July 2016 archive

Farm Friday 07.29.2016

We have a chicken laying these teeny tiny eggs. They don't have yolks and so far we have found at least 6 of them! They make for great dog treats.

We have a chicken laying these teeny tiny eggs. They don’t have yolks and so far we have found at least 6 of them! They make for great dog treats.

Bubbles the barn kitty is doing very well. She stays put in her hay stall, but we can't touch her yet. Hopefully with time she will become friendlier and realise we won't hurt her.

Bubbles the barn kitty is doing very well. She stays put in her hay stall, but we can’t touch her yet. Hopefully with time she will become friendlier and realise we won’t hurt her.

This is Charlotte, our newest foster dog from Fort Worth Animal Control. She's a few months old and we think she's a German Shepherd cross. The shelter identified her as a lab mix, but she has decidedly German Shepherd ears, face shape and hind end conformation. She has learned to sit and wait her turn for meals.

This is Charlotte, our newest foster dog from Fort Worth Animal Control. She’s a few months old and we think she’s a German Shepherd cross. The shelter identified her as a lab mix, but she has decidedly German Shepherd ears, face shape and hind end conformation. She has learned to sit and wait her turn for meals.

We have had lots of pop up thunderstorms this week which make for some stunning sunsets.

We have had lots of pop up thunderstorms this week which make for some stunning sunsets.

We also have a mama cat with five kittens we are fostering for Fort Worth Animal Control. This is a cute tuxedo female from the litter. She was assisting with wash stall supply inventory and napping.

We also have a mama cat with five kittens we are fostering for Fort Worth Animal Control. This is a cute tuxedo female from the litter. She was assisting with wash stall supply inventory and napping.

Bevel Summer Sale!

One of my most favourite places to shop for horsey items is Beval. I’ve not ever been to the actual stores on the East Coast, but I’ve gotten lots of stuff off their website and in January had a saddle fitter come out and I bought the Beval Artisan saddle for fox hunting because I didn’t want to use my brand new Antares saddle for hunting. I’ve found Beval products to be of great quality and most of their leather goods are made in England.

Right now they are having a fantastic summer sale until July 31 so this post is my Beval wish list.

First on my list is the Heritage Wide Caveson Hunter Bridle. My horsey bestie has a few Beval bridles and they are beautiful. As Coco heads into her hunter career I’d love to get her a brand new spiffy bridle. I’ve been on the fence about the wide caveson bridles and now I think Coco would look quite lovely in one.

Bevel Heritage Wide Caveson Hunter Bridle. Photo from Beval website.

Bevel Heritage Wide Caveson Hunter Bridle. Photo from Beval website.

I’ve longed for a Witney cooler to use after cold fox hunts or at winter horse shows. Alas they are included in the summer sale! You could also use one in your house as a throw blanket or as an accent to bedding. These are made in England. They remind me of the races at Newmarket and old paintings by Stubbs and Munnings.

Witney square cooler

Witney square cooler

I recently bought new Grand Prix paddock boots (Made in the USA!) so would love to get some nice new half chaps to go with them. The leather used to make these looks like it would feel just like butter.

Beval Puissance Half Chaps

Beval Puissance Half Chaps

In all honesty I think GPA helmets are rather ugly, however the Speed Air Evolution is on super duper sale so would be worth trying out!

GPA Speed Air Evolution helmet

GPA Speed Air Evolution helmet

I need a tack trunk, a vinyl sided one that matches my trainer’s colors, but I’d also like a plain wood one for at home and to take to fox hunts. This one would fit the bill perfectly. The classic dark wood and basic style are timeless. Add a brass nameplate and it would be absolutely perfect.

Medium Delux Trunk (they spelled deluxe wrong, not me!)

Medium Delux Trunk (they spelled deluxe wrong, not me!)

So there you have it, my current favourites at Beval. If you are on the market for some horsey goodies from saddles and bridles to riding apparel to horse apparel definitely check out this Beval sale. I’m in no way shape or form being compensated for this post, I just really like their stuff and their customer service. Happy shopping!

Farm Friday 07.22.2016

I often think I miss a lot of posting opportunities about the farm animals so I’m starting a new regular post; Farm Fridays! They will consist primarily of just recent photos of happenings on the farm. Enjoy!

Tarzan spends the majority of his summer days sleeping on his favourite ottoman.

Tarzan spends the majority of his summer days sleeping on his favourite ottoman.

