Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

A few years ago a friend sent me a pumpkin outfit for Mini Nugget. She's a bit of a plump chihuahua so it was a little snug.

And of course I didn't want kitty to feel left out.

No one trick or treats out in the country so our house will be quiet tonight.  I am dreading the time change tomorrow.  This puts a huge damper on my riding.  It also creates a rift with me and my work.  People who have kids leave early to pick up their kids so I get stuck staying because I don't have kids.  So why can't I leave early to go ride? I really need to start buying Powerball lotto tickets so I can retire and have lots of time for riding!

November 8th is a local show.  I plan to take Baby L and the pinto mare.  So this week's challenge will be finding daylight to ride.

Have a safe and fun Halloween!

His hind end is getting big!

Pinto mare last local show (August)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Horse Showing On A Budget: Is it Cheaper to Haul Your Own Horse (PartOne)?

Owning a horse trailer is a personal preference.  I know some people that have no desire to haul their own horses.  If you are not comfortable learning how to safely haul, learn about trailer maintenance, what to do if you break down, safely back up and maneuver, then no you should not own a trailer.  If you keep your horses at home it's a no brainer.  You need a trailer and need to learn these things.  If you are boarding and have access to someone to haul for you then you may not need one.  But maybe you want one and maybe you think it's cheaper than paying someone.

First you need a vehicle to tow the trailer. Just because a truck or SUV has a trailer hitch doesn't mean it should tow something.  You need to look at wheel base, towing and braking capability of the vehicle.  Smaller wheel base, less stability.  Also keep in mind that by maxing out your vehicle's towing capabilities is causing excess wear and tear and poor fuel mileage.  I tow long distances and prefer a gooseneck trailer as it has minimal to no sway and easier maneuverability.  Therefore I need a pick up truck.  I have a 7.3L Ford diesel Super Duty.  

With my 4 four horse trailer fully loaded I get about 13.5 mpg.  About 14.5 with one horse.  Now my husband is a diesel mechanic so my truck is "tweaked" which gives it more horse power and better fuel economy.  However a gas truck pulling the same would likely get about 6 mpg.  

You also need to look at tires on your vehicle.  What weight are they rated to tow?  If you are towing more than say a 2 horse you will likely need low range E tires (and yes they are more money).  Do you know how much air your tires hold?  You need to and you need to check this regularly for hauling.

The heavier the trailer you are pulling then you are better off with the stability of a dually.

My red truck is a regular bed and I wish it was a long bed (like husband's dually pictured above that he doesn't let me drive).  I have to be careful turning in tight spots so the overhang of the gooseneck doesn't hit my tool box or back window.  The long bed also gives you more room to put stuff in the bed for long trips.  I like having the tool box to keep supplies in.  

Not all trucks come with a gooseneck hitch.  Installation of one is about $600.  Not all trucks come with a brake controller for the trailer.  Basic ones are about $50 but can go up over $100.  What about mirrors?  Are your mirrors sufficient enough?  Most new trucks have the new big mirrors.  Mine did not so we put bigger slide out ones on at a cost of around $200.

Prices for diesel trucks vary by brand and bells and whistles.  Expect to pay $20K (used) to $75K plus.  I won't get into brands as that is a whole can of worms.  And being married to a diesel mechanic we have our opinions.

This is an excellent article on selecting tow vehicles.

Personally I do not use my truck for daily driving.  Tires are expensive as well as oil changes ($90-100 for a diesel) and I like to keep the mileage down on it.  If you know trucks then you know the 7.3 engine was the best Ford made so I want it to last as it's not replaceable.  I have what I call my crappy commuter car to drive back and forth to work.  I save my truck for hauling and feed store runs.

This is just a basic run down.  I am no expert, that would be my husband.  I just follow his advice (when it comes to trucks).  I have 170K on my truck and he has a Dodge work truck with over 300K so he's doing something right.  Next I will talk about horse trailers...

