Archive of ‘Big Sky’ category

New 10 Questions Summer Blog Hop

I first saw this on A Gift Horse, but the actual questions are from Rocking E Cowgirl.

  1. What is your earliest, clearest horse memory?  Probably getting bucked off of Ernie, my first pony. My brother and I were (for some odd reason) riding our ponies through the lawn and the little kiddy pool scared Ernie and off he went! I’m pretty sure I got in trouble for riding in the yard.
  2. Describe the perfect summer day. The perfect summer day is most definitely NOT in Texas! I loved horse showing in Montana summers as well as moving cattle on various friends and family’s ranches. Also, nothing is better than the smell of Montana summer rain.
  3. Are you reading anything right now? Tell me about it! I’m trudging through Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The author recently passed away and Boot City loved it, so I thought for sure I would like it. I’m about 100 pages and in and I have to force myself to read. I can’t quit reading a book, so I’ll make myself finish it even if I hate it.
  4. Do you follow a celebrity (horsey or non) that you’re embarrassed to say fascinates you? Tell me. NOW. Not really. I follow a lot of hunter and jumper riders, but def not really any celebrities.
  5. What is your single most biggest horsey dream or goal? Show in the Higher A/O Hunters, hopefully with Coco. If she chooses to be a jumper and not a hunter I guess this goal would be the jumper equivalent.
  6. If you were at Starbucks right now, what would you order? Grande latte with 3 raw sugars
  7. What is your biggest equine pet peeve? People stating that any one thing is absolutely right or wrong. So many people are on social media right now talking about this or that thing/method/supplement/etc is the be all end all greatest/worst thing you could ever do to a horse. Outside of flat out abuse of an animal (like produces blood/fear/some other strong reaction) there are myriad methods to train/feed/keep horses.
  8. With everything going on politically and in the media, tell me, do you follow it religiously? Tune it out? Or something in between? I’d like to tune it all out, but that would be irresponsible.
  9. If you had to show your horse to a song, what would you choose? Bolero
  10. What are you most looking forward to this summer? Riding my horses!

I Love Horses

My name is Tara and I love horses. Supposedly that is the first step to recovery, right?! I can’t imagine my life without these divine creatures playing a major role and am so grateful I have the means and the support of Boot City to have them. People often compare the hobby of horseback riding to playing sports or golfing or other “similar” activities, but there is one glaring difference. If you own or lease a horse you are responsible for the care and well being of an 800+ pound animal 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 52 weeks per year. It is kind of like marriage; you take a vow to care for them in sickness and in health.

So far 2017 has had it’s fair share of “sickness”, mostly in the form of injuries. Right, Sterling?

We like to selfie while on stall rest. Again.

Simon tried to pull his hoof off of his leg this spring, but miraculously was never lame. The injury looked really bad and made me kind of nervous so I haven’t been riding him. I want to let the hoof grow out more and he is really just a baby so the time off is fine.

Simon trying on a hunt bridle to prepare for what we hope will be his future career!

Jaguar is kicking it retirement-style. His hurt leg is noticeably off, but he’s happy as a clam out in his pasture with his buddies. He even trots and canters sometimes! I thought he’d be annoyed at being retired, but he’s taken to it pretty well. He still bosses everyone around, including the neighbor horses.

The handsomest 24 year old, grandson of Doc Bar, past AQHYA World Championship qualifying reiner, retired fox hunter, there ever was!

Coco (so far) is one of my “in health” horses currently. She has had PLENTY of “in sickness” over the past few years so she deserves it! We will make our way to a few more horse shows this summer as Sterling convalesces. Miles, miles and more miles are my goals for Coco this year.

Hanging out in her giant stall at the horse show. My favorite thing about Texas Rose Horse Park are the huge permanent stalls. It is so nice for the bigger hunter/jumper horses to not be stuck is some tiny 10×10 or even 12×12.

