Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Belated Christmas Pictures!!

We actually did take Christmas pictures this year, but they were part of a present that was being mailed out of the country and customs decided to just plunk it's fat ass down on them and they ended up being late. Because they were a surprise, I didn't want to flood the internet with cuteness until the intended recipient actually got to view them.

Anyways! They have arrived. Because some of them are just too cute for words, I decided I need to share more of them on the internet. Many thanks to Redheadlins for taking the pictures and hiding them from me until the time was right because my head would have exploded if I couldn't share such cute pictures.
The old man horse in all his fuzzy glory


So lovable!

Just getting to know Courage

I was having a good hair day
It's New Years Eve. I'm working on setting goals for next year and hope to get that post up in the next week or so. Hope everyone is warm and well!

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Year in Review!!

Probably my favorite aspect of having a blog is just the ability it gives me to look back over my life and see where I've been and where I'm headed. I love this time of year--I look through my posts from the past year and pick out one per month that really summarized what that month was about. I usually try to do a goals wrap up, but that was an epic fail this year for reasons completely out of my control. Instead of worrying about that, let's look at what happened in 2013!

I hate winter


This goes down as the second most miserable month of my life and I was I was being hyperbolic. I was laid off from my office job and picked up full time hours at the barn just in time for Idaho to experience three weeks of record breaking cold. Highs in the single digits, lows below zero, and I was struggling just to put gas in my car. Did I mention the barn had no power and the hydrants all froze and I was hand-carrying buckets to all 17 horses? Here's a post I wrote just before the cold really got bad: Winter Sets In.

Best Valentines


Basically I just appreciated what Cuna and I had going. I wrote One Year and One Day to celebrate our first anniversary. The real take away from February was just reflecting on what great things Cuna had been able to do for me.

From the day we met <3

I realized the value of a schoolmaster and overcame some lingering mental blocks about what I perceived as failures on my part with the mare I sold last year. Here's the post that sums up my feelings on the matter: Honesty and Horsemanship

handwalking is not his favorite


Cuna and I were taking some dressage lessons and advancing quickly. In Fancy Pants Dressage, I talk about the progress we were making. My blogging was down that month--Cuna was having some odd problems that didn't make sense. Little things here and there were popping up. None of them were concerning on their own, but putting the pieces together wasn't making a lot of sense. Cuna tied up on a trail ride in March, summed up in the post: A Scare

flicky toes


More changes. Cuna and I kept working hard at the dressage with an occasional jump lesson. Elbows on Fire is a post where I talk about our breakthroughs. I got his hocks injected again and he was in fine form. His body looked like a proper dressage horse and his neck was incredible.

hacking out
We were also getting pretty burned out on arena work. He and I started hacking down the roads around the barn to visit friends and meet new people. I could trust him in the worst of conditions and one of our friends took pictures of him in her field, chronicled in Coversation Starter.

more handwalking


The shit hit the fan in May. Cuna was brilliant in our jumping clinic and exceptional at our dressage show. That was the last time he was sound. Again, little things weren't adding up and I blogged about it in Stuck.

His team at work

After his public successes, Cuna continued to get progressively more lame despite all the management changes that were made. We made a joint appointment with his vet and farrier and took him in. It wasn't all smooth sailing. I summarized the appointment in Cuna Update.

a moment in time


There was nothing easy about June. Cuna was trying to get better, but it was a very long process. He made strides at first and we took his picture in Happy. Shortly after that, he regressed. I kept away from the show barn as much as possible, because it was just too hard to watch everyone else doing what I knew Cuna couldn't.

still together
I spent in a new part of the horse industry: the racetrack. It went from a fun night out with friends to showing up to help out several times a week and get my horsey fix as noted in At the Track. At the end of the month, I made the decision to retire Cuna instead of torturing both of us over something we couldn't change in the post Towards Healing.

