Sunday, February 28, 2016

Conformational Analysis: First Quarter

I liked the idea that a few bloggers had (Carley, Emma) to document their horses conformation and bodily changes as riding season progresses. While I'd like to tag off of their idea, I don't necessarily want to make it a monthly installment.

Instead, I'd like to make this a quarterly update - I do realize that I've lost two months time already, but will re-update May, August, and November.

Without further ado, here are the fuzzy-butt ponies. Keep in mind they look like crap because they've both been off for the last 3.5 months.

Despite the fact it looks like Spud has a really rockin' beer gut, he actually just has that much hair. I don't know if you can see how much of a beard he grew, but it's long enough that it almost reaches down to the snap for his leadrope.

Also ignore the fact that he is standing like a pre-Madonna. The remainder photos I got looked like this:

And secondly, mare-pants got some cameo phtoos done. Notice how sweaty she is? We'll get to that in a second...

I am quite pleased with how she looks right now - I'd like to put a bit more weight on her (I've since upped her grain intake and hay intake), but otherwise her topline isn't too bad. You will notice how much nicer looking and less fuzzy Suzie is than Spud and is simply because Suzie was blanketed all Winter.

So since the mare was sound, I decided to pop on for a quiet walking ride to get "back at it since our sinking incident. Apparently Suzie was full of fucking beans because she tried to kill me several times. I ended up letting her power-trot for about 2 minutes until I realized she was just NOT going to settle, so we did some "calm-yo-self" circles and practiced some leg yielding and halting quietly.

This was her reaction to me asking her to halt.
Note the sweaty eyes and nose...

It's funny because this mare will be 23 in May and she shows NO signs of slowing her roll - I am totally fine with that, although sometimes I wish I didn't have to get ponied off the side of the trail because she refuses to stand quiet... She truly is a nutter and she's all mine.

Sidenote x2: Does anyone know if Stories from the Saddle is still blogging? I miss seeing her updates :(

Friday, February 26, 2016

Fashion Advice: It's Been Decided!

So I have finally decided what outfit I'll be wearing with Spud during our driving escapades.

Ya'll ready for this?

Black Troxel Intrepid helmet.
The scarf I want is less bulky than this, but
this one shows the colors I want.

Modern Hunter Arista Show Jacket
A turquoise long-sleeved shirt.
Turquoise brooch (I already ordered this exact one).

An idea of some tan/brown/black feathers to add behind the brooch.

Classic black pants.

Tan Lap Robe.

It's open to interpretation, though. The scarf I am looking into getting won't be as thick/long as the one shown. I want more of an "infinity" scarf with sheer fabric. I'm hoping the scarf hides the gray on the show-coat, which will probably not mesh well with the whole emsemble.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Two 'fer Two

I don't know what it is about my red mare being a magnet for sink holes, but sometimes I really have to wonder what the hell the universe is thinking and why it torments me so.

It *was* a good ride.

In case you haven't pieced it together yet, I'll ruin the ending to the story for you and let you in on what happened yesterday afternoon. My horse sunk. Again.

It all sounds so ironic and it almost makes me seem like some reckless horse rider, but I promise you I am far from that... despite tour affinity for finding sink holes, that is. It all started out so innocently, and I had even trail-rode in this particular spot hundreds of times over the last seven years. The unfortunate position of this sink-hole was not previously known, and had it of been... I would have never gone there.

So yesterday, the sun was out and I was itching to go for a ride. Naturally, I saddled up after doing some chores like scrubbing out the water trough and filling haynets. I didn't intend to go for a long ride, as it was in the late afternoon and it would start to get dark soon. With Spud ponying behind Suzie (attached to the ring on her rear cinch like usual), we wandered down to the one watering hole like we always do for trail riding and crossed the small stream.

You may remember this small stream from a hilarious video of Spud swimming across it during the summer months (the flow of the water was quite low yesterday and it will continue to be low for the next month or so).

It all started so well.
Anyways, we followed one of the pathways that is normally the "end" for most of the trails in the area. It has a large drop down from all the ATVers and natural erosion and Suzie maneuvered it expertly. We continued for about 15 more minutes and came across more snow before I decided to turn around, as I was alone and not a lot of the trails are "opened up" yet for the season. We maneuvered back and when I came back to that large drop, I intended to get off and walk Suzie up it, as it seemed too steep and sandy to ride safely... the sand was not packed down very well).

