Archive of ‘Big Sky’ category

Trail Riding!

This past weekend a group of us affiliated with the fox hunt I ride with went on a trail ride at one of the properties where we hunt. This is newsworthy because the weather was AMAZING! It was forecasted to be in the high 90’s and we got lucky with a very cloudy morning and even a few rain drops.

I took my Mom’s little yellow horse, Casey. His mane has completely grown back and I think he should be called Fabio now.

Casey and his Fabio mane. I keep it braided at home so his neck doesn’t get so hot, but took out the braids for trail riding day.

Casey was awesome on our ride. He hasn’t done a ton of trail riding so I’m always happy when we get out and he has a good experience. He’s only 5 so getting good miles in now will pay off a lot on the long run. Trail riding can be unnerving for horses because they see things they don’t normally see out on trails (animals, 4 wheelers, all kinds of things!), riding in a crowd can make them nervous, and having to cross water and ditches can be scary.

A group selfie. You know your horse is good for trail riding when you can take photos and completely drop the reins and he just keeps going.

Since I’m working to sell Casey for my Mom I want him to have good, constructive experiences when we leave home and he got just that last Saturday. He crossed all the ditches, never spooked at anything, didn’t get terribly worried about where the other horses were. We rode in the front some and in the middle some. He’s got a pretty good walking pace, so he’s unlikely to be at the back just because of his speed.

Literally my favorite view. #lifebetweentheears

We are always so grateful when our hunt landowners invite us out for trail rides. It is a great way to explore the properties while not being busy with hounds. This property is still relatively new to us and we have struggled with knowing how to get from point A to point B at times! It has a steep ravine through the center of the property and is quite wooded. We spent some extra time finding ravine crossing spots and pulling down dead tree branches when we had the chance. The nice thing about Casey is that he isn’t crazy tall. This property will be interesting when I start riding Simon because he’s about 5 inches taller than Casey!

Lush green grass in JULY and glorious clouds make for a pretty spectacular view.

Our group stayed pretty slow, which I liked. Galloping in a group seems like it would be great fun, but it always brings out the crazy in one or two horses and someone ends up on the ground and/or scared half to death because their horse is a victim of “groupthink” and freaks out because it wants to win some proverbial race or at least keep up. I’m not one of those riders who enjoys that kind of chaos. Save it for the warmup ring at horse shows where there is always plenty of drama!

Riding in the middle of the group for a bit.

We had a potluck lunch after the ride complete with homemade Shepherd’s Pie and homemade Gazpacho soup.

Going Western

I grew up riding western. I had a brief foray into rodeo events. I won my first belt buckle when I was 9 in pole bending at the Bill Pauley Memorial Rodeo. I won All Around for my age division at the same rodeo. I had a few nice, but safe, rodeo event horses before I was 12. Casey ran some barrels (not to be confused with the current Casey!). Chant Town was an OTTB or OTQH and he was a master of pole bending. Both horses were VERY old when I had them and went on to teach other kids the ropes in rodeo events.

My Dad was a cutter most of my life. I know he did some team roping and snaffle bit futurities, but all I remember him doing was cutting and helping friends and family move cattle whenever needed.

Dad cutting in Idaho on Athena Beau. Probably in the late 80’s or early 90’s.

 

As I got older my interest in rodeo waned and I got into showing Quarter Horses. I did mostly all around events including showmanship at halter, hunter under saddle, hunt seat equitation, western horsemanship, western pleasure and trail with a couple horses my parents had raised. When Jaguar was born he was first my 4-H project, but when we took him to a couple Quarter Horse shows when he was 2 some trainers made comments to my parents that he had the looks of a reiner. Dad was always ambivalent about the “horse show” events and more or less thought they were a waste of time. ESPECIALLY the English events. Therefore he was never particularly supportive of horse showing. Until I got bitten by the reining bug. Reining is an event that is derived from working cattle. You ride in figure eights going slow and fast, do sliding stops, and spins. Basically you are showing off how “broke” your horse is to do the maneuvers necessary to work cattle. The next step is working cow horse then cutting.

Jaguar becomes a reiner!

