Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Treats!

A very Happy Thanksgiving to all my blog buddies, both those I feel I know from our trading posts to those who simply read my ramblings and move on. I hope I've made you smile a few times, maybe pick up a tip here or there from things I've learned and be entertained. If so, then my blog has found it's purpose, thank you!

In keeping with Monty's Christmas list and Thanksgiving, here's a holiday appropriate addition to the list:

Skodes Pumpkin Spice Horse Cookies for Fall
Monty - "Looky mom! Pumpkin spice horse treats! You can NEVER have too many horse treats on hand! Here's what the folks from Skodes have to say;

Our horses are deeply in tune with the cyles and environment of nature. Now there is a great new line of cookies that celebrates this natural harmony: Skode's Seasonal Cookies. Our first recipe arrives just in time for Fall. Made out of fresh pumpkin, organic pumpkin seeds, specialty hays and warming herbs and spices so reminiscent of homemade pumpkin pie you may just steal some of these cookies from your horse! Happily, the combined sugar and starch levels for these cookies is only 6.7 percent. This means they meet the stringnet standards of the Equine Cushings and Insulin Resistant Group. No wonder Skode's Treats have earned the title: "The Worry Free Treats."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Monty's Christmas List

Thanksgiving is almost upon us. Soon my addled brain will be forced to cope with the reality of holiday gift shopping. So, to have some fun, I thought I'd start Monty's Christmas list for Santa, which will be some of the cool things I find that I think he'd put on his list:
Monty -"How about this nice Skull and Crossed bones embroidered saddle pad from Union Hill? It has a very Ralph Lauren Rugby collection vibe. C'mon mom, I'm just badassed and preppy enough to pull this one off! (besides, you owe me for the embarrassment of that pad with the cherries on it)."

Monty - "And looky, they have matching embroidered polo wraps to complete our style!"

Monday, November 24, 2008

Meadowbrook Hounds Pony Club Hunter Pace 2008


Here's the photo of Monty and I at the last jump. Kind of an awkward moment in the takeoff for that jump. A split second later and it would have been a brag-worthy shot. But I bought a 5x7 anyway because every picture is precious. The pace was held on November 9th. (I'm kind of behind in my riding blogging)As you can see from the photo it was a bright, brisk perfect day!

My pace partner's horse got injured in turn-out, and about a week before the pace she called to say she didn't thnk he'd be sound in time. It always seems something happens before I ride one of these paces, lately. I figured I was out of luck unless someone could add me and make a team of 3 when my partner called again to say she was renting a horse from the local hack stable for the day and she'd be able to go after all.

When I arrived with Monty, there she was with this big, dorky, grade, paint gelding. We both had a laugh and were curious to see what this guy could do. With Monty leading we set out and found out "Phil" as he was named, was not bad, even if as she said, he felt as if all 4 legs were borrowed from different horses. He would pop over the smaller jumps when Monty led and could keep pace nicely.

I spent most of the ride in "whoa". Monty has been so sluggish at home I figured I'd be nice and let him do the pace with his new "B" ring baucher bit. Usually I ride him with an elevator type jumping bit on these paces. Yep, big mistake, he found his giddy-up and was eager to gallop the ride. I also have the feeling he knows what his job is on the paces, he gets out in the woods and wants to canter as much as possible. But I was not in the best shape this time out. My arms were hurting from holding him back after the first 15 minutes out. And as much as he wanted to go and my partner wanted to go, I begged to slow it down because I had nothing left to hold him with. We were not competitve and it was my fault.

I'm wondering if I can do this anymore. I have no time to properly prepare for these paces and I don't like feeling like I haven't ridden enough. Monty is in better physical shape than I am, what little riding we do seems to be about adequate for him but zero for me.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Dressage - English and Western!


A friend sent this to me and I had to share! Please watch! It's a great comparison study of two styles of riding!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Six Things About Me

On The Bit has tagged me again, this time with "Six things about me".

