Monday, October 31, 2011

End of Hell Month

October is one of the most beautiful months of the year. It is also completely insane, so I'm incredibly happy to see it go.

Don't believe me? I have been out of town every weekend this month except the last one. I work 30 hours a week at my office job and 10 hours a week at Izzy's current barn. A week ago, I tacked on another 20 hours a week with our beloved event trainer.

Oh, and I have a house, husband, two dogs, one cat, and some rabbits to take care of. Plus, eveything is far apart, so I spend a good chunk of every day in the car.

Beautiful or not, I can't want for tomorrow. This pretty pony face will be moving to the event barn with me, and the crazy will subside a little.

Funny story: I was riding Izzy on Sunday. As we walked to the outdoor arena, she proceeded to have a massive heart attack over 1) a bush 2) a tree 3) the road) 4) a trailer 5) the indoor. All in the space of like 3 minutes.

Ok, moving on... HEART ATTACK!!!! Her roomie, a sweet little morgan mare, was calmly walking over to the outdoor to go for a ride. She was just getting over the drama of there being ANOTHER HORSE in the arena with her when...


Yes, two of her friends were coming back from a trail ride. Clearly a cause for anxiety.

The only thing worse than calm trail horse returning to the barn was OMFG THERE IS A WATER TROUGH!!!!

I have no idea what's gotten in to her, but it was pretty hilarious.

PS This is my 500th post. Cool!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Mighty Irish

Stephanie's out of town to teach a clinic, so I thought I would just breeze through morning chores at the barn.

Feed? Check.
Rinse buckets and prepare beetpulp? Check.
Begin morning turnouts? Check.
Pull manes and touch-up clip all horses going to Galway on Monday?


I got it (mostly) done, but it took a while. Thankfully, I really like pulling manes. The two horses I did not have to do are the lovely Irish chaps. Now, anyone who knows about my equine preferences knows I hate Irish horses. It may be because they make me insecure, but they're just so bullheaded and sensitive and intelligent and cold blooded and I don't really like anything about them. I don't mind watching other people ride them, but I have never wanted to ride one myself.

So here they are:

This is Vivika, a 3 year old Irish mare. I hate greys and I hate Irish, but she is pretty sweet. Since she's three, Galway isn't in her future this year, and I did not pull her mane, though I suspect she will get tidied up next time I have free time. Lovely.

And here is Foster. He's very flashy and fancy and is a big, dumb love. I did his mane yesterday, because he is most definitely Galway-bound.

He's basically the size of a tank. You know how you can usually pull the bottom of a horse's mane just fine but need a stool to reach the top? Yeah, I need the stool to reach the bottom of his mane. For serious.

He's also roughly as wide as he is tall, and none of it is fat.


He likes his cookies.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pony Loves

I'm currently juggling three jobs. I'm not in college any more, and I can tell.

My house is in a very central location--it's 25 minutes south to see Izzy. It's 25 minutes north to work for Stephanie. Thank God, my non-horsey-job is about 2 minutes from my house.

So you see my dilemma--Izzy and one barn job are about an hour drive from Stephanie and the more important and consuming barn job. Oh, and the whole horse thing is facilitated by many hours at the actual job.

I am not doing a very good job of keeping up, sadly. Yesterday I was at Stephanie's barn from 8.30-12.30. Then I was at work from 1-6. Then I went home, fed my husband and the creatures, and sprinted out to the barn to fulfill my duties as stall cleaner as darkness fell. With the help of my incredibly awesome light-up hat (I so need to take a picture. I love this thing.), I made it to Izzy's pasture in the pitch darkness. I petted her and put her shoulder guard on and fed her cookies. Awww. I love her.

Then it's 25 minutes home to change clothes and take the dogs for a run in the dark.

Rinse and repeat.

November 1, you cannot come soon enough (except I have a massive amount of crap to get done this weekend, too).

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wherein I Fall in Love

For the record: my life is amazing. Yes, I'm beyond busy and barely have time to sit down (shhhh, I'm working) but OMG I have a pony and a pony job and a real job and everything is awesome.

My official duties as barn worker are getting squared away. I'm responsible for turnout, grooming, feeding, and morning blanket changes. I also do other things as needed.

Today was brilliant. Stephanie told me yesterday that we were going trotting, which meant that I would be on someone other than Izzy, since she hasn't moved in yet. I told myself I was excited for a chance to ride a fancy trained horse and not terrified because they're all a bit nutty and we would be on a trail up a mountain.

Here's the horse I rode:

This is Zymon. He's a 6 year old mutt gelding who is training to be Stephanie's personal horse (I think). Mutt is technically defined as American Warmblood Something x Appendix. Despite his breeding, he is a lovely mover and quite sweet.

