Archive of ‘Big Sky’ category

Family Reunion!

Nine times out of ten when I tell someone I’m going to my family reunion (which happens every four years) they want to commiserate about how they have to go to their family reunion at some park in some po-dunk Texas town every summer. Everyone argues, no one has fun, and most people go out of a sense of obligation to Aunt Betty Mae, or some such thing. My family reunions are NOTHING like that.

Each reunion more or less has one family branch who is the host and does the majority of organizing. They pick a location by visiting various options and choosing the one that best fits our needs (there are usually 150 of us and we like to do stuff and eat together). They coordinate what events will be options, plan family meals and provide information and hospitality during the actual reunion.

This year was about 45 years since the first reunion, which was held near Banff in Canada. We don’t go to shabby locations for our reunions, which also makes them very special. We’ve been to Jackson Hole, WY; Estes Park, CO; Deadwood, SD; Bend, OR and other equally lovely locations.

This year we went to Suncadia, Washington!

The weather for the reunion this year was FABULOUS! It has been unseasonably warm in the Seattle area, but to a Texan unseasonably warm in Washington is always going to be nicer than seasonably warm in North Texas. We did all sorts of fun things together including picnics, tubing down the Yakima River, family history sessions with some of the genealogy experts in the family, a friendly game of family feud, and many wonderful meals shared.

My Mom and her cousins getting ready for their photo op.

This reunion celebrates my Mom’s side of the family and she has 50 first cousins so you can imagine why there are so many people at our reunions! The reunion this year had quite a few less people than normal, but it made it a lot easier to actually get to spend time talking to people. You see, my family is FULL of fascinating people. From a cousin who pretty much saved a Frank Lloyd Wright home from being demolished, to multiple auctioneers, to urban design architects, to owners of a kids’ theater on the beach in California, to teachers, to pot farmers, to ranchers. There are city dwellers, world travelers, and rural Americans. You can talk about politics, religion, education and people are respectful and genuinely interested in the viewpoints of other people. If you want your faith restored in humanity, then you should marry into my family and go to one of our reunions!

My Schnellfie!

I’m grateful and blessed that I know SO many of my extended family members and through social media and reunions I get to keep up with most of them. We often joke that we could drive from California to Maine and never have to stay in a hotel once!

 

Cheers to another amazing Schnell Reunion!

Art!

2018 has turned out to be the year of art for me. I have acquired some of the most beautiful and heartfelt pieces of art I could ever imagine. I’m blessed to have many gifted friends and family member artists so I’m going to take a moment to brag on these people as well as a couple pieces from truly amazing professional artists that are now in my collection.

First I’ll show you an “oldy” but a goody. A few years back, I don’t even remember how long ago, a friend gifted me this wonderful watercolor piece she did for me of a fox hunt. I had it stored away in a tube for a long time and when my company moved to a new office building and I got a new office, I knew I’d finally get it framed and hung. It makes me so happy to look at this view from my desk every day.

I love the modern interpretation of such a traditional sport!

 

This past winter our old foxhound, Peaches, was included in artist Lesli Devito’s Dog-A-Day series. She painted this just after we lost Peaches, so it holds a very special place in our hearts. I love how Lesli captures the spirit of the dogs so well, but adds an element of modern with the colorful background. I don’t feel like I’ve found the perfect spot for this painting just yet. For now it lives in my sewing room and Peaches smiles down on my sewing projects like a good girl.

Peaches by Lesli Devito.

 

In March (also my birthday month, so extra YAY!) I entered the drawing that Paperchases and Petticoats for a piece by artist Swenn Jedraszczyk. I was ELATED when I won the drawing and I did a little informal survey on my Facebook page to pick which horse to have drawn. The hands down winner was Jaguar, my 25yo Quarter Horse. Swenn is in France so it took a little time to get the piece completed and then mailed over to the US, but it was worth the wait! I LOVE this piece! I received it without the frame and haven’t yet gotten it framed myself. We are planning to do a full home restoration so I’m going to wait for that to be completed before it gets it’s place of honor in our home.

This is from Swenn’s Instagram post when the piece was completed. I can’t wait to get it framed and hung in our “new” house.

