Thursday, December 31, 2020

Blog Hop: 2020 Summary

This year has been a series of time dragging and flying by all at the same time. Honestly I can't even remember what all has happened this year. But I have been enjoying everyone else's summaries, so I figured I would jump on the blog hop train from Alberta Equest.

What is the best thing that has happened to you in 2020?

Personal: I started a new job this year and despite only having 6 weeks "normal", it has been a very productive year.

Horse: Karma. Technically she was last year's purchase, but her steadiness this year has been more than I could have possibly hoped for when I bought her. I started her myself after not having ridden regularly in over 6 months. The ground work I had done paid off in combination with her very sensible attitude.

What is the worst thing that has happened to you in 2020?

Personal: In the grand scheme of things, I have had much worse years. Yes, there were some inconveniences and overall the stress did wear on me, but nothing too terrible for me personally. 

Horse: I had planned for a low key year due to moving, starting a new job, and having a baby horse. She is happy and healthy, which is really all I want at the end of the day.

What was the biggest purchase in 2020?

Personal: I was super boring this year. I had saving goals because someone decided to dip into saving while unemployed last year to buy a very cute pony. So my goal for this year was to get my savings back to the pre-unemployment level (which I just managed).

Horse: I haven't actually paid for it, but since I have been trying to buy it since June(?) I am counting the saddle for this year. I have another one on the way to me right now, so hopefully this one is the charm.

What was your biggest accomplishment in 2020?

Personal: Not utterly failing at my new job. This year allowed me to realize I am better at my job than my previous employers frequently implied.

Horse: Karma got started under saddle.

What do you feel like COVID robbed you of in 2020?

Personal: Time with my mom. I had planned to fly back to check on her pretty frequently and that didn't happen. She has had some health problems this year, so I have suffered from some guilt for taking a job far away and leaving her with the two horses to take care of.

Horse: I had intended to take regular lessons so I was riding prior to starting Karma, but the stay at home order prevented that and by the time it was lifted I didn't feel terribly motivated to go back. So I didn't. 

Were you subject to any COVID impulse buys in 2020?

Personal: Snacks? I can't think of anything that was very interesting.

Horse: Pivo. Zero regrets. I have video of Karma's early rides and that makes me very happy.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

The Woes Of Saddle Fitting

 Stinker was an absolute nightmare to fit, but with the help of my fabulous Florida saddle fitter we were able to get a combination that worked for him and me. I foolish thought that since Karma is a rather straightforward fit in comparison and we already knew what I liked it would be easy.

The first saddle that I was sent was absolutely delicious. It looked good on Karma, but the block was at the wrong angle for my leg. So saddle number two was sent out. And saddle number two is actually worse. It is a bit frustrating doing the fit distance wise, but even without the pandemic it would still be distance because I keep moving and I am definitely not near Florida.

Thankfully, on impulse I picked up a pivo and it has been super helpful. Even more helpful are my wonderful group of internet friends who are willing to tell me if it is the saddle or if I just suck at riding. I am a bit frustrated with my riding but that is a post for another day.

So we are still hunting for the just right combination for me. On the plus side I can ride her bareback. I am taking full advantage of the compliant baby horse stage because the oh so arrogant I don't want to stage shows up.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Ride Number Two

My big plan for ride number two was to remember to see what I thought about the blocks on the saddle (hint I will be getting a new flap because these blocks are too much and interfere with my thigh). Other than that I didn't have an agenda. I try to let the babies tell me what they are ready for.

I got on and she walked off much better than the first time which pleased me. We walked for a bit and when I remember to ride correctly aka get my right hip out of her back and turn my shoulders her steering improves greatly. So I decided to try a bit of trot.

Oh man the trot felt god awful. I was not helping (apparently not riding for 6 months doesn't magically improve your riding) and she was trotting for the first time with a rider. Thankfully video didn't look as bad as it felt. But we walked regrouped and then tried again. After trotting both ways I hopped off and told her what a wonderful girl she is. She now has a whopping 15 minutes under saddle and has trotted calmly while her pasture mates run around like idiots.

