Monday, November 30, 2015

Crossroads Charity Pleasure Horse Show 11/21/15

The pictures finally went up - so now I can tell you about last weekend's show!

Last Saturday, O and I attended the last show of the season. I was kind of hit-and-miss on attending, as the weather was awful (a cold front dropped the temperature from about 70 degrees to 30 degrees overnight, with a strong 30mph wind with gusts over 50mph), but I decided to go anyway. Unfortunately, everyone else wimped out and we were the only driving full size horse there, us and another driving mini. There were three classes we had entered - driving turnout, driving pleasure, and a cones course - and even though we were the only ones and obviously going to win the classes, we went ahead and dressed up anyway. Why not, right? We bothered to come so why not dress up! 

The one problem with the showgrounds we were at was the wind. The show was held at the Parker County Sheriff's Posse showgrounds (yes, there is an actual sheriff's posse here, that really is a thing), and while it is a great little arena for all the throngs of people that come to the fun rodeos that go on here, one thing that it isn't great for is being empty in the wind. It was COLD and howling wind, and the whole arena is surrounded by giant, rattling metal bleachers. They were making all kinds of horrible creaking, groaning, vibrating noises, and they were nonstop and LOUD. When we arrived, O was shivering under her sheet and screaming bloody murder, so I spent a few minutes walking her around in the arena to let her get acclimated. Thankfully, after a couple of small starts, she quieted down. I have to give her credit - she is a pretty cool cucumber in a new situation. Either she just has that kind of personality, or all of the miles of trails we did with her during her first year with me really made a difference for her. We really flooded her with things to think about during that first year, and I think it helped her just kind of accept things as they are and get down to business no matter what is going on. 

Had there been more people, the classes would have been run more seriously, but as it was they were nice enough to give us each time in the ring, going both directions at a slow trot, working trot, and strong trot (the speeds used in most pleasure classes), walk, and halt in the middle. At a regular pleasure show in a working or turnout class, the judge comes by, inspects all your gear, asks to see your spares kit, and asks you to back up. In a regular turnout class, 70% is judges on your condition of harness/vehicle, fit, cleanliness, spares, and how appropriate everything is (i.e. not wearing country gear with a formal turnout, etc), and 30% is judges on the manners and way of going of the horse. This ratio is more or less flipped for a working class - 70% judged on manners, performance, and way of going of the horse, and 30% on your attire and harness/vehicle/appointments/etc. 

While O was a little bit looky on our first lap around, she settle in and calmed down on the second lap, and was quite fine. I wasn't asked for much from her - she was mostly trotting around with her head up, looking around - but it didn't matter, because she was quiet and attentive. She did break into the canter when I asked for a strong trot - this isn't something we've practiced much, so I don't blame her for it at all. If I plan on actually doing pleasure shows in the future, I have a lot of practice work to do there. This mare's strongest suits are how quickly she can turn, and her neverending endurance. That said, she is not exactly known for being super malleable and totally willing to just do whatever she is told, or capable of really handling complicated tasks. Simple dressage tests are relatively easy for her to handle, but she really shines out on cones and will really be great at marathon - as long as I steer accurately she's always on target. 

I wouldn't say our turnout was great - I had to stuff her earnet underneath her bridle when it was already on, because the wind was blowing too hard to put it on her head before the bridle was on - it just kept blowing off. Since I was prepping by myself, I dressed and then harnessed, which meant that my apron slipped underneath my jacket and I didn't even notice. I see it in the pictures though! Your apron should go over everything - aprons were to keep your clothes clean on your way across the countryside doing whatever errands you were up to, so that is the way they are supposed to be worn. Ah well, not like it mattered anyway. 
Also, I obviously wore my helmet instead of my froofroo hat - I figured that a) the hat would blow away in 1 second, and 2) with the wind howling, you can't be too careful. Also, it wasn't exactly going to affect our score!

So cute!

