Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Catchin' on up

Quick preface: I wrote this post on Saturday and it got delayed when my computer utterly refused to acknowledge my phone so no photos.  I had an adorable video of Jazz eating her minerals (she loves her noms), but it seems that it will NOT be possible to share.

Three noteworthy rides within the last four days and not a single blog post! Bad blogger! Here's a quick overview and update of all three rides:

Wednesday Lesson

Wednesday Jazz came in feeling a little squirrelly.  It's always hard in the winter when she's alone in the arena and it's already dark out.  We started work on our trouble spot in the arena.  Tracking left, whenever we do 20 meter circles, she bulges way out towards the door on the open end of the circle.  In the final quarter of the circle (approaching K), she dives out with her right shoulder, and when I try to push her back in with my leg, she shoots her bum out right, sidepassing quickly until she finally stops completely.  And there is nothing that I can really do when she sets her mind to doing it.  No amount of leg helps on its own (and I am not afraid to kick her when I need to), and I tried a crop at my last lesson.  It did seem to help last time.  But, Jazz is definitely not very comfortable with the crop, and honestly neither am I.  Not because I have any sort of issue with it, it's just a lot harder to adjust my reins when I'm holding it, and Jazz thinks it means faster, so I need to use more rein... which is harder when I'm holding the crop.  It's kind of a vicious cycle.  But, nonetheless, she dove out and sidepassed, and I tapped her with the crop.  She had an absolute meltdown.  She reeled her head up and bumped her nose on the martingale, and threw in a couple little bucks for good measure.  Lucky for me (*knock on wood*), Jazz doesn't have much of a buck in her.   We slowed things down, and started working on trotting the half of the circle that was against the wall, and then walking the open half, pushing her in to a small circle if she tried to dive out.  It worked pretty well, and we worked up from trotting half the circle to two steps into the open side before walking, and got up to three quarters trotting, even trotting through once or twice.  It was a mostly successful lesson.  It sounds actually quite non-stressful when I write it out.  Bear in mind this whole ordeal took about 45 minutes, and it was literally the only thing we did.  Jazz was definitely mentally done by the time we were finished.  She had been working on a contact for essentially the entire lesson, and was having a hard time even walking the circle quietly by the end, she kept trying to head toss and bumping herself on the martingale.  Finally she settled and I immediately hopped off. She was totally done mentally, but I was actually super impressed she had worked that long on a contact.  This was my horse! Jazz! She worked on a contact for forty minutes before getting tired of it! That's huge! This is the same horse who I wasn't sure would ever learn to accept a contact she was so sensitive to rein pressure.  This is the horse who I had learned the habit of waaaaaay too permissive hands from because too much rein confused and agitated her! Score!

Anyhow, it was ultimately a lesson that was both good and necessary, but I ended the night a little bummed.  It was just hard to spend that long on just the one thing.  Even though I knew it was important progress, it wasn't 100% an easy pill to swallow.

Thursday Ride

I came back the next day and brought Jazz in for a ride.  It was super busy in the barn because someone's farrier was there, and two or three horses were waiting to have their feet done.  I ended up heading into the arena to groom, and it was empty.  Jazz was a little off just because she was alone, but right when I was ready to get on, another boarder came in with her horse to ride.  I immediately tested her on the circle we'd done in the lesson (with no crop), and she did well.  I worked up from a walking circle to a half walk/half trot circle to a full trot circle, and then didn't touch it again.  Jazz, like all horses, does really well when given a little time to hang out in the pasture with her friends and be a horse between rides to let things sink in.  She did totally awesome trotting her trouble circle, and I immediately moved to tracking right and doing other exercises that didn't involve her sticky spot.  I had her canter for the second time since she's been wearing the martingale, and it was AMAZING.  She just stepped right up into it when I asked for her transition, and did several circles well balanced, not too fast, and listening to my leg.  It was awesome! I couldn't stop smiling.  She was doing so well, I even pulled out some trot poles and did some trotting around over them, working on turns and pace.  Just before I was done riding, the other horse left, and she started to get wound up a little.  I decided best to end as well as possible, so I put the poles away and did a nice cool down before untacking and heading to the barn to feed her her minerals and probiotic.