Also, he's flipping awesome on trails. This is important because 1) I am not and 2) trails in Idaho are fairly strenuous. Seriously. We rode up a mountain, down the other side, back up, and down again. It's trot sets, Idaho-style.

Despite being a cute young greenie, Zymon boldly lead the way most of the time. He's opinionated and egotistical and completely adorable. He's kind of like a corgi, minus the funny conformation. Dare I say it? Izzy has a small reason to be jealous, at least until he pulls a stupid gelding stunt. I must say, it was the most fun trail ride and/or trot sets I have -ever- done.

He had one semi-big spook right before we got on the trail at some birds flying up, but between my full seat breeches, his easy movement, and the completely amazing saddle I was riding on (custom CWD jump saddle. OMG), it was no big deal.

Why it's a bad idea for a tack whore to intern with a trainer with a lot of nice tack is a whole 'nother story for a different post. Wow.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

First Day on the Job

I have committed a serious blogger faux pas--I started my new and pretty danged awesome job this morning and I took no pictures. Oops.

Also, I tried Izzy's old winter blanket that she hasn't worn since she was 5 on her last night. It barely buckled and her tummy hung out below it. Awesome. Unfortunately, it was also stupid cold last night, so she had to wear it anyways. Again, no pictures.

So here's the basic rundown. It was 22f this morning (ack!! cold!), so I didn't even have to be at the barn until 8.30am. Whoa, way late. I even got dinner in the slow cooker and housework done before I left. We started out by setting a full jump course in the upper arena. That is a quick way to warm up--solid wood poles and standards are heavy.

After that, I got to move tack trunks around (whee!) and alternately turn horses out, bring them in, and tack them up for Stephanie to ride. This is like the horse job from heaven--I do not have to clean stalls. As a person who's spent more than half of my life shoveling manure, I really enjoy this perk. Thus far, they have mostly been pleasant, well behaved creatures, so I'm hoping that stays as is as much as possible.

Also, I may be riding an actual horse tomorrow. It's been a really, really long time since I've ridden any horse other than Ms. Mare, so we'll see how that goes.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Win a Sweet Prize!

I'm sure you're all aware of my fly bonnet fixation. (It's only a mild problem, really.) Anyways, my little heart fluttered when I found out that I could win one. OMG!

Go here to enter to win a De La Coeur fly bonnet. Just don't beat me. It's all I ask. ;-)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Overachiever Drama

Yesterday, as I was browsing through blogs and horsey websites, I came across something I had never seen before: a blanket sizing chart from the manufacturer. OMG. Usually, if anyone like myself, who lives in english-riding-hell (ie no tackstores, period) wants to buy something, they have to first find it on the internet, then read ridiculous amounts of reviews, then check for sizing comments by end users, then evaluate the end users to see if they are actually credible, then make a guess as to what size options are necessary.

It's painful, but it's all we've got. Anyways. Based on the official manufacturer chart that I found, Izzy's new blanket that was sitting in my living room was completely the wrong size. Meaning, it would be about a foot too big.

I promptly freaked out. How am I going to come up with money to buy more blankets right now? OMG. Ouch. Not happening! Nerves! As soon as I could get away from work, I raced home, threw it in the car, and drove to the barn.

Fortunately, it fits absolutely perfectly. I'd actually never taken it out of the box before and I must say, I'm completely smitten. The leg arches are SO FREAKING COOL and it's really, really soft, which I did not expect from a turnout.

In fact, I'm -highly- tempted to continue saving pennies and get her a second one new. >.> We'll see how that goes.

Poor pony mare was not overly enthused about trying on her winter blanket over her winter coat in 65+ degree weather.

My plans for the day had already been derailed because my boarder friend wasn't able to ride with me, so instead we tacked up for a dressage ride.

Is she adorable or what?

The more tack-whorish, ahem, astute among may be aghast that Izzy is sporting open fronts with dressage tack. I have one thing to say to you:

If I pay $70 for a set of boots, I am going to put them on pretty much everything with legs all the time. Besides, the black and white motiff looks cute.

We had a nice, if unspectacular, ride. I still don't feel like we're connecting right and I'd really like a lesson to sort it out, but that's another story for another day.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Finding Our Way

I rode Izzy on Monday night, our first ride in almost a week. We had to ride indoors, so it was dusty and I felt cramped in the small area, plus the footing sucks.

Plus neither of us had worked in 6 days.

I could make a whole list of excuses, but it was a totally lackluster ride. We had a few moments that were ok, but nothing worth talking about. After stewing about it all day Tuesday at work, I came up with a new plan.