 

Pablo isn't often very friendly, but when he is he's pretty funny. He's very much a heavy-breather-in-you-ear kind of donkey!

Pablo isn’t often very friendly, but when he is he’s pretty funny. He’s very much a heavy-breather-in-you-ear kind of donkey!

 

Marby never ceases to entertain. Never. He also likes to hang out on the tops of vehicles of all kinds as well as buildings.

Marby never ceases to entertain. Never. He also likes to hang out on the tops of vehicles of all kinds as well as buildings.

 

 

Jaguar’s Retirement Celebration

I’m absolutely terrible at taking photos at my own parties. Terrible! We had a lovely gathering of horsey and not-so-horsey friends over to celebrate Jaguar’s retirement. This year has been so hard, I needed something happy to happen at the farm and this was just the ticket. I’m sure many of my friends and family think I’m a little bit nuts because I tend to mostly have parties for my animals. Not birthday parties like normal people with animals and not kids have, but Sip and Sees ¬†and horse retirement parties. However I’m beyond grateful that they indulge me and attend said parties.

Jaguar in his Retirement Party stall decorations

Jaguar in his Retirement Party stall decorations

I attempted to decorate his stall in my hunts colors, but last minute planning and the lack of the correct hunter green at the local Dollar General resulted in a shamrock green, but it still looked festive and Jaguar was very interested in his balloons!

Checking out his loot and eating carrots

Checking out his loot and eating carrots

Jaguar was showered with lots and lots of fantastic gifts and there were even a few for his assistant (me)! He got mostly carrots and horsey treats plus a bottle of Stella Artois to indulge his taste for beer and a Jolly Ball for his stall. I got bottles of champagne, vino and a couple lovely home accessories.

 

Very well packaged horsey and horsey assistant gifts.

Very well packaged horsey and horsey assistant gifts.

I am still pretty sad about not being able to ride the old man any more, but I look forward to a new kind of bonding with him. He’s got so many treat bags as gifts that he should be able to do every trick in the book you can teach a horse using treats. We have already been working on bowing and making great progress. He’s very careful with his hurt leg, but is still game to try most anything it takes to get a cookie.

All of Jaguar's goodies

All of Jaguar’s goodies

How I do Stuff: Tail Maintenance

Here is a little secret.

Beautiful hunters lined up waiting to be pinned. Photo from Pinterest.

Beautiful hunters lined up waiting to be pinned. Photo from Pinterest.

Most of those beautiful tails are not real. All horse events at horse shows that I have ever shown in from AQHA to reining to hunter shows have all had a very longstanding trend of long and thick tails. When I was a kid showing Quarter Horses I would spend hours upon hours grooming my horse’s tail so that by show season it would be long and thick. Quite frankly I got to be quite the horse stylist! Until I started showing Jaguar, that is. His tail tended more towards the thin and wispy style. This was also at a time when fake tails were becoming more common than not. People were figuring out that rather than leaving tails braided and protected by tail bags or socks (yes, we used tube socks to protect our horse’s tails. My Dad thought it was beyond ridiculous) year round they could just braid or tie in a fake tail and call it a day. Jaguar’s tail was so pathetic that I succumbed to the trend and made my own fake tail to tie into his real tail at shows giving it some volume and a little bit of length.

Alas that trend continues today in the hunter world and I’m reverting back to my kid self with fierce determination that my horses are going to grow their own damn tails. This may be due partially to my desire to prove that I can do it and partially to the fact that I have a grey horse and their fake tails cost twice as much as one for a bay or chestnut because the colors have to match just right. Regardless, I’ve challenged myself to help Coco grow a respectable tail in time for her first horse show. I anticipate we have about a year for this endeavour. This post will be photographic evidence of what we started with.

Coco's tail. Not terrible, but also not show quality. Plus it appears she pulled out a large chunk of hair at the top.

Coco’s tail. Not terrible, but also not show quality. Plus it appears she pulled out a large chunk of hair at the top.

Based on interwebs research I’m going to use Shapley’s M-T-G to help Coco’s tail grow. I also subscribe to the philosophy of brushing the hair with a brush as little as possible, however I also need it to remain tangle free so if it gets caught on a tree branch or fence the hair won’t get pulled out because of a tangle. So I will pick it out with my fingers most of the time, but will brush it every once in a while. Plus she LOVES having her tail brushed.