Monday, October 27, 2014

Catch Up

Ponies are all doing well.  Luxxx had a few really good hack days then was a turd the last time I rode him.  Such is the life of a three year old.  I am still battling his mane rubbing.  MTG was not working.  The apple vinegar and water mix that was recommended to me dried him out and thus more rubbing.  I am now using a dandruff/medicated shampoo and he seems to be not rubbing at the moment.  The cooler temps probably also help.  I also did a worm check and he is clear so that is ruled out.

Poppy is good too.  She is continuing in her same work program as I doubt we will show until December.  I would really like to move up a division for 2015 so I do need to starting working her over bigger jumps if I want to make that a reality.

I'm sucking at 2pointober.  I went backward.  13 seconds worse than the week prior.

I'm also still trying to help my friend sell his pinto mare.  I can't believe no one has scooped her up.

Last weekend

From the local show in September.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What's In A Name

If you own pets it is a prerequisite to have multiple names for them.  First you have their given name.  Then you have the 5 or so silly nick names that you call them.

Mini Nugget.  Aka Nuggie, Nugget,  Aardvark, Waddlebutt, Poopy, Smelly Nugget (she has some serious D.O.---doggy odor).

Puff. Aka Puffy, Fluffy, Puffalufagus, Brat, Poopy, Faluffel, Beast.

Soot.  Aka Sooty, Gnat (he has zero attention span), Woofer.

Buford T. Justice. Aka Buford, Bubaby, Wrinkles, The Slimer (I never knew an animal could creat so much drool), Foghorn.

Hobbs.  Aka Hobbles, The old man, Hobblet.

Poppy.  Aka Pops, Marshmallow, Pretty Girl, Poppers, Equine Puff (see Puff the dog).

 Cotton.  Aka Cottonpoo, Finkelstein (no clue where husband came up with this one).

Luxxx.  Aka ???? He has no nicknames.  I call him Baby L on here but that's it.  His name doesn't lend itself for shortening or rhyming.  He's not evil so Luxifer doesn't fit. Luxilicious is more for a female.  Delux I'm not sold on.  This is terrible.  A cute baby like that has to have a nickname!

Share your pet's nickname!  If I was blog savvy I would make this a Blog Hop!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


This is how I feel at the moment about 2 things.

1. 2pointober

I felt like I came out of the gate too good to be true on this with a baseline time 2 minutes better than last year.

And I was right.  My next ride on Poppy I got this time.

This had me upset.  I didn't do anything different (I didn't think).  I practice at the canter.  I get my phone ready to time, get in my 2 point, start timer, put phone in my pocket, ask for canter, canter circles, poles, change directions, do same other direction, grab phone from pocket, stop timer, sit down in saddle, then pout about crappy time.

Vowed to try harder next time...

Ok this was better but I was still not improving on my baseline!  I'm going backwards!  And I do have to say my little grey jumper mare has been great.  Toward the end she gets quick and impatient but has stayed relatively under control.  This week I was on a mission...

Once a week or so I flat Poppy in draw reins and did so Monday.  In draw reins she goes around like a little short stirrup pony on perfect rhythm.  I took full advantage of this and told myself I would 2 point until my ankles went numb.

I'm not quite up to some of the numbers I saw (y'all are machines!) but this is great for me.  Now I just have to figure out how to improve and not slide back last last week.

2. My Blog

I've had some good ideas on a series and other topics but am just lacking the time to give them so not can be. Good thoughtful post.  I'm hoping this week slows down so I can get a few in que for those hectic days.

Yes, yes I did just share a quote from The Rock.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Urge To Jump On The Bandwagon

I did a bad thing.  I added Ogilvy on my Instragram and now I want a jumper pad.  Bad.  Like really bad.  The only thing holding me back at present moment is I have no idea what color I want.

Here goes my justification as to why I need one.  My saddle fits Luxxx perfectly.  He has Tank's old Equifit pad and it works well for now.
Poppy however has Tank's old Bevel pad.

(This image is much prettier that my well worn one) 

My saddle doesn't fit her perfectly so although I will get her, her own saddle one day it won't be right now.  Therefore, with a thicker type pad (like the Bevel) my saddle fits her better.  With a thin pad like the Equifit my saddle tends to slip (side to side).  So my main justification is that the Bevel pad is old and outdated and I keep seeing all these pretty Ogilvy jumper half pads and I want one.  And then
I saw that if I want one by Christmas I have to order now!  