So yesterday I put the jump tack on Izzy--not to jump, but just to ride around in. I put her super cute boots on and we went to the outdoor area. Solo's mom had mentioned working over variable terrain get Izzy to watch her footing more, and if the footing in the outdoor is anything right now, it's variable. (Someone tried to work it with the tractor while it was still basically a lake. Now we have ruts! And sinkholes!)

I kept Izzy on a long, loopy rein as we walked, trotted, and cantered around. I focused on keeping her forward. We went through the ruts and over the sink holes. I tried to adjust my position so that I felt secure just trotting around.

And slowly, things started to change. With no rein contact, I had to ride more with my body. Stephanie is always telling me that it's ok if Izzy looks--that means she's attentive, which is good. When Izzy looked at something, I kept her going forward and just turned my body the opposite direction to make sure she was still tuned in to me. She was.

I started putting the reins and whip in one hand, then reaching my other hand up over head or back, to allow myself to move my body without disrupting our balance. Then I'd switch hands while Izzy just kept motoring along.

After I felt like we'd gone forward enough, I dropped Izzy back to walk and we wandered the whole barn area. Around the indoor, past the dry lots, across the road, over the bridge, around the track. I felt more relaxed and in tune with her than I have in two weeks.

On the agenda for today is a trail rider with a fellow boarder who has a nice quiet horse. Watch for the reappearance of the western warmblood.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

An Open Letter to Der Dau

Dear Smartpak Catalog and Der Dau Boot Company:

Every time I flip through your glossy pages, my eyes settle on these gorgeous, luxurious boots. Their graceful shape, their intelligent cut, their quality leather, even the little detail on the pull tab, all call to me.

They are my dream boots.

I will never own them.

No matter how beautiful your boots are, no matter how perfectly your custom options might work for me, I absolutely refuse to spend $800 on some foot protection that I will be tromping through horse urine and rubbing with sweat, inside and out.

You may make the most beautiful boots in the world and I may be a ridiculous tack whore, but I will never, ever own them. I simply cannot imagine spending a saddle's worth on money on boots.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Pony Feet

Rest assured my friends: despite my inconsistent riding and blogging, my tiny little brain has been churning like mad lately. Here's the root of the issue: hoofcare.

A huge number of bloggers keep their horses barefoot with pictures of healthy hooves, sound horses, and even competition results to go along with them. Of course, there are plenty of you out there who do the same with shod horses, but...

Izzy spends most of her time barefoot, in general. I like it because it's cheap and I'm poor. She got front shoes on this summer because she was not dealing well with flood irrigation and the ridiculously rocky footing we have in the desert. In theory, I'm fine with this. I wholeheartedly believe that some horses can go barefoot and some can't, and there's no point in worrying too much about it one way or the other.

Here's the kicker--while I will never pretend to be any sort of high performance athlete, I do run to keep myself fit to be a rider. I have found that I am at my best when using the very least in footwear--minimalist shoes that allow me to feel "barefoot" while protecting me from the hazards of an urban environment. I am more balanced, have better posture, am more comfortable, and am far more aware of how I am using my feet and my body.

Furthermore, Andrea mentioned some months ago that in her observation, horses were frequently more clumsy when shod, to the tune of tripping and stumbling more often. At the time, I wrote it off as circumstantial evidence from a biased observer (sorry), but that was when my mare was barefoot and almost never tripped on anything.

On to the past month. We still have nasty, rocky footing. Izzy is fine walking over the rocks in her shoes, but when we work, I've noticed that she tends to trip a LOT more than before. Yes, the footing is crap, but it's been crap all along. It's just that now her ground feel and feedback is reduced that she's begun having problems.

There is an obvious solution to this: pull the shoes. This is what I'd do this time of year anyways. The only problem is that as of 11/1/11, Izzy and I are moving in with beloved event trainer to spend 6 months working hard. That is exactly two weeks from now. (OMG 2 weeks from this very second I will be with my pony at the barn!!!!)

Two weeks simply does not seem like enough time to try and re-transition Izzy to barefoot in preparation for a serious training regime over presumably also-rocky terrain. In fact, it seems rather hair-brained. I'm going to contact my (very pro-barefoot) farrier and get an opinion, but I'd like some thoughts from you guys, too. How long would it take to successfully switch a shod horse back to barefoot? Have you done it? Are you currently (or have you in the past) dealt with barefoot performance horses?

Am I completely insane to even think about this? My plan was to stay in shoes for 6 months, then go back to barefoot when we moved back to our current barn, but 6 months is sounding like a long time of a stumbly horse.

If you have a barefoot horse with occasional tenderfoot issues, how have you dealt with it? Please, share your thoughts. Obviously, if I'm going to move on this, it needs to be sooner rather than later.

