Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Getting Fuzzy

Coro would like to remind everyone of the inherent risk of equine activities. 
I don't see Notchee and Coro often these days.  They are boarded about an hour and a half away from my house, and about forty minutes from my aunt and grandmother's home in Colorado Springs.  I've been going down to stay once or twice a month, and my visits to the barn are usually a quick trip to drop off feed, give the two retirees a brush down and some goodies.  My new little pup Ruby is usually waiting in the car, and true to her hypervigilant Border Collie genes, I don't think she takes her eyes off of me, or the last place she saw me, for the entire time. 

This past Sunday my quick trip turned into an extended visit - two whole hours, like the old days - and it could not have been more perfect and needed on a gorgeous sunny afternoon, the last of which we may see for a while as temperatures in Colorado are plummeting to the teens for highs the rest of the week. 

Notchee and Coro have settled in wonderfully - I needn't have worried that their quality of life would be compromised by this move.  They are absolutely doted on by their caretakers - I found laminated info cards with pictures in their grain bin - all of their medical information and "do not tie under any circumstances" in bold letters on Coro's card.  A great idea, and one that gives me peace of mind that they are well taken care of now that I am a somewhat absentee owner.  Notchee has been adopted by a granddaughter, and there are rumors of playing dress-up as an Indian Princess Pony (these rumors have been substantiated with photographs). 

I do miss riding regularly, and I was determined to hop on my boy this time.  I hadn't even completely unpacked since we moved, so it took some time to gather all the grooming supplies and tack, and I realized after I hauled his saddle to the fence that I was missing a girth.  I considered my options.  Bareback?  For the first time in the new place and the first time in over three months?  Well, sure.  I brushed my fuzzy boy off and buckled on his bareback pad (in distinguished "Smoking Jacket Maroon" as my friend Anna calls it).  I took a couple deep breaths before attempting my first awkward launch onto his back, and Coro (predictably) snorted and spun away.  What did I think I was doing - did I not see his AARE card? I patted him and tried again, and he lowered his head and stood still.  He seemed relieved as I settled into place on his back, and we proceeded to enjoy a leisurely plod around his new digs with Notchee following along behind.  The sun shone, the chickens chattered, a smile crept across my face.  In this season of gratitude, I was glad my girth had gone missing, glad to be ambling the fenceline on the plains with my old friend. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

New Blog

I've started a second blog devoted to my new dog, I hope all of you will follow along!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Summer's Road

Summer's road has been an emotionally arduous one, with more goodbyes than I care to say in one season.

Life has taken unseen turns that brought me from entirely equine focused this time last year, to a new spark leading me, perhaps herding me down a different path.  My retired horses are being moved again, farther away but near to family and friends.  While this change was not by choice, I think it will reveal its own unexpected opportunity and new experiences. 

Dani sold on July 3rd, one day shy of my one year anniversary with her.  It was without a doubt the right choice for us, and I hope she and her new owner will be partners for a long time, even, greedily, forever.

Not long after that, I lost my two old dogs within ten days of each other, both to neurological issues.  Lasya, my 14 year old Chow/Shepherd mix had been declining slowly over time with spinal cord degeneration, her joys and abilities becoming incrementally fewer, and cruelly Freya, my previously healthy 14 year old Norwegian Elkhound became partially paralyzed literally overnight.  She was hospitalized four days, sent home with chance of improvement, and ultimately relapsed in terrible and obvious pain with a probable spinal tumor.  In between despair and hope for Freya, Lasya collapsed for what I knew was the last time.

They were my first dogs of my own, with me through career change, marriage, divorce and many moves in two states.  Constant companions during trips to a family home which is no longer, wolfish leaders on countless miles of path and road all over the Front Range of Colorado, city and country.  They were yin and yang: Lasya calm, protective, fiercely independent; Freya clownish, affectionate and endearingly needy.  They both took their last breaths in their own home, surrounded by love - a choice I felt both grateful to have and reluctant to bear the weighty responsibility of.  At the darkest moment I thought "never again..." but as the hair was swept away (double double coats), as sympathy cards arrived, as the decided lack of clicking toenails on the floor made the clocks' tick unbearably loud, as my hand found no familiar dog skull to rest on and the empty place next to my bed seemed to spread like a dark shadow through the house, as I picked up the first tin of heavy-but-not-heavy-enough ashes, I realized that living without a dog was impossible.  Like horses, they are a part of my past, present and future.

