|My blogging companion...|
1. I owe blogging and owning mares 100% to Stacey's old blog, The Jumping Percheron. The old blog doesn't exist anymore but you can follow her new blog here. Her old one told the tale of how she started Klein under saddle and over fences and explained in detail the successful training and conditioning of a baby horse for a sport they weren't originally bred for. That original blog also took place in Hawaii, where she was stationed at the time through the Air Force, and her stories of riding through the tropical jungle brought back aching memories of riding in Puerto Rico. I can assure you that I would not be blogging today nor would I have bought Lily which in turn led me Gracie, had it not been for Stacey.
And that fact right there is why I wanted to participate in this hop. Because I would not be who I am today if it weren't for the blogging community.
|Stacey and a baby Klein Mare from back in the day in Hawaii. <3|
Photo from Eventing Nation.
2. Andrea's old blog Eventing A-Go-Go was the second blog that I ever followed after Stacey's, and it is 100% responsible for my decision to trim my own horses' feet. Andrea gets all the credit for that. Her blog also made me hugely aware of tendon and ligament injuries and much more careful about the health of my horses' legs when it came to conditioning, injury prevention and protection. It also further reinforced my desire to own a mare.
|Andrea and the bestest mare, Go-Go Fatale.|
3. Dom's blog, A Collection of Madcap Escapades, was the first blog I started reading once we moved to the Northeast and it was deeply influential in my choosing to venture out on trail here with Lily for the first time. I implemented some of Dom's training techniques with Lily, learned to read the trails here from Dom's experiences in the region (the trails here are SO different and so much more technical than the flat sandy trails we were used to from FL!), and her journey with Ozzy in endurance helped tremendously in guiding me when starting out with Lily's conditioning and competing in endurance. I could write an entire book about my takeaways from her blog alone: elyting non-Arabs; when to clip a non-Arab before a ride; when is the best time to shoe an otherwise barefoot horse before competition; I basically memorized her Foxcatcher ride stories at Fair Hill to the point where, when I first competed there on Lily with Gail and Nimo, it felt like I had been there a million times before; I applied some of her training methods with Booger to what I was doing with Gracie with incredible success (I have a soft spot for Booger because of that), and I could go on and on. I've been reading Dom's blog for 6 years now and it is still one of my all-time favorites. She is gifted both in her writing and her photography, and I will read anything she writes regardless of subject because I always get something out of her stories. I was so ridiculously overjoyed the first time she commented on my blog because I was already such an enormous fan...and it was even more wonderful to get to meet her in person while competing in endurance! Talk about meeting one of your idols. <3 If you're not following her already, you should check her out.
|Dom and Oz the Great. <3|
4. Gail's blog, The Journey to 100 Miles, was also transcendental in my riding history. Gail took a Friesian, of all things, and decided to compete him in endurance. The difference between Gail and your average endurance rider is that Gail is the most methodical, thoughtful, conscientious rider and horse owner that I have ever had the privilege to come across. Her blog validated the lengths that I went to to ensure that my own non-Arabs could safely compete in a sport not tailored for them, and I always came away with some new fact or concept learned thanks to Gail's own research while she learned the ropes as well. Her dressage lesson write-ups were my favorites though: I can't tell you how many times I'd turn the computer off after one of her lesson posts so I could rush to the barn to try out what she'd written about because I'd be that motivated by her!
|Gail and Nimo at Fort Valley|
5. Mel's blog, Dr. Mel Newton, was another crucial part of my endurance foundation. Her old posts about her Standardbred Minx and their struggles when starting out in the sport helped me feel so much better about my own initial struggles with Lily's metabolics. Mel's ultra running posts have been the most influential: they motivated me when it came to running and also when venturing into the strength sports. She is such a badass that she inspired me to find my own badassery. Now that I'm thinking about it, Mel's deviation from strictly horses in her blog content to include posts about running, her own personal conditioning and other life situations, was one of the main driving forces behind me deciding to expand my own blog subject matter to include my adventures in the strength sports (bodybuilding and now CrossFit and powerlifting.)