Queen Frumpus

Favorite one

We're both thinking, "holy crap it's freezing"

Translation: I am cold and standing here is cold and I do not like this but know that I have to stand still anyway


The cones course was set outside of the main arena. There were 10 set of them on a nice winding course, set as Reverse Psychology. Reverse Psychology is a set route of 8-10 cones which you go through in the normal 1-10 route with the red flag on your right - then you have to reserve and go back through in reverse order, 10-1, with the white flag on your right. I've never done a Reverse Psychology course before - it was easier than I expected. I have had red-on-right beaten into my head ever since I was a kid, since it is the same as eventing - so going with the white on the right is hard to me because it feels totally wrong.
We were clear and fast!

This was our last show of the season. Next year's show season starts in either March or April, depending on the calendar. I'm already ready for it!!

Speaking of which.... I need to figure out a new outfit and color for O and I for next year. With an orange horse and an all-black vehicle, navy isn't going to cut it. Navy and chestnut look great together, but only if there isn't black involved... then you just end up looking like a bruise. Any color suggestions? Be creative!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Jingle All The Way

It's still crappy, dreary, gross weather here in Texas... but I still got in a quick drive today. About a week ago, I decided to splurge and buy myself a cheap pair of sleigh bells to add some jingle to our workouts this winter. We did a brisk four miles in the 35 degree weather, thankfully avoiding the rain squalls. O was hot and forward, took a nice contact, and had just the right amount of jingle for the season:

If you want to go the full cheesemo, you can also watch our Christmassy drive from last year:

What's not to love about this season? It's CHRISTMASTIME!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Bloghop: 25 Questions

1. Mares or Geldings? Why?
Can I answer stallion? I love stallions!
But obviously, I'm a mare person all the way. I mean, what would I DO with myself if my horse just behaved itself right from the get-go and acted normal and sane all the time?
(Caveat: I actually think geldings are more princess-y and drama queen-y than most of the mares I know!)

I mean obviously

2. Green-broke or Fully Broke?
I'm completely apathetic on this one. "Fully broke" to me technically means that you can get on and do a lot of stuff easily without a lot of energy or fuss, but the horse also generally comes with a series of odd little quirks and different training methods that were instilled in it by someone else along the way, which I usually end up uninstalling and reinstalling my own way. A greenie comes with a lot of training that needs to be done, but at least I can more or less do it my own way and screw it up just the way I like it.

Blank slate to ruin all by myself!

3. Would you own a "hotter" breed (ie. Arabian, Trakhener, etc).
Not sure which offends me more - the idea that Trakehners are hot horses, or the fact that Trakehner was misspelled in the question. I've had 3 of them (and Pax is 1/2) and none of them were hot or silly. They were all from good old German bloodlines though, and were more heavily built than the hotrods of today, which could have something to do with it.... they've infused the American book with A LOT of Arabian and TB blood recently, which I personally think has kind of diluted everything... but I digress. Obviously the Germans have it right, if you look at what they're producing over there.
Fast fact about me: I have a Trakehner brand tattoo. It's a tramp stamp. It's still one of my favorite tats.
In reality, I can't stand hotheads and I try to steer clear of them in every way. I like quirky horses, but hot horses? No thanks.

Best Trakehner ever

4. What was your "dream horse" growing up?
Friesian. I wanted a Friesian. I LOVED Friesians. I even had a sign on my door that said "Friesian Crossing" with a silhouette of one prancing along. I thought they were just the most beautiful things I had ever seen.
..... And then I spent a summer working on a breeding farm..... and that changed my mind PRETTY FAST. I LOVED working there but I got solidly soured off the breed. I do still think they look beautiful rearing in calendar pictures though.

Yes, that is me...

