February in Texas means time for the Winter Series horse shows in Katy at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center. It is a series of four weeks in a row of hunter/jumper horse shows and for some reason is one of my favorite shows of the year. Possibly because it reminds me of showing at the NILE when I was a kid and probably because I tend to enjoy the precarious weather that February brings to Texas.
The series started the first week of February and had four separate shows going until the last weekend of February. In the interest of not abandoning Boot City for multiple weekends in a row we opted to go to the first and last weekends. I drove down and hauled horses with my horsey bestie the first weekend and she picked us up to go down the last weekend. It is way funner to get to go with your best friend on a four hour drive through a really boring part of Texas.
My name is Sterling and I hate baths. Why a horse who was born to turn white has to dislike baths so much is beyond me. He’s gotten better, but he still thinks you are torturing him.
I have been taking lessons at a local jumper barn and was REALLY feeling READY for this horse show. I’ve gotten much better at seeing distances to the jumps and feeling like I’m actually riding rather than passengering. Well, the first weekend of showing didn’t really prove to be my best riding. We are still showing over 2’6″ fences so my mistakes aren’t hugely cumbersome to Sterling, but man they are frustrating for me. The first weekend of the show was smaller so there were only 10-12 in my division and we placed in all our classes so I’m happy about that aspect of the first weekend of showing. I am still not doing a very good job of controlling the consistency of Sterling’s canter around the course which caused a few chips (getting really close to the jump which is then HARD for the horse to get over safely) and a couple of very L O N G spots.
I went home and watched a bunch of videos from trainers teaching how to practice to find distances and set up some small cross rail and cavalletti jumps to practice. The weather wasn’t very cooperative towards the end of the month so we didn’t get as much practice as I would have liked, but thankfully I have two other horses I can ride to do the exercises multiple times in one day. Plus Simon and Coco benefit a lot from going over cavalletti. I went into Week IV feeling a bit better about my skillz. Now if I could just keep my brain tuned to the right channel while showing I would be in good shape!
We got to the show a day earlier for Week IV than we had for Week I because horsey bestie was showing on Friday. It was nice to be there and get to settle in before showing. Sterling gets a bit nervous so I felt like the extra day allowed him to settle in more. Plus it was WAY warmer in Katy than in Azle during the two day iceapolooza storm we had. Sorry Boot City for leaving you to blanket-unblanket-blanket-repeat three horses while I basked in the 75 degree temps with my one horse.
Our first schooling ride over fences was fabulous. He was relaxed. I (mostly) made good decisions. We got to school in our show ring without a ton of other horses to distract us. I finally felt good about showing. Hopefully I could keep it together for another 48’ish hours.
Nap time for the Unicorn. He doesn’t lay down often, but I think it is so cute when he does. I imagine this is how parents of real children must feel times 100.
The second weekend of showing definitely went better than the first weekend. It wasn’t perfect, but it was much better. Not once did we come out of the ring and trainer ask if I was trying to kill my horse! We had one bad chip the whole weekend. A few close spots and a couple long spots and for some reason I still let him zoom around the ends of the ring. There were nearly 20 in our division and we placed in 3 of 4 trips over fences so I was very happy with those results! We were in very good company (read, competing against horses WAY fancier) and didn’t make fools of ourselves. Plus I had SO much fun. Like SSSOOOO much fun! I love my barn family, my horsey bestie and pretty much everyone I get to hang out with at horse shows. And, of course, I adore my horse. Never would anyone have thought that the ugly steel grey yearling would turn into such a wonderful show pony!
Maybe one of my most favorite horse show pics to date. He just looks SO cute!
I first read a “30 Things….” post on 900 Facebook Pony and she got the idea from May As Well Event so I’m joining in the fun blog sharing. I feel like anyone who knows me may already know many of these things, but thought it would still be fun to share!