Did I make a good case? Are these pads truly that fabulous?  Colors?  What colors for Ms. Poppy??

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

That Time I Owned A Hunter

Now make  no mistake, I am a jumper princess through and through.  Way back when I started riding, like most people do, I started in the hunters and also did equitation in college.  I'm not totally allergic to hunters, I just love the jumper ring.  About 4 years ago though, I did acquire a hunter.

Since I started this blog I thought about writing about said hunter.  I don't want to hurt or offend anyone that was involved with this horse as they ended up doing the right thing.  So here goes...

Four summers ago I was perusing Facebook and saw a local aquaintance advertising a horse that needed a home ASAP.  I recognized the horse however he was advertised as a Small Junior Hunter.  He is 17hh so NOT a Small and secondly he did the Children's Hunters.   I knew him from back when I was boarding he was at the same barn.  In fact I was at the show when the first owners tried him and later purchased him.  Years later he was sold to another child in the barn who last I knew still owned him.  I was dumfounded as to why these people that (as far as I knew) had no connection to him were putting him on Facebook.  I had to inquire.  After dealing with these third parties I finally just called the owner I knew.  The story was he had been at the barn where I used to board and when the economy tanked they were hit hard and had to move him from boarding at an expensive show barn.  They took him to their friend's western barn where he was pasture boarded.  Whatever their current situation was, they needed him in a new home.  The owner warned me that he was not in good shape.  I could tell that she was embarrassed but was at least trying to get this horse help.  I knew him well and felt he didn't deserve to be in a bad situation (as no animal deserves).  I told the owner that I would take him if she would sign him over to me.  She agreed.  Then barn owner said he had to go immediately.  As in NOW.  TODAY!  Sooo without consulting husband I went home from work, got my trailer, and went to pick up hunter horse.  The owner said he was not is good shape but I was not expecting what I found.  When I knew him he was a very nice Children's Hunter whose previous owner had purchased for a mid-five figure price.  I will share with you the pictures of him from those first few days at my place.  Let's keep in mind that the owner did the right thing by giving him away to a good home...

He had gone from a pampered show horse life to 24/7 pasture board where he was by himself, on little grass, and was getting very little grain and a little coastal hay.  In the top picture you can see his yellowy color.  I immediately got his feet done (farrier said he had not been done in probably 8 months), power packed him, and started treating his ulcer (that he likely developed from pacing the fence line which barn owner said was non stop).  I put him on Senior feed, beet pulp, and as much T&A hay as he would eat.  My vet had me treat his ulcers with Succeed (he was on it about 3 months).  He was also dead lame and covered in so much fungus that you couldn't touch his ankles they were so sore.  

After 30 days

It took about 3 months to get him sound and his weight to where I felt comfortable getting on. 

Finally his beautiful 17hh self.  He was 11 years old here.

After I got him healthy and back into work I decided to have fun in the hunters and took him to a couple local shows.  Though sound his many years on the rated circuit and lack of recent care and maintenance meant he was happiest jumping 2'6 or smaller. 

hack winner

  I kept him about a year.  We was really sweet and one of the easiest horses I had ever ridden but I didn't have a place for him in my program.  He needed to go teach another kid or beginner adult.  When I bought Poppy I had even less time to ride him and what seemed like the perfect situation fell in my lap.  Although I had hoped to sell him and recoup some of the money I had put into him a friend asked if her cousin could have him for their daughter.  They were looking for a free former show horse that was safe and a confidence builder.  It was a good fit so off he went (about 5 hours away).  They had him awhile and eventually the daughter quit riding so their trainer found him a home along the east coast teaching lessons at a well know farm.  That is the last I heard.  I hope he is well and living the life he deserves.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

2 Point October is Back!

I just participated for fun last year and sucked.  This year I thought I would genuinely give it a go.  2 point is not something I practice.  If I join a lesson at my trainer's place with the kids I usually get tortured with it but that's almost the only time.  Oh and then there was the show 3 weeks ago where a BNT asked me to hack a second horse for her client in the U/S class.  I got in my best huntery half seat at the canter and thought I was going to die.  So yeah, this challenge will be good for me.

