Saturday, June 28, 2008

Smile, Mr. Big!

Took some pictures today to spice up my upcoming post and had to share a great one of my buddy. Say "cheese" Monty!

Friday, June 27, 2008

"No Good Horse is a Bad Color"

That's an old horseman's saying.

"No good horse is a bad color... unless it's a gray" is mine. Now I don't mean that like all gray horses are bad, Monty is gray and the equine love of my life. I mean dealing with the heartbreak of melanoma in gray horses, as grays have the highest incidence of melanoma tumors of all horse colors.

Monty is only 13 years old and he's got very aggressive tumors under his tail, under his dock, in his sheath, around his lips and small assorted lumps here and there on his body. The tumors started to appear when he was around 6 years old (which to me seems kind of young) and have steadily progressed to the point they are at today. I've had some extremely unpleasant episodes with the ones on his tail becoming like a boil, then "bursting" and oozing "stuff". These require frequent washing to keep clean and once needed the vet to put in a drain to help the "stuff" clean out completely. At that time, Monty had a piece of rubber tubing in one hole and threaded out a second hole in the tumor, then the ends tied together into the skin of his tail. He looked like he was wearing a very bizarre piercing!

I've tried herbal remedies, which at best perhaps slowed the growths but didn't stop them from continuing to spread. And I really gave the herbal supplements a fair shake because I kept him on it religiously for 2 years. Then, deciding the result didn't warrant the expense I stopped feeding it to him. He's only turned out in the paddock that's all in shade, in case the sun has anything to do with it. I've had discussions with the vet about it but all the treatments are non-confirmed, there is no consistent cure from case to case.

If you see his pictures on my blog, he's big, fat, and in great condition. He will trail ride for hours, gallop his heart out, jump whatever is in front of him, stroll around the yard with me onboard bareback or give my twins a pony ride. He's the most wonderful horse I've ever owned and I cherish every ride, every minute spent with him. The vet says as long as he is eating and drinking well and has no changes in condition or temper that he is healthy enough to do whatever he's asked to do. But it's hard knowing every day what he has will most likely be what ends his life and probably too soon.

There is a new organization called Take The Reins and they are looking to try and find a cure for this condition but they are just beginning. Maybe one day, they will find the answer.

Other sources of information on this condition:

Gray Area - equine melanoma

Virginia Tech researcher examining malignant melanoma in horses

Contained in Article: gray horses unsuitable for slaughter due to incidence of melanoma

Equine Melanoma Study in a Population of Lipizzaner Horses

Equine Melanoma - Very few Solutions

Friday, June 20, 2008

It Begins...

This has been a good week for riding! Made it to the barn in the evening 2x to begin working on my training level adventure.

I have to make or find some letters to mark the ring. Right now my landmarks are trees, rocks, barn stuff and horse poop piles conveniently left in the proper places. My practice tests go sort of like this;

" enter working trot at the opening on the short side of the ring. Halt and salute next to the X-rail (cute, a X-rail at X), proceed working trot to the newly planted sapling tree and turn right. At the large boulder (*giggle* get it? - Boulder begins with "B" ... never mind! ) newly removed from the footing make a 20 meter circle. At the Pitchfork leaning against the barn/ X-rail/ pile of poop on side of ring, change rein working trot. At newly planted sapling, working canter left lead. At mounting block next to barn, 20 meter circle. Between mounting block and pitchfork against barn, working trot..." and so on, LOL!

I saw my friend E.W. at the barn last night and I popped the question-

"Have you ever read a dressage test for someone at a show before, because I seem to remember you telling me once you did?"

And her answer was, "yes" AND she said she'd be more than willing to be my reader and help me at the show! COOL!

So now I am in search of a dressage instructor willing to come to my barn just for a few lessons. I know what needs to be worked on by feel, mainly my transitions but I want a ground person to tell me what the judge will see.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

If Horses Were in High School...

If Horses were in High School, What Cliques Would They Be In?

Quarter Horses: Definitely jocks. Strutting around flexing those muscles, showing off their butts...definitely jocks.

