You know that song “Somewhere” from West Side Story? It’s been in my head for a few weeks now. I keep hearing it if I think about everything going on in America right now. So I thought I’d say, I’m listening and I am trying to learn as much as I can, and that this blog (sporadically active as it is right now) is a place for Black Lives Matter. I’m not here to write about it; I am here to say I am learning about it, and I want to help. Honestly, this post isn’t even about that, it’s just a quick Eli & Conrad update, as mundane as any other Eli & Conrad update. But I just wanted to say at the outset here that I am taking a side, and that side is Black Lives Matter, mainly because I had not yet said that here before. I want to keep listening & learning.

Now to the more personal “Somewhere” episode of what my dog and my horse have been up to lately …

Conrad has definitely learned the WFH routine. I have breakfast, sit with Conrad for a few minutes downstairs while I go through personal emails, and then I ask him if he wants to come with me to work, and he runs upstairs and takes his station on the couch by my desk. IT IS SO CUTE.

pre-work walkies
not the work couch, but you get the idea
this would be Conrad’s work couch and blanket

Conrad does not let work get in the way of his daily routine of napping, and then napping again. But he is a quiet coworker, so he can keep his job.

Eli has proven his worth as a hot weather horse. Y’all. He is so much more comfortable and happy in warm weather. He has been a joy to ride this last week or so.

he’s even cuddly

While I am still thinking I need to keep his work load light, maybe we can bump up to a little more work now, and see how it goes? We’ll never be in a regimented conditioning program, of course, and I am not sure horse showing is in Eli’s future any more (totally okay with me!), but lately he feels like he could be happy cruising around 2’6″ at home for fun. The navicular journey is most definitely not a straight path so all of this is subject to change should Eli show signs of discomfort or lameness in front. There’s a possibility that the issue could have just been that Eli’s soles were too thin. However. I see no reason to push the soundness boundaries of a 17-year-old ex-racehorse. But, maybe we are on the other side of both the suspensory injury and the hoof issues? Maybe? Knock on wood? Throw salt over my shoulder? Feed Eli four-leaf clovers?



What I cannot believe, is how long I let Eli’s mane get. COVID-19 fatigue is real. I got kind of lackluster there for a while about staying on top of routine things. Because who hasn’t right now? Still, that’s not fair to my horse, so luckily I snapped out of it and/or the expired stay-at-home orders energized me bit. Not that I am willing to eat dine-in in a restaurant yet and I will take this light traffic all day every day, but I think getting to visit some friends around Memorial Day weekend and not feeling guilty about it restored some sense of regular old unextraordinary life. Eli even got a bath. With shampoo.

Can spray with hose. Still can not spray with fly spray. Have given up on fly spray training.

Eli’s reminding me how quirky he is, too. Fly spray = acid. Sleeping dog curled up in the grass outside of the arena = EXERCISE EXTREME CAUTION AND SNORTING. Compact front-end loader moving paving gravel around on the driveway and loudly scraping it and dumping it on the driveway at the top of the arena = zero issue/yawn/big whoop. Human exits aforementioned compact front-end loader = WHAT DIS NOW IT MOOV.

I am pretty confident in my wrapping abilities. I am comfortable with standing bandages, regular polo wraps, BoT polo wraps, doing first aid wraps with cotton, vet wrap, and elastikon, Eskadron combo bandages, track bandages … but woodog these Incrediwear wraps are tricky AF.

Last little bit of catch-up (maybe one day I will blog more frequently again) … I have tried a few new things lately, and I might have to review them here. The newer style (i.e., higher waist) Ghodho Elara breeches, an Anique sunshirt, and Incrediwear circulation exercise bandages. Anyone curious about this stuff, and I can get some reviews up?



