Archive of ‘Equestrian’ category

Amateur Shamateur Pro Shmo

There is a great deal of discussion in the world of hunters and jumpers right now (USHJA and USEF specifically) about how to define “amateurs” in the sport. Lots of talk about being a sponsored rider or a social media influencer or doing various barn activities for pay and whether those things prevent someone from being an amateur. And quite frankly, I think it’s all dumb.

Lets back up a little bit and I’ll share a bit about my and my family’s background in horses. I grew up in a very horsey family in Montana. My Dad grew up on big ranches and rodeoed in his younger days and when I came around he was active in showing Snaffle Bit horses (basically NRCHA now) and cutting. My Mom’s family raised and showed a LOT of Quarter Horses when she was a kid and she showed as well as rodeoed. She even went to college on a rodeo scholarship.  When I was young she was doing mostly barrel racing, but she switched back to showing stock breed horses after I went to college. Before I was born my parents had race horses. Mostly Quarter Horses, but I think they had a couple thoroughbreds. Some of the mares they ran were broodmares that produced horses I rode as a kid.

Mom showing her homebred gelding, Casey a few years ago.

A few of my aunts and cousins are also still pretty involved in rodeo. One was Miss Rodeo North Dakota before I was born. One broke multiple arena records in barrel racing a couple years ago.  One won the Goat Tying at the College National Finals while on a rodeo scholarship at Montana State University. Both sets of my grandparents raised horses in some form or fashion. My great grandfather was one of the founders of the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma. My Dad was on the Montana Board of Horse Racing in the 90’s.

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

My first few horses were more rodeo types. They ran the barrel pattern and did pole bending, albeit pretty slowly. We went to lots and lots of nearby playdays and rodeos. I also participated in 4-H, which was when I got exposed to showing Quarter Horses and was hooked from age about 10 to well past college. I also showed a reiner the last few years of my Youth career in AQHA and NRHA events. Quite a lot when I was 16-18 (it was the only thing I was into that my Dad actually liked, so he was more on board with letting me show more, LOL!) Fast forward to adulting and I’ve been showing hunters in local, regional and A rated shows in Texas since about 2013 as well as foxhunting since 2010.

Coco and me at a local show during the summer of 2020

I say all this because I think I have a pretty unique perspective in that I or my family have participated in a LOT of various equestrian organizations and events. And I think defining divisions based on amateur versus professional status is a huge waste of time and resources for all organizations that do.

Jaguar and me reining in Montana in the late 90’s

A person’s ability to ride well has absolutely nothing to do with how they earn an income. It has to do with natural ability, time spent in the saddle, good instruction and getting out there and doing the thing. If we want our sport to be attainable for the “average” person to participate we have to make it more affordable. And one of the best ways to make it affordable is for participants to find ways to cut costs. That may be exercising horses for their trainer, repping brands that give them tack/apparel/feed/etc, giving riding lessons, and other similar activities that would currently prohibit them from being an “amateur” in USHJA/USEF competition.

How do you “fix” this? While I don’t have a slam dunk answer, the basic idea to start from would be to separate divisions by Rider achievement OR Rider age OR Horse achievement OR Horse age OR any combination those things. I’m not going to spell out a rulebook in a blog post but the premise would be similar to what eventing does now, but with more separation. The AQHA has a Leveling program that is also a good starting point (but they also separate amateurs and pros, so throw that part out).

For Rider Achievement separation, riders would be required to win a certain number of blue ribbons or points or something to participate in classes with fences higher than 2’9″ and on up for fence height (I don’t do jumpers so I don’t recall the fence heights, but something like the .9m). Require those ribbons/points to move to the next fence height. If someone doesn’t show in their achieved division, say 3′, for 3 years, they have to “requalify” to jump that height again, but you could let them do it within the show season and then move up as soon as they get it. There would also be different Levels at each rated jump height. This would separate the rider showing 3′ at 4 or 5 shows a year from the rider showing 3′ 25 weekends a year. Depending how the levels were differentiated (points would make this easier than ribbons), it could also keep the Rider who only shows at a few of the big shows (Devon, Indoors, WEF etc.) but wins those big classes from being eligible to compete against the infrequent weekend warrior.

There could also be age separated classes at each height division if Riders generally felt like that was needed. I know in some of the stock breed associations there is a whole division for riders over 50. I don’t know that that would work and/or be necessary with divisions separated by achievement, though. However, if all the governing body had to do was keep track of show results to separate divisions, it would make the separation of divisions a whole lot more objective, which to me would be a lot more fair.

Photo by Jerry Mohme. Showing my first thoroughbred in the hunters.

The Horse Achievement division could really remain similar to what is in existence with the Green and age divisions. It would be great if horses imported from Europe with show records could come with their record and not “get” to start over in divisions for which they are overqualified, but I don’t really have a dog in that fight so I’d leave that to the US based breeders to influence because they are the ones who really get the shaft there.

At the end of the day, the hypothetical advantage that professionals have is that they show often and on many horses. If divisions are separated by achievement, riders who don’t show much won’t compete against those pros or amateurs who show a lot. And it might even encourage trainers who have clients with limited resources to take them to a rated show here and there because they would actually have a shot at a ribbon when competing against those who show as infrequently as they do. And that trainer could even show and not have to go up against a Liza Boyd or a Nick Haness just because they give beginner riding lessons.

Hit me in the comments. I’m sure this will be fruitful for discussion.