If you are horribly bored the full videos for ride 1 and ride 2 are available. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2020


 I have not so patiently been waiting for my saddle to arrive. After much dickering back and forth I decided to just have my Florida fitter make us a saddle out of spare Wow parts. That way I am not paying new price, I get what I like, and I know it fits Karma. Plus since its a Wow my fitter will just swap parts out as needed and I don't have deal with the hassle of buying and selling saddles as she grows and matures.

Not what waiting patiently looks like

Based on that criteria, I was expecting the normal black dressage saddle to show up. That was not the case. Instead this showed up.

Much delicious

Of course I immediately tried it on Karma (first time saddled). It looked like a pretty good fit and then I realized I forgot my stirrups. So I lunged her to see if the saddle would cause any dramatics. It didn't.

I love this pivo setup outtake

The next day (armed with stirrups this time), I decided to give her first ride a go. I asked the barn owner if she was going to be around but didn't really have a ground person. Karma wasn't too sure she should really walk off with me on her, but with a bit of encouragement she did.

As to be expected the steering was a bit drunk and she was a bit sticky about walking forward at times but overall it was about as perfect as a first ride that I could have hoped for. We walked for about four minutes and then I gave her all the carrots and told her what a wonderful pony she is.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Bribery Works

 Karma is coming along quite well. She has gotten the hang of the long lines. I still don't have a saddle but I have parked her at the mounting block and laid on her and practiced swinging my leg over her butt. I have taken her down to the road so she can get used to traffic. I have walked her through the the pig farm and fields that are next door her the farm she is at.

The boarding barn is great exposure for her. There are calves, turkeys, children, farm equipment, four wheelers, and all sorts of other things. While I miss my trails so so so much, it is really good for her to be at a much busier place. My barn was so quiet that I think I would have had a lot harder with desensitizing her when we started going places.

I am going out three days a week typically and we really aren't doing much. No more than 20 minutes in the ring. So she gets lots of grazing and grooming time where we just chill. I typically will drive her for 5-10 minutes then turn her loose to play with cantering and voice commands for another 5-10 minutes. The up transitions are pretty good, but sometimes sassy mare gets the zooms and the downs aren't quite there. Luckily I have my fail safe of snap a carrot and she comes right to me (as demonstrated in the GIF). Hopefully my saddle will arrive in the next couple of weeks and then I will have more to blog about (aka OMG GUYS LOOK AT MY ADORABLE PONY!!!!)

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Learning of Sorts

Babies are fun for me but killer for blog content. There is no fun and exciting way to tell we trotted a couple circles and then went for a walk. But Karma is coming along quite nicely.

She is quirky about her ears especially the right one and I was concerned it might make her hard to bridle. Nope not an issue. In fact she is much easier than Cowboy, who is 19 years old. Not quite as easy as Stinker but he literally shoves his face in the bridle so as long as you don't miss the mouth with the bit he basically bridles himself.

Ideally I would like to put a few rides on her this fall and then give her the winter off to grow(?) (please please please grow). I am half heartedly working on getting a saddle. I also need to get her a bridle that fits before Aimee disowns me.

And I should get a vest because baby girl has moves. Hopefully those moves never show up under saddle but I like to plan for the worst and hope for the best. For the most part we are just plugging along doing baby pony stuff and hoping for more growing.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Better Late Than Never

Karma turned three back in June. She got her extra carrots on her birthday, but sadly her party hat and birthday sash didn't arrive in time. Amazon got really sketchy with their "two" day deliveries. I finally got pictures a week or so later and then did nothing with them.

So I give to you a month late. BIRTHDAY PICTURES!!!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Finding A Voice

I am normally a quiet person and fairly reserved, especially in large groups of people. So when lots of strong opinions are being thrown around I typically withdraw into my little shell and say very little outside of the people I trust.

But some things should not and can not keep being swept back under the rug. I am still formulating what actions I want to take and educating myself. I don't feel comfortable going to protests because I am still going to work and have to interact with individuals of varying risk levels for COVID-19. I did sign up to be a mentor and review personal statements and resumes for STEM students.

I am really trying to challenge myself to use my voice and not hide from the hate and anger, because that does not change anything and is a large portion of the problem.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Almost Disney

I finally was able to go out and see Karma this week. It was a short visit. She looks great and maybe grew. I can't ever decide mostly I just panic that she isn't going to be tall enough for me. She hasn't even turned 3 yet. Maybe I will torture her with birthday things.