Thoroughbreds: Preppies. Sometimes athletes, never 'jocks'. Monogrammed blankets, leather halters, Nike eventer shoes, the latest custom trailer and tack. They are the 'new money' rich.

Appaloosas: Could only be the stoners. They like to trip acid so they can watch their spots move.


Paints: The art students, always walking around with splotches of paint on their clothes. Some tend to be very minimalist whilst others are rather garish.

Shetland Ponies: Frightening, spiky hairdos, snotty attitudes and any color of the rainbow .... Gotta be PUNKS. Some even sport tattoos.

Saddlebred and Tennessee Walker: Those smooth southern boys that can always steal your girlfriend.

Friesians: Big, buff, and always in black, they are the biker clique. Cigs hanging out of the corner of their mouths, dangerous glint in the eyes, daring anyone to cross their path.

Morgans: They're the nerdy teacher's pets, running around doing everything from yearbook to decorating the gym and ratting out the bikers, stoners and jocks. They have perpetual wedgies.

Drafts (all breeds): No real clique, they're just the big guys who sit in the back of the room and fart a lot (and then laugh). Who's going to STOP them?

Icelandics and Paso Finos: They're the little squirrely geeks who flit around a dance trying to fit in and fail miserably. The kind who wear Toughskins jeans from Sears (or would that be rip off WeathaBeetas??).

Ahkle Tekl (Akle Takl? Ackle Tackle....!! Akhal Teke!!): Foreign exchange student(s). And no one can spell their names either.

Hackney Ponies: A breed this manic would have to be a band geek. Marching along with their knees and heads held high.....even going to the bathroom.

Warmbloods: Old Money Preppies, as opposed to the TBs who are new money preppies. All their tack is imported from Europe, they drink Perrier water and eat only organically grown feed. They look down on everyone and talk amongst themselves about summer in Paris and skiing in Gstad and wasn't it dreadful how provincial Spruce Meadows has become?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Madness Continues...

First off, I want to thank grey horse and onthebit for their input and blogs! Keep the info coming from all!

The 1st show I would even attempt is the one coming up at the end of next month. The entry closing date for this one has passed. However, it will give me the opportunity to stop by and observe the tests being ridden to see where the movements occur and how they ride out. Then I will have the image in my mind when I attempt to practice the moves at home. I have to fake a dressage arena in the riding ring behind the barn. At least there I am quite certain my letters won't be disturbed. Hmm, now I have to make some letters...

Monty can ride in almost any bit. We showed hunters in a Dr. Bristol D or a myler twist D with copper roller at the center joint. He's hunter paced with either a happy mouth kimberwicke or a 2 ring sweet iron dutch gag but I use 2 reins like a pelham and tend to ride mostly from the snaffle rein. He tends to respond better with a 3-piece mouth, such as a French link or Bristol.

For schooling at home I use a French link type loose ring snaffle made from sweet iron with a copper lozenge in the center. That is my bit question, there are no rollers and all mouth parts are smooth, so that is good, I just want to be sure about the metals. I can't find anything in the rule books that state I can't use this kind of bit but I don't want any surprises. Monty has always had a dry mouth so I like to use metals that help him salivate a bit. I also am very generous with peppermints and sugar cubes to help this along. He's funny though, he hates to drool. As soon as foam and spit form around his mouth he tries to slurp it back in!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Horse Show Madness

Hope all the folks in the blog world had a nice Father's Day. My weekend was fairly uneventful. Saturday was a lost day for riding due to time restraints and then bad weather later in the day into the evening. I did get to the barn for a groom and shmooze session with Monty. I always get so bent on riding because I get such precious little time in the saddle that it leaves me depressed when I can't. But taking the time to thoroughly groom the beast and then just play with him and scratch his face and other itchy spots does pay off in the long run. It strengthens the trust and bond that we share. Plus I had the place to myself so the peace and quiet was nice!