I headed to the barn to meet up with a friend to do some groundwork with her horse.  I showed up an hour early to ride, and it turned out she had the same idea.  Her and her two daughters came early to ride another boarder's horse who they ride in lessons.  I ended up tacking Jazz up in the western saddle, and returned to my truck to discover that somehow I had taken both my english and western bridles out and left them at home.  Oops.  I dug out my rope halter and lead and figured that if she wouldn't co-operate to be ridden I could always do groundwork.  Granted, she wasn't as responsive as with the bit, but she almost never works in the halter anymore, so expecting her to be would be ridiculous.  I did a little walking and trotting, mostly reveling in how weird it felt to be back in the western saddle.  I like the seat and how it feels to sit in it, but it weirds me out how the stirrups don't move.  Since I wasn't looking to accomplish much with that ride, I decided to hop off and offer to share.  Both of my friend's daughters rode Jazz, and all three looked happy as clams.  I think Jazz likes being a kid's horse because kids don't make her work as hard as I do.  I ended the day with a little barebacking and a demo of some groundwork with Jazz.  We never ended up getting the other horse to work with because we were having too much fun riding.  I was very proud of how quiet and awesome Jazz was for her young riders!

Monday, January 19, 2015

TOABH: Sugar Momma

Ancient blogger proverb: "That content which is lost during a week of uninteresting rides is made up for easily with blog hops."

So during a particularly dull week (walk rides woo! showing someone groundwork with Jazz for five minutes woo!), I am happy to participate in the latest installment of The Owls Approve's latest blog hop.

Sugar Momma.
Let's continue pretending that horse poop magically transforms into money instead of the other way.  So money doesn't matter.  If you could buy anything for your horse, what would you buy? 

I started seeing this hop popping up and started thinking about what I would buy for my horse.  I know exactly what I would buy for me (coughtallbootscough), and there's lots of pretty luxury tack items floating around the blogosphere that I wouldn't mind owning (fancy expensive helmets, ovlivy pats, etc.), but I was stumped by this question at first.  Most of the posts I've read listed comfier or fancier saddles/bridles/bits and treats.  Not that I have anything against any of those, but none of those answers excited me.  

And then I got to thinking about what really makes Jazz happy, and I had a eureka moment when I glanced about 45 degrees to my left to see the snow outside the window.  Jazz HATES winter.  Not even just winter, bad weather in general really.  Summer Jazz is a horse that I ride a lot, try new things with, and have a lot of fun with.  Winter Jazz is still the ponykins I know and love, but she does not like to approach the same tasks.  The past two winters I haven't even been able to ride for extended periods of time based largely on attitude.  So, with unlimited money the answer is simple: No more winter for Jazz.

Now, this is not as simple of an undertaking as moving somewhere warm.  Jazz and I have a large support system of family and friends that I consider necessary to my horse life, so what really makes the most sense is buying a huge private island with trails, state of the art facilities, vets, etc. where I can take Jazz and all her best horse buddies and their people.  No more winter Jazz, nothing but sunny skies and galloping on the beach.  There has to be amazing facilities so I can watch high level jumping, hunters, vaulting, cutting, etc. at a convenient location, and lots of other horses for me to ride from time to time.  Cows, of course, to learn to herd, trainers to teach us how to get better at everything, e3quine and human masseurs to keep the muscles from getting tight, magical arena dirt that is neither sticky nor dusty nor stinky, the list could go on forever.  Do horse jacuzzis exist? If so, there would definitely be a jacuzzi area.  

If I was being just a smidgen more realistic, I would say I wanted to build a boarding stable.  But not just any boarding stable, I would want one with an appropriately huge arena (our current arena is maybe 20 x 60 or so), and trails, and all my horsey friends, and no more than a ten minute drive.  Of course that would require moving to somewhere that this kind of drive/open space is possible.  

Maybe I should just buy her another halter...

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Mr. Postman

Today the mail brought me something I have been waiting for for a long time now.  For a long time now, I have been admiring the model horse hobby from afar.  For anyone not familiar, here is a post explaining performance model horse showing (technically it's from She Moved to Texas, but I had an easier time finding the link to her guest post on Braymere Custom Saddlery). Basically model horses get dressed up in awesome scaled down versions of real life tack and do a still frame of real life horse events.  I'm slightly obsessed, and if anyone else is interested, I cannot recommend Braymere Custom Saddlery enough as a resource to learn a little more.  

However, I say admiring because I did not even own one Breyer. I say did because this arrived in the mail today! 