Living the best feral life

We had a totally magical if Disney was reality moment too. The last time I was out there the pasture was still cut back to the winter size and has since been opened up. I knew the general direction it extended but I didn't realize just how far back it went.

She was good for her farrier appointment despite not being touched since her last one

I couldn't see the horses so I just started walking towards the back of the pasture. And kept going, finally when I was starting to wonder if they were actually in that pasture I saw her over a rise. When she saw me coming she came racing up to me and stopped right in front of me. Right as I reached out to greet her she realized all of her buddies had kept going so she took off again. All the way up to the front of the pasture.

I was much more excited than she was

So I trucked my way back up there and that time she happily greeted me with no dramatics. It was raining intermittently and she was disgusting so I just took her out fed her apples and checked to make sure that all legs were attached with no issues then tossed her back out. It was lovely to see her again. The last few weeks have been rough because it was the one year anniversary of my dad's death and it kept hitting me at random times.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

How To Even When No One Else Can

I am going to let my real life dribble into the blog temporarily. It has been brought to my attention that as a microbiologist I actually do have valuable thoughts on the current pandemic. A little about me and my education. I got my PhD in microbiology working with infectious diseases. For the past almost 11 years now I have been working on vaccine development projects with an emphasis on immunological responses to the vaccines and how that correlates to protection. Because I am a super nerd and love disease I have done a lot of nerdy reading about epidemiology and outbreaks. Additionally, I have worked in high containment laboratories (think requires respiratory protection and diseases that are difficult to treat/don't have vaccines) so I also know quite a bit about bio containment and bio security. With that being said here are my thought on some things that have been circulating.


No seriously, this is the absolute best way to protect yourself. The virus can only cause infection if it comes into contact with mucosal surfaces. Most people touch their faces a lot and they typically use their hands, so if your hands are clean you won't be infecting yourself.

Viruses are super cool and weird because they aren't actually living. They are little pods of lipid with DNA or RNA inside them. If you destroy the lipid membrane on the outside the virus can't infect cells. Detergent (aka soap) is really good at breaking down lipids (think fats). Therefore if you have really nice robust foaming of the soap the virus doesn't stand a chance.

Which leads to the next point, it is all about contact time. Think of it like burning if you briefly touch a hot object your burn typically isn't bad, but if you hold on to that object for 20 seconds the burn is a lot worse. The longer the soap has in contact with your skin the more damage it does to the microbes on it. So make sure you get the backs and the nooks and crannies (under nails too, don't be rocking the rancher tips) for at least 20 seconds.

2) Social Distancing and the barn

It is a hot topic, should barns close, why, why not, but what will I do without my pony???

There is a lot that goes into this. But really the simple answer is the US just took over the most cases in the world and we are not showing any signs of having this under control. In order to get this under control we need to take a good hard long look at our behaviors.

I am currently going into work for critical projects (which means I am there for ~8 hours per week). My work has increased cleaning and staggered our schedules so there are no more than two people working per lab space (more than enough space for appropriate social distancing) and during the time I have been there I have maybe spent ~5 minutes total with someone in the same room as me. We are under strict instructions to not come in if we are even sort of feeling like we might be getting sick. I live by myself and beyond my once a week grocery run (done at odd hours) I have been home or work no where else. I canceled my jumping lesson for the last two weeks because I felt like it was a risk. I saw Karma on Sunday for the last time and dropped off two months worth of board because I knew it was coming. My state was put under a shelter in place order on Monday and until that lifts I am not seeing my horse again.

If your horse is at a place where you don't feel comfortable with the care when you can't be there perhaps you need to take a step back and consider do I want to board my horse here. This isn't just about you, it is about doing your part to help protect everyone around you. In Italy funerals are banned. People are being hospitalized alone, dying alone, being buried alone. That is what is coming for the US if we don't slow the spread. So think about your actions and consider is this truly necessary.

It is a hard decision, but I know Karma will be ok. And while I am going a little crazy without the gym and the horse I also know it is the right decision to make to protect not only myself but the people around me.

Raccoon is lacking soap don't skip the soap

3) Should you be freaking out?