5. What kind of bit(s) do you use and why?
It depends on the horse, but my all-time fall-back favorite is my Happy Mouth mullen mouth eggbutt. Gogo went it in exclusively for a long time until she graduated to a double jointed eggbutt (she never really went well in a loose ring for whatever reason). And now it's literally the only thing O tolerates, aside from her hackamore. If I were riding here more, I think I'd try just toodling along in a halter, but I'm not, so ehhhh. I ride Dylan either in his double or just a snaffle - a plain loose ring double jointed thing. He likes it as much as he will ever like a bit, I think... I did try him in an LG, and he went fine in it, but I honestly had no control over him when he wanted to get bargy.

6. Helmets or no helmets?
Every time, every ride - helmet. And I do get nasty and preachy about it so if you get catty at me about why you feel like you are entitled to not ruin your stupid Barbie-doll hair, I will tell you all the ways in which I will refuse to clean up all the pieces of your brain that splatter everywhere when you get smashed in the head. And I may insinuate that you don't have enough brain to protect if you can't make the choice to wear one. Because you're just plain stupid if you don't. It's the same thing I'd say to someone who choses not to wear a seatbelt. There's no reason not to, and you're stupid.

Good reason to wear your helmet... although you run the risk of drowning if you fall off with one on, so there's that....

7. Favorite horse color?
I love weird colors. Dark colors. Light colors. Shiny colors. I am a very visually stimulated person if you couldn't tell. Basically anything eye-catching or shiny and I like it, although I am less partial to plain bays than anything.
I always said I'd never own a bay though... and have now had five of them. I also said I'd never own a chestnut, and, well....

8. Least favorite horse color?
Plain boring bays. I like things with flash and chrome and interesting colorings/markings.

9. Dressage or Jumping?
I miss galloping and jumping... but I understand that due to my bad leg, those days are probably gone. Maybe one day I'll get back into it, but being in a long stirrup is painful enough, so I don't think I'll be able to get back to that, so dressage it is - which makes me perfectly happy.
Even better than all of that though: driving.

Can I choose this?
10. How many years have you been riding?
Since the age of 7, when I started in with regular lessons. And I've been going pretty strong every since! So that would be... 23 years?

11. Spurs/whip or no spurs/whip?
Depends on what the horse needs. I always, ALWAYS used to wear spurs and carry a whip, on every horse, every ride - because I never knew when I might need one or the other. I always wore spurs and carried a whip with Gogo, but almost never used either except for the occasional tap to help her move over a little faster. I wore neither on O because she was too much of an idiot. Whip and spurs are for finesse and refining aids, not for anything else, and if you can't get a horse to do basic XYZ things without blowing their lids off, then you don't need to be using either.
I have not been riding Dylan with either whip or spurs, but as I get stronger I will definitely be adding them back in.

12. Your first fall?
I'll never forget this one. I was probably about 9 or 10, riding a lesson horse named Sandy, an ugly dumptruck of a QH who was the color of dirty tidewater and had gaits like riding a broken washing machine. The barn where I took lessons had a water trough in the arena, and the lesson ponies would dutifully line up for drinks.  Sandy more or less dragged me over there before the start of our lesson, and stuck her head in the trough. One of the barn staff had run a hose to the trough, and was filling it, unbeknownst to me. Sandy stepped on the hose, the hose lifted and sprayed her in the face, and she vanished out from underneath me. I went ass over teakettle right into the water trough. Funny enough, I remember being all excited about it, like "I fell off! Now I'm a real horse rider!" I clambered back on Sandy in my soaking wet clothes, and proceeded to my lesson like nothing happened - either nobody noticed or nobody cared that I was soaking wet!

13. When was the last time you rode and what did you do?
Yesterday morning - went for a nice hack down the road before the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade came on (also before the rain hit). We did a bit of bending and going sideways back and forth across the road while we walked, nothing special but it was a good workout for just a walk.