So Much Shoulding

I am an incredibly fortunate equestrienne. I have two very lovely horses to ride (as well as a superb retiree and a couple ponies). I get to keep these creatures at home in the lovely barn we built for them and on grassy pastures on a few acres that are incredibly close to the downtown of one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. Yet I find myself constantly “shoulding”. What do I mean by “shoulding”? I should ride more. I should show more. I should go to more clinics. I should put on more fly spray. I should body clip. I should, I should, I should, I should. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with shoulding and just don’t. At all.

Jaguar enjoying some winter sunshine. His days of my shoulding are mostly behind him, other than the occasional questioning of some kind of geriatric horse maintenance.

Having a full-time job. Taking care of dogs/horses/cats/goats/chickens/ponies/donkey. Keeping up a small acreage. Curating relationships with friends and family. It all takes resources, all of which are finite. The biggest one being time. The second biggest one being cash. And those two things drive a lot of what shoulds happen and which ones don’t. The part that I struggle with the most with my shoulding is the why.

I’ve lived far too much of my life doing things because (I thought) other people thought that I should. Buying clothes I didn’t really like because someone else said they were cute. Overextending myself socially because I didn’t want to say no and hurt someone’s feelings. Going on trips that may have not been in the best interest of our budget because I didn’t want to miss out on anything. It’s only taken about 4 decades, but my self-awareness is finally maturing.

One of my biggest “should” struggles in a photo.

My greatest should struggle right now is Coco.  What should I do with Coco?!      ??????? !!!!!!!!!!!!       She’s nine this year. I’ve had her at home for 8.5 of those nine years. If you had asked me when Coco was four what I thought she’d be doing when she was nine, I’d have told you showing in the Adult or Amateur/Owner hunters. The reality is that she’s only been to a couple rated horse shows and I’ve still never jumped a 3′ course of jumps on any horse, much less her. There are myriad reasons why we aren’t further along, but I find myself questioning my path forward with this horse ALL THE TIME.

My greatest mistake with Coco 5 years ago was not putting her in more precarious situations sooner. I should have taken her on trail rides, gone to more local shows, and just gotten her out and about. She is the “fanciest” horse I’ve ever had so I was nervous about “ruining” her, which is dumb. I’m a good rider and I don’t ask my horses to do stupid things. I was never going to ruin her by riding her like I rode all the baby horses that came before her, all of which have gone on to wonderful careers under saddle in various jobs. I’m getting her out and about now and it’s going really well. Her first few trail rides were comical (she was NOT getting her pretty hooves WET, OMG. But she will cross water just fine now) but she’s gained a ton of confidence.

I should show her at rated shows, but I just don’t feel it yet. My two primary resource challenges make me question biting the bullet and entering a show every time I get serious about doing an entry. I want her to foxhunt and hopefully will get her out this fall with hounds to see what she thinks. But there is always a little voice in my head that tells me I’m wasting a really nice horse so I should sell her to someone who will tap that potential. My dream of all dreams would be for her to be equally good at showing AND fox hunting. Serious shoulding going on here.

This horse has pretty much found his calling in the hunt field. And he loves him a photographer to cheese for!

Simon is a much easier should. His shoulds are more about body clipping (ugh). Fly sheets. Pulling his mane. And other banal shoulds that won’t remarkably change his future, just his day-to-day existence. Sometimes I think I should show him, but it would also be dumb to show him when I SHOULD be showing Coco. This past hunt season went really well for Simon. He was fit. He stayed sound. He got better and better all season. It’s easy to forget that he’s only 7 and (hopefully) has many years ahead of him to hunt and trail ride and maybe even go to some horse shows. I don’t feel the pressure that I should be doing anything different with Simon, and that makes him more fun for me to ride. Which is dumb.

At the end of the day, all a horse wants to do is eat grass and be safe. They don’t care about their potential. They don’t care if they win or lose. They don’t care if they have a show record or not. They don’t care how big are the jumps. They don’t care about any of it, unless they are hungry or scared.

I continue to struggle with my shoulding, but am getting better at prioritising things for myself, my family and my animals. No one can make these choices for me and at the end of the day, no one other than Boot City really cares in the long run. I regularly remind myself of this when I start shoulding and it helps me make better choices.

A Ginuwine Update

I’ve been remiss about posting in general, but ESPECIALLY about Gene! My last Gene update was in September 2020. While a lot has changed, not a ton has changed. You see, I don’t like to push baby horses (or in this case, ponies) too hard. Gene was weaned at the wee age of 3 months, so I wanted him to have lots of time to just be a baby pony. No training. No lessons. No pressure. Just be healthy and grow and learn from his pasture mates.

His travel buddy and temporary roomy stayed with us for about a week and then headed to her new home in Oklahoma. I wanted Gene to have a solid 2 weeks of zero nose to nose interaction with my horses, so after Nina left he had a week just by himself and he did great! But he was SO excited when he could finally touch noses with the big horses!

Gene’s first nose touch with Simon. SO CUTE!

When his quarantine ended I kept him by himself in a stall with a run so he could interact with his neighbours, but not be in danger of getting kicked or cornered or anything. Once I felt like he was comfortable with the big horses I moved him to the paddock with Jaguar (my 27yo QH). I know I can trust Jaguar with youngsters and he won’t be a bully. I also put my older pony Samson in with them just because he seemed to feel left out.

