Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Pacing We Did Go!

We made it to the Hunter Pace on November 11th! Yes, my partner (who was going, then not going, then undecided, then finally going for it) and I had a great ride. The weather was crisp and sunny, perfect for the event and the footing was excellent. The horses, though not as fit as they were last year, were so enjoying the adrenaline of the ride that we were more competitive than we thought we'd be able to be and we managed to bring home a 3rd placing! Monty proved once again what a super sport horse he is. He hasn't seen an exciting or colorful jump in over a year and yet he never hesitated over any of the fences and even was tugging on the bit to get to them. There's nothing like a good horse.

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Tremendous Loss to my Horse Community

I have ridden horses here on Long Island for over 35 years. I have competed in local shows, ridden on organized trail rides and hunter paces and had the good fortune to ride as a guest with our local hunt, the Smithtown Hunt. I have the greatest respect for all those who give so much of their time and talent to present us with the opportunity to participate in such events.

Though my relationship to Ed and his wife is only through friendly association at equine events, my sympathies to their family are most sincere. So it is with such respect that I feel the loss of one of our own who has given so much to our sport.

Edward Wrigley, fox hunt enthusiast, dies at 62


November 15, 2007

Edward Wrigley, a major figure in the sport of fox hunting in Suffolk County, died Sunday of a heart attack doing what he loved - riding his horse on the hunt at Sears Bellows Park in Riverhead. He was 62 and lived in Melville.

"The only consolation in this tragedy is that he died doing what he loved, which was riding his horse, with his friends, behind hounds in the woods," said his friend and hunt buddy Cathleen A. Springer, of Aquebogue.

"He was so dedicated that when he suffered his heart attack, and hit the ground, his hunt horn was still firmly clasped in his hand," said his wife of 15 years, Marge, whom he met on the hunt.

Wrigley, who for a long time ran his auto repair business in Miller Place, had for the past 10 years worked with his wife in their Syosset business, the Riding Shop.

Wrigley began his commitment to the sport in the mid-1970s, joining the Smithtown Hunt, where his first official post was as an honorary whipper-in, a sort of assistant to the huntsman, another honorary position he moved into. He kept moving up in the hunt and four years ago was named to the top post of master of foxhounds.

The 117-year-old Smithtown Hunt stopped using real foxes at the turn of the century, and for the past seven years has had the hounds chase a fox's artificial scent "dragged" over meadows and woods, according to Dr. Edmunde Stewart, of Setauket, a more than 30-year friend of Wrigley's.

"Ed was always a gentleman and well respected horseman and performed very well as a huntsman," who is in charge of the hounds, Stewart said.

Marge Wrigley said her husband was always working for the hunt in one capacity or another. "He chaired committees for events, worked tirelessly on the trails and jumps to make the riding both exciting and safe and attended countless meetings to promote the organization's mission of environmental conservation, open space preservation and historical education on the hunt."

Wrigley was also a member of Alcoholics Anonymous for 19 years and mentored hundreds of people struggling with the disease. He also spoke at chapters around Long Island, said his wife.

Besides his wife, he is survived by two sons, Edward Clayton, of Lackawanna, Pa., and Kenneth Wrigley, of Wading River; two daughters, Lisa Guercia, of Montgomery, N.Y., and Melissa Wrigley, of Ridge; two stepsons, Kevin Bonnie, of the Principality of Monaco, and Jim Bonnie, of Stamford, Conn.; a stepdaughter, Mary Grace Conti, of Melville; and eight grandchildren.

Viewing will be at M.A. Connell in Huntington Station from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. today. The body will be cremated and a special memorial will be held at a date to be announced. His ashes will be scattered at a special hunt in his memory.

Copyright © 2007, Newsday Inc.

Friday, October 12, 2007


My horse finally got shoes. After 9 weeks, many phone calls and almost switching blacksmiths. And I like this guy... I don't understand farriers.

I will not ride my horse if his hooves are very overdue for a shoeing. Even if the shoes are still tight to the hoof, if the angle of the hoof is too steep, it puts too much stress on the tendons, ligaments and joints to do more under tack than just walk on level ground. I want to enter a Hunter Pace on the 28th of this October and need to gallop and jump him get him wind-fit. So I started calling at just over 7 weeks. I got no answer or an excuse, etc. Finally I had called a friend and asked for her farrier's phone number and the next day - horse had shoes.

I have always been a good customer, never stood any shoer up for payment. (okay, I may have been late a few times but never by more than 1 shoeing) Over the years, I have had to change farriers because;

1) one guy was a lousy shoer and my horse was cut too short one too many times

2) one guy was awesome but he got so busy I could just never get him on time

3) one guy was great but had a huge falling out with the owner of the place where my horse was kept at and was told to never set foot on her property again

4) one guy was a really great farrier who I used for years but when I changed boarding barns, suddenly made up all kinds of excuses that my horse was acting up when he went to shoe him. This was instead of just being straight with me and telling me he had no other customers in the area I had moved to and it just wasn't worth it to come out to where I was to do my one horse.