14. Most expensive piece of tack you own?
Uhhh... hmmm... I have no idea. I tend to get the more expensive things either second-hand, or I borrow them. The Dartmoor is definitely the most expensive thing but it isn't mine. Dylan also came with his Schleese, but that also isn't mine. I have two Prestiges that are probably still worth a fair bit of money, but I got them years and years ago.

15. How old were you when you started riding?
7! Wait, didn't we have this question already?

16. Leather or Nylon halters?
I have both, and rope, and mule tape, and basically everything inbetween. I am a chronic halter-collecter.

What? You no likey?

17. Leather or Synthetic saddles?
But, that said, I LOVE my biothane harness. It's so well made that it mostly passes for leather, even fairly close up. And it's SO easy to take care of. Cleaning saddles and bridles is one thing, but cleaning a whole goddamn harness takes hours and it just sucks.

18. What "grip" of reins do you like?
Hmm good question, I have about every kind of rein possible so I don't really feel one way or another about it, though I'm not really partial to slick leather or laced leather. I like pebbled/grippy reins if we're going to be wet or I need to take up rein fast for any reason (or not let it slip out of my hands). My driving lines are straight beta, and I'm not very fond of them - I've been considering swapping out for some driving lines with grip, and just keeping the boring ones for shows.

19. English or Western?
A good western saddle is great for trail rides and noodling around, but I don't sit in them well so I can't so much beyond noodling. So, I guess that means english for me!

Western: good for not dying

20. How many horses do you currently own/lease?
Too many.... there are 6 equines in my herd now. I keep thinking Darby is going to die, but she keeps not dying, so my herd number has stayed solid. Dylan will of course be going back home to his momma at some point too, so I technically only own 5, and two of them are babies which technically makes them half a horse each, so that's four, and one of them is a mini which basically means she doesn't count, so REALLY there are only four of them, right?

21. Do you board your horse? Self-care/full board? Home board?
My own place and I wouldn't change that for the world. It sucks having to trailer out to really ride, and that does cut into my riding/driving time for sure, but it is so worth it to have them at home and actually under my own thumb. I hate when other people care for my horses.

22. Have you ever had to put down a horse that you loved?
Quincy, Metro, and Gogo. And of course, there will be more, as most of mine are permanent keepers and this is the cycle of life.

23. How many saddlepads do you have?
There are at leasts 20 of them floating around my tack room.... probably that many blankets and bridles too.... and at least that many pairs of boots. I'm kind of a hoarder.

24. Slant-load trailer or straight haul?
I have a 2 horse straight load because it was made for giant warmbloods - extra tall and extra wide. In the future, I'd probably get another straight load, but I would want something with room for carriages. You know, when I win the lotto and all.

25. Why do you ride?
I ride because I hate people and I want to spend all my time doing thing that involve living things that are not people.
Or well, maybe that's a slight exaggeration.... but, only partially.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Giving Thanks 2015

I have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, as I do every year. It's a general repeat post, with add-ins... but the bases are all the same, as they are all the same things I am thankful for year after year.