World's most beautiful big mare appreciates your opinions.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dressaging Pony

When I was in highschool (ie taking regular riding lessons), I got up to 1st level dressage stuff before taking a long break. As I think most of you are aware, I haven't had any semblance of "regular" lessons since then. I just get a smattering, here and there.

So. At this point, I'd say I've pretty much taught Izzy everything I know about dressage. She goes willingly forward into contact at the walk, trot and canter. She can do small transitions within gaits, and is reliable at leg yielding (both directions) and shoulder in (confirmed left, very close right). We do nice trot/halt/trot transitions, she has a decent reinback, and she's just plain fun to ride.

All that said, Izzy is starting to get bored. Now that she's mastered what I'm asking of her, she can do it and let her attention completely wander. She's like me--we need challenges.

The only problem is that I have nothing to challenge her with. I started a new exercise last night--we'd ride deep into the corner before the longside, then leg yield out to quarter line, straight for a stride, and leg yield back before the next corner. It was fun and challenging for both of us. My thinking is that it will force me to be more correct and ride straighter, which will hopefully prep her for lateral movements that move in the direction of the bend, instead of away from it.

I'm also adding in canter leg yields. I'm hesitant to do too much with the canter without further instruction because I tend to ride her too slow and short and I've never really had any instruction in it.

Thanks to the gorgeous pictures that Ellie took, I have been able to correct some rather glaring position flaws (not visible in this picture), so I'm riding it better, but I still don't know what to do.

And I guess I'm saying all this today because I have been able to coordinate absolutely zero lessons for Izzy and I this month. Nothing. Nada. The dressage trainer who owes me two lessons and lives 10 minutes away is "too busy" and the trainer we're going to be moving in with soon is of course, way busy moving down here anyways. Oh, and October is the month from hell for me anyways.

So... Izzy is enjoying some pretty easy weeks while I try to stay afloat. She's muddy, fat, and happy, and I keep reminding myself not to stress.

After all, boot camp for both of us starts in just less than three weeks.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


It's been a long road and Gogo says it's time to let go.

Godspeed, Gogo. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Andrea.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

It's Raining

The weather is remarkable only because we broke a record last month for the hottest September on record ever here. Also, it hadn't rained since the first week of June.

Izzy is taking full advantage of the weather. She got yesterday off and spent it standing in the rain (outside her perfectly good shelter) and rolling in the mud. Hey, at least she's happy.

It's pouring rain again today, so I'm thinking it's time for that annual ritual we all enjoy: mud boot shopping.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Hard to Say Goodbye

I know most of you have tracked with Andrea and Gogo through their blog, Eventing-A-Gogo. They've had their ups and downs, but lately, it's unfortunately been mostly downs. Last month, I teamed up with some of my favorite other bloggers to put together a parting gift for Andrea, just like she did for Brooke and Denali last year.

All the time, we were hoping against hope--wishing for a miracle. Denali pulled through somehow, and even as I typed, I was praying for another solution, for something to change for the gregarious Gogo.

I number among the many bloggers who never met Gogo or Andrea in person, but have followed and been impacted by their lives and shenanigans from afar. I've laughed alongside many others as Gogo lorded her queenship over her tiny herd, and now I find myself in tears, thinking of Andrea and what she's facing.

Denali's Mom, Stacey, Checkmark115, and I talked last month about putting together a gift for Andrea as a memorial to Gogo. We are along the road to having it completed, but if you would like to contribute, please paypal any amount you can afford to . If you want to know what we're planing or have ideas to contribute, contact any one of us for details.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Running on Fumes

It was a crazy busy weekend (and fun!), so I haven't had time to put some cohesive goals together for this month. I'll think about that and instead distract you with some pretty pictures.

Here's what an equestrian does when the beagle needs a walk and the leash is in her husband's car. Yes, that's a rein.

For good measure, here's both my dogs. They are ridiculously adorable.

In keeping with the cute theme, here's Izzy getting ready to go ground driving. Of course she has to wear her super cute new boots. :-)

I had the saddle out because I meant to ride, but was too tired.

Pony mare hooked up to drive. She's pretty cute.

Since I am not the world's best groundwork person, at one point I got Izzy totally tangled up in the lines. Fortunately, she's a smart cookie, so I just dropped everything and said "whoa".

She stopped and gave me this look that just said, "Get over here and fix this, idiot".

Check this out! As a belated birthday present, Rinsie and Rev got Izzy and I a fabulously orange glowing nylon bridle. Yeah, pretty amazing. I'm going to deck her out in her orange and blue polos with orange bridle sometime this week.

Nothing like a dressage pony turned football fan, is there? Ha.

Yeah, we're pretty awesome together.

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