|Mel and her Arabian Farley, conquering Cougar Rock on the Tevis 100.|
6. Aarene Storm's Haiku Farm gets a mention for several reasons: Aarene is a librarian that lives in the PNW and competes a very tall dark bay Standardbred mare named Fiddle in endurance. Her blog is a lesson in positivity while still keeping it real in the most matter-of-fact way. The woman competed in distance riding with a hip so bad that she needed a total hip replacement...and she bounced back from it to continue riding with nary a hitch. Her post about Fiddle's elyting protocol was what ultimately made Lily as an endurance horse: I finally started elyting my own dark bay non-Arab competing in humid weather the way you should elyte a non-Arab in humid weather. Aka they should receive a shit-ton of electrolytes. It is thanks to the protocol that I came up with after reading Aarene's post that allowed Lily to complete the No Frills 55 with the ease that she did it.
|Aarene and the lovely Fiddle, aka The Dragon, proving that dressage is the best cross-training discipline for just about any other equestrian sport.|
Fun fact: Fiddle is the only mare that I know of in Blogland who is spayed.
7. Karen's blog Thee Ashke led me to one of my now best friends IRL. I always loved her trail ride write-ups, but it was her series "Truth or Tall Tale" that I identified with the most: there was so much that was magical and unexplainable about my own childhood growing up in PR that this series both solidified my friendship with Karen into something beyond mere blog acquaintances, and led me to begin to expand my writing to include the more surreal aspects of my life, both past and present. The fact that these stories make some people uncomfortable was just more reason for me to continue writing about these experiences. ;) It's my reality. *shrug* Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the writer of 100 Years of Solitude, is considered one of the greatest writers of the 20th century and the inventor of magic realism in Spanish literature. In an interview he once stated that magic realism doesn't apply to Puerto Rico and the Caribbean because there, magic realism is real. If the greatest writer of the 20th century could recognize that, that's just more reason for me to write about my reality! :D And Karen was the one who inspired me to speak up about it. <3
7. I discovered Jenny's The Bloggess a few years ago now. It was a slow winter evening in the veterinary ER and we were all futzing on our phones because there was literally nothing to do: no patients to take care of, no chores left to complete. I was checking out the blogs that other bloggers read (I sometimes do that to find new blogs to follow) and that's how I discovered The Bloggess. At the time, she was on a roll with her taxidermied animal collection, which sounds really creepy in writing but you just have to read the way she talks about it to understand. Before I knew it I was chuckling as I read along. And then I was laughing. And then I was laughing so hard the tears were streaming down my face. And then everyone else in the ER was like, "What the hell are you reading?" So I read one post out loud. And another. And another. And it wasn't long before all of us weirdos that worked in that veterinary ER were laughing equally hard over the awesomely quirky uniqueness of The Bloggess and her vision of the world. I was hooked. The fact that she owns a cat named Ferris Mewler who likes to roll around on her computer keyboard for attention like a certain Aengus cat (you have to follow me on IG to know about that) and a long-haired Chihuahua that she likes to dress up named Dolly Barker, were just the cherry on top. I love her blog because of her humor, but also because Jenny has a whole host of mental disorders that she openly talks about, including depression and a massive anxiety problem. She is so incredibly...human. And the fact that she can still laugh at the curveballs life throws at her is nothing short of admiring. I adore her and her blog is one of the things I turn to when I'm feeling down in the dumps.
|Dorothy Barker <3|
8. I don't remember how I found Girls Who Powerlift. I either clicked on someone's blog link on their IG profile or discovered it through a desperate search for other iron sisters who write. Girls Who Powerlift was exactly what I was looking for: it is written by a group of women who compete and train in the sport and it contains a wealth of information on training, developing the three lifts, and problems you'll only encounter as a female lifter. Their post on the detrimental effects of hormonal birth control on female strength athletes was one of the factors that led to me experimenting with this myself...the physical changes and strength gains have come about thanks to training and proper nutrition, yes, but I don't think they would have happened as quickly as they have had it not been for this specific change. I love this blog and my only complaint is that I wish they posted more often!
|Photo from Girls Who Powerlift.|
I am drawn to the "underdogs," to the blogs and IG accounts that are written by people who are honest and real, who have problems and emotions that they openly write about, that they then analyze and troubleshoot in order to achieve the goals that they set for themselves. They are the same qualities I try to express in my own writing because it is these qualities that make us human, that make us three-dimensional.
Moral of the story: pay attention to what you write. Be honest, be sincere, and be real. Reading about your journey just might change someone else's life. <3