Archive of ‘Equestrian’ category

Practice Makes Perfect

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.

Britannia Farm HORSE SHOW!

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!

 

Horsey Blog Hop | 10 October Questions

Every once in a while I see a blog hop list of questions and I can’t help myself but participate. This list is from In Omnia Paratus, however I first saw it on HelloMyLivia.

    1. Most equestrians quote fall as their favorite season to ride. Are you one of those that does? Or maybe not; what is your favorite season to ride, if so?

I love spring and fall, probably equally. Spring is great because the weather is nice and the days are getting longer. Fall is great because the weather is nice, but sadly the days are getting shorter.

    2. Do you clip your horse in the fall? Or maybe you wait a little longer?

I’ll probably have to clip Sterling if we go to very many horse shows. I’m not using my own horse for fox hunting, so don’t need to clip Simon yet.

    3. Have any costume riding events in October on/near/around Halloween? What will your horse be dressed as? What about yourself? What would you dress as if money/time were absolutely no issue?

I generally hate dressing up in a costume. None of the shows I’m going to have a costume class, but a few years ago I rode Jaguar at a show and dressed up as a rodeo queen!

I really was a rodeo princess when I was 11, so I actually did win that sash!

    4. Is your horse afraid of any autumn colors? Or maybe has a certain quirk that appears only in the autumn?

The only thing I can think of that changes my horses’ demeanor in the fall is just the drop in temps. Cooler weather generally makes horses friskier!

    5. Pumpkin spice. It’s everywhere right now. Find any natural pumpkin [squash] spice-esque recipes for your horse?

We used to get rotten pumpkins from a nearby church’s pumpkin patch for our goats and chickens to eat. This often resulted in random pumpkin plants growing around our property so all our animals are fans of eating pumpkins raw!

    6. We’re getting to the end of the calendar year, any final few “big-bang” shows to look forward to?

Yes! Sterling and I are headed to Katy this week for the Britannia Farm Fall Classic. Hopefully we will make it to a couple more shows before the first of the year.

    7. Winter is coming. What are you doing to winterize your trailer/rig/car?

Making sure that my hand warmers, extra socks and coats are stored in the trailer for me and that there are coolers and blankets for my horse! Thankfully winter is generally pretty docile in Texas.

    8. Do you have any autumn traditions you/your horse follow?

Deep cleaning the barn to get the cob webs and dust out since they are more likely to be stuck inside during icy weather. Fox hunting, OBVIOUSLY!

    9. October in many places marks the beginning of deer hunting season. Does this affect your riding at all? Do you wear blaze orange or modify your schedule to accommodate the season?

October his cub hunting season for fox hunting and the beginning of November is the opening of formal season. I opt for a red coat rather than orange. We do have to be aware of deer hunters when we are fox hunting and we generally avoid properties where deer hunting is active.

    10. What are you most looking forward to goal-wise as the final months of the calendar year approach?

I’m so excited to finally get to show Sterling again! I’m hoping my riding has improved and I don’t cause him to chip a bunch of fences. Coco is coming along in her flying lead changes so hopefully she will be ready to go to a horse show next spring!

 

Natural Horse Medicine

While they cannot actually speak, horses are really pretty good communicators. I say that as a human resources professional with an advanced degree in communication. I think horses more often have a benefit from not having words. Non-verbal communication is more accurate than verbal because it tends to be more honest (I’m sure you know PLENTY of people who could/should talk less).

For a while now Coco has been fussy when she’s brushed on her right side near where the saddle goes. She will kick at me with her left hind foot. She’s usually fine for tacking up, getting on and riding her. However she pinned her ears and refused to canter or bucked every time I asked for a canter yesterday. It didn’t matter which lead I asked for, she was PISSED! The timing was PERFECT for her first visit from a chiropractor/acupuncturist/veterinarian.

Sterling was seen by a chiropractor a couple years ago and was found to be pretty OK, but none of my horses has been seen by anyone other than my regular vet in a few years. It is always a little nerve wracking to wait and see what they will tell you! Coco flinched a few times during the evaluation, which I knew meant something was wrong, but you have to wait for the doctor to tell you what is up until after they finish the evaluation.

Well, it turns out Coco has a few issues, but nothing career-ending. THANK GOODNESS! The likely culprit for her kicking at me while brushing her is an ulcer. This would also be why she was such a brat about cantering yesterday. She will start getting some Tums immediately and will have a longer treatment with omeprazole followed by a change in her diet to (hopefully) prevent future ulcers. Other issues Dr. Barbie found were soreness and heat in both front heels, so she needs shoes. She was a bit off in her sacral area so got a chiropractic adjustment for that soreness. All in all her issues should be easily treatable and not terribly expensive.

Coco looking out over her domain.