Gene easily transitioned to the paddock and a few weeks later started going in pasture turnout with Jaguar. I knew he would run around a lot the first time out, so it needed to be safely and without big horse shenanigans. As always, Jaguar was Mr. Perfect. He appropriately put Gene is his place when necessary, but allowed plenty of sillies to get worked out. It wasn’t too long before I felt that Gene was ready for full turnout with all the horses, pony and donkey. My horse pasture us about 7 acres, so they have plenty of room to run and play without getting into bad situations (however, they still get into trouble plenty. I’m looking at you SIMON).

Just before Thanksgiving Gene had his “brain surgery”, which to horse people means he got gelded. My vet came over to do the procedure and it went perfectly. He came out of sedation faster than we expected and had to be kept off his feet for another 15 minutes, but he healed easily and was back in turnout within 24 hours! Horses do best after gelding if they can walk around. This keeps the swelling down. Being with the other horses assured that he would move around more than he might left alone in a paddock. I worked from home and it was a holiday week so we had someone home with eyes on him all day for enough days that we knew we were out of the woods as far as having complications.

Poor little guy is a bit drunk and had a mishap trying to stand!

Gene has also had a couple farrier visits. My farrier has been wonderful with him. Incredibly patient and he makes sure Gene always has a good experience and is never frightened. Gene has great feet and our ground is rather rocky, so they haven’t been a problem. Not being pressed to get them “done” has helped a lot.

Gene was born in early May on Assateague Island, so I don’t think he ever experienced winter as a foal. Texas made sure to serve up some REAL winter in early February. We were incredibly fortunate and never lost water or power. I had plenty of blankets for all the horses and ponies so no one got cold. They got turnout every day and played in the snow. All these experiences where they have to get blanketed and led and what not are so good for the babies. He saw all his buddies get blankets and was a very good boy when he got his on for the first time. They were all ecstatic to have them removed the next week, though. Lots and lots of rolling because blankets are itchy!

I think he looks adorable in his cute blue blanket!

Gene will turn a year old in just a few short weeks! Once he hits his first birthday we will start Charm School. He will begin to work on being a real pony; leading, standing tied, getting in a trailer and eventually going to some little horse shows. He really reminds me a lot of Jaguar at the same age. A little punchy, learns quickly, not easily scared, and has a good general sense of himself. I really think this is going to be a very nice pony who we will enjoy having for many years to come!

And he gives to best kisses!

The LQ Trailer’s Inaugural Trip!

But first, we should catch up on the acquisition of the LQ trailer. You may recall that it was ordered in July of 2020. Right smack in the middle of coronapocalypse. There were many stops and starts in the building of my new trailer. Parts could be difficult to acquire. Employees became sick with COVID. And 4Star trailer orders were, and remain, through the roof! We had one false alarm when my salesperson contacted me that my trailer was nearly done weeks early at the living quarters conversion company, but they didn’t have the correct size awning. It turned out to be a false alarm and wasn’t actually my trailer. The scheduled finish date for my trailer was December 25. I joked with my salesperson that I expected it to be delivered to my house on Christmas morning. LOL.

Alas, my trailer arrived at the dealership in late December. I was finally able to bring it home in early January. Its maiden voyage was to bring Jaguar home from a 3 day stint at the vet clinic due to a pretty bad impaction colic. The day I picked it up my salesperson went through everything with me. How to run all of the appliances. Turn things off and on. Necessary maintenance. I’m more of a tactile learner, so I’d be lying if I said I remember all that much from the run through, but she was very thorough! Boot City and I did a practice run staying in it at a friend’s house in late January so I could figure out how to run all the things before I was out in the wild on my own.

All hooked up and ready to go at the dealership!

My first big trip far  away from home with horses and dogs was to go fox hunting in Georgia in early March. I’m happy to report that everything worked perfectly and I LOVE my new trailer! I had one minor panic attack shortly before I left because I could NOT get any of the propane appliances to work. Mind you, this was just a few days before we were set to leave. Turns out you need to turn on the valve to allow the propane to actually flow to the appliances. Who knew?!

Our setup in Georgia, before I remembered to put out my rug.

This is my first time owning or using any type of recreational vehicle, so the learning curve was quite steep. I’m very glad we did a practice run before going on the big trip and that I made sure I knew how to use everything before I left. I was travelling with other seasoned living quarters campers, but I wanted to be as self sufficient as possible.

My tiny yet adorable living area.

The things I love about my new trailer are:

  • It’s the perfect size. I was a bit worried it would feel tiny (because it IS pretty small), but the mid tack area really helps keep clutter out of the living space
  • Everything is really well done and solidly made. Nothing feels cheap or flimsy. Both the actual trailer construction (4Star) and the LQ Conversion (Outlaw Conversions)
  • I’m glad I did the 3 horse instead of the 4 horse. I don’t need all that space and the mid tack more than makes up for the storage I had with a 4 horse
  • WERM flooring in the horse and tack area is the best thing ever. It’s a pour in flooring that is permanent so I never have to remove mats to clean the floor.
  • My storage worked out better than I thought it would. I still need to figure out a few things (I have one weirdly deep cabinet that is difficult to utilise the space) but I had plenty of space for food, clothes, towels, etc.
  • The length is perfect. I knew I didn’t want a super long trailer and this one really is the Goldilocks size for me. Sure, we could all use a bit more space, but I’d rather have less space and a more manoeuvrable trailer.
  • I LOVE having my rear tack door open on the same hinge side as the horse compartment. This way if a horse is tied on the back tie ring, the door will never swing out and hit it.
  • When I initially ordered the trailer I didn’t have a door from the living quarters into the mid tack. All my LQ friends told me I was crazy, so I added it before it was too late and boy am I glad I did. It can serve as a mud room. I can keep garbage in there AWAY from the dogs. And it makes it easy to get to things I want to store there and not use up space in the actual living quarters.
  • The mid tack is awesome. It’s a hybrid storage area in that I can keep horse feed and supplements and some tack things as well as extra towels, garbage, hoses, chairs and other things that make living out of an LQ easier.