After a very long wait (as in, I first inquired about whether the set was still available back in August, and finally paid a few weeks ago), it's finally here!   One of the hobby blogs I follow is Stage Left Studios, with fabulous stablemate (1:32) scale tack by Grace Ledoux.  She made a portrait set of Secretariat's race tack, and I fell in love, but couldn't quite justify buying it when I had no horse to put it on.  Luckily for me, Grace threw in a horse with it, and I couldn't resist! 

There may or may not have been squealing when I saw how little it was.

I gathered my supplies

And then proceeded to squeal a little more about just how teeny tiny it was.
 Naturally, I had to tack up and play with it right away! It was a lot harder than I had thought it would be, but it was also 8000 times smaller and cuter than I'd expected! It's hard to get an exact scale in mind until you're physically holding something.  I spent maybe 45 minutes fiddling and fussing with wax and tweezers and tiny paper-thin straps before it was on and satisfactory for the time being.  Grace at one point had offered to permanently attach the tack for me, but I said no because I wanted to be able to play with it. I had a little teeeensy bit of regret over that decision when I spent about twenty minutes trying to get the wax on the undergirth to stay while also threading a 1:32 scale buckle for the overgirth and keep the saddle and pad in place.  I realized AFTER all of this fuss of course that the girth goes OVER the pad (duh, have I never tacked up a horse before?) so the wax would probably stick a lot better where it's actually supposed to go.  But for now, I'm not going to fuss with it, I'm just going to ooh and ahh and keep it as far as possible away from my very curious cat.

Mmm blobby bridle sticky wax (just behind the ear)

Overall, I am incredibly impressed with the set.  I am floored by how small it all is.  The leather straps are all literally paper thin and maybe as wide as a toothpick.  I'm particularly impressed with the reins and the blinker hood (surprisingly, my favourite parts are the ones I didn't spend forever fiddling with trying to get to stick).  I would buy from Stage Left again in a heartbeat.  (Say, anyone know where I could get a good simple custom paint job on a stablemate?  I might be able to be persuaded into commissioning a portrait tack set for a certain red pony that was once given as a gift to a certain someone at a certain time of year...)  If I had one and only one thing to say that wasn't absolutely gushing, it would be that I can't find the buckle hole on the overgirth, but a) this strap is the width of a toothpick, and b) it's clearly buckled in the sale photos, so I know it's on there, I just haven't found it yet.  Sometime soon i'll have to work up the nerve to untack and fix the sticky wax blobs and the girth.  I don't think I could possibly have bought a first model that would have made me any happier! Thank you Grace!  

Sunday, January 11, 2015


It's a day exactly like this one where I understand how people like winter.  It is far from my own favourite season, and Jazz seems to feel the same way more often than not.  But today, when it's not too cold at -5, sunny with not a cloud in the sky, and not a breath of wind, I get it.  It was a truly gorgeous day, and a wonderful reminder of how lucky I am to have the horse I have and so many other little things.

Jazz was fairly easy to catch today.  I had her new halter from my recent tack shop stop (review coming soon I just need some pictures), and I noticed the tag on it said full.  I thought that was odd, because I could have sworn I'd bought a cob halter.  It was the same brand as my pastel purple halter (which is cob sized), so I knew it would fit, and I specifically remembered the girl at the tack shop asking to make sure we knew it was cob sized.  So, when I got to the fence, I yelled over to C (who had been with me when I bought it) to see if I was crazy or if the halter was actually supposed to be cob sized.  She recalled that the tag that had said cob had been the sale tag, so it must have been mislabled.  As we were talking over the fence, Jazz started nuzzling my shoulder and giving me little kisses.  It was so sweet, and she's only done that maybe twice before.  I tried to get C to take a picture, but Jazz stopped by the time she got her phone out.  She did get a few cute shots, though.

I love this one.  She almost looks like she's smiling.

As I was walking back from the pasture, I noticed how gorgeous of a day it was, and asked C to take some more pictures.  Two of the barn cats even came out to greet us.  
Just look at that sky! It was really perfect
I picked up one of the cats and put her in my coat, and Jazz happily snuffled her.  She loves the cats, but usually she scares them off.  Today she was just sniffing and snuffling the kitten so gently she didn't even squirm.
We got this adorable but sadly fuzzy picture of it
 Soon the other cat caught her attention, and we captured a couple photos of Jazz's fascination with the cats.