I began to peruse Petfinder - only a rescue would do - and a face would not leave my mind.  A sweet, intelligent, potential-for-trouble face.  An application was submitted, an interview was conducted, a meeting was arranged, and one week later I welcomed Ruby Pearl, who came all the way from a high-kill shelter in Arkansas, into my home.  She is a little ten-month-old, fifteen pound firecracker, a herding terrier mutt with DNA-confirmed Jack Russell and Border Collie relatives as well as a mishmash of other unidentified breeds.  She is astonishingly smart and boundlessly energetic.  She is what my mother called a "stick-tight" dog and I will never wonder where she is.  We have already begun our travels and adventures together.  She reminds me every day of things that I loved and miss about Freya and Lasya, her ghost pack, who taught me much of what I know about dogs and allow me to love another.  She is showing me how to play and how to teach her.  She is exactly what I needed.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Monday, July 1, 2013

Grey Scale

I spent yesterday afternoon with my favorite greys: first, a little bareback ride on my friend's gem of an Andalusian mare Lumina, who I've been riding off and on for ten years now, and then a visit with my boy, who came trotting toward me happily in the pasture and then took off running and bucking. Such a show-off.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Changing Seasons

It isn't all hearts and flowers...

The difficulty of public blogging is self-censorship, of wanting to paint a certain picture or write a certain story.  This has been "The Best Of," but there have been unseen sorrows and fears. Many tears have been shed between these lines. 

Things don't always go according to our hopes and dreams. I could write a novel on the thought process that has gone into the journey of this past year, but the Tall Bay and I have come to the fork in our road and I have made the decision to sell her.  

I think in a way we are too similar - both over-thinkers, worriers - and we amplify this trait in each other. We spent some time apart and we both became happier. There was a heaviness I was carrying around that doesn't belong to the thing that usually brings you joy.  

I rode a horse in Spain that told me, as horses will, all I had not been saying. From the ever-smaller circle of my comfort zone with my own horse, I cantered a strange horse in a field of wildflowers while an unruly boxer cavorted underfoot. Mundo showed me the world. He said "remember this?"  

I have spent so much time in my head, and talking to others (most from the outside were not surprised which was a humbling perspective) that I hardly know what to say here. 

I don't know what this will mean for my future with horses and for this blog. At the heart of it, from the beginning, was Coro, and perhaps his stature leaves no vacancy. Our activities are limited these days - he is now 24, with a Grade 3 heart murmur and enjoying his retirement. 

Last weekend I carried a brush and a bridle out to his pasture and hopped on in jeans and a helmet, sans bareback pad. Notchee followed us as we wandered across the sun-warmed field. At that moment, it seemed like enough. 

Selling a horse is foreign to me. I'm caring for mine and my mother's that we have had for twenty years...but the Tall Bay's arc is just starting.  I watch her like a grand caravan just out of reach.  

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Coro says humans can marry whoever they want. He just wants to eat these flowers.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Time Travel

My saddle search for Dani continues...despite chiropractic adjustments she still just isn't comfortable in the Albion.  I'm taking a big chance on a Thorowgood synthetic like I used to have for Coro off of eBay - that saddle lasted me fifteen years, two barn jobs and many, many horses.  It's in the mail and in the meantime, we're bareback, which is how I started riding in the first place, when I was too scrawny to hoist our old Western saddle onto my chestnut pony's back, let alone tighten the cinch.  That was one of the main reasons I got my heart set on English riding, though growing up in cattle country there was not an instructor for miles around and that kind of saddle was known as a "peanut shell." That didn't deter me: I watched Gem Twist in the Budweiser Grand Prix and thought that was my destiny.  Tinker had other ideas - she saw no reason to jump the little PVC obstacles that my dad fashioned when she could simply plow straight through them.  Coro's enthusiasm for jumping was at the opposite end of the spectrum - I used to be able to tell him "jump!" over hay rows and shadows and he would spring over with feet to spare, and he would canter his own course while turned out if the jumps were set up in the pasture. The boy loves being airborne.

Before the first English saddle and before Coro, however, there were years of minimalism.  No saddle, no pad, no helmet (!) and sometimes even no shoes (I would abandon my laceless Keds on a tree stump once out of my mom's sight), Tinker and I cantered meadows, raced country roads, hopped streams and played circus (I used to both kneel and stand on her back) through the summer days, and I would walk back to the house with the tell-tale patch of dirt, sweat and hair on my pantseat. If I was bare-legged my mom would have to hose me off before I came inside, like a farm dog that had rolled in something unsavory. 