The barn kitty hanging out in the LQ

The things that I would/will change:

  • Having dogs sleep in the trailer while the trailer is parked in/near dirt makes for a VERY dirty floor and bed. I’m going to buy a small rechargeable vacuum to keep in the trailer AND I was introduced to some bedding called Beddy’s by Hilary (www.equesterianathart.com). I’m pretty sure I need that bedding, I just can’t choose which one!
  • On this trip I put my extra hay in the horse area. I think for future long trips I’ll just do the extra work and put it on the hay rack on top of the trailer.
  • I talked to the contractor who renovated our house about building cabinets in the mid tack before I got the trailer, and now that I’ve used it I definitely think I want to go that route. It’s hard to use the vertical storage without shelves or something to contain things. I also may just put some of those wire grids that affix to the wall and hang baskets on it.
  • I’ve always been 100% team step-up and hated ramps. My 2 horse that I sold last year had a ramp and all my horses disliked it. However, this trailer has 3″ blocks on the axles to raise it up a bit (I like the blocking because it gives me more ground clearance, which can be beneficial when you are turning a long trailer around on uneven ground like we tend to do frequently) and the horses don’t love the big step into the trailer. I know I can add one later, but I’m going to haul it for a while before I invest in something that expensive and permanent.
  • I wish I had added a stud door to the first divider. That way if I wanted to use that stall for hay I wouldn’t have to worry about the bales moving around. Again, I can add this pretty much anytime, but it’s more expensive to add later.

I’m so glad I invested in this trailer. I really hope I keep it for a long time and that everything keeps working perfectly. I’ve read lots of posts on living quarters trailer forums and heard nothing but glowing feedback for 4Star LQs as well as the Outlaw Conversion. It is also nice that both companies are nearby so if the trailer ever does need maintenance the furthest it would have to go is Oklahoma City. 10 out of 10 recommend this setup!

Hidden Lakes Schooling Show 08.16.2020

Even before Coronapocolypse came into the picture in early 2020 I didn’t have big plans to do much horse showing. The trainer I’ve shown with the past few years had moved away from Texas and I was really focused on my new fun fox hunting friends and trips. I was hoping to go to Belle Meade’s hunt week in February, but life and responsibility got in the way. However, the planning made me stop and think that I really ought to get more experience and coaching to prepare for jumping some bigger jumps. The highest I’ve jumped at shows is 2’6″ and in schooling is 3′ and only a handful of times. Most of the jumps in hunt fields range from 2’9″ up to 4′ at the more ambitious hunts. The coops Simon jumped at Burwell in October were more like 2’9″ to 3′. To that end I started researching hunter/jumper barns in my area and decided to take a few lessons at a barn called Bay Yard Farm.
I was attracted to Bay Yard for a few reasons. I knew a few people who rode there and seemed very happy with the program. Fellow blogger Kelly of Hunky Hanoverian has ridden at Bay Yard for the past few years and had blogged about her great experiences there. Most of Bay Yard’s clients are adults or mature junior riders and after riding at a more pony/kid focused barn I was definitely looking for a barn with riders I have more in common. They go to a few A shows every year and sometimes add in a local show here and there. Lastly, they do haul in lessons and and have a focus on hunters with a dollop of jumpers which suits my 2020 goals and my foxhunting hobby.

My first few lessons were delightful! It isn’t terribly unusual to start at a new barn and feel pressure from trainers to get a new horse, go to a bunch of horse shows, or do other things that can be perceived as high pressure. I have ridden with two of the four trainers at Bay Yard and both have been nothing but supportive and complimentary of my horses and riding goals.

At the end of July trainer JB texted and asked if I would be interested in going to a schooling show nearby. With no hesitation I responded “Yes!”. I was hoping to take Coco and started making plans to be sure she and I would be prepped and ready to show in mid-August. Coco then promptly whacked her leg on something and subsequently got a “no jumping for 2 weeks” order from the vet exactly 2 weeks before the show. Horses! Her 2 weeks would expire on Friday before the show that was on Sunday. I opted to continue to ride her on the flat with hopes she would be healthy and sound to show, but knowing that I may need to take Simon if she weren’t ready.

Photo from a fabulous BYF Junior rider/photographer. Coco is not very affectionate. LOL!

Thankfully she was sound and prepared in time to horse show! We entered the 2’3″ Junior/Amateur division mostly because it was the first division to go in the morning, but partially because it didn’t seem fair to ask her to jump bigger jumps after a few weeks off jumping and a couple of minor injuries.

To say that Coco was a good girl is an egregious understatement. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous how she would act. In the past she has been either a bit hot or very agitated at horse shows. She will seem calm and accepting of the situation only to blow up and express her disdain by misbehaving. She’s never been naughty or dangerous, but I’ve never felt relaxed with her at shows. This was completely different. We had hacked around the show grounds the day before and she had been a bit fractious, but on show day she was aware of surroundings yet amenable to do what I asked of her.

Scope has never been a problem for Coco. These jumps were quite small so she didn’t have the loveliest form.

We did two hunter trips and an equitation course and she answered every question I asked perfectly. She was a bit crooked in the lines and she has a bad habit of veering to the right, but she happily jumps the jumps and mostly gets her lead changes (especially when her rider asks for them correctly).