I turned her to the left and as we walked towards the rocky part of the stream, Suzie literally fell out beneath me. A gigantic hole swallowed her right up to her chest and as she sunk, she flailed forwards to right herself again. I was popped off her shoulder and landed near her hindquarters, my left leg hung up on the lead that attached Spud to Suzie's saddle (it was not tangled, just hung up). Spud was also sinking and both horses managed to free themselves rather quickly, and as they yanked forwards, my foot came free.

Blue arrow = main crossing where Spud swam across
Red arrow = where Suzie and Spud sunk.
Suzie stood quietly and Spud frantically walked on the spot as sand and mud slid down his chest. My pants were soaked, boots full of water and sand, and my hoodie sleeves soaked. I immediately grabbed one of the split reins that hung on the ground and patted Suzie, thanking my lucky stars that we were all okay.

Oh, fuck.
To preface any questions; this particular spot is NOT the same spot where Suzie sunk last year and the area we sunk was only about ankle deep.

I honestly was shocked how it happened, as this area did NOT show any predisposition of being "dangerous". Paint me embarrassed that this happened yet again.

Suzie came out of the sink hole very, very sore. She was noticeably lame at the walk so I walked the two horses home - my boots squished and sloshed water the whole time. Upon arriving back at the barn, I stripped Suzie of her tack and went to work on drying her and Spud off with the towel I had in the truck. After doing this, I put their blankets on to help them dry off more - it was just after 5pm and beginning to get dark.

I mixed up some grain and bute, but Suzie refused to eat it (I seriously don't know why bute is cherry flavored...). So I ran back into town, changed my clothes and then scooted over to the drug store and purchased some syrgines (mine broke last Summer), and some Arnica gel.

So, I've been massaging Arnica gel into her shoulder/leg and today was her second day of bute. I trotted her out this evening and she is pretty sound now, so I'll stop the bute treatment but continue with the Arnica pills and gel.


Oh, and when I bought the Arnica pills and gel, I also
purchased the "I am the shittiest horse owner ever"
starter kit.
I'm hoping to head back out to the particular area to get some pictures to show the BF, because he isn't sure the exact place i went and it literally doesn't look as dangerous as it was...

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Fashion Advice: Turn-Out with Spud

Budding off of Andrea's recent post, I've been looking into what kind of outfit Spud and I would be wearing for a competition. Around here there are entry level competitions unless you want to travel 8+ hrs down South to more strenuous and stiff competition.

And for Spud's first year of showing, I'd like to keep it simple.

A schooling outfit for our lessons.
 In that, I am having a heck of a time trying to piece together an outfit that would look respectable and professional. The biggest problem I have is that I own an all black carriage and a black harness - I can't really pull off a black coat/ lap robe ensemble. Plus, I don't want to look like the grim reaper.

The main components for my outfit must include:
  • Hat/Helmet. I am choosing to wear my helmet at these competitions, as Spud is still quite green. It also saves me having to purchase a hat since I don't particularly like the style of hats one usually wears in carriage driving competitions.
  • Coat and a undershirt.
  • Pants.
  • Lap Robe.
 And then there is one problem with choosing a color pallete... Spud is a varnish Appaloosa and is various shades of grey, white, and brown. What color goes best with a black cart and a speckled pony?

So far I'm *thinking* of a black lap robe and

Thoughts? Advice?

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

While We're Waiting to Thaw

The Grounds are still quite buried in snow, as shown by
Spud's sunken feetsies1
 Around town there are still some areas that haven't thawed completely of snow and ice, this includes the outdoor riding arena at the local Fairgrounds where I normally ride Suzie. It's not completely unrealistic that the arena is still laiden with snow, as we normally have much more snow around this time of year. In fact, I managed to do quite a bit of "Spring Cleaning" the other day, which was strange in itself!

So with this good weather naturally comes the want (and unrelenting NEED) to ride, and sometimes the paved streets where you can do no more than walk gets a bit boring and tiresome. Needless to say, I am thankful to be well equipped with a truck and trailer - the ability to go wherever I want is an intoxicating feeling!

Initially, I had planned on hauling out to the indoor arena in the next town (approximately an hour away) but didn't feel like wasting two hours driving, especially if the schooling sessions were going to be no more than 30-40 minutes long. As I went out to hitch up the trailer at my MILs, I saw the most beautiful sight to be seen.

Yea... the irony that we live so close lol.
You may not remember this place if you are a "newer" reader, but back when Suzie was boarded in town, you may recall "Our Meadow". (If you don't remember, feel free to read up here, here, and here.)  Basically, it's an open plot of ground between some residential apartments and houses - it backs onto the road where horses and livestock can be kept and at the other end, there is a children's park.