Last, but certainly not least, Casey has been the VERY best step-in hunt/whipper-in horse I could have asked for! He was a perfect gentleman all hunt season, enjoyed a few trail rides and now is FOR SALE! The plan had been to take him back to Montana, but Mom thinks it would be best for him to stay in Texas and have a busier job with someone who will appreciate him. Casey is one of those horses that you can truly grab out of the pasture, jump on and go and there is no drama. I know because we did just that 2 weekends ago. He hadn’t been ridden since March and I hopped on (with no lunge) and he trotted and cantered around like he was ridden yesterday. And he’s only FIVE! He’s got SO MANY great years ahead of him! So, you should buy him, or at least tell your friends to buy him. For reals.

Poor Casey’s biological clock stayed on Montana seasons so he didn’t start shedding his winter coat until JUNE! When he would get hot and it was wet, well, he would roll in the mud to cool off.

No, horses are not just a “hobby”. I can’t put them in a closet and forget about them until the next time I want to “play”. They are my lifestyle and I love every second!

Coco Chanel Goes to a Horse Show

I have very little media documenting the momentous occasion, but Coco went to her first horse show last weekend and she was SO good! We Horsepooled with my horsey bestie so got to the show grounds (Texas Rose Horse Park near Tyler, Texas) around noon on Friday. We weren’t showing until Saturday, so it was nice to have plenty of time to see what kind of horse I had on my hands.

The impetus for this occasion was Sterling’s quarter crack lameness after I had already committed to my barn that I was going to the horse show. I texted Trainer and asked what she thought about taking Coco. Coco is by no means ready to jump a course, but it would be great to get her out and about and see how she is amidst the chaos of a horse show. Trainer loved the idea and was excited to finally lay eyes on Coco.

The horses settled in easily and Coco’s eyes were huge taking in all the sights and sounds.

Getting to know the neighbor horses. There was little to no squealing.

After settling in her stall for a couple hours I walked her around the show grounds and in the ring where we would show. She was a bit bug eyed, but not crazy and not spooky. We tacked up and headed to our show ring for a hack and she was super star! The only thing she kind of spooked at was a rail on the ground and some of the fill from the jumps that were taken apart. Trainer was very pleased with her temperament and optimistic about her future. I was, of course, elated.

I lunged and hacked her early Saturday morning to again see what kind of horse I had for the day. She was much the same, looking around but not crazy. We got her rinsed off and primped, ready to be a princess in the horse show. Our classes went around 10a. I made the mistake of riding her in the big hunter warmup ring before our class and she got a little jazzed by the traffic, so we went down and just walked around in the grass by our ring. Our first class had 5 entries (including us) which was a nice size. Enough horses to see how she would do in traffic, but not so many that she should get crowded or have to maneuver too much traffic. We got cut off once and she broke gait in the first class, but she got all her transitions, all her leads and couldn’t care less about the traffic. Yay! We got fifth out of five, but I still consider it a win because she did so well.

We stayed in the ring for our next hack class which only had four entries and it was much the same. We broke gait in front of the judge so I knew we weren’t going to place, but she was really really good. Happy to be there, not spooky, didn’t care about the other horses.

Pretty princess didn’t want to stand still for her photo op, so this is the proof she went to a horse show!

We were entered in a couple other hacks in the afternoon, but one had 9 entries which seemed like it would be pressing our luck and when we went to the ring to show in our final hack of the day she seemed like she was on the verge of brain fry, so we untacked and went for a lunge instead. We didn’t have any classes on Sunday so I lunged her early in the morning and took her for another hack in the Indoor. We were fortunate and no one was in there with us for about 20 minutes. After a few more horses showed up to lunge we went for a walk around the show grounds. It was stormy, thundering and had rained quite a bit, which often causes horses to act a little crazy. Coco took it all in stride easily. She marched right through the mud puddles, was unfazed by the sloppy ring and seemed to thoroughly enjoy being out and about.

The prettiest Coco Chanel.

I’m thrilled with how our weekend went and can’t wait for more horse shows with Coco! I was planning to take Sterling to show in Waco in June, but he has yet another major injury (more on this later) and will likely be out for most of the first half of the summer. With this turn of events Coco may get to go to another show to hang out and do a couple hack classes. Miles are good!

10 Questions Blog Hop

I saw this blog hop on my Bloglovin’ feed from Hand Gallop and thought I would join in. Below are my answers to the questions posted from The Horse is Not Black’s blog hop questions.

