what comes next?

One of the reasons I pushed things along this fall when we were diagnosing Murray was my impending vacation. I spent three weeks in Australia in November/December. Once it became clear to me that there was something more serious going on with the horse, I knew I wanted it sorted before I left. I did not need to spend my vacation trying to negotiate appointments and diagnostics with vets, or making big decisions about the future. I wanted things done and dusted — as much as possible — before I left.

For better or worse, that turned out to be a pretty simple request.

As of right now Murray is safely ensconced in his new pasture, making friends with all the geldings around him. He’s definitely gotten the memo that he’s retired, and has tested us several times with his semi-feral antics. Fortunately, my MIL is no fool. She knows the value of a good mannering halter and a carroty bribe.

So. What comes next?

disorganized aubrey plaza GIF

I can’t deny that retiring Murray has made my life simpler financially. Moving took a bigger hit on my finances than I expected, especially with the added expense of vet bills and hauling to get Murray to and fro. From that perspective, I’m very okay with hitting pause on horse ownership for a minute.

I’m not interested in hitting pause forever (I guess that’s called “stop”), or indefinitely. My ideal situation would be a six-ish month break — long enough to allow me to recoup my finances, ride a bunch of different horses, unlearn some bad habits, and think deeply about what I want in a pony partner. Then I’d start shopping in early summer (lesbehonest — I’ll be window shopping the whole time), but without a firm timeline so I could really wait until the right horse comes along. (My budget isn’t going to be huge even if I do manage to save save save for the first half of the year).

But real life rarely fits into our plans, so I’m going to go look at a horse today.

The Good Place GIF

I KNOW, I know. That isn’t the plan at all, Nicole! But I got a hot tip from someone I really trust that this guy is pretty cool and needs a home like yesterday, which his price reflects. I talked to the trainer and didn’t get any red flags. He’s close. His history is pretty good. TrJ knows the trainer who is selling him, and she thinks he’s promising.

If he’s perfect and he vets, I’ll think about making an offer. (Quite legitimately not sure I’m ready to pony up for all the accessories that a new horse needs RIGHT AWAY — two blankets, saddle fitting, potential new saddle, shoes, chiro, supplements, massage, etc. etc. so and and so forth in perpetuity.)

So we only move forward there if he’s PERFECT.

Otherwise, I told TrJ that I’d like to get into lessons and possibly lease, if she has someone available. She hemmed a bit on that, since all of her horses are leased out. She mentioned that I might do alright with one of her lesson ponies, and when I was like “I love ponies” she said, “Well, he’s actually a very cool pony.”


cutest little mofo around

For the forseeable future, there will be pony rides. And I am SO excited.

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how not to rock your great barrier reef dive trip (but have a good time anyway)

You’re going to Australia!! Yippee! Book your dive trip without checking out the diving conditions or weather at this time of year. You lived in Australia for 13 years, and December is summer and summer is swimming weather. You’re going diving, dammit.

Neglect to check the weather when you pack for your Australia trip. (It won’t matter, as the weather will turn to shit the second you got there anyway.)

Don’t look up what it will be like living on a dive boat. Don’t pack quick drying towels, warm clothes, or anything waterproof (though the sunshirts you packed will come in handy).

Spend a lot — a lot — of money on a really magnificent underwater housing set up for your DSLR. Borrow strobes from a mate. Do not test the set up in a pool before you dive. Do not read up on best practices for underwater photography. You’ve done this before.

Definitely do not explore what you can expect to see on the Great Barrier Reef at this time of year, or in general. You’ve seen the pictures online. You know it will be a veritable cornucopia of brightly colored corals, rainbow fish, and crystal-clear visibility.


or — er — not

Take sea sickness medication — even though you firmly assert that you never get seasick. (Thanks to this, you get to keep saying that.)

Flood the main strobe to your underwater camera set up on your first dive. Ascend quickly and do your best damage control on super corroded, borrowed, entirely necessary piece of equipment for underwater photography. Marvel somewhat at the amount of corrosion that is possible when salt water comes into contact with sensitive electronics and you run electricity through them.

Listen to the skipper as he explains that the weather should get better on the afternoon of your second day on the dive boat — there’s just a little cyclone forming up in the coral sea that is causing some weather inside the reef right now.

Fall asleep to the slightly aggressive rocking of the boat in a rainy season squall. It’s lovely.

camouflage!

First thing in the morning, thankfully after coffee, get really lost on a really navigationally-simple dive to a reef formation not 20 meters away from the boat. It’s a nice dive — just not at all where you’re supposed to be. Realize that together, you and your dive buddy absolutely suck at navigation.

Listen to the skipper as he explains that the small cyclone in the coral sea has become a full on cyclone. Not to worry — it’s always wet underwater. Plus, cyclones almost never make it as far as Cairns, and they never cancel dives unless they have to. The visibility will not get better (lots of particulate floating around because of the high seas), but the boat is moored in an excellent spot for some great dives.

Figure out how to rig up the remaining strobe so it will work on its own, and finally get the camera going under water. Take some mediocre pictures while you try not to get lost again.

See a huge turtle sleeping in his cave on your night dive. Like, as big as you are huge. His name is Bryan.


not Bryan — but still very close and very cool

Win a pop quiz about the reef. Because duh.

this is a terrible picture, but parrotfish wedge themselves into little hidey holes at night and go to sleep and it is about the cutest damn thing i’ve ever seen a fish do

First thing in the morning, listen to the skipper as he tells you that the full blown cyclone has dissipated, but now “ex-tropical cyclone Owen” is headed straight your way, and we’re in for a rough ride back to Cairns. The rest of the dives are cancelled, but sea sickness medication is on the house!

(Really, we had a lot of fun and some great dives. But next time I go, it will be solidly outside of the wet season!)