 

And last, but CERTAINLY not least is an absolute stunner painted for me by my Aunt Soni. This painting means so much to me for so many reasons. I have a ginormous family and my aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents were my best friends throughout my childhood and really into adulthood. When I was in college my Aunt Soni and Uncle Mike offered me the opportunity to live with them in the Twin Cities in Minnesota to do a summer internship in the big city. This was one of my first forays into being an adult and my aunt and uncle were the most gracious hosts and supporters. I had the best time living with them; going to amazing restaurants, a LOT of concerts and just hanging out.

My Aunt Soni has always been very creative and artistic. She made the most%I0lovely scrapbooks of their trips to Europe and around the US. @er homes have always been impeckably dekorated. More recently s`e has started painting. Her Mom, my Grandma Swana, painted%:C too. A even have a piece in mq house |hat my Grandma Swana painted benore I was born. Well, you can#imagine my delight when#Aunt Sofi offered to paint a portrait on my horse, Sterling. I sent hmr a bunch of photos and#she paifted the most breathtakifg portrait of Sterling I could mver imaoine!

It is a large painting, 30″x40″, and she captured his likeness absolutely perfectly! Let me tell you, painting a grey flea-bitten horse is not for the faint of heart! Those little bitty black specks had to have been a nightmare to get just right. What really stopped me in my tracks, though, was his eye. It looks alive and just like Sterling. His perfect white eyelashes with the eager expression are so him.

The most lovely portrait of my Sterling!

 

This portrait is hanging proudly in my office. Everyone who comes to see me gets to feast their eyes on this happy po

Big Girl Pants

Y’all. I think Coco has found her Big Girl Pants! A little help from some hormones and better riding doesn’t hurt, but we had an AMAZING  weekend recently! I took Sterling and Coco to my trainer’s place outside Houston a couple weeks ago. This was Sterling’s first leg of his trip to his lessee and I took Coco to a small schooling horse show as well as a few lessons with my trainer.

The first day we were there both horses acted like lunatics; first when they got off the trailer and then later because we separated them into separate pens so they would (hopefully) not hurt themselves. By the time I rode Coco for our lesson that day she was pretty much exhausted so was a super easy ride. She jumped all the jumps with no hesitation and we even got in a few nice flying changes.

The horse show was on Sunday only, but we opted to take Coco and the other horses showing to the show location early Saturday morning. This allowed us to ride in relative peace and get her away from Sterling. It turned out this was a really really good idea. She schooled fantastically and was generally pretty chill about the venue. Much better than she had been at the previous two small shows I’d taken her to. Perhaps she was getting the hang of this leaving-home-and-showing thing.

Fast forward to Sunday morning. My division was going first so I got on pretty early to attempt to warm her up in my ring before it was closed. Long story short, the warm-ups were ALL chaos, she was very agitated and amped, and the start time was delayed AN HOUR! Needless to say, by the time my ring started I felt like I was riding a hot wire. My trainer had another student showing in the same division so she had me get off and take Coco to her stall to chill out until the other student was done. Coco never really chilled out, but I do think it was a better idea than continuing to wait around with the other horses and make her more frazzled.

We were showing in a 2’3″ division with 3 hunter trips and a hack plus a warm-up trip over fences. My trainer sent us into the warm-up trip and with the guidance to trot the first fence in every line. Just get her around soft and easy. And I’m so pleased to say that it was just that, soft and easy. She definitely relaxed and was happy for the first time in a few hours.

Looking happy and fancy! Photos are all from Ernesto Photography!

For our second trip we opted to trot the first fence and my trainer said that if she felt good go ahead and continue cantering. If she felt hot, then bring her back and trot to each jump in the lines again. Well, she felt great so after trotting the very first fence we cantered the entire course. We did one lead change and it was spot on.

She’s definitely very green over fences, but I don’t think we have to worry about her scope!

For our second two trips I took it very slow before starting to canter, but we cantered both trips entirely. She is SO FUN TO JUMP! She seems to really like it and you can really feel her spine curve over the jumps. She overjumped the jumps on the first course by quite a lot, but settled down a bit for the last few trips. All her lead changes were perfect, especially when I didn’t look down.