1. What are your summer goals?

I’m currently working on my 6 month set of Power Sheets. As of yet I haven’t established exactly what my goals are, but the long and short of it with regards to horses is hours in the saddle! Coco and Simon both need a LOT of miles! Simon has off until the first of June from a hoof/coronet band injury, but Coco is getting a LOT of rides since Sterling has been lameish.

2. Do you have any tips or tricks for fly control?

Sterling’s dapper Baker fly sheet

We are BIG believers in the fly predators and have gotten them every summer for the past 3 or 4 years. They worked exceptionally well when our previous neighbor used them also. The more places with horses (and livestock) that use them the better they work. We also have overhead fans in all our stalls which the horses really seem to like. To me, the key to fly control is not any one thing. You have to do what works for you, your horses and your geography. I don’t want my horses swatting their tails very much so they all wear fly sheets. In June I’ll swap them from daytime turnout to nighttime turnout so they can be inside the insulated barn with fan during the hottest part of the day.

3. How often do you bathe your horse?

I only give a soapy bath for horse shows or to clean an injury. They get rinsed off if they get very sweaty from a ride.

4. Do you have any upcoming travel plans? Equine related or otherwise?

Always! In July I’m going to Montana with a bunch of horsey friends to stay at my family’s ranch for a week. Most of us are taking horses. I’m excited to get out of Texas heat for the week! Then in August my brother is getting married so that has us travelling to Ohio.

5. What is your favorite way to beat the heat?

The best sew-chine ever

Ride early in the morning and stay inside when it is crazy hot. I’m hoping to get some sewing projects done this summer. Texas summer is kind of like Montana winter; that is the time of year you plan to be indoors most of the time so you get your inside projects done!

6. Do you do anything to prevent your horse from sunbleaching?

It isn’t exactly purposeful for sunbleaching, but keeping them inside during summer days keeps their color dark. I only have one horse that will get sunbleached (Simon).

7. How hot is too hot for you to ride?

Gosh, above 95? It really depends on the humidity and the horse. Some horses can tolerate heat better than others. I also may ride and just not do anything strenuous. Work on leg yields at the walk. Opening and closing gates. The not-so-glamorous slow stuff that doesn’t get as much attention when it is 60 and windy!

8. How important is sun protection for you riding or just in general?

A champagne colored EIS shirt.

Very! I’m pretty fair skinned and burn very easily. My horsey bestie started wearing the fancy schmancy sun shirts a few years ago and I thought she was CRAZY for wearing long sleeves in Texas in August. Then I got one and realized their fantasticness! They keep you much cooler than any tank top ever could and they protect your skin from the sun. It really is a win win. I’m a fan of the EIS shirts because they are made in the USA. I have 5 EIS and one Tailored Sporstman shirts. Whenever I see EIS on sale I always try to snag one. I also wear the requisite sunscreen on my face and ride with a helmet and gloves (but not one of the helmets with the giant visors, I think they look kind of silly).

9. Have you ever gone swimming with your horse?

Kind of in the water, but not really

I have ridden Jaguar into the water, but I don’t know that I’d call it “swimming”. Sterling will hardly get his feet wet and Coco and Simon have never had the opportunity. I used to really want to take Jaguar to South Padre Island and ride him on the beach, but since he’s now a pasture ornament that dream will have to live on with another horse. Maybe Simon?

10. What’s on your summer wish list?

Gates on the stall runs
A driveway gate
A new bed
New horse boots
Getting my gifted Dehner’s adjusted to fit my skinny calves

So, there you have it. Happy Monday y’all!

Field trip

In the nine years I’ve owned Sterling he has slowly but surely gotten much better about being ridden away from home, but he still gets quite distracted at new places. One of the best things about living in North Texas is the availability of really lovely facilities that allow outside riders, one of which is a mere 15 miles from my house. This past weekend Sterling and I made the trip out to Willow Draw to get some miles away from home.

Not many hunter/jumper barns have walls with mirrors so it usually takes Sterling a few minutes to get acclimated to the handsome grey horse that seems to do the same thing he’s doing.

