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!