make such a mess. All these wet spots are definitely not created by my bodily functions."
It is now 9:00 on a Wednesday night, and I am over this shit... literally.

So, blogland. I have a problem. I need to train my baby racehorse to stop peeing in the aisles. While I know how to do this with a horse who has a stall, I am at a total loss with a horse who is field boarded. I do not have access to a stall, only barn aisles and wash stalls.

Help me! I need your ideas!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Remembering 2017; Looking Forward to 2018

These recap posts have been hard to write, so I'm using them as an excuse to post a ton of photos of this beautiful boy.
Photo by Liz Stout
I'll be honest. I'm not going to dwell much on 2017. I have a yearly recap post in the works, but it's emotionally draining and the work is coming slow. Suffice to say, this has been an incredibly tough year. Let's see how I did on my 2017 goals so I can start looking forward to my 2018.

2017 Riding/Horse Goals
(Ranked on a success scale of 1-5)
The first ride after his last set of stifle injections, and 4 days before his neck began causing severe symptoms.
1. Continue to manage Pig appropriately as a riding horse, and stay within my budget. Research ways to keep me more comfortable while doing his feet, and better ways to keep him pain free while working hard.
(3) -- I did the best I could with this goal. Everything I could manage was done timely and well. I did manage to snag a hoof stand from a friend of a friend, which has made a huge difference to my knees and has made doing feet much easier on me. Unfortunately, nothing could help the progression of Pig's neck arthritis, and I was forced to retire him. I spent more money on vets than I ever thought possible, but he kept giving me his all until he couldn't. At the moment he is as pain free as possible and living a life he adores. I could not do more for him.
Working in the double like a champion.
Photo by Liz Stout
2. Continue to finesse Pig's understanding in the double. He really started to get it this year, and I would like to see how much better he and I can get with the tool.
(5) This was a total success. At the start of the year, Pig was training the best he ever had and doing it in the double. I felt completely confident in it, and he was extremely comfortable with it. In fact, after I retired him his double became his daily bridle for my rides with him!
His changes got so good for a minute there!
3. Get those 3 changes across the diagonal for 4-1 without totally losing our brain.
(3) Oh man, those three changes. I do not miss working on those suckers! To start, I got the changes, but they were a big swerving mess. Then I tried to straighten them and they disappeared completely. Finally in our last show ever, I rode them like I didn't even care and they were pretty solid (for us).
Confirmed 4th level pair!
4. Show 4-1 at a recognized show.
(5) Not only did we show it, but we actually squeaked out a 60%! Yay silver medal score!
Getting that 4-1 score!
Photo by Liz Stout
5. Get the 4th level scores for my silver.
(3) Literally halfway there. The 59% on the better test of our second show hurts. It hurts real bad.
Retirement was a hard adjustment for us both.
6. Develop plan going forward with Pig. Will he be leased? Will he be retired? His work days are still coming to a close.
(5) Successfully retired to pasture and loving his feral life, where I'm the only human he has to interact with. It's heaven on earth for Pig.

