Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Here's to Another Year!

I'm embracing getting older.  I can't stop it so why whine and bitch about it?  I feel better and maybe even look better than when I was in my twenties and would never want to go back.  You reach a point where you have this self confidence  based on all your life experiences and you stop giving a shit.  Finally...I've reached that pivotal point in life where I don't care what other's think of me and its a grand feeling.

So being my birthday and being horse obsessed I wouldn't dream of going and buying MYSELF something fancy.  Nope, I splurged on Poppy.  She has a hand-me-down Baker sheet and blanket from Hobbs which she used for shows.  I saw a great deal online for a custom trim and piping set.  Not my first choice of color for the trim, but I think she will look beautiful.

Poppy's Baker set can now be passed down to Ketel.  Even though she is short, she is a beefcake so they currently wear the same size.

I will forgo riding this evening for a dinner date with my S.O. to my favorite restaurant.  Yummmm!

A quick update on the ponies.  Ketel was still off last night but seemed a bit better this morning.  No swelling or heat anywhere.  The dentist came out yesterday and did Tank and Poppy.  He said Cotton should wait until he has all his permanent teeth, Ketel was done in September, and Hobbs at almost 25 doesn't have much left to float.  After all that I hacked Poppy.  Considering it was cold, windy, and getting dark she was perfect.  Even though it was sort of a boring ride, I just LOVE riding her.  I always feel  such a high afterward.  It was late so Tank got a lunge which he celebrated with snorting and leaping.  Hopefully I will get to ride him tomorrow.

What are the chances a barn fairy visits me and I get out of barn chores for the day???  Not holding my breath but sometimes I can convince S.O. to help with turning out and filling water buckets. Fingers crossed...

Monday, November 18, 2013

Bubble Wrapping the Baby

Friday was hell day at work and add rainy conditions and horrible traffic to my drive home and you have a frustrated me with a migraine.  To make things even worse, when I got home and went to the barn I found Ketel with a swollen back leg with bad cuts and scrapes on his other legs.  I could see marks on the back wall of his stall so I am guessing he got cast.  The cuts aren't deep enough to need stitches but are ouchy.  One is where his skin and hoof meet so that one is in an awful spot.  The swelling was likely due to the cuts.  He is also sore in his front left shoulder.  As of today the swelling is gone but he is still off on the front left.  He's not "broken bone lame" but definitely some head bobbing.  I'm going to give him a few more days and if there is no improvement I will have the vet out.  My guess is he probably pulled something in that shoulder trying to get up.  Tank did this once too (in a 14x14 stall mind you) and it was a week before his shoulder was 100%.

Sleepy Ketel

Tank and Poppy worked great over the weekend.  It had been awhile since I jumped them and they were up but were both good.  This is why I love the jumpers, a little wild is just fine :) Our weather has been low 80s so they were nice and sweaty after their work outs.  I typically don't clip Tank.  He doesn't get wooly and when clipped he turns an awful burnt orange color.  Poppy on the other hand is a wooly bear.  I want to drag it out until just before our winter rated show circuit in January.  I really hate body clipping... I have 2 rated shows in December so I'm hoping no one notices how fluffy she is...

I think she looks like a pony is this picture

Thursday, November 14, 2013

20 Questions

1. Whats your horse's name and how did they come by it? Hobbs' show name is Mr Tamborine Man.  My trainer K is a Bob Dylan fan and named him after one of his songs.  Tank's show name is Takota.  He came with the show name.  Honestly I didn't think I would have him long so I never changed it even though I hate it.  6 years later I still have him and still hate the name.  He got his barn name because when I bought him and my husband saw him for the first time he commented that he was built like a tank.  Poppy's show name is Popstar.  I let my trainer N name her and that's what she came up with.  It suits her.  Ketel's JC name is Perfect Ketel.  I will likely keep that as his show name.  I was told his owner named him after the vodka Ketel One.  And then we have Cotton.  He was white and fluffy when I got him as a baby hence how he got his name.  He is now a silver dapple color.  Oops.

2. What are your favorite breeches? For showing definitely Tailored Sportsmans.  

For schooling I like both TS and Equine Couture.

3. Tall boots or paddock boots and half chaps?  For schooling I wear black Dehner zip up paddock boots and Tredstep half chaps.  I save my tall boots for showing.

