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I know, I know. Every time I say that, you think I can't top the last time I said that.

Well.

I can.

I don't even know why you doubt me anymore.
shame on your doubts
Soooooo this story starts back in January when I visited my sister and we skipped through a tack store whilst tossing dollar bills into the air willy nilly (metaphorically).

One thing I saw that many of you were like OMFG HOW DID YOU NOT BUY THAT was this:
make sexy eyes at otto!

I mean. Yeah. It's lovely. But also like a billion dollars and OH YEAH perhaps you remember how ZB fits in approximately off-the-rack NOTHING.

Plus I happen to know that the thing with Otto is that you can order custom but you have to go through a dealer and there isn't one close to me. Also one thing about me is that I have the attention span of a caffeinated gnat, so custom ordering is not in my wheelhouse. I'm an instant gratification girl.

But then you all probably know Stephanie (say with me: THAT BITCH!) who I legit hung out with at Rolex last year and one day on facebook she started this out-of-control thread about ugly custom bridles which somehow segued into her casually dropping the fact that she works for an Otto dealer.

HOLD THE PHONE.

I did what any responsible tack ho would and casually filed that information away for later.
every day is a good day for rolex pictures

lol jk this is me

I immediately messaged her every detail of what I wanted and asked what it would cost.

She for some reason didn't think I was a tire kicker and got back to me all polite and professional and told me the cost.

We'll leave it vague, but let's just agree that it was enough that as a seasoned tack ho who's used to paying for quality, I most definitely threw up in my mouth and was like NOPE HARD PASS LOL WE ARE NEVER EVER EVER GETTING THAT TOGETHER.
Buuuuuut

Once you know

And you've had some time to get used to it

And then you think about your life without it

I mean.

The mare legit doesn't fit in off the rack sizes, which means 1) finding things for her is impossible and 2) impulse buying strap goods is dead. Also she's the nicest horse I've ever had, so doesn't she deserve the nicest bridle?

And you know. I'm not showing this year, so what better time to buy a ridiculous bridle than now when I'm not paying entries and memberships?
logic. we has it. 

I messaged Stephanie something mature like YOLO (after several weeks, I'll have you know).

Then the wait began.

I was super patient for like the first 38 seconds.

Then it was pure torture.

I think Roxie's (and Halo's!!) mom got so tired of listening to me that she sent me a link to a purple padded FSS bridle for pennies on the dollar on eBay, which I most definitely bought to kill time.
again with the photo edits
I waited. I waited more. THERE WAS SO MUCH WAITING.

THEN ONE DAY
DROP IT LIKE ITS HOT
THE WAITING WAS OVER
I MEAN NO DEFINITELY DONT DROP IT
BRIDLE PARTAY
Except it also wasn't over.
DO YOU SEE IT

SOBBING
I was hoping to hold off on writing this for a while and be like "everything is awesome!" but it's been a week+ and despite repeated attempts to reach out to Otto, I don't have a firm plan or a ship date for the correct browband and it's leaving a sour taste in my mouth for sure.

I mean. I may be small potatoes to Otto himself, but I didn't pay $$$ for a custom to bridle to get *almost* what I wanted.
mmmm classy
Bright side: I managed to finagle my topline leather browband on and it does look fabulous. And I'm obsessed with the bridle. And it's exactly what I wanted (other than the browband). And it looks fabulous on ZB.
taking a bridle picture
wtf is zb doing

hi zb

yeah now it's not a bridle pic
So anyways. It's in progress and after waiting as long as I did, I am not thrilled to be waiting longer.
Otoh, the bridle is gorgeous and I do not regret a cent.
#goshopping
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I board at a fabulous barn with some ladies that inspire me.

And they like trail riding.

And when I got a mid-week text like "let's go to the state park!", I was like "...but the bugs are super bad there waaaaaah" and found an alternate location.
I also found coffee because humaning is hard
Fortunately, they were all on board for an excursion to the mountains. 
ZB always up for an adventure
It's such a different world for me--I can't get my head in the game for horse shows, but I was thrilled to go hit the trails. We haven't hauled out since last fall, but I know I could count on ZB. She's just such a champion. She loads and hauls like a champ, then gets off the trailer like a pro and yet again, led the way for the first chunk of the ride. 

Lil lady has a motor on her. 
tasty bush
Even when we hit some challenges that I didn't quite anticipate, ZB's "NOT R WANT MUM NO" response is to stop and stare at something.

Not lose her shit.

Not buck me off. 

Not leave the county. 
and the skies were completely stunning
We kept everything calm and easy and went out for about two hours over a variety of terrain, including a couple water crossings, plenty of rocks, and lots of different grades up and down. 

It was Zoe's first time in the mountain and OMFG YOU GUYS I COULD NOT BE MORE THRILLED. 
i adore this mare
She led. She followed. She saw dirt bikes and mountain bikes and runners and heard guns and saw wild life and dealt with all of it like an old hand. 

She's still learning how to cross water (cross your fingers for a legit training post tomorrow!), but she made a good effort at everything we tried. 

The best part is just how much fun she is for every step. 

So honest. 

So game. 
goal: ride in the mountains = achieved!
I mean. It isn't even just the riding. It's how Ms. ZB shows up and tries no matter what. Hauling to a new place? 

No probs. 

Tying to a trailer for the first time?

She's got it. 
BOOM
I know basically my whole blog now is like ZB R PERFECT AND I SUPER LOVE HER, but I can't even apologize for it. 

I took my baby horse to the mountains. 

She exceeded expectations and those expectations were already irrationally high on account of how lovely she is. 
remind me i need to break in my new latigo so we can go full old west
I mean. I always say that some day the little lady will have a bad day, and I won't even be able to get mad at her, because she's so freaking perfect most of the time. 