2017 Personal Goals
This is a photo of running. It's just not me doing the running...
Photo by Liz Stout
1. Average 10-15 miles a week when running.
(4) Toward the end of the year, I had this down. I also ran a few really successful months in the Spring. Still, I needed to be more consistent, and December was a total bust. Lyra ended up having dental surgery and we struggled with weather, time, traveling, and health concerns all month. This meant I missed my mid-year goal of running 400 miles in 2017 by about 25 miles. Ouch. So close!
This dude doesn't need the gym to look buff.
2. Average 2-3 trips to the gym to lift, weekly.
(0) Nope. Ended up cancelling my gym membership and trying to get back into doing bodyweight work at home. Lifting is so fun, but I didn't have the mental capacity this year to will myself into the gym.
Another thing I'll never do.
Photo by Liz Stout
3. Run from my house to Meridian Hill Park and back. (12 miles total city running, with several huge hills)
(0) This isn't ever going to happen. The paths are impossible and I don't have the time. Plus, I'm moving.
This guy is way faster than me.
Photo by Liz Stout
4. Improve my running time back to an 8:30 minute mile pace. 
(1) I did have a few runs at this pace, but mostly I hovered around the 9 minute range. I need to lift more to drop my average more, and speed ended up not being my goal. Turns out it was more important for me to just put one foot in front of the other.
I spent a lot of time dreaming of magical times with my best partner.
Photo by Liz Stout
5. Keep average hours of sleep daily above 7 hours for a week.
(4) I actually did much better about this all year. Some months were better than others, but if there's one thing having your life turned upside down and shaken does for you is depress you into sleeping more. Yay?
Okay, fine, I read a lot of shitty fantasy novels that I won't mention....
Photo by Liz Stout
6. Read 12 books this year. 
(5) Huge success! I read 18 books and listened to 20 (including the entirety of Sherlock Holmes, because I drive a lot). I made it a goal to read 10 minutes a day, and that helped me actually make time to read. It's surprising how often 10 minutes of reading can turn into 20, and it feels like a much better use of time than scrolling through social media.
For those of you who like to read, here's a list of my favorite books I read: Hild, by Nicola Griffith; The Books of Ages, the Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin, by Jill Lepore; A Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood. My favorite listens included: Watership Down, by Richard Adams; Tess of the d'Urbervilles, by Thomas Hardy; Sherlock Holmes (the entirety of it), narrated by Stephen Fry; A Face Like Glass, by Frances Hardinge; The Bear and the Nightingale, by Katherine Arden. If you pick one of these up, let me know how you like it!
Try to always take selfies with friends
Photo by Liz Stout
7. Stay open to the moments that present themselves. Don't forget to make time for friends and a personal life. It's necessary to keep me grounded.
(1) I failed big time here, mostly because it was an effort to keep myself going for most of the year. I hope all the time I spent incredibly depressed didn't drive away too many people. This year I hope to do better, but I know it will be a struggle.
The friends I wish I was heading into the new year beside.
It's funny that the start of 2017 left me feeling Pig was better than ever, and only a few short months later he was telling me I needed to start finding him a retirement landing. I had no real idea I would end the year without my best dog and my best horse by my side, but here I am trying to start over and keep a positive face on it. This past year was a bitch and a half, and I'm glad to leave it to memories and instead look forward to 2018.

2018 Riding / Horse Goals
Happy. Healthy. Retired.
1. Keep Pig happy and healthy as long as I can, and not go completely destitute to do it.

2. Take Pig out on the trail system backing up to the farm, which means I need to find someone there to show me the way.
Oh yeah! This guy.
2. Get Bast comfortable hacking on one of the medium length regular trails I would take Pig. Alternatively, hack him out 3x a month and actually leave the barn property alone without a total meltdown.

3. Take Bast off the property 2-3 times, including to a show. He needs to start figuring out how to travel to a new location and be a good citizen away from home.
More of this!
4. Take 4-5 dressage lessons with Bast.
We have a square ... ish halt.
5. Show Bast training level at 2 schooling shows, aiming for scores above 64%.
6. Find a saddle that actually fits Bast and myself, and procure it.
7. Develop Bast's connection so that he is working over his back and salivating on the bit regularly, aiming to have him ready for 1st level by the end of the year.

2018 Personal Goals

1. Run 500 miles.
2. Downsize the house and move into a 1 bedroom apartment, consolidating commutes and improving commute/life balance.
3. Read 12 more books (maybe less trashy fantasy this year, if I'm feeling up for it).
4. Keep on top of my health. I need to stop the pattern of getting laid out by a really horrific illness once or twice a year.
5. Maybe get a second dog, and if so successfully assimilate it into daily life.
6. Stay open to the moments that present themselves. Don't forget to make time for friends and a personal life. It's necessary to keep me grounded.
Come on 2018, we've got things to do!
Photo by Liz Stout