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 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.   



  1. Great post!! I think I started reading your blog in the middle of the year, so it was great to catch up on what I missed before. And what a journey this year has been for you too!

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