Archive of ‘Equestrian’ category

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!

Art!

2018 has turned out to be the year of art for me. I have acquired some of the most beautiful and heartfelt pieces of art I could ever imagine. I’m blessed to have many gifted friends and family member artists so I’m going to take a moment to brag on these people as well as a couple pieces from truly amazing professional artists that are now in my collection.

First I’ll show you an “oldy” but a goody. A few years back, I don’t even remember how long ago, a friend gifted me this wonderful watercolor piece she did for me of a fox hunt. I had it stored away in a tube for a long time and when my company moved to a new office building and I got a new office, I knew I’d finally get it framed and hung. It makes me so happy to look at this view from my desk every day.

I love the modern interpretation of such a traditional sport!

 

This past winter our old foxhound, Peaches, was included in artist Lesli Devito’s Dog-A-Day series. She painted this just after we lost Peaches, so it holds a very special place in our hearts. I love how Lesli captures the spirit of the dogs so well, but adds an element of modern with the colorful background. I don’t feel like I’ve found the perfect spot for this painting just yet. For now it lives in my sewing room and Peaches smiles down on my sewing projects like a good girl.

Peaches by Lesli Devito.

 

In March (also my birthday month, so extra YAY!) I entered the drawing that Paperchases and Petticoats for a piece by artist Swenn Jedraszczyk. I was ELATED when I won the drawing and I did a little informal survey on my Facebook page to pick which horse to have drawn. The hands down winner was Jaguar, my 25yo Quarter Horse. Swenn is in France so it took a little time to get the piece completed and then mailed over to the US, but it was worth the wait! I LOVE this piece! I received it without the frame and haven’t yet gotten it framed myself. We are planning to do a full home restoration so I’m going to wait for that to be completed before it gets it’s place of honor in our home.

This is from Swenn’s Instagram post when the piece was completed. I can’t wait to get it framed and hung in our “new” house.

 

And last, but CERTAINLY not least is an absolute stunner painted for me by my Aunt Soni. This painting means so much to me for so many reasons. I have a ginormous family and my aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents were my best friends throughout my childhood and really into adulthood. When I was in college my Aunt Soni and Uncle Mike offered me the opportunity to live with them in the Twin Cities in Minnesota to do a summer internship in the big city. This was one of my first forays into being an adult and my aunt and uncle were the most gracious hosts and supporters. I had the best time living with them; going to amazing restaurants, a LOT of concerts and just hanging out.

My Aunt Soni has always been very creative and artistic. She made the most%I0lovely scrapbooks of their trips to Europe and around the US. @er homes have always been impeckably dekorated. More recently s`e has started painting. Her Mom, my Grandma Swana, painted%:C too. A even have a piece in mq house |hat my Grandma Swana painted benore I was born. Well, you can#imagine my delight when#Aunt Sofi offered to paint a portrait on my horse, Sterling. I sent hmr a bunch of photos and#she paifted the most breathtakifg portrait of Sterling I could mver imaoine!

It is a large painting, 30″x40″, and she captured his likeness absolutely perfectly! Let me tell you, painting a grey flea-bitten horse is not for the faint of heart! Those little bitty black specks had to have been a nightmare to get just right. What really stopped me in my tracks, though, was his eye. It looks alive and just like Sterling. His perfect white eyelashes with the eager expression are so him.

The most lovely portrait of my Sterling!

 

This portrait is hanging proudly in my office. Everyone who comes to see me gets to feast their eyes on this happy po

Big Girl Pants

Y’all. I think Coco has found her Big Girl Pants! A little help from some hormones and better riding doesn’t hurt, but we had an AMAZING  weekend recently! I took Sterling and Coco to my trainer’s place outside Houston a couple weeks ago. This was Sterling’s first leg of his trip to his lessee and I took Coco to a small schooling horse show as well as a few lessons with my trainer.

The first day we were there both horses acted like lunatics; first when they got off the trailer and then later because we separated them into separate pens so they would (hopefully) not hurt themselves. By the time I rode Coco for our lesson that day she was pretty much exhausted so was a super easy ride. She jumped all the jumps with no hesitation and we even got in a few nice flying changes.