Bareback riding become less a part of my repertoire as I took up formal instruction, equestrian team in college and two different barn jobs.  By the time I brought Coro up from my folks' property, it'd been more than five years since I'd gone without tack and several years since I'd ridden regularly.  As I brought him out of retirement and we got to know each other again, I finally purchased a beautiful contoured microsuede pad in his color: burgundy.  Grown-up bareback riding does require a little something between our butts and horsehide - we've got expensive full-seat breeches now.  The day I determined to try it on him there was a windstorm and some commotion in the barn and he was decidedly antsy.  I questioned my judgement as I led my prancing boy into the indoor arena.  I had another addition that was absent from childhood: a mounting block.  I led Coro up to it, ascended the steps...and he teleported sideways with a snort and a suspicious eye-roll.  We repeated this dance several times until I decided I was going to have to wriggle aboard the old-fashioned way.  Thankfully Coro has his official Pony status card at 14'1 hands, but jumping is one of his best skills, not mine.  I took a few deep breaths before pathetically launching myself at his back.  Cirque du Fail.  He stood patiently while I flailed through several attempts and finally hauled myself astride. It wasn't pretty.  Those first few steps were a twofold revelation.  First, it was wonderful to feel my horse's back and ribs beneath me, to influence him with a subtle shift and feel the warmth of his body.  Second, I was woefully unbalanced and out of practice.  The little girl who'd galloped bareback through alfalfa and sage was nowhere to be found.  We kept it at a walk that first day, but we kept at it. I recovered my center.  Coro even decided that the mounting block wasn't the Purple Paso Fino Eater.  By last summer, bareback was once again my preferred style of riding and my increasing confidence led the way to trot, and finally canter.  If you know, you know: there is nothing like it.  

The day that I tried Dani for the first time her owner asked after the trial ride if I'd like to cool the young, unfamiliar, 16'1 hand mare out bareback.  I surprised myself and both instructors by saying yes without hesitation.   I believe in that moment, with both less and more between us, the fate of these last eight months was sealed.  Through saddle shopping, cold days, hot days, short-on-time days, we've had a lot of bareback rides since then.  The tall mare seems to prefer it - it gives her permission to breathe a little more deeply as we listen to each other.  I have to place a little more trust in her to carry me.  We've yet to canter this way, but we've done a lot of trotting.  There is something more meaningful about bareback circles, attention to detail is even more vital, but in a softer, intuitive way.  There is less thinking, more feeling.  A bareback pad is nice to save those fancy pants.  A mounting block is needed to reach that lofty height.  The light heart of a younger self, the strength of connection built by the horses that came before and the horse that exists in this moment are essential; the gifts of going backward in time and forward in space.  

Thursday, February 28, 2013


These last few weeks have been a bit of a wash as far as spending time with the horses - winter finally arrived in Colorado and we've gotten some much needed snow (and less needed wind and cold).  I've also been down for almost a week with an awful cold/flu bug.  Despite all that, some exciting things are in the works for the Tall Bay and I, which I will elaborate on at a later date...

For now, have some pictures of Dani's Andalusian family!

This is her sire, Dejado Habano who lives in California (photo credit The Whole Ranch):

This is her grandsire Esteban B who lives a few stalls away, and competes in 4th Level dressage (photo credit Classical Legacy)

This is her great-grandsire, Maluso, who is in New Zealand and still breeding at age 28.  His previous owner was nice enough to send this older picture to me - isn't he a hunk of a horse? 

I've also found a whole bunch of pictures of my girl's half-siblings that are out in the world - as far as I know, she's the oldest.  I've included the two, one colt and one filly, that look the most like her.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Baby Face

She looks like just a filly here. Some days, it's easy to forget that she is only five. Other days...

Friday, January 11, 2013

Polka-Dot Day

It's always fun to drive up to the barn and see the Tall Bay greet me in one of her pretty "outfits". Today started out in polka-dots, but I left her in heavy floral since tomorrow's predicted high is all of 16 degrees.

We had a mini-lesson, more work on my crookedness, waist and knees, some leg yielding, "posting hula" (post three times left, three times center, three times right, repeat), and some elementary Spanish Walk: Dani is in the pawing-the-ground-on-cue stage.