after a bath


It started out slow. We hit record high temperatures while Cuna hung out in the shade at his new home. In The New Normal, I talk about the dealing with the emotions of letting go of a career for the horse I love the most. His shoes got pulled and he just got to be a horse with no plans or goals.

meet Courage!
I spent increasingly more time at the track. I was having fun out of the saddle and things were going along just swimmingly until I accidentally ended up bringing a second horse home. It was the beginning of a more hopeful era summed up in The Road Goes Ever On and On.

important Cuna stuff to do


Courage came to join us, but Cuna was still my main man. He was taking it slow in the field, which I talk about in Can't Forget Cuna.

bay ears!
Courage came straight off the track and started under saddle. He continued to prove that he was the second most awesome horse on the planet by going on field trips to group lessons and getting his first set of real horse shoes which he tried to eat in Taking Off the Gym Shoes. He learned important skills like eating cookies and lunging and was the first bright spot for me all summer, which I talk about in One Month of Awesome.

first show!


I was dealing with the emotions of letting Cuna retire. In Honesty, I talk about how hard it was for me when our relationship changed. Courage was helping me stay focused and upbeat. He demonstrated his road-warrior brain when he didn't even flinch about going to his first horse show in Showtime for Courage.

artsy fun!
Based on our success there, I took him to his first ever XC clinic and wrote the Wrapup here. As long as we were out and about, I also took him to a big group lesson so we could practice having horses go by and jumps fall down. He rocked my world in Only the Best Idea Ever.

love them


In keeping with our up tempo pace, Courage and I participated in the two point challenge. I talked about the year for Cuna and why I decided to retire him.

Courage continued to impress as he went on his first ever trail ride and acted like a total pro. Ellie came out to visit with us. She got to be in the Cuna photoshoot and she did the first ever proper pictures of Courage.

Courage got his own micklem bridle and he finally started to figure out this whole jumping thing.


We carried on, full speed ahead! We went on another trail ride with an exciting adventure. Courage started to really get this jumping thing down. He got clipped for the first time as a sporthorse and rocked out with his stars. We also had to work through some residual groundwork issues.

the best at lessons
We hit the lesson circuit hard at the end of the month.

legit cold lesson
December: It's been really quiet this month. We did get to ride one time. I talked about my past and why I make some of the choices I do in Amateur Hour. The boys are taking some well-deserved time off due to absolutely miserable weather that refuses to end.

love this
It's been a wild ride! This year went absolutely nothing like I planned or expected it to. Let's face it: I started the year working full time at a show barn with Cuna all set to move up and ended the year sans barn job but with two horses.

Thursday, December 26, 2013


My family doesn't believe in buying me horsey things. They think I'm some sort of addict who shouldn't be enabled more than I already am.

I say I can only have one hobby, so I might as well go for it.

As such...

He is the best at modeling 
The little dude got a brand new (used) bridle! It's a strangely nice Circuit figure eight in cob size that actually fits him and looks pretty smashing on his face if I do say so myself.

I would never, ever buy a Circuit new, but I have to say that I'm totally blown away by this one. I didn't expect to like it, but I do. It's slightly raised and not fancy stitched and someone looks SO CUTE in it.

My blogger secret santa sent me the luxurious and wonderful Higher Standards soap, which I already blogged about. I will do a proper review once the holidays are over, but I really do love it.

I was surprised and elated when Me over at Charlie and Me sent a Christmas present too!!

It's the conditioner to match the soap. I was wildly excited, so I spent a whole evening cleaning and conditioning the new bridle. Too much fun!

And then!

Niamh over at Life of Riley (who makes the stunning paper cuts) has been working on one for Cuna for a while now and it showed up just before Christmas!!

I don't know how to photograph it in such a way that shows how cool it is in person. It completely captured the photo and the moment and I love it.

I know I'm a bit late, but Merry Christmas to all! I hope you and your ponies are well.

Monday, December 23, 2013

When/Why to Clip

Cuna in 2012
For those lucky folks who haunt the aisles of show barns, clipping is so basic that it doesn't need explaining. For the rest, sometimes it helps to get a basic rundown.