 

Sterling tends to do the same kick-at-me-when-being-brushed-on-the-left-side thing so I had Dr. Barbie do an eval on him as well. Turns out he doesn’t have significant ulcers, at least not anything near what Coco has as far as pain level. He will benefit from some aloe added to his diet, but nothing major. She did confirm that he has soreness in both of his front feet. She suspected saddle fit, so we put the saddle on and all looked well. He definitely needs more than a thin saddle pad with the Antares saddle, but it wasn’t anything she was concerned about. I told her my regular vet indicated this spring that Sterling was showing signs of arthritis in his coffin bones and she agreed that is most likely what is happening so he will need coffin injections sooner rather than later. Getting older STINKS for horses AND people! He also got an adjustment to his sacral area and she was surprised he was doing lead changes with no issues considering his soreness. What can I say, Sterling is a lead change dream!

My big grey (frequently brown) goober.

I’m so glad I had Dr. Barbie come look at my horses. I am a strong believer in preventative care for horses and people so hopefully we have identified some issues before they become major issues and given their sporting careers a boost in duration.

Casey Moves Back to Montana

I got the news yesterday that Casey has officially moved to his new home in Montana! It was bittersweet for him to return to Montana, but I’m SO EXCITED for him and his new family.

Horsey Glamour Shots – with the saddle

My goal with every horse I “have” (technically Casey belonged to my Mom, but he was “mine” for a year) is for them to be a better horse that what I started with and therefore have value as a good riding horse. To my mind this is the best prevention from a bad situation. A kind, talented, well trained and rideable horse is far less likely to end up in an abusive home, at a kill-pen or just not cared for.

Horsey Glamour Shots – passenger side view

When Casey arrived in Texas he was very nicely trained, but still young and didn’t have a lot of hours outside an arena. He would inherently get more time outside from fox hunting, but I also wanted him to be a nice trail riding horse. He has an AMAZING brain. He’s generally unflappable and has that fabulous Quarter Horse smarts, so I had a great animal from the start. Mom also wanted me to work with his flying lead changes in case she wanted to try more reining or even western riding with him later. I am pleased to have accomplished all of these goals. We went on quite a few trail rides, which he took to very well. His lead changes aren’t quite automatic, but they are definitely there and just need some polish. I haven’t shown a finished western riding horse, so I don’t know if he has the talent for that event, but I do think he would make a nice reining horse with more training. He stops nicely, turns nicely and doesn’t have trouble doing lead changes. He looks at cattle so might even be able to do working cow horse!

Horsey Glamour Shots – driver side

About three quarters of the way through hunt season Mom made the decision that she wanted to sell Casey. We agreed that he had a better chance of going to a nice show home if he stayed in Texas so I marketed him here. Only by word of mouth until early August, then I posted a Dreamhorse ad. It is somewhat ironic that he sold to a family in Montana, but the best part is that he now belongs to a family I’ve known most of my life. Casey will get to do some ranch work, he will continue to do some showing and he will be loved by a little girl. There is a quote/meme you often see on social media about how every horse deserves to be loved by a little girl at least once in it’s life.

I completely agree and am THRILLED for Casey and his little girl!

Simon’s First Trail Ride

First off, I took zero pictures. I had no idea what to expect from a 3yo OTTB on hundreds of open acres for the first time and carrying my phone seemed like a recipe for disaster. I also didn’t have a safe way to tote it around since it is giant and I only had breeches pockets.

Some of Boot City’s family recently bought some property outside of Waco so horsey bestie and I headed down with our OTTB’s and her adorbs Welsh Cob mare to hit the trails with the fam and a neighbor. I was a bit apprehensive how he would behave as Simon had “come to life” on our last ride at home and went so far is to attempt to buck a couple times. Simon has a very level topline so it doesn’t take much for him to put his head down and let ‘er buck. Thankfully he’s quite lazy and very gangly so his attempts so far have just been entertaining. We also cantered for the first time since January on that ride. It is amazing how a horse that is SO awkward at the walk and trot can have such a lovely and balanced canter. Nevermind that you must ride EVERY stride or he will just stop. #lazyOTTB

Suffice it to say that he was a rock star on his first trail ride. It was the perfect environment for him and we couldn’t have dreamed up a better first experience. The company was calm and quiet, which was important to me for his first few outings. I want him to be comfortable with his pals on the trail and not be worried about any of them running away from the group or running up on the group. Once he is comfortable just ambling along a few times we will move up to trying some speed and taking forays away from the other horses.

On this ride he crossed a concrete creek bridge. Saw a few deer. Heard gunshots (it is dove hunting season in Texas) in near range for about 20 or 30 minutes. Rode through a group of cattle with calves. A couple birds flew out of cover when we rode by, but not big noisy birds. The property is lovely and has some nice roads throughout so we stuck to the paths. He never wanted to go faster other than speeding up his walk, but he wasn’t his completely slow ambling lazy self. He also stood tied to the trailer like a gentleman with his two girlfriends while we had lunch.

The laziest and sweetest OTTB!

