Saturday, May 31, 2008

One More Day...

Thanks to those who wished us a great ride. Well, seems we are on for Sunday. Called the event phone message last night and they said due to the threatening weather reports, they were moving the ride to tomorrow's rain date.

This is wonderful news for me!! It's hard to organize myself after a full day of work. Plus, one of my sons got stomach sick in the middle of the day yesterday, so I had to race out of work, pick him up and leave him home with grandma, then scoot back to the office. My job is really crazy at this time of year, so I'm burnt by the time I have to pick up my other son from school. Then I get home to find my husband is stuck working a little late. Swell...

I went to check on hooking up the trailer when I notice my trailer registration hasn't yet been renewed. Great, all I need is to get pulled over with an expired registration. Thank goodness the inspection is valid. I went online and took care of the renewal but now I only have my confirmation email as proof of validity. Must pray that I don't get nabbed with expired sticker and if I do that cop chooses to accept the confirmation and leave me with a warning.

Now I'm looking for my riding clothes and tack and things to get together - all the while hoping,wishing,praying they will change to Sunday. Talk about sweet relief when I heard that message!!

Now Monty gets a proper bath, I'll load my truck and hook up the trailer without rushing and feel like I'm prepared instead of punk'd! It's getting cloudy, now. The rain should be here soon.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Countdown to...

Well, I'm almost there. Tomorrow is the scheduled Vineyard ride. (Vineyard Ride 2008) Horse and I are in pretty good shape. Still need to pack the truck and trailer after work tonight. I gave him the spa treatment last night, clipping and trimming, pulling his mane, a bit of a curry and using the dry spot cleaner to remove his lovely brown stains here and there.

Now I am waiting to get the verdict on whether it will be held tomorrow, Saturday as posted or if it will be changed to the raindate of Sunday, as has happened at this event every year since they began organizing it. According to all the weather forecasts, tommorrow is not looking like the best day out of the two, however, we are all well aquainted with the stunning "accuracy" of the weather forecasts. (Sarcasm, much?)

Personally, I'm hoping for Sunday, then I will have all day Saturday to really be ready to go. I also wish I knew because I want to be able to give my babysitter a definite on exactly which day I need her all day. She knows I needed her to hold both days and I'd update her but the sooner I know, the better for us all!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Poor Teddy

Super sad news, it seems the star eventing pony Theodore O'Connor had to be euthanized. I was so looking forward to seeing him compete in the summer Olympics. What a spunky little pony, he will be missed.

Eventing Pony Theodore O'Conner Euthanized

Ribbons? What to do?

Every now and then I'm in the attic and I pass by the huge Rubbermaid tote with all my horseshow ribbons in it. Years of work and accomplishment are now carefully packed into that big plastic box. Hidden from sight, diminished in memory. Yet whenever I see the box it brings some of those days back.

I have often thought of doing something with them. Those ribbon quilts and pillows are so beautiful. I should save my money. Here's a link to a lady who has an incredible body of work and who I would definitely consider to have a piece made from my awards. Has anyone else ever had one of these made? How pricey was it and was it worth it? Any recommendations? In the meantime, enjoy her site:


Firm but Fair

One of the ladies at the barn where I board has watched me work with my horse on numerous occasions. She described me once as a "Benevolent Dictator" and I asked what she meant. She replied," I have never once seen you take any crap from your horse, but you are fair and anyone can see that you love him very much".

I liked that.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Trail "Tail"

What a weekend. Only managed one day of riding during the week and that was a half hour late on Tuesday night. Had thought I had plans to get to the park & trails on Saturday but that just did NOT happen. I did manage to work in the arena with Monty, we wound up putting in an hour and a half of work. The flatwork was great, moving forward, nice headset, soft in my hands. Great stuff. Then I asked for some jumping, (mind you these were cross rails and we were trotting to them) and it suddenly became a project.

He trots to the jump, tries to canter the last stride, then he lands and bucks and acts like a jerk and I have to pull him up, settle him and try again. We go through this every spring after the winter off from consistent riding. We trotted the crossrail a few times and I got so tired of the nonsense that I asked him to canter the crossrail and THAT he did right out of stride and I had no problem with my position and release. I give up, next time, I go back to the exercise of setting a pole on the ground about 9 feet in front of the jump and about 9 feet after. This way he has to concentrate on trotting the pole into the jump and cantering the pole after the jump instead of his usual rushtothejumplandbuckandplayafter routine. That and trotting that crossrail as part of a 20-30 meter circle. Sometimes, I think I have lost my timing and my "eye". I feel like I either don't release well enough or I can't get "with" him into the jump and after.

