WAY back in December I ordered a custom tack trunk. My first one ever. I was beyond excited. The retailer (Centerline Style, I’m not going to tag them because their customer service was horrible at the end and I don’t want to send them any business) was having a 20% off sale which included custom tack trunks and it was a deal I just could not refuse.
I emailed the store (which turns out was the owner) with my myriad questions before I placed my order. All my questions were answered quickly and succinctly so I felt “safe” in ordering the trunk. To make a very long story somewhat short, the great customer service lasted for a few weeks and then the customer service fell off the planet. I last received a response to my question about a delivery date in mid-January and it wasn’t an answer, it was a “here is a $40 store credit to thank you for your patience”, which frankly made no sense to me. I placed my order on December 17. The website stated a 6-8 week turnaround, which would have my trunk arriving somewhere between January 26 and February 9.
I had a show the first weekend in February and was REALLY hoping I would have it by then, which would have been towards the 6 week end of the timeframe. The days leading up to the show I emailed, called, online chatted and contacted the retailer online to no avail. No one answered the phone ever. No one returned my call. No one responded to my email. Needless to say I was getting angry and a bit worried.
The week after the show I called the trunk’s manufacturer. They were AMAZING! Turns out they hadn’t even gotten my order until January 2, so the 6-8 week window got pushed out two more weeks. Thanks Centerline Style. They gave me the current status of the trunk’s build and finish time and told me to expect it to be ready to ship in a week and a half. That timeframe had the trunk arriving sometime between February 16 and 23. I had another show the last weekend and February and was super excited to have my trunk. Finally.
The week of the show arrived and I contacted Centerline again. Still no response. No one answered the phone. No one responded to my email. I was starting to get REALLY angry. I contacted the manufacturer again and got some really good and really awful news. My trunk had been done since February 14, but the retailer wasn’t responding to communication from the manufacturer so they couldn’t ship my trunk. Now I was furious. I left a 1 star Google review, contacted the Better Business Bureau, and lastly contacted my credit card that I had used to buy the trunk. You’ll never guess how this ends……….. within 24 hours of contacting my credit card I received this email from Centerline,
“I just wanted to let you know that your tack trunk finally shipped yesterday! Don’t hesitate to ask if you need anything at all, we can’t wait for it to arrive!
To be clear, the trunk actually shipped the day after I got this email. I don’t think the retailer was trying to pull a fast one on me, but I do think they are understaffed and have bitten off far more than they can chew. Retail in 2018 is tough. The Dovers and the SmartPaks of the world do a pretty good job of answering their phone and email in a timely manner, especially when you order something that costs more than $1,000. I’m sure many people have horror stories of the big equestrian retailers and I’m not here to start an argument, but to go over a month not responding to a customer’s requests for information on any order is unacceptable.
In happier news, here are my “unboxing” photos from when my trunk finally arrived last week. In March. 10 1/2 weeks after I ordered it. Boot City is highly entertained by online unboxing photos and videos, so these photos are dedicated to him.
The delivery vehicle. For some reason he didn’t want to drive up my driveway. Some people have no sense of adventure.
I had to finagle in out of the bed of the pickup to be careful to not drop it! It wasn’t crazy heavy, but it wasn’t light. That is Punky the goat in the background. She was very helpful.
My first glimpse….. of Styrofoam……..but I have to admit that it was very well packaged.
I had to lay the box on its side to slide the trunk out. I put cardboard under it to be sure to not scratch it at all.
Ta da!!!!!!!!!!! It is a beauty! But, of course, Centerline messed up the order. You see, my initials are “TNT”. The coolest initials you could possibly have, so I wanted it on my trunk as “TNT”. The way it is on the trunk now is the “correct” way, but not how I ordered it. I’m not going to send it back, because Lord knows how long it would take for them to fix that. But I will be bringing it to their attention…..(them being Centerline, I know the manufacturer just did what they were told)
Last, but not least, the inside. Murtagh approves, but I don’t think there will be room for him in there once it is filled with all my horsey goodies!
My advice is to shop at Centerline Style with extreme caution. Kelly at Hunky Hanoverian also had issues with customer service at Centerline and if you read their Google reviews, all of them in the past couple months are pretty terrible. I’m excited to have my trunk and am grateful for the discount, but I’m pretty sure the time I spent trying to wrangle my dang order cost more than I saved. We live and we learn!
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!