The rules are as follows:

Link to the person who tagged you.
Post the rules on your blog.
Write six random things about yourself.
Tag six people at the end of your post.
Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
Let the tagger know your entry is up.

Hmm, 6 random things about me...

1) I have a crazy love for cherries. I don't know when or why but cherries make me smile and I have all kinds of clothes, accessories and jewelry with the little red buggers on them. For awhile, I even had a black saddle pad made with cherry print fabric. My husband used to tell Monty he felt sorry for him every time he saw the poor beast wearing it. I finally gave in and sold it at a local swap meet to a teenage girl who went ga-ga over it!

2) I think Daniel Craig is total hotness. "Casino Royale" made me a huge fan of "the blonde Bond".

3) I secretly wish I lived in Manhattan, in a nice but not over-the-top apartment, preferably rent-controlled. My husband lived there nearly his whole life. I envy his ease and comfort in getting around in that environment. I went to college there for 4 years, but I was a commuter, not a resident. I love NYC.

4) I wish the National Horse Show was still held at Madison Square Garden. I miss the opulence, the tradition and the fun that I had in my many years going to see that show. My only regret is I never got the opportunity to show there as a junior rider in the Maclay and that my own children will never know what I am talking about when I mention it. And they won't know about Claremont Riding Academy, either.

5) I still have most of my lifetime collection of Breyer horses. At one time the herd was around 200 horses. I have sold some on Ebay but still have many. My boyz are just starting to play with some of the older, more common models. These were my favorites when I was a child. The collectible quality ones are stored safely away for a future on display or to be sold for college funds.

6) I have an impressive horse bit collection. I've mentioned in this blog that I am fascinated with bits. And thanks to Ebay, I've picked up some really nice and interesting ones, even some vintage ones. Monty likes his Sprenger bits the best but good soul that he is, he tolerates my experimenting with this bit and that one. I like to see for myself how certain styles work and he's a reliable test subject.

So, that's six things about me! I'm not sure whom to pass this one to. Most of the blogs I'd tag have already been tagged by OnTheBit! So, here's one or two I think might be game and join the fun:

A Girl and her Horse
The Posting Trot
A Bay Horse

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What are Children good for?


Had to share this soooo cute picture that was emailed to me by a friend. Also, to update how my boyz are doing with their riding. They continue to enjoy their riding lessons. We entered a small schooling show on Nov. 1st at the same stable they take their lessons at and they rode in the leadline classes, walk only and walk/trot. Proud mom that I am, I thought they looked great! My husband shot video, will see if I can figure out how to get some up on the blog to share.

Of course, all the leadliners entered in each class got a blue ribbon! Leave it to my kids, after they got the blue ribbons in the first class, when they pinned the second class with all blue ribbons, they asked if they could trade them for "better" colors!! So while the Master looked on in horror, my boyz happily handed the confused ribbon girl their blues and smiled as they were exchanged for a green and a pink ribbon respectively. LOL, the next riding lesson was preceded by a gentle lecture from the Master that the only "better" color there is, is BLUE!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

Horse Bitting, a favorite subject of mine

I have often wanted to post in depth about horses and the use of bits. I was browsing over on the Myler Bits website and liked this caption by Julie Goodnight on the home page so much that I decided to add an excerpt here:

"...There’s been a lot of discussion lately that all bits are bad and that if you really want to be kind to your horse, you’d go bitless. Have you been in on a similar discussion? While I agree that there are many horses that work just fine in a bitless situation, I think it is overly simplistic to say horses shouldn’t use bits.

To me, there’s one really important fact. Bits don’t hurt horses, people’s hands hurt horses. There’s a concept dating back thousands of years (about 3500 years ago) that’s attributed to Xenophon, who wrote the oldest complete book of horsemanship (there are older pieces but they are only partial documents). He said that the harshest bit in the world can be soft in a horse’s mouth when in the right hands and the mildest bit can be very harsh in the wrong hands.

