If you told me, at New Years last year, that I would go through 2020 with a favourite hand sanitizer… Yeah, I wouldn’t quite believe it. I have been fortunate to not have my life turned upside down all too much, and eventhough we’re in the middle of a pandemic, 2020 also brought with it a lot of interesting equestrian experiences. Let’s walk through 2020 – buckle up! It’s going to be a long one.
January was a standstill month for us – I was happy to finally deliver the exam (25 000 words of marketing analytic) and everything else was a piece of cake. After a long, warm winter, it felt nice to finally get some colder temperatures, which to us equals fluffy, furry tractors on rocket fuel. Never underestimate how good they feel, when all their fur isn’t overheating them!
In January I also got in touch with some amazing people, and a grand plan was made for the year.
February came, with lots of interesting events. First, I got started on a long-term dream of mine – my sleeves! I’ve wanted tattoos, and more spesifically sleeves, since I was nine. It was super exciting. Then I travelled to Norwegian Horse Festival (I manage their social media accounts, so it’s a week of equestrian sports and never-ending running around to catch all the events that happen simultaniously). Throughout a week of shedding my tattoo, it was kinda nice to live at a hotel with daily room service. Those sheets were brand new everyday and I hope I didn’t scare the cleaning staff with all the black flaky skin I left behind. Sorryy.
In addition to this, we modelled on an equestrian photography workshop, where a bunch of lovely ladies came from the Netherlands to travel the country and shoot some pics.
With March came warmer temperatures again, and most of the training sessions were slow. With lots of fur, the tractors weren’t interested in any exciting workouts (bless them). For the most part we worked on details and chilling out. One thing that finally stood out to us, was how much Lillen enjoyed the bit I had purchased on Norwegian Horse Festival. I had originally bought the Bomber Happy Tongue for Brego, but Brego wasn’t having any of it, so we tried it on Lillen a few times. After trying him in 42 different snaffles through the years, with none of them being successful, it was a big deal when Lillen decided this was his preference.
The same bit success happened with Brego, and the academic curb I had purchased from Markus Holst a little earlier. Both horses really settled with these new options, and although we still make sure to vary between snaffles, curbs and bitless on them all, it felt really good to have found options they really liked.
I also did another session on the sleeve!
April came, and the horses had finally started to shed off most of their fur. This meant we could start training properly again! With Brego, the goal of getting somewhere with his canter, started taking shape. His preferred speedy gait is trot, and since he’s never had a need for canter, it’s been quite a struggle to make sense of it. I worked him a lot loose, as well as in the rope halter. We needed a proper cue for it.
For Lillen, we decided to try a similar approach, but… where Brego found it rather interesting to be worked loose, Lillen found it stressfull and pushy. He was having fun, sometimes, but showed a lot of frustration as well. Instead, we went on lots of nice hacks, and he was over-all just a happy little guy. I also managed to save up to a new lens for the camera – I found a good one secondhand, and let’s just say the upgrade in hardware really showed!
May was quite uneventful. Brego and I worked on our canter cues from horse back – it was incredibly awkward stuff, but I felt like we were getting both nowhere and somewhere at once. Lillen had a hoof abcess that set us back quite a lot, as he had to rest a lot, and lost lots of muscle.
With June came perhaps one of my most humbling experiences. Being planned since Janauary, it was finally time to share the news! I started a collaboration with Deuber&Partner, and my two custom made saddles, custom sized bridles, girths, stirrup leathers and reins showed up in a huge box on my doorstep. These new saddles were a huge experience for me, and the horses were ridden quite a lot in this period. We all had lots of testing to do, and from the big steps forward we had in our training, it was a huge success.
I tried a tail braid on Lillen and was accused of animal abuse. Oh, Internet. Never change!
We also managed to finish the sleeve – which made me incredibly happy. It did not match well with the weather, being all sunny and me doing my best to not expose the arm to sunshine (damn Corona pushed the session a tad too close to summer there). Take that, Mother Nature, I spend summer in the shadows anyways.
July was warm, and Brego was just overheated and angry througout the month. Lillen was less upset, even if he was just as warm, and the majority of the month was spent chilling around, cooling them down and letting them enjoy the summer pasture. Eating a lot of grass made Brego fat, but gave Lillen a lot of needed fat on his body, and he looked better tha never. And I got a new hat 🙂
August equals stubble fields! And since we live on the countryside, and have the most amazing farmers as neighbours, we are allowed to ride out on the fields as long as it’s dry. And we enjoyed many kilometres of high speed amazingness out there, to put it that way! Something happened to Brego in August as well; with more space to move about in, his brain connected some dots he previously hadn’t managed to – and we were suddenly able to ride some really good dressage sessions out there on the field. What was even better, he finally seemed to take this newfound knowledge with him to the inside of the riding arena.
