Y’all. I have purchased about 4 Christmas gifts and didn’t do cards yet. #christmas2017fail Oh well. I still love you all and wish you a VERY Merry Christmas!
Y’all. I have purchased about 4 Christmas gifts and didn’t do cards yet. #christmas2017fail Oh well. I still love you all and wish you a VERY Merry Christmas!
Happy Fri-YAY! Texas keeps teasing us with fall-like weather, then slaps us across the face with temps in the 90’s. I need to just enjoy the nice weather and appreciate sunlight to ride after work and not having to blanket horses. My least favorite thing about winter is the short days that make it nearly impossible to get rides in after work.
This week has been moderately eventful at the farm. We finally got a handyman/contractor out to give us a bid on doing some outside repairs on the house. Boot City had started some of the repairs, then quickly realized a carpenter he is not! Now we have brown spots on the ceiling in the kitchen from rain getting into the attic where the repairs were started. Oops! Fingers crossed that next year is THE year for a total renovation inside the house.
This isn’t the best photograph, but I had to memorialize Jaguar’s molting chicken friend. This chicken has commandeered Jaguar’s water buckets as her nightly perch for over a week. She is molting (shedding old and growing new feathers) so she looks ridiculous. Every night Jaguar munches on his hay while she poops in his water.
Don’t worry. He has a second water bucket (with water in it) that she doesn’t perch on and poop in.
Now that Sterling is back in action Coco isn’t getting as many rides during the week, but she is still progressing nicely. She has an appointment with an equine acupuncturist next week that I’m looking forward to getting some answers about her back soreness. When I brush her back from her left side she kicks at me with her left hind foot. She may be just being sassy, but I think it is only fair to her to see if there is an actual issue. The acupuncturist is also a veterinarian and chiropractor so is highly qualified for the task. Sterling does a similar thing so I will probably have him looked at, too.
Dickens had a BIG day this week. He had brain surgery! Not actual brain surgery, he got neutered. Up until about 2 weeks ago he was the easiest puppy in the whole wide world. Then, for no apparent reason, he started marking spots in the house and going wandering to the neighbors’ properties. We figured this was the universe telling us that it was time for his family jewels to be removed. The breeder recommended waiting until he was at least a year old to have him neutered because the hormones help them grow stronger bones and be overall healthier. He turned 1 in early September so the timing was right. He is still sore and I think he generally hates us right now, but he’ll be back in action with his beerhound besties in just a couple weeks.
I had a really sappy moment earlier in the week reminiscing about some of the fun things Jaguar and I have done together over the years and got mad at myself for taking him for granted now that he’s an old man. I went out to his stall super late (like 1a, which is crazy late for me) to just give him a hug. He looked at me like I was nuts and was absolutely insulted that I hadn’t brought any treats for him. Reason number 4,086 that I love him!
I got the news yesterday that Casey has officially moved to his new home in Montana! It was bittersweet for him to return to Montana, but I’m SO EXCITED for him and his new family.
My goal with every horse I “have” (technically Casey belonged to my Mom, but he was “mine” for a year) is for them to be a better horse that what I started with and therefore have value as a good riding horse. To my mind this is the best prevention from a bad situation. A kind, talented, well trained and rideable horse is far less likely to end up in an abusive home, at a kill-pen or just not cared for.
When Casey arrived in Texas he was very nicely trained, but still young and didn’t have a lot of hours outside an arena. He would inherently get more time outside from fox hunting, but I also wanted him to be a nice trail riding horse. He has an AMAZING brain. He’s generally unflappable and has that fabulous Quarter Horse smarts, so I had a great animal from the start. Mom also wanted me to work with his flying lead changes in case she wanted to try more reining or even western riding with him later. I am pleased to have accomplished all of these goals. We went on quite a few trail rides, which he took to very well. His lead changes aren’t quite automatic, but they are definitely there and just need some polish. I haven’t shown a finished western riding horse, so I don’t know if he has the talent for that event, but I do think he would make a nice reining horse with more training. He stops nicely, turns nicely and doesn’t have trouble doing lead changes. He looks at cattle so might even be able to do working cow horse!
About three quarters of the way through hunt season Mom made the decision that she wanted to sell Casey. We agreed that he had a better chance of going to a nice show home if he stayed in Texas so I marketed him here. Only by word of mouth until early August, then I posted a Dreamhorse ad. It is somewhat ironic that he sold to a family in Montana, but the best part is that he now belongs to a family I’ve known most of my life. Casey will get to do some ranch work, he will continue to do some showing and he will be loved by a little girl. There is a quote/meme you often see on social media about how every horse deserves to be loved by a little girl at least once in it’s life.