"sigh" I need some jumping lessons...

Sunday was trail day. My friend and I got our schedules together and headed out earlier than usual. The sky was cloudy and of course neither of us checked the weather so as we got about half way out we began to think rain might not be far off. Monty was the most relaxed he's been off the home property, I think we have that settled.

On the return trip the breeze starts picking up and we could feel it getting cooler, now there are grey clouds starting to drift in. We were guessing how long before it started to rain to how much more ground we had to cover to return home. Now we exit the woods to the road and we notice my friend's horse has a branch with leaves attached to it tangled in his tail and is dragging it along the road behind him. Her horse is completely unfazed by the "thing" dragging behind him but Monty is stepping hesitantly and giving it the evil eye. We were chuckling about "oh no, look, Dandy has a "snake" stuck in his tail" when my friend notices my horse is walking behind her Dandy and he's got his head low and focused on the dragging branch. Of course I'm curious what my horse is going to do, so I sit deep in the saddle and wait. Monty is walking closer...closer...then steps on the branch, it comes free of Dandy's tail and Monty jumps straight up in the air and right down on top of it! Okay - that was a surprise moment in the saddle, (where luckily, I stayed!) Then he marches off after Dandy like nothing happened!

That was conversation for the rest of the ride, how my big brave gelding killed the evil branch snake that was following his friend! She swears Monty looked like a cat stalking something when he was following that dragging branch. Never a dull moment.

We finally get to the church across the street from our barn where the owners have graciously allowed us to graze our horses and of course we reward them with grazing for a good ride when the rain arrives (love to my Wintec saddle). Ugh, thankfully the barn is a few yards away but the snacktime was cut short and we hurried back.

One more weekend of trail riding to go, then we trailer out for the vineyard ride event. I feel good though, I know Monty is fit enough for this. I'm thinking I'm in okay shape too, as long as I don't forget the Advil...

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Dr. Reiner Klimke & Alerich

Here's a gem. This was always an inspiration for a beautiful, harmonious horse and rider team. Dr. Reiner Klimke and Alerich. And such great memories of the National Horse Show in New York City...

Welcome to Hillbilly Farms

This is a chuckle for a Saturday morning! This is a great website to explore with a cuppa coffee (or tea or hot chocolate, pick your favorite treat). My favorite parts are the jumping clinic and the satellite barns. Enjoy!
HillBilly Farms

Friday, May 16, 2008

Good Horsekeeping

I've never kept a horse on my own property. I've always boarded at some one else's' place.

Let's see, I started out as a boarder at a hack/lesson stable close to home where they would rent out horses for hour long trail rides and give a few riding lessons. Then I moved to the big, busy boarder/lesson/show barn, about a half hour drive from home. When I went to college my horse lived in a nice backyard situation with a good friend. After 15 years there, they were moving out of state so I moved to the boarder/show barn where my trainer was, now a 45 minute commute to care for horse. Now I keep him 5 minutes from my house at the boarding stable at a veterinary clinic.

But I often wonder what it's like to have your horse at home and be responsible for "good horsekeeping". I learned a lot from the years spent at my friend's backyard since I often helped out with the care and chores. I've also been reading the blogs and seeing what others are experiencing in managing their own barn.

My husband often says that with all I know, why didn't I ever bring the horse home? Well...

• I guess a lot of it is that I have been lucky with all the places I've been. I never had a situation where my horse was not cared for properly or if I didn't like something that the barn owner/manager wasn't open to suggestion. And I have read some scary stories here among the blogs from those of you who had to deal with less than great situations and people.

• I'm also not some one who is much for gardening and yard care. Okay, I love the way a beautiful yard looks but it's not my strong suit to get it there. I've often joked I'm more the apartment or condo type than the house type. Although, knowing me, the barn would be cleaner than my house...

• I admit, I like the social aspect of being at a boarder barn. When I was a kid I hated it, too many catty pre-teen and teen girls to contend with but after the years spent in solitude at the BYBarn, I welcomed the change being around other horsefolk again.