4. What brand of tall boots do you have (if you wear them)? If you had an unlimited budget what would you get?  I have a pair of custom Vogels.  I think I would probably stick with the Vogels even with the unlimited budget.  I'm dying for some custom leather half chaps though...

5. Favorite Helmet? GPA Speed Air.  Looove it! 

6. Shows or no shows? Shows.  I can't imagine not showing.

7. Jumping or flat work? Both.  Without strong flat work you can't succeed over fences.  I try to limit the amount that I jump my horses so our main focus is flat work.

8. Hunters, Jumpers, Cross Country or Derby’s?  Jumpers hands down.  Every now and again I think doing some Equitation would be fun but doubt I will ever pursue that.  I love doing the jumpers!

9. What other disciplines have you ridden? I started in the hunters and made the switch to jumpers while in college.  I also did equitation while competing in IHSA in college.  I boarded at a barn once that had hunter paces so I did a few of those.  I also tried eventing twice.  The first one I thought was fun and then the second one the cross country scared the sh**t out of me and I will never do that again.  I went fox hunting once when I lived in MD and didn't think it was very fun plus it was freezing.

10. Dressed to the nines or whatever you can find when riding? I dress for the occasion.  At a show, to the nines.  For a lesson, nice and neat.  At home, I try to also be neat so I don't ever get lazy and have it carry over to off the farm trips.  I always boarded at barns that required your hair to be neatly up in a hair net, shirt tucked in, belt, etc so that has been ingrained in me.  Over sized untucked tshirts are a major pet peeve or mine.  Ask yourself, WWGMS?

11. Where do you shop the most for you? Your horse? Either the mobile tack stores at the shows or Dover.  There are a few online store where I like to order supplies/meds.

12. When was the last time you rode and what did you do?  A couple days ago I hacked Poppy.

13. What tack do you use every ride/day?
I love, love, love my Antares saddle.  Best purchase ever!  Each of my horses have schooling bridles for daily use.  I'm not even sure of the brands.  Poppy and Tank both go in figure 8's and rubber reins.  Ketel has a standard hunter bridle.  Tank has a fuzzy girth and an Equifit gel pad.  Poppy uses a Pro Choice girth and a wool Beval saddle pad.  Ketel also has a Pro Choice girth and then borrows Tank's Equifit pad for now.

14. What are your horses color(s)? I don't have colors.  The colors of the barn I train with are green and purple so I have a custom trunk in their colors.  Otherwise I try to get thing in basic colors because I think it is classier.  I only use white square pads for showing, black polos or black Equifit boots, and all of my blankets are either Baker blankets or a dark hunter green in color.  I would really prefer simple black so I think I will slowly switch blankets to that in the future.

15. How often do you clean your tack? Always after a show so it is clean and ready for next time.  Ideally I try to clean my tack after every ride but sometimes time doesn't allow for it.

16. What kind of bit do you use? At home Poppy goes in either a 3 ring or a slow twist D.  I show her in a Waterford D ring.  Tank goes in a 3 ring but I just bought him a loose ring Waterford that I am anxious to try with him.  Ketel goes in a French Link Loose ring.

17. Mares or Geldings? I own both and love both.

18. What is something you want to improve on in your riding? Getting more consistent (particularly in the shows), keeping my upper body back, and making distance decisions earlier.

19. Favorite horse-themed quote?

20.What was your most recent equestrian purchase? A new pair of Equine Couture schooling breeches.  How cute are these?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Hunter Princess Blog Hop- Expand Your Inner Princess

What would you do/change if you had no limits on your inner princess?

What this should really say is if your wallet had no limits.  That's what my inner princess would require.

I would start by purchasing the lot next door so I could build an all weather arena and have more pasture space.

Oh wait.  We said no limits.  Lets
Go all out...

Now I could ride in any weather, day or night.  Next I would get my horses a new ride.  I'm thinking air ride, head to head, lots of space.

Next we need custom drapes, more trunks, custom bridle racks, saddle racks, gas golf cart in my barn colors, the whole shebang.  Everything pristine and matching for the horse shows. 

Staff.  I need staff.  I'd have a private trainer, grooms, and a barn manager at home.  My days of stall cleaning and driving to get feed and hay would be over!

Horses.  Of course I would need more horses!  A derby horse, a Grand Prix horse, maybe even an A/O hunter.  And everyone would have custom matching blankets, sheets, coolers, and scrims.  And custom Antares saddles for each horse (love mine).  Hmmmm I've always wondered what a custom Voltaire saddle was like...