Happy Friday y’all! It is COLD here in Texas! It was in the 20’s overnight, but thankfully should be getting in the 40’s today. Life is much easier when it gets above freezing during the day. Much time is being spent blanketing and unblanketing horses, hauling hay, turning heaters on and off. All things I never had to do in Montana! The irony! As I write this it is -2F in my hometown.
Pablo the nuzzler. He’s such a weirdo!
Pablo’s left front foot has been sore for the past few weeks and when his feet hurt he WILL NOT let me catch him. I guess he knows I want to mess with the hurt foot and he just isn’t into that. I feel like a bad donkey parent, but I also don’t want to wrangle a donkey. Now that the ground has dried up he seems sound again. And now that he’s sound he is super snuggly. He likes to stand behind me and rest his chin on my shoulder, then ever so slowly he starts nuzzling my coat, hat and ear before he tries to bite. This donkey. He should write a book about himself.
Murtagh the cat and Dickens the Whippet are best buds. Murtagh LOVES to play with the sighthounds and often can be heard terrorizing them in the middle of the night.
I was trying to snap a photo of Samson in the snowflakes that we had for about 45 minutes yesterday, but he was not into the photo op!
Super hairy ponies have to be the cutest thing ever! Samson is still difficult to catch in the field, but he loves to come in the barn to steal hay and is easy peasy to catch then. He desperately wants to be with the big horses, but the one time we tried that Sterling chased him endlessly to the point I was worried about Samson. We will try it again one of these weekends and let Samson out with a smaller group of the big horses. He has been out with Jaguar once and that went really well. Jaguar ignored him the whole time.
The forecast in the next week or so in north Texas is COLD! Highs will be in the 40s and lows in the 20s, plus it feels colder because the air is humid. Mind you the temps in my hometown in Montana are MUCH colder with highs in the single digits and lows well below zero, but consistently freezing weather in north Texas is pretty cold. At times like this I try to remind myself how miserable it is to ride when it is in the 90s and humid in the summer so I can motivate myself to take advantage of not roasting. It can be difficult.
I wish I had photos from winter rides during my childhood. I can remember helping friends move cattle and 20 minutes into the ride I couldn’t feel my feet. By the time we were done moving the cattle or whatever task we were seeking to accomplish I likely couldn’t feel most of my face, my hands and below my knees! I didn’t ride regularly in the winter as a kid. Usually the winter was when I participated in some school sport like basketball or volleyball. My horses always got the winters off to get fat and hairy and have some down time.
We never had a horse colic in the wintertime, either. My parents had a very successful program for winter horse management. The horses had plenty of shelter and hay to keep warm and dry plus our stall runs and pastures had access to Ritchie horse waterers which NEVER froze. Horses don’t like to drink freezing cold water and if they don’t drink enough water they can get impactions in their gut which cause colic. It is vital that they have access to clean, not-freezing drinking water at all times.
Now that I live in Texas, winter is my favorite time to ride. It generally doesn’t get much below 40 for most of the season, so with enough clothing it is comfortable to be outside.
Sterling decked out in his winter riding attire.
When it really is “cold” I use some extra horse clothing to keep them warm while I ride. The quarter sheet covers their hind end, which is where some of their largest muscles are located. Quarter sheets are usually made from some type of fleece or wool fabric so when they do get hot it wicks away the moisture. I keep my horses under lights all year (this tricks their body into not knowing when the seasons change so they don’t grow thick winter coats) so they don’t get super woolly. Because of their lack of winter coat they need blankets when many fuzzy horses don’t. It seems cruel to take off their warm blanket to go ride and not cover them up at all, so I use a quarter sheet.
Bundled up rider, but less bundled up horse.
When we really get to working I will remove the quarter sheet so as to not overheat the horse, which can be worse than getting cold. It is much easier to get a horse warm than it is to cool them out in the winter time. At the horse show we went to a couple weeks ago many riders used a quarter sheet right up until they went into the show ring and put it on as soon as they came out. The older the horse is and the harder it is working, the more important it is to keep those muscles warm and prevent cramping and discomfort.
My tack room is heated so my horses also don’t have to deal with freezing cold bits in their mouths. When I go to fox hunts I often put my bridle in the floor board of the pickup under the heater so when we get to the hunt they get a nice warm bit in their mouth.