Lillen has never been a fan of high speed adventures, but he too find the open fields freeing. My mom rode him the most in this period, and they were just beutiful out there.
September was a stupidly rainy month, but we did have some absolute gems. I took Lillen for a spin on the stubble field and legitemately lost all control, he was bolting around (at a very polite speed), keeping himself well within the edges of the field. He had SO MUCH FUN! His stamina isn’t that great though, and it became quite clear the following week that he had been running around a little too much. He was very stiff and uncomfortable, and he went through a fair bit of treatments to get him back on track. He was back-on-track quick, though, and soon back to exercising… but no more running on the field… on a snaffle.
Brego and I stared exploring solo hacks a little more in September. Since we are always more than one person in the stable, and there’s always more than one horse needing training, we just rarely hack out one horse alone. The purpose was to have more opportunities a high speed – as Lillen is a slow speed (even at high speed) horse, and Diego has low self-control when we’re out with others. So it’s far safer to take Brego out alone. We had some interesting discussions, him and I, but he found a new gear of “hey, momma think’s I can go!” and that 40 minute path was reduced to like 15 minutes of FAST.
With October came record breaking amounts of rain. Brego and I made some incredible steps forwards in our canter training, and when we were out on hacks I now managed to get the long lost right lead canter. It’s still unavailbalbe in the riding arena, but the fact that I was able to get it outside… just an incredible success!
Lillen got mystery sick in October too, funnily enough right after we had all his legs x-rayed and he was given a clean bill of health. He was suddenly walking super weird, and in such a way that you call the vet. We were able to rule out the dangerous stuff, such as laminitis, tying up etc, and after some weeks of restricted movement, lots of TLC and some sad emotions, we suddenly found a huge hoof abcess in his front left. When we were able to clear out the abcess, Lillen magially returned to normal, although all his symptoms was related to his hind – and the abcess was in the front leg. Alrighty. We weren’t “back at square one”, but all the weeks of restricted movements had turned into significant muscle loss. Time to get to work!
October also marked one huge experience for all of us… WE GOT OUR VERY OWN HORSE TRAILER! The iFor Williams HBX511 has joined the family, and it’s such a gem. It’s allowed us to travel to the local indoor riding arena more frequently, and Diego especially have loved being able to exercise indoor. Perhaps a little bit because he doesn’t have to exercise in the rain. Also a little bit because the indoor arena is amazing, huge, and he can really stretch his legs in there.
If October broke some records in terms of amounts of rain, I do not understand how those records weren’t broken in November too. Throughout the whole month, I was able to take the camera outdoor three times… We did get one whole day of insane frost though, so that felt special. November was filled with waiting, and it drove me insane. I was waiting for better weather. I was waiting for happier horses. I was waiting for my exam, which was coming up. I was waiting for christmas, and with Corona I was just left in a big dark hole of nothingness.
The horses were fed up with the situation, and November was just a very dark month for me.
I’m smiling to the camera, but better weather? Oh my sweet November child… There was no such thing as better weather. I rely on a good winter to cheer me up after the sadness of autumn, and from my calculations, winter is supposed to be quite prominent in December. Mother Nature has disagreed with the entire world, it seems, and it wasn’t until Christmas Eve we saw proper sunlight.
Throughout December, Brego has been a fierce fire-breathing dragon, Lillen is the complete opposite, and I’ve in general been sad, stressed out, uncomfortable and in dire need to get out of the whole situation. Sadly, you can’t do anything with the weather, so that situation is still sucking me in. I’m tired. I don’t want this. I legitimately do not want this.
But the world doesn’t always care for what you want, so I keep swimming (figuratively speaking, and at times more literally than I would like) and do my best to cope. After all, I have been incredibly lucky this year.
We were able to gather all close family on Christmas Eve, which due to the current circumstances was not a given. I was able to travel up to my other grandma for Christmas Day, and meet up with her, my aunt and uncle, and my two cousins. That was not a given either. We have all been heathy (Covid-wise, at least), and we have all managed decent through the pandemic, so far. I am super thankful.
I’m not the person to believe that a new year is any sort of new start, but 2020? You won’t be fucking missed.