I got a few nice pictures in the sun near the back paddocks (the ones in the far background of the above photos)
One of my absolute favourites
This one turned out really nice of me and the cat
See? Cat and I are cute, pony looks like she's plotting something.
A brief interlude from today's events to summarize our lesson from this past Wednesday that I neglected to blog about.  Something I don't appreciate often enough about my trainer is the confidence I feel when I ride with her. My last ride before my lesson I didn't ride above a walk because I didn't feel safe.  I cantered on Wednesday, because I am confident my trainer knows enough to tell me how best to keep my occasionally frazzled horse (and self) under control, and I also know she will listen when something just isn't working.  In December, a lesson I didn't blog about didn't happen because I got onto a horse I wasn't sure about, and when Jazz felt much closer to rearing than I wanted to touch with a ten foot pole, I told my instructor I wasn't comfortable and hopped off (and she also didn't let me pay her for the lesson I didn't take).  So on Wednesday, I got on to a fussed sort of Jazz that I probably wouldn't have even trotted if I was alone at the barn.  I had bought a standing martingale at the tack shop the previous weekend, but hadn't actually had time to put it on yet.  I asked my trainer if she wanted me to try it, and she helped me put it on and adjust it correctly.  We went quickly back into some trot work, and Jazz bumped herself in the nose a few times.  The difference was immediately obvious to me.  She's head tossed a bit for some time now, but it finally felt like I could ride it out safely again.  We did a lovely canter on her better right lead, and tried her left, but with little success.  She's much duller to the right leg, and she will run sideways on the circle when tracking left sometimes, even stopping sometimes.  It's very difficult for me to try to control, and has been a source of most of my frustration with riding over the last three or four months.  When I had been having no success for a few minutes of working on it, and as I was starting to get frustrated, I did something I'd been meaning to do every time we'd had this problem for the last few months.  I asked my trainer if there was some other way (any other way) we could possibly work this out.  She said a crop was an option, and retrieved one from the whip bucket.  She explained how to use it, and we worked on small circles where she wasn't squirreling off sideways on me.  It took about two sharp pops with the crop behind my leg, and four or five gentle taps before she was much improved (and a million miles an hour, but I wasn't going to pull on her after giving her such a strong foward cue, that would just be confusing).

Coming back to today, we even squeezed in some work after the photoshoot, . I taught C a little basic groundwork, and Jazz was a rockstar.  I groomed her and tacked up with our other purchase from last week's tack shopping, a standing martingale.  I walked her for a bit, and she was listening the best right off the bat she has in months.  She's always been very eager to go when I get on, and I sometimes have issue getting her to stand at the mounting block for me to get my reins and stirrups organized.  Today she stood well, and started off at a good walk, but listening nicely to halts and half halts (another thing that she usually has to warm up to in the winter).  We trotted early on, and I worked on doing ovals tracking left at the trot.  She was actually getting off my outside leg on the open (non-walled) end of our oval, and I didn't need to fetch the crop to get her to listen.  We even cantered a bit on her good right lead.  There were two other horses in the arena trotting and cantering, which made Jazz want to speed up, so we had a fairly zippy but controlled canter.  I just focused on her being quiet and listening, and did a bit of leg yielding on the quarter line intermittently throughout the ride.  I even worked a bit at two pointing at the trot, which made Jazz happily zip around in a fast trot.  I pulled out two ground poles to trot over, and even commented to C that if she did well over the poles, I might pop over a cavaletti.  That goes to show how confident I was feeling in her, because I would never jump outside of a lesson unless I knew Jazz was doing well.

 Unfortunately, just as I was getting ready to start work over the poles, Jazz had a big spook.  She reeled up her head and bumped herself on the martingale, and took off, nearly tripping herself over the pole, and doing a little dolphin buck over it.  I yelled at C to move because I wasn't feeling confident about my steering, and veered right.  She came back to reality quickly, with the whole spook maybe lasting four seconds.  I'm not sure exactly what set her off, but the other people in the arena had dismounted and were doing a little de-spooking with the flag (aka Jazz's number one fear) on the far end of the arena, so that may have factored in.  I've found Jazz isn't usually a horse that will spook at something that startles her unless two or more things happen at once.  For example, she'll sometimes startle at the sound of people rattling the chains on gates just outside the arena walls, or snow falling off the roof, or a car door slamming, but she'll rarely spook at these types of things unless at least two of them are happening at once, or one happens while I'm cueing for an upward transition.  I put the poles away and basically worked on getting her calmed and releasing her tension. 