The wind was whipping outside and rattling the arena doors as we rode, and my fingers were frozen by the time I left. It will probably be my only ride of the weekend - time to catch up on those Dressage Today articles!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

By Any Other Name...

Taking a cue from Val's mom, I thought I'd delve into the stories of my horses' names.  I mentioned in my 2012 review post a bit about how Dani's name came to be, but there are two other tails to tell and a little more to hers, as well as exploring the evolution of nicknames. 

I put a lot of stock into animal names, and personally prefer more dignified/distinguished names over cute or silly, and especially over more common "people" names like Joe or Mike.  My dogs are both named after goddesses (Lasya and Freya) and I call them my doggesses.  I adore place names, too, reflecting an animal's heritage such as Oslo for a Norwegian Elkhound or Berlin for a German Shepherd.  My itty bitty kitty is named Nina after one of my favorite bands at the time I got her fifteen years ago, Nine Inch Nails.

I did not rename Coro (just changed his barn name slightly), although my mom and I were tossing around Spanish ideas in the car on the way to look at him.  When I found out his registered name was El Corazon, I swooned, knowing even then he was meant to by my heart horse.  They called him Corey for short, which wasn't going to fly with me.  It was a popular name at the time and I had several schoolmates with the moniker.  Obviously Cora was a girl's name, so Coro it was.  Even the shortened version had its own translation - coro means "chorus" in Spanish.  Back when he was a deep nearly-black before dappling and whitening into his current freckled coat, we called him Coro El Moro = Coro the Moor.  My mother also called him Cornley fondly.   Now that he is the sole male of my menagerie I often simply refer to him as "The Boy."

Notchee also kept the name she came with, barn and registered name the same.  We never could figure out the significance of her name - nothing similar on her papers as her sire is El Azraff Navajo and her dam Sonora.  Since she is a black bay we did wonder if it was an odd spelling of noche, Spanish for "night."  Somehow it evolved affectionately into Swatchkin.

Dani Girl is registered as Danika, by Dejado Habano ("lost cigar" (?) in Spanish) and out of Amber.  Danika has the modern counterpart of race car driver/Go Daddy spokeswoman and just had no real resonance with me.  Her barn name was Nikki, another name with human references in my life.  Shortly before meeting her a favorite writer of mine, Ray Bradbury, passed away leaving his legacy of strange and wonderful stories, among them a book very dear to my heart since reading it in high school, Dandelion Wine.  The book is filled with themes of summertime nostalgia and eternal youth, and since I brought her home on the Fourth of July it seemed perfect.  I could also call her Dani for short, not a drastic departure from her given registered name.  I did attempt to have her registration changed but the IALHA has a new rule requiring the permission of the breeder, which I was unable to obtain.  I think Dandelion Wine with its sunny gold connotation might better suit a plump palomino show pony than a tall, dark beauty, but I love all it represents for us.  I'm sure she'll develop nicknames over the years; for now she is often called The Princess and The Tall Bay. 

In this photo Dani looks both one-eared and also very much like her grandsire and barnmate, Esteban B. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2012 Retrospect

I am seeing Year in Review posts on many of the blogs I follow, and especially for newcomers I think it is a lovely way to summarize all that happened in the last 365 days.  Of course here I'll focus on the horse life, since this is a horse-centric blog, though I'll make mention of any other significant events as well.


I had an especially great winter month with Coro - we were keeping up with our lessons, working on shoulder-in, and I started riding bareback regularly.  I got him over his fear of the Mounting Block of Doom, something I seldom used with a 14'2 hand horse.  As my thirst for dressage knowledge grew and I was consistently reminded of Coro's age and health-related limitations, I also started perusing Dream Horse, the seeds of the crazy idea of a third horse becoming solidly planted. As a sort of New Year's resolution, I decide that E. and I will go to Spain in 2013, which is connected to horses because of my long-held dream of visiting Andalucia where my most beloved equine bloodlines trace to. 


We got a new boarder at the old barn who I became fast friends with, and Coro also quickly bonded with her big bay Thoroughbred.  We had more dressage lessons but Coro had some bad breathing days and I became increasingly concerned. 


 March opened with a break from winter for E. and I - a trip to southern California.  We have a favorite hotel on the beach and intend to make it an annual retreat.  