Here is a video of our second hunter trip. Pardon the ridiculously long trot around the ring before we actually start the course. She was a bit looky after the first hunter trip so I wanted to just trot around the ring calmly before we jumped again. And I couldn’t figure out how to mute the talking from the video so inserted some ridiculous YouTube music instead. Feel free to mute your computer now. Haha!

https://youtu.be/OQ11_ftmUUo

She is calm, keeps a consistent canter, gets her distances and looks like a lovely hunter. I couldn’t be more thrilled with our progress. The regular lessons have made a world of difference and I can feel that my riding has made drastic improvements. This is the first time in my life that I’ve been getting regular lessons and it’s helping so much! We got second place in the second hunter and we won the hack to end up as Reserve Champions in our division!

Happy girl over the tiny jump.

 

I’m hoping we can make it to at least one or two more schooling shows this year. If a rated show works out I might go to one of them since Bay Yard goes to those shows more frequently, but it’ll depend on my fox hunting trips. I’m going to start getting Simon fit for Burwell so will be taking him to more of my lessons and (hopefully) getting some practice over bigger fences. Learning and getting better is so much fun!

No scope no hope! The best girl!

 

 

House on Wheels

Our story begins, more or less, in May of 2019. A year prior I had seen a photo taken by Gretchen Pelham on the cover of The Chronicle of the Horse during the MFHA Hark Forward tour when they foxhunted in my hometown (Miles City, Montana) and I nearly lost my mind to learn that it happened AND I WASN’T THERE! I immediately found Gretchen on Facebook and contacted her to find out how/if/when they would hunt in MCMT again and how I might go about obtaining an invitation to join the fun. Fast forward back to May 2019 and I find myself headed from Fort Worth to Miles City for a week of fox hunting!

When driving to MCMT from FW with a horse I prefer to layover at The Greenhorn Horse Hotel in Pueblo, Colorado. It is nearly exactly half way and is right off the highway so easy to find. Since I was traveling alone with just Simon and 2 of my dogs, I didn’t want to stay at a hotel and had planned to just sleep in the nose of the gooseneck of my trailer. I had brought along pillows and some blankets and thought nothing of it, Until it was about 11p and I was FREEZING cold! In my ingenious planning I forgot how cold it gets at night in May in the Rocky Mountains. Added to that I hadn’t brought anything to provide actual cushion for sleeping. Needless to say we hit the road again at about 5a the next morning mostly just so I could thaw out my extremities.

Chivas in our not very cozy, rather uncomfortable and decidedly not warm enough sleeping quarters.

The trip back to Texas was even worse. It started blizzarding in southern Wyoming, I barely made it to the horse hotel (I found out later the roads were literally closing behind me because of the snow) and REALLY froze that night. I’d like to point out that this was in late May, 4 days before Memorial Day weekend. I went on at least two additional fox hunting trips that would have been easier to have my own accommodations. I was starting to make new friends who fox hunted and traveled to hunts all through the season and would stay at some locations for a week or more.

I don’t know what flipped the switch, but I got to talking to Boot City about it more and more this summer and basically woke up one day and decided I NEED A LIVING QUARTERS TRAILER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m guessing the coronapocolypse was a contributing factor, but it was not the deciding factor.

I ordered my current 4 Star trailer in 2013 from Wayne Hodges Trailers and have loved it from day 1. 4 Star trailers are the best made trailers I’ve ever owned (Featherlite, Sooner, and Lakota) so I knew I wanted to get another 4 Star. I had never previously seriously entertained the idea of an LQ trailer because I assumed they were all at least $100,000 and I don’t want to pull some monstrosity of a trailer around. With my newfound interest in the LQ’s I started by looking at the inventory of the dealership where I got my current trailer and lo and behold they had a lovely (brand new) 3-horse LQ trailer that was around $50,000! I know, it’s not cheap, but it’s also not $100k! I reached out to the salesperson from whom I got my first 4 Star and so the journey to get an LQ began.

Karen is a delightful salesperson and she knows 4 Star REALLY well! She asked me all kinds of questions and we talked about what I liked and didn’t like about the trailer they had on the lot. By the end of our first conversation I had a pretty good idea what was on my must have list and my really want list, as well as my don’t want list:

Must Haves

  • Permanent rear tack
  • WERM flooring in the horse compartment
  • Horse stalls long enough for my not-small horses
  • Full shower and toilet
  • An awning
  • Three horses
  • Mid tack room
  • Hydraulic jack
  • Hay and feed storage for long trips

Really Want to Haves

  • Generator
  • As custom LQ as possible (not western in style!)
  • Hay storage
  • Plenty of storage in the LQ

Do NOT Want

  • Doors from the LQ to the mid tack to the horse compartment
  • Rubber mats in the horse area
  • A ramp
  • Anything longer than about 26′
  • Screen door
  • TV
  • Stove top

I decided to get a 3 horse with a mid tack instead of a 4 horse like I have now. I don’t think I’ve ever hauled 4 horses and after having my current trailer for nearly 7 years I think the mid tack would provide better space to use the way I want to use it; for feed storage and keeping things like buckets and muck tubs. Plus the mid tack allows me to haul 3 horses if I want to and I can still fill the mid tack room with hay if I’m going on a long hunting trip or something. Right now I can only stack hay in the 4th stall as high as the divider or it’ll fall onto the horse hauling next to it.

This is the drawing of the trailer after about three rounds of edits. It isn’t to scale as the mid tack is wider than any of the stalls!