We will be back down for another ride in the next few weeks, that is for sure! I might even get brave and take Sterling sometime to see if perhaps he does better on trail rides if he’s in a small group or even alone since he’s a hot mess in big groups. Many thanks to horsey bestie for coming along and bringing an extra horse and to Boot City’s family for hosting us and providing a yummy lunch!

Horses Out and About

The ponies and I had a very productive and fun weekend!

We kicked off Saturday morning by heading to a lesson at the barn where I bought Coco when she was only a few months old. Her flat work has been going really well and I know she’s ready to jump, but I also know that I need some eyes on the ground to give me feedback to bring along a youngster. Being that this barn raised and trained her dam (as well as multiple half siblings), stood her sire, and two grandsires I value their input both as professionals in the hunter/jumper world, but also their knowledge of her bloodlines. They hadn’t seen her in person since she was a baby baby, so it was fun for them to see her grown up.

Coco handled the “new” place quite well. She looked pretty hard at some jump standards in the corners of the ring, but she didn’t say “no” to anything. She also handled the traffic in the arena much better than I would have anticipated. One of the down sides to keeping horses at home is that they don’t get much time in an arena with other horses. It took Sterling a year or two of showing before he stopped panicking about horses coming up behind him on the rail. I could feel Coco’s energy when horses would jump nearby, but she was never naughty.

We did lots of flat work, walked and trotted through some ground poles and ended the lesson by trotting and even cantering over a crossrail. The trainer’s feedback was that she jumps cute, even over such a tiny fence. She also really uses her hind-end into the canter transitions. Coco will definitely be a talented jumping horse, so hopefully we will get a solid base and get to start showing over fences next spring!

Pretty (and very sweaty!) Coco after our lesson.

 

The norm lately has been a lot of rain and random storms. Saturday night brought over 1.5″ of rain at our house! My horsey besties and I had planned a trail ride at the Trinity Trails in Fort Worth and we didn’t let the rain deter us! It was misting a bit when we set off, but it cleared up and turned out to be the perfect weather for a Sunday morning ride on the Trinity Trails. Plus the weather seemed to deter others from heading out so we didn’t see more than maybe 15 cyclists and that was it.

All of our horses thought the stripes in the parking lot were walkovers. It was funny.

It is delightful to live in (near) a city that is so welcoming to trail users. The Trinity Trails system has many miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails that allow you to ride right up to downtown Fort Worth. We got some pretty amazing photos!

This is Casey’s “but I want to eat all the grass not take a picture” pose! Downtown Fort Worth is in the backdrop.

Casey behaved really well. He looked at lots of things, but never spooked. There was a donkey on the other side of the river from us and he really talked to us when we rode by him! Thankfully we have Pablo at home because donkeys often scare the pants off of horses when they bray.

It’s so nice to have this much green grass in August. You wont hear me complain about the rain, that’s for sure!

Does your town have trails for riding, running or biking? Do you ever take your horse out?

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.

Sterling Update 07.10.2017

This poor horse! I feel SO bad for him! Thankfully he hasn’t seemed to be in much or really any pain, but my gosh this thing is taking FOREVER to heal! This is what his stifle looked like a little over a week ago. Much worse than before we drained it the first time.

The fluid started accumulating inside of the top of his hind leg AND around his stifle. I don’t know that this photo does it justice. It was SO fat!

Last Monday the vet came over again to drain it, again.

If you zoom in on this photo you can see the fluid flying through the air as it drains out. So. Gross.

 

As it was the first time, the fluid was an amber color mixed with some blood. The vet cut two large holes and really got into the fluid buildup to break the capsule where it was accumulating. This time some chunks came out in addition to the fluid, which the vet said were the walls of the capsule where the fluid was collecting. Part of the reason for cutting two holes was to tie a piece of rubber tube through the holes so they won’t close up so quickly and allow the accumulating fluid to build up, yet again.

After the second draining with the rubber tube in place.

 

It has been a week since the second draining and yesterday Sterling was lame on that leg again. I felt like the holes were sore and ready to have the tube removed, so that is just what I did. Took out the rubber tube, cold hosed it for 20 minutes, gave him some banamine and put some DMSO on the swelling. Within a few hours of doing that he was running around in his paddock so I presume the banamine helped! The fluid coming out now is much more opaque and seems like pus, but it isn’t stinky and worrisome.

For now we will cold hose twice a day, DMSO on the swelling and he’s getting an antibiotic just in case there is some infection. This poor horse! Add him to your prayer list that this heals up and he can get back to his normally scheduled life. He is SO sick of being kept up while his buddies go out to graze at night.

At least he has this guy to keep him company. I’ve been making Simon stay in with him because he doesn’t seem to care if he doesn’t get turnout. You know, like most 3yo thoroughbreds who are off the track, he just wants to laze around in his sandy stall run.

They really do like each other, I promise, they were just cranky yesterday. I presume Sterling was grumpy because his leg hurts and he is SO sick of being hurt!

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!

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