Father's Day was my husband going for a long, morning bike ride with the local bike club. Of course, his real adventure started when one of our sons decided that he does not like his dad going on a bike ride with the club and not doing stuff in the morning with him on the weekend. So some time, we can't figure out how or when, Devon sneaked into the garage and removed the valve caps and wingnuts from the tires on his dad's bikes. I guess he figured the tires would go flat and then dad would have to stay home. What his 5 year old mind didn't know and what freaked my husband out was the tires would still be inflated, unless the bike went over a bump, the result could end in a nasty bike wreck when the tire went out. Good thing my husband caught it in time! Needless to say, he was really upset over it but kind of impressed with the kid's efforts at sabotage! Yikes! Then we spent family time taking the boys to the beach. After that, I got to go to the barn and ride.

Monty was still super clean from the previous day's spa treatment so tacking up went quickly and we got right out to ride. Monty was a good boy, even over the cross rails. He's settling down from his post winter rushing to the jumps.

So I'm on my way to work this morning and I notice that the stable just down the road from my barn is getting ready for their dressage show next weekend when this CRAZY thought hits me. Why don't I start schooling Monty through the introductory and training level tests and try to compete in one of the next dressage shows in their series this season? I would be able to just RIDE OVER TO THE SHOWGROUNDS!! No trailering, just down the street, through the gate and there we are!

But I it's been over 20 years since I entered at "A" and halted at "X". At that time I had moved out of training level and was competing at first level and schooling second level movements to move up. But that was all with my previous horse. I know I'm rusty and most of that stuff I haven't asked of Monty. I have no trainer at the moment and my regular trainer focuses on hunter/jumper. I could probably school through the intro and training level tests by myself. I'd be okay with a reader.

As for clothes, I have all the stuff I collected in hopes of being able to cap with the hunt - light beige breeches, black dress boots, a black hunt jacket and a stock tie. Would that stuff be good enough? Can I use my GPA helmet? I only have black gloves and my saddle is a brown all purpose although I do have both black (from my dressage days) and brown bridles. Would I use the brown bridle or the black one? What bits are legal these days? Am I crazy to think I can pull this off? How does my previous dressage experience affect me now? I'm not eligible to ride in the beginner rider classes, correct? But my horse could still be a beginner horse, even though he's 13 and has shown in Adult Amateur hunters?

Why do I still miss horse showing? What the hell am I thinking...

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Hermit Crabs are Here!

Yesterday was the graduation celebration for my pre-school boys! The party was oh-so cute and my guys had a blast. Well, they held me to my throw-away promise of buying them hermit crabs as their graduation gift.

Seems we were in PetSmart weeks ago buying kibble for the dogs when they made their rounds of the fish and reptiles aisle. They found the tank with the hermit crabs and of course the ones with the brightly painted shells caught their eye. After the usual please,please,please I told them no, but maybe I would buy them each a crab for a graduation gift. Of course, I'm figuring graduation is weeks away and by then something else will catch their eye.


I got hit with the hermit crab request the morning before. Of course I had forgotten all about it but not them. Oookay, I did promise. So right after the party, I took them to the pet store and they picked out their new crabby companions. We now have one with an American flag and eagle painted on it's shell and the other sporting a nifty Spiderman web logo. I have since gone online and researched the little critters.

Oh boy, what have we gotten into? And why do these things always start out simple and then get so complicated? Why? I know why, 'cause I'm a sucker for trying to keep a living thing properly. What should have been a simple excursion into crab ownership has become guessing proper humidity, making sure water is safe and crab-quality, figuring out what they like to eat and correct handling procedure.

Handling. LOL, H learned his lesson why they are called crabs - he just wouldn't stop messing with them. Even after I told him repeatedly to leave them alone and just watch them through the tank until they got settled into their new habitat. I went into the other room to look something up online when I hear a yelp and then a plop. The yelp was my son, the plop was the crab falling onto the couch. I asked what happened and he looked at me with such shock and said, "he pinched me!!", then showed his bloodied fingertip. And I, being the sympathetic mom that I am, gently plucked the crab from the couch and placed him back in his home, then chastised my son the whole time we washed the cut, dried it and bandaged it with neosporin. Guess the only lessons my guys learn are the hard ones, I TOLD him to leave the crab alone!