As far as keeping myself warm, I’m a big fan of layers. Especially in Texas where it often feels really cold when I first go outside, but as I start moving around I get warmer and warmer. Layers allow the removal of extra clothing so I don’t get too hot. And my favorite way to keep my ears warm under my helmet is with “hunter hair”. Hunter hair is accomplished by putting your (long) hair in a ponytail with hair covering your ears and a hairnet over your whole head to keep your hair in place. You flip the ponytail up and put the helmet over your hair. This makes your hair an ear warmer! Brilliant!
You can kind of see my hunter hair covering my ears. It works much better and is far less bulky than any type of headband to cover your ears under a helmet.winter r
If I still lived in Montana I’m pretty sure my horses would still get winters off and I would spend the season gaining the festive fifteen from eating too much and not getting enough exercise. I’m looking forward to lots more winter and spring rides before hot Texas summer returns.
This past weekend my grey unicorn and I were back in the show ring and it was a GOOD weekend! The Winter Frost Fire show was held at The Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Katy, Texas. This was the first year to hold a show at this venue on this particular weekend. I loved that it was so close to Christmas, but since it was the first year for the show and amidst the holidays it was not a huge show. I don’t love crowds and have yet to attend one of the really big Texas shows so this suited me just fine.
Sterling is still dutifully toting me around as I try to figure out how to properly ride him around a course of 2’6″ jumps and by golly this weekend I made it happen more often than not for the first time ever! I intend for this blog to be interesting to read for my friends and family who don’t ride so I’m not going to go into great detail, but rather give a fun overview of the weekend.
Sterling in his festive braids waiting for his turn in the ring.
Since it was a small show I also took this weekend as an opportunity to practice my mane braiding skills. Most ‘A’ show riders hire professional braiders to braid their horse’s mane so that it looks perfect. When I showed Quarter Horses as a kid this wasn’t an option so I always banded my own horse’s mane (this is done for western stock horse events) and when I got the chance I would braid my English horses. I am a self taught braider so my technique was rather rough and inconsistent. My horsey bestie is a fabulous braider and we have practiced together a few times and she gave me pointers so I was able to braid Sterling myself for this show and it wasn’t embarrassing! She put the pom pom in his forelock and a snowflake charm on one of his mane braids, but I did the rest.
My perfect unicorn!
I showed in the Modified Adult Division at this show over fences that are 2’6″. My goal going into the weekend was to keep a consistent canter around the entire course and NOT try to find any distances myself, just leave it to Sterling. I’m so proud to say that I stuck to it about 90% of the time around all 6 jumping courses. There were a few times when I had a brain freeze and threw him away right at an oxer or thought I saw a distance and made him get close to a fence, but they were few and far between. We came home with TWO blue ribbons over fences! I’m riding much more consistently and I think I’m starting to actually be able to feel the proper ride. This has been the hardest part of learning to jump for me is learning the feel. Everything else has come to me so naturally when I ride, it can be maddening that I think I’m doing something right when in reality I’m doing something very wrong.
Sterling has been a saint through my learning process. Not many green horses would put up with the mistakes that I have made over the years as Sterling and I have learned this whole jumping gig together. Thankfully he LOVES his job and while he can be a goofball on the ground, he is nearly always the same horse under saddle. He LOVES to jump and he LOVES to horse show. I am by no means a proficient rider over fences, but I do think I’ve reached a turning point and can finally start working on more of the polished nuances of riding a course rather than just trying to get around without embarrassing myself, my horse and my trainer.
Posing in front of the award winning Christmas stall decorations of JNL Stables.
I even kept it together and had as good of a second day showing as I did first day. I made a mistake in the walk to canter transition in the flat class that probably cost us the blue ribbon, but even that was better than the last show. All in all we won two blue ribbons over fences, three second place ribbons and one third place ribbon in addition to our second place in the flat class. I’m SO happy with this show being our conclusion to the 2017 show year! Hopefully we will be able to move up to the Adult Amateur division in 2018.
The final night of the horse show was a $10,000 1.35 jumper class with a leadline division between the first jumper round and the jump-off. What in the world could be cuter than a little girl on her gray pony with all kinds of Christmas bling AND Santa?
A few weeks ago we were gifted the world’s cutest pony. He has been all over social media in the ensuing days.
Samson. The world’s cutest paint bay pony.