Why We Clip

A horse in work is going to sweat. In the summer, we just hose them off and call it good. In the winter, they grow more hair and it's way too cold to use a hose. Even if you have a indoor, heated wash rack, the hosing will get them very wet and the hair takes forever to dry. (Also if you have one of those, don't talk to me). A wet horse is a cold horse. Moisture on the skin can cause funk. Getting long hair to dry frequently takes longer than the ride itself.

So we clip.

That said. If your horse doesn't sweat during your winter rides, by all means, LEAVE HIS HAIR ALONE. There are many cool properties of equine hair and it's best utilized when actually on the horse.

First full clip of the 2012 season

What We Clip

First things first--if you are in a program with a trainer, whether boarding at their barn or hauling in on a regular basis, please ask the trainer what they prefer. You are representing their program and they have worked hard to be where they are. Some don't care. Many do. If you are committed to the trainer's philosophy, show your respect by honoring their wishes here, ESPECIALLY if you will be showing over the winter.

If not, think about your horses's lifestyle and workload. If your horse is in a warm stall in a barn, you can take lots of hair off. If your horse is turned out a lot or lives outside, I'd make a note of where he sweats the most and then limit my clipping to that area. The more hair your horse still has, the warmer she's going to be. Here is a link to a great list of different types of standard clips.

What That Changes

Courage rocking the sheet
If you have removed your horse's natural line of defense against the cold, you are now responsible to replace it with something equally warm. Please, please, please think about this before you even turn the clippers on. I know this varies according to your local climate and your horse's particular biology, but be aware that horses can get very cold. Not only does this mean they eat more, it is miserable. They don't get to go inside your warm house and take a hot shower, so be aware of what you're doing.

Cuna runs hot--he's a big horse and he really isn't a fan of blankets. Courage runs cold and has very fine hair, so he takes a lot more coverage. For Cuna, I had a cotton sheet, a waterproof sheet, a medium weight blanket, a neck cover, and a 200 g liner. For Courage, I've added a heavy weight blanket into the mix. I layer up according to the temperatures.

Modeling the heavy
Not only do I have to keep the boys warm, but it's also important to keep them from overheating. A horse trapped in a too-heavy blanket for the day is at best uncomfortable and at worst, a huge colic risk. Plus there's the "I sweated under my blanket and now I am cold" problem.

This is a lot of maintenance. If you are in a full care situation or keep your horses at home, that's not a problem. It is something to be aware of if your horse is boarded out, though.

It's Worth It

Tommy, a cute client horse
As long as you supply the proper blankets and take care of your horse, clipping is awesome. I don't love the furry horse look and I can't stand waiting around for two hours for my horse to dry. With a clipped horse, you rarely even have to use a cooler! Just hop off, quick brush, and re-blanket. Voila!!

Who clips their horses? How do you decide which clip to use?

Friday, December 20, 2013

WE RIDE!! (and it is so bloody cold)

I know at the beginning of the week, I said I'd only go to the lesson if I got to ride Monday and Tuesday, since C-rage has done nothing for three weeks. Instead of clearing up, the fog got thicker and the ice got slicker and Courage did nothing. And then Wednesday morning came and Redheadlins and I were like "screw it, we're going" and we stuffed the ponies in the trailer and headed off to the trainer's barn.

I did warn the trainer that it was most likely going to be terrible and that Courage was just coming to get out of the ice, so we weren't doing the lesson, just lunging in the arena.

"Please don't embarrass me"
We had to go to an arena Courage had never seen before, complete with tiptoeing across packed snow and ice to get there. He had an epic spook at "something" while we tried to chill out along the rail.

He was sort of keeping it together, so I threw on his bridle and clipped the lunge line on.

Looking so calm
It was foggy and about 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Courage hasn't been able to trot around his field in three weeks.

He's had crazy eyes for the past week and a half.

Oh, and the arena was full of other greenies coming from similar work schedules.