• And it's the social aspect that keeps me motivated. Gotta keep the horse fit to trail ride with a friend. Have to train over fences a little to get it together for hunter pace season, etc. I know a few people who moved their horses home to live their dream of having horsey at home and all the riding and training they had accomplished at the boarder barn went right out the window because after they were done with all the home and family responsibilities and then the horse chores, they were just too tired to ride. Sometimes when you're tired and you think you are only going to stop by and groom, you see your friend out in the arena and think, ah, maybe I'll just saddle up and join her.

Who else is a confirmed boarder? Who else wouldn't dream of keeping their horse/s anywhere but where they cared for them themselves?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Old School

Let's travel back in time. My past life, my past horse. This picture is ©Terri Miller and taken at the AHRC horseshow which was held at Stillwell woods in Syosset NY.

The year is about 1981-82.
The horse was my OTTB mare, Alta.
The class was one of the Equitation divisions.
The saddle - A Crosby Prix Des Nations.
The boots - Dehner customs.
The helmet - Definitely not ASTM/SEI approved.

And yes, 25 years ago, the light color hunt coats and dove gray breeches were VERY in vogue.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

American Museum of Natural History Exhibit of "The Horse"

American Museum of Natural History Exhibition of the Horse

"The American Museum of Natural History has long focused its research and outreach efforts on the interactions between humans and the natural world, between science and society," said Museum President Ellen V. Futter. "In keeping with that tradition, The Horse will celebrate this magnificent animal while presenting one of the most fascinating stories in the history of life on Earth—the close and complex relationship between horses and humans. The exhibition will show how the two species have influenced each other through the ages and explore the integral role the horse has played in the history of humanity and civilization."

Opening this weekend and running through January of 2009, this is a "must see" for me!!

A Beautiful Memory

I may make mention of my previous horse, an OTTB mare named Alta. She came into my life when I was 14 and she was 4. We struggled through the toughest times in both of our lives together. Me, being a less than popular teen and her being a scared and misunderstood racetrack reject. It took YEARS of work to train her into a sharp and winning show horse and she, in turn, trained me to have patience, perseverance and humility. She was never easy, but I appreciate what I gained from that.

I lost Alta back in 2000. It was from an overnight colic and pre-planning for her death was not something I had ever given much thought to. When I was called to come to the barn at 7:30 in the morning and I saw how bad she was, I knew we could do nothing to save her and it was time to end her suffering. After she was euthanized, she was to be picked up by a service that handles removal of large animal remains.

The vet was a caring person and insisted I let her cut a swatch from my mare's tail for me to keep. She told me she had heard from many owners in the past that it was something they would never have thought of but were so grateful to her for having given them.

So, years later, with this carefully saved lock of hair, I began to investigate what I could do to make something more "lasting". Here are two ideas I found, that if I had the funds at the moment I would consider. What a lovely and unique way to keep your memory close to your heart:

Suzanne Storms Hairwork Artist

This equine hairwork jewelry artist is one of - if not THE best I have ever seen.

Life Gem Memorial Diamonds

LifeGem is truly amazing - I would LOVE to have a diamond created from my mare's tail hair!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Preschool Opinion...

My son, D was pestering me the other morning to "take him somewhere". Which means, the park, the store or anywhere because home was "boring". I told him I was busy, we would go out later and to settle down and watch some cartoon on PBS.

To which I received this reply, "Aww mom, I don't want to watch lame educational programs".

"Lame?" Great, a 5 year old who calls things, "lame". I thought stuff like "lame" didn't come up until they were older. (And when did he learn the word "educational"?) I guess those shows don't cut it after you watch the stuff on Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and the History Channel. This is a kid who enjoys watching the evening news. I don't even watch the evening news. I remember being entertained by Sesame Street at his age. When did 5 become 15?

If he thinks life is "lame" now, wait until he hits the big K, the 'Garden, you know, K-I-N-D-E-R-G-A-R-D-E-N.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Excellent Save on a Rearing Horse

I agree with Fuglyhorseoftheday, this girl has a remarkable seat and good "horse sense" in the saddle. I post her video here as an inspiration and a training tool.

Good Luck Charms

I was recently cleaning out my show tack trunk, looking for items to take to a local swap meet when I came across the big duffel bag with all my "show spares" in it. That would be my pristine polo wraps, nearly new black gloves, bag of a zillion hairpins and hairnets, extra riding crops, the "blingy" spurs, hand towels in my stable colors, the leather and sheepskin tendon boots and several other items that don't see daylight except for competition.