And even more interesting, here is another map to show you all just how close our house, property, and the riding meadow is all connected. You will notice where our property is, most of the surrounding area is bush-like and non-developed. This is a new section added in by a local construction company and it is beginning to be developed as the years progress. The whole appeal of this entire "subdivision" is to have the ability to farm (or to just have a lot of land) and still be within close proximity to town.

And before I continue on the whole ride and drive recap, let's take a quick look at where Suzie and Spud are boarded now. It is a rural subdivision, much like the new one being constructed IN town. This one however, is approximately 10 minutes out of town.

OK, so enough of the maps and back to our regularly scheduled program here.

I had intended to work some more on loading and unloading, given the horse's previous abhorrence to the trailer during our last haul-out. I did decide to do things a bit differently this time, in that I loaded Spud first and decided to load him on the opposite side (previously I had loaded him on the passenger side). He gave some slight resistance, but after clucking once or twice, he clambered on and loaded straight. Much to my surprise, he didn't try and spin around, didn't duck under the divider and didn't try to get out.

I unloaded and re-loaded him a few more times, keen on giving him pets and letting him know he was a good boy. Once he was tied and secured, I decided to load Suzie and she quite literally sniffed, and then self-loaded. I stood at the back of the trailer ramp in shock, but quickly remembered my sanity and tied her through the escape door.

Both horses hauled quietly, save for one moment where I thought Spud may have fallen down... I quickly stopped and ran back to the trailer and saw both of them standing quietly, looking at me expectantly. I assume that Suzie shifted in the trailer and my alarm bells sounded off.

They say "Ain't no thang, mom."
 Upon arriving, they unloaded great and surveyed their surroundings with slight interest while I wrestled to get the cart out of my truck box. Seriously, there has to be a better way! And I refuse to unhitch, unload the cart and re-hitch again. Too time-consuming and wasteful in my opinion.

Regardless, the horses's didn't care about my troubles and soon I had Spud hitched and ready to go. He seemed quite spritely, and forward thinking which I wanted to use to my advantage. Ironically enough, his forward thinking brain didn't last long, as his energy was misdiagnosed and he realized rather quickly that pulling a cart was hard work. I didn't push him too long and kept the session short, since this was our first "training drive" of the season.

While Spud can have a lot of stamina, we had trail ridden approximately two hours the day before and Mr. Short Legs had to jog most of the way to keep up with Suzie and AJ. In addition to this, being out of shape and lugging around a person can be pretty tough, especially when you are doing more than just walking.

So other than being a bit laggy and unresponsive once he got tired (the video showcases some moments where I got after him a bit with my clucking), he was pretty agreeable for his first drive back. You can see a few moments where I'm asking him to turn and he's counter-bending against me to head back towards Suzie, which is realistic of a greenie who hasn't done much since last year. We did have some good moments of connection and given the fact that the terrain wasn't completely smooth, he did quite well.

Looking fancy.
 While some of the training we did was not captured on video, we did work on halting, some strong trotting (I hesitate to call it lengthening), and pivoting the cart without moving forwards too much. He gets very sticky when we pivot and somethings this leads to frustration on his end, but today he did great. And after two quick canters either direction, I called it quits.

He feels really good but is a bit resistant in the bridle, although he is starting to stretch down and seek that contact. It'll all come with time and once he gets more stability in the trot, he won't have to bring his head up to balance himself as much.

Next up was Suzie-mare, who I wasn't certain how she'd ride considering she acted like a bit of a moron yesterday during our trail ride. At one point when we ran into 4x4s and needed to pull over and let them pass, I had to be PONIED because Suzie decided she didn't want to stand quietly on the side of the trail. Oh no, she wanted to back up like an idiot, dragging poor unsuspecting Spud with her.

Hormonal mares, people.

All aboard the Hot Mess Express.
 Much to my delight, after a few "looky-loo" moments, she settled right down into work-mode. I mostly worked on asking for flexion, moving off my legs, and having some assemblance of rhythm. It didn't take long for her to settle into a quiet jog and although she was a bit stiff to the left (her bad side), she was quite amicable in my requests. She certainly felt unbalanced - again, I contribute this to the fact that the terrain isn't quite flat - but we had plenty of nice jogging and loping moments.

I made sure we worked on opening her shoulders a bit with some side-passing and leg yielding. And I find that asking for quite a bit of bend and then releasing and asking again helps her a lot. Almost like an "elastic", allowing her to yo-yo between the extreme (when I say 'extreme' I don't mean cranking her head down to my knee. I mean more of a 10:30/ 2:30 view... think of the hands on a clock and as your horse's head being at 12 o'clock and being completely straight with no bend) and nothing at all.