Showing off for the only non-greenie in the arena
It was really more like flying a kite.

I was actually impressed--we had a couple of leaping/WHERE R MI LEGZ moments, but mostly he stuck his head straight up in the air and trotted. And trotted. And then trotted some more. I got him to canter a little bit, but he wasn't losing his mind trotting and I knew he needed to blow off steam.

As long as he wasn't going to be crazy, I wasn't going to push him. Trotting is great.

So fancy
Frankly, he was putting on the best kind of show. I had warned everyone in the lesson that he was going to be horrible and a nut and all manner of bad things. I even told my co-workers that I was going to get bucked off.

And this is what he gave me. Gorgeous, animated, suspension. He whinnied a couple of times, but since his supermodel girlfriend was along, he was actually pretty settled.

Looking pretty relaxed
I hand walked him around the arena once and he was really good. He was a little damp from all the trotting, so I knew I either had to throw his cooler on and call it a day or get on and keep him going.

So I got on.

Little man was foot perfect.

We walked around and stayed out of the way of the people jumping. He didn't flinch. I was having some serious "oh THIS is why I love this horse" moments, not gonna lie.

Extra careful
We picked up the trot. Instead of sticking his ears up my nostrils and flailing his legs around, Courage reached his neck forward and down and stepped out. BAM! I was beyond impressed.

We even sort of joined in on the exercise. We started out trotting some poles. He canter/leaped them the first time, but then trotted through like a champ. I couldn't believe how calm and collected he was.

Why is the crazy lady wearing my clothes?
Then the instructor directed us to trot the poles, go around the corner, and jump a little box in the snow. Courage trotted in, then halted politely in front of it.

Wasn't his fault I asked him to cross the great wall of China, haha.

We did a little circle, then he let the instructor lead him over the tiny box. A light bulb flashed on. Not the great wall! A jump!

He's got this
And guess who is the best at jumps?


He didn't even hesitate after that. Once he understood the question, he trotted right in, snapped his knees up over it, and landed cantering.

The last time through our instructor played "Eye of the Tiger" for him and he shook his head when he landed. Little dude was so proud of himself.

We even got invited back to ride as long as the arena is good. I am so.excited. It was beyond awesome to be back in the tack. This little horse is going to be so awesome.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas Time!!

I've spent the past week being anxious/depressed/generally annoyed because I hate winter. Then Wednesday I got my first ride this month (more on that later) AND my blogger secret santa present. Thank you so much to Amanda over at An Eventful life!!! I just found her blog (and like it) and I am super excited to use the soap. :-D Plus it's perfect timing since I just dirtied my tack.

Also thanks to Tracy at Fly on Over for organizing the exchange. :-) This day makes me so happy.

I think I can deal with a few more weeks of fog and cold and snow now that I have beautiful soap to try out and sniff.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Ponies in Snow

On my way to work
It's decision time. Courage and I got invited to go play in a lesson on Wednesday, but the little man hasn't been ridden since Thanksgiving weekend due to ice and snow. We don't have an indoor and he's wearing shoes, so snow is a no-go for us.

I wasn't out this weekend, but my BO is optimistic about the arena. If I can ride him today and tomorrow, we will do the lesson. If not, I just don't think it's fair to him to try and accomplish anything.

He wants to do something
The high for the week is supposed to be 35f and it's cold and foggy now. I'm crossing my fingers.

I've been working a ton, which is great from a money perspective.

It also means that I've been spending way too much time shopping for bridles for the little guy. I can't believe I've had him almost five months and he only has one bridle.

We can't all be this fabulous
This handsome man is retired and still has three of his own, one of which he hasn't even been ridden in since I bought it post-incident (but pre-Courage) this summer.

He actually had six bridles before I started thinning the collection when he retired. Since he was only active with me for about a year, that's one bridle every two months.

I know. I have a problem.

It's a problem that would be fixed by getting some actual saddle some. Wish me sun!!
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