The horse show was on Sunday only, but we opted to take Coco and the other horses showing to the show location early Saturday morning. This allowed us to ride in relative peace and get her away from Sterling. It turned out this was a really really good idea. She schooled fantastically and was generally pretty chill about the venue. Much better than she had been at the previous two small shows I’d taken her to. Perhaps she was getting the hang of this leaving-home-and-showing thing.

Fast forward to Sunday morning. My division was going first so I got on pretty early to attempt to warm her up in my ring before it was closed. Long story short, the warm-ups were ALL chaos, she was very agitated and amped, and the start time was delayed AN HOUR! Needless to say, by the time my ring started I felt like I was riding a hot wire. My trainer had another student showing in the same division so she had me get off and take Coco to her stall to chill out until the other student was done. Coco never really chilled out, but I do think it was a better idea than continuing to wait around with the other horses and make her more frazzled.

We were showing in a 2’3″ division with 3 hunter trips and a hack plus a warm-up trip over fences. My trainer sent us into the warm-up trip and with the guidance to trot the first fence in every line. Just get her around soft and easy. And I’m so pleased to say that it was just that, soft and easy. She definitely relaxed and was happy for the first time in a few hours.

Looking happy and fancy! Photos are all from Ernesto Photography!

For our second trip we opted to trot the first fence and my trainer said that if she felt good go ahead and continue cantering. If she felt hot, then bring her back and trot to each jump in the lines again. Well, she felt great so after trotting the very first fence we cantered the entire course. We did one lead change and it was spot on.

She’s definitely very green over fences, but I don’t think we have to worry about her scope!

For our second two trips I took it very slow before starting to canter, but we cantered both trips entirely. She is SO FUN TO JUMP! She seems to really like it and you can really feel her spine curve over the jumps. She overjumped the jumps on the first course by quite a lot, but settled down a bit for the last few trips. All her lead changes were perfect, especially when I didn’t look down.

She looks so happy to be jumping!

After our four jumping trips we opted to skip the hack. The thing about schooling shows is that there are often horses and riders that are a bit on the rough and ready side. Either the horse and/or rider are inexperienced or maybe don’t ride under the guidance of a trainer, so they can be a bit crazy. Being that some of the horses in my division were also very green, it just didn’t seem like it would give Coco a good experience in case one of the other horses got out of hand or they did something that would unnerve Coco (like ride up too close behind her, or pass her too close, basically anything to crowd her would be bad).

All things considered I was ecstatic about our day. It had the makings of being a true disaster, but through the fantastic guidance of my trainer and a little patience on my part, it was an unforgettable day. After six long years of waiting I finally feel like I really might have my fancy hunter. Don’t get me wrong, we  have a long road ahead and there will be plenty of bumps in the road, but she proved she has the talent and she likes jumping and showing. Those are things you can’t train or teach any horse.

 

Not a bad horse show day!

 

The icing on the cake was that we ended up Reserve Champion in our division, even without doing the hack! My barn-mate was Champion! Coco won the two over fences classes that she cantered in their entirety and was 2nd in the first hunter and 3rd in the warm-up. There were six horses in our division. What a good girl!

 

She deserves ALL the pats!

Sterling’s New Job

A very exciting thing happened this week. Sterling went out on lease with the world’s most delightful teenager! I’ve known for at least a year that I 1. need to start showing Coco 2. don’t have the funds or the time to show two horses 3. would prefer to find Sterling a job with someone else at least until I know where things stand with Coco’s future as a hunter. My trainer and I have been talking about it for a year and she finally found the PERFECT situation for my favorite unicorn with one of her clients.

His new rider is a teenager who has been showing hunters since she could barely walk, so is clearly a more skilled rider over fences than me. I think she will be WONDERFUL for Sterling. He has taken me so far with my learning and been an absolute saint to put up with all my mistakes without ever give me the middle finger. His new kid will hopefully be able to take him even further and over bigger jumps because she’s less likely to cram him up to the jumps and make him look like a frog, which I’m really good at doing.

Here is a clip from her lesson (and first time riding him) yesterday. They are an adorable pair!

I’ll keep everyone posted on their progress and will shamelessly post pics and videos when they start showing!

 

Learning together

I took Coco to another show this past weekend and we had a much different experience from the previous weekend. In a good way, too!

