Friday, June 15, 2012

Finn over fences

For those of you that read my blog because I read books, I apologize to you. But aside from my annual reread (listen) of the Harry Potter audiobooks, I haven't been reading much in the last month. That's the price you pay when you have a long-term visitor in your house that enjoys talking. Like, a lot. So I'll get back to posting about books I'm reading... once I start reading them again!

So I had a few good rides on Finn this week. On Tuesday we managed to not knock down a single jump during our ride, which is a first! Yesterday we weren't so lucky, but we did learn a few things: One, Finn does not like bulky front boots. I'll be sticking with polo wraps for a while I guess. Second, Finn can jump 2'3''! We've been jumping 2', so yesterday I tried raising one of the fences slightly, and he handled it like a pro! I was so proud. We still have a lot of work to do, but I look forward to this road.

In other Finn news, I got my first nicker yesterday! That's the "Hello! I'm happy to see you!" sound. It's pretty common to hear that noise when you're approaching with food, so when you have no food and you still get it, it can be pretty heartwarming. :)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Finn takes a step forward

This past Saturday, Finn and I didn't have the best ride. It started out okay, but by the time we ended I could feel that his brain was whirring a little too fast. He was losing focus, getting worked up, and it generally made for an unpleasant experience for us both. However, something good came out of the situation: It reminded me that he is new to this world where he's not supposed to just run as fast as he can. He's doing new things everyday, and sometimes he just gets overwhelmed and overstimulated. It made me realize that at this stage I need to focus more on quality versus quantity: Two or three good, solid jumps after a good warmup will be so much more beneficial to us both than an hour of saddle time.

So on Sunday, I went out and we tried again. This time I wanted to get in a good, solid work without overstimulating him. We warmed up, did some circles, trotted and cantered over some poles, and then decided to tackle a single 2' fence. The first time was okay, but not great. The second time was spot-on. We both nailed it (where's a camera for these ones?). Then we took a breather before attempting it again.

All in all, I think we took that jump about six or seven times. They weren't all pretty. But we did most of them well. When I felt him getting worked up or antsy, we walked and got back to a point of relaxation before trying again. I didn't focus on the little things, but instead looked at the big picture. And by the time we were done, I felt like we had made a good step forward. I was proud of Finn, and I was equally proud of myself.

On the not-so-bright side, I also figured out my saddle is just way too narrow for Finn. I knew it wasn't a perfect fit, but lately I've been suspecting that it was more ill-fitting than I thought. Turns out I was right. But at least now I know, and I can take steps to find a saddle that does fit. In the meantime I will make do, and while only a new saddle will totally remedy the problem, at least now I can take steps to somewhat alleviate it until that time comes.

I won't be riding today--Finn deserves a day off, and it's hot and muggy anyway. Tomorrow we will probably give it another shot. I look forward to seeing what this horse can do!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Finnigan... Step One

So a little over a month ago, I did this super crazy thing. I bought a horse. And not just any horse. I bought a 5-year-old off-track Thoroughbred. I've always loved OTTBs and championed the efforts some put forth in finding homes for them after their racing careers are over. So it made perfect sense that I would end up with one of my own!

So here are the details:

Registered name: Fire Slanger
Nickname: Finnigan (Finn for short)
Namesake: Seamus Finnigan

Used to be this:

Now is this:

So here's the deal. Finn and I are still getting to know each other, and we're slowly learning to understand each other. There have been roadblocks, and no doubt there will continue to be roadblocks. But my goal is to be the best rider I can be, and for him to be the best horse he can be. In order to do that though, I have a few mini goals. My plan is to list them here on my blog and slowly work on conquering them all. I plan to document some of my progress here as well.