Coro was feeling stronger - so much work in the deep sand in the indoor made him feel especially buoyant on the rare occasion we could ride outside. During one of our lessons he threw in a nice buck on a canter depart, much to my trainer's amusement.

Knowing that I was starting to consider another horse, one of the boarders offered for me to ride her big Appendix mare while she was on "maternity leave,"  but then ended up changing barns instead. 

Also of note - I got my iPhone, which began a new era of photo documentation.

In my 20th anniversary month with El Corazon, I started this blog.  It was a time of deep reflection, as I looked back on our time together, filled with gratitude that we had the chance to pick up where we left off all those years ago when I went off to college, but also with some sadness as my own riding goals were becoming too big for Coro to carry.   I am now looking in earnest.  I hope for an Andalusian cross but don't really rule out any breeds except Arabs and TBs.  

I start loading music on my phone to ride to - Coro's first playlist was as follows:

Rakim - Dead Can Dance

Masterpiece - Madonna

Center of the Sun - Conjure One

Tears from the Moon - Conjure One

Euphoria - Delerium

Flowers Become Screens (Acoustic) - Delerium

Hanuman - Rodrigo y Gabriela

Orion - Rodrigo y Gabriela

Corazon - Los Lobos

Corazon - Armik

Corazon Espinado - Santana

Where the Streets Have No Name - U2

Love is Not Enough - Above & Beyond

Alchemy - Above & Beyond

Sun In Your Eyes - Above & Beyond

Sweetest Heart - Above & Beyond

Heartbeat - Madonna

Heartbeats - Jose Gonzalez


I started Coro on Smart Paks,  kept looking at horse ads, and my dad came for a visit.  

I find the first horse that I actually want to try, a 13 year old QH mare used as a children's hunter.  My dad goes with me to meet her, and having not ridden a new horse in some time, I was extremely nervous.  The nice little mare took good care of me, and I was comfortable on her in no time.  I seriously considered her but ultimately decide that with two senior horses in my care, 13 was just too old, and lowered my search age to "between 6 and 10."  It was a tough decision to let her go. 

After that I took a short break from horse shopping, took a trip to visit my dear friend in Florida, and came in second place in a national poetry contest sponsored by Esurance, with a cash prize that I felt was destined to fund my horse hunt.


Coro's breathing improved dramatically with his new prescription antihistamine.

I tried several more horses - an Andalusian mare and a Percheron cross gelding - none I liked so much as the first mare.  I became a little frustrated by what seemed to be an impossible set of  criteria, even though I felt like I was being pretty open.  Most of what I found were Western trained and while I wasn't opposed to it I just didn't know if I could turn that around into dressage movement.  

I spent every weekend at the old barn, went to some shows and clinics, and made sure that I was ready to devote even more time to this pursuit. The verdict = I was.  

On June 7th, I decide even before meeting her, that I would call Dani (then "Nikki") Dandelion Wine following the passing of Ray Bradbury.  On June 8th, I meet the bay 16'1 hand, five year old half-Andalusian mare by Dejado Habano that would become mine.  The photo above is from our first ride. 

On one beautiful summer day that month, I also had my portrait shoot with Coro, images that captured us perfectly and which I will always treasure.  

On the Fourth of July, I bring Dani home to my old barn.  She appeared to settle in well, but that first weekend she jumped out of the outdoor arena while turned out, caught her right hind leg in the gate, and was hung up for what seemed like a terrifying eternity.  The vet determined the injury to be superficial, which was extremely lucky, but we began our relationship with stall rest and wound care - not the start I imagined.  

As she healed we did groundwork and I even had a couple lessons, but our confidence was shaken and I worried that I had gotten in over my head with a young horse, especially at my very casual barn with a dwindling support system as boarder after boarder left and I was often all alone with my new giant.

Toward the end of the month I decided to move Dani back to the barn she came from, and found myself unexpectedly in a fancy dressage barn with a USDF gold-medal trainer (her former owner). 

Simultaneously, some things came up at the old barn that prompted the decision to move Notchee and Coro as well.  When I started horse shopping, I never intended to have three horses at two separate barns, but that's how things turned out...

I also booked our trip to Spain that month...it seemed like forever away at the time.


This month was spent starting over with and getting to know my new horse.  The weather and long days allowed for riding 3-5 days a week, and although I was petrified to get on her again and our first few rides at the new (to me) barn were walk-only, we quickly developed a routine and my faith in her increased.  I had some lessons and was just repeatedly astounded by Dani's work ethic and athleticism.