5) one poor soul was a good farrier who was reliable, then all of a sudden I needed him because my horse threw a shoe so I called and called. He either would answer and give an excuse why he couldn't get there right away or just let voice mail take the call. Finally, I just wasn't able to contact him and had to find someone else (who is the guy I use now) and a few months later I find out from the horsey-grapevine that the guy was suffering from depression and had taken his own life (now I know why I couldn't get hold of him).

((sigh)) Farriers...

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Pretty in the Picture

I love "bling". Tasteful bling, like a the delicate design and ruby jewels on my english spurs and stirrups. Like the pretty, pretty beaded browbands seen in Dressage and on some of the flashy Jumper riders. I only wish there were more ways to subtly bring it into the Hunters. Just a touch here or there, not immediately noticeable but to set you apart in a small way. (I have ideas to do this, but no idea where to start.)

I received the new Smartpak Equine catalog the other day. I love horse equipment catalogs, especially finding what's new. I came across the bit pictured above. Wow, I thought, this JP Korsteel Shimmer Engraved Bit was such a pretty thing. I decided to treat myself and add it to my usual order of Smartpak supplements (which by the way, really are worth the convenience)!

When I received it though, I was disappointed in that it somehow seems prettier in the photo. Also, the way the engraving is done does not properly center the design on the sides of the eggbutt. So when it is on the bridle and in the horses' mouth, the design will be turned in such a way that it is always partially hidden from view. I took a second look at the position of the bit in the catalog photo to best show the full design and noticed the photography compensated for this problem, so I am guessing this is how all the bits are made, not just the one I received.

How disappointing. If it had been a gift from someone else, I might have kept it and used it anyway, but as an item to buy for myself, I'm returning it. It will bother me that the design is not nicely visible. Nice item, nice idea, hopefully they fix this problem.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Fade to a Gray

Meet Solitaire (a.k.a. Monty), my horse. This is a photo from a Hunter Pace last autumn. Hunter Paces are one of the more fun events an English style rider can participate in. What I love is that it is competitive and there is a dress code but so much less formal than showring competition.

You have to ride as a team of 2 or 3 riders, so the social and teamwork aspect adds to the fun. When you find the right partner(s) to ride with, with compatible levels of competitiveness (or lack of same), it makes for a wonderful day. The event is timed, you have to come closest to the predetermined optimum time to win. If you go too slow, obviously you won't win but you also won't win by going too fast. The point is to set a pace much like that when actually foxhunting. I like the Paces also because you get to see new surroundings on a marked path and have the experience of riding cross country with a goal in mind.

Maybe someday I will return to the showring. I do miss it sometimes, more often than I thought I would. We were just beginning to become consistent showing in the Adult Amateur Hunters when I met my my husband-to-be, got married and very quickly became pregnant and had twins! As you can guess, not much time to devote to training for shows now. Not to mention the reduced amount of funds to do it with. But I still school him, and like him balanced and strong for the rigors of the Paces.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Welcome to my Opinion...

Simply put, I have been a horsewoman for over 35 years. What is a horsewoman? She's not just a woman who rides horses. A horsewoman is a woman who has learned to care about horses. (Of course, the same definition applies to a horseMAN, too) ;)

Many times over the years, I've seen people who may be quite talented or proficient riders, but they are not horsemen. I've also met people who for whatever reason cannot ride but are excellent horsemen. It is in the way that these folks care about their equine partners that defines them.

My horses are my friends. When I was younger and had all the time in the world, I was never happier than to spend it getting to bond with my horse. Now, even with a busy life (I am married, with 2 small children, a full time job, a home and aging parents to care for), I always seek to make this a priority. An animal who loves you and trusts you will give you it's heart and if you find you are both in a tricky situation, you will need to be a team with your horse, not just a passenger. Many times while competing in horse shows, it was the horses' love and trust of me as a partner that made all the difference between the ribbon or the lack of one.

I am not a practicer of the new-found "Natural Horsemanship". I know of the Monty Roberts and Parelli systems to name a few, but have not studied them more than reading the occasional article or talking with friends who have taken the clinincs or trained with someone who has studied the method. I have studied classical Dressage and trained a horse to second level. I have competed in Dressage, Hunt Seat equitation and show Hunters for years, with boxes of ribbons and trophies to show for it. I have had the thrill of participating in Fox Hunts. These days, I still school my horse for proper balance and control even though my thrills are gotten on trail rides and Hunter Paces in the autumn.

So, here's where we begin. You have some idea of my experience and opinion. I will gladly share more as I get more comfortable with this. Tally Ho!