For obvious reasons I am choosing to do this on Poppy vs Baby L.  When I am on a course where there is a long distance between jumps I will get up in a 2 point and gallop.  And Poppy LOVES this.  Do you see where this is going?  2 point = gallop so my goal in the challenge will be to do it for as long as we can stay under control and hopefully continue to get better.  I chose do get my baseline at the canter.  She actually stayed really quiet and cantered around like a hunter princess.  Toward the end she picked up the pace a bit but I was tired anyway.

This number shocked me.  My baseline was 2:05 last year on Tank and last night felt like the same amount of time.  So now I'm worried I came out of the gate to fast and I will never improve on that lol!

After 2 point torture I did some little jumps with Poppy.  I don't know what was wrong with me but I couldn't find a distance to a 2'3 cross rail to save my life.  Like so ugly that one time Poppy hunched her back on landing and threatened to buck like "woman get your shit together!"  I found my hole basically. I was trying to keep her quiet for the 2 point and was obviously not getting the correct pace as I switched over to jumping. HA!!! Guess what I will be working on this week!!!  Jumping little stuff is hard in my opinion because you can easily get sucked into no pace.  When the jumps go up I have a easier time finding a good rhythm.  Soooo I think my exercise this week will be to incorporate some small jumps into my hacking.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Baby Luxxx Jumps!

We know baby L can jump jumps through a jump chute...

I haven't jumped him while actually on him yet.  You know being that he's 3 (well 3 years and 8 months) and that I sort of thought he should learn to steer first.  Then I got brave on Saturday...

We finally had some sunshine here in what used to be referred to as The Sunshine State so I finally got to ride.  Other than a couple times on the lunge line Luxxx hadn't been ridden in a week.  I lunged him first and let him get his sillies out then I climbed aboard.  I decided to ride with draw reins to work with him more on contact and head position.  He didn't like them at first which is strange because he has worked plenty on the surcingle and side reins.  I kept the draw reins loose as my goal was not to crank his head but work with him on moving up into my hands and lowering his head.  He started out all over the place, not moving off my leg and bulging  one second then cutting in the next. After about 10 minutes or so he either "got it" or just decided to stop fussing because I got some great trotting and circles from him. Head down, light in my hands, and rounding around my leg.  He is still difficult to put together at the canter.  My goal is just to keep him cantering right now.  He is much better to the left than right.  Then I got off, took off the draw reins, and led him out to the jump field.  I figured I would hack him around and if he was good I would trot him over a couple baby jumps for fun.  He hacked around the jump field like a champ, no spooking and maybe just slighty more forward.  I trotted him over some tiny barrels and a small gate.  To say he jumped them might be a stretch as they were tiny so it was more like a trot step over them.  But hey, it still counts!

I wanted him to pose in front of the jump and he wouldn't stand.  He insisted on walking over it.

"I'm not supposed to stop in front of jumps Mom!"

Friday, October 3, 2014

Friday Check In

Not a whole lot of excitement going on to blog about.  I will continue to do some Horses On a Budget posts.  I appreciate your comments and feedback on them.  My goal is not to say one way is better but to lay out my findings/experience and you can decide.  

I haven't been on Luxxx in a week.  We have had so much rain that my footing really needs to dry out.  I lunged him twice this week and I am hoping to get on today.  My goal is to take him to the next local unrated show November 8th.  I'm not sure if I will show him or not.  That will solely depend on how much riding I get in by then.

I've just been able to hack Poppy twice this week.  Once was up and down our drive since it was so wet everywhere else.  She hates that because of the incline which means working harder :) last night she was pretty fussy and full of herself but what can I expect when she's worked twice in a week.  I'm not sure what's in her show future this fall.  Indoors are going on so that limits the rated shows around here.  There's Aiken, Tryon, & Atlanta this fall but with the shortest drive being 5 hours I'm not sure I'm up for it (3 tire blow outs on the trek home from Tryon last time has me hesitant).  The next close rated show here isn't until December.