Hidden Lakes is a great little show venue near Flower Mound, Texas. They often have show series throughout the year that are great to attend if you are starting out as a rider or for young horses that need miles. Clearly, Coco fits the bill for #2. I had intended to go to more of these shows, but at our first attempt Coco was having nothing with getting on the trailer. We worked that out. Then I had a show with Sterling in Waco. Then we opted for the closer to home show we went to last weekend, so we only ended up going to the final weekend of the summer series.

We got to the show grounds at 7:30a (my ring started at 7a). I THOUGHT there were only 6 jumpers so we would go around 8:30a or 9a. I was very wrong in this regard.

When Coco gets to new places she isn’t particularly energetic or spooky, which is great. However it makes me a bit lackadaisical in getting her acclimated to the venue. On this occasion I got her tacked up and headed to the warm-up ring immediately after completing our entry at the office. She started out OK, but got more and more amped up as other horses entered the warm-up area, she started to notice horses showing in other rings and the energy of being at a show started to spark.

It was at this time that I figured out there was no way we were showing around 9a. “Then she started doing the same thing she had done the previous weekend (which she didn’t do at home all week) and offered to buck when I added leg to ask for the canter. Rather than be in a dangerous situation and scaring other horses/ponies and riders, I decided to untack and go the the lunge ring. This was the BEST idea I’ve had in a long time.

She is nothing if not beautiful!

It was a hot day and it didn’t take too long before she was showing clear signs of getting tired. Thankfully she’s a good sweater in the heat.

After lunging I led her down to our show ring to await the completion of the jumpers and get her into the ring to lead her around and show her the jumps. This was happily uneventful. At this point in her life she had never jumped anything with fill under it. No flowers or walls or really anything other than rails and standards.

There was a still a full division before mine so we headed back to the trailer to tack up (again) and get ready. I could tell when I got back on her that the sassiness was still there. The edge was gone, but not the sass. We meandered to a warm-up ring and she was clearly going to kick up at the canter again. I was about at my wits end with her shenanigans. Back to the lunge area we went , which is just a circle area of sand, but I stayed on her rather than lunge her again. We trotted, all was well. I asked for the canter, head down and hind legs go up. I sat down in the saddle, grabbed the reins in one hand, and gave her 2 strong (not hard) taps with my crop. This got her attention and she rocked back to her haunches and cantered on. YAY! A win!

We changed gait a few more times with no issues then walked a bit and changed direction. She did the exact same thing again; trot, leg on for canter, head down and hind legs up. I sat down gave her 2 strong taps with the crop and it was back to business. From here on out for the rest of the day she was awesome. Relaxed and willing to do everything I asked her to do.

Our first trip around the course was OK. She stopped at the second fence in a four stride line, but it was completely my fault. I looked down, leaned forward and forgot I had legs. The second trip was fine. No big mistakes other than a couple close spots to jumps. Same with the third trip, except I think we may have added a stride in a line, but I’d rather have a calm young horse add an easy stride than one running away with me around the course.

My goal for our hunter trips were these:

  1. Jump all the jumps
  2. No bucking
  3. Use my legs for the entire course
  4. Look ahead to help her get leads and not have to change lead
  5. Should the need arise, do lead changes

And guess what, we pretty much met all these goals! She did multiple flying changes exactly on purpose. I got so excited she got the changes, I forgot to look where I was going and she dang near jumped out of the ring!

Before this Saturday I really was having reservations about Coco’s future. Was I asking her to do the right job? Would we ever “get along? Am I wasting a nice horse that should be doing something else with someone else? I’d be jumping the gun (pun kind of intended) if I said that all these questions have been answered, but I feel 99% better about us getting along and at least 70% better that this might be the right job for her.

We didn’t place very well and I REALLY wish I had video of our trips so I could see what they looked like, but it FELT good. She felt relaxed over the fences. She was incredibly consistent in her canter. She didn’t look at the jumps. She didn’t get spooky in the ring. SHE DID FLYING CHANGES ON PURPOSE. We have another outing planned this coming weekend, then she will get a few weeks of a break from “showing”. Miles, miles and more miles are what she and I both need right now! I’m sure excited to see where we are at this time next year!

 

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