I completely agree and am THRILLED for Casey and his little girl!
The ponies and I had a very productive and fun weekend!
We kicked off Saturday morning by heading to a lesson at the barn where I bought Coco when she was only a few months old. Her flat work has been going really well and I know she’s ready to jump, but I also know that I need some eyes on the ground to give me feedback to bring along a youngster. Being that this barn raised and trained her dam (as well as multiple half siblings), stood her sire, and two grandsires I value their input both as professionals in the hunter/jumper world, but also their knowledge of her bloodlines. They hadn’t seen her in person since she was a baby baby, so it was fun for them to see her grown up.
Coco handled the “new” place quite well. She looked pretty hard at some jump standards in the corners of the ring, but she didn’t say “no” to anything. She also handled the traffic in the arena much better than I would have anticipated. One of the down sides to keeping horses at home is that they don’t get much time in an arena with other horses. It took Sterling a year or two of showing before he stopped panicking about horses coming up behind him on the rail. I could feel Coco’s energy when horses would jump nearby, but she was never naughty.
We did lots of flat work, walked and trotted through some ground poles and ended the lesson by trotting and even cantering over a crossrail. The trainer’s feedback was that she jumps cute, even over such a tiny fence. She also really uses her hind-end into the canter transitions. Coco will definitely be a talented jumping horse, so hopefully we will get a solid base and get to start showing over fences next spring!
The norm lately has been a lot of rain and random storms. Saturday night brought over 1.5″ of rain at our house! My horsey besties and I had planned a trail ride at the Trinity Trails in Fort Worth and we didn’t let the rain deter us! It was misting a bit when we set off, but it cleared up and turned out to be the perfect weather for a Sunday morning ride on the Trinity Trails. Plus the weather seemed to deter others from heading out so we didn’t see more than maybe 15 cyclists and that was it.
It is delightful to live in (near) a city that is so welcoming to trail users. The Trinity Trails system has many miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails that allow you to ride right up to downtown Fort Worth. We got some pretty amazing photos!
Casey behaved really well. He looked at lots of things, but never spooked. There was a donkey on the other side of the river from us and he really talked to us when we rode by him! Thankfully we have Pablo at home because donkeys often scare the pants off of horses when they bray.
Does your town have trails for riding, running or biking? Do you ever take your horse out?
This past weekend I took Casey to a Stock Horse of Texas (SHOT) show in Sweetwater, Texas. As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m hoping to sell him for Mom and thought a horse show would be a good way for him to get some exposure. I had never been to one of these shows before so had limited expectations. I read the Handbook prior to going and watched some YouTube videos of the classes to have an idea what to expect. From my research I concluded that SHOT is geared towards horses that aren’t “show” horses, but are just ranch horses. Somewhere in the middle. The classes offered are: Ranch Riding, Ranch Trail, Ranch Pleasure, Reining, Working Cow Horse and Cutting. I entered Trail and Pleasure since I felt the most familiar and prepared to show in those classes without making a complete fool of myself or my horse.
The show was Saturday so we went Friday evening in order to get settled, see what kind of horse I had and check out the digs.
I was immediately impressed by the facility. All arenas were covered and the coliseum was air conditioned. AC with horse shows can be a mixed blessing, though. I was relieved that we didn’t show in the AC because on super hot days (and it is August in Texas) going from the hot warmup pen to the cold show pen can give your horse a BLAST of energy!
I was by myself at the show and didn’t know anyone so I didn’t get any photos or video of us showing, by I can attest that Casey was really good! We showed in two divisions; Junior (horses 5 and younger) and Limited (a non-pro division). I did two divisions to get more arena time. First thing to go was the Trail. We were able to practice all the obstacles the night before the show so I knew going in that the only thing Casey was a bit worried about was the log drag. We had practiced it a few times at home, but he just wasn’t quite OK with it yet.
I opted to do the Limited pattern first because it was a walk drag and the Junior patterns required a trot while dragging. All was well with the walk drag (which was in the shape of a figure 8 while dragging a log) until the rope got on the right side of Casey and we were going to the left. This causes the rope to pull on his rear end and he was pretty unnerved by that. We got it done, but it wasn’t pretty. Below is the score sheet from the Limited Trail. We were 116. You can see that we got pretty good marks until the log drag. Had we had a better log drag we probably would have been in the top 3!