As I went through the contents of the bag I came across a small black pouch with a few treasured items inside. My Horse Show Good Luck Charms. These are: A tiny troll doll with day-glow orange hair, 2 seashells picked up at the finals held at Old Field Farm (which is a famous Long Island horse show grounds next to the beach) and a tie-tack pin shaped like an angel with my ruby birthstone in it. Ah, the memories! The pin was attached discreetly under the lapel of my hunt coat and the troll and shells rode with me in my coat pockets. Somehow, the winning ride seemed more attainable when the precious items were with me on the round.

So, anyone else superstitious? What's your good luck charm?

Happy Mother's Day... um, a day late!

Warmest Mother's Day wishes to all! I usually am not a big fan of Mother's Day. It's always been a big let-down for me. Yesterday wasn't starting out any better, kids were their usual selves, I had to break up the typical squabbles and clean up the messes. Then husband came home from early morning bike ride and banished me to the barn (smart man).

It would have been another nice day to head to the trails but I had no one available to ride with. I suppose I could try to ride it alone but I prefer a buddy because of the length of time spent riding on the road to get there. So we schooled at home in the large arena.

I board Monty at a very interesting place. It's owned by an equine veterinarian, who also has a boarding stable and hosts dirt polo matches in the large polo arena on his property. The polo arena is huge! The footing in it is quite good and before polo season starts, we have some jumps set up in there, too. Yes, I have watched some of the polo matches there and it's a wild game. I sometimes wonder what it would be like to try but I know my limits!

I decided to work Monty in a much stronger bit and work on his self carriage and response to the aids. He's a big horse and I don't have the upper body strength I used to. I can generally ride him in a 2-link D-snaffle with a copper bead join in the center but he can get heavy through his transitions and also when jumping. So I changed it up with a Myler full cheek with a twist mouth and copper roller in the center. (Monty has always been a horse with a somewhat dry mouth, I have been experimenting with copper, cypruim, Happy Mouth, etc. to find what he accepts well. I am a notorious bit buyer, especially from Ebay!) I have very good, sensitive hands and I prefer to only have to "suggest" what I want rather than having to "shout" and the stronger bit allows me that.

Monty was again on his best day-after-trail-ride behavior and we did a lot of cantering work and cantering over ground poles. He carried himself instead of me having to lighten his forehand and give as I usually do. After we did flat work and ground poles in the polo arena I rode him up to the smaller riding ring at the top of the hill behind the boarder's barn. I set up a cross rail there and tried a little jumping. Monty was good but after trotting the first one, his "motor got running" and I had to keep trotting the X-rail back and forth with a soft hand and contact release to get him quiet. (He hasn't jumped regularly since late last fall, so he anticipates the jumps when we start up again each spring) After about 6 or 7 times he settled and gave me a nice little jump and we ended with that. Always nice to end on a productive note! Thanks for the Mother's Day ride, Monty!

The evening was dinner at the local diner and husband, kids and I going to the movies to see Speed Racer. Fun movie, I always loved that cartoon as a kid! It was great to see the movie with my own boys! Go Speed Racer, Go!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Trail Ride Numéro Deux

After two days of rain, rain, rain, today was sunny and cool here in NY. So my friend and I headed out on trail again. Monty was exactly what I expected and considering he also hasn't been ridden since last Sunday, I guess he was even a little better than I expected! And boy, did I need a fairly calm ride to settle myself since my twin boys have been like two wild colts. I need to do some "Natural Kidsmanship". They need someone to run them around a round pen and then sit on them!

Leaving the property was no problem and the only time he got frisky was when we turned around to go back at the place on the trail that becomes an absolute swamp when we get a lot of rain. And I'm talking suck-the-shoes-off-your-horses'-hooves swampy! Otherwise we would have kept going, because past that point we come to the grazing field nirvana. There isn't much lush grazing grass at our barn but in this field it's a real treat and the horses get to feast on the thick grass and clover.

Next week we will head up to the trails on the higher ground. Tomorrow is Mother's Day. Too many things to do and people to see so we will be schooling in the arena at home.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Custom Breeches!

Wow, this is where I want to shop when I have time and lots of cash:

Custom made riding breeches?!? Awesome!! I can so see myself in beige breeches with leopard leather knee patches! Yeah I know, it's a tad tacky but damn, it's unique!!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

I Know my Horse

Today was supposed to be another trip to the trails but plans got changed and we schooled in the arena. I was right, Monty was a star! I knew he needed a trail ride away from the barn to clear his head and stop the shenanigans in the ring when schooling. He was settled and focused today and carried himself in a lovely frame with no resistance. It was the most productive hour of riding at home we've had so far this year!