1. I like most any food, but I really do NOT like barbecue. Especially Texas BBQ. If it is smoked I really really don’t like it. Give me whatever sushi and I’ll at least try it. Asian. Thai. Indian. I have a low spice tolerance (I call this my Montana taste buds), but I don’t want anything to do with BBQ.
2. I went to Carroll College in Helena, Montana for my undergraduate degree and in many ways consider those four years to be the BEST years of my life! Everything was sponsored by my parents (to whom I am forever grateful), I had freedom, I had amazing friends, I learned every single day, and I lived in the most beautiful area of the country. What is not to love?!
3. I moved to Texas and the only person I knew was my friends’ grandmother (whom I lived with for a few months) in Fort Worth. People often think I moved here to go to grad school, but I moved to Fort Worth because I love the town and the people. 16 years later I think I still like it here.
4. I sew. Not quilts and such. I prefer to make clothes. I don’t give myself nearly enough time to sew, but I have three fancy schmancy Bernina machines and when I put my mind to it can make some beautiful clothing. When I got my colors with the hunt I ride with I made my own frock coat. Sadly, I left that coat at the cleaners just a little too long after changing jobs and they got rid of it. The saddest part of the story is that it had over $100 worth of buttons on it. You see, custom hunt buttons are like $8 each. SO SAD!
5. I have a ginormous family. My immediate family is normal sized, but my extended family is huge. I have 12 cousins on my Mom’s side. My Mom has about 75 first cousins and I’ve met nearly all of them and know some of them very well. I don’t know my Dad’s side as well, but he had 3 siblings and I have 7 cousins on my Dad’s side. My Grandpa’s side of the family on Mom’s side has a reunion every 4 years and there are usually close to 200 people in attendance. We always go somewhere awesome (Bend, OR; Glacier Park; Black Hills in SD; Jackson Hole WY. etc) and we spend 4 or 5 days together. We joke that we could drive from coast to coast of the U.S. and stay with family the entire way. I’m grateful for ALL of my family!
6. I’m obsessed with planners and I have been since at least middle school. Like right now I have 3 planners in action. 1 for work, 1 for “life” and 1 for horses. It is ironic because I’m not very good at actually planning, but I sure do like writing stuff down with fancy pens on nice paper.
7. I have a fancy pen collection. Pelikan. Montblanc. Waterford. Waterman. TBSI. I LOVE writing with fountain pens or even just nice rollerball or ballpoint pens.
8. When I was a kid and would go with my parents to cuttings (horse shows) I would find every dog on the property and make friends with the owner. I loved taking them on walks and just petting them. It’s not wonder I grew up to be a crazy dog lady.
9. Before I met Boot City he had never really owned a pet. He had had a cat and his dad had a dog, but he had never really had his very own pet. My family continues to be astonished at our current pet collection and how tolerant he is of my obsession with animals. Clearly he likes them, too.
10. I played the piano for 9 years. I never got very good at it and really just continued to make my Mom happy, but I’m glad I learned how to play. I haven’t sat down and played in at least 20 years, though.
11. I don’t watch TV. In the recent 10 years the only shows I’ve watched were Downton Abbey and Outlander. I didn’t watch much TV as a kid so never really got into it. In college we would watch the Bachelor and Friends sometimes, but I can’t follow most TV convos to save my life.
12. I was a rodeo princess when I was in grade school. I was the Bucking Horse Sale Princess in 1991 or 1992. I had to model, answer some questions from judges, maybe give a speech and I think there was a horsemanship portion. My Mom made all my outfits and I was hands down the best dressed kid. The clothes my Mom made for me when I was growing up should be in a museum collection someday. I thought for sure I would run for Miss Rodeo Montana when I was old enough, but by then I had completely abandoned rodeo in favor of showing Quarter Horses so it seemed weird to be a rodeo queen.
13. I hate and am terrible at cooking. My dad told me for years that no man would marry me because I can’t cook. I showed him when I married Boot City because Boot City is the most amazing cook I’ve ever met. He makes things with recipes that start with “day 1” instead of “step 1”.