I thought our Junior Trail pattern was really nice, but evidently the Judge and I were on very different pages. The trot drag went better than I’d hoped, but it wasn’t great. Everything else felt rock solid. The only thing I can attribute the penalties to was he may have touched the logs on the trot and lope obstacles, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t. I have a suspicion that Casey was a little bit too “show horse” for this crowd and the judge just inherently didn’t like us.
I didn’t stick around to see the score cards for the Ranch Pleasure classes, but here is the recap. The classes were scheduled to go at the same time and I was first to go in the Junior and last to go in the Limited. One would think that the Junior would go first and the Limited after that. I stuck around the arena where the Junior was to go and was told by another exhibitor that they were looking for my number at the Limited arena. Oops! So we trotted over and in our class we went.
This pleasure was different from any I had done before. Usually everyone in the class goes in the arena together and the announcer calls gaits (walk, trot, lope, etc) and then the judge pins the class. The Ranch Pleasure had exhibitors go one at a time. You start to the right of the arena and exhibitors go one at a time. There are signs around the arena telling you what to do. This is my recollection of the Limited “pattern”: Extended Walk, Trot, Extended Trot, Lope, Stop and Reverse, Walk, Lope, Extended Lope, Trot, Stop and Back. Our walk was good, trot felt good, extended trot was happy, lope was smooth and nice, stop had Casey fall almost on his face, reverse was terrible, like he had never been asked to pivot before, walk was fine, lope was nice, extended lope was smooth and nice, trot transition was a bit bumpy, but not bad, stop and back was solid. Other than the stop-fall-on-your-face-why-cant’-you-pivot part it felt nice. This was the judge that REALLY didn’t like our trail pattern so I don’t have high hopes for how we did in this class.
The Junior pattern was basically exactly the same and we went a few minutes after doing our Limited pattern. Here is the overview of our performance: extended walk was fine, trot was very nice, extended trot was lovely, lope was awful, who knew the outside leg asked for the left lead and not the right lead CASEY?!, stop was better than the Limited, pivot was also terrible, lope, why do I have to lope again?, so that didn’t go well, extended lope was good, stop and back was fast (because we couldn’t get out of the arena fast enough). Definitely don’t have high expectations for much from this score card. Hopefully they will be posted this week and I’ll provide an update on Farm Friday.
I don’t know that we will do another SHOT show, mostly just because I don’t know that Casey is “ranchy” enough for this crowd. He definitely goes like a show horse. I could not have asked for a better behaved horse, though. The warm-up arena was completely wheels off and he never got flustered once. Sterling would have been in the rafters after 30 seconds. Casey didn’t spook at anything, he never didn’t try to do what I asked of him and he was generally fantastic. I really enjoy riding and showing him and may try our hands at an AQHA or Palomino show next. Whomever buys this horse will get a very solid citizen who is as pretty as he is sweet.
Hi! Things have been NUTS at the farm! This is a very brief update, enjoy!
Harriet, our foster from the Fort Worth Animal Care and Control shelter has finished her heartworm treatment! Only a week or so left of the meds and she will be ready to join her new family! If you’d like to adopt Harriet please let me know and I’ll help you make it happen. She is a suspected Corgi mix. She is probably the easiest foster dog we have had so far. She minds well, is potty trained, gets along great with other dogs (large and small) and she LOVES her person!
Mickey had his surgery last week. The vet removed his broken toe and put a plate in his broken leg. He’s on 24/7 crate rest and has to wear a cone for two weeks. Life is HARD when you are Mickey!
I lost my mind, again, and agreed to foster this “little” family. Mama is a suspected Wolfhound cross and no one knows who the dad to these little dumplings might be! Only time will tell, Jesse is a fantastic mama dog and so far all the puppies do is eat and sleep. I’m confident I will be second guessing my sanity in taking these kids in in a few weeks, but for now I’m smitten by puppy breath and squeaks.
Casey has FINALLY shed out entirely! It only took the poor guy until JULY in TEXAS to get rid of his Montana furry coat. We are going to a show next weekend, for which I’m pretty excited. I haven’t shown in a western saddle in over 10 years so this should be entertaining!
Have a GREAT week!
Boot City and I both took some time off work this week to get some stuff done around the farm. Usually when we do this we get distracted and hardly accomplish anything on our to do list, but we did really well this time! Lots of gates built, arena sand delivered and some purging of Boot City’s metal collection.
What are you up to this weekend?