I am thankful for my family, who still puts up with me even after all these years. The older I get, the more I appreciate them, even though they are just as certifiably nuts as I am.
I am thankful for all my friends and contacts worldwide, who have always been there for me throughout the good times and the tough times alike.
I'm thankful for my wonderful Future Hubs, who puts up with me, laughs with me, gets into tickle wars with me, dances like an idiot with me, sings out of tune with me, snuggles me, and looks into the future with me, always right there by my side no matter what.
I am thankful for my menagerie of pets... the make me smile and laugh every day. Without them, life would be empty and colorless.  
I am thankful that I am still excited for the future, as I always am every year. This year has brought me further than I could have possibly imagined, and I hope next year continues the trend.
I am thankful for Texas, because even though it's STILL one of the most ridiculous and random decisions I've ever made, it led me right to Future Hubs, my herd of cats and dogs, my kooky mares, my career, and new friends and adventures... and that's exactly where I want and need to be.
I am thankful for Metro and Quincy, my two long gone but never forgotten boys. I honor their lives by naming my business after them, and not a day goes by without missing and remembering them.
I'm thankful for five beautiful, crazy, intense, amazing, eventful, and memorable years with my Gogo. She made me a far better horsewoman and rider, she made me laugh and cry, she molded who I am now as a young adult, she got me started on my career path of choice.... and so much more. 
I'm thankful for my crazy, nutty, wonderful mares. I am thankful for P for being her father's child, and for helping me perpetuate her cherished bloodline. I am thankful for Pax, who came out with the exact personality I was hoping for, and is flashy and fun to boot. I am thankful for Darby, because she has reminded me to enjoy every single day for what it is, and that life is precious. I am thankful for Uma, because she reminds me to laugh, and to stand up to things even if they are ten times bigger than me. I am thankful for the opportunity to have and ride Dylan, because he is exactly what my body needs in my search to try and ride again. I am thankful for O for being exactly who she is, every day, without fail - because it reminds me to do the same. She wasn't supposed to be a keeper, but she barged her way into my heart, and she has a place here with me for life. I am grateful for every single day together, and am looking forward to our adventures in the coming years.
I am thankful especially this year for eight wonderful years with my old lady greyhound Ti, and for four with my old lady corgi Twiggy. Losing Twiggy this year was very hard, especially since it came just one year and one day after we lost Ti, but her memory lives on in all of us. We hope to all be reunited at the Rainbow Bridge one day, along with the rest of the critters I've loved over the years. 

From Saba, Pike, Tonka, Monster Dog, Luda, Jasper, Snidget, Mimi, Pickles, Shitner, Snoop, Pangea, O-Ren, Uma, Pax, Darby, Dylan, Future Hubs, and myself, Happy Thanksgiving, and I hope you all have plenty to be thankful for too.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Work, Drive, Ride, Repeat

Well.... so much for posting more during the month of November. I haven't been very good about it have I? 

November isn't particularly going to plan, although I kind of knew this was going to happen. The first week of the month, I had to prep for the No Laminitis conference, so I was mostly just running around trying to cram all my clients in before I had to leave - nobody got worked that week. Then the second week of the month, my friend K came in for the week. and when I wasn't busy working my tail off we were out doing tourist-type fun stuff like museums and water gardens. This was of course awesome and super fun, and a welcome change from the horses, but it didn't give me much time with the critters either. We did hook O up to the Dartmoor, as you saw, and took it for a preliminary spin. As my plan for O this month was just to give her one workout a week to keep her fit, this worked in well for that, although Dylan didn't get worked.

Last week, B2 and I hacked Dylan and O out during the weekend. It was an awesome and gorgeous fall day, and we had tons of fun like we usually do. Both critters were on their (mostly) best behavior, and we even got a few cheesy pictures of ourselves. 

Things you should not do while riding a stallion next to a slutty mare: texting

I was also able to take Dylan out to WD twice last week, which was very nice. I arrived very early in the morning both days and had the place completely to myself. I need to remember that I should definitely always try to go very early - I don't have a lot of energy left at the end of the day for trailering out, so morning works best for me. 

I'm still fighting the pain in my left leg - and you can see the ankle still doesn't bend - but it is getting better. I am able to sit the trot now for short periods of time without feeling like I am going to die, and on Wednesday I made it through a *whole hour* of riding. The stronger I get, the more I am able to really control my body in the way that it needs to be controlled. I remember where to sit, how to sit, what I need to do.... but actually doing it can still be a little hard. The fitter and stronger I get, the better I sit and the better Dylan goes. I'm still holding off a little longer on lessons because I want to actually be able to make it through an entire lesson without a) dying of exhaustion and b) looking like a complete and total pile of jello, but we are moving closer to that. 