14. I’m pretty religious, but like to mostly keep it to myself. I grew up Presbyterian and I went to a Catholic college. My Mom grew up Catholic, too. I consider myself a Christian and was a member of a Methodist church by my house for a few years, but didn’t feel very connected to Methodism. I’ve gone to a few other churches since then, but am pretty lazy about actually leaving my house on Sunday mornings. I read the Bible every day and I pray a lot, though.
15. My first vehicle was a 1993 2500 Diesel Chevrolet regular cab, long bed. My second (after I totaled the first one, oopsy) was a 1996 2500 Chevrolet extended cab, long bed (and a manual transmission). I only drove a pickup until I was in my mid-20s (I did have a brief interval with an Impala that my parents got me to drive when I lived in Minneapolis for a summer). I am, and always will be, a truck girl. The pickup we have now is a 2002 Ford F-350 with 4 doors and a long bed, so Boot City drives that more than I do. I have to suffer with whatever Lexus lease vehicle we have at the time. I’m on my sixth or seventh Lexus and love the brand. Boot City works for Lexus so we get a sweet deal on them.
16. I never had a best friend when I was a kid. I had lots of great friends, but never a best friend. It really bothered me sometimes, but I had oodles of cousins who were (and are) my friends and I’ve actually gotten closer to a lot of people I grew up with now that we are adults.
17. I’m really outgoing and for many years didn’t have a very good filter before spewing my opinions on a subject. I like to think that my filter has gotten better, but I still tend to be pretty direct. I’ve just learned when I should keep me mouth shut. Most of the time.
18. I hate appointments. This is the primary reason I very seldom get haircuts, manicures, massages or any other similar thing that requires me to drive to some service provider at a specific time. I would MUCH rather spend that time and effort with my horses/dogs/husband/friends.
19. I’ve ridden horses my entire life, but have only been jumping for about 6 years. I started taking Sterling to “A” shows in 2014 and we have both come a REALLY long way in those four years! It was asking quite a lot for a green horse to teach a green rider how to jump, but he’s been fabulous. We have been lucky to get some really great instruction along the way, too.
20. When my horsey bestie and I go places together people ALWAYS think we are sisters. She has been showing hunters quite a bit longer than I have and when I am at shows and she isn’t there people will start talking to me as though I’m her. We both find it hilarious. We went to France together a few years ago and got more or less the same reaction there. We assumed people would think we were a couple, but they assumed we were sisters.
21. My dad owned the auction market in my hometown until I was in middle school. He would often buy horses (and sometimes ponies) in the horse sales for me to ride for a few months then he would sell them at a later sale. I enjoyed working with them and increasing their value. And now I know that I may have saved many of them from a pretty dire fate. The one I remember best was a black pony we called Inky. He was a bit of a holy terror and liked to gallop everywhere. I got him slowed down and responsive to specific cues for each gait. I sure hope he went on to be a good pony for some kids!
22. The Budweiser Clydesdales came to our county fair around the time of Montana’s centennial in 1989. They were stabled close to where our 4-H horses were stabled so after we got our morning chores done we would go over to help out with the Clydesdales. I even talked my way into “riding” one of them! I really just sat on it and the handler led it to the wash rack, but somewhere there exists a photo and it was truly an amazing experience. I highly doubt they are able to let little horse crazy girls sit on them these days.
23. Today is Boot City and my 13th wedding anniversary. Happy anniversary to us! We didn’t have a fancy wedding, but it was a really FUN wedding! Definitely one of my very favorite memories.
24. I kept a diary from the time I could write (like, 1st grade!) until a few years after I got married. i don’t really know why I quit keeping a diary, but now I tend to write diary-esque things in my planner. I do keep a horse journal to record horse things. I find it can often help refer back to my horse journal when one of the horses turns up lame or ill or something. If I write things down I am more apt to notice a change.