She looks so happy to be jumping!

After our four jumping trips we opted to skip the hack. The thing about schooling shows is that there are often horses and riders that are a bit on the rough and ready side. Either the horse and/or rider are inexperienced or maybe don’t ride under the guidance of a trainer, so they can be a bit crazy. Being that some of the horses in my division were also very green, it just didn’t seem like it would give Coco a good experience in case one of the other horses got out of hand or they did something that would unnerve Coco (like ride up too close behind her, or pass her too close, basically anything to crowd her would be bad).

All things considered I was ecstatic about our day. It had the makings of being a true disaster, but through the fantastic guidance of my trainer and a little patience on my part, it was an unforgettable day. After six long years of waiting I finally feel like I really might have my fancy hunter. Don’t get me wrong, we  have a long road ahead and there will be plenty of bumps in the road, but she proved she has the talent and she likes jumping and showing. Those are things you can’t train or teach any horse.

 

Not a bad horse show day!

 

The icing on the cake was that we ended up Reserve Champion in our division, even without doing the hack! My barn-mate was Champion! Coco won the two over fences classes that she cantered in their entirety and was 2nd in the first hunter and 3rd in the warm-up. There were six horses in our division. What a good girl!

 

She deserves ALL the pats!

Little baby jumps!

My primary goals for Simon in 2018 are these:

  1. Walk, trot and canter off leg
  2. Correct leads when asked
  3. Open and close gates/sidepass to and from solid objects like fences
  4. Steering
  5. Go in contact
  6. Get out and about as much as possible

#1 is coming along nicely. #2 is a bit of a challenge to the right. As with many former racehorses, the left lead is easy but the right lead is SO HARD (American racetracks run in a circle that is counterclockwise so the horses turn left around the track). When we practice getting the right lead and he gets the left lead time after time, he has to keep working. As soon as he gets the right lead he gets lots and lots of pats and then gets to walk for a bit.

Last night we were working on cantering and getting leads and I got a wild hair to pop him over a couple of the crossrail jumps I have set up in my arena. When Sterling was starting out and we had trouble getting the canter, I would pop him over a small jump and land in the canter. So I wanted to try that with Simon. He felt SO good over the jumps so I begged Boot City to come take some video so I could see if he looks as cute as he feels over jumps.

(Enjoy the super cheesy music on the videos. I couldn’t help myself.)

He is SO CUTE over these teeny tiny jumps! SO. CUTE.

And every time we went over the jump to the right he landed on the right lead. I think we may be onto something here!

He’s only four years old and I promised myself that I won’t even try to get him jumping a full course until he’s five. Even after a short track career, and some known issues with one of his knees, I want him to have lots of time to grow and mature before his body gets worked very hard. Plus I really do need him as my hunt horse, so that is his first priority!

I am LOVING this horse and the fact that, as of today, he’s the youngest in my string and hands down the easiest!

Justify’s Uncle

I’m still riding the high of Justify’s Triple Crown win this weekend so wanted to a post about his uncle!

Photo credit to Barbara Livingston. This is by far my favorite race photo from Justify’s bid for the Triple Crown. This one is from the Preakness.

 

Justify is by Scat Daddy out of a mare named Stage Magic who is by Ghostzapper. As you may recall from my previous post, Simon is by Ghostzapper. Which means that Simon is Justify’s uncle! This relation has strongly contributed to my obsession with Justify. I’ve also been closely following McCraken’s racing career, but it has not proved to be quite as illustrious as Justify’s (McCraken is a son of Ghostzapper and contested the Kentucky Derby last year, coming in 8th).

 

I’ve owned Simon for a little over a year now. I purchased him in January of 2017 and after his vet check and communication with his last race trainer I opted to give him a very easy 12 months. His race trainer indicated he had some issues with one of his knees and he came to me with some injuries from a run-in with some mares in the pasture he had been living. I’ve had off the track Quarter Horses, but never a thoroughbred and everything I read about OTTBs (off the track thoroughbred) indicated that time off would cure most ailments horses have from their track life. Plus I had two other horses to ride and show so it worked out better for my schedule.

