Thursday, December 31, 2009

A year in passing, a year begins...

I am ambivalent about 2009. It started off about as lousy as could be. My most cherished horse, Monty, had to be put to down from complications brought on by his equine melanoma. Then began the awful process of "horse shopping". When I finally found a horse that I thought would be perfect, he bucks me into the dirt the day the check cleared. Months later, with the input from a wonderful new trainer, we seem to be on the right course but still have soooo far to go. We are doing very well with groundwork, pretty good under saddle at the walk and working on trotting with motivation to move forward.

I have not cantered or jumped anything in a year. I know my physical fitness has gone to pot. I have found a guarded place in my heart for my new horse but just don't know what our future holds.

On the positive, my children have embraced riding with open arms. One is off the lunge line at the walk and trot in the round pen and the other is just beginning to get his independance.

I feel like I'm at a crossroads. I have moments where I see potential in Rugby to be the field hunter I dream of riding. But I need miles and time to get the trust up to where I feel we will take care of each other in the field. I sometimes wonder if I should let Rugby go and find a pony for my children. We are only able to finance a one-horse household. At this point I'm just kind of letting each day unfold to hint at where the future must go.

Maybe 2010 will begin a better chapter. So my wish to all is a sparkling New Year with all your dreams fulfilled!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Things that are not Marketed to Horsemen but Should Be

Happy day after Christmas to all!

So if any of you were given money as a gift and are looking for more goodies to buy, I'd like to give a personal endorsemant to two items that are not marketed to horsemen but should be.

The first is the ROAD I.D. bracelet. Originally designed for road bicyclists and runners who might be miles from home and alone while training and in the event of an accident may not be carrying a wallet with enough I.D. to get them the proper help quickly. This is a great looking wrist band with velcro closure and sturdy nylon webbing that holds a slim stainless steel nameplate, laser engraved with all your vital information. They come in numerous colors, many sizes and the company has excellent customer service.

My husband bought one and got many guys in his bicycling club to order one as well. He bought one for me because he felt when I was out trail riding and so far from the stable, if anything happened it would be good to have reliable I.D. with me.

One of my friends at the barn noticed it and asked me what it was. I explained it and she liked the idea so much she bought two bracelets, one for her to wear and one she attached to her horses' tack. She figured if she got dumped off the horse in the park and someone found him, he'd have I.D. too!

The band and plate are water friendly. You can ride in the rain, slog through mud or wash your horse while wearing it with no ill-effects. If it gets dirty, just wash with mild dish washing soap, rinse well and air dry. If you want a different color band from the one you originally bought, they sell the bands by themselves and it's easy to change the nameplate. The same goes for changing the information on the plate. Get a new phone number? New name? New address? No problem, just order a new plate by itself and replace your old one.

The next item is the Survival Straps paracord bracelet. I have one on order for both my husband and myself. I love the idea behind this item. These are hand made in America. The basic bracelet design is composed of up to 24' of military spec 550# paracord. The company's policy is : if you unravel it in an emergency situation and deploy the paracord, they will replace it. FREE!!!

How cool to have extra, heavy duty paracord handy when working around horses? If you are on trail and a strap on your tack breaks or you need to tie something to your saddle or truck you have that cord on hand including the marine grade stainless steel clasp! Ever have a horse-related emergency that involved wasting time looking for a lead shank or rope? Never again if you have one of these on your wrist.

The possibilities for equestrian use are endless! They are really cool looking bracelets. They are available in over 1,000 color combinations to choose from. Survival Straps also have belts, wristwatch bands, dog collars etc. all made from varying lengths of cord. The best part is, they are very supportive of our troops and even offer soldier care packages. You can buy bracelets and donate them to our troops. Buy one for yourself and send one to a soldier. Great idea!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Rugby LOVES the Snow!

I love the snow, too. Brings out the kid in me... after I dig my truck out.

We got dumped on here in NY. In my area, a bit over a foot but I have friends farther east of me and they got 2 ft. or more. Once we cleared our driveway and dug out the Ford, I waited for it to warm up a bit and went to the barn around lunch time.

None of the horses were turned out since the stable hands were still in the process of shoveling and plowing the snow off the driveways on the farm. The stalls were clean and every horse was just relaxing with their lunchtime hay. Rugby was glad to see me. I got the feeling he wanted out today and I was going to give him his wish!

I put his rope halter and groundwork lunge line on, and we headed to the small riding ring behind the barn. I was thrilled that the guys hadn't plowed there yet and we would be the first ones to "break" the snow!

I have always loved first dibs on messing up fresh snow. Whether riding through it on horseback or walking on it, I love being the first to put my prints down. I think Rugby feels the same. As soon as we walked out the barn door he wasted no time walking out into it and then started pawing it in big, dramatic fashion! First one front foot, then the other. I had to laugh. It got funnier when I walked him out to the middle of the arena and sent him out to lunge. He started trotting and picking up his feet in this big, prancey-pants trot. He looked adorable (and totally sound!). Then, when I brought him back to the walk, he stopped and started pawing the snow again. So I let him and watched to see what he'd do. He pawed a bit, then bent his knees like he was going down to roll, but stopped on his knees, took his entire head and plowed it into the snow! He looked like he was diving into it! Then he jumped up, bucked and cantered around on the lunge.

What a goofball! He cantered a bit, then I stopped him and changed direction. He walked around to the same spot, stopped, pawed and this time went down for a good roll! All four feet in the air and snow flying everywhere. Pure joy! When he got up and shook himself off, he trotted around a bit more and then I let him quit with that.

By now, my monster truck of a horse had made a nice lunging path in the snow and it was easier for the next boarder to walk out with her little horse.

But the best, the very best for me was my barefoot horse strolled back into the barn without any chunky ice balls wedged into his hooves!! His hooves were immaculate! I have always HATED dealing with the problem of impacted snow in shod hooves. My fear is taking the horse out to get a little exercise and getting so balled up that they twist an ankle walking on that crap. In the past, I've had snowball pads put on with the horse shoes (I found them to just be "okay" for the purpose of preventing snow build-up) and tried things like smearing Vaseline in the hooves before riding but I see being able to go with nature's design has even more benefits.

I hope Rugby's Christmas gifts arrive by mail from Dover Saddlery before Friday. The big guy made out like a fat rat from Santa. He's getting some flashy new Amigo Horseware clothes, a leather halter, an anti-sweat rug and a peppermint stall ball from my kids. It's good to be a horse in this family! :)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A poem about cold weather and horses

I don't like the cold, no sirree.
My horse gets too frisky, you see.
He wants to get bucky which makes my ride sucky,
so I guess it's more groundwork for me.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Pictures of the Big Guy!!!

Finally! Riding pictures of Rugby and me! These were taken when I rode him after the hoof trimming last Sunday and it's the first time I've seen how we look together under saddle. I think we make a good team but I'll let the pictures speak for themselves :)

What a good boy! He looks like he's sleeping in the sun after our ride!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Warm and Fuzzy

I am so not a photographer. My dubious talent is only compounded by the inadequacies of my cell phone camera. Due to the rain all day, last night's barn visit was a routine leg/body check and hoof picking, followed by a handful of treats in Rugby's bucket and a smooch goodnight. I decided to snap a shot of him in his new sheet with my cell phone at the last minute. Standing still and posing is something Rugby does with no problem, LOL.