We housed Samson with the goats when he arrived. This would allow us to get to know him in smaller quarters, prevent him from having to be turned out with the big horses until we are able to supervise them together and see how he did with the goats. We don’t know much about Samson prior to when he was purchased from the kill pen about a year ago, but based on his behavior after arriving at our house I would venture to guess he was either mistreated or neglected in his past life. Try as I might I could NOT catch him! He would eat treats out of my hand over the fence, but if I went in the pen with him he would just run away from me. It drove me CRAZY because his little legs were covered with botfly eggs and I NEEDED to scrape them off. His eyes were a bit runny and NEEDED to be cleaned. He just needed some TLC!
I posted in a horsey Facebook group for advice and the in-a-nutshell advice was to have patience. Spend as much time as possible in his pen with him, but not forcing him to interact. I continued to give him treats over the fence anytime I had something in my pockets so he started coming to the fence pretty much anytime he saw me. Progress. A friend came over to ride with me the week of Thanksgiving and he ate cookies out of her hand when she was in his pen!
If I made any hand movement towards his face or his halter he would get away from me as fast as he could. I started giving him treats with one hand and petting his forehead with the other hand when I could. Sometimes he was OK with it, and sometimes he would back away. His reactions were getting less and less dramatic, but he still looked pretty darn skeptical of me.
Last week one of the goats had a kid. I always try to touch and handle the kids as much as possible when they are tiny so they are easier to work with when they get big and have horns. This was a surprise kid and I don’t think Samson knew she existed until I “showed” her to him and then he was FASCINATED.
“What is this tiny creature?! I must touch it with my nose!”
I think it helped for Samson to see me handling the baby goat. He was very curious about it the first couple days it was in the goat pen and would come as close as he felt safe and stare at it when I pet and held it.
Our big turning point happened on Sunday this past weekend. I kept the horses in their pens all day and we let Samson out into the big pasture with the goats for the first time ever. I was a bit worried I would never catch him again since he was now out in about 6 acres. He toodled around and grazed and followed the big horses around some while I rode, but he generally kept his distance. He did seem fascinated by the barn, the runs and the big horses in general. I was cleaning tack in my tack room with the big barn doors open when I saw something in the corner of my eye that was small and brown sneak down the barn aisle behind me. I walked slowly and quietly out of the tack room to find Samson happily munching hay from the wheelbarrow in the barn aisle. I hurried over and closed the big barn doors so he was confined to the barn. I didn’t want to fight with him, but oftentimes if a horse has been caught before they know when they are completely confined and can’t get away. Well, it worked. I was able to walk up and give him some carrots and snap the halter rope onto his halter.
AT LAST! I caught my little buddy!
He was extremely tense at first, but I gave him a few more carrot pieces and let him continue to munch hay and he slowly relaxed. I got to work with my bot knife on his legs, then combed his mane, cleaned his eyes, picked up his feet and scratched him all over. He was apprehensive, but not scared. I was SO excited to finally get my hands on the little guy! He was pretty much nonreactive and let me do all the grooming I wanted.
We even went outside and did some selfies. He was way into the phone/camera.
I didn’t keep him contained for very long and after I removed his halter he got a final cookie. He came in the barn again later in the afternoon to steal more hay and he pretty easily let me catch him again. The more times I can catch him and provide a good experience, then hopefully he will become easy to catch even in the largest pasture! Hard-to-catch horses are one of my pet peeves and can be dangerous so I’m happy this is progressing so quickly.
I CANNOT believe we are into the double digits in NOVEMBER! Where does the time go? Fall’ish weather seems to be sticking around North Texas now, although it is supposed to be 82 today. The most important part is that it is cooler for fox hunting! The days are shorter so I’m not getting to ride after work, hopefully soon Boot City will put up some arena lights. The to-do list on the farm is never-ending……
Little Chivas sunbathing. The poor girl has been extra itchy lately. She’s even had hives the past couple days. Hopefully the vet can figure out something to help her. We have been treating her for itchy skin for years.
This is my formal blog introduction to the latest farm family member;Samson! He’s a kill-pen rescue from a good friend. I’m hoping he knows or we cat teach him how to drive!
The outside of our house has finally finished its face lift! We had a contractor/handyman do some trim repairs and painting and then got ALL new windows. The change in window technology from 1964 to 2017 is pretty huge and fabulous.
Mickey is still ridiculous and adorable. He enjoyed the stacked furniture while the windows were being replaced. He’s had a few adoption applications recently so hopefully he gets his own family for Christmas!
One of the funniest photos from Opening Hunt. My horsey bestie is busy braiding her horses tail while the rest of us are drinking port and chatting. I’m holding her drink and mine, not two of my own drinks.
I’m thankful for all my friends and family and wish you the best Thanksgiving!