Another thing I’m trying with this new trailer is 60/40 doors on the back. Boot City suggested this as it might make the trailer more inviting for loading if the horse opening is bigger. To get more LQ space AND to make the horse stalls longer this trailer will be 8′ wide and the one I have now is 7’6″, so that gave me 6 more inches to have and therefore I’m not losing the full 10% of the space on the rear tack area.

The mid tack will have 2 wide bars to hang blankets on as well as a bunch of hooks. I don’t think a horse trailer can ever have too many hooks! The floor in the mid tack will be rubber mats and the walls just aluminium so it’ll be easy to clean after hauling hay and other messy things. It’s big enough to store my tack trunk, buckets, muck tub and all that stuff. When looking through my trailer this past weekend I had a minor panic attack when I realised how much stuff I currently have in the dressing room of my trailer that will need to find a home in the mid tack or rear tack of the new trailer.

We went back and forth on a few more things and this is the final drawing of the trailer as 4 Star will build it:

This one is more to scale. Isn’t it so pretty?!

One thing you can see on the final drawing that we changed was the door to the rear tack will hinge on same side as the horse door. I’m silly excited about this because I’ve always hated how that door opens towards the road. And, if you have a horse tied on that side of the trailer the door can swing out and hit it.

The horse head side of the trailer will have drop windows with bars over the opening, which I also love. It allows me to drop the windows for air flow when it’s hot, but not have to worry about the horses sticking their heads out. The butt side will just have slats that will come with plexiglass in them. I’ll probably take out the plexiglass for most of the year because it’s hot in Texas, but we’ll see.

We also made the gooseneck drop a teeny bit shorter. I had to measure how high is the bed of our pickup to be sure we had enough clearance, but this will give us about 2″ more headroom in the gooseneck where the bed is located. Which brings me to the LQ part of the trailer.

It isn’t ginormous, but it has everything I think I will need! This is just a stock picture of the ProLine for the size trailer I’m ordering.

The LQ has what they call a 6’8″ short wall, which is the wall on the driver side of the trailer. On that side is the 64″ sofa and the wall has a small window with cabinets above the sofa. On that wall in the bathroom is a small closet to hang clothes. The curbside wall has the sink with the counter and a fridge under the counter. I could have had a stove top, but that seemed like wasted counter space. There is a microwave and a small cabinet for storage above the sink and counter. The bathroom has a pocket door and the shower is on the curbside wall. I find it quite amazing how much they can fit into a small space!

The last two things that I changed just before placing the order are Boot City’s influence. The first is to insulate the roof in the horse and mid tack areas. I’ve said it 100 times, it gets really hot in Texas and the insulation should keep it about 10 degrees cooler inside. The other thing I added was a hay rack on top. I REALLY didn’t want to have a hay rack on the top because I often find myself driving through low and narrow trees, but when I last went to the trailer dealership to look at some units they had on the lot we had a long discussion about where the generator could live. The old school option is in the rear tack, but evidently that is less than desirable because it takes up so much space. The second option was to have it in the mid tack room. I’d have to add a door on the driver side wall and Boot City would later have to build a box to cover it and all that would add about $1,500-2,000 to the cost of the trailer. The final option, and the one most LQ trailers these days have, is a hay rack on the top where the generator also lives. I’m opting to buy my own generator and Boot City will install it because getting added to the build was nearly $7,000 and I KNOW we can save money on that. The LQ company (Outlaw Conversions) will wire to the hay rack and then Boot City can hook it all up when we get the trailer.

The new trailer is 24′ long, so not even 2′ longer than the trailer I have now. I’m VERY excited about that. I’ve thought about added a foot or two to the LQ, but I think I’d rather have the shorter trailer and just make the outside area more lovely for living wherever I go. This is how I found the Airstream Supply Company where you can find the CUTEST RV things! Most are Made in the USA, too.

The trailer is estimated to be completed in mid December. Coronapocolypse has slowed down production for 4 Star AND they have more orders than usual, hence the long wait time. I’m SO excited and already have at least 2 long trips planned with the new trailer next winter and spring, barring any unforeseen events to prevent them (I’m looking at you COVID-19 and horse soundness).

My current trailer the day I brought it home. I LOVE this trailer and if it made sense I’d just retro-fit it with living quarters.

I’ll either sell the current trailer or trade it towards the new one when I get closer to the new trailer’s arrival. It looks like my 2 horse Lakota should be sold this week, so I’ll need to hang on to this one until the new one gets here. I’M SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!
I’d love to hear stories from readers about having an LQ trailer. Do you love it? Hate it? What would you do differently? I know there will be things I wish I did different, but I went with my gut on most everything and feel good about my choices.

Simon’s New Kicks

I’m not adamantly on team shoes or team barefoot (for horses, I’m definitely team shoes for humans), but I do see the benefit in pulling a horse’s shoes off when he isn’t working hard to allow his feet to adapt to life without shoes. This can strengthen the hoof wall and some research indicates that barefoot trimming can help horses who have underrun heels (a common problem amongst off track Thoroughbreds). One research article even indicated that a shod horse going barefoot for even a few weeks led to a hoof with characteristics that are known to improve soundness

Jaguar has been without shoes since his retirement, with the only exception being when he tore his hoof from the sole up to the coronet band and required a bar shoe while it grew out. Coco cannot be without shoes because she has a slight club foot and needs to support of the shoe. Simon requires at least front shoes during hunt season for no reason other than he’s tender footed on rocks. He’s got lovely hooves, especially for an off-track Thoroughbred, but his soles have always been quite sensitive. Hunt season generally goes from November to March so he’s shod from September to April. 5 months hasn’t been long enough the past 2 summers for him to be barefoot and have his hooves actually acclimate to being barefoot.