The babies have been worked too, and trimmed. Both of them have been led down the road this week, and Pax also loaded in the trailer again. Uma surprised me by being very interested in going down the road - she practically dragged me during her walk. I've realized that while she knows and likes me, she is extremely wary and unsure of people she doesn't know. She was a little frightened of K, and was REALLY frightened of the lady who was taking a walk down the road at the same time as we were. She just about jumped into the ditch, and then hid behind me until the scary danger had passed. 

Pax, on the other hand, does not appear to be scared of anything. If something concerns her, she gets over it in about two seconds. 

Not scary

Manly stallion is not scary

Standing tied forever is not scary
 She is now 7 months old as of yesterday. I definitely need to re-measure her.... she is definitely over 13 hands now. 

Ugh these catchup posts are the worst..... I feel like I missed half the things I meant to write about, and none of it made any sense. I still have to write about O's latest show, more riding, more driving, more everything! As I understand it, the next few days are supposed to be total crap weather, so maybe I can actually do what I said I would do and write out thoughtful, interesting blogposts instead of just these word-barfs of non-important information. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Best Driving Montage Ever

Need a pick me up? I've got one for you. And you should turn your volume up.

Are you ready for the BEST DRIVING MONTAGE EVER?

Driving Montage from Cavewood Productions on Vimeo.

You're welcome.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Dartmoor

This is the Dartmoor.

If you're anything like me, you're hyperventilating over this gorgeous hunk of metal right now.

The Dartmoor is an extremely well-built carriage from the UK. Dartmoor Carriages Limited stopped production in I believe 1999 if I remember correctly but I am not sure about this. It's also not clear if these Dartmoors are related to or are the same as the Pacific Dartmoors - Pacific stopped production in 2012 so maybe these were also manufactured by them at a later date? Not sure about that though. Pacific has been bought by new ownership so I hear they will be back in production shortly.

This carriage is owned by one of the NTW ladies that I connected with at the last playday. I happened to mention off-hand that I wanted to do more/move up eventually but didn't have a four-wheel vehicle, and she jumped right in with, "I have one I'd let you borrow!" Naturally, I jumped on that one! Her driving horse passed away a few years back and the carriage was sitting under a tarp in the yard not getting any use - so she offered it to me to play around with!

One of the main logistical issues I was worried about - aside from the fact that marathon vehicles cost $$$$$$$ - was the problem of transport. I was worried that I would never be able to get a carriage because of the fact that I would need a larger truck and trailer in order to transport it anywhere.

Well, with some experimentation we discovered we could do this:

As long as I remove my truckbox and use my winch it is no problem. We ratcheted it in there firmly and secured the tailgate, even though it really is about two inches too long to really shut the gate fully. I could ride with the gate down but I feel a lot better with it up!

I waited until my friend K came into town so that I could have someone there with me for my first spin in the new carriage - I figure you can't be too careful with introducing new equipment. We pulled O out for her first drive since the show, harnessed her up, and hooked up.

Two fatties out for a drive

This was O's first time hooked to a 4 wheel vehicle. The only trouble we ran into was on the first hill leaving our property - it is very steep and it takes a fair amount of power to get a carriage up it. With two people on board, O started to object halfway up, and then just stopped dead. I had K get out and lead her up the hill, just to be on the safe side. After that, we had no problems whatsoever.

On our second loop of the neighborhood, we stopped and made some harness adjustments (holdbacks were too loose, etc). I don't have trace carriers on this harness, so I will need to get some. Once we made our adjustments, I let K hop in the box seat, and I stood on the navigator platform. K is a horse person but hadn't ever driven until I tossed her up there. Like everyone who goes driving with me, she was grinning ear to ear by the time we were done.

O does not mind people jumping off, trotting after the carriage for a picture, and then jumping back on the moving vehicle. Because she is awesome. 

K asked me as we were harnessing up if O was one I would ever sell. My response? "HELL no. This one is a keeper for LIFE." I might have bought her for $500 thinking I could resell her for a profit, but now I'll never let her go!