My favorite pair of ears <3
She really retains a lot of the schooling we did last year, but lacks the ability to really perform to that standard. Again, it'll come with time. I'm just glad we had a productive school.

Upon leaving, both horses were good to load although Suzie tried to say "no way" for about 3 seconds. Of course, the more we haul, the better they'll get.

Monday, February 22, 2016

So Much Love... AKA How I know Suzie's in heat...

Sunday afternoon brought about the sun and some much needed warmth, so a friend and I saddled up for a trail ride. We had initially planned to head over to the Fairgrounds to check the outdoor ring and then wander off down the logging roads since neither of us anticipated the Grounds would be clear. We headed over and unsurprisingly, there was still quite a bit of snow in the ring which made it unsavory for anything but liberty/lunging work.

My friend's horse AJ was feeling quite fresh and after trying to (unsuccessfully!) dump her, she opted to strip his tack and let him rip around the ring to burn off some excess Spring energy. While I did keep Suzie fully tacked and by my side, I let Spud rip around since him and AJ are quite smitten with one another.

The following video documents the two bronies hilarious love affair and synchronized galloping.

And yes, Spud truly is an asshole in a very tiny package.

After running around like lunatics, the horse's congregated around Suzie and after Suzie realized just how manly AJ is, she proceeded to go into raging heat. In the most hot and heavy moments, she made out with AJ, who was competing for love from both of my horses. Truthfully, I think AJ was very confused as to why Suzie was being so gentle and flirty with him - she normally hates him.

Don't they make a cute family?

Mares, am I right?

Sunday, February 21, 2016

2016 Clinic, Fun Events, and Show Schedule

As always, my availability and the ability for the certain events to go through is subject to change, but as of now this is where I stand and (hopefully) this will be my official clinic/event/show schedule. You will note that as of now, there is only one clinic penciled in, as most clinics in the area are posted in advance by 30-60 days. As of this moment, there isn't much going on in the way of riding clinics considering it is still very much Winter in our area. Here's to hoping the snow melts.

Ignore the fact that her chain is wayyyy to long.
Also, I do not clip muzzle hairs for a reason.
Much like last year, everything will be color-coded to represent what type of horsey-activity it is.

The "legend" will be as follows:
FUN EVENTS (This includes Percentage Days, Clear Rounds, Gymkhanas, etc). 

Percentage Day/ Clear Rounds                 April 30th
Gymkhana                                                  April 10th or 17th
Gymkhana                                                  May 1st
Schooling Show                                          May 6 - 8
Percentage Days/ Clear Rounds               May 28th
Gymkhana                                                  May 29th
Driving Clinic                                             June 19th - 21st
Percentage Days/ Clear Rounds               June 25th
Gymkhana                                                  June 26th
Horse Show                                                 July 10th
Percentage Days/ Clear Rounds               July 16th
Gymkhana                                                  July 17th
Three Breed Classic Horse Show            August 6th - 7th
Percentage Days/ Clear Rounds              August 20th
Gymkhana                                                 August 21st
Bulkley Valley Exhibition                        August 25th - 28th
IPE Exhibition                                          August 31st - September 4th
Timberland Horse Show                          September 2-4
Gymkhana                                                 September 10th
Percentage Days/ Clear Rounds              September 11th

There may be some additions and subtractions, but that's what horse showing is all about - sometimes it's planning it meticulously and sometimes it's flying by the seam of your pants!

We'll get more of them dressage skills.


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

TRM Blog Hop: Pet Peeves

I still don't have a "special blog hop" photo, so go
ahead and use this one... or a cute one of Spud or something.
With all the Spring-time shenanigans that have been occurring with my own horses, I figured it'd be a perfect time to compose another blog-hop. This one is a bit different, as it may not be an accurate representation of a horse you currently own. It should, however, invoke rage and make your eyes twitch with annoyance.

With that being said, this blog hop is kind of a "two for one deal"; two questions for the price of one!

Let's get started.

I'm the best horse ever - I have no bad qualities!

What is your biggest horse related pet peeve? (Try and keep this one more about the horse itself. Things like spooking at nothing, dirty stoppers, refusing to load, etc.).

For myself, I'd say that I have a *few* horse related pet peeves that would be an absolute "no-go" in a sale situation. These peeves would make my decision of "to buy or not to buy?" an easy decision to say the least. (The following annoyances aren't listed in variation - one does not outweigh the other.)

 Starting with Pet Peeve #1: Refusal to be Caught.