Then we would hit the horse shows!  I would show the FL circuit all winter and spring then up north for summer then indoors.  

Ahhhh, it's awesome to dream...

Monday, November 11, 2013

Baby Ketel's First Show!!

***Warning: this is a brag post!!***

Last Thursday I got off of work early so I could make sure I was able to get Ketel ridden thanks to the time change.  I lunged him before I rode since he had a few days off and he was about as full of himself as I expected.  Some glorious leaps and bucks that I was glad were done on the lunge and not under saddle with me.  When I got on him he was still full of himself.  I worked him in draw reins and although he wasn't bad he just never quite settled down and wanted to bend or stretch down like we typically work on.  There is no point in running a baby into the ground so I let him be done after I felt I was getting the best I was going to get for the day.

This left me with some apprehensions about going to the show Friday morning but like I said in prior posts, the plan was to be flexible and see how he is at the show.

I got there early Friday which gave him time to settle in.  He didn't seem to care about his surroundings and was only interested in his hay.  Of course we had a cold front roll in so the temps were brisk (for FL) and it was WINDY.  Great.

I started him out on the lunge and he ran, snorted, bucked, and had full on "Arabian tail."  Eventually he relaxed and had his nose to the ground.  I let him cool out and relax a bit more before I climbed on.

Our ring was in an indoor (baby's first indoor) and he hacked around like a champ.  No spooking, nothing.  I jumped him around the course of cross rails and he marched around like it was his J-O-B. Woo hoo!

I did let him spend the night at the show to get the whole experience (I've mentioned before I normally like bringing my horses home).  I got there early Saturday morning so I could lunge him.    All the shavings in his tail told me he rested that night.  He was a bit wild on the lunge but it was early and cold.  

We did a warm up and 3 o/f cross rails classes.  He went around as good as I could have hoped.  He was not flawless. We don't have lead changes yet so we had to trot changes.  We still need to work on this as it takes some steps to get him to canter again.  I was nervous about the under saddle.  15 cross railers, mostly beginner children, all in the ring at the same time.  I gave it a go and he didn't blink an eye, picked up his leads, and I even had to cluck to keep him going.

He placed under saddle (6th) but didn't pin in the o/f.  I'm sure the trot changes were the reason.  But most importantly in my eyes he exceeded our goals.  He marched around, jumped everything I asked, didn't spook, got all the numbers, and was perfect in the hack.  I am thrilled!

The only disappointment was that I have no video.  My trainer had 20 horses there so we were slammed.  There wasn't a spare person to play photog or video.  My S.O. was conveniently out of town too.  Sad face,

This was the last unrated local show of the year so Ketel will get a break from his new show horse life until March.  I will be refocusing on Poppy as we have 2 AA rated shows coming up next month.

Being the month of Thanksgiving I do have to say I am so thankful for getting home from the show safely and for my husband.  On the way home I felt some shaking from the trailer but figured he was pawing.  Tires and trailer looked normal as I checked them in my mirrors.  When I got home my husband noticed one of my trailer tires was completely flat.  I am so thankful it did not blow.  He took the tire off and found that the valve stem was leaking.  This must be why I had the blow out in July and the stupid tire place I found in SC didn't check the valve stem. I am so thankful my husband is so mechanical and could figure this out.  Whew!!!  If you have not had a tire blow while towing let me tell you, it is scary.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Red Headed Step Child

I have had this post in my que for a bit and never posted it.  Last night Tank was on my schedule to ride but due to the time change it was too dark to ride when I got home from work and I lunged him in the dark instead.  Then this morning my farrier's assistant asked me if I even rode him anymore.  This question always shocks me.  Just because I don't show a horse much doesn't mean he is retired.

I feel like Tank is my red headed step child.  The forgotten one.  It makes me feel bad that people think he's retired.  It makes me feel worse when I dont get to ride him.   He is now 15 years old and I feel like he maybe never got a fair shot.   Here's the story of my red head.