What Motivates You?

driveway hack
I really need to get the snap fixed on my black DeNiros but these orange ones are so funny to me

The lack of horse showing has been upsetting for some people, and shows starting back up seem to be very popular — a few A shows in this area have “sold out,” meaning they are limiting entries and have already hit those limits for a few shows in mid-June. I completely understand that horse showing was and is a primary motivating force for riders, so it doesn’t surprise me that people are excited for showing to start back up. Even with major international tours canceling the rest of their dates, horse shows in the U.S. are pressing forward. Horse show ecosystems employ a lot of people and provide a fun social outlet for many, many riders. I am happy for all of those people whose lives will hopefully get back to “normal” or at least some kind of “new normal” very soon.

he gets to go for short grazes a lot
so my new favorite sun shirts are the Anique ones. SO FRIGGIN’ SOFT.

But horse shows don’t motivate me. Not at all. They may have at one time, but they don’t now and never really have in my adult life. So I’ve been thinking about what does motivate me, and whether I can even articulate this, or put some kind of label or name on the driving forces that get me to the barn almost every day. Strong emotional connections with animals calm me down on most days. Riding is good exercise. Being outdoors is a relief after a 9-hour slog at a desk. I am pretty sure even just looking at Eli lowers my blood pressure. (Unless he is sick or injured.) Cantering around over sticks is a fun thing. It looks like I have this laundry list of superficial motivations, but is that … it?

in front of a fan = must make faces
he is legit looking chubby

I am thinking the strong emotional connection to animals is the primary motivating force for me. I would much rather talk to my dog or my horse than a person. My big and small mammalian companions seem to get me, to accept me. Not that they really have a choice, of course. But early on with Eli especially I am fairly certain he wanted me to be his person. And the humans around us that saw us working together said all kinds of encouraging things a long these lines well before I owned him. I started worrying about his future if he didn’t have me in it. How can a horse make a person feel this way? Is it not odd? But what would a life without such empathetic creatures be?

fan again = faces again
that best view thing

I cannot remember a time when I did not feel an innate connection to animals. That I have had so many meaningful partnerships with horses continues to amaze me. Eli’s ability to communicate with me so clearly about all kinds of things amazes me, too. Secondary to the emotional connection I feel to this horse is perhaps the other motivating factor: what will Eli teach me next?

Where Are We?

I ran across an interesting phrase just this morning: “last days of the old ways,” from a GQ list of the best restaurants of 2020. Talk about a time capsule (so worth reading for perspective if nothing else — like, remember how affected dining out had become?). But it struck me because we are never going back to the world as it was before COVID-19. “The old ways” will be tinged with new adaptations of existing in public spaces, hopefully with a good dose of charity and kindness. Adaptation that I personally have no problem with, honestly, mysophobe and agoraphobe that I am. Eating out is fun and everything, but I am just as happy staying in.

As horse people, while many of us have had to change routines, or suspend them entirely, we -most of us- will get to come back to horses. Barns in my area have had varying degrees of openness or closedness, and I have been lucky enough to continue my daily treks to where I board Eli to ride, or just let him graze, or groom him until he rolls his eyes at me. We passed the ownership milestone of May 1, the day I bought him in 2014, with little notice from him, as Eli is most definitely the one who owns me, and that started before May 1, 2014 for sure.

the face of one who knows how to manipulate me

The horse world at large is looking at attempting to get back to showing. What changes will we see? Hand sanitizer at all the in-gates? Limited or no concessions? Ticketed schooling at EVERY show, not just the big A shows? Will we even have to answer these questions? The idea of certainty is a tenuous one in this post-old ways-existence. I am not about to craft an editorial on how or why we can live alongside a newfound pathogen and still keep capitalism, leisure time, and the service industries alive.

Rather I’ll just give y’all an Eli update: he is out of pads in front, he got his bone juice, and he has energy to burn. He feels pretty good under saddle, but he is out of shape. As am I. So we are not doing a whole lot yet, just building on the ride before and looking forward to doing a little more the next ride. I trotted him over a crossrail a few times the other day and there was much excitement in the first few steps after the fence in the form of tiny little dolphin leaps and head tossing. Seems like classic Eli to me!