25. I have a Bachelors and Masters degree in Communication, with an undergraduate dual major in PR and a minor in Business. Not like telephone communication, but human communication. I would go to college forever if someone would pay for it and support my horse habit at the same time. Hardly a moment in my life goes by when I’m not using some aspect of what I learned from my degrees. From everyday life, to work, to horsing, to general interactions. I’m so glad that I made the choice to change from biology to communication studies my sophomore year at Carroll. I always tested strong for math and science, but my heart just wasn’t in it. Some days I wish I had a career more horse-oriented, but I’m grateful that my career allows me to support my love of horses and showing.
26. I took Spanish for six years and can understand quite a lot, but am not very good at speaking Spanish. I would LOVE to someday live abroad and be immersed in a language, but it stresses me out to think about what I’d have to do with all my animals were that to happen.
27. I read a lot and my favorite author is Ayn Rand. I LOVED The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. I also love pretty much everything I’ve read that Jane Austen and Leo Tolstoy wrote. I like modern literature as well, but it doesn’t seem to stick with me as much as the older tomes. It took me 6 months to read Anna Karenina, but it was so worth it.
28. My Mom got me my first subscription to Vogue when I was in 5th or 6th grade. I would read it cover to cover and drool over the beautiful clothing. She made all of my formal dresses in high school and we would usually pick out a style we like from a Vogue magazine, find a pattern that was similar (usually a Vogue pattern), then she would make the dress. The best one was a black pigskin dress she made for my Junior year Winter Formal. I think I still have it and it fit well into my late 20’s!
29. I mostly went to horse shows by myself the summer between my junior and senior year of high school and the summer after my senior year. I showed three horses those summers and I would haul them, get them situated in their stalls, enter my classes, braid or band manes, bath/clip/groom them and usually start showing on Friday morning by myself. We had lots of friends at the shows and I never felt like there wasn’t someone there to help me if I needed it. Mom would usually come on Friday afternoon or Saturday morning. I loved every second of it and was grateful my parents let me go. I would usually stay with a good friend whom I showed with or a trainer so I also had a blast hanging out with them. I can’t imagine any parent I know today letting their 17/18 year old daughter do that by herself!
30. This list was WAY harder to make than Amanda said it would be!
What a weather week! We went from a nice 60’s temps on Monday to LOTS of rain on Tuesday which turned to ice on Wednesday and Thursday. The horses are so tired of being in the barn!
Murtagh likes to help me with hay chores. He especially likes to ride on the hay in the wheelbarrow. He’s the best tack room kitty!
I can’t get enough of these two. Dickens is so sweet and let’s Patches chew on his ear for as long as she wants. Who needs a super sweet chihuahua?!
Jaguar lives in his own paddock now. He will be 25 this year and the baby horse shenanigans can be too much for his old bones. He likes opening the barn door for some self serve hay. He’s always been a master at opening doors and gates.
The ice accumulation has been hard on the trees in our area. I’m hoping these crape myrtles don’t break from the weight of all that ice, but they sure are pretty!
Up until this week we have had pretty much zero precipitation since 2017. The grass is always pretty brown this time of year, but it was starting to get a bit alarming. Well never fear, Mother Nature is here! Since Monday we have gotten more than 4″ of rain in Azle. According to the rain gauge we have gotten close to 5″ at our house!
It was in the high 60s and raining when I left the house yesterday morning. When I got home after work it was in the 40s and the temps were going down quickly. I felt like a horrible horse Mom because 3 of the 4 horses were shivering. I quickly got them all bundled in their warmest blankets and filled their faces with hay. I keep them in their stalls with runs when it rains a lot so they don’t destroy the pasture or hurt themselves by playing in the mud.
We awoke this morning to ICE! Temps were around the high 20s, but thankfully the ice wasn’t really sticking. I opted for a delayed trip to work to avoid the crazy Texas drivers in the ice and rain so I snapped a few pics around the farm. Ice on the trees is almost as pretty as hoarfrost. It has been three years since we have had a good snow. Hopefully winter 2018-2019 will deliver.