No, panicking is the worst thing you can do (even if it is a favorite of mine). Limit your public exposure/practice social distancing, wash your hands, and don't touch your face. Don't believe me read this article. The key points are in Hong Kong and Singapore healthcare workers were able to minimize exposures by using the following protocols. Wearing regular surgical masks for all patient interactions (these won't actually protect you from aerosolized virus, but they do prevent face touching and large droplets) gloves plus proper hand washing, along with disinfecting all surfaces in-between patients. These are the people interacting with a large number on infections. But the virus didn't sicken large numbers of healthcare workers. So again WASH YOUR HANDS AND DON'T TOUCH THE FACE.

4) Best biosafety practices (outside the home)

Minimize touching things. Just pretend that the world is a disgusting porta potty.
Stay away from people. I highly recommend going to the store looking like a hot mess it really helps keep people away (PS the hot mess part is a joke based on how awful I looked). Last week when I went to the store I hadn't slept well and my naturally pale skin was maybe one shade away from "is she dead?" I had forgotten to look in the mirror so my hair was randomly piled on top my head (curly hair plus messy bun that had been put up the night before). I was so pleased with how well people had been following the social distancing recommendations until I got home. I looked like I was sick and would have steered clear of me too.

The situation you have been in determines how worried you should be when you get home. Everyone should wipe down their phone and wash their hands when they get home. If you work retail or have to work closely with people I would go ahead strip toss clothes in the laundry and shower (minimize touching things at home, you are now the disgusting porta potty). Hopefully everyone cleans their house regularly but it doesn't hurt to give frequently touched surfaces (light switches, door handles, microwave handle/buttons, etc) wipes more often.

5) Outside practices

I highly recommend solo activities or activities with people you are living with. Meeting up with a friend for a hike makes it so hard to maintain social distance. You get to talking you forget. So if you are dying to company have them hike somewhere else and make it a phone date. It is just safer all around. But yes please continue to get exercise so we aren't all border collies trying to herd the cat in the house.

6) It just effects old people

No, old people are more likely to die. But there are many young healthy people who are having to be hospitalized for it. As someone who has had lasting lung damage from being young and dumb and exercising while sick, it sucks. Do everything you can to protect yourself and those around you because it causes serious lung damage. In fact the majority of Germany's cases are young healthy people that were skiing in Italy. Now they are hospitalized and on ventilators.

7) How to educate yourself?

The CDC and WHO are always good resources. John Hopkins has a map that is fun to play with. Use common sense and if you read something that sounds too good to be true google it and see if reliable sources pop up. There is an oxford study floating around about how most of the UK population has already been exposed, but it isn't peer reviewed and is based on some massive assumptions that just don't hold up. Feel free to ask me anything and I will happily nerd out.  My sister made the mistake of texting me "what are your thoughts?" She got a text that more than took up the screen in response.


Thursday, March 19, 2020

Guess Who

After very impatient waiting Karma is finally here and settling into her new home. I love the barn I picked. It is very low key and basic but the people are fantastic and the care is excellent. It is a nice, clean, and safe place. It has made a huge difference having her here. I was going through equine withdrawals.

Living the fancy life. She was totally over the truck by the time she arrived

She was pretty nervous at first and is now out of these temporary digs

She is out 24/7 and the pasture extends back beyond what can be seen in the picture

Small but nice sand ring

The temporary quarantine barn

I took her for a walk in the corn field and wanted her to pose, but the ground was much more interesting

Morrr carrots plz

Tuesday, January 7, 2020


I guess I should stop hinting and share the big news. I will be starting a new job in a couple weeks and I’m moving to the Midwest. Unfortunately, I’m not going to be moving the horses. I’m hoping in the late spring/early summer I will be able to move Karma out. Cowboy and Stinker will be staying here permanently with my mom.

I’ve been struggling with this a bit because I was really hoping I was done moving every few years. Since I’ve turned 18 I’ve essentially averaged a new state every two years. Don’t get me wrong I’m really excited for the new job, but I’m definitely going to be missing the horses and moving sucks. Hopefully I can find a place that has lesson horses or some endurance horses to catch ride or something. The blog may be quiet for awhile but I don’t have any plans to let it die out.