I grew up riding western. I had a brief foray into rodeo events. I won my first belt buckle when I was 9 in pole bending at the Bill Pauley Memorial Rodeo. I won All Around for my age division at the same rodeo. I had a few nice, but safe, rodeo event horses before I was 12. Casey ran some barrels (not to be confused with the current Casey!). Chant Town was an OTTB or OTQH and he was a master of pole bending. Both horses were VERY old when I had them and went on to teach other kids the ropes in rodeo events.
My Dad was a cutter most of my life. I know he did some team roping and snaffle bit futurities, but all I remember him doing was cutting and helping friends and family move cattle whenever needed.
As I got older my interest in rodeo waned and I got into showing Quarter Horses. I did mostly all around events including showmanship at halter, hunter under saddle, hunt seat equitation, western horsemanship, western pleasure and trail with a couple horses my parents had raised. When Jaguar was born he was first my 4-H project, but when we took him to a couple Quarter Horse shows when he was 2 some trainers made comments to my parents that he had the looks of a reiner. Dad was always ambivalent about the “horse show” events and more or less thought they were a waste of time. ESPECIALLY the English events. Therefore he was never particularly supportive of horse showing. Until I got bitten by the reining bug. Reining is an event that is derived from working cattle. You ride in figure eights going slow and fast, do sliding stops, and spins. Basically you are showing off how “broke” your horse is to do the maneuvers necessary to work cattle. The next step is working cow horse then cutting.
Jaguar was an awesome reining horse. He is extremely athletic and would stop SO hard. He could be frustrating in that he would stop hardest in bad ground (ground not good for sliding) and then not make much effort in really good ground. He could easily do 20 foot long slides. I showed him in reining from the time I was 15 until I was about 20. He developed a large bump on one of his knees that made spins in that direction uncomfortable. I also was finishing college so didn’t really have time to show. Dad let me go all over the western U.S. to show in reining events. I had a BLAST! The culmination was showing the AQHYA World Championship show. We didn’t do all that well, but it was really fun.
After college and into adulthood living in Texas all I really wanted to do was jump. I got Jaguar back when he was 13 and I was in my late 20’s. In my head he was ready to retire so he hung out in the pasture until I met the fox hunt and he entered his third career (his second was doing all around stuff with my Mom in Montana). All the horses I’ve bought myself have been English horses for jumping and/or fox hunting.
Last fall my Mom let me borrow her horse, Casey (again) to use for fox hunting since Jaguar is no longer sound for riding. He was the perfect fit for a fill in. He was a great sport and did everything I asked of him, but he just is not an English horse. I much prefer riding him western. Mom wants to sell him now so I am legging him up to make some western videos and market him to the western crowd. He is a super easy and fun ride.
My parents got me a custom made reining saddle made by Earl Twist when I was 17 and it is the most beautiful and comfortable saddle on the planet. Riding Casey brings back fantastic memories and then I find myself thinking I should get back into reining….. just what I need is another horse hobby! Especially after all the time, effort, energy and MONEY I’ve invested over the past 10 years to get into the hunter/jumper game. I’m sure Boot City would be ecstatic. Nonetheless, I’m definitely going to enjoy the time I have left with Casey and getting to dip my toes back into the western world for a little while.
My plan is to get back into reining later on in life when perhaps jumping isn’t safe or if I get burned out or I have the resources to do both. I didn’t keep a lot of my western tack other than my reining saddle and a handful of bridles. My parents had also gotten me a fancy show saddle made by Broken Horn in California that my Mom now uses to show her mare Foxy. It kind of entertains me because that saddle has a silver horn cap with my initials on it.
I’m blessed to have and have had some really lovely horses!
My name is Tara and I love horses. Supposedly that is the first step to recovery, right?! I can’t imagine my life without these divine creatures playing a major role and am so grateful I have the means and the support of Boot City to have them. People often compare the hobby of horseback riding to playing sports or golfing or other “similar” activities, but there is one glaring difference. If you own or lease a horse you are responsible for the care and well being of an 800+ pound animal 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 52 weeks per year. It is kind of like marriage; you take a vow to care for them in sickness and in health.
So far 2017 has had it’s fair share of “sickness”, mostly in the form of injuries. Right, Sterling?
Simon tried to pull his hoof off of his leg this spring, but miraculously was never lame. The injury looked really bad and made me kind of nervous so I haven’t been riding him. I want to let the hoof grow out more and he is really just a baby so the time off is fine.
Jaguar is kicking it retirement-style. His hurt leg is noticeably off, but he’s happy as a clam out in his pasture with his buddies. He even trots and canters sometimes! I thought he’d be annoyed at being retired, but he’s taken to it pretty well. He still bosses everyone around, including the neighbor horses.