The tools of the trade. A tail brush and some Shapley's M-T-G

The tools of the trade. A tail brush and some Shapley’s M-T-G

When I brush hair; mine or a horse’s; I always start at the very bottom and move slowly closer to the roots. This allows the tangles to get picked out without pulling out giant wads of hair.

Start brushing at the very bottom of the tail

Start brushing at the very bottom of the tail

Once the tail is fully brushed out I start applying the M-T-G at the very top of the tail by parting it horizontally like so:

IMG_6932Then squirting some M-T-G as close to the hairline as possible. M-T-G works at the root of the hair, not as a conditioner. It encourages hair growth.

IMG_6931I’ll do about three of these spots slowly working down the tailbone. After each application of M-T-G I work it into the roots of the hair to get it spread throughout. Once I get about 1/3 to 1/2 way down the tailbone I’ll part the hair vertically:

IMG_6934I’ll part it all the way to the end of the tail bone then apply a very liberal amount of M-T-G and work it into the roots of the hair. The goal here is to get as much on the tail as possible and as little on the floor as possible.

IMG_6933Once I’ve gotten the tailbone hair as saturated as possible without dripping I’ll put some on the length of the tail just to protect that hair. Plus it acts as a detangler.

IMG_6936One thing about M-T-G is that it smells absolutely horrible. Like a cross between animal lard and barbecue. It is terribly odd scent, but it is supposed to work really well. The bottle says to apply it once per week to encourage hair growth for manes and tails. We don’t really care about the mane, so we’ll only be applying it to Coco’s tail. The directions also state to not put it on a horse’s tail and then turn them out in the sunshine. M-T-G causes photo sensitivity. Good thing that during the summer months my horses get turned out at night! I’ll report back in a few months to see how Coco’s tail growth progress is going. I’ve been sporadically putting M-T-G in Sterling’s tail for about 6 months and his looks pretty good. I’ll add him to the weekly application program and maybe they will both have to die for tails by next summer!

Sterling in a Classic!

After Sterling’s abominable behaviour on the recent trail ride attempt, I had to make it up to him and brag on him a bit. Just a few short days after the trail riding debacle we made our way to Waco, Texas for the Blue Ribbon Summer Festival I. I was a bit concerned that I had fried his brain by attempting to go on a trail ride, but Sterling proved pretty quickly that horse show horse he truly wants to be and is where he has the most success.

I’m not going to dissect each trip, mostly because it has been a few weeks since the show and they have all run together in my head, but I did want to mention the highlights. I don’t have a photo of Sterling with his ribbon, but I’m absolutely delighted to share that we won our first ever blue ribbon over fences at a rated USEF show! We won the Modified Child/Adult over fences trip on Thursday with a very respectable 16 entries! We also got third in our Limit over fences class and third in the Limit under saddle class, both with about 16 or 17 entries. I’m finally learning to stay out of Sterling’s face going up to jumps and not getting ahead of his momentum with my body by leaning forward. By riding more correctly we are getting much better spots to the fences so his form is more elegant and true to the hunter type. We (I) still have a lot of progress to make in keeping a consistent canter rhythm, but progress is pretty exciting, especially when rewarded with blue ribbons!

Our photo op from my sister-in-law on our blue ribbon day at the Summer Festival I in Waco

Our photo op from my sister-in-law on our blue ribbon day at the Summer Festival I in Waco

The second day my rounds in the Limit division over fences trips left a bit to be desired. A consistently inconsistent canter stride separated the men from the boys in the placings. I got a seventh in one group and no placing in the other. We made up for it, though, in the 2’6″ Hunter Classic. The course is a tiny bit longer in a Classic than in a regular round over fences and there are potentially two trips. Everyone goes around once and the top 12 scores are invited back for another round and the combined overall high score wins. Our first trip was arguably the absolute best trip we have ever had over fences and was rewarded with a very respectable score of 78 out of a possible 100. We were in the lead until the very last rider went and scored an 81, but we still had the second round to go. Our second round had a few bobbles and I never did hear our score, but we ended up 4th overall out of 20 or so entries! And we won money! I’m SO proud of Sterling and I can’t brag on him enough. The ring at Waco is known to be rather spooky and he went around nearly like he was at home.

Fourth place in the 2'6" Hunter Classic!

Fourth place in the 2’6″ Hunter Classic!

The icing on the cake for this horse show was that we had a pretty significant cheering section, which we have never had before! Many of Boot City’s family live in or near Waco and some even drove up from Austin to watch. It was extra fun to have them at the show and for us to do well with an audience.