We have cooler temps coming this weekend which means breaking out the sheets for the horses.  Hope you get lots of riding in this weekend!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Horses On A Budget: Is Keeping Them At Home Cheaper?

Like most horse crazy girls I had dreamed of keeping my horse at home since I started my first lesson.  My parents however did not share the same dream and so boarded until I went out into the real world.  I decided to turn this dream into a reality when Hobbs started getting older and I really wanted to provide him with a nice retirement and also have another horse.  This started the learning experience of a lifetime.

There are many different scenarios that make this hard to answer so I will just address how it pertains to me.  Boarding at a show barn here is $1200 per month excluding blanketing in winter months (add $50 for that) and including lessons/training rides.  Realistically if I boarded right now it would be for 2 horses ($2400).  I wouldn't have my mini and Hobbs would go somewhere that does retirement (probably at a cost of $300 per month).  Do I pay less than that total of $2700 per month to keep my horses at home?  Yes, but if you add up my time probably not.  Time has a value too.

Things to consider are the upfront costs ie buying property and building (if not already established).  My mortgage increased 325% from our last house to our farm.  This cost of course varies on area, price of building supplies at time, what you build, etc.  I did not build a huge fancy house, it's about 500 square feet bigger than my last house but we went from a home in a neighborhood to 10 acres.  You pay for acreage around here.  My main requirement in building was that I wanted a nice barn.  Adding more paddocks and an all weather ring would be in my long term plan.  Cost of building the barn alone was mid five figures.  And fencing and gates?  About half of that.  Then add stall mats for 5 stalls plus aisle ways, cross ties, buckets, feed bins, fans, manure carts, something to pull the manure carts so they can be dumped, pitch forks, brooms, blower (so I don't have to sweep), water troughs for paddocks, etc.... And if you have your own barn you definitely need a truck and trailer.  And a tractor, a bushhog, a finishing mower, jumps, etc...  This is just the list that I am running off the top of my head.  There is more I am sure. I don't have a total cost of it all because I honestly don't want to know.  It was alot.  Much more than I had imagined.  So back to the question, is keeping your horses at home cheaper?  If we take the $1200 a month board for one horse per year that comes to $14,400.  Pay that for 30 years and you come to $432,000.  Though I can't give you an exact amount of what we spent it was ALOT more than that.  Alot.  Sure you could build something more simple and not as nice of a barn but I think my cost was pretty normal and way short of extravagant.  Also remember that board price included training.  But we still aren't factoring in something...

Someone has to take care of the horses and maintenance around the farm.  I do all of this myself (husband helps with maintenance and mowing) except I have barn help on Saturday evenings so I can attempt to have a social life.  If I need to go out of town I have to make arrangements for horses to be taken care of.  I need to take off of work for the vet, dentist, or whoever else is working on my horses.  Fortunately my farriers are friends and they know my horses so I don't have to be home for them.  I would say 3.5 - 4 hours of my day is spent riding, doing horse care, and barn chores.  If you didn't want to do this yourself then you would need to hire someone at an extra cost.  I also go get feed every 5 weeks and hay every 2 weeks.  If you want to know how to eat whatever you want and maintain a slim figure come muck stalls, unload and stack 25 bales of 60# hay, 50# feed bags, and then riding of course.  Gym?  My gym is in my barn (ok so you can save on gym membership).

And for those who are wondering about taking in boarders to help with costs or in exchange for help.  Hell no.  Horse people are a pain in the ass.  Seriously, we are.  Some don't pay, some horses are destructive, some people don't respect your time or belongings, some don't show up when they are supposed to, etc...  No, I've been down that road.

I think maybe for multiple horses over time that it is probably cheaper to keep horses at home if you are doing it all (or most) yourself.  Keep in mind doing it yourself does take a toll.  There are no sick days and God forbid I should get hurt and can't do it myself...But the other side is that I look out the windows of my house and see my horses everyday.  I see them first thing in the mornings and I get to kiss them goodnight.  I know more about my horses moods, habits, and ins & outs than anyone.  This also helps me build an amazing bond with them.  That.  That right there is what makes it worth it.