I especially love her dragon breath in this picture
Once I was off, I took off her bridle and looped the martingale strap through the neck loop so it wouldn't drag.  Just then, two scary sounds at the same time = another spook.  Jazz startled and reeled away from the viewing area (where the halter had been sitting, and I was standing next to the rail) and away about five steps.  She stopped quickly, and I had to laugh at her a little bit.  She couldn't have picked a better time to spook, with her bridle off and no worrying about her catching her bit.  Her girth was still tightened, so her saddle didn't move an inch, and she had respectfully not so much as grazed me.  I did two fast groundwork moves to get her brain back, and untacked for good.  

I've really learned something this week, and I hope it's something I remember next time I'm in a similar situation.  I have had a very natural horsemanship kind of 'upbringing', and I've been committed to a gadgets are bad kind of mentality.  I was first told by my trainer that I should consider a martingale/tie-down in June, and I bought one last Saturday.  The result was an immediate feeling that I had returned to safety upon first use, and a horse who didn't catch herself on the martingale once (with the exception of a spook, of course) the second time she had ever had a martingale. My trainer commented to me when I asked about another method to deal with Jazz running sideways at the trot, that a crop or spurs would help, though she knew I didn't usually like that kind of thing. I've actually had the thought cross my mind a few times that a crop might have been the answer to my outside leg problem when she really isn't listening the way she was.  I've actually used a crop before.  It helped take us from here: 

 "Pleeeeeeease trot? Pretty please?"

to here:

You can actually see the crop in the video too.

So the moral of the story is a piece of advice I've heard from one of my horsey mentors (paraphrased) "You are going to hear a million opinions from horse people.  You can't ever do that, horses should never do this, etc.  The important thing is for you to figure out what feels right to you, and to do that."

So, readers, remember that no matter what, what matters is that you have a horse you can be proud of, and a method that you can feel good about.  

Sunday, January 4, 2015

New Directions

I have spent the past two winters not riding my horse.  This is the main reason that none of my new quarterly goals specifically require riding (well, with the possible exception of talking less in riding lessons, but last year I was still taking lessons, just on the ground.  I'm not sure if that would be an option with this new trainer though...). That said, I have high hopes for this year.  Jazz is truly a different horse than she ever has been before.

On Friday I went to see the horse.  It was a cold,snowy day, but was only threatening to get colder and snowier, so I figured I would work in a visit before it got too bad.  Jazz and her buddies were huddled in the shelter against the freezing wind.  I can't say I blame Jazz if she doesn't want to be caught on days like that where a long walk directly into the wind is promised on the way to the warm arena. It was cold enough I decided to start with a warmup in the arena instead of a quick groom in the barn.  A good friend of mine, R, was inside riding, and it was nice to catch up a bit.  I did a little basic work, mostly leading to get the muscles warm and the pony brain paying attention.  Jazz then proceeded to be a superstar letting herself be ground tied within five steps of the door (which is really incredible considering her former love affair with gates when I started working with her) while I picked her feet and gave her a quick currying.  Just when we had finished, another horse came into the arena.  The other boarder was still riding in the far end of the arena, finishing up some work she'd been doing with ground poles, and I was hanging out in the close end of the arena.

The horse who had just come in was clearly not having the best day.  The girl with her said that she was on rest for an injury and she didn't think she'd been handwalked in a day or two.  I recognized the sort of jitteriness Jazz gets when I take her inside and it's been icy outside, where she's finally on good footing and has a few days of ice-prevented energy to get out.  Jazz was pretty distracted by this at first, but a couple of quick exercises brought her right back to me.  R offered to move into the middle to let her handwalk around the outside track, but the horse was not a fan of the back half of the arena.  There were even a few kicks, and strikes, and rears.  It was exactly what Jazz would have been like if she'd been confined last winter.  Then R offered to put the poles away if she thought that would help, and I helped drag them back.  Jazz is so funny whenever I put poles away.  She absolutely has to sniff them once I'm holding one end and they're slanted.  It's much harder to get her to back away from them than anything else.