I was also looking for a new home for Notchee and Coro, and had determined that it was time for them to have access to a pasture in their golden years.  They had forty fenced acres when they lived with my parents, but at the old barn there was not a safe or viable option for turnout.  Although they had nice roomy stalls and generous pens, I wanted them to be able to run together again. I ended up finding the perfect place, and although it was a long haul both from my house and from Dani's barn, I knew it was the best thing for them and made arrangements for their relocation in September.


I felt like I was in a whirlwind with all of the sudden changes.  I reluctantly said goodbye to the canyon country and trail rides at the old barn, and organized all my tack and supplies to be at two locations, acquiring extras of what I needed to.
Notchee and Coro loaded like pros and had an uneventful journey to their new home on the range, but unfortunately Notchee slipped on her last step getting off the trailer and opened up the back of her right hind leg all the way to the cannon bone.  It was such an awful stroke of unluck.  It required stitches, heavy duty antibiotics and a lot of hope.  What I thought would be weekend visits to their retirement home became long drives after work to doctor Notchee's leg for those first few weeks.  It was exhausting and after just getting through Dani's injury  I wondered if I hadn't made all the wrong choices.  I had less time for my new horse and even Coro put himself on stressful stall rest, refusing to spend much time in his run when Notchee was laid up.  Thankfully, all our efforts and my wonderful veterinarian's care paid off, and Notchee did heal completely. 

I slowly introduced Coro to the pasture, and it all seemed worth it as I watched him happily grazing on sixteen acres of his own.  He made friends with some of his barn-mates and enemies with others, all in all seeming to love his new found social life. 


Finally...Notchee and Coro were turned out together on October 8th and ran free for the first time in over two years.  It was truly one of the highlights of the year, after all that had happened.
Things continued to be hectic as Dani began to exhibit signs of ill saddle fit and some soreness, and work and travel ate up a lot of my time. 

Dani had her feet done, her teeth floated, her back adjusted, and I tried to get a better handle on my severely lacking lunging skills, and rode her bareback more often than saddled.  The reality of maintaining a sport horse began to sink in. 

A favorite friend visited and we saw Madonna for the third time together after winning an upgrade to our tickets for the pit, E. and I took a trip to Las Vegas for a friend's 30th birthday, and I refinanced my mortgage.


More saddle shopping and bodywork for Dani, a week-long trip to Telluride for work, and accepting the shortening of the days and dropping of temperatures that make the barn slightly less appealing.  I found myself feeling pretty discouraged and wondering when we would get back on track.
Notchee and Coro had their first farrier appointment at the new place, and both acted incredibly put out by having to wear halters and stand still.  

 Toward the end of the month Dani had an adjustment with a new chiropractor, also a DVM, and I was greatly encouraged by the results.  He confirmed that her Icelandic saddle was bridging and so I committed to getting her a new one.   I decided to sell my western saddle, knowing I would have few opportunities to use it and could use the proceeds toward what I found for Dani.

A wonderful month to close out the year.  I found a saddle, though it needed an immediate repair so I spent another month bareback and in a borrowed saddle belonging to Dani's grandsire who also lives at her barn.  My forever friend from college visited with her husband and we got to spend a splendid day visiting Notchee and Coro and then having a lesson together with my trainer.  Dani was so happy to ride with her buddy and horses and humans alike were all smiles.

We had some barn get-togethers and I've been getting to know the fellow boarders.  I spent a lot of time just hanging out with Dani - making up her supplements, visiting her in her turnout pen, outfitting her in fancy new blankets, and just falling a little more in love with her each day.  It's hard to believe I've had her for six months already and although things have taken a different path than I had in mind, I'm excited to see what the coming year has in store for us.  We had an amazing lesson on my birthday, where we found connection in our new saddle and I was able to bend her by softening my outside leg and straightening my inside leg - the reins were entirely superfluous.  We're both a bit out of shape after all this intermittent time off, but as the days lengthen and I make time for more lessons I can't wait to see what we'll accomplish together.

Coro has been enjoying his much-deserved second retirement, but he is not off the hook completely.  I want to start riding him again on the weekends, weather permitting, and perhaps exploring some of the country roads just like we used to. 

These horses are a blessing, every day, and I intend to make the most of another year with them.