Icy trees outside the backyard and in the goat pen.
The crape myrtles always look pretty when they have ice or frost. Ours are crazy tall!
None of the horses have stepped foot out of their stalls in about 24 hours. Here you can see Coco sneaking a peak of the rain, but definitely not going out into it!
The tall native grass got smushed by the ice.
I hope everyone in North Texas stays safe in this weather! I read about some tornadoes in Johnson county. Ugh. Just what I need while I’m getting ready to head to a horse show!
It has been cold in Texas recently so not a lot of horsing, but definitely a lot of puppy snuggling!
Murtagh the tack room kitty
Part I of chihuahua snuggles
Part II of chihuahua snuggles
Happy weekend y’all!
We have had a bunch of new orange kitties join the farm family recently! I’m entertained that they are all some version of plain, orange tabbies.
First is Ouiser Boudreaux, or Ouisie. Ouisie was born at the farm and adopted by a friend of a friend as a kitten. Her adopter was a lovely family with 3 young boys. Well, it turns out that Ouiser isn’t crazy about being in a family with a bunch of young kids as well as a new kitten. They felt bad that she was having to live in a room alone and that she was pretty grumpy about life so asked if I would consider taking her back. I, of course, didn’t hesitate to reclaim the orange kitty.
She has to be a house kitty because she was declawed so she mostly just lives in my sewing room now. She’s never been around dogs so between the foster chihuahuas barking at her and my not wanting her to have free range access to the doggy door, she is very happy in her cat room. She has 2 nice windows where she can lay in the sun and an unlimited amount of fabric to make her bed.
Ouisie awaiting her belly scratches. After which she will bite my hand.
The other three yellow tabbies are “feral” cats from a co-worker. Said co-worker had a neighbor that moved away and left about 9 cats to fend for themselves. The cats seemed feral so co-worker and spouse trapped all the cats, got them spayed or neutered and found primarily barn homes for the cats. We got 3 of said feral cats, but as it turns out two of them are decidedly not feral! We kept them in feral cat cages (as advised by a barn cat non-profit group we got feral cats from a few years ago) to get them acclimated to our scent, their new home and life in general. After feeding and changing litter just a couple times two of the cats started coming forward for rubs and to check us out. Definitely not something that normal feral cats will do with humans!
After two weeks in their feral cage we let them out in a horse stall in our old barn where we have the most rodent activity. They stayed in their room for about 24 hours and then one of them wasn’t there. After a couple days they all left the stall, but we didn’t see them anywhere in the barn. We lost a chicken most likely to a coyote within the same timeframe so were worried about the kitties. Until we found them. In Boot City’s shop!
See. This is not how feral cats would behave. Both were rubbing on my leg seeking back scratches!
They seem to like to sleep on the shelves in the shop and come out periodically for attention. I think it is hilarious, Boot City is somewhat annoyed. There are sometimes rats in the shop so it isn’t all bad. Over the course of the past weekend they started going outside more and more. We aren’t letting the dogs out for a few days because they just chase and scare the cats. Hopefully the kitties will get their bearings about the place and learn to high tail it up a tree or another high place when the dogs are out. This is the trouble with sighthounds, if something runs they want to chase!
Murtagh, the kitten that lives in my tack room in the horse barn also found his way to the ferals. He first found them when they were in cages and spent a day or so just hanging out in their room. Boot City has photos documenting this interaction. After we let them out he again went to find them and they played in the shop together this weekend. We don’t let Murtagh out during the day when we aren’t home because he has so much white we worry he’d get taken by an owl (we lose a lot of cats to birds of prey), but we do let him out on days when we are home and he loves to wander around the buildings.
Pseudo feral kitty meets Murtagh, the tack room cat.
Hopefully the pseudo-ferals make good choices and are around for a long time, but we know how brutal barn cat life can be and hope for the best!