(by the way, the crab is doing just fine :)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Spring Vineyard Ride - Got My Photos!!

I was thrilled to get the photographer's information about the pictures from the Vineyard Ride! (Thanks to Sally!) That's me, on my big white Monty.

I just bought these 4 pictures and couldn't wait to show to all so I'm putting up the small reference shots to share. The entire © peter-marney gallery from the ride is available at Check them out for a really great viewing of the day!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Where I Call Home

I suppose I have mentioned that I board Monty at a very interesting place. It's called the West Hills Polo Club. During polo season, arena polo matches are played. Arena polo differs from grass/outdoor polo in that it is played like hockey or racquetball in an enclosed but not covered space.

The polo arena on the property is a huge, sand arena. During the off-season, there are jump standards and poles enough to set up a little jump course. When polo season is running, the jumps are moved from the ring and then replaced after a match. There is also a smaller riding arena close to the barn where the jumps can stay set up year 'round but it is smaller and better suited to schooling exercises. The big sand arena is level, almost rock free and great for all sorts of schooling from lungeing to flatwork under saddle and jumping. The only thing that would put this place in sheer horseback riding nirvana would be a covered arena to use in the winter.

There is also a veterinary clinic on the premises, the Long Island Equine Medical Center.

Imagine boarding your horse in a place with a vet literally in walking distance from your barn door, and I'm talking less than 100 feet from the barn door! Thankfully, in my 6 or 7 years there, I've only needed this convenience a very few times. The horse care at this place is top-notch. Routine shots, wormings and teeth floating are mandatory. It's a comforting feeling to know that even if I can't get to see my buddy, he most definitely has water, a clean bed and proper food and if anything seems amiss, I get a phone call from the office immediately.

Unlike a show barn however, this place has a very "laid-back" atmosphere. It's all adults, no kids and mainly pleasure riders. We all have a similarly laid-back attitude and though there has been the occasional "stinker" moving in, they usually move out again very quickly. Most of the time when I get there in the evening to ride, I have the whole place to myself, which is really nice.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Too Darn Hot

And with a sizzle and a sweat, summer seems to have dropped it's hot, sticky self upon us in New York. Yesterday was 80-90 degrees, today doesn't seem to be shaping up to be much cooler. Obviously anyone watching the Belmont Stakes horse race yesterday had to feel some empathy for those thoroughbreds. If I was Big Brown, I would have said, "$@#% this! I'm not running my tail off today!" too.

I was compelled to get some kind of a ride in. Monty handles the heat okay when he's fit and properly managed. He was comfortable in his stall with the fan blowing on him when I got there. Actually, the barn was cooler than the outside! I groomed, tacked up and took him out to the polo arena. All we did was walk for about 20 minutes as the sun blazed. Then we went up to the smaller ring behind the boarding barn. There are some trees there and a bit of shade so we trotted and cantered for all of 10 minutes. That was enough. We walked out and I untacked and took him for a nice soapy bath.

I love that first really good bath after a long winter. The wash stall where I board is outdoors. So the winter is long and dirty. There is an indoor wash stall in the medical barn but it's mostly for horses there for veterinary care. So when the weather gets hot, I can't wait to get in that outside wash stall and scrub,scrub,scrub!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Spring Vineyard Ride 2008

Here is the recap of the Vineyard Ride 2008.

The day had finally arrived! The morning was cool and damp but the sun was on it's way to a shining warm day. We left home early to pick up Monty and meet my friend who was also riding in the event. Monty surprised both my husband and I by waltzing right into the horse trailer and standing there. Usually he resists a little, then we wiggle a lunge whip behind him and he walks in. I guess he was just as interested in going someplace else for an adventure, too.

Our drive was quick and uneventful. We arrived at Martha Clara Vineyards in plenty of time to sign in, stop at the restroom and grab a bagel and juice from the breakfast spread laid out for the riders. After unloading and tacking up, we joined the growing group of riders on the lawn for a champagne toast to thank those who work so hard to organize this ride.