First Trail Ride of this Year

Yesterday was a great day. It was Monty and my first return to the trails after a long winter. I've been trying to get consistant work in the ring with him to get his fitness up (to say nothing of mine) so we can get out and enjoy the adventure of the trails. I say adventure because where I board, the trails are not close by and you have to do some road riding to get to them. (Every year my horse "forgets" that he has been doing this for years and needs about 3 trips with a quiet trail partner before he's ready to have a relaxing ride on trail.)

Monty has been good enough riding at home but when he starts acting like a fool and trying to buck and scoot here and there after 15 minutes of really good work, I know he's bored and needs to get back on trail.

So this was the weekend. I felt we were ready to head out. My friend with a very reliable aged QH was happy to go with me. I knew he was the best partner for us as my horse got reaquainted with venturng away from home. So, we met at the barn, tacked up and were about to head out when our plans took a detour.

Into the driveway that is in front of our barn pulls a small stock trailer with two whinnying horses. The driver stops a few feet from the barn instead of driving to the back of the property where we have always been told to unload horses. I'm walking my horse outside the barn and by now he's wide eyed and snorting over the two horses calling out in the trailer.

Instead of the @$$hat driver noticing my horse was upset and saying to try and leave with my friend before he unloaded the horses, he gets out and opens the trailer door. One horse steps back off the ramp, still tied, and has to be shoved back in as the other horse bounces around and tried to turn around. By now, Monty is freaked, he's kicking out, tossing his head and has managed to put his tongue over his Happy Mouth kimberwicke bit which has freaked him out even more. I can't get him past this fiasco to get back in the barn to calm him (and myself) down, so I had to deal with it until they untangled the two horses and unloaded them.

My friend is looking at me by now like oh God, and we wanted a nice quiet experience today. As soon as the coast was clear, I told her give me 15 minutes. I brought him back to his stall, removed his bridle and left him in there tacked. I changed the bit to his usual D snaffle and added a drop noseband attachment. I went back to him, let him finish the hay he was munching on and rebridled him. He seemed to have calmed down and I called my friend and said we were ready. This time I walked out of the barn and we headed to the road with my friend right behind. After we were across the street and onto the church lawn full of fresh dandelions, all seemed much better.

From there the ride went well. Monty had a few moments where he got antsy on trail but was steady as a rock on the road. Overall, he was a good boy. It figures the selfish idiot who caused us to have a stressful start never said anything close to "I'm sorry" for causing what could have been a really bad scene. And I'm happy with myself. As I'm getting older and have two little kids, I find it harder to suppress fearful thoughts of "oh God, what if he..." But it was the anger over the stupidity of the situation that overrode any fear and made me kick into trainer mode (as in, I will NOT let this horse end today without walking calmly off this property). I still have that ability, and that is a good feeling.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Deja Vu

Go For Wand
Eight Belles
To name a few. How many more? Run free in heaven.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

New Shoes

So a friend of mine sent me an email with all these pictures of really funky fetish type shoes. I saw these and had to laugh. Do you think you need a farrier to come and replace the soles every 6 weeks? As a person commented on another board where I posted these, "I think those would give me navicular for sure!"

iGallop vs. Bareback

This is a silly idea but it does not surprise me. I suppose if you live in a city in an apartment and love horses and take a riding lesson once a week it might be a way to try and get fit to ride so your one day in the saddle would be muscle ache free. Hmm, even so, after thinking about it, why not take the $300.00 or so you'd spend on this thing and go take a few extra riding lessons?

But for those of us owning a live, rideable horse, why on earth would you want to spend money on one of these when you can get on the real one and do the same thing? (okay for anyone reading this with one of the following: greenie, hot head TB, horse with rough gaits or horse with "issues" maybe you will find one of these useful) ;)

For anyone with a mostly reliable mount, you can get on the live horse and at least drop your stirrups from your saddle if you are not comfortable with bareback. I couldn't take myself seriously sitting on an electric horse in front of the television when there are more physical and spiritual benefits to be had from time spent with the real thing.

iGallop - another piece of exercise equipment to join the stationary bike and weight bench as a convenient place to hang laundry.