Sterling and I have been showing at regional and rated shows for about 3 1/2 years now. Pretty much all three years we have been showing over 2’6″ fences because I was basically starting at zero. I REALLY want to move up to bigger fences, but the only way to to do that is to ride better and to ride better I need to jump more. The primary barrier to that has been that the trainer I ride with at horse shows is located about four hours away from me and I really only see her at horse shows. To remedy that I started taking more lessons with a couple of trainers close to me who have similar approaches to riding and jumping to my horse show trainer. I still don’t get lessons as often as I should and now that fox hunting will be starting it will be even harder, but I’m committed to doing it both for me and for my horses. I want to bring Coco along correctly and not put her through the misery of my beginner mistakes that Sterling was such a saint about dealing with.
In that vein I had a lesson on Sterling last Saturday and it was SO FUN! The barn is a primarily jumper barn so the jumps are much wilder looking than hunter fences. Sterling has always been a brave jumper (he isn’t brave in any other aspect of his life, though. Remember trail rides?) so wasn’t phased by the crazy striped poles. He even jumped a liverpool with no hesitation! Most horses freak out the first time they jump a liverpool because they are moats of horse-eating scariness. Not Sterling. Other than me riding like a dufus he was perfect.
This is a liverpool jump. I don’t think we were jumping anywhere near this height, but you get an idea of what it looks like.
I made a ton of mistakes throughout the lesson, but he marched right along and WE JUMPED AROUND OUR FIRST EVER 3′ COURSE! This trainer had given us some lessons when I was first starting to jump Sterling and she commented about how much more forward he is now, so at least I’ve done something right along the way. We got our strides down every line and didn’t have any hard chips. A few close spots and a couple Tara-why-are-you-looking-down-and-not-forward moments, but I did better at keeping him forward and even used too much leg a couple times.
This isn’t from our lesson, but it is a pretty pic of Sterling at the horse show in Katy last weekend. Hopefully we can continue to get more lessons in and move up to bigger fences at the shows sooner rather than later. He’s such a good boy!
Photo by Jerry Mohme. It looks like we are in a forest, but we aren’t.
Sterling and I FINALLY got to go to a horse show this past weekend! It was an eventful trip getting to Katy. If you saw any of my social media posts you’ll see that my pickup broke on the trip down on Friday. Thankfully it was fixable in a day and the Firestone crew was AMAZING! We didn’t get to the show grounds in time to ride on Friday as we had intended, but such is life. I did lunge Sterling on Friday evening and he was surprisingly chill after standing on the trailer for 10 hours!
We hadn’t been to a show since February so I wanted to see what kind of horse I had early Saturday morning. We got to our ring well before the show started and hacked around in the dark. There was one other horse in the ring at the same time and all was well until the other horse started acting up and rearing. Sterling can be greatly influenced by the demeanor of horses around him so we got out of there and ended our morning hack on a good note. All seemed well!
I tacked up about 45 minutes before my division was slated to start and headed to the warmup. He was looking around a lot, but he seemed happy. The more we worked the more agitated he became. As a kid I would always show my horse in a different bit than I used at home. It was a way to “tell” my horse that this was a show and not just practice. It worked well for the western horses because they would go nicely in an easy bit and I would use a slightly stronger bit at the shows to better get their attention. This method evidently does NOT work with Sterling! We went over a few warm-up fences and he was clearly getting MAD! There were two trips until mine so I hurried back to the stalls and put his “practice” bit on. It didn’t completely change his demeanor, but he was most definitely not angry about the bit in his mouth any more!
I made a few rider errors on Saturday and we had a close spot (a “chip” in jumping horse lingo) in all of our courses so got 2nd out of 2 in all 3 over fence classes. The other horse was really fancy so we were also 2nd in the hack. Sunday was MUCH better! Sterling was very calm and never agitated by the bit in his mouth. I made a couple mistakes and he was spooking at a wheelbarrow by the judge’s stand in all our trips, but the last one was pretty solid and we won that round!
This is a video taken by a fabulous barn mom of our last trip of the day and the round that we won.
Now that Sterling and I are both a little bit more seasoned at the hunter horse show gig I know that he is quite sensitive and if I try to make a strong fix during a course, he will respond with a strong reaction. I have to correct quietly and when in doubt (which is usually the case!), just leave him alone. I’m pretty darn lucky that he’s been as tolerant of my learning curve at the same time he’s been learning!