I rode Simon maybe a dozen times in all of 2017 and he was always a lazy plug. ALWAYS. I took him on a couple trail rides and you’d have never known he had been a six figure yearling race prospect and was only three years old. He crossed bridges, didn’t spook at wildlife and seemed to really not care if he was in front, in the middle or at the back of the group of horses we were with. Basically he was a dream trail horse, albeit a very tall one (most trail riding horses are closer to 15hh and he is nearly 16.2hh).

One thing you cannot deny about Simon is that he is very handsome. I love that he has the big blaze on his face, but nary a white hair on the rest of his body.

 

I opted to not use him for foxhunting last season (his intended job when I purchased him) to let him grow up some more plus I rode another member’s horse for the season to give that horse some much needed miles. It was a win-win for us all.

 

Well, now it is time for Simon to have a job. I’ve committed to getting at least 3 rides on him every week and building his skills to make him a pleasant hunt horse. He needs to stand quietly for mounting, move off leg quickly, stand still when necessary, sidepass to open and close gates and (most importantly) tolerate hounds around his legs. As I write this post he stands great for mounting and has started moving off leg nicely. He will sidepass in the open, but he thinks I’m nuts when I ask him to sidepass towards solid obstacles like trees, fences and gates. He hasn’t been around hounds yet, but he does fine with my dogs around him.

 

I am also trying to get him out on trail rides as much as possible. This serves many purposes. He gets practice loading and riding in the trailer, going out on uneven terrain, riding with other horses, crossing water, seeing wildlife, and afterwards he has to stand tied at the trailer while we have a snack or lunch. We have been out twice this summer and Simon has been perfect in every way. I am astonished at how well he’s taking to his life of leisure, still at only 4 years old!

Our most recent trail ride. That is the Brazos River behind us. Photo cred to Bart Robbins!

 

Suffice it to say that all is going very well with My Man Zapper these days. We hope to get many more trail rides and some play days on our calendar this summer. By November he should be a seasoned trail horse so all he will have to adapt to will be the hounds and riding out alone. I am so lucky to have this special horse!

Do you have an OTTB? I love to hear stories from other OTTB owners, especially those who got their horse right off the track. They are special horses and so often overlooked.

Farm Friday 06.01.2018

I’m back! I feel like I have my blogging ducks in a row now, but that can always change. I would love MORE feedback from my readers! If you like a post, please comment. If you want to know more about something, please tell me. If a blog is boring/offensive/fantastic, let me know. I sometimes feel like I’m writing into an abyss and getting feedback helps me stay motivated and write interesting content.

We have a somewhat unique lifestyle that people seem interested in learning about it, and that is the primary reason I started this blog. I love writing, too, so that is my selfish reason for blogging. I’m hoping to maintain more “themed” days so readers will know which days to tune in if there is content they find more interesting. I presume most non-riders get bored when I write posts about the details or riding and showing, but I enjoy reading the blogs of other riders so I like to add my 2 cents about that every now and again.

This post will be somewhat of a catch-up on goings-on at the farm as well as some just silly pics of the farm animals. Enjoy!

 

Chivas has been somewhat on lock-down the past 2 months because she has some serious seasonal allergies. We haven’t gotten her officially tested, but every spring she gets mad itchy and is a tiny ball of oozing, itchy sores and keeps us up at night with her scratching and chewing on herself. This year has been the best for keeping that itching at bay, but it reared it’s ugly head in mid-May so we opted to try to keep her in the house and not take her out for rides and feeding. This is how she feels about being left in the house.

Who knew a 13lb dog could TEAR UP a giant dog bed…..

 

I posted before my blog break that we had a surprise set of twin goats. They are adorable baby goats as all baby goats are, but they are also weirdos. This is a photo of them nursing from their aunt Punky. Punky doesn’t currently have any kids and hasn’t had any kids since last summer. Their mom, Penelope, is producing plenty of milk for them, but for some reason they have also started nursing from Punky. We have never had kids do this! Punky and Penelope were part of a set of triplets and Penelope had to be bottle-fed because the Mom only had one teat to nurse from. Since the kids are nursing from her, Punky has gotten milk in her udder. Kind of a fascinating little social/ag experiment going on here.

The twins and their aunt Punky.