Tank had impossible shoes to fill.  He was my next horse after Hobbs retired and that was a hard act to follow.  Hobbs was (is) amazing.  I showed him a solid 5 years all over the southeast in the High Adult Jumpers and we had a great show record.  When I had to retire him I quit riding for awhile.  It devastated me.  I went into a funk and really had no desire to ride.  Part of that was also due to us building our farm and the time we put into that.  One day when I went out to the barn my trainer convinced me to ride Tank who was at the barn as a sale horse.  He had the potential to do the A/O Jumpers and I was in love.  I went as far as vetting him until I reached my sanity (with the help of my S.O.) and realized there was no way I could take on a second horse while we were building our farm.  So I passed on him.  He was sent to a sale barn and I went into a deep funk.  I always wondered about him but never asked.  

About 5 months later I finally did. We were moved into our home and my barn was almost done.  He had not sold and apparently had started bucking people off so the sale barn didn't want him there anymore.  I said I was still interested and figured if it was meant to be it would work out.

One afternoon I was out to lunch with a colleague and I got a phone call from my trainer K.  She said Tank was back at her barn and had bucked everyone off at her place and the owner wanted him sold ASAP.  My barn had just been completed and I think I had Hobbs home for about a week.  I told her I would come out and ride him and if I stayed on I would proceed with buying him.  My husband was not happy, but he knew the day would come where I bought horse #2.

My trainer K had an outside trainer coming to ride Tank for her.  He had such jumping potential she thought about buying him herself and trying to fix his bucking.  When I got to the barn this trainer was leaving and told me he bucked her off again.  I got on him and rode without issue.  I rode him once more without issue and bought him.  The first week after I brought him home he bucked me off twice.

I worked hard with him and quickly figured out what was causing him to buck and then worked to correct it.  Then  we started showing. 

We had highs and lows.  We never really got consistent which kept us from moving into the A/Os.  The inconsistency left me frustrated and I started showing less.  It was challenging to go from a consistent winner to a horse that needed me to instill confidence in him instead of the other way around.  I can handle losing but watch others celebrate beating me was tough.  I will always remember watching a girl's mother cry because her daughter beat me in a big class.  Really.  There were other incidents and I shouldn't have let them bother me but they did.  Soon showing was no longer fun and I wasn't able to instill in Tank the confidence he needed.  Actually, that we BOTH needed.

I feel like Tank never got a fair shot.  Or maybe I gave him his only shot?  I don't know.  I try to ride him as much as time allows.  He is such a cool horse.  He is a love bug and total sweet heart.  He is tall, thick, and all muscle.  Built like a tank.  The key to him is correct riding.  He gets annoyed with bad riding (dont we all?).  Don't pull on his face, land on his neck, ask him to leave a stride out, etc.  Not a hard wish list.  Probably one I would ask for if I were a horse.

Along came Poppy and after a tough go in the beginning I developed a bond with her that reminded me of the one I had with Hobbs.  The one I never could quite find with Tank.  And he soon took a back seat.  At least horse show wise.  Though I know he is sad when he doesn't get on the trailer with Poppy I try and give him attention and let him know I love him just as much.  If only we could have it all right?

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Count Down Begins

November 3,2013 marks the day that my 4 month depression and bad mood starts.  It will continue until March 9th.
The end of Daylight Savings Time.  The 4 month period where I have to race home daily so I can attempt to get one horse ridden as the sun sets.  Rotating 3 horses into this riding schedule sucks.  They get ridden less and someone always gets shorted.

Even before the time change it was getting dark much earlier.  The sun setting is baby Ketel's cue that it's dinner time.  After an amazing ride on him a couple Saturdays ago where he was jumping cross rails like a champ, last week he reverted to his bucking and rearing behavior.  When he doesn't want to work he starts grunting and then will either stand up or buck.  Last week I worked him through it.  I got off, lunged him (he ran like a maniac), then got back on with draw reins and worked him until we could end on a good note.  Rain kept us from riding Saturday so I rode Sunday afternoon.  Same behavior.  Anytime he tried to divert from work he got the stick (more bucking) and I would do whatever it took to drive him forward.  It wasn't getting better so again lunge line (ran like crazy), then back on with draw reins.

We have his first show on Saturday.  I plan to take him over Friday to settle in.  I will get through the week with him even if it's just lunging and get him to the show and see what I have to deal with.  After the weekend I am thinking I may give him the winter off.  After the time changes again he will be 4 and maybe more mentally matured.  I have dealt with plenty of bucking and rearing horses but nothing is worse then when they are a poor balanced baby.  You have no idea if they will be able to land on all fours when they come down.  Winter show season in FL will be busy and I would like to keep my focus on Poppy so we will see.  Nothing is set in stone yet.