Eventually I did saddle up, and I tested her with the bit a little.  I hadn't ridden since her teeth were done, just to give her a little time for her mouth to heal up.  Having spent most of Christmas with the worst imaginable canker sore, I had plenty of sympathy for mouth lacerations. I decided the best way to test her would just be to get on, so I hopped up.  By the time I was riding, both R and the other boarder had left, and another friend came in to warm up and blanket her horse.  Jazz was very forward, and was in the kind of mood where fussing too much with the bit (especially asking for too many halts) will set her off, so I did what I call a "bareback protocol" ride.  I let her go forward until her energy levels off, which usually doesn't take too long.  I just walked her and tried to sit as quietly as possible until she finally relaxed and I could feel her quiet and come up through her back a little.  She had one spook in the scary K corner with all the jumps, where she took off in a weird crazy trot, so I pretty much just walked.  I did ask for the trot at one point, but when I got the same sort of spooky weird explosion, I decided walking was lots (again with bareback protocol.  I'm not that great of a bareback rider, so generally my bareback rides consist of not irritating her so she doesn't throw me off when I'm working on my balance).  I hopped off shortly after, unbridled, and lunged her a bit so she could get out some of that energy I didn't want to ride out under saddle.

Lucky horse even got some cookies.  The barn management always gives out a nice card and horse treats to all the boarders for Christmas, so I made an exception to my no cookies rule.  Jazz did a little carrot stretching and bow stretching, and I was reminded of why I have the rule in the first place.  Such a little cookie monster! Her brain was all but gone once she knew there were cookies.

I was very glad to have arrived when I did, because it got just as snowy and cold as promised while I was there. The light dusting of snow I had brushed off Jazz at the beginning of our ride was replaced by one twice as thick in the twenty yard walk from the barn to her pasture.

Maybe it's just a winter thing where I take no pictures until the horse is put away and I'm about to leave.

I also had a productive Saturday when it got too cold to do much at the barn and made a pilgrimage to the tack shop to pick up a product that might just help me cross off that product review goal... stay tuned for that! 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year, New Endeavors

Last year, my New Year's resolution was to keep up this blog with at least one post per week.  Though I did get less consistent with my timing, and I did fall behind occasionally, I would say I kept my resolution.  This year, I decided to try to stick to the same resolution, because I have really come to love blogging. However, I feel like I've been missing out on a big part of what seems a common aspect of the blogging experience: GOALS.

I never made goals before because I have an extremely busy schedule outside of my horsey life, and it just didn't seem realistic for me to be making progress in that way.  Sometimes life gets crazy and its a week or more between barn visits, and sometimes (coughwintercough) Jazz is not feeling this whole 'moving forward' nonsense and, not entirely by choice, we have a groundwork foundation day.  
However, I've been thinking about what I want to write, and I consider what I like to read.  Probably some of my favourite posts to read on other's blogs are goals.  So, I'm going to try it.  I don't think monthly will probably be ideal for me or my horse, so I'm going to make some quarterly goals.

Goals for the First Quarter (Jan-March)

Make more horse time.  Too many excuses and not enough pony have been happening recently, and I intend to put a stop to it.  

Play with the Horse Ball.  Jazz's absolute favourite thing and I'm not even sure I've brought it out more than twice in the last year.  Plus a fun thing both on the ground and under saddle.

Put the Western saddle back on occasionally. I kind of miss it.  

Do something about my tall boots.  I need to bathe them in boot stretch or get room put in at the shoe repair place because they are much too tight on my calves.  

Write a product review post or two.  Product reviews are the kind of post I will read 100% of the time I see them on my blogger dashboard, but I have yet to write one.  

Think about a bitless bridle option. Since my horse needs her teeth done every 6 months at this point, it might be nice to have an alternative when her mouth hurts.  I do own a bitless bridle, but I don't love it and I'm considering a different type of bridle.  

Try to talk less in lessons. Pretty self explanatory but a definite bad habit of mine.

Show off the horse.  I have been telling many, many friends for a long time they can come meet my horse, but I have taken very few people out to the farm.  I may end up moving this goal to a different quarter depending on how our winter goes (I probably shouldn't introduce my non-horsey friends who have never ridden a horse to the crazy winter Jazz I know and love).

Get better at leg protection. I will divide this one into two parts
a) use the brushing boots and/or open front boots I own much more often
b) polos! I have one set and I am honestly pitiful at wrapping them