Getting the trot squared away is relatively easy for me. I am a less coordinated rider at the canter, and that’s the gait of Eli’s that needs the most work. Due to his veterinary history, I am not going to attempt to accomplish this on a longe line, so getting it done under saddle will be a slooooooowwww process. The formula: A few decent steps? Reward with a walk. Add more decent steps next time. Next time could be 2 minutes later or the next day, it doesn’t really matter. The rewarding is the important part, as Eli is very sensitive and responsive to that kind of thing.

So that’s where we are, “we” being me and Eli. It has been such a protracted process, bring him back into work after his suspensory injury. It’s been about a year since he did that, and I think we are now on the right path with that and his front feet, too. For the time being, the main goal is to get Eli back into shape, to a reasonable level of fitness for a low-level, local show horse. If we can get there, then I’ll consider doing more, but it’s also okay with me if we never get there. Horses are perhaps the best teachers of adaptation, moreso than even a viral pandemic. At least, for some things. Horses teach you what you can control, and what you can’t, and what you have to let go. (Pride … the inside rein …)

In a completely unrelated, frivolous aside, this Chardonnay is really good:

I now have two favorite Bourgogne wines. This one and that cremant de Bourgogne brut rosé that I can’t stop drinking.

Oh, lors, speaking of the old ways. I had gone to the grocery store to pick up a few things, including some beer. There are always very helpful, dutifully face-masked employees in the wine and beer section at HEB, and as I trundled down the refrigerated aisle of beer, an employee asked me if I needed any help finding something. I said, yes, I am looking for the Guinness four pack of cans with the nitro ball … ? The guy said, yes, right down here, in the import section which is sadly smaller than it used to be … and he handed me the four pack and left me wondering if there were any good domestic nitro ball options. Nothing like a slow burn apocalypse to make me question my casual consumerism. Vive la nouvelle façon, I guess?



A Taste of Summer

I have no real excuse for completely missing out on posting anything last week. But don’t fret, Eli and Conrad are doing fine! Last week was just weird all around with unseasonably cold and wet weather and oh yeah, the whole pandemic thing is really altering our collective reality, huh? I never thought I would be so invested in making fashionable face-coverings decisions. Anyway. Eli got his vaccinations and some bone juice, and it is FINALLY warm enough to satisfy his delicate constitution.

he of many faces

I had a very enjoyable ride on him on Sunday. I don’t usually ride on Mondays, but I think I will today because it’s warm and rain is in the forecast again starting on Wednesday.

I do kind of like orange with dark green …

State and local governments here are considering a gradual return to business as usual. I am not sure how I feel about that. Although my own lifestyle has not changed much, I do recognize there are people out there who really would like to get back to work and I can’t blame them. I have been so very lucky to have access to my horse. I know not everyone has that luxury right now (on top of the luxury of paying for a horse) and I am not sure how well I would be doing mentally if I couldn’t get in some daily pony time.

I wouldn’t necessarily need the saddle time, just interaction with Eli usually brightens my mood. Even if he is being a grump. That’s like half his charm! Riding is my only exercise, though, so getting in the saddle is a benefit. And even if all we are doing is walking and trotting and strolling around in the wildflowers, I still like to wear bright colors to improve my mood. I do miss having my black DeNiros in the rotation because a snap need replacing. As far as I know, the shoe repair shops around here are still open, but I have been hesitant to go to even the essential businesses. Again, I am lucky to have such a choice.

I REALLY need to shampoo his mane

I did something over the weekend that had more of a benefit that I thought it would — I avoided national news. That significantly improved my outlook, even if only temporarily! I suggest everyone try it, if possible, even if only for a day or two.


Happy Birthday, Eli!