It is SO nice to be able to see his frame in the mirror, though. Especially when I’m riding by myself. I can really see how my riding is affecting his frame and see the immediate change when I change something. There aren’t any jumps in the indoor so we worked on a 20 meter circle exercise we did at a lesson last week and then worked on his frame for the under saddle classes.

After 30 or so minutes in the indoor I wanted to get him out on the cross country course for a mini trail ride. As I’ve written in the past Sterling is NOT a fan of trail rides. However, I’ve only ever taken him out in large groups or with the fox hunt so thought going out by himself might go better. Willow Draw has a full cross country course, but we only ventured to one of the water hazards to see if I could get him to get his feet wet.

I didn’t take my iCellular with me when I went out in case he lost his s%&t and I got tossed into the water or something similar so I don’t have pics, but I was able to get him to get all four feet in the water! Here is a snap of the water hazard from the road. It is the one with the jumps in the distance, not the one right by the road.

I’m SO proud of him! He also had to cross a little ditch of running water and let me tell you, he cleared that 2″ of water by about 7′ both in height and the distance he jumped across. Dramatic much?!

There were some riders schooling on the cross country course and I wanted to stay out of their way as much as I didn’t want to overwhelm Sterling, so after our success at the water hazard we went back to hack a little more in the indoor.

Sterling was a very good boy and settled easily into the “new” arena. Just a couple years ago we would have had to lunge for 15-20 minutes and do plenty of hand walking before I would have DARED ride at a new place. I am SO appreciative that places like Willow Draw make it possible to use their beautiful facility.

Stomp the Divots!

My favorite thing about the hunt group of which I am a member is the diversity of horse interests among the members. Never before have I known polo players!  Boot City and I got to attend the season opener for the polo season this past Saturday. It was an informal match, but guests were dressed up, the horses were (kind of) fast and the champagne was drunk while the divots were stomped!

The weather for the match was AMAZING! Especially amazing after being so very very cold on Saturday. I even got a sunburn on my scary white legs!

The players were very social and came by the sidelines to talk to the fans many times during the match. Check out this polo pony’s fabulous polka dotted polo wraps!

The appaloosa polo pony was a HUGE hit! We learned from the player’s wife that at most matches the opposing team’s horses usually need a couple minutes to just stare at the appaloosa before they can focus on playing. I am not surprised by this because Sterling always has to stare at paint horses before he can focus, too. Paint jumpers are the MOST scary to Sterling because they have loud hair and loud bell boots.

I’m excited to go to more polo matches this season for tailgating. My polo friends often ask me when I’m going to switch over to polo from showing hunters and I tell them that I’ll make the switch once I’ve mastered jumping, which will be never. Just ask Sterling, I still have a LOT to learn! Plus, if you recall from my polo posts last summer, polo is REALLY hard. I’m not sure I have the necessary hand/eye coordination to hit the ball with the mallet rather than my horse’s legs.

Harriet!

1. This is my first time attempting to post from my phone. 

2. We got a new foster dog on Friday. 

Meet Harriet: 

She is described as a terrier mix, but I’d bet some 💰 she is a dachshund/heeler mix. I call her a homemade corgi. 

Harriet is heartworm positive so we will be fostering her for as long as her treatment lasts. If you’d like, you can donate to her treatment. I’ll post a link in the comments. It is a tax deductible donation! 

She has settled in quite well. 

I’ll be posting updates as she goes through treatment. When it is all said and done you’ll be able to adopt her! 😉

Simon’s Bloodlines

When I was first considering buying Simon I posted on the Chronicle of the Horse Forums in the Sport Horse Breeding section requesting information about Simon’s lineage and it’s propensity for sport horse performance. It was an enlightening exchange from some very knowledgeable people with regards to Thoroughbred bloodlines and racing. Simon’s sire is Ghostzapper. Ghostzapper currently stands for a $75,000 stud fee at Aden SpringsSimon’s in Paris, Kentucky.  He won the Breeder’s Cup in 2004, the same year he was awarded the Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year. He was retired in June of 2005 and at that point had won just under $3.5 million. I did a search on the United States Equestrian Federation’s website for offspring of Ghostzapper and only found a couple. One had shown in the hunters and one in jumpers, but neither horse had much of a show history. His first foal crop was born in 2007 and according to one of the COTH posters, they have done quite well on the track so not many have likely made their way to the USEF sports. They are known to have very kind personalities, which fits Simon to a “T”!