Enter coronapocolypse. Hunt season ended prematurely (early March) and the trips I had planned to go hunting outside of Texas also were canceled. This could be the PERFECT summer for Simon’s feet to really acclimate to being barefoot! I had my farrier pull his shoes on March 21. Typical for Simon he was quite sore for a few weeks. Our property is fairly rocky and he noticeably avoided the rocky areas. I put Seashore Acres Sole Paint on his feet every evening when he came in for the night to help build toughness in his soles. By late April he was starting to seem a bit better.

A very handsome and barefoot Simon after a ride. He’s quite wild.

In May we went trail riding with friends a couple times and on one particular ride his feet took quite a beating on some very rocky ground and I felt like a big jerk! I knew I couldn’t continue to go on trail rides and not offer his feet at least some sort of protection.

Enter, hoof boots. I listen to a daily podcast called Horses in the Morning and there is a monthly episode about Endurance riding. I’ve never really wanted to try Endurance riding, but I really enjoy the episodes and one of the sponsors is Renegade Hoof Boots. I’ve heard for years how great these boots are for endurance rides and how easy they are to put on the horse, so I thought maybe this could be a solution to protecting Simon’s feet while allowing him to remain barefoot for the summer. So, I ordered a 2 boots! I measured his hooves according to the detailed description on the website and selected some black ones (I’m a hunter after all, no crazy colours for me!) in his size. They come in singles, which I could see being nice if you had a horse with different sized feet (like Coco).

Simon is quite tolerant of all the things, but I wasn’t sure how he’d react to his new hoof boots. He can be a bit klutzy so I was worried the hoof boots would make that worse which might scare him, but I was pleasantly surprised. I tried them on him and they seemed to fit great and were VERY easy to get on and adjust to his hooves. The directions were straightforward and simple. They definitely aren’t going to win him any show hunter cool kid points (and are probably dangerous for jumping), but they aren’t offensive.

Simon trying on his new kicks for the very first time.

For the first ride we just walked and trotted a tiny bit around the property. I specifically took him to a few extra rocky places so he’d know he could walk over those rocks and nary a rock would bother his tootsies (well, at least the front ones). He did great and I could tell he started to figure out that his feet were in fact protected and he got braver about walking right through rocky areas that he usually avoids. The only minor issue that he seemed to have was overreaching and clipping the boots with his hind feet. I posted in a Facebook group after that ride and got advice to go ahead and use bell boots the next time he wears them, which makes sense since he usually needs bell boots with his regular shoes.

Another photo because he’s cute and likes his picture taken.

A few days after that first ride the Renegades made their maiden voyage on a trail ride, but this time with bell boots. It had rained quite a lot the night before the trail ride so the trails were very muddy and I was a bit concerned the mud might suck the boots off his feet. The only issue he had with the boots all day was at the beginning of the ride he spooked at a fawn that jumped up and went running through the trees. He pivoted away on his front feet when he spooked which seemed to cause one of the boots to twist around his hoof. I got off, straightened the boot back, and adjusted it quite a bit tighter than it had been. And let me tell you that mounting block (or in this case tree stump) training is very important when you are out on a trail ride and have to get on a 16.2h horse with no real mounting block. We rode about 8 miles the rest of the morning and the boots were perfect! We went through lots of water and mud and grass and they stayed on perfectly. The trail was quite rocky in a few places so I was glad he had good hoof protection. We are officially now hoof boot devotees.

We are off and running on all the trail rides for the rest of the summer, or at least until it gets unbearably hot in Texas! I highly recommend the Renegades both for riding a barefoot horse as well as having around in case your horse pulls a shoe. These things are tough and they fit really well.

The picture doesn’t quite do it justice, but there is a large beaver dam on the creek that Simon is looking at. It’s nice to see so much green grass in late June!

Coco’s PEMF experience (so far)

Any horse person will tell you that most horse people are game to try many different kinds of therapeutic treatments for their horses. I’ve posted here before about chiropractic treatment. I’ve also explored acupuncture. Most recently I had Coco treated with PEMF, which is short for Pulsed Electromagnetic Field therapy. I’m not going to go into great detail about what it is and how it works, but generally it uses energy waves (pulsed) to treat damaged cells. The barn I show with uses it extensively and has had great luck using PEMF therapy. I live four hours away from my show barn, so to get my horses regular treatment I needed to find someone closer to me.

I finally found someone who works out of the Canton area and comes to my region somewhat regularly. Heather is fantastic to work with! She is extremely knowledgeable and is patient and calm with the horses.

I’ve posted on here myriad times about Coco’s various symptoms and ailments, none of which are debilitating, but I’ve always felt like she has something internal that just isn’t quite right. Horses are hard because they can’t tell us where something hurts or how much with words, only with body language. Coco is much better under saddle the past couple months, but she still seems agitated when I brush her barrel on her left side and still sometimes shows signs of discomfort when I first start riding.

Heather did a full examination of her prior to treatment and we agreed that a full-body therapy would be best. She was somewhat reactive to testing for signs of ulcers and for her female anatomy. She’s been treated for ulcers twice, and to be honest I never thought her behaviour changed after treatment, which led me to believe she didn’t have ulcers, or at least not bad enough that that was what was causing her reactivity.