 

It has gotten hot in Texas so Murtagh has more or less moved in the tack room with AC 24/7. He also has mites in his ears that we are treating so I like that he’s happy staying close to home. He is just the sweetest kitty in the whole world!

Cat naps

 

 

In early May the horses came running to the barn from turnout to be put up for the night. Coco and Simon walked into the barn aisle where Boot City was opening stall doors to their various stalls. Coco turned and pinned her ears at Simon and he in turn tried to turn away from her a little too quickly on the concrete floor and fell down. It was one of those stomach-in-your-throat moments as he lay there and waited to get up. When he got up he was CLEARLY lame on his left hind. We got the other horses put away and fed them their dinner and I went to taking pics and video to send to my vet. Within an hour Simon could hardly walk.

We approached the injury fairly conservatively (my vet didn’t seem at all worried that he had broken anything) with stall rest, cold hosing, bute and poultice. Thankfully it only took a couple weeks for him to be almost 90% sound. I erred on the side of caution and kept him on stall and then paddock rest for a full 3 weeks before he was clearly stir crazy, not hurting and about to do something stupid when his friends got turned out and he had to stay in the barn. While he was sore he was a perfect gentleman on stall rest and even behaved for Boot City when he had to do the cold hosing and poulticing while I was away at a horse show with Sterling. Simon is a very wise and calm horse for only being 4 years old.

Simon helps.

Poultice and stall rest o-rama

 

 

It took a good few months for her to settle in, but Ouiser finally seems to be happy and content in our house. She didn’t leave “her” room for about 2 months and now she more or less has the run of the house. She loves to sun bath in window sills and she is very chatty with Boot City and me.

Ouiser getting out and about in her house

 

 

Last, but CERTAINLY not least, is our dear Pablo. Pablo appears to have foundered or something similar and he WILL NOT let us catch him to try to see what is up. He lies down a lot. Stands on soft ground as much as possible. Appears sore when he moves out. We fear that his refusal to let us treat him will result in an earlier than necessary demise and believe me when I say we have tried working with him. Donkeys are “stubborn”. Everyone knows this, but you don’t really understand it until you have had a donkey. They don’t forget anything and they are not at all trustful.

Someone has mistreated Pablo and he refuses to get over that. We have, in the past, forced him to let us vet his legs/feet, give him meds, etc, but it just isn’t worth it. He will occasionally go into an enclosure where he knows we can catch him and let us groom him or trim his feet or whatever, but he seems to be doing that less lately. We don’t really know how old he is, but we have had him for 11 years. All 11 of those years we have given him treats, groomed him and basically let him do what he wants, but he still is terrified of the halter and being caught. His feet don’t look bad and he’s eating just fine (as you can see by his belly!), so he’s not suffering. We got 10 semi-loads of sand in April and he’s been loving rolling in it, sleeping in it and standing on the piles.

If you are an actual donkey-whisperer, I’d be happy to hear your advice for dear Pablo.

Pablo on his empire of sand

 

 

Please comment if there is anything I don’t write about enough or that you are just interested to know more about. Thank you for being here and reading about our little corner of Texas and the interwebs!  Happy weekend and I hope it is cooler where you are than it is here.

Farm Friday 03.30.2018

Happy Friday! The weather here in North Texas is AMAZEBALLS right now! Temps in the 70s and green grass (and bluebonnets) everywhere. It is truly delightful!

 

I feel like I never post pics of the chickens, so here is a chicken (one of our Blue Andalusians) with a beerhound photobombing.

 

 

Cheesy goat smile.


 

 

Some days you just need a unicorn and a prosecco.

 

 

I had quite a lot of help unloading feed on Monday.

 

If all goes accordingly this weekend will be the final hunt for this season. It’s always a bummer when the season ends, but exciting to get my Saturday mornings back! Now that I have three sound horses (and hopefully they stay that way) I need all the time in the saddle I can get!

What are you up to this weekend?

Farm Friday 03.23.2018

FINALLY a week without any vet visits (at least so far)! I’ve ridden Sterling twice this week and he even tried to buck once! Clearly he is feeling better. Still trying to figure out what is causing Coco’s woes, but her rides have been better this week also. There are only two more fox hunts left this season and I haven’t been out in a few weeks so I’m excited to be back out again tomorrow.