Ghostzapper

Ghostzapper is sired by Awesome Again. AA doesn’t have a lot of babies registered with USEF, but most all of them have a show record! Many competed in the jumper ring and a couple were competitive as hunters and dressage. Only a couple did eventing. Ghostzapper looks quite a lot like his sire.

Awesome Again

Simon’s dam is Precious Brownie who is by Golden Missile. I was unable to find any photos of Precious Brownie so am going with her sire line. GM is noted to pass along nice movement to his offspring.Similar to Ghostzapper most of his USEF registered offspring competed in hunter/jumper events, but quite a few also have dressage records. Interestingly very few competed in Eventing, which tends to be more dominated by thoroughbreds than is dressage or hunter/jumper disciplines.

Golden Missile

Precious Brownie also goes back to a little known stallion who went by the name Secretariat. You may have heard of him before. Mostly it is just fun to say that he goes back to Secretariat, because even people who don’t ride are familiar with Secretariat.

Secretariat in his older man days

Another fun way to look up your thoroughbred’s pedigree is to use the photo feature on http://www.pedigreequery.com. Simon’s shows quite a list of photos of impressive thoroughbreds from many years past.

I love studying horse bloodlines. I can lose five hours on the internet before I know it has happened just researching and looking up photos! Do you follow bloodlines? Do you care about your horse’s bloodlines?

Sterling’s Family Tree

I follow a few other horsey blogs and a couple of them have recently done posts about the pedigree of their Thoroughbreds. Namely; the $900 Facebook pony and Patently Bay. I grew up reading the Quarter Horse Journal from cover to cover every month. At that time I could probably tell you the 3 or 4 generation pedigree for any top 5 horse in the how events at any of the QH World Championship show classes (I knew nothing and wasn’t interested in the speed classes). The breeding didn’t entirely make the horse, but it was no accident that the vast majority of the top performers had very purposeful breeding and you had a pretty good idea what you were going to get if you sought certain bloodlines. You would still be hard pressed to find a cutting horse today that doesn’t go back to Doc Bar at some point in it’s lineage. The same is true of Impressive in halter horse lineage.

Now that I ride and show hunters it DRIVES ME CRAZY how little Americans pay attention to their horse’s lineage. Every single time I read a Chronicle of the Horse article about results from a top hunter show and the pedigree description is “Holsteiner of unrecorded breeding” I want to go find the person who registered the horse with the USEF and clobber them with the November issue of the Quarter Horse Journal (the fattest issue of the year, think September Vogue). We as horse owners have given the European importers all the power to know which bloodlines tend to perform best in which divisions. We just pay 5 to 6 figures for said horse and can brag that our horse was imported from Europe. American warmblood breeders have been and are working so hard to raise nice horses of European lineage that meet the demand of the domestic riders, but until owners care about where their horse came from those breeders are going to continue to have a very small audience of buyers until after the horses are 5 or 6 years old and “proven” in their performance records. I’m off my soap box now, at least for a while.

I bought Sterling, known by the Jockey Club as Queen’s Black Tie, as a yearling. I had never owned anything other than Quarter Horses and knew I wanted to jump so sought the “poor man’s” route to the hunter/jumper ring via the American Thoroughbred. I didn’t know TB lineage at all when I bought Sterling so paid less attention to his actual bloodlines and more attention just to the fact that he was registered. I’m not sure how purposeful was his origin as the woman I bought him from had bought the mare pregnant with intentions of breeding her to a paint stallion. She had no need for or interest in a thoroughbred gelding.