Jaguar was an awesome reining horse. He is extremely athletic and would stop SO hard. He could be frustrating in that he would stop hardest in bad ground (ground not good for sliding) and then not make much effort in really good ground. He could easily do 20 foot long slides. I showed him in reining from the time I was 15 until I was about 20. He developed a large bump on one of his knees that made spins in that direction uncomfortable. I also was finishing college so didn’t really have time to show. Dad let me go all over the western U.S. to show in reining events. I had a BLAST! The culmination was showing the AQHYA World Championship show. We didn’t do all that well, but it was really fun.

After college and into adulthood living in Texas all I really wanted to do was jump. I got Jaguar back when he was 13 and I was in my late 20’s. In my head he was ready to retire so he hung out in the pasture until I met the fox hunt and he entered his third career (his second was doing all around stuff with my Mom in Montana). All the horses I’ve bought myself have been English horses for jumping and/or fox hunting.

Last fall my Mom let me borrow her horse, Casey (again) to use for fox hunting since Jaguar is no longer sound for riding. He was the perfect fit for a fill in. He was a great sport and did everything I asked of him, but he just is not an English horse. I much prefer riding him western. Mom wants to sell him now so I am legging him up to make some western videos and market him to the western crowd.  He is a super easy and fun ride.

 

 

My parents got me a custom made reining saddle made by Earl Twist when I was 17 and it is the most beautiful and comfortable saddle on the planet. Riding Casey brings back fantastic memories and then I find myself thinking I should get back into reining….. just what I need is another horse hobby! Especially after all the time, effort, energy and MONEY I’ve invested over the past 10 years to get into the hunter/jumper game. I’m sure Boot City would be ecstatic. Nonetheless, I’m definitely going to enjoy the time I have left with Casey and getting to dip my toes back into the western world for a little while.

Lovely day on Casey the QH.

My plan is to get back into reining later on in life when perhaps jumping isn’t safe or if I get burned out or I have the resources to do both. I didn’t keep a lot of my western tack other than my reining saddle and a handful of bridles. My parents had also gotten me a fancy show saddle made by Broken Horn in California that my Mom now uses to show her mare Foxy. It kind of entertains me because that saddle has a silver horn cap with my initials on it.

He looks so cute in his western duds! He still hasn’t fully shed out and it is HOT here so I keep his mane braided and off his neck.

I’m blessed to have and have had some really lovely horses!

Coco Under Saddle for a Whole YEAR!

It is kind of crazy to think that I’ve been riding Coco for a whole year! In many aspects she should be further along in her education, but I always want to take it slowly with my young horses and let them tell me when they are ready to try harder things.

Looking, looking, always looking. You never know when a dog or a goat may come out of nowhere to eat you. Dried up brush is also very deadly.

She can officially walk, trot and canter on purpose. She mostly knows which lead I’m asking for at the canter, but we have done anything crazy like counter canter just yet. She moves off leg pressure when she feels like it. When she is focused on the killer dogs/goats/brush she will purposely ignore my aids. Maybe this is a “mare” thing or a just a “Coco” thing? She isn’t spooky when she’s away from home nearly like she is at home, which I hope is good in the long run.

Selfies while riding are hard.

My goal for her this year is to be working on flying lead changes by the fall. Once she has a lead change we will start dabbling in schooling shows. I’m hoping to take her to a couple more summer shows to do some hack classes and just get her out and about. Showing a young horse in the blistering heat of the summer can be advantageous for preventing shenanigans that cooler weather might perpetuate! I might take her on some trail rides with my foxhunting group this summer, but I’m kind of on the fence about those with her. I should probably take Simon so he is a bit more ready come hunt season.

She really is fun to ride. We have popped over a few small crossrail jumps and her talent is quite evident. Going straight is a bit of an issue, but we will start working on some cavalletti gymnastics and continue with dressage lessons to work on those skills. I have high hopes for Miss Coco Chanel!

She makes this face a lot. In her mind there is just no reason that humans aren’t perpetual treat dispensers and she’s pretty put out when that doesn’t happen!

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! 😉

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