the day Shuga became mine
I met and started riding my equine soulmate in 2011; an 8-year-old Arabian mare named Shuga. Both of us being introverts made for a quick connection. She and I got along so well that I brought the kids out to meet her. She was a superstar, practically dragging her nose on the ground so she could make sure she didn't step on the little ones. She was especially careful with my then 18-month-old. I knew after that experience that she was definitely my Heart Horse.

2 years after meeting her, I was finally able to buy her. Apparently when a lifelong dream finally comes true after years of believing that it won't, your mental capacity is severely reduced. "My Shuga, she's really mine," is about the best I could come up with that first year.

still one of my favorite pictures
She tested my leadership a lot more after I bought her than she ever had before. There was one very difficult period when I wondered if I'd fallen into that "too much horse" trap. I carefully considered how to proceed, and ended up deciding that I'd have similar issues no matter what horse it was. I needed to learn to trust my leadership just as much as I needed my horse to trust in me.

I kept us well within both of our comfort zones for a good while, building up our confidence in each other and our ability to be a team. By our second winter together, we were ready to start getting out of that comfort zone again, but we still took it pretty slowly.

unicorn horn and TARDIS saddle pad? yes, please

We took a riding hiatus through 2016 while I was pregnant with our last baby, and then went right back to it. In some ways we were ahead of where we left off; in other ways we were right at the beginning all over again. 2017 was a year of rediscovering our connection under saddle while combating bad habits I learned during my pregnancy.

Our training focus is dressage, but we have ridden in some ground poles classes at a schooling jumping show series, a couple schooling English Pleasure W/T classes, shown in some for real SHIH classes, and have hit the trails as frequently as I can manage.

I'm proud of how far we've come, and am excited to see how far we will go.

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