Little baby Sterling

Little baby Sterling

Sterling is by Emerald Affair and out of Lee’s Wind Walker. Emerald Affair is by Black Tie Affair, who was a pretty successful Irish horse. Emerald Affair himself only had 17 starts and is listed as a “Winner”, but a Google search doesn’t turn up a whole lot of information. It turn up this Thoroughbred Database forum that Sterling’s breeder posted a few months before I bought him. I’ve searched on USEF for horses with the same sire and the only one that comes up is Sterling. This tells me that any horse that did do any hunter/jumper stuff and was by Emerald Affair either wasn’t recorded with the USEF with their actual lineage or they only did lower level showing that doesn’t require registration with the USEF. It appears that he stood at stud as recently as 2013 at a farm called Camp Wanna Ride. Camp Wanna Ride, according to Yelp is closed. All in all, not a lot of info of the sire side other than Black Tie Affair.

Black Tie Affair. You can definitely see the resemblance!

Black Tie Affair. You can definitely see the resemblance!

Nothing much comes of researching Sterling’s dam side. Most things I find about Tormentoso are in Spanish. Maybe he has some polo ponies second cousins? Giboulee had 38 starts and was a G3 winner. It appears he sold for $3,000 as a yearling, so not a big dollar horse. I did find a photo of him, though!

Giboulee

Giboulee

Researching Sterling’s pedigree is generally maddening for me due to the lack of information on both sides of his family tree. Sterling is really quirky on the ground, but is a dream to ride. I would love to be able to talk to other people with similarly bred horses to see if they have a similar experience, but that seems nearly impossible. I may do similar posts for Jaguar and Coco, but they will come later. Although I could probably write about Jaguar’s pedigree in my sleep.

Because we REALLY needed another dog!

Boot City and I love dogs. We REALLY love dogs. This past summer I was able to talk Boot City into fostering dogs for the Fort Worth Animal Shelter. The way it works is you identify a dog that you’re interested in fostering, confirm it is eligible for fostering (some dogs have major health issues that need more funds to treat and are only eligible to be adopted or rescued) then pick up the dog and take it home. The Fort Worth shelter works with a few are PetSmart locations to find dogs new homes. Fosters can drop off their foster dog for the day to stay at a PetSmart and potentially find a new family. Meanwhile the dog gets to live in a home with people and possibly other pets making it a more adoptable animal than if it were living in the highly stressful shelter environment.

Our first foster dog was Quila. Or, as we like to call her, Quildabeast. She had an upper respiratory infection, was pretty chubby and an older dog so could be high on the list for euthanasia should the shelter get too full, which it often does.

IMG_6564

 

Quila was an amazing foster dog. She was loving, got along with all the other animals, figured out the doggy door easily, was generally perfect. She got adopted on her second trip to PetSmart. We were sad to see her go, but so excited for her to get a family! Then, just a week later, we were notified by the Shelter’s foster coordinator that Quila had been returned to the shelter. We were so disappointed for her! The family that adopted her said that they were moving and couldn’t keep her. Who adopts a dog a week before they move and then returns it to the shelter because they can’t keep it?! Boot City had fallen a lot in love with Quila, so she was our very first Foster Fail. Foster Failing means you adopt the dog you were fostering. 🙂

This event led Boot City and I to have a conversation about our dog collection and Christmas. How many dogs is too many? Should we rearrange where they live during the day? What do you want for Christmas? What does Christmas have to do with our dogs? This is what Christmas has to do with our dogs; I have a family friend who has long had Whippets. I have always loved her Whippets and have always wanted to have one of my own. Boot City has become close with this family friend and learned that they were breeding their Whippet and would have puppies available in November or December. Boot City was getting me a puppy for Christmas! I haven’t had a puppy since I was in high school! By adopting Quila our collection had risen to 8 dogs, so we needed to discuss and confirm the future of our pack size.

We agreed to continue fostering until we got the puppy, but no more adopting. We had two near misses for another Foster Fail, but both dogs got adopted to wonderful homes. On September 7 our puppy was born. He was the runt of 10 puppies. They were all given adorable British names. We had the option to change his name, but it fits him perfectly so we opted to keep it.

Meet Dickens! This is his 5 week old photo.

Meet Dickens! This is his 5 week old photo.

He came home for good on November 4. He is the cutest, sweetest, most fun puppy ever! He’s been pretty easy as far as puppies go. Potty training is going well. He gets along with the other dogs, other than trying incessantly to play with Bunny who has zero interest in playing. We are in love! Look forward to lots of future pictures of him as he grows up!

 

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