Dickens surveying his domain while I tack up a horse for a ride. He’s so stinking cute when he isn’t going off property.

 

My birthday cupcake in Houston last weekend. Of COURSE it has a horse on it! I have no idea why I’m posing so awkwardly. Haha!

 

Coco and Simon in a rare moment of sharing instead of teeth baring and kicking each other.

 

Happy weekend y’all!

Garth Brooks!

I grew up listening to Garth Brooks. I’ve never been a huge fan, but due to his level of popularity and the fact that my hometown had 3 radio stations and the ones with good reception were country music stations, I know most of his songs by heart. I didn’t want to be on the “bandwagon” of his popularity, but even I can’t deny that his music is great and that he is the quintessential entertainer!

After a decade long hiatus from performing he’s been doing some shows lately and when it was announced that he was opening and closing the Houston Stock Show my girlfriends were determined we were going to go so I lucked into tickets for  the closing performance. It was difficult to get 6 seats together so we had some trouble finding them close together. When it was all said and done our seats were definitely nosebleed, but there really weren’t any GREAT seats and none were terrible.

 

I have to say that seeing Garth at a rodeo venue was the BEST way to see him! He was definitely in his element and clearly loved being on the stage surrounded by true rodeo fans (although half the stadium was empty until the concert started). He opened with Rodeo and really got the crowd going immediately.

My photographic timing is poor here, but we were also lucky to have Trisha Yearwood join him on stage for a duet and she sang her own American Girl. The only bad part of the concert were the feral people sitting in front of us. They were the ONLY people within eyesight who insisted on standing and dancing during most of the concert, blocking our view and the view of people behind us as well as being obnoxious in general. We asked them to please sit down and they responded with snarky comments. They were drunk and seemed younger than us by a few years and clearly missed learning their manners in social settings.

The concert was amazing and I’m so glad I got to go! I’m not a big concert goer, but this being the second Houston Stock Show concert I’ve attended I def think it is my preferred venue. I love seeing the country performers at an actual country venue.

If you are on Instagram you can see some live video in my Insta stories. @tntibbetts

Cellulitis?

Last Thursday Sterling came in from turnout with a pretty good gash on his left front forearm. It was a couple inches wide and deeper than a scrape. I cold hosed it for a few minutes. Scrubbed the crud off and lathered it with Corona cream. The next morning I did basically the same thing, but instead of Corona cream I put Furazone on it in favor of something with more antibacterial properties. I didn’t really wash it again, but kept it gooped with Furazone and checked it at feeding time. All seemed well. It had a good scab on it and looked to be healing well.

Until yesterday. Boot City had put the horses up from turnout and fed them and hadn’t noticed anything terribly awry. I went out after dinner to put blankets (or coats, as Boot City likes to call them) on the horses because it was going to get down to the 30’s overnight. When I went to put Sterling’s blanket on he very awkwardly and slowly evaded me and went into his stall run. I just stood there staring at him, terrified that it was something neurologically wrong. He pooped in his run (horse people are ALWAYS happy to see horses poop, no matter the situation) and slowly limped back into his stall. I looked more closely at his cut and sure enough his entire forearm down to his knee was swollen.

I immediately called my vet (yay, at 9p, the cheapest time to call the vet) and thankfully we determined that it was probably cellulitis and didn’t absolutely require that he see the vet RIGHT NOW. I had medicines on hand that we could start dosing him with and could cold hose and put topical meds on his leg.

Mind you, my plan for this particular evening had been to talk to Boot City about showing at Pin Oak for the first time. Well, Sterling nipped that right in the bud. Now I just hope he’s sound and can go to the Southwest Classic show in Fort Worth at the end of May. My regular vet is out of town, but a different vet from the same clinic is going to look at him this afternoon. Sterling and I would both appreciate positive thoughts, prayers, good mojo, whatever you want to send our way that might encourage healing and future soundness!

Dang horses sure do keep us humble! And I welcome any advice on treating cellulitis, however I DO NOT want to hear any of your horror stories. Thank you in advance. 😉

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