But yeah. 

It hasn't happened yet.
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Many moons ago, I bought a sprenger mechanical hackmore off of blogger Alanna for a song. When it showed up, I realized it was roughly moose sized (which had I actually read the ad, I probably would have noticed) and yeah, it was never going on a petite Courage face. 

But guess who is moose sized?!
best baby mare!
and yes this is the smallest adjustment
I spent all day Friday watching fancy dressage horses do their thing and yeah, showing still sounds nauseating to me.

So I went back to the barn and threw the new-to-me hack on ZB.
old SB would have been horrified by this look
We did a lap around the outdoor arena, during which I established that ZS Zoebird gave exactly the number of shits about it that you would expect.
SMOOSH JUMP
And yeah. Then we just headed down the ditch bank in evening light for our first solo excursion. 
<3
If it looks magical, it was.
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ERMEGERD BEBEH MARE
One of my (many) favorite things about ZB is that she's pretty damn resilient. With Courage, I had a strict protocol for how many times I had to see a trainer work with horses EXACTLY LIKE HIM before I'd even consider riding with them and since most sane people don't ride horses like him, well, it got complicated.

But with Zoe? I found out a barn friend was organizing a clinic with a trainer I'd heard of but never ridden with and I was like "hey cool sign us up!" because I knew that hey, whatever happened, ZB would be fine.

Plus I definitely need lessons.
had to get an outfit shot
Anywhoodle. I'd never met this trainer before, but she got out of the car like OMFG I NEED THAT OUTFIT FOR MY HORSE so I figured we'd get along.

Funny joke.

Actually she was like "this horse is not a super baby. She can go to work." And then expected me to like ride and shit? Pro tip: riding is hard. Especially if all you do is toodle and goof off and you are a lazy ammy.

We took a lot of LOOOOOOONG walk breaks and yeah they were a lot more for me than for ZB. (Thanks to trainer for getting ZB in shape and trained and stuff!)
Really important takeaways for me:

1) Because of her conformation, it is WAY more important to get ZB up in front and then come onto the bit vs pulling her head down to the bit. This is feedback I have gotten from every single professional who has laid eyes on her, but it's always worth reiterating.

2) Because of her disposition, it's VERY important to put LEG ON for a correction and then take LEG OFF to immediately reward. She's not a hot horse, so she needs to be sensitized to the leg. This is not rocket science, but since she's also my first not-hot horse, it's a different way to ride.

3) Effective position matters--ZB is such a different shape to sit on that my lower leg likes to just creep waaaaay back, which tips my upper body forward, which throws me out of balance. Nope. Leg at the girth. Toes forward. This engages my seat bones and keeps me balanced and actually makes a big difference.

4) Take the time to be correct--when Zoe leans in, I like to steer her out with the outside rein for an immediate correction. It takes a couple strides longer, but she is educated enough now to ask her to step out with my inside leg/seatbone (especially now that my seat bone is engaged thanks to #3).

5) The seat is an aid. This is a funny one for me--I used to have kind of a hot seat, so when I was riding hot jumpers, I spent a lot of time training myself to remove my seat from the equation or letting it be neutral. Now I'm riding a not-hot horse and the seat is an aid, so it's time to learn to use it correctly.
#outfitgoals
By the end of the lesson, I definitely thought I would die of exhaustion. However. I went in needing feedback on how to ride my baby mare and that's exactly what I got.
Can't wait for next time!
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So last year I get this absolutely fantastic baby horse who is the champion of all things baby horse. She's calm and honest and straightforward and adorable and sweet and fun and brave and yeah basically I think she's perfect.
can you even? you cannot.

But anytime I said, "she's four" to other people, I straight up got the JUST YOU WAIT FOR THE TERRIBLE FIVES.

Which like. 1) Whether or not I'm having fun with my horse does not impact the amount of fun you can have with yours, so chill TF out about that. It's not like there's a finite fun pile and my heaping portion is taking away from yours. 2) While horses certainly start to push boundaries once they understand them, the whole point of ZB is that she's not evil or fried, so while yes, some resistance is expected, it's not like she's going to turn into some horrific hellion harpie.
well i mean. this aside lol. 

Now my baby mare is the dreaded five. She's been in training for a while and she's starting to really understand what we're asking her and where the boundaries are.

I've gotten a couple texts from trainer lately indicating that ZB has been less than 100% foot perfect. Which is still like 95% foot perfect, which I think is pretty damn good.

But hey. After spending most of a week out of state, it was time to hop on and reassess what was going on.

050818 - YouTube

If you're not a video watcher (like me!), here's the relevant stills:
R LOOK AT CHAMPION BABY MARE
Her good moments were really super. 
R SHOW MOM HOW ZB R CANTER CHAMPION
Yup. 

She was cracking me up. She juuuuust figured out how to put the pieces together in terms of canter being an expected behavior under saddle so now she's like "HOKAY MOM I R CANTER LIKE GOOD BABY" and then after 1-4 strides she's like "R BERRY TIRED PLZ TO STOP NAOW HOKAY". 

But like. Constantly. Before I snagged this video, I couldn't get ten strides of trot without popping into the canter. Also #babyhorseproblems, we can't really canter and steer yet. 
R NEED COOKIES NAOW
I mean, when your baby mare "acting out" is just her being proud of herself for learning something hard? 

That's basically the cutest thing ever. 

Oh and this is what her good moments look like right now:
omfg baby mare champion
I was going to write a sarcastic comment here about "too bad she's not more fancy", but again after almost a week out of town, I came home and got on my baby mare with zero prep and had a super excellent ride and yeah... ZB is the best. I adore her. That is all. 
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