Photo by Holly Ridge Photography.

Photo by Holly Ridge Photography.

Polo in Texas!

The fox hunt I’m a member of has members from many different walks of equestrian life. The diversity of horsey backgrounds makes for a very fun group of equestrians with very different perspectives on riding. One of the few equestrian disciplines I have never tried before joining the hunt was polo. Having grown up in Montana there weren’t a lot of opportunities to learn most kinds of riding in English tack. My parents often attended a polo event in Sheridan, Wyoming during Don King Days in September, but that was as close as we ever got to polo. Well it just so happens that my hunt has a strong contingent of polo players who also happen to be some of the most inviting folks I’ve ever met.

I made it out to the polo field one time last summer, but I took Sterling with me and he was very poorly behaved on the tie line so I didn’t get much time on the field. This summer I was (thankfully) invited back and opted to not take my horse show prima donna along with me. Plus it was a work night so there was no way I’d have time to go home from work, get the horse and make it to the polo field by “kickoff” at 6p. After work I snuck into the bathroom in my office building to change into my breeches and boots and got out of the building as covertly as possible to not be seen (and made fun of) by my coworkers. The polo field where I played is an easy 40 minute drive from my office so I got to enjoy another episode of Serial Season 2 on my drive out.

Once at the field I had the great fortune to ride Prince. A seasoned Thoroughbred polo pony of 16 or 17 years old. The horses ridden by polo players are always called polo ponies, even though few of them are true ponies, which would require them to be under 14.2 hands tall. Polo ponies are also not exceptionally tall. Very rarely do they exceed 15.3 hands. They need to be the right height for the rider to not have to lean over too terribly far to hit the ball and small enough to be agile and speedy up and down the field. Most of the polo players I know ride Thoroughbreds or Thoroughbreds crossed with Quarter Horses.

One advantage I have in learning polo is that I can already ride pretty well. In my opinion riding is the easy part of polo. Knowing all the rules and actually hitting the ball with the mallet are the difficult parts! The polo match on the weeknight evenings during the summer at Oak Grove Polo are pretty informal. It is an opportunity for the seasoned players to get new and young horses on the field and for not-so-seasoned players to learn in a more forgiving environment than at a more competitive match.

Lesson #1: how to hold the mallet. I would argue this is much easier said than done!

Lesson #1: how to hold the mallet. I would argue this is much easier said than done!

Polo matches are divided into chukkers. Each chukker is 7 minutes long. We were going to be playing 4 chukkers. During the first chukker of the evening Prince and I parked at one end of the field and spent the full 7 minutes practicing hitting the ball. It is much easier to hit the ball at the trot in terms of physical effort, but having enough hand/eye coordination to actually hit the ball at a faster speed takes some time to acquire! After the first chukker I was invited in to play. The general point in the chukker is to get the ball down the field and into your team’s goal to score a point. It really isn’t tremendously different from soccer, except that there are only 4 people on each team, and those people are riding horses and they are hitting the ball with a mallet instead of their feet and head. But otherwise the same.

At first I generally was only able to hit the ball when the horse was standing still. By the end of the evening I was able to hit it while the horse was trotting. HUGE progress!

At first I generally was only able to hit the ball when the horse was standing still. By the end of the evening I was able to hit it while the horse was trotting. HUGE progress!

The seasoned players were fantastic coaches and would verbally guide me up and down the field and sometimes even pass the ball to me for my turn to hit it a couple times. There is a lot to the roles of defending the other players when it is their ball that I still don’t fully understand and the ball changing hands to the other team confuses me (Where do I go? Should I try to hit the ball? Do I need to get out of the way?), but it was pretty fun.

My right arm was sore for a few days after my first polo match, but I’m pretty darn proud to say that I never hit my horse with the mallet! Jaguar would have been a fantastic polo pony so I’m bummed I waited so long to try playing. Sterling would be an absolutely horrible polo pony so he’s not in any danger of being asked to try. Coco has quite a long ways to go in her lessons as a riding horse to even be considered. I plan to go back and play some more times this summer as long as the invitation is open and there is a pony to borrow!

The polo ladies! I'm in the middle on Prince, the saintly polo pony who puts up with polo novices and never even tried to unseat me.

The polo ladies! I’m in the middle on Prince, the saintly polo pony who puts up with polo novices and never even tried to unseat me.