"See you later, asshole"
Shared from
And  I don't mean the "tee-hee-I'm-a-bit-fresh-so-I'm-going-to-run-away-for-30-seconds". I mean the serious, you CANNOT catch the fucker and you end up walking 5 miles before a ride because you're chasing the fucker all over the goddamn pasture. Spud is difficult to catch sometimes, which can be attributed to his personality (he's quite shy), but I don't mind walking around the pasture for 30 seconds - 2 minutes to catch him. It's the horses who will NOT be caught, even with the presence of food or removal of the other horses.

I don't know that I'd mind this refusal to be caught so much if the horse wasn't on a few acres of land, but it's still a pain in the ass regardless. Not something I'd want to deal with and not a horse I'd purchase, especially if this vice was talked about prior to purchase.

Pet Peeve #2: Rearing.

Because this looks like a blasty blast.
 Again, this isn't the "I'm-excited-for-a-ride" rear. This is, "I-want-to-throw-you-off-my-back-because-I-am-fucking-pissed." I have no use for a chronic rearer and I certainly wouldn't put up with a horse who reared out of anger or annoyance. It's important, however, as a rider to know when the rearing is out of frustration or uncertainty rather than anger.

Pet Peeve #3: Horse who will not ground tie.

Sit. Stay. Good horse.
 This is a HUGE deal for me. I want a horse that I can put the leadrope on the ground and it'll stand there and just be chill. This is useful when I have to get on/off a million times such as during jump schooling or on a trail ride. I know of a horse who literally takes off the second you let go of the reins and will gallop around the arena like an idiot. Just, no.

Pet Peeve #4: Refusal to Load.

You better get your ass on that trailer, pony.

This is such an aggravating thing - it actually annoys me that I need to re-teach my horses to load for my straight haul trailer. But, I will re-teach them and take the time to do it because I don't want to stand there for 45 minutes trying to load them in a rain storm. Because, no.

So there you have it - the top four pet peeves of mine that make my blood boil. Obviously, they can all be fixed, but at the same time, they annoy the CRAP out of me.


And secondly, what is your biggest equestrian related pet peeve? (This is less about the horse and more about the people in the industry. It can be anything from hating the aisleways in the barn not being swept, the wait times between classes, or even things like rollkur).

This is bliss.

I honestly don't really know what my "number one" would be but I increasingly hate how people have horses they can't even enjoy a nice hack/trail ride on. I've known tons of horses who are arena-bound permanently because they just cannot be trail ridden. Personally, I want a horse who is well-rounded and adapts to change relatively easy.

This blog hop has a lot to do with personal preference, so I won't be angry if anyone disagrees - it's what I want in my own ideal horse and that's all. Feel free to join in and input your link into the link up below! Oh, and I realize I don't have my own special "bloghop" photo, so just use a cute one of Spud or something.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Why Hacking in Halters is a Bad Idea

Finally got the nameplate and assembled it
onto the halter.
I put two rides on my mare before the disgusting downpour of rain foiled my plans to continue tack-walking and hacking out. (As a side-note, the anniversary of Snowmaggedon is fast approaching... I'm realllly hoping we escape the whole snow thing).

I figured since we wouldn't be doing much more than walking and some mild trotting, that sticking her in a halter would be a nicer option as opposed to a bit in her mouth. I figured that a nice jaunt through the streets wouldn't require a bit. I figured it would be more pleasant.

I was not only wrong, but really, really wrong.

Mare was fresh from the start and walked off with a head bob that would make Saddlebred's ashamed and a high-stepping action that would cause even the best Hackney's to cry. I took the forward impulsion with open arms, but instantly regretted it when Suzie began viciously head-tossing and snorting.

Crocodile tears, Mr. Hackney horse!

Of course, the fact she was in a halter did nothing for my non-existant breaks and I dealt with Suzie's head in my lap on more than one occasion. I vowed that the next time I rode, Suzie would be in a proper bridle-situation.

The next day, a friend drove Spud and I figured it would be a perfect opportunity to get Suzie really aquianted with the cart since I hadn't really hacked her out beside him while he drove. Sensing the perfect opportunity, I hand-walked her alongside Spud and after five dreary minutes, I realized that she was 100% fine with the cart. I figured why not pop up onto the mare and I tied her leadrope onto her halter and hopped up.

Is Spud not the most knock-kneed thing
you have ever seen?

And yet again I was faced with an impatient, flaming dragon.

She does this every Spring.

I seriously cannot wait until the snow melts and we can actually ride. Or until, y'anno, I choose to ride in a friggen bridle like a normal person.