Starting with her noggin, the flexible tubes emit a pulse. The pulse can be set to be really aggressive or very slight. We, of course, started very slightly on her poll and around her head. You can tell that she relaxed into it pretty well.

 

A horse’s poll (the area behind their ears) is more or less connected to their whole body, so anything out of whack here affects myriad other parts of their body. Her poll was somewhat reactive to the pulse, but not bad. So her body was telling us that she was a bit out of sorts here, but not to an extent that was worrisome.

This is another part of the horse’s anatomy that connects to many other parts. It is near the entrance to the thoracic cavity.

Coco mostly nonplussed at the therapy to the front half of her body. Her body showed a little reactivity at the poll and near the entrance to the thoracic cavity (which is also where ulcer pain would be manifested). She was mostly relaxed and Heather was able to turn up the pulsing a bit for these parts.

The back part of her anatomy was a bit of a different story. In this video you can hear the clicking sound the pulsing makes and see her body’s reaction to the pulse. This was where her body had the strongest reaction to the PEMF. There are any number of reasons her body was reactionary at this location. Perhaps due to trauma from her fetotomy. Her internal conformation may be causing some discomfort. She may have some intestinal parasites that don’t show up on fecal exams and are causing her discomfort. Heather did some additional examination that led us to believe the parasite issue might have some veracity as well as trauma from the fetotomy.

The part that seems to be the most distressed.

Based on her therapy and the examination done by Heather I have opted to treat Coco with a Panacur PowerPac followed by a short worming regimen to hopefully get rid of any internal parasites that might be making her uncomfortable. After that we will try to get some more regular PEMF therapy and see what we have. All in all Coco has been doing really well lately. Our rides are good. She seems happy and mostly comfortable. Definitely better than she seemed to be last fall!

Have you done PEMF for you or your horse? Any other therapeutic/non-traditional treatments? I’m curious to hear about your experiences!

 

Farm Friday 08.10.2018

Good Friday morning y’all! I cannot believe we are into the double digits dates of August! Soon school will be starting around here and traffic will be bad and the weather will start cooling off and all that comes with the change of seasons.

I’m trying to let myself enjoy the cooler temps we are having right now, but I’m having a hard time not being bitter about the lack of rain. We have been surrounded by rain clouds for a couple days and seen a lot of lightening and even some rainbows. But no rain.

When it gets warm, Tuffy gets in the water trough to cool off. This always cracks me up and it makes him SO happy!

 

 

Quila is a saint about letting the puppies climb on her. Some of the tan ones look a lot like her, so she’s extra cute with her doppelgangers!

 

 

This is Jackie, she is our newest foster. She had been in the Joshua shelter since about April. They had gotten to the point that where going to have to euthanize dogs to make room for all the new ones coming in the door, so we offered to foster her. She is a DELIGHTFUL little dog! Only about 27lb with lots of love and energy. We are smitten.

 

 

PLAY PLAY PLAY PLAY PLAY PLAY PLAY PLAY PLAY PLAY PLAY ……………………………….. pass out. That is the theme of Dickens. He adores playing with Jackie!

 

 

 

Simon is lame right now with an apparent stifle injury (WTF, Simon!) and since Sterling is gone Coco is getting ALL the love! And it appears to make her very sleepy.

 

 

 

And speaking of Sterling, things seem to be going OK with his kid. Do you see his happy eyes? I think he REALLY loves his kid! I’m the proudest horse Mom this side of the Mississippi!

 

I’ll be spending the weekend wishing, hoping, praying, begging, and doing whatever else I can try to encourage the rain to fall!

Neighborly Shenanigans

Simon came in from turnout Sunday morning with a surprise for me…….

This is the full scrape wound, fresh from being cleaned.

It is pretty easy to tell from looking at the injury that it was as wire scrape. The side of the heel has the worst damage.

 

The coronet band (where the hoof meets the hair) bore the brunt of the scrape. It was pretty crusty with blood and gunk before I cleaned it off.

 

I got it cleaned up, texted pics to my vet to get some guidance on how to treat it, and waited for direction. We opted to just get it really clean and spray it with an aluminum spray as opposed to wrapping. I’m a believer in wounds getting air to breath being better than wrapping them up and trying to keep everything out. He wasn’t sore on the foot that I could tell and there wasn’t any heat in his hoof or leg, all good signs. So I put him back in his stall and hoped for the best.

Before I rode Coco I walked the fence-line between our property and our neighbor and found where Simon got hurt pretty easily. I don’t have photos, but the fence dividing the properties is a woven wire fence with a smooth strand on top and set with t-posts. Well, Simon got his foot wrapped in the TOP wire and pulled the fence down so the t-posts were at about a 110 degree angle! The wire was pretty stretched, too. Simon likes to play over the fence with the neighbor’s geriatric QH gelding so I guess things got a bit out of hand on Saturday night. I never saw the neighbor’s horse yesterday so I don’t know if he got hurt, too. Boot City did a minor repair to the fence, but we know that a full fence replacement is in the imminent future. Oh the glamour of owning property! Never is there a fence that doesn’t need to be repaired or built!

Fast forward to this morning and Simon’s leg is swollen and his leg/foot clearly is sore. I cold hosed the leg, cleaned the wound again, gave him some bute (like ibuprofen for horses, it treats inflammation and pain), and poulticed the canon bone of his leg (poultice is a clay based mud that helps bring out heat and swelling, really more people should poultice themselves when they get hurt, it is awesome stuff). He’s definitely not getting ridden for a week or two, poor guy. Hopefully this gets on the mend sooner than later and he’s back to normal for some more summer trail rides!

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