Mini goals:
1. Work on my form - I need to keep my legs steady, work on keeping my legs from slipping back over fences, close my angle over fences, and focus on getting a good release. I can achieve this through awareness and lessons.
2. Strengthen my core, legs, arms... okay, everything - I can work on this through exercise and riding. I'll be slinging some hand weights around at least twice a week, along with cardio twice a week. And obviously, I ride whenever I can! :)
3. Create a deeper connection with my horse - This will simply take time, both in the saddle and on the ground. But I look forward to continuing to get to know him.
4. Get Finn ready for the Sport of Kings Challenge in Fall, 2012 - I want to compete in this show. To succeed, we're going to continue working together, finding where we're struggling and where we're excelling.
5. Get Finn bending properly - I want my horse to become more balanced. To do this, we'll do a lot of circles, serpentines, ground work, and good old fashioned riding time.
6. Continue teaching Finn to jump - He can jump 2' right now, but after a few fences his attention span and focus go out the window. I need to keep this in mind when we are jumping and slow things down. I don't want him to be burned out and frustrated--this needs to be an enjoyable experience for us both. Slowly as he becomes used to this new job, I expect his mind to settle down to business more.

I think the above goals are all very feasible, and accomplishing them will really help us as a team. I look forward to chronicling how things are going for us!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

Cassie Clare struck gold with her series The Mortal Instruments. And to be perfectly honest, I never quite understood why. They're not bad or anything, but at the same time they're not... well, not exactly high quality. Jace is flat out creepy as a male "lead," and I can't figure out why anyone would find a butt head (using nice words, people!) of such epic proportions attractive. I guess that illustrates part of what is wrong with society these days. A guy can be a total jerk, and girls still want to date him. Sigh.

Anyway, I digress. So with this success, Clare decided to head back in time with a new series, The Infernal Devices. I can't lie--last year I was pretty excited to read Clockwork Angel. It turned out I wasn't disappointed, and I had a blast reading it. So when the second book in the series, Clockwork Prince, came out in December, even though I was trying to not buy for myself, I couldn't resist snatching it off the shelves.

In Clockwork Prince, the same characters are revisited not long after the events in the first book end. Tessa is back, falling deeper into that we-all-saw-it-coming love triangle between Will, the brooding dark-haired hottie, and Jem, the sweet and considerate boy with a terminal illness (but don't worry--he's hot too). The Magister is still at work with his evil schemes, and naturally chaos ensues as the Shadowhunters try to get to the bottom of his sinister plot and save the world... or at least Great Britain.

I'm sorry to say that this book disappointed me slightly. There was a revelation about Will's past, and it bothered me because it really seemed to take away from his personality. It felt forced and fake, and now at the end of book two I'm not any closer to figuring out who the REAL Will is. I want to know. Meanwhile, Tessa was just... there. Not much of a voice or personality, and for that reason it makes it difficult for me to believe that Will has a thing for her. I can kind of believe Jem might have a thing, but even that's a stretch. It's sad to me. I love young adult characters with a voice. For instance, Sophie Mercer in the Hex Hall series is a voice that I would recognize anywhere. Same with Evie in the Paranormalcy series. Love those girls.

Nevertheless, I have to admit I loved reading this book anyway. The time period is wonderful, I do enjoy the intrigue and mystery behind the plot, and the characters are still fun, though a bit shallow. I highly recommend this series if you're into the Young Adult genre and want a little nonsensical fun.

The third installment of this series, Clockwork Princess, is scheduled to be released November, 2012.

Friday, January 6, 2012!

I will be the first to admit: I am a Pinterest addict. It has become one of my several go-to sites. I love finding new clothing, shoes, decor ideas, "I wish" homes, recipes, craft ideas (some of which I have attempted, with varying levels of success!), and more.

All in all, I consider myself a Pinterest success story: Mainly because I HAVE tried several recipes I pinned, done a few craft projects, and I even bought a pair of boots I pinned! I mean really, how many people can say that? Granted, they weren't Louboutins or anything, but still the fact remains: I purchased something I first saw on Pinterest. Go me.

So in honor of this, I thought I would share a few of my all-time favorite pins so far.

First, I figure I should start with the boots I actually bought: Lucky Brand Hibiscus. I love riding boots, but let's face it: I'm no good at being a girl. So those spit-shined boots? Not good. I need something that looks worn in, something that if I scuff or scratch it won't be the end of the world. These fit the bill, and they're just so much fun! They come in gray too... oh, if only I could afford both colors!