The fast group was the first to head out. My friend and I found our place near the front of the group. We left the yard at a trot and it wasn't long before we were cantering/galloping through the fields. It seemed the pace was set and it was faster than the previous year's ride. I enjoy a good gallop and have no problem asking Monty to keep up with the leaders. He's a welcome change from my previous horse. If she wasn't in the front of everyone, you were going to have a really hard ride.

The first Vineyard we stopped at was Paumanok, where we dismounted. Our horses were given a chance to graze and drink water as we sampled a delicious riesling and a nice chardonay. In previous years, this vineyard's offerings were my least favorites but I was pleasantly surprised this time. I called my husband who was out with his road bike and he was over at Jamesport vineyard at the time. He'd already made a few purchases and said he'd be right over. Sure enough, he was there in 5 minutes and agreed with me on the Paumanok wines for this season.

Soon it was time to mount up and head off to Jamesport Vineyard. I have always liked this small, family run vineyard and their wines are always a favorite. At this time on the ride, we are doing a lot of riding along the roads in the area and the horses get a nice walk to relax and settle down. We arrived there quickly and the horses were given another rest. Again, their samplings were wonderful, including a rich, smooth merlot, which was nice as I've gotten used to their white wines and tend to think of them mostly for white.

Now we remounted and headed for Martha Clara, where we would have the last of our tastings and a nice lunch served. All the horses seemed eager to get back and the end part of the ride got a little wild. Nothing I couldn't handle, just kept my horse at a canter while some of the more aggressive riders galloped ahead.

And we were back to where we started. All total, the ride was about 2-1/2 hours. It was a hot day but there was a constant breeze so even though the horses were sweaty they were not overheated. My husband was back from his bike ride already. We untacked, showered off our horses and loaded them into the trailers, then went to enjoy the lunch and socializing. We purchased wines from all 3 vineyards this year, which is the first time we've liked selections from each place.

After lunch, it was time to drive home. By now it was approaching 4:00PM and we were going into babysitter overtime but we just had one stop to make before hitting the highway. There is a teeny bakery in Jamesport called Junda's Pastry Crust and Crumbs, and their cheesecake is incredible. I pulled over in front and my husband ran in and bought cheesecake, apple strudel, rye bread and assorted cookies. Ahh, love to Junda's!

Back at the stable, Monty was happy to have a nice wet bran mash to round out the day. I could see he was tired, that was more galloping than we usually do at this time of the year and I rubbed him in well with wintergreen rubbing alcohol. My husband went home ahead of me to relieve the babysitter (and to get our precious cheesecake into the refrigerator). My day didn't end until the truck was unloaded, the trailer was mucked out, the sweaty tack cleaned and the horse checked "one more time" to be sure he was comfortable.

I really enjoyed the hot shower, cup of coffee and slice of cheesecake that evening.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

O'Halloran Co. - Gone, But Not Forgotten

Once upon a time, I was at the Hampton Classic horse show enjoying the shopping experience. I came across a vendor with the most beautiful and unique equestrian inspired fashion items. Most of the pieces that were outstanding were from a new designer whose company was called O'Halloran Co. The items were priced beyond my budget back then but I never forgot her style. I recently searched for her company online, only to find she had closed her business due to an injury suffered while riding.
She had only been producing mechandise for a few years, I wish she would have been able to continue, I would have loved to watch her line evolve. I have been fortunate to find and buy some rare gems from her line on Ebay and still hunt for pieces from her collections.

So here is the link to her website. Although you cannot purchase any of her items, it is interesting to browse around and see her designs. If she should ever start her business again, I welcome the return!

O'Halloran Co. Equestrian Fashion

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I Thought So Too

While waiting to see if I can get some photos to post with my story about the Vineyard Ride, I had to put this up because I think it's pretty funny. Now, I am a fan of Sex and the City, but I never got the whole SJP-fashionista-goddess-cult thing so this made me chuckle.

Sarah Jessica Parker Looks Like a Horse