Having said that, I think that there are many bad bits that shouldn’t be used at all. There are some bits that I wouldn’t use but could envision a use or a horse I might try it on. And then there are the bits that I love that horses work great in. Through the years I’ve learned that there are few people involved with horses that know much about bits or even how and why the horse responds (or not). Worse yet, there are people out there that are flat out wrong about what they think about bits.

The most common example I can think of is the Tom Thumb bit. It’s a classic Western bit that many people refer to as a snaffle—showing a level of ignorance about the difference between a snaffle and curb bit. There are only two types of bits—direct pressure (snaffle) and leverage (curb). People think because the Tom Thumb is single jointed that it is a snaffle and therefore mild—and they are incorrect on both accounts. There’s an article in my training library about the Tom Thumb misconceptions but the point is that when it comes to bits, most people are not only ignorant but often what they think they know or what they have been told—sometimes even by a trainer-- is flat bass-ackwards.

When a horse is struggling with the bit, there are two fundamental considerations to make, which are overlooked by most people. First, how does the bit fit the horse? Secondly, how are the rider’s hands contributing to this problem? The amazing thing about the Myler bit system is that it is born of decades of hands-on research and innovative design features (like shaping the bit to the horse’s mouth—what a concept!) which are all about making the horse comfortable with the bit. It is a passion and mission of the Myler brothers to help as many horses as possible be comfortable and relaxed in the mouth..."

Granted, she is endorsing Myler's bits, but I think most of her premise is right on point. I have ridden at various times on various horses with some very strong bits. Early in my riding career, these bits were never introduced without my trainer's supervision but now I am able to work with them on my own. No sensible rider without properly established independent and light hands should ever attempt to use one of the harsher bits without qualified instruction.

My own examples are that Monty rides at home quite happily in any of the Sprenger or KK bits with the lozenge in the center. If I were competing in dressage, these bits would move smoothly from training arena to dressage arena.

When jumping in the show ring, where the aids must be subtle and the ride must appear smooth, I may change to a Myler Dee with a twist and copper roller but without rein hooks. Monty can get forward over a course of fences and this bit enables me to get a quick response from him without exaggerated effort. By "exaggerated effort" I mean the difference between merely closing your fingers tighter on the rein vs. pulling on the bit with your entire arm.

For hunter pacing or riding in large groups of horses, I may use a 2 ring elevator bit with the same lozenge mouth with double reins, riding mostly from the snaffle rein will allow me to offer him relief from the gag effect of the bit but if we are galloping and I need to "rate" his speed, a stronger contact on the rein attached to the lower ring increases the leverage and helps control the pace.

And these choices are not set in stone. I have used a Happy Mouth Kimberwicke for trail rides and even schooled with a hackamore at home.

I have a large and ever-changing collection of bits. They fascinate me. How so many designs exist all with a fairly similar purpose in mind. I like to browse Ebay and have found some gems at great prices and have sold others there from my collection that I feel I don't need anymore. My favorite find was my most recent purchase, a KK "B" ring baucher bit at less than half of what it sells for new!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

R.I.P. Dandy

It has been awhile since I last posted. Seems the level of busy in my life hasn't left much time for quiet reflection and sharing of thoughts and experiences. But the sad news of my friend E.W.'s beloved Dandy's passing has me wanting to dedicate a post to the closest I have ever come to an equine saint.

This old fellow was the reliable rock we all looked to when heading off property to trail ride. He was the trail buddy that you always knew would not misbehave in any way and his calming effect on other horses was enviable. Never took a misstep with a child on his back and always carried his doting E.W. with care no matter what adventure the two of them embarked on. With personality plus, he could make you smile even on the worst day. E.W. was blessed to share his life and Dandy was blessed with the most loving and attentive human to protect his. I am saddened to know of his loss but the knowing that it was a peaceful passing, that his great heart simply gave out, gives some comfort.

My thoughts and prayers are with you, E.W. in your time of loss and sadness. Perhaps, when you are ready, you will consider posting your own memorial to Dandy. I'll share my tribute to my mare, Alta on Critters.com. This is a lovely place to keep your pet's memory alive.