Okay, so, Eli’s birthday is on April 6. Makes this post a little late, but what is Time-the-Illusory-Construct in these days of WFH, grocery delivery, and endless streaming of morally questionable content?

He earned a thorough grooming earlier this week:

He is not a fan of shedding blades, but I had no choice.


Sooooo innocent-looking …

I did spend almost an hour grooming him. Shedding blade, soft curry, “stiff” (still not that stiff for Mr. Sensitive) brush, soft brush … hoof pick & brush, tail goop, tail brush … He still wasn’t completely clean but I did discover that is coat is, in fact, still bay, and even a bit dapple-y.

He knows which direction the treats come from … he’s literally staring at my tack trunk. I think I probably slapped some hoof goop on him, too, just after this.

So for his birthday, Eli got cleaned up a little and lots of cookies. He is SEVENTEEN going on toddler.

Scaling Back but Feeling Full

Nothing like a pandemic to make me thankful for what I have, and to show me just how much of my life falls into the privileged sphere. I am one of the lucky few whose routine has barely changed, and what has changed so far has been mostly for the better.

I still get to work! This alone is immense, as many millions of people will end up unemployed as a result of the pandemic, if they are not already. Just like some people may not survive COVID-19, I fear that many people may never recover economically from this crazy situation. But addressing the pandemic is much more important than addressing the economy in the immediate future, as difficult as that may be for many, many people.

Conrad gets a few more walks. I don’t think he minds. He’s not too happy at me about working from home and not paying more attention to him because I am at home. But my home office area has a couch he can nap on. He’ll figure it out eventually.

I am still able to go to the barn to see Eli. I know barn access varies from state to state right now and many people are relying on barn employees for all of their horses’ care. Lesson programs in my area have been suspended at many barns, but some barns are still allowing access to boarders.

So what am I scaling back? Driving — my commute either involves a drive in to work three days a week with little traffic, or a really short walk over to my desk at home. Running everyday errands — I am avoiding this if possible. I have a bracelet that needs fixing at a jeweler and a snap on a tall boot that needs replacing, for instance, that I’d take to a shoe repair place. But this kind of thing is on hold indefinitely. Riding Eli — Eli can be a bit spooky, as we all know. I am limiting his under saddle time to just a few rides a week when the weather permits it and keeping the rides at a walk or trot. I am going for low impact and minimizing risk. I do consider his exercise as essential pet care and it’s also my outdoor, socially-distanced exercise anyway, so I do not really feel like I am skirting any stay-at-home orders in my area with this. I understand that MANY people may disagree with my interpretation of the local stay-at-home orders. However, I am at the barn at times when few other boarders are there, and I am only touching Eli’s stuff, so I am minimizing risk in that way, too. Eating out — oh how I miss Mexican restaurants. I am not on a budget that allows constant take-out, as much as I would like to do that to support the restaurants around here that I like to go to. This does seem to have the benefit of cleaning up my waistline a bit, at least. Visiting friends — I don’t visit very many people, and now I am hardly seeing friends in person at all. I am not going to rule it out completely because when I do visit friends, it’s usually one person in a private residence and it’s to watch streaming stuff, drink wine, and catch up.

I find myself asking daily the question, “Is this really necessary?” A lot of the time, whatever it may be, it is not really necessary.

And here’s my last little editorial thought for the day: Even if inadvertently, COVID-19 is showing us a path to mitigating climate change. We are quite obviously capable of making many of these changes for the long-term, if there is even much of a long-term to look forward to.

That being said, I CANNOT WAIT for all the restaurants and bars to reopen! When that happens, maybe we could all consider tipping at 30%-50% for a month or so if we can swing it. I also want to go to ALL THE MUSEUMS and donate $$$ to their programs and collections. I miss having a Manhattan at Lamberts. I miss the Austin Opera. I miss meeting up with somebody for lunch downtown on a weekday. I MISS QUESO. But we could all stand to drive or fly a little less after all this craziness subsides, right?