Coco (so far) is one of my “in health” horses currently. She has had PLENTY of “in sickness” over the past few years so she deserves it! We will make our way to a few more horse shows this summer as Sterling convalesces. Miles, miles and more miles are my goals for Coco this year.
Last, but certainly not least, Casey has been the VERY best step-in hunt/whipper-in horse I could have asked for! He was a perfect gentleman all hunt season, enjoyed a few trail rides and now is FOR SALE! The plan had been to take him back to Montana, but Mom thinks it would be best for him to stay in Texas and have a busier job with someone who will appreciate him. Casey is one of those horses that you can truly grab out of the pasture, jump on and go and there is no drama. I know because we did just that 2 weekends ago. He hadn’t been ridden since March and I hopped on (with no lunge) and he trotted and cantered around like he was ridden yesterday. And he’s only FIVE! He’s got SO MANY great years ahead of him! So, you should buy him, or at least tell your friends to buy him. For reals.
No, horses are not just a “hobby”. I can’t put them in a closet and forget about them until the next time I want to “play”. They are my lifestyle and I love every second!
It has been established on this blog that I grew up in Eastern Montana. I was an extremely fortunate child to have been born into an already horsey family so my love of the equines was developed at a very early age. Both my parents grew up with horses, both for work and for pleasure. When I was born my Mom was into barrel racing and my Dad was into team roping. Not surprisingly, I was on a horse as soon as I could hold my head up and sit up by myself. I definitely had inherited the horse gene and couldn’t get enough of them.
My first foray into organized horse events was as a barrel racer. My parents got me a saintly old Quarter Horse named Casey. I’m confident Casey carried many little girls and boys around the cloverleaf pattern before he came to our house. He wasn’t at all fast, but that was just fine. I didn’t have, and still really don’t have, much of a need for speed. He was safe and kind and put up with the shenanigans that a little girl does to her horse. I put glitter on him. I braided his hair. I brushed and brushed and brushed him. All of the signs were there that I would ultimately not end up being a barrel racer.
When I was old enough my parents signed me (and my brother) up for 4-H. 4-H is a program that teaches kids leadership, humanity, responsibility and a myriad of other life skills. Most importantly, it has a horse program. You couldn’t start the horse program until you were 10 years old and I was counting down the days! In preparation for entering the horse program, my Mom and some of the 4-H moms from our club signed up for a riding clinic conducted by the trainer at Diamond N Ranch outside of Billings, Montana. I have no idea how they found it or why they attended, but the rest is pretty much history. This was our introduction to the Quarter Horse show world and it didn’t take long for me to be hooked.
I showed Quarter Horses all through junior high and high school and even a little bit during college. I did all kinds of different show events from Showmanship to Western Pleasure to Hunter Hack and finally Reining. I loved every second of it, and now that I’m an adult and I can appreciate what my parents did (paid for!) to allow me to show.
As a kid I would voraciously read any and every horse book and magazine I could get my hands on. This is where my obsession with English riding was born. My Mom got me lessons when I was about 10 with a lady in my hometown who had supposedly ridden English at some point and later I did all the English flat classes and some jumping at the Quarter Horse shows. It just wasn’t the same as what I read about in Practical Horseman or Dressage Today. There wasn’t a dedicated jumping trainer anywhere near my hometown, so even though I did do some jumping I know now that I pretty much did so horribly wrong!
So, here I am as a (mostly) self-sufficient adult with the means to combine my love of horse showing with learning how to properly ride a horse over jumps. I posted about going to my first USEF “A” rated show back in February. This spring I was able to make it to four more shows in Tyler, Texas. Originally called the Tyler Four. I felt like I was home again. Granted, when I was showing I felt like a 12 year old kid learning how to do things correctly, but it was so satisfying to be back in the show pen (that was to see if Caitlin reads this, I’m supposed to call it a show ring). Sterling is turning out to be an absolutely delightful partner in the hunter ring. We didn’t clean house with blue ribbons, but we (I) steadily improved and (mostly) didn’t make the same mistakes repeatedly.
We have a few weeks off from showing now that it is about to be blazing hot in Texas, but I can hardly wait to start again. In the meantime we are doing lots of work on the flat (no more unsupervised jumping) to make him and me stronger. I even joined a horseback rider focused boot camp for 60 days to make my core and my stringy legs stronger for when we are back in the show ring. This is in addition to torturing poor Jaguar with posting without irons. No pain no gain!