This next one isn't a "fun" photo by any means, but it's something that pops into my head every time I buy lettuce or make a salad at home. I hate how lettuce gets ick so fast, and this is such an amazing solution to that. I really need to get on this, pronto! And for the original blog post this came from, click here. Definitely worth checking out, I promise.

As an occasional runner, the following speaks volumes... of truth:

As a Disney fan whose inner child never grew up, I feel I have the right to say, "Preach, Walt!"
"I do not make films primarily for children. I make them for the child in all of us."

If I could ever get the red dog to sit still long enough, I would love to make this photo a reality with my two boys! What a great Christmas card it would make!

Hello, Gorgeous! I would love a kitchen (and a view!) like this!

Jackie O. was an amazing woman... and a wonderful equestrian! Love it!

Want to see what else I have pinned? Feel free to follow my boards at

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year, New Name, New Start!

After nearly a year of dormancy, I decided that 2012 is the year I kick-start this blog. However, upon looking back I realized that no longer did it fully encompass me and everything I am. So now I'm happy to share that it's the same blog, but with a new name.

My two biggest timesucks hobbies are horses and books, thus the new name. Do those two things 100% define me? Absolutely not. But they're two large parts of me, and I can tell you right now that those two topics will probably account for at least 75% of my blog posts from here on out. Chances are about 20% of the rest will reference my dogs in some form or fashion, with the remaining 5% dedicated to... stuff. Or something. My husband, perhaps?

Since this is a new start in many ways, I figure now would be a great time to reintroduce myself.

I'm Katie-Kate-Katherine (pick one). I'm quickly crawling my way to 30 (ugh), married to an amazing guy, and live in Oklahoma with our two dogs. My favorite books are Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling (as if I had to tell you that) and Eve's Daughters by Lynn Austin. I love history, have a weird fascination with ocean liners and cruise ships, am pretty good at distinguishing models of commercial airplanes (it's getting harder now than it was 15 years ago!), love to travel, am an Oklahoma Sooner football fan, I love fun shoes but don't have the budget for it, and I have a dream of someday writing a novel that gets (gasp!) published.

My resume includes a variety of retail work, food service (yuck), radio production, concert public relations, film promotion and publicity, corporate communications (big yuck), riding lesson instruction, and social media. Some of those I have clearly enjoyed more than others, but I cherish the learning experiences each has brought.

Oh, and Wikipedia is like my website BFF.

So since I clearly need a photo in this post... here are two! Presenting, my dogs (and yes, I chose these photos so you can also see their personalities):

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I suck at blogging

My last post was in October! Crapsticks!

Sorry guys! Maybe I'll feel a little bit better now that my life is a bit different, and I can actually update more regularly. In fact, here's a giant excuse that I've never been able to talk about before but now totally can:

My job sucked. There were a few good points (best boss ever, nice and casual work environment, etc.), but those were the only perks. My stress levels were always through the roof over the last few years, and without going into details, I was just really miserable. But luckily I have left for greener pastures at a new employer, and I have high hopes for my blogging schedule.

So things are going well. I'm still horseback riding and loving it, except for that one incident that involved me hitting the ground in a rather hard manner and resulted in several weeks of chiropractic work. ;) That aside, it's been a good time. I even got to jump Buckie about a week ago, which was great! It wasn't a high jump, but considering I haven't gone over a fence on horseback since I was 17, it really felt great.

I've also read two books so far this year. The first, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, was utterly adorable. This book was just so cute, slightly whimsical, and it made me want to be back in high school flirting with cute boys with accents. I really loved this book!!
The second book I read was Vixen, the first book in the series The Flappers by Jillian Larkin. Having recently read Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen, it was interesting to compare and contrast the two since they're both YA books taking place only five years from each other in the 1920s. I really liked both, but there were things I disliked about both as well. For instance, I preferred the characters in BYT, but I thought Vixen has a stronger storyline. Either way, I would absolutely recommend both books, and I have to say that both books have absolutely stunning artwork. In fact, here they both are:

So yes. Hoping for a little blog renewal action here in 2011!