Another Great $20 Shirt

Eli doesn’t care what I wear

You may have noticed that I really like mesh. I like a motif on this blog and on my instagram. I also like long sleeve shirts that protect me from the sun but are made of stretchy, athletic material that encourages evaporation. So this means I like the Tailored Sportsman sunshirts, Asmar shirts, and some of Kastel’s shirts (although not so much lately). But what do these shirts all have in common? At $65, the Tailored Sportsman shirts are the least expensive out of those. My plastic says “ouch.” I could use a less expensive alternative, couldn’t you?

Enter Amazon late-night shopping on my phone. Talk about a habit I need to break … but every once in a while something good comes of it. And hey, right now? Amazon is open for business. At least today, ha. While browsing through athletic tops for women that don’t break the bank, are made well, and fit normally, Amazon suggested an Aurique shirt (an Amazon brand) with a fishnet-type mesh at the upper chest and forearms. And it has thumb holes! And the arms are long enough for me to actually use the thumb holes!

i loff thumb holes

The top is surprisingly well-made for the price I paid — it was one of those “Today’s Deals” deals and I paid around $14, but they seem to go for about $22 when not on sale. The lower hem is sturdy and looks good not tucked in, but isn’t too thick to tuck in, either. So I can wear this top with breeches or Botoris. The fabric is an athletic mid-weight — probably best for spring and fall in Texas. I think it might be too heavy for summers here, but might be okay for summers up north.

It comes in black … and no other colors. I’d love it if it came in other colors, like a fir green or a pale pink. Maybe dove grey and deep indigo, too? K, thanks, Amazon.



Sunset Rides are Back!

This little dog is determined to be Eli’s friend.

Although I haven’t got a picture of a sunset yet!

With the time change comes more light after work. The best part about DST is that I get to ride Eli right around sunset during the summer. As long as the light doesn’t get too low — twilight makes Eli a little more anxious than usual, even though he has zero evidence of lions existing in Texas. Okay, well, I guess there are mountain lions. But not really around the farm where I board Eli. And the coyotes don’t start howling until after sunset. So he has no excuse.

Well if it’s cloudy, how am I supposed to see the sunset!

Eli continues to do well without the front pads. The footing was downright exquisite on Sunday afternoon, and Eli felt great. I skipped riding Monday because that’s what I usually do and it was drizzling, which Eli hates.


Eli’s dental appointment is scheduled for next Wednesday — I have that whole week off work. I planned to take that week well in advance, in order to avoid corporate SXSW crowds downtown … now I’ll just avoid downtown and unofficial/alt SXSW crowds.

Doomsday Prep Strategy Number One

Doomsday Prep Strategy Number Two

I am not sure COVID-19 warrants all the cancellations, but nobody wants to be the guy that said, “It’ll be fine” right before everyone gets sick. I certainly braved some crowds for cake …

It was really good cake. Really, really good.

Who knew a café in Bastrop would be so hoppin’?

I do enjoy seeing pretty sunsets from the back of a horse! Y’all might be sick of between-the-ears sunset shots by August …

Is Winter Over Yet?

Ready to take Eli’s clothes home and have them cleaned.

I can’t say I am looking forward to 105F. But I am looking forward to warmer temperatures in the evenings. This would mean more riding for me and Eli.

Maybe we’ll get to ride on an actual week day?

I have some tentative good news — after two weeks of rest for his RH, Eli seems to be sound and quite willing to work. Not only that, but the farrier removed his heel pads up front. His soles look good, he has a little more heel, and he doesn’t seem to be foot sore. I hope this holds up.


Of course, we are expecting storms and a lot of rain in this area Tuesday night into Wednesday, so this evening might be the last chance to ride for a few days.

It’s almost bath time weather.

The next thing on the horizon for Eli is a dental appointment — just his regular float, but also to check on the chipped tooth, which does not seem to be bothering him. Hopefully, he will get to keep it!