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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Guess What I Bought?

NO, not a horse, but I think you all will be proud of me anyway - maybe I'll be the first person you know to actually fulfill their New Years resolution! I said I was going to get myself back in the saddle, and I'm going to do just that.

Last weekend I woke up, rolled over, and picked up my phone. It's the first thing I do every morning now that I have instant access to the Internet and email via my adored iPhone. One of the first things I like to check is the day's emailed Groupon* offer. And what do you suppose I saw? This subject line:

51% Off Private Riding Lessons

Hmm, I thought, probably just that skeevy place that's offered lessons before. The first time they did, I clicked through and thoroughly investigated. I was not impressed. First of all, I am not much interested in a "jack-of-all-trades" trainer who purports to be an expert in both English and Western. Yeah, I know they actually do exist, but IMHE I have found that usually these folks are Western riders who fancy themselves able to ride and teach English because they watched some DVDs or putzed around a little in one of those silly, pancakey hornless things that goofy English riders like to call saddles. You know what I mean. I prefer to stick with dedicated H/J trainers and barns.

So I hadn't much hope when I clicked on the email to open it. Okay, so the photo didn't show a little kid in a Western saddle being led around. Instead, it was an appropriately-dressed teenager taking a real jump in a nice ring on a well-groomed, albeit chunky (Draft cross?) Pinto. She was jumping horribly ahead (thank you, George, for pointing out this egregious fault in virtually every installment of "Jumping Clinic." Yes, I KNOW I probably do it, too) but otherwise it was a nice photo. This was a definite improvement! So what barn was it? For your entertainment, here's all that was said under the photo. The copywriters at Groupon sure do fancy themselves mighty witty:

"Horses require human guidance to keep from brushing against barbed wire, eating poisonous rocks, and galloping triumphantly into the ocean. Take the reins with today's Groupon."

Hardee-har-har. I clicked on the "View This Deal" button. And then almost fell out of bed, because... it was the exact barn I've been wanting to go to! YAHOO!!! What luck, indeed. Needless to say, my finger couldn't hit the "Buy Now!" button fast enough. I got two private lessons for the price of one. I prefer group lessons for the camaraderie, but since I'm so woefully out of shape I might as well not embarrass myself in front of others right off the bat.

As I was celebrating this amazing coincidence, I suddenly had a thought. The offer was limited to one per person, but I could buy another as a gift... I decided I couldn't get away with giving myself a gift, but there was nothing stopping Hubby from doing so. I texted him (he was already up - who needs a household intercom these days?) and asked very sweetly if I could have an early Valentine's present. Sure, he said, and bought me another package. *Blows kisses* Hurray!

So that, dear readers, is how I have found myself gaily anticipating FOUR excursions to this lovely barn, located only 15 minutes from home. I have several friends from my old barn who ride and board there now and have urged me to check it out. Lest you be wondering, there's not a thing wrong with my old place, other than that I would feel stupid showing up after a five-year hiatus. "Where have you been?" and all that. Not keen on having to say, "Off trying to make some money to buy my kids shoes, instead of spending it on me and my expensive habit."

I am especially happy to get to ride in my own saddle, which hasn't left the laundry, ahem, tack room for way too long. It's a medium-tree Dover Circuit Elite, so nothing fancy, but I like it quite well and pine to once again be astride it (the horse I've been on most recently is too wide, plus we have no girth that's long enough). Time to get my beauty out and give it a coat of Lexol! I will try to ignore the hideous scuff on the cantle that a teenager I was foolish enough to let borrow it installed. Grrr... I've tried a teeny dab of brown shoe polish and Lexol to fix it, but it's still pretty obvious. Any suggestions? I also have a brand-new set of stirrup leathers in a narrower width (they're not anything great, I picked them up at PetSmart for 50% off when they were discontinuing carrying horse stuff from State Line), which I'd hoped might help with the rotten leg rubs I get. In their current state of mega-stiffness, though, I don't think they're the best idea (again, any tips on softening these things up? Neatsfoot?). Ideally, I'd be rocking a pair of these, but at $200 they are not exactly in the budget.

I am also going to try and restrain myself from trotting down to the tack shop and trying on half chaps. Mine are still serviceable; the zippers work, the elastic bottoms are okay, there's still a little nap in the suede, etc. One seam is pulling apart a little on both. Mainly, they're just fugly. I simply want a new pair with Spanish tops, in brown this time. I prefer brown paddock boots and my Ariats are showing no signs of slowing down yet. This is what happens when you've never been, alas, more than a once-a-week rider (except for that brief interlude with Polly I've written about). I only WISH my boots were wearing out! :-) Same thing with my helmet. Nothing wrong with it, just... not au courant. I tried on the Ovation helmet I said I liked last time I was in the tack shop and of course, it fit, and of course, it looked pretty good, but again - I need to save my money for more lessons.

This Groupon was just the push I needed to gather my courage and head back to a barn. I'm not sure when I'll get over there - but I will ABSOLUTELY be writing about it when I do. That is, if my fingers are still functioning, because I know the rest of me will be in varying degrees of distress. I have no illusions as to my fitness level!
NOT me.

Unfortunately, a lot more like it.
* If you are not familiar with Groupon, I'll explain: it's mainly a daily "group coupon" which is available online for a limited time, and often in limited quantities. You can sign up to receive emails and/or open an account to purchase Groupons. Free membership, no transaction fees. I have mainly stuck with local deals but there are also nationwide ones, like for Old Navy (I've bought theirs - $10 for $20 worth of merchandise). I have bought beauty salon packages for 1/3 the usual price, gotten $20 off restaurant meals, grabbed an introductory lesson in another sport for a family member for half off, etc. It's fun and easy and growing like wildfire, so I urge you to check it out!


  1. Yay for getting back in the saddle! Make sure you look for the expiration date on the groupon--that should give you extra motivation to get out and go. :-)

  2. Enjoy your lessons!! Good to get back in the saddle!! I may have to give Groupon a try one of these days. I always hear about it.


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